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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'Brahmaanandam Parama Sukhadam, Kevalam Jnaana Moortim
Dvandvaateetam Gagana Sadrisham, Tat Tvam Asyaadi Lakshyam,
Ekam Nityam Vimalam Achalam, Sarvaadhi Saakshi Bhootam,
Bhaavaateetam Triguna Rahitam''

Ever blissful, granting happiness, embodiment of wisdom,
Beyond duality, infinite as the sky, primordial, final goal,
One, eternal, stainless, immovable, omnipresent witness,
Beyond feeling, devoid of the three gunas - Such is God'


1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 8
The Yoga of the Imperishable Spirit
'About salvation'
 Akshara Parabrahma Yoga



      While the phenomenal world is subject to change and decay, the divine reality is indestructible. Akshara (imperishable, indestructable) symbolizes the indestructible divine reality. All religious traditions proclaim that God, the manifestation of akshara, is eternal, and people of all faiths accept this idea. The so-called theological differences are not really fundamental. Aum is the primordial akshara and all the other letters are its derivatives. The divine letter Aum represents the Parabrahman. The comprehension of the essence of the Parabrahman is known as Brahmavidya or the knowledge of Brahman. That is why the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gītā has been given the title of akshara parabrahma yoga. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 120


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Verse 1.

arjuna uvāca
kim tad brahma kim adhyātmam
kim karma purushottama
adhibhūtam ca kim proktam
adhidaivam kim ucyate

Verse 2.

adhiyaj˝ah katham ko 'tra
dehe 'smin madhusūdana
prayāna-kāle ca katham
j˝eyo 'si niyatātmabhih

Verse 3.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
aksharam brahma paramam
svabhāvo 'dhyātmam ucyate
visargah karma-samj˝itah

      "Arjuna! aksharam-brahma paramam... Brahman is referred to as the akshara that is param. Akshara means without kshara or destruction, indestructible. Brahman comes from a root that means big, vast, etc. How vast, you may ask. Vaster than whatever you call vast, that is the answer. The word akshara has another meaning also. It means omnipresent, immanent everywhere. Brahmam is not mere aksharam, as you will have noticed. It is param aksharam. What does that mean? It is that type of akshara that is beyond the reach of time and space and knowability; it cannot be known by any or all the categories; it never declines or ends; it is param aksharam, the Highest Indestructible, Indescribable." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 117-8

      "Now for a second point: It is Brahman that dwells in everybody in the form of 'I'. In fact, everybody hangs around this entity called 'I'. In the body, each part and organ in the organization performs one chief task. Each sense contacts and informs about one particular set of impressions from the outer world. But though related to the senses, there is an 'I' shining in the body, above and behind all of them. If that relationship is broken, everything becomes inert material!

 When the I-power flows through the senses, they are able to carry on their allotted tasks. That power is Adyatma; it cannot be known without great effort. Use the sharpest discrimination and you know it to some extent. Brahman is the tat entity; Adyatma is the tvam entity. To make the matter clearer to you, take these two as appearance and character, form and substance. Brahman is the form, Adyatma is the substance", said Krishna. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 118-9

       Then Arjuna prayed that the third subject, karma, may be fully explained to him. Krishna was quite ready to oblige him. He began, "Arjuna! The limitation that is necessary for the creation, fostering and destruction of beings is what is called karma. The moveable and the immovable, all are beings; why, the very act of the very resolution for creation is karma, the very first; which still activates all everywhere - this entire universe and all the movements and agitations and activities in it are the direct consequence of primal karma, My sankalpa. And as long as My resolution lasts, the stream of karma will flow along. It can never go dry, as long as I do not will it. All that you do is to get drawn into this flood; why, you are but currents in this rush, or ripples or waves. My will has prompted all karma, so karma done in consonance with My will becomes a part of Me." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 122-3

Verse 4.

adhibhūtam ksaro bhāvah
purushaś cādhidaivatam
adhiyaj˝o 'ham evātra
dehe deha-bhritām vara

      "My apparel, which I willed and folded around Me, became akasa (sky, space, ether), the akasa got transformed into vayu (wind, air), the vayu changed into agni (fire element), the agni into jala (water), the jala became prithvi or earth, the earth grew grains of food, the food developed into the body! So, it is clear, is it not, that the deha (body) too is Myself? Why doubt this?

      "Therefore, I am adhibhūtam (whole perishable creation; the primordial form of matter; everything that has name and form) also, as much as I am, as I said before, brahman, adyatmam and karma. The cause is the same as the effect; I am the primal cause and so, I am all these effects also. I am the paramātmā; the rest are all adhidaivam (divinity or fate, the spiritual substratum of the cosmos). In every physical citadel or body, the divine personality named Hiranyagarbha (cosmic divine mind; cosmic womb; golden egg first created by Brahman, from which all creation issued) is immanent. Just as a man is served by his senses, the Hiranyagarbha is served by the adhidaivas.

      "You might wonder what the role of these adhidaivas is! They are deities that serve the divine purpose; that is to say, the eye is illumined by Sūrya (the sungod, the personification of the order of the sun as known by nature, S.B. 5:22), the ear by the deities of the quarters, Indra (the king of the heavenly planets; the king of heaven) motivates the hand; these and other presiding deities are the senses of Hiranyagarbha. However great a sadhaka might be, whatever eminence he might have reached, he can attain the highest only through Hiranyagarbha. Hiranyagarbha is indeed Godhead; there is no distinction between the two. Is this clear, Arjuna? I am as much Adhidaivam as I am Adhibhutam; as much these two, as I am Brahman, Adhyatmam and Karma. They are all fully divine.

      "Now for the next entity: Adhiyaj˝am (pertaining to sacrificial aspects). That is also Me! This is the entity that consumes joy and grief, the result of the multifarious karmas they have engaged in. I am the recipient of the sabda (sound), sparsa (touch, contact), rūpa (form, figure, appearance), rasa (taste, sweetness, essence of enjoyment) and gandha (smell, fragrance); through the five senses in all beings the adhiyaj˝a principle! I am not only the kartha (doer, subject of action), the entity responsible for the karma; I am also the bhoktha (person who enjoys), the entity for which that karma is gone through, the recipient of the fruits; I am the benefactor as well as the beneficiary. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 126-7

Verse 5.

anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yah prayāti sa mad-bhāvam
yāti nāsty atra samśayah

      "The fate of man after death is molded by the thought that predominates at the moment of death. That thought is the foundation on which the next birth is built. Whoever at that time remembers Me attains My Glory, reaches Me in fact. So each karma of man, every striving of his, every sādhana, should be aimed at sanctifying that fateful moment; the years of his life must be devoted to the discipline that will bring up at that moment the thought of paramātmā or pranāva (AUM)." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 128

Verse 6.

yam yam vāpi smaran bhāvam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitah

      "The fate of man after death is molded by the thought that predominates in the moment of death. That thought is the foundation on which the next birth is built. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 128

Verse 7.

tasmāt sarveshu kāleshu
mām anusmara yudhya ca
mayy arpita-mano-buddhir
mām evaishyasy asamśayah

      The Gītā teaches the process of dhyana in a neat little formula: mām anusmara yudhya ca! Keep Me in your memory and fight! The cue, to fight the battle of life with God in the consciousness as the charioteer is not merely a direction for Arjuna; it is a prescription for all humanity. Fix your mind on Me, and fight!

"I shall be the will behind your will; the eye behind your eye; the brain within your brain; the breath within your breath. The fight is mine, the might is mine, the trials and triumphs are mine; the fruits of victory are mine; the humiliation of defeat is mine; you are I and I am you".

That is the consummation of dhyana - identity, through the negation of difference. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 251

Verse 8.

cetasā nānya-gāminā
paramam purusham divyam
yāti pārthānucintayan

      Krishna prescribed abhyāsa, practice ... Take the mind to God and keep it there for a short time every day, morning and evening. God is so merciful that He will come ten steps towards you, if you but take one step towards Him. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 288

Verse 9.

kavim purānam anuśāsitāram
anor anīyāmsam anusmared yah
sarvasya dhātāram acintya-rūpam
āditya- varnam tamasah parastāt

Verse 10.

prayāna-kāle manasā'calena
bhaktyā yukto yoga-balena caiva
bhruvor madhye prānam āveśya samyak
sa tam param purusham upaiti divyam

... all the eight descriptions above have to be contemplated upon. That is the correct meditation of the form of the Lord.

      Arjuna asked, "Krishna! Is such a meditation alone enough or has it to be supplemented?" "Of course, when this meditation is practiced, care should be taken to see that the mind is concentrated on that thing only. It should not pursue diverse objectives. It must attach itself to that One Supreme, with love and devotion, prema and bhakti. Usually, man's love gets fastened on trifling temporary things and so gets entangled in setbacks and sorrows. So the love has to be withdrawn from such objects and centered on the Lord." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 137-8

 Verse 11.

yad aksharam veda-vido vadanti
viśanti yad yatayo vīta-rāgāh
yad icchanto brahmacaryam caranti
tat te padam sangrahena pravakshye

Verse 12.

sarva-dvārāni samyamya
mano hridi nirudhya ca
mūrdhny ādhāyātmanah prānam
āsthito yoga-dhāranām

Verse 13.

om ity ekāksharam brahma-
vyāharan mām anusmaran
yah prayāti tyajan deham
sa yāti paramām gatim

      "... Control the senses, let the mind be effaced as much as possible and let the heart be purified, let the vital airs be uplifted into the sirsha (head), let the individual be established in the atmic truth, and let the pranāva [Om(kāra) or AUM] be the only point of attention at the moment of the prāna leaving the body - such a one comes to Me and joins with Me; His mental activities become the same as Mine", said Krishna. [see also S.B. 11:14-35]

Here, readers should fix their attention on what the Lord told Arjuna. The Lord spoke of the control of the senses, not their destruction. Control means: under one's behests, obedient to the will. Destruction means: denial of activity, full inaction. The Lord also said of all the senses, not of anyone or two only. Man must keep all senses under his control and use them only when the purposes for which they have been devised are to be fulfilled. They should not be let loose just because one has them. Give them the functions they are designed for, but do not allow them to master you and ruin you. Let them work strictly on regulated lines. That is the Lord's intention. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 138

Verse 14.

ananya-cetāh satatam
yo mām smarati nityaśah
tasyāham sulabhah pārtha
nitya-yuktasya yoginah

      Whoever is busy with no other thoughts than those about Me, whoever is ever remembering Me, he certainly will release his dying breath through the center of the head; he will attain Me. I am as near him, as he is near Me. My dear Arjuna! How can I forget him who never forgets Me? Forgetting is a human frailty, not the characteristic of God, let Me tell you! ... I only ask, that your mind be fixed on Me. Devote your mind to Me, dedicate it to Me, that is alI I ask for. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 142

Verse 15.

mām upetya punar janma
duhkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānah
samsiddhim paramām gatāh

      "The mahātmā ('great soul'; he who is perfectly convinced that Krishna is all and is therefore surrendered to Him fully absorbed in devotional service to the Lord) is free from all dual experience. He is above and beyond. He has released himself from identity with the particularized; he is in the universal, the eternal, the changeless, the Brahma-bhava (absorbed in Brahman), not the jīva-bhava (body oriented). He knows that the ātmā is not a limited entity; he feels that it extends beyond all limits; he is free from the blemish of tamas and rajas; he is neither dull nor driven about by desire; he has pure consciousness, unaffected by attachment or hate. Many who style themselves as such nowadays, have no purity in their hearts, their consciousness is soiled by foulness. But the pure in heart have no further birth and death. They are under no obligation to appear again on earth. Without attaining that purity, you cannot escape the round of birth and death, however many your meritorious deeds, however high your spiritual status, however glorious the heaven you have secured! Only those who are perpetually in that Brahma-bhava can attain this Timeless Me and be freed from the chain, by merging in Me." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 143-4

Verse 16.

ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāh
punar āvartino'rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

      At this Arjuna gave expression to another doubt that worried him. He asked, "If that is so, why do the Upanishads declare that those who reach the heaven, Brahmaloka (the abode of Lord Brahmā), need not be born again? Please make clear who exactly are those that are freed from this cycle of birth and death?"

"Arjuna! There are two types of liberation mentioned in the Upanishads: sadyo-mukti (instantaneous liberation) and krama-mukti (liberation in stages, progressive emancipation). Sadyo-mukti is also referred to as kaivalya-mukti (absolute unity with the Supreme; final emancipation). For earning this, no one need aspire for any heaven. They get this on the spot, and not by stages, step by step. Liberation secured thus is a possession forever. The rest are liable to change. When the effect of the merit acquired wears out, heaven has to be given up, and life on earth starts anew. Such souls know no merging; only those who attain kaivalya, merge and become one with the eternal, the universal." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 144

Verse 17.

ahar yad brahmano viduh
rātrim yuga-sahasrāntām
te 'ho-rātra-vido janāh

Verse 18.

avyaktād vyaktayah sarvāh
prabhavanty ahar-āgame
rātry-āgame pralīyante

Verse 19.

bhūta-grāmah sa evāyam
bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate
rātry-āgame 'vaśah pārtha
prabhavaty ahar-āgame

Verse 20.

paras tasmāt tu bhāvo 'nyo
'vyakto 'vyaktāt sanātanah
yah sa sarveshu bhūteshu
naśyatsu na vinaśyati

      Krishna answered, "Pārtha! (son of Prithā (Kuntī), Arjuna's mother) There is a state that knows no decline, beyond all these heavens. There are many roads by which that state can be won. Unaware of these roads or of the joy of that state, man is taking to others that are either crooked or comfortable. He does not know how to distinguish between the right road and the wrong." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 145

Verse 21.

avyakto 'kshara ity uktas
tam āhuh paramām gatim
yam prāpya na nivartante
tad dhāma paramam mama

Verse 22.

purushah sa parah pārtha
bhaktyā labhyas tv ananyayā
yasyāntahsthāni bhūtāni
yena sarvam idam tatam

      It is God's word that if you have devotion to God, He will look after your future. He will look after all the welfare that is due you. Yes so did the Lord say in the Gītā. But when would this be? He said that this would be done provided the devotee spends all his time in the thought of God, provided he accepts God to be all pervading and as present in every being. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, p. 105

Verse 23.

yatra kāle tv anāvrittim
āvrittim caiva yoginah
prayātā yānti tam kālam
vakshyāmi bharatarshabha

Verse 24.

agnir jyotir ahah śuklah
shan māsā uttarāyanam
tatra prayātā gacchanti
brahma brahma-vido janāh

      "Uttarāyana (northward path of the sun) is the period when no dot of cloud or whiff of fog contaminates the vast dome and the sun shines in all His glory. This is the gross meaning; but there is a subtle one, too. The heart is the inner sky. There, the sun that shines is buddhi or intelligence. When the clouds of ignorance, the fog of egotism and the smoke of attachment hover in that inner sky, the sun of intelligence is hidden and things look murky and are mistaken. Uttarāyana of the heart is when the inner sky is clear of all these, and when the sun shines in full splendor. You have heard the expression, j˝āna-bhaskara, 'The sun is wisdom or Sun of spiritual wisdom' . The sun is always associated with wisdom and intelligence. When a person passes away with this equipment of the effulgent sun of wisdom in his clear heart, he can certainly escape rebirth! He takes the path of Agni, the Archi-rādi-marga path, (path of Gods, beginning with fire or the Sun's rays, taken by spiritual souls after death) as said already, and merges with Brahman!" - Gītā Vahini, pp. 150

Verse 25.

dhūmo rātris tathā krishnah
shan-māsā dakshināyanam
tatra cāndramasam jyotir
yogī prāpya nivartate

      "Those who pass away in the other half of the year, the dakshināyana (when the sun passes on the southern side), have the opposite destiny; then the heart is beset with smoke and fog and cloud. The sun is hidden and His effulgence has no splendor. And in the dark half of the month the moon wanes, symbolizing the waning of Godward thought. The new moon night is enveloped in complete darkness, all spiritual impulses suffer defeat. The thick smoke of aj˝āna lies heavily on the mind. This is the meaning of the expression Krishna-paksha. (Dark half of month, when the moon is diminishing).Those who die at such an inauspicious time reap an inauspicious result." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 150

Verse 26.

śukla-krishne gatī hy ete
jagatah śāśvate mate
ekayā yāty anāvrittim
anyayāvartate punah

      "Since the uttarāyana-marga is lit by the holy splendor of j˝āna, it is praised as the sukla-marga or the white path. The dakshināyana-marga is dark, filled with tamas and aj˝āna; so it is called the dark path of the Krishna-marga. Those who discard the body and journey on the uttarāyana move along the white path and reach the stage of liberation or moksha, which is devoid of delusion, which is the seat and source of Brahmananda, from which there is no return to this world of name and form, this arena of embodied beings. Those who leave the body during the dakshināyana and move along the dark path, have to bear again this physical encasement called deha, subject to birth and death.

"Uttarāyana is not so much a period of time; it is a state of mind. Those who discard the body with the glory of self-knowledge move along the uttarāyana-marga and those who die in ignorance of their atmic reality move along the pitri-yana (path of ancestors, through which the soul ascends to the lunar world to enjoy the benefits of ritual works), or dakshināyana or the dark path." - Gītā Vahini, pp. 151

Verse 27.

naite sritī pārtha jānan
yogī muhyati kaścana
tasmāt sarveshu kāleshu
yoga-yukto bhavārjuna

Verse 28.

vedeshu yaj˝eshu tapahsu caiva
dāneshu yat punya-phalam pradishtham
atyeti tat sarvam idam viditvā
yogī param sthānam upaiti cādyam

      The end of everything that is born is death; sam-yoga (union) leads to vi-yoga (seperation); construction must result in the destruction of that which was constructed. It is the law of nature that birth ends in death and death leads to birth. The stage that knows no coming and going is the stage when the Universal Brahman is visualized, for since Brahman is all-pervasive, where is the other place from which the "coming" can be effected and to which the "going" can be performed? - Gītā Vahini, pp. 152



Upanishads: The underlying mystery, the secret doctrine. Philosophical part of the Vedas, a hundred-eight in numer meant to comprehend the personal nature of the Absolute Truth. In the Bhāgavatam they are summarized in 10:87.







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