Category Archives: Vedic Literature

VEDIC PSYCHOLOGY – DYING

QUESTION

man in despairMy grandfather has lived a long life but is having problems letting go of the body. He is filled with fear and I try to ease him by talking to him and reading to him. I have shared my thoughts with him on ego, purusha and prakruti. He’s approaching the end and is in great pain but cannot let go. He told me a couple of days ago that he does not want to go. Is there some advice you may have for me to help him? Maybe a mantra or prayer or reading that I can share with him?  The death of my grandmother three years ago was very graceful and peaceful. She let go without a problem and he is just the opposite.  He told me in the past that he believes in reincarnation, but his attachment to this material world is strong.

 

ANSWER

When someone we love is dying, it is a very painful experience for us to let go of them…and for them to let go of us and everyone else that they have loved.

Often times it is too painful for us to watch our loved one die, and so we want them to hurry up and leave their body because we can’t watch someone we love suffer in pain. But, we have to honor their experience. The body has its own intelligence; beyond what we think in our emotional mind about how the dying process should go. If your grandfather’s dying process is going too slow for you, then introspect about what is the rush? He himself said he is not ready to go. So, who wants him to die more quickly? You or him? You, because you can’t stand the pain? If it is him, then he would have died already. As you noted, each person’s dying process is unique, as unique as each person’s life. So your grandmother died more peacefully. But, try not to compare your grandfather to her. Instead, honor his process for what it is. The best thing you can do is to just be present with him in his process, without trying to expedite it in any way. This is a good exercise in awareness. Just watch your mind as you sit with him. Watch your breath. Be with yourself. Be with him. Nothing to do other than to be. Because that is the only place where love actually is. In the present moment. Most people are not able to really do this with their loved ones in the process of dying, but it is one of the best meditations for the heart. Because then you see all of your expectations, all of your attachments, all of your memories about the past with this person, your fears about the future without them. Let that all go. Let go also of your theoretical understanding of the ahankara, the mind, etc. Just stay present with his breath. And your own. A dying person also lets go when you have let go. So it is important to tell him that you love him and that you will be okay when he goes. Tell him that it is okay for him to go when he is ready. Also, ask him if there is anybody whom he didn’t get to say goodbye to yet? Sometimes the dying hold on in order to say goodbye to a loved one whom they have either lost touch with, or are on bad terms with. So check for that. And, if you can assist him in saying goodbye to that person, that will help him let to go.

But if you still desire to have a dialogue with him about life and death, you can ask him these questions: Who will die? You or the body? If it is only the body, then nothing to fear because “you ” will survive. If it is “you’ who will die, then nothing to fear because you won’t know that you died. Ask him the source of his fear and then analyze it.

Fear is because of attachment. In this material world we become separated with everything around us except ourselves, but we don’t realize that because we do not know our self. So, you can try to help him realize this. However, it is very difficult to talk to a dying person because he is not in a normal state of mind. These are lessons to learn when you are healthy and your mind is functioning properly. So in one way you can thank your grandfather for helping you to learn these lessons and apply them to your own self. Because once you realize these points yourself, you will not experience difficulty with your loved ones passing. You will be situated within your own self, experiencing the bliss of your own being and honoring others process of shedding their bodies, without trying to change it in any way. You will realize that nature has its own perfection that you are a part of, and you will be at peace with her processes, allowing them to unfold in their own time and in their own way.

 

PRACTICAL EXERCISE

Here is a technique to help you to be present and witness your grandfathers dying process.

  • Sit by your grandfather’s bedside. Before engaging with him, use rose or lavender pure essential oil to calm your mind and bring you into the present moment. Put a few drops into the palms of your hands and cup your hands over your nose. Take 3 deep belly breaths. Inhale and relax into your breath. Let your shoulders drop. Sit back on the chair and shut your eyes. Repeat deep breathing of the essential oil. Just breathe. Continue like this for two minutes.
  • Play some relaxing music. Something you know he likes. The sense of sound is the last sense to go when a person is dying, so even if he seems non-responsive, he can still hear you.
  • Once you are feeling the effects of the deep breathing, and music, approach your grandfather. But do not speak to him. If he is conscious and can look at you, then hold his hand (both hands if possible). Feel the connection of your touch. Look into his eyes, and hold your gaze. Just look. Do not fill the air with any words. Just look into his eyes and let yourself feel your connection to your grandfather. Do not let your mind do its normal thing which is to create distance from your heart to his by analyzing, thinking, planning. Just be with him in this moment. Hold your gaze for one minute if possible. If he is not able to open his eyes, then just hold his hands and feel your connection to him through the sense of touch.
  • Continue to hold your gaze. If this is not possible continue to hold his hand(s). Try to synch your breath with his. Watch to see his chest or belly moving up and down, and then match yours to his. Depending on the stage of dying he is in, his breath may be erratic – short, shallow breaths. Then no breath at all. Then gasping. If this is the case, then do not synch your breath to his. Maintain your deep belly breaths. Stay calm and focused on your breaths. Sometimes your deep belly breaths can calm his. And even though he may not seem present, his breath can change and synch with yours.
  • Let yourself be with your feelings. Do not try to hide them or fade them or fix them. If you feel angry, this is a normal part of the process. Let yourself feel the anger. Just be with it, as you are with your breath. If you feel sad, let your tears flow. If you feel fearful yourself, then acknowledge that raw emotion that we all have within us when it comes to dying.
  • Use your voice as a vehicle for your love. Tell him in a soft voice, with a tender heart how much you love him. Research has been done by experts in the field of death and dying that there are 4 main things that people who are dying need to hear in order to let go. If you like, you can write him a letter and read it to him, covering these 4 main points. The letter does not have to be lengthy, just as long as you cover these 4 points clearly:
    • Thank you. Thank your grandfather for what he did for you in his life. The more specific you can be the better. Just saying that he was great is too general. It is much more appealing for him to hear how you appreciated the time he taught you how to ride a bike, for example:
    • Please Forgive Me. Ask him for forgiveness for those things which you feel guilty or bad about in your relationship with him. For example, “Grandfather, please forgive me for not spending enough time with you. Please forgive me for judging you and your dying process, and for not honoring that you lived in your own unique way, and so also you will die in your own unique way.
    • I Forgive You. Tell your grandfather the things that you forgive him for doing. You do not have to forgive him for things that you are not able to forgive him for. Be genuine in your forgiving. For example, “I forgive you for being harsh to my husband. I can understand now that you were just trying to protect me.
    • I Love You. Tell your grandfather that you love him, and specifically what you love about him. For example, “I love how you so stubbornly fought your points. I love how you played so joyfully with my kids.”

No One Falls From Vaikuṇṭha – Part 1 (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 51)

Srila Jiva Gosvami
Srila Jiva Gosvami

Continuation from Bhagavat Sandarbha, Anuccheda 51:

(3) No one falls down from that abode (tato’skhalanam). Śrī Kapiladeva says:

atho vibhūtiṁ mama māyayācitām
aiśvaryam aṣṭāṅgam anupravṛttam
śriyaṁ bhāgavatīṁ vāspṛhayanti bhadrāṁ
parasya me te’śnuvate tu loke

Thereafter, they do not hanker after any opulence stored for them by My māyā, nor for the eight ensuing yogic paranormal powers, nor even for the transcendental glory of God, and yet these benign gifts become effortlessly available to them in My supreme abode. (SB 3.25.37)

“Thereafter” (atho) means, “after the removal of ignorance.” “By My māyā” (mama māyayā) means, “by My mercy upon the devotee.” “Stored” (ācitām) means, made manifest or available for the sake of those devotees. “Opulence” (vibhūti) refers to paraphernalia appropriate for enjoyment, and aiśvarya, to the eight yogic paranormal powers (aṣṭāṅgaiśvaryam), such as aṇimā (atomization). These powers systematically ensue” (anupravṛttam), i.e., it is their very nature to be made available [as a consequence of pure devotion]. The devotees do not desire any of the above, nor even “the transcendental glory of God” (bhāgavatīṁ śriyaṁ), which here refers to the majesty known as sārṣṭi, or in other words, those divine opulences that are particular to the Lord Himself. The reason why they don’t desire any such opulence is that they yearn only to expand God’s own bliss through abandonment to all-consuming devotional love and service. Even though they have no desire for any of the above-stated gifts, they certainly enjoy (aśnuvate) them, meaning that they become fully available to them, in My supreme abode (loke) known as Vaikuṇṭha.

This shows the Lord’s special affection for His devotees, which is also exemplified in the benediction given to Sudāmā, the florist in Mathurā:

Sudāmā entreated the Lord that he may be blessed with unflinching devotion for Him, the Soul of all existence, with heart-felt friendship toward His devotees, and with the broadest and highest compassion for all living beings. The Lord not only granted Sudāmā all these, but also awarded him ever-increasing prosperity for his family [as well as strength, longevity, fame and beauty].  (SB 10.41.51-52)

Kapiladeva’s verse also shows the devotees’ disinterest in these opulences. The phrases, “after the removal of ignorance” (atho), and, “stored for them by My mercy” (mama māyayācitam), indicate that such opulences are in no way detrimental to them. Furthermore, by saying, “stored by My māyā” (māyayācitām), Kapiladeva indicates that all opulences, including those of the highest realms like Brahma-loka, are fully available to such devotees, as experiential possibilities, yet they make no use of them, considering them completely devoid of significance or substantiality and thus unsuitable for their use.

Śruti also states: “Just as the enjoyment earned by karma in this world perishes in due course, so does heavenly pleasure, attained by pious deeds.” (ChU 8.1.6)  And thereafter, “Those who leave their bodies after continuous recognition of the Lord, and of the realities truly worthy of desire, can freely travel in all the worlds.”

Here a doubt is raised: If Vaikuṇṭha is just another planet (loka), undistinguished from other planets [like Siddha-loka, and so on.], then sooner or later the experiencer’s enjoyment [of this realm] will come to an end. In response, the following verse is spoken:

na karhicin mat-parāḥ śānta-rūpe
naṅkṣyanti no me’nimiṣo leḍhi hetiḥ
yeṣām ahaṁ priya ātmā sutaś ca
sakhā guruḥ suhṛdo daivam iṣṭam

In that abode of unalterable peace, are found only those who know themselves and feel themselves to belong to Me entirely. They will never meet with destruction; My unblinking wheel never devours those for whom I am the total Beloved, their very Self, son, friend, preceptor, relative, benefactor and worshipable Lord. (SB 3.25.38)

“Of unalterable peace” (śānta-rūpe) refers to the supreme abode, Vaikuṇṭha [mentioned in the previous verse], which is peaceful by nature, meaning that it is free from all change or alteration that could disrupt the continuity of peace. All those who reside there know themselves and feel themselves to belong to Me entirely (mat-parāḥ). They are never destroyed (no naṅkṣyanti), which means they are never bereft of the [aforementioned] experiential possibilities. “My unblinking wheel” (animiṣo me hetiḥ), i.e., My discus in the form of time, does not devour them (no leḍhi). As stated in the Śruti, “He does not return” (ChU 8.15.1).  The Gītopaniṣad also declares:

O Arjuna, all planets up to the highest planet, Brahma-loka, are places of return, but one who attains to My abode never takes birth again. (Gītā 8.16)

In commenting on the name Parāyaṇa in his Sahasra-nāma-bhāṣya (75), Śaṅkarācārya writes, “That abode is supreme (param), or in other words, most excellent, from which there is no going (ayana), meaning, wherein there is no fear of return (punar-āvṛtti-śaṅkā-rahitam), and so it is called Parāyana. If the term appears in the masculine gender, then it should be taken as a bahuvrīhi compound, i.e., as an epithet of the Lord [rendering this sense, “the Lord, whose supreme abode is free from return”].

Freedom from the fear of fall or destruction is not the full extent of the devotees’ glories. Lord Kapila elucidates further in the second half of the verse: “those for whom I am the total Beloved, their very Self, son, friend, preceptor, relative, benefactor and worshipable Lord.” This means that for such devotees there is no Entity other than Me [the Lord], for whom their love exists. Alternatively, the statement can be taken as a reference to Goloka [instead of Vaikuṇṭha], because only there do the gopas, endowed with the full range of such attitudes, eternally reside.

Then again, the last two lines of the verse can be taken as a reply to the question, “What kind of people attain that abode after being freed from ignorance?” The idea is this: Some people, like the sages described in the Uttara-khaṇḍa of the Padma Purāṇa, desire Me as their beloved husband (priyaḥ), while others, like the four Kumāras, consider Me as “their very Self” (ātmā), i.e., directly as Brahman; yet others relate to Me in the other ways mentioned; only such persons [who know themselves as belonging to Me entirely, through any of these dispositions] can attain Vaikuṇṭha. The word suhṛdaḥ, “bosom friend,” is in the plural, because such friends are of various kinds.

Śrī Nārada speaks in a similar vein in the Fourth Canto:

Those established in unalterable peace, who are equanimous, pure and who please all other living beings, effortlessly go to that abode from which no one falls down (acyuta-padam), for they keep friendship with the dear devotees of the infallible Lord. (SB 4.12.37)

Continue reading part 2

Vaikuṇṭha Is Beyond the Material World (Bhagavat Sandarbha, 50)

 Anuccheda 50

(2) Vaikuṇṭha is transcendental to the manifested cosmos (prapañcātītatvam). Rudra declares this truth to the Pracetas:

sva-dharma-niṣṭhaḥ śata-janmabhiḥ pumān
viriñcatām eti tataḥ paraṁ hi mām
avyākṛtaṁ bhāgavato’tha vaiṣṇavaṁ
padaṁ yathāhaṁ vibudhāḥ kalātyaye

A person scrupulously devoted to his occupational duty for one hundred births becomes eligible to occupy the post of Brahmā, and if he becomes yet more qualified, he can attain me (Lord Śiva). A worshiper of the complete Whole, Bhagavān, however, is immediately promoted to the abode of the Complete (vaiṣṇavaṁ padam), which is free of all divisions or modifications (avyākṛtam), just as the other gods and I go there after the destruction of our subtle bodies. (SB 4.24.29)

If one has a great deal more piety [than needed to attain the post of Brahmā], he attains my world. But a worshiper of the Complete Whole, Bhagavān, after giving up his body, attains the abode of the Complete, Lord Viṣṇu, which is known as Vaikuṇṭha. It is beyond the manifested cosmos and free from all modifications (avyākṛtam), such as those mentioned in the famous Śruti statement, “I shall bring into manifestation (vyākṛtam) the divisions or modifications of name and form” (ChU 6.3.2) .

Just as I, Rudra, exist as an office-bearer, so do other devas. At the end of our appointed duration, and when our subtle bodies are destroyed, we go to that place, in accordance with the principle stated in the Brahma-sūtra, “The office-holders remain in this world until their tenure is completed” (VS 3.3.33).

Commentary

Srila Jiva Gosvami
Srila Jiva Gosvami

Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī now explains that Vaikuṇṭha is beyond the visible or manifested world (prapañca), beyond even Lord Brahmā’s realm, Satyaloka, which is considered to be the topmost planet in the universe. From the verse quoted in this section, it is clear that Lord Rudra’s world is superior even to that of Brahmā, since more pious merit is required to reach it.

One can achieve the world of Brahmā by pious acts or by adherence to religious principles. If one has even greater piety, he can attain the realm of Rudra. In the previous anuccheda, Kṛṣṇa described to Uddhava the various destinations attained by the followers of varṇāśrama, belonging to different āśramas. To reach Vaikuṇṭha, however, one has to be free from both the gross and subtle bodies, which means Vaikuṇṭha lies beyond both gross and subtle dimensions.

To prove this, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī cites a verse spoken by Lord Rudra to the Pracetas in which Vaikuṇṭha is described as avyākṛtam, free from external divisions or modifications, or in other words, one, unmodified nondual Reality. The Chāndogya Upaniṣad uses the word vyākṛtam to mean “manifest from the state of non-manifestation,” or in other words, “a caused event”—I shall bring into manifestation (vyākṛtam) the divisions or modifications of name and form” (nāma-rūpe vyākaravāṇi, ChU 6.3.2). The subsequent Chāndogya mantra describes material objects produced by the three guṇas of nature, which have names and forms. Vaikuṇṭha is not a manifestation of the three guṇas, and is thus called avyākṛtam, not a caused event, not something brought into the state of manifestation, which is to say that it is eternally self-manifest. Jīva Gosvāmī gives the word, prapañcātītam, “beyond the visible or manifested cosmos,” as a synonym for avyākṛtam.

Vaiṣṇavaṁ padam means the abode of the Complete Whole, Lord Viṣṇu, known as Vaikuṇṭha. The presiding deities of universal affairs attain that abode after they complete their tenure and are free from the subtle body, kalātyaye. Kalā means the subtle body.
In his commentary on Vedānta-sūtra 3.3.33, Śrī Baladeva Vidyabhūṣana writes that the devas, like Brahmā, have burned their accumulated karma in the fire of transcendental knowledge, but some prārabdha-karma remains owing to their desire to assist the Lord in administering universal affairs. Brahmā becomes liberated at the end of his term. Other gods who are free from karma proceed to Brahmā’s planet after their tenure is over. They remain there until the end of Brahmā’s life, at which time they are liberated along with him. The Kūrma Purāṇa confirms this:

When Brahmā’s tenure is over and the great dissolution occurs, all perfected beings enter the abode of the Lord along with Brahmā. (KūrmaP 12.273)

This proves that Vaikuṇṭha is beyond Satyaloka and thus beyond the manifested cosmos. Incidentally, it should be noted that unlike devas or other pious beings who attain Brahmā’s post, a devotee fully established in the Lord’s internal potency and thus free from the guṇas does not have to wait until the end of Brahmā’s life span to enter into Vaikuṇṭha. After giving up the present body, he is immediately transferred to Vaikuṇṭha, having become one in nature and constitution with that transcendental realm.

In the next section, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī will show that no one ever falls from Vaikuṇṭha.

(From Bhagavat Sandarbha translated with commentary by Satyanarayana Dasa)

 

 

Yoga Sutras, Bhava, Bhagavatam

Yoga Sutras vs. Bhagavad Gita

Question: The goal of Yoga being attainable thru devotion to the Lord and Arjuna asking to be taught. These verses intersect to me in subject…Surrendering to God…asking God??? Yes? No?

Answer: The difference is that in Yoga Sutras 1.23 there is option and Arjuna sees no other option. Arjuna shows surrender, faith and desperation. He is thinking of a person. YS 1.23 is vague on these points.

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Destruction of Bhava?

Question: In Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.3.54 it is said : bhAvo’py abhAvam AyAti krsna presthAparAdhataH – “even bhava is destroyed by an offence at Krishna and/or His devotee.”

Does the word ‘abhAva‘ really mean destruction?  [in Bengali abhAva means ‘absence’]. If bhava is destroyed, then how can we understand the Gita’s ‘nehAbhikrama nAzo’sti verse [2.40] and SB 11.29.20’s ‘na hyangopakrame dhvamso mad dharmosyoddhavANvapi ‘In the attempt of My dharma there is not even the slightest destruction’. Perhaps this BRS verse means that bhava is temporarily suspended, for one lifetime or so, and returns in the next life, as in Bhagavad Gita 6.41-43, which describes that the fallen yogi will automatically resume his sadhana in his next life?

Answer: First of all, the bhava of Vaikunthavasis cannot be destroyed because they are immune to offenses. This possibility of bhava becoming abhava is only before one attains prema. That also is a possibility which is stated so that one is careful about aparadhas. Abhava means disappearance not destruction. Just as it becomes manifest it can become unmanifest. In a future birth it can re-appear again. The stress here is on the gravity of the aparadha which is the topic under discussion, not on the losing of the bhava.

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Spiritual Planets

Question: Bhagavatam (2.5.15) purport says:  “One who reaches the highest planet, that of Brahma, can aspire to reach the planets in the spiritual sky, where life is eternal.” Does this means that from there you go to Vaikuntha or to Goloka?

Answer: You can go to either of them.

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Bhagavata Commentaries

Question: In my research I came across an article which meantions that there are more than 80 commentaries on Bhagavata Purana.  Can you please direct me in my research to further authors who can confirm this?

Answer: I have two boks in Hindi in my libraray which give a list of available commentaries and the names of commentaries which are mentiones by other commenatators but are not available at present Book no 1 – Bhagavata ke Tikakara by Dr. Vasudeva Krishna Chaturvedi, Rajyasri Prakashan, Dalapat Street, Mathura, 1976

This book gives a list of 93 commentaries.

Book no 2 – Bhagavata Parichaya by Sudarshan Singh Chakra, Sri Krishna Janma Seva Sansthan, Mathura, 1977
He gives a list of 173 commentaries and has used the list from the above book also.

It is to be noted that all commentaries are not on the complete book. Some are only on specific chapters such as Rasa-panchadhyayi, or Sruti stuti.

I hope this is of help to you.

Chanting Namabhasa

Question: Bhaktivinoda writes in Harinam Cintamani 3.27 –
yavat sambandha jnana sthira nahi haya |
tavat anarthe namabhasera asraya ||27|

“But until he is solidly grounded on the sambandha-jnana understanding, his chanting will be polluted by anarthas. This is namabhasa. In this stage, the jiva cannot chant the pure name of Krsna.”
It seems that namabhasa cannot be a sadhana because it is accidental chanting, like that of Ajamila. But then, of the four types of namabhasa – stobha, sanket, parihas and hela, isn’t hela a type of sadhana, as in ‘inattentive chanting’?

Answer: Namabhasa is not a sadhana. Hela is not sadhana. The name of Krishna, like Krishna, being nondifferent from Him, is always pure. But the full potency of the name may not manifest in the heart of a sadhaka although he or she may be chanting the name. In such a case the name chanted by such a sadhaka may be called namabhasa because the pure name has not manifested.

Question: Prabhuji, thank you very much for that response. Allow me to pry a little deeper please. Do the following texts not refer to namabhasa as a sadhana?
Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya 3.181-3:

Haridas kohen – yaiche suryera udoy;
udoy na hoite arambha tamer hoy khoy
Caura preta raksasadi bhoy hoy nash;
udoy hoile dharma karma adi parakash
Aiche namodoyarambhe papa adira khoy;
udoy koile krsnapade hoy premodoy

Haridas said to the Lord:  “Just as the sunrise destroys the darkness and with it, fear of ghosts, demons and thieves, and shows the beginning of virtue and activity (with the beginning of a new day), similarly the rise of the Holy Name destroys sins and so on and causes the rise of love for the feet of Krishna.”

And this verse from the Padma Purana cited by Rupa Gosvami in Bhakti RasamRta Sindhu, 2.1.103:

tam nirvyajam bhaja guna-nidhe pavanam pavananam
sraddha-rajyan-matir atitaram uttamah-sloka-maulim |
prodyann antah-karana-kuhare hanta yan-nama-bhanor
abhaso’pi ksapayati maha-pataka-dhvanta-rasim ||

“Ocean of good qualities! With your mind illumined by faith you should worship him free from all insincerity, him who is the purifier of purifiers, the crown of those praised by the finest verse, the reflection (AbhAsa) of whose sunlike name rising in the cave of the mind destroys the flood of darkness that consists of great sin.”….

Answer: The verse from CC is not about namabhasa but manifestation of pure nama. The Padma Purana verse is glorifying the nama by descibing the power of its abhasa. This is the kaimutya nyaya – the  “If … what to speak of principle” (a fortiori principle). If abhasa has such power, then what to speak of the nama itself.

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Question: In his book Nama Cintamani, Sri Kanupriya Goswami claims that of the four types of chanting mentioned in the SB 6.2.14 – sanketya, parihasa, stobha and hela, only sanketya is namabhasa, the other three he doesn’t count as namabhasa because they are uttered neglectfully or unfavorably. He says neither the sloka, nor any of its tikas mention the word namabhasa [i checked this, it is correct], and the verse just means to glorify the holy name. What is your opinion on this please?

Answer: So what is his definition of namabhasa? Why should only sanketya be considered namabhasa? Read Jiva Gosvami’s and Chakravartipada’s comments. They say that other three types are not done with disrespect. Namabhasa is mentioned in Sarartha Darsini of Verses 9 and 10.


Sakama Karma in Sastra

Question: Can you name references in sastra to sakama [action based on the desire for sense enjoyment]

Answer: The reference for sakama karma, usually called kamya karma, can be found in many places. The first is in Gita itself kamyanam karmana nyasam …. (18.2)  The other places are Gitabhusana commentary on Gita 2.31,2.40,2.41,2.45,2.49,18.7 etc., Sararthavarsini on Gita 2.41,2.42,2.49,2.50,18.7 etc, Kramasandarbha and Sararthadarsini on 1.5.12, 1.5.15 of SB and Govinda Bhasya on 1.1.1

Question: These seem more about sa kama activities, indicating prescribed Vedic activities simply based on satisfying one’s desires. But would they also be considered sa-kama karma yoga?

Answer: Yes, everything in Bhagavat Gita is yoga, even Arjuna’s dejection.

Question: What specifically makes them yoga? That they are prescribed on the Vedic path? If so, what would be the specific meaning of yoga in this case?

Answer: Because they are part of the Vedic injunction, the word of God. The meaning of yoga is that they link one to God and ultimately will purify one. Krishna says all karma culminates in jnana.

Question: How would you term one on the path of niskama karma yoga (or bhakti), but who still has material attachments and is therefore not yet on the niskama level? From what I understand, such a person could be termed as practicing sa-kama karma yoga.

Answer: No, he would still be called on the path of niskama karma yoga, if he is not doing any Vedic karma with a fruitive motive.

Question: How would you differentiate such a person from a sakama person on the Vedic path who is only interested in satisfying his desires and has no transcendental objective?

Answer: The major difference lies in the sankalpa [determination, resolve] of the person. That is what makes an act sakama or niskama. Secondly there are certain acts which are only for sakama.

Knowledge from the Vedas

Ancient Sanskrit ManuscriptThe Upanishads are part of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of the world. There are four Vedas, namely the Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva Veda. Each Veda is further divided into four parts which are called Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad. The first three parts of each Veda mainly deal with rituals. The Samhita part consists mostly of prayers to different deities and is used for sacrifices. The Brahmanas deal with how the sacrifices have to be performed, and the Aranyakas give the philosophy of the sacrifice. The Upanishads deal with the philosophy of the Vedas.

One can approach the Vedas with a traditional or a modern understanding. The tradition says that the Vedas were revealed by God himself to humans at the beginning of creation, therefore there is no date on them. Modern scholars have different opinions about when they were written, but they have no concept of who wrote them.

The word Veda means knowledge. The Vedas are the books of knowledge. In that sense they are not sectarian, because they are not related to a particular group of people or faith; rather, they are the manuals for human beings. They show how one should lead one’s life on earth and attain perfection.Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa

Another name for the Vedas is sruti, because they are heard from the teachers and “sru” means to hear.  If someone wanted to study the Vedas, traditionally he had to go to a teacher and hear them from him. Vedic knowledge is divided into two categories, known as karma-kanda and jnana-kanda. The former stresses the rituals and sacrifices for attaining material gain. The latter deals with the ultimate goal of life—realizing the Absolute. The bulk of the Vedas deals with karma-kanda. As part of karma-kanda the Vedic texts have to be chanted or recited in a particular way, just like music. That is similar to ragas which have to be sung in a specific tone. To attain a particular goal, the Vedas prescribe sacrifices. If there is even a slight discrepancy in the chanting of these mantras one could even get an adverse result.

Audio excerpt:

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