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The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter IV

Fourth Brahmana: The Soul of the Unrealised After Death
  1. sa yatrāyam atmā-abalyam nyetya sammoham iva nyeti, athainam ete prāṇā abhisamāyanti; sa etās tejomātrāḥ samabhyādadāno hṛdayam evānvavakrāmati, sa yatraiṣa cākṣuṣah puruṣaḥ parāṅ paryāvartate, athārūpajño bhavati.

Sa yatrāyam atmā-abalyam nyetya sammoham iva nyeti, athainam ete prāṇā abhisamāyanti; sa etās tejomātrāḥ samabhyādadāno hṛdayam evānvavakrāmati: It is said that all the energies get centred in the heart. The brain also stops functioning. There is no thinking faculty at that time. There is feebleness. The breathing becomes slow. There may be a heaving just at the time of the exit, but otherwise, there is a slowing of the breath on account of the withdrawal of the activity of the Prāṇa from the various parts of the body. What happens when the energies get centred in the heart?

Sa yatraiṣa cākṣuṣah puruṣaḥ parāṅ paryāvartate: 'The Puruṣha in the eye withdraws himself and goes back to the sun.' The Ambassador goes back to the centre which has deputed him for a particular purpose. Then what happens? The connection between the sun and the eye is snapped. Then there is no seeing. So, even if the eyes are open, there is no seeing at that time. Athārūpajño bhavati: He cannot cognise forms. If people stand before him, he cannot recognise them. Generally, when a person is about to depart, people get excited over it. They become anxious. They want to know whether he is really conscious or not. So if someone comes near him and asks, "Do you know who I am; can you recognise me?" He cannot recognise. He cannot see, because the force which was in the eye has been withdrawn. Though he is keeping the eyes open, physically, he sees nothing.

  1. ekī-bhavati, na paśyati, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati, na jighrati ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati na rasayati, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati, na vadati, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati na śṛṇoti, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati, na manute, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati na spṛśati, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati, na vijānāti, ity āhuḥ. tasya haitasya hṛdayasyāgram pradyotate, tena pradyotenaiṣa ātmā niṣkrāmati, cakṣuṣo vā mūrdhno vā anyebhyo vā śarīra-deśebhyaḥ; tam utkrāmantam prāṇo'nutkrāmati, prāṇam anūtkrāmantaṁ sarve prāṇā anūtkrāmanti; sa vijñāno bhavati, sa vijñānam evānvavakrāmati; taṁ vidyā-karmaṇī samanvārabhete pūrva-prajñā ca.

Ekī-bhavati: It becomes one with the centre. That is why this particular function of seeing ceases. Na paśyati, ity āhuḥ: People say; "Oh, he does not see, he cannot recognise me." The reason why he cannot recognise and cannot see is because the eye has gone back to the centre. So, its particular function has stopped. Ekī-bhavati, na vadati, ity āhuḥ: The olfactory sense also gets withdrawn. So, he cannot smell. The smelling activity ceases. Ekī-bhavati na rasayati, ity āhuḥ: The sense of taste also gets withdrawn, and even if you pour sugar onto the tongue of a dying man, he cannot feel that taste. Eki-bhavati, na vadati, ity ahuh: The force of speaking, Agnī-Tattva, gets withdrawn into its source, and he cannot speak. Likewise, he cannot hear; he cannot think; he cannot understand. Eki-bhavati na srinoti ity ahuh; eki-bhavati, na manute, ity ahuh; Ekī-bhavati, na manute, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati na spṛśati, ity āhuḥ; ekī-bhavati, na vijānāti, ity āhuḥ: He cannot touch; he cannot think; he cannot smell; he cannot hear; he cannot understand.

Then what happens afterwards when all these energies, senses, Prāṇas, etc. are gathered up in the centre of the heart? Tasya haitasya hṛdayasyāgram pradyotate: There is a flash of light, as it were, bursting forth through some part of the heart. That is the only consciousness that he has, not the consciousness of body, not the consciousness of sense-activity, not the consciousness of people around, of objects around, etc. There is only a feeble, meagre, failing self-consciousness. He cannot even feel that he exists. That meagre self-consciousness is of the nature of a very fine flame of lamplight, as it were, which illumines a corner of the heart. Tena pradyotenaiṣa ātmā niṣkrāmati: That burst of light, in a particular part of the heart, which projects itself through some orifices of the heart, is the passage of the soul. Through that, the Prāṇa departs. It can depart through any part of the body. Aiṣa ātmā niṣkrāmati, cakṣuṣo vā mūrdhno vā anyebhyo vā śarīra-deśebhyaḥ: It can rise up through the head, sometimes, or through the eyes or through any other part of the body. The belief is that if the Prāṇa departs through the crown of the head, one reaches Brahma-loka; if it passes through the eyes one goes to the sun, and so on and so forth. If it is a vertical movement, it is supposed to be the indication of ascending to a higher region. If it is a horizontal movement or a downward motion, then it is supposed to be a descent to the lower worlds or to this particular world itself. Tam utkrāmantam prāṇo'nutkrāmati: When the centre of consciousness, which is in the form of this little light, rushes out of the body, the Prāṇa goes with it. When the Prāṇa goes, all the energies of the senses also get gathered up together and leave with the Prāṇa.

Prāṇam anūtkrāmantaṁ sarve prāṇā anūtkrāmanti: Now this term vijñāno bhavati has a special sense. It seems to imply that there is a feeble consciousness of the future stage that is Vijñana. There is a total unconsciousness of the previous condition. One loses touch with the earlier body and, therefore, there is no connection with the previous life at all. Inasmuch as the senses have been withdrawn from the previous body, there is no recognition of the previous world, the previous relations, the previous society, etc., etc. There is a tendency to recognise the presence of a new atmosphere. That is the functioning of the Vijnana. The intellect slowly stirs into action when there is a possibility of fresh materialisation, that is, the preparation for a new body – sa vijñāno bhavati, sa vijñānam evānvavakrāmati; taṁ vidyā-karmaṇī samanvārabhete pūrva-prajñā ca: When there is such a departure of the individual, something must be going with the individual. What is it that goes with us when we leave this world and enter the other world? Do we take something when we go? We have a lot of property, many possessions and acquisitions. We have cherished many values in this life. Do they all come with us? The Upaniṣhad has a simple answer to this question. Whatever knowledge has become part of your life, that will come with you, not the knowledge that is in the books or in the libraries. This knowledge is not going to come with you. The knowledge that has become part of your actual daily life, through which you have been thinking and working, that knowledge will come with you. That action that has become a part of your very life itself, not merely an externally compulsive action, but an action that is voluntary, of your own accord, which you have done and you like it, which you feel has a meaning in it, which you feel is your action, which you have done with a purpose, will produce a result in a very fine form. And that form which is very fine is called Apūrva, something subtle and invisible. It is of the form of energy. This Apūrva comes with you. The impressions which have been accumulated by the mind by various thoughts of perception, cognition, etc., called Vāsanas or Samskāras, they accompany the departing individual. It is a psychic complex that actually departs from the body. Whatever is our mind in its complex state goes with its own constituents. Nothing extraneous will come with it. We cannot take anything from this world which has not become a part and parcel of our own minds, our own feelings. That is the meaning of saying, that which has become part of your life will come with you. Nothing else comes with you. Many things there are in this world which cannot be regarded as part of our life. They are extraneous appurtenances. They do not come with us. But that which is absorbed into our own life by the feelings, that will come with us.

  1. tad yathā tṛṇajalāyukā, tṛṇasyāntaṁ gatvā, anyam ākramam ākramya, ātmānam upasaṁharati, evam evāyam ātmā, idaṁ śarīraṁ nihatya, avidāṁ gamayitvā, anyam ākramam ākramya, ātmānam upasaṁharati.

There is an activity, as we observed, taking place in the other realm at the time of the departure from this body. This is compared to the activity of a caterpillar or a leech when it moves from one leaf to another or from one spot to another on the same leaf. What it does is, it thrusts its hind part forward and then projects its fore part forward. Then it fixes the fore part on the leaf and withdraws the hind part, bringing it forward. Then again it projects its fore part. Like that, it goes on moving. It will not lift the hind part unless the fore part is fixed. Likewise – tad yathā tṛṇajalāyukā, tṛṇasyāntaṁ gatvā, anyam ākramam ākramya, ātmānam upasaṁharati, evam evāyam ātmā – the old body is not left unless proper arrangement is already made elsewhere. When you go on a journey, you do not suddenly go. You find out where you are going and what arrangements have to be made there for your stay by correspondence and enquiries, etc. Likewise, even without your consciously thinking of the destination, forces of nature begin to work for you. They spontaneously work, and that preparation that is being made there to receive you to another realm is the foot that you have kept there already before you lift the other foot from this world. It is not a physical foot that you have placed, but a feeler which has connected you with the future realm in a very subtle manner. This shows the interconnectedness of all things. We are not cast into the winds by forces of which we have no knowledge. Everything is connected with us, and all the forces of nature keep an eye over us. Exactly in the manner in which it is necessary for us to have experiences in the future life, in that particular manner alone do the forces of nature work – idaṁ śarīraṁ nihatya, avidāṁ gamayitvā, anyam ākramam ākramya, ātmānam upasaṁharati.

  1. tad yathā peśaskārī peśaso mātrām upādāya, anyan navataraṁ kalyāṇataraṁ rūpaṁ tanute, evam evāyam ātmā, idaṁ śarīraṁ nihatya, avidyāṁ gamayitvā, anyan navataraṁ kalyāṇataraṁ rūpaṁ kurute, pitryaṁ vā, gāndharvaṁ vā, daivaṁ vā, prājāpatyaṁ vā, brāhmaṁ vā anyeṣāṁ vā bhūtānām.

Just as a goldsmith takes a little gold from here and a little gold from there and puts these pieces of gold into a melting pot, boils the pieces making them into one lump and gives a new shape to this lump, even so a new body is formed out of the ingredients collected from nature. The goldsmith does not create new gold. He only creates a new shape of the gold after melting it in a furnace. That is how he prepares ornaments, etc. Likewise, the material forces, earth, water, fire, air, and ether are the elements out of which bodies are formed. The present body is made up of these elements. The future body also will be made up of these elements. A carpenter can arrange pieces of wood in such a way that these pieces form a chair. Or he can arrange these pieces of wood in another manner to make a table. He can convert these pieces into a box, and so on. The carpenter can arrange these pieces of wood in various ways according to the need or the requirement of the time. But the wood is the same. It is not new wood that he is using. Likewise, they are the same elements that work wherever you go, whatever be the birth that you take, and whichever be the shape the soul assumes in whichever realm, in its new incarnation. Even if it is in a very highly elevated state like that of a Gandharva, or a Pitṛ, or a celestial in paradise, even if such a lustrous body is to be assumed by the soul, it is made of nothing but this same material. It is formed of these elements only in their finer essences. When they are gross, they look like the bodies we have. When they are fine, they begin to be transparent like glass, for instance. You know, even glass is made up of matter. It is as much material as a lump of iron or a hard brick. But the glass shines. It is transparent. Light can pass through it because of the fineness of the structure, notwithstanding the fact that glass is made up of the same matter as a hard brick. So, one can take any form; one can be reborn in any shape, maybe a Gandharva, a celestial, or any other being. You may even go to the realm of Hiraṇyagarbha, assuming the subtlest form of matter known as the Prakṛitis. Any form the soul can take. It can adjust and readjust the material elements according to the need which is indicated by the nature of the mind that actually reincarnates.

  1. sa vā ayam ātmā brahma, vijñānamayo manomayaḥ prāṇamayaś  cakṣurmayaḥ, śrotramayaḥ, pṛthivīmaya āpomayo vāyumaya ākāśamayas tejomayo'tejomayaḥ, kāmamayo'kāmamayaḥ, krodhamayo'krodhamayo, dharmamayo'dharmamayaḥ sarvamayaḥ tad yad etat; idam-mayaḥ adomaya iti. yathākārī yathācārī tathā bhavati, sādhukārī sādhur bhavati, pāpakārī pāpo bhavati; puṇyaḥ puṇyena karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpena; athau khalv āhuḥ; kāmamaya evāyam puruṣa iti, sa yathākāmo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate.

In the first half of this passage, the Upaniṣhad gives, in its own beautiful style, the way in which the soul can assume various forms, psychic as well as physical. First, there is a manifestation of the intellect. That is the Jīva-Bhāva or the individuality in us. The root of individuality is the intellect, and it grossens itself into the mind, the Prāṇas, the senses, and lastly the physical body. It is not the physical body that is manufactured first. It is the intellect that is manifested first. The cause comes first, the effect afterwards. The subtlest cause is the intellect principle. Then there is the grosser one – the mind; then the still grosser one – the Prāṇa; then the senses; then the physical body. All this takes place in a very inscrutable manner. It does not mean that the intellect is there, clearly observing things as it does when it is very active in a physical body after rebirth. It is in a potential state, just as the tree is present in a seed. Its manifestation is supposed to be prior to the manifestation of other things, namely, Prāṇas, body, etc. So there is first Vijñāna or the intellect, then the mind, the Prāṇas, the senses, and only lastly the physical body constituted of the gross elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether – pṛthivīmaya āpomayo vāyumaya ākāśamayas.

But if you take birth in a subtle realm like paradise, perhaps you are reborn in Indra-loka then you get a body shining like fire. It will not be a gross body like this. It will be a very subtle body. It is Tejomaya, lustrous, and is ethereal in its form. The subtle body, whether it is reborn in the physical world or in any other realm, has certain desires, and so it can be said to be Kāmamaya. It is filled with desire of some kind or the other. It may be a necessary desire or an unnecessary desire; it may be a liberating desire or a binding desire; it may be a visible desire or an invisible desire; that is immaterial, but desire must be there; otherwise, the individuality itself cannot be there. These desires get withdrawn at the time of fulfilment, and then Kāmamaya becomes Akāmamaya. You appear to have no desire when it has been fulfilled by acquisition of its corresponding object. But if the desire is not going to be fulfilled, if it is going to be frustrated by the impediment imposed by certain external factors, then it becomes Krodhamaya. You get angry. You get annoyed because some obstacle is coming in the way of the fulfilment of your desire. When the obstacle is removed, your anger subsides. Then you become Akrodhamaya. There is no anger at that time. Then, once again you develop your usual normal attitude. It is the cause of your Dharmamayatva or Adharmamayatva. The virtuous way or unrighteous, vicious way in which one lives depends upon the way in which one's desires operate in the world, or whether they work in a constructive manner or a destructive manner. If they are constructive, then the individual is Dharmamaya, full of virtue; but if they are destructive, then one's life is Adharmamaya, characterised by viciousness. It is everything – Sarvamaya, Idaṁ-maya, Adomaya. The individual has potentialities for anything. There is nothing which this individual personality does not contain. It is a miniature of the entire creation. Whatever you can find anywhere in the whole cosmos, you can find inside this body in a subtle form, in a seed form. This individual is veritably a great marvel. The whole mystery of creation is revealed in a microcosmic form in this individuality.

This whole miracle of life is carried forward each time in the process of reincarnation – births and deaths. 'Whatever one feels, that one thinks; whatever one thinks, that one speaks; whatever one speaks, that one does; whatever one does, that one reaps.' This is how the Upaniṣhad sums up its doctrine of ethical conduct and the psychological effect which our present way of life has upon our future incarnation. Yathākārī yathācārī tathā bhavati, sādhukārī sādhur bhavati, pāpakārī pāpo bhavati; puṇyaḥ puṇyena karmaṇā bhavati, pāpaḥ pāpena; athau khalv āhuḥ; kāmamaya evāyam puruṣa iti, sa yathākāmo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate. Whatever is your inclination within, whatever direction your feelings take, that will be the kind of experience that you will have in the future life.

The deepest longings of the human individual are supposed to determine his future. Sa yathākāmo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate: 'Whatever is your deepest desire will decide the nature of your determination, of the way to act.' The deepest longing of the soul, the desire of the mind or the urges of one's personal nature will influence the will, the volition. The will is nothing but the exoteric function of the desire within. 'As the desire is, so the will is; as the will is, so is the action. And as is the action, so is the consequence, or the result thereof.' Everything seems to be in our hands. Our weal and woe, our future, our destiny is actually operated upon by the deepest mechanism that is inside us. The switchboard of the cosmos, as it were, seems to be inside our own hearts.

Now, the question is: 'What is the cause of bondage?' No one really longs for it. Deliberately, one will not enter the prison, get caught and be put to hardship of any kind. Why then comes this bondage, when no one likes it? What we reject is exactly what we do not like, but what we do not get is what we are longing for, namely, freedom. The entire teaching the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad has given us up to this place is a philosophical explanation of the circumstances which have led to the bondage of the soul and which make emancipation difficult. The desire of the human being is said to be the cause of bondage. How could such a desire arise which would involve a person in bondage? The reason behind this erroneous urge is a kind of misconception. This subject we have already studied in detail in earlier sections dealing with what the Upaniṣhad calls Grahas and Atigrahas, the senses and their corresponding objects. The senses crave for objects; they search for things of the world; they hunger for contact, and are restless without these achievements which they are deeply longing for. The senses grasp the objects; the Grahas catch the Atigrahas; and there is a corresponding action from the side of the objects also. There is a tremendous influence exerted upon the senses by the objects which the senses long for. There is a deep desire of the senses to come in contact with objects, but the activity does not merely end with this unilateral movement. It is a bilateral action, action and reaction proceeding from the subject and the object simultaneously. So, the more the desire for the objects, the greater the strength of the pull of the objects on the subject. We are put to greater and greater subjection by the character of the objects on account of the desire for them. The greater is the desire, the weaker is the self. And so, the weakness of the self puts the self to further subjection and ultimately places it under the thumb of the objects. It is as if you are going to be drowned in an ocean – a wave dashes over your head, you go into the ocean, and when you are trying to come up, it dashes you once again, so that you are hit again and again until you cannot come out. Such are the objects. It is not merely this. There is a far more unfortunate situation or circumstance involved in the desire for objects. It is not one object that we desire. We actually do not know what it is that we want. When we pin our faith in any particular sense object, we are only experimenting with the capacity of that object to satisfy us. We do not know which object is really capable of rendering that satisfaction. Our whole life is spent in such experimentation. We go to the objects again and again under the impression that they are the things that we need, and for the time being there is a feeling that perhaps this is the one that we actually wanted. The experimentation takes some time, and during this period of experimentation the desire goes on increasing and getting intensified. The object also promises a tentative satisfaction on account of the misconceived affection which the senses have for the object. But no object can satisfy any sense, because the senses are mere agents of the desires that exist inside. The senses themselves are not responsible for our bondage. They are used as tools for the manifestation of an urge within us, but unfortunately this urge or desire is incapable of satisfaction.

The desire within us is also a confusion. It is not a desire for an object. What we ask for is not a thing of the world. It is something different, but we are not able to understand what it is actually. The understanding is muddled. There is a complete overturning of the cart, as it were, when the intelligence in the individual begins to operate through the senses demanding objects. The real asking of the individual is for permanent satisfaction and freedom. There is a piety and a holiness, if you say, so involved in the activity of the individual. But the instruments used are inadequate for the purpose. The senses cannot contact the object for which their deepest desires are. What we ask for is an infinity of possession and an infinity of satisfaction and a freedom. Such a thing cannot be communicated to us through the senses because they are externalised agents. We have bad friends in the senses, so they mislead us. They take us to objects and tell us, 'here is what you wanted'. But that is not really what you wanted. Just as we can be taken along bylanes by misleading guides in a big city, the senses put us off the scent. And then, due to a misconceived longing for an appearance rather than for a reality, which we begin to really believe in, there is a perpetual effort on the part of the mind, through its will, to maintain the duration of the contact with the object for as long as possible. Now the object changes colour like a chameleon and reveals its incapacity to satisfy us at different intervals of time. We get caught in a confusion of circumstance, with which we die. The body perishes. Our life is very short. We do not have enough time to experiment with everything in the world. By the time we get fed up with even a few things, the body also goes. But the desire has not gone. And the confused desire, which has not been enlightened as to the true nature of what it asks for, remains in that condition even at the time of death. The actions which were performed earlier due to this misconception, having produced results correspondingly, bind the soul once again, so that the body which was shed has gone, but a new body comes. This is the psychology or philosophy of rebirth, the whole difficulty being a misconstruing of the ultimate cause of desire that arises in our minds.

  1. tad eṣa śloko bhavati: tad eva saktaḥ saha karmaṇaiti liṅgam mano yatra niṣaktam asya; prāpyāntaṁ karmaṇas tasya yat kiṁ ceha karoty ayam. tasmāl lokāt punar aiti asmai lokāya karmaṇe iti nu kāmayamānaḥ; athākāmayamānaḥ, yo'kāmo niṣkāma āpta-kāma ātmā-kāmaḥ, na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti, brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti.

Tad eṣa śloko bhavati:  'In this connection, a verse has been cited.' Tad eva saktaḥ saha karmaṇaiti liṅgam mano yatra niṣaktam asya; prāpyāntaṁ karmaṇas tasya yat kiṁ ceha karoty ayam. tasmāl lokāt punar aiti asmai lokāya karmaṇe: 'Attached to the sense objects, longing for things of sense, the individual sheds the body, casts off this mortal coil, takes nothing with itself.' When we leave this world, we take nothing with us. All the associations, physical and social, are cast aside as if they do not belong to us. We go singly, independently, alone and unbefriended without any association, any appendage whatsoever. But we take something with us. Like an encrustation that has grown upon us, the forces of Karma cling to our subtle body which alone departs when the physical body is shed. Liṅgam mano yatra niṣaktam asya: 'The mind which is the ruling principle in the subtle body carries with it the result of its actions, the Karma-Phala' which clings to it like a leech. It will not leave it, wherever it goes. In some other Upaniṣhad it is said that a calf finds its own mother even in the midst of a thousand cows by moving hither and thither in the herd; as it goes to its own mother though the cows may be thousands in number, likewise our Karma will find us wherever we are. We may go to the highest heaven, but the Karma is not going to leave us. We may go to the nether regions; it is not going to leave us. We may go to any corner of creation, but this is not going to leave us. It will find us. Even as the laws of the government which has long arms try to catch us wherever we are, the laws of the cosmos catch that individual who has been responsible for the particular action. Tad eva saktaḥ saha karmaṇaiti: "Attached, the soul leaves this body; and together with the Karma, it goes." Where does it go? "Where the mind has found its habitation, there it goes." Where is the habitation or the location of the mind? "Those features of the world, those conditions or that type of atmosphere where its unfulfilled desires can be fulfilled, there the Linga-sharira, or the Śuksma-Śarīra or the subtle body, gravitates." Like a rocket the subtle body moves and finds its place. The cosmic law operates in such a just and inexorable manner that the subtle body is taken to the exact spot where it can fulfil all its wishes. Then what happens further?

Prāpyāntaṁ karmaṇas tasya: "Those Karmas which have to be exhausted by experience in that particular place find their completion through experience. Whatever we have done here, the result of it we experience there" – yat kiṁ ceha karoty ayam. Then, what happens again? Tasmāl lokāt punar aiti: "From that world you come again." To which place do you come? Asmai lokāya karmaṇe. "To this world you come for the purpose of further actions." Why do you do further actions? For further bondage! You engage again in action because your desires have not been fulfilled and the residue of the Karmas has to be further undergone by experience.

The desires get enhanced in their intensity the more they are fulfilled. The fulfilment of a desire is not the way to freedom from desire. On the other hand, the reverse is the case. Desires become fire-like, more and more strong. They are in fact said to be the fuel of satisfaction. As the popular saying goes – na jātu kāmah kāmanam upabhogena śāmyati; haviṣā knṣṇavartmeva bhūya eva-abhivardhate – fire is never satisfied by any amount of clarified butter that you pour over it. It can swallow numerous quintals of clarified butter. The more butter you pour on it, the more ferocious does the fire become. So is desire. Iti nu kāmayamānaḥ: "This is the fate of the one that desires." This is the destiny of the individual who desires and longs for things or the objects of sense.

Now, I will tell you something which will give you some peace of mind and some satisfaction to your soul. The Upaniṣhad shifts its emphasis to another subject. If a person does not desire, then what happens? Athākāmayamānaḥ: Now I speak to you about 'one who has no desire' for objects of sense. Athākāmayamānaḥ, yo'kāmo niṣkāma āpta-kāma ātmā-kāmaḥ, na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti, brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti: 'A person who does not desire, who is freed from desires, whose desires have gone, whose desires have been fully satisfied, whose desire is only for the Self', what happens to such a person? Now, this gradation mentioned here is very interesting. Only if your desire is for the Self will your desires be fulfilled, not otherwise. You can become āpta-Kāma only if you are ātmā-Kāma, not otherwise. Desire cannot be satisfied unless it is directed to the Self and to nothing else whatsoever. If your desire is for anything other than the Self, it is not going to be fulfilled, because you are asking for that which is not there. Naturally you will not get what is not there. So, it is an ātma-Kāma only who becomes āpta-Kāma; the āpta-Kāma in turn becomes Niṣkāma; the Niṣkāma becomes ākama and ākama becomes ākāmayamāna. So, one who has desire centred in the Universal Self is one whose desires are all fulfilled at one stroke, which in other words means that all desires have left him. Why have all desires left that person? Because all desires have been fulfilled, the reason being that the desire itself has become merged in the Universal Self. Desires leave that person whose desires have been completely satisfied on account of their being centred in the ātman. Such a person has no desires because they have gone. Such a person is designated as ākāmayamāna, one who does not desire. If a person is to shed his physical body in that circumstance, without any desire remaining except for the desire of the Universal Being, what happens is that his Prānas do not move hither and thither in search of a new location; they do not move. The subtle body does not depart in space and in time; on the contrary they, the Prānas, and the senses dissolve like bubbles in the ocean then and there – na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti, brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti. 'He has been contemplating throughout his life on the Absolute Self. He gets identified with the Absolute Self then and there.' This is called in the terminology of the Upaniṣhads and the Vedanta philosophy Sadyamukti, instantaneous liberation. It is an immediate salvation of the soul, which is attained on account of freedom from desire that has arisen on account of desire for the ātman. This is the glorious destination of the spiritual adept who spends his life in contemplation on the Universal Being.

  1. tad eṣa śloko bhavati:
    yadā sarve pramucyante kāma ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ,
    atha martyo'mrto bhavati, atra brahma samaśnute
    iti tad yathāhinirvlayanī valmīke mṛtā pratyastā śayīta, evam
    evedaṁ śarīraṁ śete. athāyam aśarīro'amṛtaḥ prāṇo
    brahmaiva, teja eva; so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi,
    iti hovāca janako vaidehaḥ.

Tad eṣa śloko bhavati: In connection with this, a verse is cited in the Upaniṣhad. Yadā sarve pramucyante kāma ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ, atha martyo'mrto bhavati, atra brahma samaśnute: This verse occurs in other Upaniṣhads, also. 'When all the knots of the heart are broken asunder due to freedom from desire, when the birds of desires whose nest is in the heart fly away and there is nothing left inside the heart, then the mortal becomes immortal at once.'

Mortality is a condition that is imposed upon the spirit due to the encrustation of desire. It is in its essential nature. We are not mortals, essentially. Our essential nature is that of immortality, deathlessness, eternity, that of a durationless Being. If we were really mortal, we would not be capable of becoming immortal. There is no such thing as one thing becoming another thing. What a thing is, that it shall always be. We are not essentially bound beings. We are free souls. And we are going to assert the freedom of our real nature by uncovering it through the practice of Yoga. The mortal does not become immortal, really. The immortality that has been hidden under the cover of mortality gets revealed or manifested. That is actually what happens when it is said that one becomes immortal. It is by transcending mortality that one reaches immortality.

Yadā sarve pramucyante kāma ye'sya hṛdi śritāḥ: Sarve – 'All desires must depart.' There should be no desire for anything – not merely for a thing, but even for a certain condition of the mind, a particular circumstance or even an enjoyment of a celestial nature. All these desires also should go. Only then there is real freedom. Then, at once the mortal conditions are cast aside and the immortal nature becomes manifest, like the sun shining behind the clouds in the sky is seen when the clouds dispel and the whole firmament becomes clear at once. Atha martyo'mrto bhavati, atra brahma samaśnute: Where do you attain Brahman? Not in some distant place. It is not that you have to move from place to place for the reaching of Brahman. It is not a graduated ascent. It is not movement in space at all, because it is not a place as such. It is not a geographical location. It is a circumstance of consciousness. It is an unravelling of the Truth within. It is an attainment here itself. Here, under your very nose, lies that which you ask for. That is where lies eternity.

Iti tad yathāhinirvlayanī valmīke mṛtā pratyastā śayīta, evam evedaṁ śarīraṁ śete. athāyam aśarīro'amṛtaḥ prāṇo brahmaiva, teja eva; so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi, iti hovāca janako vaidehaḥ: 'When a freed soul attains its original status, liberation is attained. The body is cast off, as a snake sheds the slough of its body. Lifeless does the body stay here, while the Spirit attains its Universal nature.' The body is not in any way going to limit the Universality of the Spirit when that freedom of consciousness is attained. And what one experiences on the shedding of the body, after the attainment of this knowledge, is the state of Brahman, the Absolute, which is radiance superb. That Eternal Light is the goal of life. This is the message, this is the instruction, this is the lesson which sage Yājñavalkya imparts to emperor Janaka. Janaka is delighted beyond measure. In order to express in a small way the great happiness that he experienced after receiving this lesson, the lesson for the freedom of the soul, so'ham bhagavate sahasraṁ dadāmi, iti hovāca janako vaidehaḥ: he offers the gift of a thousand cows once again to the great Master Yājñavalkya, as he has been doing whenever he felt immensely satisfied with the lesson that was imparted to him.

  1. tad eta ślokā bhavanti: aṇuḥ panthā vitataḥ purāṇaḥ; māṁ spṛṣto'nuvitto mayaiva, tena dhīrā api yanti brahmavidaḥ svargaṁ lokam ita ūrdhvaṁ vimuktāḥ.

This path of the Spirit is very subtle. It is not like a beaten track or a national highway where you can drive closing your eyes. Very subtle is this path. Aṇuḥ panthā, says the Upaniṣhad. The path to the Eternal is subtle, invisible to the eyes, incapable of being grasped by the senses, impossible to understand with the reason or the intellect. Going even by the subtlest of logic, it would be difficult for us to know the way to the Spirit. It is so subtle. Our intelligence, our logical understanding is capable of grasping only objects of sense, and not the way of the Spirit. And so, it is not the senses that lead us to the Spirit. It is not even our understanding or the intellect that is going to be of any help to us. It is a subtle path which is spread out everywhere. Very interesting indeed! It is everywhere and yet it is so subtle. That which is everywhere should be a vast thing, naturally. It should be capable of perception by everyone, if it is everywhere. But it is incapable of perception, notwithstanding the fact that it is everywhere. It is everywhere, and yet, cannot be seen by anyone. It is vitataḥ – 'all-pervading', 'most ancient' – purāṇaḥ, and yet, very subtle indeed – aṇuḥ panthā vitataḥ purāṇaḥ.

Māṁ spṛṣto'nuvitto mayaiva: One feels great joy at the time of the liberation of the soul. The Upaniṣhad tells us here that one begins to feel: 'After all, I have reached the goal of life. After all, the destination has come. I have been crying for ages together through all these incarnations that I have passed through, and I have reached, after all. I have contacted the Eternal. Great joy indeed is this that after all I have come to my goal – māṁ spṛṣto'nuvitto mayaiva, tena dhīrā api yanti brahmavidaḥ svargaṁ lokam ita ūrdhvaṁ vimuktāḥ. It is this path that has been trodden by others too who followed this very way. This path that I have trodden is the path of others, too. It is the way that has to be trodden by everyone.

There is only one way to the Spirit, and that is the way which has to be walked by every individual, because the destination is the same. Though the path is spread out everywhere, the movement towards this goal is of a uniform nature. The discipline that is necessary, the practice that is required of us, and the meditations that we have to undergo are of a uniform nature ultimately, though they appear to be different in the initial stages. Finally, it is a single mode of the mind, a single attitude of conduct that is responsible for the liberation of the Spirit. 'All have passed through this single gate, and I am also in the same place at that gate alone, the strait gate as they call it, and everyone in the future too will move through this path alone.'

  1. tasmin śuklam uta nīlam āhuḥ, piṅgalam, haritam, lohitaṁ ca
    eṣa pantha brahmaṇā hānuvittaḥ tenaiti brahmavit puṇyakṛt taijasaś ca.

Variegated is this path, some people think, but uniform is this path, really, in its essential nature. On account of the difference in the temperaments of people, the way to liberation appears to be manifold, just us we have what is known as the fourfold path of the practice of Yoga. It is actually not four parts of Yoga, but a single part that appears to be fourfold on account of the difference in our endowment or capacity. It is white or it is blue or it is coloured, we say, as it were, according to the nature of our minds and according to the temperaments of our individualities. Sometimes there is an emphasis laid down by us through the reason, or the intellect, sometimes through the will, sometimes through the emotion, or awakened faculty. But the uniformity of this path comes into relief when we consider that it is not any single faculty alone that is going to be of help to us in our liberation, but a blossoming of the whole personality.

In the beginning, a particular faculty is resorted to for the purpose of meditation. But, this single faculty which we resort to eventually draws the entire personality behind it. It is not a single faculty that operates in meditation, not the intellect alone, not the emotion alone, nor the will alone, but all put together converged into a single focus of attention. When you begin, the paths look variegated. You argue within yourself, you do Vichara, you ratiocinate and you finally come to a conviction about the way that you have to tread in the practice of Yoga. The preponderatory faculty may be rational, volitional or emotional, and according to that particular preponderance of nature you emphasise a particular attitude of your mind in the practice. But once this attitude is taken up as the sole guide, it draws along the entire force and energy of your personality so that when you finally get absorbed in meditation, it matters mighty little whether you are a devotee of the emotional path, of the ratiocinating path, or of any other path. You get absorbed; that is all. The whole being is one with the object.

Certain others think that the various colours mentioned in this verse of the Upaniṣhad represent the various divine lights, sounds, and touches, etc., which one experiences on account of the operation of certain nerve currents within us. In a certain other portion of the Upaniṣhad we were told that there are thousands of nerve currents within us, all which appear to be coloured on account of a serum that passes through them which takes on different hues due to the presence of different qualities or properties, Sattva, Rajas, etc., in varying permutations and combinations. The lights and sounds, etc. that we experience in meditation are caused by that effect of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in us. We are not wholly Sattvic; wholly Rajasic or wholly Tamasic we are not. None of us is constituted entirely of one quality. We are an admixture of one, two or three in different proportions. According to the proportion of admixture of these properties of Prakṛiti – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas – we have different experiences in meditation. We sometimes see yellow, sometimes white or blue or green, etc., hear sounds of various types and intensities, feel touches or various other sensations, all mentioned in the Yoga Śāstras. They are not indications of any final achievement, but only symbols of our having attained some success in deep concentration of the mind. One should not mistake visions of colours and auditions, etc., for achievement of Brahman, Brahma – Sākshātkāra, or liberation. They are only symbolic of your concentration of mind. You have succeeded to some extent in fixing your attention upon the object, and so a particular quality of yours has come to the fore. When it acts, it produces these experiences. They are sort of light posts which only indicate what is happening to you on the way, and are not signs that you have actually reached the goal.

'This Panthā, this path is the one that is trodden, ultimately, by all seekers of liberation. The knowers of Brahman, through philosophical reasoning, by study of scriptures and by deep meditation as well as those who perform unselfish actions in the world – all attain to this single goal of life.'

The remaining passages of this section in this Upaniṣhad are a sort of reflection on the various theories through which we have traversed up to this time, touching upon different aspects of knowledge and practice. The very first one is a verse that occurs also in the Īśvasya Upaniṣhad, and it makes out that the path of one's movement to perfection is a sort of harmony between extremes. It is neither exclusively self-expression nor self-withdrawal. Generally, people are either extroverts or introverts. They express themselves vehemently in public and in society and in their own homes, or they withdraw themselves completely into their own private personal lives. A blend of these two is difficult because it requires some sort of an effort on the part of the mind to bring these two divergent urges into a single harness of action which is neither action nor knowledge in the ordinary sense. It is an inward approach of the soul to the Absolute. This path has been described enigmatically in the Īśvasya Upaniṣhad and is also what this Upaniṣhad says in very similar words.

  1. andhaṁ tamaḥ praviśanti ye vidyām upāsate
    tato bhūya iva te tamaḥ ya u vidyāyāṁ ratāḥ.
  2. anandā nāma te lokāḥ, andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ
    tāṁs te pretyābhigacchanti avidvāṁso'budho janāḥ.

'The person who is extrovertly busy in activity, bereft of the understanding that is to go together with it, reaches the world of darkness hereafter, because understanding is light, and absence of understanding is darkness.' Any activity in which we engage ourselves without the requisite understanding behind it will lead us to bondage. The world of externality is called the world of darkness because it is totally devoid of the light of the Self. The extremity of extrovert activity, the pressure that one feels to move outwardly alone, to go forward and onward in external society and in space and in time, when exclusively emphasised to the detriment of the internal light that is required to illumine it, would be a binding process, because that great Reality is not an external movement at all. It is a Total Being. The Totality of Being cannot be approached or experienced by any kind of externality of action, because externality is one side of the matter. The other side of it is quite different. So, the Upaniṣhad says, 'Those who are engaged in the adoration of ignorance go to the world of darkness.' Ignorance is a very wide term including erroneous concepts and activities. Naturally, erroneous activities are propelled by erroneous notions. We think wrongly and then act wrongly. So, the whole thing is nothing but a bundle of nescience, ignorance. Erroneous thought is that which is engendered by the notion that Reality is outside. 'Whatever I see with the eyes is real,' you think. The senses unknowingly contact Reality in everyday life but imagine that only the external objects are real and know not the hidden Reality inside. Thus we live in a sense world of activity – physical, social and everything connected with it. But, it is forgotten that externality is not the character of Reality. It is not a spatial expanse; it is not even a temporal movement; it is something different from either of these. And thus, anything that is wholly involved in the spatial and the temporal circumstance, whether it is activity or thought, cannot be regarded as a function of Reality. Hence it is dubbed as ignorance. Avidyā or ignorance is the concept that the action, the notion and the external movement are all based on the presumption or assumption that Reality is externally present, and can be contacted only through the senses and through externalised activity. This is one extreme movement, and the result of this kind of engagement is supposed to be suffering in future lives on account of entanglement in the urges of the senses, bereft of the knowledge or the enlightenment of the Self.

The other extreme is total withdrawal from externality into internality. This is called introversion. Tato bhūya iva te tamaḥ ya u vidyāyāṁ ratāḥ: An ethereal knowledge which is bereft of content, you may call it academic knowledge or you may call it erroneous knowledge, whatever that knowledge be, which is divested of its content, remains merely as a featureless transparency, substanceless. It is capable of producing a result much worse than that produced by the ignorance of the person who believes in an externality of activity. That man of knowledge is an egoistic man, generally, because of the presumption that he knows everything. But, what he knows is substanceless. It is mere information. It is a guideline, a map that he has got in his hand, not that which is indicated by the map. A mere map or guideline or architect's drawing cannot be regarded as the material that is indicated by it. So, knowledge which is substanceless, contentless and merely a function inside that is going on within the brain of a person is no knowledge. 'And if one is to regard that as real knowledge, bereft of its content, which is internal of course, then that person, on account of the egoism that is attached to it, may go to a still worse darkness' – tato bhuya iva te tamah ya u vidyayam ratah

People who are ignorant, with no knowledge, are concerned with things of the world. And so, they are in a state of bondage, and they go to bondage in the world hereafter. But that so-called knowledge which is not real knowledge because of its separation from its contents, as we have today professorial knowledge, for instance, cannot really be called knowledge because it is outside the content of knowledge. Your knowledge of a particular object is not a union with that object. It is only an information; it is a kind of suggestion that is given by the intellect in respect of an existent object. A mere indication, symbol or a suggestion cannot be regarded as knowledge, because what you call Reality is substance; it is solidity; it is completeness; it is a blend of content and illumination. So, where content is divested of illumination and illumination is divested of content there is a movement, wrongly, either on the outer side or in the inner side. Such a person, who is caught up in the meshes of the egoistic presumption of having knowledge with really no content, may go to a worse darkness. Hence, both these are types of bondage. Whether you move outwardly to the extreme or move inwardly to the extreme, you are caught.

The middle path is invisible like the edge of a razor or sword. It is not possible to know what the real path is, because what you see with your eyes is not the path, and what you think in your mind also is not the path. Then, what is the path? No one knows. āścaryo vaktā kuśalo'sya: It is not for nothing that the Upaniṣhads and the Gītā have been crying aloud that it is a wonder indeed to know what it is; a wonder indeed to learn what it is; a wonder it is to teach what it is. It is not easy to know what this path is. It is not what you think of in your mind, not what you see with your eyes. It is neither of these! So, either way you are caught. If you go forward, you are caught; if you go backward, you are caught. To attain freedom of the soul is a great, great difficulty. Hard is this endeavour, invisible is this path. It is sometimes compared to the path of birds in the sky which cannot be seen with the eyes, or the track of fishes in the water, which also is not to be seen. Such is the path of the soul to the Absolute – difficult to comprehend, still more difficult to practise!

Anandā nāma te lokāḥ, andhena tamasāvṛtāḥ tāṁs te pretyābhigacchanti avidvāṁso'budho janāḥ: 'Non-knowing, unknowing, ignorant, caught up in egoism – such persons go to the world of joyless expanse of thought and action.' There is unhappiness prevalent in that world to which they enter. Darkness and unhappiness, ignorance and sorrow – these are the characters of the regions into which people enter if they are bereft of real knowledge. Avidyāyām antare vartamānāh:  Knowing nothing, endowed with no real knowledge – such people having shed this body here, enter into regions of darkness because they do not know what is Truth. They have struggled hard in this life in the wrong manner. So, even this struggle is of no use. What is the use of struggling in a wrong direction? Whatever be your effort, whatever be the energy that you have spent in life for the purpose of achieving the goal, and maybe you have put forth great effort, it has been all mere toil in the wrong direction. Tales and myths tell us of stories of people who, bereft of understanding, may work hard but get nothing out of it. They thrash husk only and naturally get no grain. Mere effort is of no use. You should not exclaim: "I am working so hard!" What for do you labour so? You do not know the direction in which you are moving. Effort alone is not going to bring anything unless it is in the right direction. And that direction cannot be known unless you are illumined properly.

  1. ātmānaṁ ced vijānīyād ayam asmīti pūruṣaḥ
    kiṁ icchan, kasya kāmāya śarīram anusaṁjvaret.

You will not again enter into embodiment and take birth if the proper aim of life has been properly comprehended, if the goal of life is clear to the mind. Most people suffer on account of lack of understanding of the aim of life. The purpose is missed always. Whatever be the effort on your part, the aim cannot be kept before the mental eye, always. It cannot be kept throughout the day before one's eye. It is possible, perhaps, with tremendous energy, to contemplate on it for a few minutes, but immediately it slips from the mind. Once this true 'Selfhood of Reality is known and realised as inseparable from your own being' – ayam asmīti, as the Eternal Being, Puruṣha, then you will not toil unnecessarily, not desire fruitlessly, and therefore there would be no pressure exerted on your soul to take a fresh birth, as you will no longer create any binding Karma.

We have been studying again and again, in various verses here, that birth is the cause of suffering, and that birth is caused by desire which has been directed wrongly, outwardly to non-Self, to things of sense, and to the fulfilment of the senses. 'If this misdirected desire were not there, why would there be any kind of endeavour? If the ātman is known, if the Self is recognised in every object, then the object ceases to be an object.' You do not say 'the self of an object', because that epithet cannot apply when the true recognition of the Self is made. ātmānaṁ ced vijānīyād: If the Self is known as It is in its own essential nature, which means to say, 'Ayam Asmīti, non-separate is your being from this Selfhood' – how can you isolate your Selfhood from your own being? You know the connection between the two. There is not even a connection; it is not a relation; it is just identity. So, if this identity of Self which you feel with your own being is to be recognised in a similar manner, in a similar intensity in respect of other things also, there would be a sudden illumination of what you call Universal Selfhood. This is liberation; and then, there is no further embodiment.

  1. yasyānuvittaḥ pratibuddha ātmāsmin saṁdehye gahane praviṣṭaḥ,
    sa viśva-kṛt, sa hi sarvasya kartā, tasya lokaḥ sa u loka eva.

'One who has awakened himself to this knowledge, who has risen to the consciousness of his pristine nature, freed from this entanglement of the body, freed from this dangerous embodiment called the physical tabernacle, becomes a friend of all things. He becomes not merely that, but a viśva-kṛt – a person capable of effecting anything, not merely by thought or action, but by mere being. He becomes a maker of all things, a performer of so-called miracles, a supreme performer.' Sometimes one with such an achievement is called Maha-kartā. He is a great doer. There is nothing which he cannot do, and so he is called Maha-kartā. He is also called Maha-tyāgi – 'there is nothing which he cannot renounce'. And there is nothing that he cannot enjoy, so he is called Maha-bhogtā. He is a 'supreme enjoyer', a 'supreme renouncer', and a 'supreme doer'. These are the three great characteristics of a realised soul. 'He becomes commensurate with the Reality of the universe' – sa viśva-kṛt. And he becomes a 'wonder maker, a wonder worker' – sarvasya kartā. The world becomes his. He does not long for things; he does not crave for the things of the world, and he does not have any kind of external relationship with the world, even as he has no relationship with his own self. He does not have to contact himself for getting anything from himself. He need not have to speak to himself; he need not have to exert in respect of himself, because he knows the identity of his being with his Self. Such is the attitude he will have, incomprehensible though it be, in respect of things outside. The world becomes his, in the same sense as your body becomes yours. You can lift your finger without anyone's help because it is you. Such is the work that he can do through the things of the world. 'He becomes united with the being of the various things in the world' – sarvasya kartā, tasya lokaḥ.

It is not merely that the world becomes his. Sa u loka eva: 'He is the world itself.' The reason why he is capable of working spontaneously in the world is because the world is not outside him. It is only a name that is given to the phenomenon of his own being. It is an expanse of his own self, and so it is not a work that he does in the world. It is a work that is going on spontaneously within himself. It is not someone doing something somewhere. It is not like that. It is a non-doing of anything anywhere. It is just a spontaneous experience of the expanse of being, which outwardly appears to be an activity of a person in the world outside, but inwardly or rather universally it is not activity; it is not a thought; it is not an achievement; it is not something that is moved; it is a mere experience. This is the consequence of Self-knowledge, namely, the realisation of the Absoluteness of Being.

  1. ihaiva santo'tha vidmas tad vayam, na cet avedir mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ.
    ye tad viduḥ, amṛtās te bhavanti, athetare duḥkham evāpiyanti.

In this very body you can realise this. You need not quit the body for the purpose of this realisation, because the body itself is not the bondage. It is your attitude towards the body that is the real bondage. The idea that it is an embodiment, or a conglomeration, or a complex, or a spatio-temporal form which is connected with us personally is what is the bondage. The segregation of this body from other bodies, and the feeling of your consciousness being inside this little location all alone, is what is called bondage. The body is not the bondage. It is the connection of the consciousness with the body in an erroneous manner that is bondage. So, in this very body itself we can know it. The body can become a temple instead of becoming a prison. The same building can be a prison or a temple, according to your viewpoint about it or the work that you perform in it. There is hardly any external difference between a jail and a church. They are identical from the point of view of structure, made of the same brick and mortar. But the function, the thought, and the attitude are different.

So, in this very body, this self can be awakened provided it (the body) is harnessed as an instrument for effort towards Self-realisation instead of an instrument for the satisfaction of the senses. Ihaiva santo'tha vidmas tad vayam, na cet avedir mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ: Life is meant for this purpose only. This body has been given to us to be utilised as a noble vehicle for movement towards God, towards the Supreme Being, towards liberation. This vehicle, this instrument, is not intended for any mischief. It is not meant for any kind of ulterior purpose, action or motive. And if it is not used for the purpose for which it is intended; if this body, if this mind, if this psychophysical complex is misused, abused and not used for the purpose of the realisation of the Self; if you are not going to recognise this life on earth as a link in the chain of the development of the soul to God; if you are not able to recognise that you are a pilgrim in this journey; if you think that this world is the all; if you think that here is the halting place and there is no movement further; if you are under a wrong impression that this is a world of enjoyment and not a world of duty and activity; if you think that there is no hereafter and everything is complete here, and this body is the all, this world is the all, the things are the all; if this is your notion, then there is really a great loss – mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ. If the purpose of life is not realised in this birth, then we may well say that life has been wasted. If the life that has been given to us here through this body is not to be put to proper use, verily we may say that it has been misused and put to wrong use; then great is the loss. You have only wasted your time. It is a waste of time because it has not been used for a higher step in the progress towards God. If it has been used for the proper purpose for attaining God, life has been lived properly. Then only its purpose has been fulfilled; otherwise, its purpose has not be fulfilled. Na cet avedir mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ:: 'Great is the loss incurred by that person who has misused this instrument of the body for purposes other than Sadhana for Self-realisation.'

Ye tad viduḥ, amṛtās te bhavanti:  'Immortality is what you are going to attain if this Truth is known to you.' Athetare duḥkham evāpiyanti: 'If this is not known by you, sorrow is the consequence.' You have to suffer, suffer not merely here, but also hereafter. So, there will be a long chain of sorrows, one following the other. And, what is the cause? The cause is a misapprehension of all values. Hence it is essential for us to struggle hard to get proper a perspective of life. Our vision of life should be correct. If our vision is not correct, action also will not be correct, because thought precedes action. You cannot act rightly unless you think rightly. If the thought is wrong, how can the action be correct? Hence a proper vision of life, a proper perspective of life, is the first and foremost duty of a human being. The whole thing must be clear to the mind. Then you will know what is your duty, with this vision before you. If you know what is before you, you can also know how to conduct yourself in respect of it. So, knowledge precedes action. It is useless to engage oneself in activity under the impulsion of wrong notions and wrong knowledge, for naught but sorrow will result – duḥkham evāpiyanti.