This is a continued post from part 1 here.
This shlok is from the 18th chapter of the Bhagvat Gita, the 66th verse. These verses from 63 to 72 are the gist of the entire Gita. The Sanskrit Bhagvat Gita is a sutra. Each line needs a thousand more to make its meaning somewhat clear. (Compare what I have written in my earlier post and translations like these available on-line “abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear”.)
- सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज |
- अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: ||
- Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja
- Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah
(To know what a Sutra means in the philosophical sense, this is a link to a ok English translation of the Adi-Shankaracharya’s Sanskrit commentary of Badarayan’s Brahma Sutra. If it makes sense to you, do buy it, a paper copy is necessary for learning anything well.)
I was born in a family which had a Sat-guru by tradition. He taught Dhyan with the Soham mantra, gave discourses and also told us to read books. The Dasbodh (Marathi), The Jyaneshwari (Marathi), Yog-Vashishth (Sanskrit), various Upanishads (Sanskrit), the Mahabharat (Sanskrit), Bhagvat Gita is a part of the Mahabharat, Ramayan (Sanskrit) etc. So the practice of the Pran and the practice of the Mind both was simultaneously on. Both together are essential for progress. Doing just one of the two will not give its full results. (I would recommend these books published by Gita Press as they are very affordable, adequately translated into other languages and easily available.)
A personal incident. Once the Devi told me to perform an Anushthan (a count) of the Nav-avaran mantra. My Sat-guru allowed it for some reason. This I did alongside my Dhyan. Then exactly one year later to the day, while doing Dhyan, I clearly heard the first half of this Bhagvat Gita shlok 18-66 ‘Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja’, repeated three times.
I pulled out the commentaries on the Gita, thought deeply on it, dissected the words, pored over its intention. It was a clear cut direction. I had repaid my energy debts to everyone including the Devi. (Will write a post sometime on the real nature of the ‘gods’ and ‘deities’ of Sanatan Dharma). That day I stopped doing all other forms of puja/ mantra jaap and focussed just on ‘Soham’. My Dhyan had expanded, beyond the formal asan, Soham was on at every waking/ sleeping/ dreaming breath. This 18-66 verse which my Sat-guru had specifically pointed out brought everything into perfect focus. I was to get rid of the binding that I had put on my practice. Now it was to progress beyond the 3 times a day Dhyan and go beyond the Asan. Now onwards every breath had to be Soham with awareness, 24 hrs a day as a continuous process.
Spiritual practice is like school. You complete one grade, toss out the old text books and learn new ones. From your playschool till your Ph.D. you learn deeper things. Every activity/ mantra can take you upto a certain level. Once you cross this level, it changes its form ie you stop doing that specific activity and do something else more intense. You will get clear signals when you pass the grade, so the transition is quite natural.
If you continue doing the old mantra/ activity out of habit or obstinacy or your failure to understand or your fear to change. Or your obsession with the illusion called creation. If you do not change and adapt to your new energy levels, you will harm yourself.
- Eg you begin going to a Sat-sang where like-minded people sit together, sing bhajans, listen to discourses, a group activity. You do this once a week or so.
- Next step, you set up a personal puja-ghar/ altar and do moorthi-puja, put flowers etc and focus on this moorthi. Now your group activities reduce, eventually stop, you enjoy your personal pujas more.
- Then you start a formal mantra jaap eg Gayatri, Navavarna or any other mantra given to you, generally three times a day in sets of 108 repeats.
- Or if you are directly given your Dhyan-mantra, the mantra is now Soham. (Some people use OM or Hamsa. I have no personal experience with either of these, my Guru taught me Soham, but these too are said to be powerful).
- Then you start doing Dhyan, focus on your third eye, start internalising. You sit for 2-3 times a day on your Asan. Your Dhyan-mantra generates more power.
- When Soham gains power, all the outer pujas, mantras, even Gayatri or the Navavarna mantra-jaap etc eventually stop.
- And finally Soham is on 24hours in all your waking/ dreaming/ sleeping states.
- Then the Bhagvat Gita shlok 18-66 starts operating.
Soham-Dhyan might seem insignificant to begin with but it has immense power as it is linked to your very breath, it is an ajapa-mantra. The Ajapa-mantra (Soham or Hamsa) are the only way to realise the Eternal. You want to realise yourself as you naturally are. You desire to experience your basic natural condition. And the most natural thing you do is to breathe, but you are actually unaware of your breath. Your breathing is not natural as it is linked to your emotional states, ie your mind. If you are upset, happy, angry, tense, etc your breathing changes its pattern. Ever wondered how it would be if your mind were plain, calm, still and immersed in its Own Self? The mantra linked to your breath are always on whether you are aware or not, the Ajapa-mantra. And the Breath is nothing but Pran. If you destroy the effect of the Mind on the movement of your Breath/Pran or if you bring your Mind to its perfect pristine state, you can experience your basic natural state. So the Ajapa-mantra, Pran, Mind and Breathing are all interlinked. Focus on one of these, control one of these consciously and you control them all. So it is logical that these Ajapa mantras are the only ones powerful to take you to your essential natural state.
The verse 18-66 is in two parts.
‘Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam ekam sharanam vraja’.
- This is what the spiritual aspirant is directed to do. “Leave all concepts of your limited self, your limited understanding, duality, illusion of creation, artificial conditions you have imposed on yourself, needless complications arising out of the artificial bindings you have created on yourself. Experience the Eternal within yourself, hold on to this realization that you yourself are the Advaita.”
- This the spiritual aspirant has to do. And the Gita’s teachings as a Yog-shastra for controlling the Pran and the Tatva-jnyan for taming the Mind will be used.
- This is an order from the Advaita to the aspirant. If the aspirant succeeds in doing this, only then does the second part of the shlok come into operation.
- This half verse 18.66 was a clear order from my Sat-guru. “To now search for the Eternal within. To follow only what he had taught ie Soham. To use only the Soham with all my strength, this one single route.
“Aham tvaam sarva-paapebhyo mokṣhayiṣhyaami maa shuchah”.
- The Nirvishesh Brahma assures you, the spiritual aspirant, that It will bless you with the highest liberation. But you cannot claim Moksh unless you actually do what you have been directed in the first part.
- If you keep desiring a husband/wife, children, money, etc stuff linked to the material and not intensely focus on your single route on your single Sat-Guru on your single mantra, you will not reach that non-dual Truth. Your very existence should burn with this deepest intention of seeing Yourself. This is the deepest Illumination you are asking for, your very soul wants to light up with the intensity of a million Sun’s!
- The instant your intelligence casts away all forms of duality, all connection with the illusion of creation is severed by the conscious awareness. All material desires are extinguished, you see your pristine self, this is Moksh.
- There is no coming or going anywhere, just the magnificence of Existence.
- The Advaita gives this blessing but only if you perform your part first.
On the practical side, this means that the pattern of breath in and breath out also changes. ie Kumbhak increases, expands. This stillness in between finally leads to the state of Avaitya. This is the exact thing which Bhairav repeatedly says in his Vignyan Bhairav Tantra. Whichever book you read, they all say the same thing.
This verse also means that ultimately there can be only one Sat-Guru. If you are following 5 different religious leaders/ spiritual teachings, discard all but the one who really inspires your confidence. There can be only one spiritual practice, especially so when you are so near your goal. So if you are observing 10 different types of practices, discard all but the one which gives you the maximum intensity. If at this point you refuse to obey the clear directions coming from your higher self/ Sat-guru, and still continue with your several activities or listen to several Guru-s, you will harm yourself.
If you are at the initial experimental stages of your practice you can definitely try out several systems, or listen to several Guru-s discourses, but when you are in the last 100m lap, this cannot be. You will focus on one mantra, follow one Sat-guru and reach the Advaita. You are now committed to your destination. No desires linked to the material will be entertained by your higher self even if superficial desires pop up once in a while they will be quashed. You will discard the material by its very roots, rid yourself of the very foundations of duality and focus on the Maam Ekam. And the very clear assurance of the Nirvishesh Brahma powers you.
The point being that to finally Realise, you have to give up every vestige of the manifested creation. You cannot have both at the same time.
Eg A story of Ramkrishna Parmahans. He was a devotee of Devi Kali and she would appear before him in his spiritual practice. His Guru Totapuri, a Naga Sadhu, was a realised Soul. He would get angry when Ramkrishna would talk about the Devi Kali in his visions. He would tell him to take a sword and cut her down only then would he Realise the Self. This Ramkrishna was unable to do. So, Totapuri made Ramkrishna sit in front of him and told him to meditate. As Devi Kali appeared in his vision, Totapuri took a piece of glass and made an actual cut on Ramkrishna’s forehead. This action of the Guru removed Ramkrishna’s last link to the creation ie Devi Kali and triggered his Self-realisation, at that instant he became a ‘Paramhans’.
Now finally, the real beauty of this shlok. This is the only one in the entire Gita, where the Advaita uses the word ‘mokshayishyaami’. This is a very rare word (I have written about its grammar in the previous post). It is used only once in the entire Gita and in this one shlok. The intention of the Advaita, the assurance! This shlok is the most unique, the most special one in the entire Gita as It is giving you Its blessing! What more does the jiv-atma/ individual soul need?
I could write an entire book on this one shlok, it is so profound, both for the practice part and also the philosophy part. This is the gist of the entire Gita. The highest Intelligence is specifically telling you what to do, there is no ambiguity at all, no baffle with fluff. And if you do it, then It is guaranteeing you that It will grant you the highest illumination! You will realise Your own Self as the Nirvishesh Brahma.
(This is my last post on deep spiritual practice. Nothing needs to be said more on this topic after this 18:66 Bhagvat Gita. I will not write more on this unless there is a specific question from my readers)
(The sequence of studying the Bhagwat Gita is this – first read just the Sanskrit shloks, then read the Pranav Gita. Then start your study of the Vedant/Upanishads and then come to the Shankarbhashya. This is written by Adi Shankaracharya, he expounds on the true essence of the Gita as the pure distillation of the Vedant is explained)