Leaving the body consciously


The following is an excerpt of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Radhikaji from her forthcoming book to be published in 2017. This article summarizes verses 24-30 from Chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita and Chapter 8, verses 1-13.

Verses 24-27: Forms and Formless

We can make earthen pots, lamps, little figures and many other forms from clay. The clay lamp was nothing other than clay, but you thought it was a lamp, you called it a lamp and used it as a lamp, forgetting that it was just clay. The lamp is formed out of clay and eventually returns to clay.

All the different people come from consciousness, they take this form and eventually return to consciousness. People have so many different forms: adults and children, women and men, big and small, fat and thin.  They have different skin colours, different eyes and hair. Consciousness takes infinite forms. 

Yoga-maya, the veil of ignorance falls upon you at birth. At birth arises the two dualities of iccha, desire or attachment and dvesha, aversion. There are five kleshas or colouring: Avidya or ignorance, asmita or a sense of identity, raga or attachment, dvesa or aversion and finally abhinevesa or the fear of death. There is no difference between raga and dvesha. Attachment and aversion are two sides of the same coin.

Verses 28-30: Eternal youth

Eternal youth means realisation that your true nature is pure consciousness. When you no longer identify with the body you are free from old age and death, because Consciousness is life itself. How can life die? The Self realised one knows the entire process of evolution and dissolution. The Self realised one knows all the three states: waking, dreaming and deep sleep.  Such an elevated one knows the different cosmic planes of consciousness as well. Being completely established in this attainment, the Self realised One witnesses the process of separation that is called death. These highly evolved beings know how to leave their body consciously. 

Chapter 8: Akshara Brahma Yoga

Akshara means the unchanging, immutable or eternal. Akshara also means a letter, sound or syllable or mantra. Sound and the unchanging imperishable Self are related. This chapter Akshara Brahma yoga is about the immutable Self. It speaks about the unchanging.

Verses 1-4: The Whole is a nutshell

So, Arjuna, the ideal student asks questions. What is the relationship between Brahman, this Cosmic Self and  adhyatman, the individual Self? What is karma? What is the relationship between the Cosmic Self and celestial beings? What is the relationship between the Cosmic Self and the body? How can the Cosmic Self to be known by those who have attained at the hour of separation or death?

Pranava or the indestructible syllable OM is Brahman. OM represents waking, dreaming and deep sleep, the three levels of consciousness. Turiya, the fourth is the one beyond the 3 states.  Turiya, the witness and all the 3 states are Brahman. The Witness is the individual Self or adhyatman, manifests and experiences Adhibhuta. Adhibhuta, the physical manifestation, includes the body as well as the entire field of experience.

Just as in the microcosm, you have three levels of consciousness, similarly there are three levels of consciousness at macrocosm or the universal level. At the microcosm are three planes of consciousness, waking, dreaming and deep sleep, while at the cosmic level there are three cosmic planes of consciousness,  celestial, human and the demonic. Thus, adhidaiva is the celestial plane, this plane is subtler than the plane of human existence. These knowledge is not unique to those scriptures coming from India. All spiritual traditions of the world proclaim the same.

Adhiyajna  are the sacrifices offered to the Adhyatman residing in the body or Adhibhuta. Sacrifices do not refer merely to rituals. All of life is a sacrifice, all actions or karma that you perform are offerings. If you think you are the doer, you get caught up in the cycle of attachment and aversion, but if all the karma is an offering to Adhyatman, the Lord within, then you are free.

These verses explain all of life, death and the nature of the world, in a nutshell.

Verses 5-8: Death, a chance to attain Liberation

Just as death is a transition period, so is sleep. Sleep is known as sahodara, the little sister or little brother of death. Every night you lie down and after few thoughts you are asleep. Are you aware of that moment when you fall asleep? Do you catch the first dreams coming? If you have that kind of awareness then you can observe the first dreams emerge from the unconscious and you can continue to be aware during the dream state. This is not a reference to remembering dreams in the morning after you have woken up. This is referring to being aware of the dreams, while you are sleeping, observing your dreams and knowing that you are dreaming. If you have that kind of awareness and you can hold this awareness at the moment of death then death will be a liberation. If not, then the earthly attachments and desires will pull you back eventually.

Samskaras or desires cause you to take the form that you have. If you long for yogic wisdom, you will be born in a family, where you can unfold those qualities, if you had done your sadhana and prepared for the transition. Hold this awareness in those last moments during separation, then that is what you will attain, you will attain moksha or liberation.

Verses 9-13: Leaving the body consciously

Who is able to contemplate upon the most minute thing? What is the most minute thing? The most minute thing is an atom or “anu". Modern physics tells us that an atom is energy. It is very fine and subtle. So who can contemplate on the subtle-most, that is Pure Consciousness.

An unmoving mind is still, it is not moving outwards. Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkara and Chitta are well coordinated and they do not disturb each other. Manas is not running outwards, ahamkara is not revolving around itself, chitta is not bubbling up with memories and buddhi is sattvic, not dull. The energies of the body are now focused, like the laser beam between the eyebrows at the Ajna chakra.

There are the navadwara or the nine gates of the body.  The two ears are closed.  This does not mean you have to put your fingers in the ears or plug your ears. Some meditators practicing external techniques do that, but this is not meant here. When you are reading an interesting book and are really absorbed in it, you do not hear anything happening outside of the book. You are in another world. Similarly, in meditation, when the meditator is completely absorbed on his object of meditation he is not aware of the sounds outside. Thus the two gates of listening are closed. The indriya of hearing is not going outwards, it is listening inwards.

The eyes, the next two gates are the indriyas of sight. They are not looking outside. They are closed since it is easy to close the eyes and they look inwards. The two nostrils, are not outward oriented. Speech is an active indriya.  You do not speak. This is not merely speech at the vocal level but also speech as in thoughts. Restraint of speech leads to the natural calming down of thoughts. 

Reproduction does not mean physical celibacy, though it can mean that as well. Closing the gate of reproduction meaning regulating sexuality and going  beyond the genders. The highest form of celibacy is when ida and pingala are united. The last gate of excretion is closed, which means the energies which generally move downward are reversed and they are moving upwards.

Holding the bhava, travelling from Ajna chakra through the brahmanadi to the sahasrara chakra attain brahman. This is the direct experience of OM. He can abandon the body by leaving consciously through the sahasrara chakra.


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