Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Oneness with the 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.

4.1. Oneness with the Brahmasvarūpa Guru

[Note: We are using G capital for Akṣarabrahman (Brahmasvarūpa) Guru.]

As we began this chapter, we understood that liberation is a situation of complete spiritual purity and clarity in which the ātman becomes brahmarūpa—like Brahman. This not only results in eliminating māyic impurities born of a material self-misunderstanding but, more positively, acquiring the qualities of Akṣarabrahman. Svāminārāyaṇa makes clear in the Vac. how both are made possible. The jīva, however, has united with the body, the senses, and the sense-objects. As a result of this indecorous association, the jīva has become one with the body, senses, etc.

After forsaking their association, the jīva realizes:

“My self is Brahman, which transcends and is free from māyā. If one amalgamated with Brahman through continuous contemplation in this manner, the jīva attains the virtues of Brahman....The jīva remains continuously attached to māyā... Only when one continuously associates with Brahman, one’s inspirer, through contemplation -as previously described -is that attachment broken.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/31, p. 460)

This constant contemplation[1] on the Brahmasvarūpa Guru[2] as one’s true self is the ultimate sādhanā.

Guṇātītānanda Svāmi explicates in Svāmīnī Vāto 2/41 on why this association leads to acquiring the qualities of Akṣarabrahman, i.e., becoming brahmarūpa:

“First, one should attach one’s jīva to the ekāntika sādhu. Because that sādhu is absorbed in Parabrahman, he possesses the qualities of Parabrahman. Hence, the sādhu’ s qualities are imbibed by whoever associates with the ekāntika sādhu.”

Then stressing the absolute vitality of this form of association with the Guru, he ends the discourse with the following statement:

“Whether one applies this method today or after a thousand lives, ultimately, there is no alternative but to apply it.”[3]

Correspondingly, the Upaniṣads also provide statements regarding joining one’s self with Akṣarabrahman. For instance, the Brhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 1/4/10 proclaims ‘Aham brahma’smi’ (I am Brahman).

Bhadreśadāsa comments:

svātmanaḥ sarvaśarīribhūtenākṣarabrahmaṇaikyenānusandhānamakarod iti bhāvaḥ |” (Brhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 1/4/10, p.49)

“I am cultivating myself with Akṣarabrahman which is the śarīrī (controller) of all being.”

Bhadreśadāsa draws our attention that oneness with Guru is a significant spiritual endeavor. Especially in the Upaniṣads, we find actual teachings to know or meditate on that Brahman as one’s own self (e.g., Taittiriya-upaniṣad 2/5/1, Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/5, and Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/6). One such series of teachings can be found figuratively in Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/4, where one is called upon to ‘target’ Akṣarabrahman with one’s ātman, the arrow, and ‘pierce it unflinchingly’. Like an arrow that becomes one with its target, so, in the same fashion, the aspirant of liberation makes the Guru his/her center and becomes one with him (śaravat tanmayo bhavet). It’s a deep explanation of what the earlier verse in Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/3 had said, where the oneness is explained as taking on aspects of the Guru’s nature (tadbhāva). Bhadreśadāsa describes this as a form of awareness (anusandhāna), contemplation (anucintana) and engrossment (sanlagnatā).

The Bhagavad-Gītā tells the same story. To attain brahmabhāva is the most important part of the Bhagavad-Gītā Right from the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gītā, this incumbent spiritual flow proceeds unto the last chapter.

After describing the attributes of an enlightened person, it reveals:

eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ” (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/72)

Arjuna, this is the Brāhmic state. Attaining this state, one is no longer confused. Gaining this state, even at the end of one’s life, a person attains the goal of human life and becomes one with Akṣarabrahman.”

Bhadreśadāsa explains:

brāhmī brahmaṇaḥ iyamiti brāhmī sākṣādakṣarabrahmasaṃbandhinīti yāvad tadakṣarabrahmavarūpagurumananaprakarṣalabhyā svātmānastadakṣarabrahmaguṇasādhārmyalakṣaṇatadbhāvarūpāparamātmopāsanaparamānukūlā sthitiḥ |” (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/72, p.68)

Brāhmic is related to Akṣarabrahman, the great glorified state which is attained through Akṣarabrahman. An aspirant attains this state by constant and unwavering thinking of the Akṣarabrahman Guru; then, he imbibes the qualities of that Brahman through which he can engross in the utmost devotion of Parabrahman.”

This principle is seen in every chapter of the Bhagavad-Gītā while discussing the various topics: To achieve karma yoga (3/30, 4/25), to attain jīvanmukti (liberation while living on earth) (5/19, 20, 21); to become a yogi (6/8, 9, 27, 28); to become a jnāni (7/17,18); to know the process of the association with Brahman (8/13); to accomplish the jnānyajna (9/15); to gain adhyātmavidyā (10/32); to exposed the concealed knowledge (11/1); to attain Parabrahman (12/5); to eradicate the obstacles hindering perfect devotion (13/11) to become gunātita (14/26); to acquire a place in Akṣaradhām(15/5); to highlight the divine qualities (16/1); to express the Oṅakāra (17/24) and the acme narration of eighteenth chapter:

“Giving up body-consciousness, violence, pride, lust, anger, and desire for possession; free from the feeling of ‘I and my’, and peaceful; one becomes fit for attaining oneness with Brahman.” (18/53)

The peaceful one who is absorbed in Akṣarabrahman neither grieves nor desires. He becomes brahmarūpa and obtains the highest devotion for Parabrahman.” (18/54)

In the various documented discourses, Svāminārāyaṇa establishes this fact. Svāminārāyaṇa puts forward:

“One should develop a conviction of one’s ātman as follows: One develops ātmabuddhi with the santa who has attained the manifest form of Parabrahman, and one should believe only that santa to be one’s self.” (Vacanāmṛta Jetalapura 1, p.691).

As far as the Brahmasūtra is concerned, the term ‘ātmabuddhi ‘, means oneness with the Akṣarabrahman Guru, is described explicitly there. This also helps explain how the association with the Guru is a form of loving devotion. This is found in the Ātmagṛhītyadhikaraṇa (Brahmasūtras 3/3/15-18), where Bhadreśadāsa links ‘gṛhīti’ literally, ‘acceptance’ to ‘buddhi’ (perception), thus centering the discussion on ātmabuddhi. He eulogizes such Guru-centered self-perception as the best and most key means to serving Parabrahman.[4]

Bhadreśadāsa highlights:

brahmātmaikyalakṣaṇāyā asya ātmagṛhitīreva paramātmopāsanasādhaneṣu śreṣṭhatvādityarthaḥ |” (Brahmasūtra 3/3/15, p.324)

Ātmagṛhīti, which is known as the firm oneness with the Akṣarabrahman Guru, is the most prominent spiritual endeavor of all spiritual endeavors to complete upāsanā towards Parabrahman.”

In this way, in the Svāminārāyaṇa Vedanta oneness with Guru is the most promonent spiritual endeouvor.

Footnotes and references:


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/31


In the Svāminārāyaṇa Tradition the Guru is one of the four form of Akṣarabrahman (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/63; Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/1/1). It incarnates on earth to grant liberation to the countless jivas and ishvaras (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/27,54; Katha-upaniṣad 3/2, Mundaka-upaniṣad 2/2/5). Moreover, Parabrahman manifests through the Guru (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/27, 3/26, Var.19; Kena-upaniṣad 2/4).


Svāmīnī Vāto 2/41


Brahmasūtra 3/3/15-18, pp.323-326

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