Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Aksharabrahman as Brahmasvarupa Guru’ of the study on the Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam in Light of Swaminarayan Vachanamrut (Vacanamrita). His 18th-century teachings belong to Vedanta philosophy and were compiled as the Vacanamrita, revolving around the five ontological entities of Jiva, Ishvara, Maya, Aksharabrahman, and Parabrahman. Roughly 200 years later, Bhadreshdas composed a commentary (Bhasya) correlating the principles of Vachanamrut.

4.3.4. Akṣarabrahman as Brahmasvarūpa Guru

In the Svāminārāyaṇa School of Vedanta, we had already brought about that a fundamental and unique doctrine. In that Parabrahman is the cause of all avatāras. He himself manifests on earth in human form forever to grant liberation to every being. How does this become possible? If Svāminārāyaṇa was only present on earth from 1781 to 1830, how does Parabrahman remain present on earth after leaving his mortal body? Especially, the word pratyakṣa (Parabrahman manifest before your eyes) is the answer. Pratyakṣa is used by Svāminārāyaṇa invariably, what does this mean? Let us discuss the matter and analyze it in detail in order to answer this question within this section. After a keen investigation into the Vacanāmṛta, it becomes evident that Svāminārāyaṇa explained those words ‘Parabrahman manifest before the eyes’ to remain forever on earth.

He explains the profoundly important matter in the Vacanāmṛta,

“When Parabrahman manifests for the purpose of granting liberation to the jīvas, he is always accompanied by his Akṣaradhāma.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/71, pp.173-174)

Akṣarabrahman is the medium through whom God Puruṣottama (after departing from the earth) keeps His manifestation and presence continuous on earth in the form of Akṣara-Guru to redeem the seekers of salvation. Therefore, Akṣarabrahman, who descended on earth along with Lord Purușottama, continues to function as the Guru: the appropriate medium for God to work through and remain present (manifest), after His formal departure from this earth. In Guru-paramparā, at each stage, Akṣarabrahman through his alter-form remains perennially present.

Akṣara as the Guru (Parama Ekantika Satpuruṣa) is the purifier and molder of the metal of the jīva, and hence, he is conceived as a compassionate mother, as a disciplinarian father, as a tough taskmaster, as a true friend of the soul, as an enlightened philosopher, as an unfailing guide, the Bonafide Spiritual Master who embodies fully the very God whom he serves devoutly. One who seeks refuge at the feet of Akṣara-Guru, and obediently affiliates himself with the Akṣara-Guru becomes brahmarūpa a freed soul resembling Akṣarabrahman.

The Sruti says:

brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati.” (Mund. Up. -3/2/9)

“The true knower (realizer) of Akṣarabrahman becomes (similar of) Brahman

And the Sruti further says that,

“One who becomes like Akṣarabrahman attains Parabrahman” (Taittiriya-upaniṣad 2/1/1).

As seen earlier, Akṣara stands closest to God; Puruṣottama and Akṣara are distinct realities, but Akṣara enjoys ‘Supreme Spiritual Union’ and oneness with God. God too does not leave Akṣara and stay alone (solitary); though of course He is capable of doing so by virtue of His supreme transcendental power. On the contrary, He, as if acts like one enslaved by the loving ties of Akṣara.

Akṣarabrahman is eternally lost intending His God, and God remains lost totally in the person of Akṣara. The divine love and relationship between the two is such that no one leaves the other. The words ‘consort’ or ‘other half’ do not convey the correct and complete relationship, because God always manifests simultaneously fully in the person of Akṣara alone. Both Akṣara and Puruṣottama are divya-murtis (divine personalities). The almost equal powers, rights, and privileges that Akṣara enjoys and owes from Puruṣottama are like that of the royal Queen enjoying and owning equal royal authority from His Excellency, The King. Both Akṣara and Puruṣottama are eternally free, devoid of three guṇas and are not directly involved in the process of creation. Neither any phase/ aspect/expression of God nor that of Akṣara unites with prakṛti to set the creative process on.

Nonetheless, Parabrahman is the Supreme Godhead and the Parama Guru while Akṣarabrahman is the first Guru in succession and the Guru-paramparā continues through Akṣarabrahman in whom God fully manifests with all His glory, glamour, and grace. Akṣara embodies in him God and God alone fully, works strictly inconsonance with the will of God and also presents himself as the ideal devotee teaching the lessons of right devotion and worship through his words and deeds.

Accordingly, the followers of this faith hold the conviction that the present Guru Mahanta Svāmi Maharaja is the currently manifest form of Akṣarabrahman, through whom Puruṣottama manifests on earth and works and redeems the seekers of salvation, Therefore, the Ācarya (the Guru) is the first and the final means for mokṣa, because he and the God are not away and apart. Since the Akṣara-Guru finds the greatest delight and devotion in serving his Lord, he attunes and affiliates all seekers who approach him, to Puruṣottama, Who is the Supreme Value and the Summum Bonum of all spiritual endeavors. Puruṣottama shapes and secures the brāhmic state of Akṣarahood to the seekers, but does it through Akṣara-Guru, who is the appropriate medium and mediator between jīvas and Himself, after His departure from this world. So, it is the Lord alone who is the ultimate redeemer and the Supreme Goal and the Supreme Object of worship, here and hereafter.

Svāminārāyaṇa is primarily present in the person of the Guru, also in the images and sacred scriptures. The Guru is spoken of as ‘the sacred texts personified’ because he lives in harmony with all the precepts of the scriptures given by Svāminārāyaṇa. Without such a Guru, it is said, there can be no satsaṃga. It is only through association with Akṣara who has come on earth in a personal form that one can get rid of one’s vices, baser instincts, and the clutches of māyā, and thereby gain release.

Describing the glory of paramabhakta (Akṣara-Guru), Svāminārāyaṇa explains that wherever the best devotee (Akṣarabrahman) goes, the Lord follows him, accompanies him. As the devotee cannot live without Him, so does He cannot live without His best devotee. He does not remain away from the heart of that devotee even for a fraction of a second. Do not mistake him for a mere mortal, though he appears like an ordinary man or a saint. He is worthy of honor and adoration and reverence like God Himself. He (the Akṣara-Guru) is an all-inspirer and all-illuminator He is the support and substratum of all the universes. Akṣara has sway over Puruṣottama by his ideal subservience and highest devotion par excellence. Akṣara is the intercessor between the bound souls and the almost inaccessible Lord. To seek grace and favor of God, Akṣara the Guru is the only appropriate medium, who is the embodiment of supreme wisdom, highest devotion, motherly love, and affection and concern for creatures.

We, the finite, bound, erring souls are assured of His mercy, final pardon, perfection, highest bliss, and the service of His divine feet through Akṣarabrahman, our first refuge to reach the final goal.

Thus, Parabrahman is always accompanied by Akṣarabrahman and never remains alone on earth; It is this Akṣarabrahman -in another form, the abode of Parabrahman that is the Brahmasvarūpa Guru on earth. Just as in his eternally distinct form, Parabrahman is fully manifest in his abode called Akṣaradhāma; similarly, on earth, he chooses to dwell in his human abode the same Akṣarabrahman who has assumed the form of the Guru.

This form of the Guru is mentioned in the Vac. As ‘Sant’, ‘Satpuruṣa’, ‘Sādhu’, ‘Bhakta’, etc. for example:

“When one has the darśana of such a Sant, one should realize, ‘I have had the darśana of Parabrahman himself.”(Vacanāmṛta Sārangpur 10, p.226)

Svāminārāyaṇa thus, reiterates that Parabrahman is present in and operate through the Guru. In the same way, the Upaniṣad reveal the Guru’s metaphysical authorizations as well as the absolute need for such a Guru in order to transcend māyā and realize the highest, Brāhmi state of enlightenment. The Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, For example, explains that for brahmavidyā one has to go to such Brahman Guru.

“To realize that (higher knowledge of Akṣara (also known as Brahman) Puruṣa (also known as Parabrahman), i.e., Brahmavidyā), imperatively render, with sacrificial wood in hand, to only that Guru who has a realization of revealed texts (Śrotriyam), who is Brahman(Brahma) and who is ever steadfast (Niṣṭham) (in Parabrahman). (Mundaka-upaniṣad 1/2/12)

Bhadreśadāsa comments on this mantra:

brahma sākṣādakṣaraṃ brahma, niṣṭhaṃ nitāntaṃ nityaṃ tiṣṭhatīti niṣṭhaḥ | kutretyakṣepāt paramātmanīti labhyate'taḥ sadā paramātmaniṣṭhastamityarthaḥ | anena nityaṃ paramātmaniṣṭhaḥ sākṣādakṣarabrahmaiva brahmavidyāyāḥ vijñāpayitā gururbhavitumarhati nānya iti siddhāntitam | guruṃ svarūpato'kṣarabrahmākhyatattvā'tyantā'bhinnaṃ nityamakhaṇḍitatayā samyak sarvāṅage sākṣāt sahajaṃ sahajānandaparabrahmadhārakamata eva tadanavarataprākaṭyānubhāvakaṃsampradāyo hi gurukramaḥ’ … sākṣādbrahmasvarūpasatpuruṣamityarthaḥ |” (Mundaka-upaniṣad 1/2/12, p.254)

“Brahman is Akṣarabrahman, ‘niṣṭham’ means always having the conviction of Parabrahman. ‘Niṣṭham’ normally considered as a single compounded term, Bhadreśadāsa provides the crucial distinction here that the Guru is one not just ‘established in Brahman’ Brahmaṇi niṣṭhā but the very form of Brahman (Brahmasvarūpa eva). Hence, the correct qualifier for the Guru is ‘Brahmasvarūpa’, the form of Brahman (Akṣarabrahman) Satpuruṣa and he leads the Saṃpradāya tradition.”

The Bhagavad-Gītā also confirms:

tattvadarśinaḥ bhagavannityadarśanāḥ sakalaśabdabodhyaparamatattvaparamātmasākṣātkāravantaśca sākṣātbrahmasvarūpaguravaḥ te tubhyaṃ jñānaṃ brahmavidyām upadekṣyanti |” (Bhagavad-Gītā 4/34, p.110).

“The Brahmasvarūpa Guru who has the firm conviction and revelation of Parabrahman can preach brahmavidyā.”

The Brahmasūtra also mentions by referring to the Katha-upaniṣad 3/2 mantra and comments:

akṣarabrahma setuḥ iti tatprāptimādhyamabhūtaṃ gururūpaṃ ca tat” (Brahmasūtra 1/4/1)

“The bridge in the form of Akṣarabrahman is the same Guru who is the means to liberation.”

In this way, the Upaniṣads repeatedly described the Akṣarabrahman Guru as a ‘setu’, or bridge elucidating his role to connect an aspirant to Parabrahman.

“The bridge for those who offer sacrifices is Akṣarabrahman, the highest.” (Katha-upaniṣad 3/2),

“This is the bridge to the immortal.” (Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/5);

“Now, the self (of all) is the bridge… (Chāndogya-upaniṣad XII 8/4/1),

“The best bridge to immortality...” (Svetāśvatara-upaniṣad 6/19)

As a matter of fact, the supreme glory of God (Parabrahman) is infinite and unfathomable; and hence, never fully comprehensible. However, Akṣara among all dependent conscious beings knows and sings the glory of God to the highest possible extent, and hence, he is popularly designated as the giver of liberation(mokṣa). Being the best jñānī, he is glorified by God Himself as His very self (Atman). Jñānī alone is Brahmasvarūpa i.e., Akṣarabrahman, for there exists nothing in his consciousness except God. Therefore, such a jñānī (i.e., Akṣarabrahman) is the dearest to God and God has him as the dearest one. Therefore, Akṣarabrahman as the best jñānī alone can unveil the transcendental majesty and supreme glory of Parabrahman in the best possible manner to the greatest possible extent. Through him alone, the best glimpse of God's transcendental glory is revealed to the devotees and seekers of God, who are striving to realize Him. Of course, God, out of grace may reveal Himself directly independently to a spiritual aspirant. We can conclude by saying that Parabrahman is completely present and in the Brahmasvarūpa Guru. The statements containing the words pratyakṣa or ‘Parabrahman manifest before the eyes’ now refer exclusively and forthrightly to the Brahmasvarūpa Guru. Although the Guru is an essential entity to attain liberation, yet he is not Parabrahman himself. We will discuss that part in the next chapter of sādhanā.

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