Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 8

Akshara Parabrahma Yoga - Summary in English

Sanskrit text in Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, English , Telugu
||om tat sat||
अर्जुन उवाच:
किं तद्ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम ।
अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तं अधिदैवं किमुच्यते ॥
Oh Purushottama ! What is Brahman? What is Adhyatman? What is "Karma"? What is called as Adhibhuta? What is known as Adhi Daiva?"

Eighth Chapter
Akshara Parabrahma Yoga

In Vijnyana Yoga saying " सादिभूताधि दैवं मां साधियज्ञं च येविदुः ", Krishna explains that those who know Him as the essence of Adhibhuta, Adhiyagnya, and AdiDaiva will remember him even in the last moments. Hearing that Arjuna wonders about the meanings of Adhibhuta, Adhi Daiva, Adhiyagnya etc.,. So Arjuna starts the eighth chapter with a question, asking Krishna to elaborate.

The eighth chapter is titled Akshara Parabrahma Yoga". "Akshara "means the one which does not perish. "Akshara Parabrahma" is about Brahman that does not be perish.

अर्जुन उवाच:
किं तद्ब्रह्म किमध्यात्मं किं कर्म पुरुषोत्तम |
अधिभूतं च किं प्रोक्तं अधिदैवं किमुच्यते ||
अधियज्ञः कथं को अत्र देहे अस्मिन् मधुसूदन।
प्रायाणकाले च क्थं ज्ञेयोsसि नियतात्मभिः ||
Meaning -
तत् ब्रह्म किं? What is Brahman?
अध्यात्मं किं? What is that enquiry into self?
कर्म किं? What is action?
अधिभूतं च किं ? What is that in the physical plane?
अधिदैवं किमुच्यते ? What is called as divine?
अधियज्ञः कः? Who is that enjoyer of the sacrifice?
कथं ज्ञेयः असि ? How are you to be known ( at that moment of departure)?

Arjuna is asking Bhagavan the seven questions about the seven entities Bhagavan spoke about.
Arjuna is also asking how one would know him.

Krishna answers all the questions, one by one.
श्री भगवानुवाच:
अक्षरं ब्रह्म परं स्वभावो अध्यात्ममुच्यते।
भूतभावोद्भवकरो विसर्गः कर्मसंज्ञितः ||
अक्षरं - The one that does not perish, परं ब्रह्म - that is Brahman.
स्वभावं- - very nature of that अक्षरं, the imperishable, is the indwelling Self or Adhyatman, अध्यात्मं .
कर्म - भूतभाव उद्भवकरः विसर्गः।
Action is that action (करः) giving rise to birth भाव and growth उद्भव of things (भूत). Actions are those actions of one that gives rise to birth and growth of all things.
अधिभूतं - क्षरॊ भावः ;That which exists in physical plane is perishable.
अधिदैव - पुरुषः च ; the one who pervades everything that Purusha is the divine.
अधियज्ञः - अहम् ऎव; the entity existing in sacrifices is अहमेव me only !

While elaborating on Svabhava of Brahman as the indwelling one Adhyatman - Krishna says in one stroke that the Atman in the body and the Paramatman are one and the same. The thought that there is a Self which is not the body, not the organs, not the mind etc is understood by many. But most of us are in that domain of seeing Atman and Paramatman as separate entities. The realization that Paramatman is same as Self-dawns after great experience. Krishna is telling us that very thing as a fact to believe.

Then there is Arjuna's question how are you to be known in those last moments - "कथं ज्ञेयसि", which is to be elaborated.

Krishna says-

- without any doubt !
अन्तकाले मामेव स्मरन्
- In those last moments thinking of me ,remembering me they will attain the Brahman!
So those who leave the body thinking of me in those last moments will without any doubt attain me ( 8.03).
Not only that " Whatever nature one was thinking about in those last moments he attains the same"( 3.06).

In that process Krishna is saying that for one to concentrate his mind on the Self or Brahman in those last moments, one has to be continuously focused on that thought all through the life .

तस्मात् सर्वेषुकालेषु मामनुस्मरयुध्य च |
मय्यर्पित मनोबुद्धिः मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयः ||7||

"So, at all times remembering me do the battle. With mind focused on Me, you will attain me."

Here, Krishna exhorts Arjuna to take on the battle of Kurukshetra.
It is also and exhortation to the Bhaktas to take on the battle of life, with mind focused on Him.

For the question of "कथं ज्ञेयसि" or " how are you to be known", Krishna's answer is cryptic. " Keep remembering me then you will attain me".

This is not a complete answer so Krishna elaborates further.

"By a continuous process of the habit of meditation, meditation on the Supreme Being, a man attains the object".(8.08) Elaborating further he says
" (प्रयाणकाले) स तं परं पुरुषमुपैति दिव्यं", (following that path in those final moments) he will attain, "दिव्यं परं", the supreme resplendent, "तं एव" that Supreme Being only"- "उपैति he will attain.

"तं एव" means, "that Supreme Being".
What is the nature of that Supreme Being?

Krishna elaborates on the Supreme very incisively.
कविं : The one who knows everything.
पुराणम् : The ancient.
अनुशासितारम् : the one who rules
अणोः अणीयांशं : The one who is subtler than the subtle
सर्वस्व धातारम् : The one who is the support of every being
अचिन्त्यरूपं: One with a form that defies being conceived
आदित्यवर्णम् : one with the brilliance of the Sun
तमसः परस्तात् : He is on the other side of darkness (or ignorance)

So that is the Supreme being one is attaining with continuous practice of meditation.(8.09)

As to how will one attain the "Supreme one" in those last moments, Krishna says:
योगबलेन - with practice of Yoga.
प्राणं - With the vital force fully fixed, भ्रुवोः मध्ये, between the eye brows.
अचलेन मनसा - with mind that is steady meditating on Him.

So one who can follow that process of meditation as above will attain the Brahman.(8.10)

Further elaborating on the difficult process Krishna says:

सर्वद्वाराणि संयम्य मनो हृदिनिरुध्यच |
मूर्ध्न्याधायात्मनः प्राणमास्थितो योगधारणाम्॥12||
ओम् इत्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् |
यः प्रयाति त्यजन् देहं स याति परमां गतिम्॥13||

"Having controlled all the passages ( सर्वद्वाराणि) having confined the mind on the heart ( मनोहृदि निरुध्य च), keeping the vital force in the head and continuing the meditation if one leaves the body uttering the single letter "om" , such a one will attain the Supreme being .

"ओम्" is a single letter and is another word for Brahman.

So in four slokas Krishna tell us what is the nature of Brahman, who can be attained in those last moments ( प्रयाणकाले) through control of all senses ( सर्वद्वाराणी संयम्य) and how he can be attained by the one leaving the body uttering that single letter "om"( ओम् इत्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म ). Such a one will attain that Supreme goal or Supreme being ( स याति परमांगतिम् ).

This is an arduous process. It may not be possible for all. So what happens to one who may not be able to leave the body uttering 'om". That would be a natural concern.

As though answering that concern, Krishna elaborates further:

अनन्यचेताः सततं योमां स्मरति नित्यशः।
तस्याहं सुलभः पार्थ नित्ययुक्तस्य योगिनः ||14||
The meaning is as follows.
अनन्यचेता, with a mind not focused on anything else or with a mind that is steadfast,
सततम् मां स्मरति, the one who remembers me all the time,
तस्याहं सुलभः, for him, I am attainable easily.

Here Bhagavan is saying that if one lets go of everything and meditates on Brahman alone, all the time, for such Bhaktas "I am easily available".

In saying that "I am easily available", it is an implicit admission that the process detailed earlier, of closing all passages keeping the vital force between the eyebrows etc ( सर्वद्वाराणी संयम्य etc) may indeed be difficult for all.

What is it one gains by attaining Him?
The one who attains Him are the exalted ones.
Having attained the Supreme being, they do not come back to this life which is an abode of sorrows.(8.15,16)
That is liberation.

To emphasize that liberation is without rebirth, Krishna elaborates on the those Lokas one wo does not attain liberation, goes to, and from where he returns to this abode of sorrow again and again. These Lokas include Brahma Loka, Indra Loka, and the Heaven.

But "with steadfast focus and unwavering mind (अनन्य चेताः) those who meditate on me ( यो मांस्मरति नित्यशः) such people attain liberation without rebirth or Moksha ( सुलभः) easily" .

Here, Krishna is elaborating on the process of creation and dissolution of the universe in a working day of Brahma, the creator. This may span thousands of Yugas. Krishna explains that in the beginning of the day of Brahma, the manifested beings emerge from the unmanifested . And at the end of the day of the Brahma, the manifested things merge into the unmanifested only to remerge again next cosmic day of Brahma (8.17). For those who have not attained liberation the rebirth cycle continues through these cycles of Brahma also. Even if they have attained merits to go to Brahmaloka, they will start their next life in the next cycle of Brahma, when again all the manifested beings emerge from the unmanifested.

In that sense the Moksha liberation without rebirth is superior to going to Brahma Loka because the "manifested keep emerging from the unmanifested " day after day in the Brahma Loka. The unmanifested does not perish even when all others perish. That unmanifested and imperishable is the highest goal. That is liberation. That is Moksha.(8.20,21)

Hence to obtain Moksha or that Supreme freedom from rebirth, it is all the more necessary to focus on meditation.

Reiterating the same Krishna says the following.

पुरुषः स पार्थ भक्त्या लभ्यस्त्वनन्यया |
यस्यान्तःस्थानि भूतानि येन सर्वमिदं ततम्॥22||
The meaning is as follows.

That Supreme being ( स पुरुषः)
In whom are included all beings ( यस्य अंतःस्थानि भूतानि)
by whom all this world is pervaded ( येन सर्वम् इदं ततम्)
भक्त्या लभ्यः - is attainable through devotion.
This is the easier path.

यत्रकाले त्वनावृत्तिं आवृत्तिं चैव योगिनः |
प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ ||23||

'Oh Arjuna I will tell you about the times of departure which allow yogis to attain liberation without rebirth and the times of departure which will result in attaining that of remaining the cycle of rebirth"

Having elaborated on what one should at the time of departure , Krishna is now elaborating on the time of departure too.

Fire, light, day time, the fortnight of waxing moon, the six months of Sun moving towards the north, represent the time and path that is followed by people who attain Moksha the liberation with no rebirth(8.24).

The smoke, darkness, night time, the dark fort night of waning moon, the , six month period of Sun moving towards south, represent the time and path followed by people who follow the path resulting in a life with rebirth (8.25).

The one who realizes these two paths follow the path of liberation with no rebirth.
Krishna says - Hence, oh Arjuna, follow the path being imbued with Yoga, "योगयुक्तो भव !"(8.27)

Krishna gives final exhortation saying -
इदं विदित्वा - Having known this ( the two paths)
परं स्थानम् उपैति - (Yogi) attains the Supreme abode
तत् सर्वं पुण्यफलम् अत्येति - above all that fruits of merit.
All that fruits of merits mentioned include all that can be achieved by Vedas, Yagnyas, penance and sacrifices.

Which means that the Moksha , the liberation without rebirth, is above all that the fruits of merit, which can be achieved by Vedas, penance, and sacrifices.

That is the abode attained by not letting the mind waver and always focusing on the meditation on the Supreme being.
This is that imperishable "Akshara Parabrahma Yoga"

|| ओम् तत् सत् ||
वेदेषुयज्ञेषु तपस्सु चैव दानेषु यत्पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्ठं।
अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम्॥
" The one knowing this imperishable Brahman will attain that Supreme abode which is ( beyond) the fruits of merits detailed in( study of) Vedas, (practice of) penance and (performance of) sacrifices, "
|| om tat sat||