I got very positive feedback on my previous posts on the Bhagvat Gita shloks. Some of my Dad’s friends told him that I write well, which made him happy. And my husband gave me one of his rare compliments.
So today here is the beautiful 18-66 shlok, possibly the most beautiful shlok of the entire Gita.
- सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज |
- अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: ||
- Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja
- Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah
Let’s see how basic Sanskrit grammar and meanings work with this verse. These words have deep philosophical meanings. But I will stick to the basic word meanings. I love Devbhasha Samskrutam, so in this post have added some grammar related stuff to bring out its subtlety (If someone gets inspired to learn it, it would be truly wonderful).
- Sarva – many, entire, various, whole, together, complete, manifold, different, water, all, each, universe, every (Sarvadharmaan is a compound word)
- Dharmaan – (masculine accusative plural noun) ‘to’ right, devotion, character, law, observance, essence, established, firm, thing, religion, mark, decree, rule, practice, morality, character, foundation etc.
- Parityajya – (imperative mood, second person singular verb) abandon, omit, give up, renounce, give away, distribute, forsake, disown, disregard, leave behind, get rid of, go beyond, come out of, abandon.
- Maam – (neuter, accusative singular, noun) ‘to’ ego, individual soul, I,
- Ekam – (neuter, accusative singular noun) single, one, exclusive, alone, excellent, sincere, truth, chief, unity
- Sharanam – (neuter, nominative and accusative singular noun) protection, succour, guard, asylum, help, defense, home, water, shelter, refuge, rest or ‘to protect etc’.
- Vraja – (imperative mood, second person singular verb) If used as a noun, cow-shed, cloud, fold, movement, several, road. But as verb it means ‘to go’
- Aham – (neuter nominative singular noun) singular, ‘I’
- Twam – (neuter accusative singular noun) singular ‘you’
- Sarva – meaning as above. (Sarvapapebhyo is a compound word)
- Papebhyo – (neuter dative and ablative plural noun) ‘Paap’ means wretched, vicious, evil, villain, crime, ill-luck, vice, inauspicious, low, harm, trouble, guilt, misfortune.
- Moksha-yishami – This is a very rare form in Sanskrit grammar. The verb is first person, singular, benedictive mood. The verb is a ‘naam-dhatu’, ie a denominative, made by using a noun as a verb. Moksh, a noun, is used as a verb. It is an assurance or a blessing, it literally means ‘I (noun) Moksh (verb)’ something like ‘I dance!’
- Moksh – freedom, liberation, solution, emancipation, release
- Ma – negation of the highest order
- Suchah – (masculine nominative singular noun) pure
Krishna is the Advaita Nirvishesh Brahma. Maam, Ekam, indicate the non-dual intelligence which cannot be described in the language of the universe. ‘Krishna’ word is often translated as ‘black’, but it really means something which has such attributes which cannot be seen by the senses of this creation but only experienced by the soul.
Interesting fact, when you are in space, you cannot see the Sun or the Stars shining in the sky. The pretty colored images of galaxies and stuff from NASA are rendered using filters. The self-luminous bodies are ‘black’. You can sense the radiation emitted by them, but your eyes cannot see them. We see the self-luminous Suns/Stars from the earth because the all-enveloping atmosphere acts as a filter and gives them that white-gold color. In outer space, the only things visible to the eyes are the planets and the satellites which reflect light from these self-luminous Suns. So if you were in space would you say the Sun is ‘black’ in color?
We believe ‘Krishna’ to be a man driving a chariot or the supreme ‘god’. But that is because of our filters of perceptions surrounding us. If we ever cross this conditioning, this karma bindings, the layers of unintelligence around us, the all-enveloping ignorance, we would experience Krishna as the Nirvishesh Brahma, his true ‘black’ nature. But to come out of those filtering layers we need to generate energy to propel us out. And the only way we can generate the energy is to do our Dhyan, focus on our Dhyan-mantra. Till then, in our ignorance, we will strongly argue that the Sun is gold-white in color and Krishna was either a man or a god!
Arjun is the brilliant streak of lightning, the conscious intelligence of the individual soul. It is the awareness of the mental processes of the spiritual aspirant. The lightening momentarily flashes from the dark skies and is submerged back in the darkness. So does the individual soul flash briefly and is again absorbed in the darkness that is Krishna.
The very last chapter of the Bhagvat Gita is very subtle. Especially the verses from 63 to 72 where Krishna concludes his teaching. These shloks contain the gist of these 18 chapters and must be mediated upon again and again to get their depth.
So basically, Krishna speaks to Arjun,
“There are several types of foundations which you use as a support in this universe. So many concepts bind you to this illusion called creation. The entire set of preconceived notions which you follow eg your religious and moral codes. The various practices and ideas that you have bound yourself in. All the things which you think are necessary for yourself. Your thought patterns, emotions, philosophies, ideas, mind-set, everything. The body, the body processes, the mental patterns, the spiritual activities, the things you feel necessary for your body/mind. All the stuff of the material world. The plurality of things. The differences in everything. The various reasons you act and react. All your desires which make up your sense of self. Even the very act of your breathing!” (Sarvadharmaan)
Krishna continues and orders Arjun,
“All this as above is to be discarded. Get rid of the illusion that is ‘duality’. Come out of your idea that you need support to exist. Get rid of all the notions in which you have bound your intelligence in. Remove all pre-conceived notions regarding your own sense of self. Give away completely, the very concept of duality. Let go of all the reasons for your actions, stop creating new karmic bindings. Utterly release all desires linked to this creation. You are not connected in any way to these illusionary things, release them from your consciousness. You are not bound to the illusion called the universe, release this idea of creation. To disregard the differences between the various aspects of creation is the real step to true understanding. Understand that what you really are, does not require any sort of support from the creation.” (Sarvadharmaan parityajya)
Then Krishna continues,
“There is only Advaita, the non-dual consciousness. The most exclusive, singular, unique, intelligence, not dependant on anything, highest, purest, truth, source etc. There is no polarity, no movement, no change, no duality, no illusions, no difference, no conflict.” (Maam ekam)
Now the Sharanam part can be understood in two ways, it is the nominative as well as the accusative singular noun form.
- The nominative way. ‘Maam ekam sharanam’ (subject) vraja (verb)
- Krishna orders Arjun, “The One Singular Protection should be approached by you. You should go to the Singular Intelligence. Seek its experience. Be in its shelter. Understand that the Advaita is the only refuge. You come from the non-dual Intelligence and are absorbed again in it. Realise the Non-Dual. The outward duality of forms is irrelevant as the source of all is the Only Non dual.”
- The accusative case is this. Maam ekam (subject) vraja (verb) Sharanam (object).
- Krishna orders Arjun thus, “The One Singular Protection should be approached by you, to shelter in yourself. Realise that the Advaitya is actually inside yourself. After you realise this, you should to hold on to this realization. Rather than going here and there in search of the Advaita, you should know that it is inside you. Recognise that you are not separate from the Eternal. There is no duality in this, you are the Eternal and the Eternal is you. Experience this Unity between you and the Eternal. And remain ever in this realization. The Advaita is your refuge, your home, your real position, and it is right within you.”
My note –
Pari-tyajya is used to make the act of removing or giving away very intense, right from the roots. Some people actually leave the material world, become an ascetic, a Sanyasi. They forsake the foundation of human society, cut off all possibilities of any desire of the material ie take Sanyas and do their further Sadhana in complete singular isolation. They seek the Advaita and this is their driving intention, deepest desire, the only possible desire. This happens only if the horoscope allows it. And for most aspirants who reach this level, there is always some type of an isolation provided even if they live on in the society.
The Nirvishesh Brahma, Krishna then continues,
“I will give to you the solution for your misery, ill-luck, inauspiciousness, low energy, etc. As well as liberate you from the wretchedness, trouble, harm etc that you are under. Not knowing oneself is the biggest evil, I will release you from this. You are ignorant of your own reality, I assure you that I will remove this misfortune and ill-luck from you. I will give to you the Realization of Advaita. This is my assurance and my blessing. (Aham tvaam sarvapapebhyo moshayishyami)
As per the grammar used, Krishna addresses Arjun as Shuchah ‘pure one’. The correct way of looking at these words, ‘Maa Shuchah’ would be, “Pure one, No!” Arjun is the bright and pure lightening flash of intellect. The Maa is the negation of Arjun’s behaviour till now ie his obsession with duality and him being unable to realise the overarching Advaita. Maa is also Prakruti which hides Arjun’s true nature. Krishna calls him the ‘Pure one’ and admonishes his past behaviour with the highest negation ‘No!’.
My notes –
I have seen ‘Ma Shuchah’ being translated as ‘do not grieve’. But Shuchah शुच: is a nominative masculine gender word, it means ‘Pure one’ as the subject. The imperative verb form for ‘do not grieve’ would be ‘Ma Shoch/ शोच’. It cannot be understood as the ‘Grieving one’ either, as the noun which means grief or sorrow is शुचा, it is a feminine noun, its nominative singular would be शुचा shuchaa.
Sanskrit has one specialty, the word sequence in a sentence is not relevant at all. The declination cases of the nouns and the moods of the verbs are important. The intention of the speaker and the context of the situation, the gravity of the words and the ability of the listener to understand gives the meaning relevant to him.
The energy of the word ‘Maa‘ is negation, and it negates our true nature. The simple negation would be just ‘na’. Maa is a particle in grammar so fitting it in the sentence requires a background of philosophy of the Gita. “Maa’ in itself is also a name of the Prakruti. So when Krishna uses Maa here, it is an independent word with a wealth of meaning, something like “No!” more like an admonishment.
Sanskrit is a very subtle language, that is why I love it so much, layers of meanings. A small example, let’s look at this part again in a different way, Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami.
- Why is Aham tvaam used like this? These words seems incongruous in a verse dedicated to Advaita. But see, Aham tvaam, I-you is the basic duality! When I believe I am different from you, does duality start. The root of creation is duality, this ‘I-you’.
- Aham tvaam is followed by sarva-paapebhyo. ‘I-you’ is the very foundation of duality. And this actually is ‘all of the misfortune’. So here Aham tvaam does not refer to Krishna – Arjun as I – you. The Advaita is referring to the concept of duality embodied by ‘I-you’. This concept is the source of all inauspiciousness. This illusion of separation is the reason we cannot Know our own Reality, an evil thing indeed.
- It says further, mokṣhayiṣhyaami. This can be understood as ‘I be Moksh’, I act Moksh, I cause Moksh, I regard Moksh, I play the part of Moksh, I make Moksh, I use Moksh, I apply Moksh, I wish Moksh, I desire Moksh, I assure Moksh. I Moksh.
- The very presence of Advaita in itself is all this assurance.
- It Itself is Its own blessing to Itself! A mindbender isn’t it?
The Bhagvat Gita is a practical manual Yog-Shastra and a philosophy Tatva-Jnyan designed perfectly to attain the state of the Advaitya. For a spiritual aspirant both practice – Dhyan and philosophy are needed together to bring the Pran and the Mind into control. Doing just one without the other does not work well.
It is only when the conscious-intellect of the individual crosses all concepts linked to the material universe and illusions of its superficial separation from the Eternal, that it really begins to understand itself. It was wallowing in its sense of individuality, its own tiny ego, in its individual soul. The entire purpose of the Bhagvat Gita is to turn the direction of conscious-awareness to the highest possible, the Advaita, the Nirvishesh Brahma. It is involution of the highest degree, a pure flash of the highest intelligence is generated by the spiritual aspirant himself which illuminates his own Reality!
(have continued this in my next post)