THE MEANS TO JIVANMUKTI – ASSOCIATION WITH BRAHMAN
The Gitã says that when conviction in Paramatma, control of the mind and senses, humility, realizing the atman and the body to be distinct, and the brahmic state all combine, then one experiences the ultimate bliss whilst alive. But, the Gitã does not stop there; it also shows us the means to attaining all of the above.
Shri Krishna says, ‘ज्ञानेन तु तदज्ञानं येषां नाशितमात्मनः। तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानं प्रकाशयति तत्परम्॥’ – ‘Gnãnena tu tadagnãnam yeshãm nãshitamãtmanaha; Teshãmãdityavaj-gnãnam prakãshayati tatparam’ – Meaning: ‘One who has destroyed the ignorance of the atman with knowledge, for him that knowledge, like the sun, reveals Paramatma (Gita 5.16).
Here, ‘knowledge’ is used with Aksharbrahman in mind. Many shrutis have used the word ‘knowledge’ for Aksharbrahman. For example, ‘सत्यं ज्ञानम्अनन्तं ब्रह्म’ – ‘Satyam gnãnam anantam brahma’ – ‘Aksharbrahman is eternal, the form of knowledge and limitless’ (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1). ‘प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्म’ –‘Pragnãnam brahma’ – ‘Aksharbrahman is the form of knowledge’ (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3).
The essence if the above shloka is that the Aksharbrahman guru is the means to rid ourselves of ignorance and realize Paramatma.
In the Vachanamrut, too, Bhagwan Swaminarayan says the same. “I shall explain how an elevated spiritual state can be attained by jnãn. What is that jnãn like? Well, it transcends Prakruti-Purush. When an elevated spiritual state is attained by this jnãn, Prakruti-Purush and the entities evolved from them do not come into view” (Vachanamrut Gadhada I 24). Here, an elevated spiritual state attained by jnãn means an elevated spiritual state similar to the Aksharbrahman guru, who is the form of knowledge. This means that, by the grace of the Aksharbrahman guru, the spiritual aspirant also becomes brahmarup and attains the brahmic state.
Also, Shri Krishna further clarifies this point, saying, ‘स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षय्यमश्नुते’ – ‘Sa brahmayogayuktãtmã sukhamakshayyamashnute’ – ‘One who attains the association of Brahman achieves eternal bliss’ (Gitã 5.22). The association of Brahman means association of the Aksharbrahmaswarup guru. One who associates with the Aksharbrahman guru by thought, word and deed can be called an atman that has imbibed yoga. Another term used for the association of Brahman is ‘satsang’ or ‘association of the Sant’. One who strives to attain yoga in this manner, i.e. does satsang, attains the virtues of conviction in the form of Paramatma, ultimate devotion, willing service, etc. within their atman and becomes brahmarup. Such a ‘brahmayogi’ atman continuously experiences the everlasting bliss of Paramatma.
Parabrahman Bhagwan Swaminarayan affirms this point time and time again in the Vachanamrut. For example, he says, “If one practises satsang with absolute sincerity, then no fault will remain in one’s heart, and one will become brahmarup in this very lifetime’ (Vachanamrut Sarangpur 9); “When one attains the company of such a Sant, he has, while still alive, attained that which was to be attained after death. That is to say, he has attained that which is called the highest state of enlightenment, or liberation, while being alive” (Vachanamrut Gadhada III 2). To sincerely do satsang, that is, associate with the Sant, means to associate with the brahmaswarup guru with sincerity. The Gitã makes this point using the word, ‘brahmayogayuktãtmã’.
THE LIFESTYLE OF A BRAHMAYOGI
Describing the lifestyle of one who has truly found knowledge by true association with the Aksharbrahman guru as aforementioned, Shri Krishna says, ‘विद्याविनयस पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि। शुनि चैव श्वपाकेच पण्डिताः समदíशनः॥’ – ‘Vidyãvinayasampanne brãhmane gavi hastini; Shuni chaiva shvapãke cha panditãhã samadarshinaha.’ – Meaning: ‘The wise perceive a learned and polite Brahmin, cow, elephant, dog and the uncultured as equal’ (Gitã 5.18).
This is how a jivanmukta regards society. ‘Samadarshinaha’ means one who sees all with equality. Paramatma resides in all. Even though the vessels vary, the Paramatma that resides in them all is the same. The wise always look to Paramatma, therefore he does not discriminate by mundane notions of lesser or greater, good or bad.
Shri Krishna explains this same view of equity in a different manner, too, saying, ‘न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम्। स्थिरबुद्धिरसंमूढो ब्रह्मविद्ब्रह्मणि स्थितः॥’ – ‘Na prahrushyetpriyam prãpya nodvijetprãpya chãpriyam; Sthirabuddhirasammoodho brahmavid brahmani sthitaha.’ – Meaning: ‘A person who is steadfast in Brahman, knows Brahman, has a tranquil intellect and has no infatuation, does not become excited on attaining something pleasing, nor is he disappointed when he attains something that is displeasing’ (Gitã 5.20).
This equity arises from the understanding that whatever one attains, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is all according to the wish of Paramatma. The essence of this shloka is that such equity is natural to one who is steadfast in Brahman, i.e. for one who is brahmarup.
Thereafter, having described the experiences of those who are liberated whilst alive, the Gitã goes on to explain the other type of liberation.
Videhamukti means liberation that is attained after leaving the body.
Those who attain this type of liberation become brahmarup and when they leave their bodies, via the archimãrg, they attain Akshardham. There, they attain a brahmic body and, remaining engrossed in the devotion of Parabrahman, they continually experience the ultimate bliss of that Parabrahman.
The Bhagavad Gitã uses the word ‘brahmanirvãna’ for videhamukti. To attain brahmanirvãna means to leave the body and attain the abode of Paramatma.
In the fifth adhyay, the Gitã describes repeatedly this videhamukti using the word ‘brahmanirvãna’. For example, ‘योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेव यः। स योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽघिगत्व्छति॥’ – ‘Yo’ntahsukho’ntarãrãmastathãntarjyotireva yaha; sa yogee brahmanirvãnam brahmabhuto’dhigachchhati.’ – Meaning: ‘One who experiences the bliss of Paramatma residing within oneself, rests in the Paramatma within oneself and is enlightened by the realization of Paramatma within one’s atman, such a brahmarup yogi attains Brahmadham’ (Gitã 5.24). ‘लभन्ते ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषयः क्षीणकल्मषाः। छिन्नद्वैघा यतात्मानः सर्वभूतहिते रताः॥’ – ‘Labhante brahmanirvãnamrushayaha ksheenakalmashãhã; Chinnadvaidhã yatãtmãnaha sarvabhootahite ratãhã.’ – Meaning: ‘One whose doubts have dissolved, who is steadfast in Paramatma, who is engrossed in the good of all jivas, such a rishi, becoming free of sins and attains Brahmadham’ (Gitã 5.25).
In the second adhyay of the Gita, too, summarizing the characteristics of a sthitpragna person, Shri Krishna mentions brahmanirvãna, i.e. videhamukti. He says, ‘एषा ब्राह्मी स्थितिः पार्थ नैनां प्राप्य विमुह्यति। स्थित्वाऽस्यामन्तकालेऽपि ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृत्व्छति॥’ – ‘Eshã brãhmi sthitihi Pãrtha nainãm prãpya vimuhyati; Sthitvã’syãmantakãle’pi brahmanirvãnamruchchhati.’ – Meaning: ‘O Arjuna, this (the characteristics I have mentioned) is the brahmic state. Having once attained this state, a person is never again subject to infatuation. If this state is attained even at one’s last breath, one attains Brahmadham’ (Gitã 2.72).
Parabrahman Bhagwan Swaminarayan has also described videhamukti many times. For example, he says, “After such an ekãntik bhakta leaves his body and becomes free of all influences of mãyã, he attains Akshardhãm via the archimãrg” (Vachanamrut Gadhada I 21).
Thus, in this manner, the fifth adhyay of the Gita teaches us about extremely important aspects of the spiritual path such as the art of doing karmas, jivanmukti and videhamukti.
We are all fortunate that the Brahman whose association the Gita has instructed us to keep in order to imbibe the above-mentioned spiritual qualities is the same Brahman we have attained as our guru. We have come into the association of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj. Thus, the words ‘brahmayogayuktãtmã’ of the Gitã are of true value for us; for us, these words have come to life.
Let us affirm our conviction in the form of Paramatma by the true association of manifest Aksharbrahman – Mahant Swami Maharaj. Let us attain the boon of not being bound by karmas even while doing them. Let us experience liberation whilst alive and, after leaving the body, attain the divine abode of Akshardham.