Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Components of Ekantiki-Bhakti (b): Jnana’ 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.

11.1. Components of Ekāntiki-Bhakti (b): Jñāna

Jñāna reflects the knowledge one attains. Although every live being possesses knowledge but their proportion differs. In a specific term, Knowledge molds the metal of the self and uplifts it to the highest spiritual height. Knowledge (jñāna) implies self-knowledge (ātma-niṣṭhā), Akṣarabrahman and Parabrahman-knowledge (Akṣarapuruṣottama-niṣṭhā).[1] Therefore, there is no liberation without the right knowledge.[2] (Ṛte jñānān muktiḥ), because the attainer of the right knowledge attains supreme peace.

As mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gītā:

jñānaṃ labdhvā parāṃ śāntimacireṇādhigacchati.”[3]

Right knowledge yields contentment and a sense of complete accomplishment in an elevated state.[4]

When we talk about self-realization, it is ātmaniṣṭhā. It consists of knowing oneself essentially as ātman (conscious-principle) distinct from psycho-physical body and its relations. More simply, The knowledge that the self is the knower and the body is the known, is ātmaniṣṭhā. The ātman is consciousness and has knowledge as its essential intimate quality. It is separate from and transcendent to prakṛti and its three guṇas. Thus, nothing that applies to the body applies to the ātman. The properties of the body and ātman are distinct, apart, and opposite. Such realization is ātmaniṣṭhā.[5] When the devotee realizes ātmaniṣṭhā, a person is not moved or affected by insult, honor, blame, praise, name, form, pain, pleasure, disease etc. His patience and perseverance are everlasting.[6]

Bhadreśadāsa also confirms:

enam ātmānam evaṃ nityatvanirvikaratvadehāvilakṣanādiguṇaviṣiṣṭatayā viditvā gurukṛpayā vijñāya nānuśocitumarhasi |” (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/25, p.32)

“By knowing from the Guru that the ātman is eternal, unchangeable, and distinct from the body,[7] you are not supposed to indulge in sorrow.”

In the Svāminārāyaṇa Vedanta, when ātmaniṣṭhā combines with knowledge of Parabrahman's transcendental glory, the seeker feels fulfilled. He stands in need of nothing. It helps in deracinating vices such as anger, greed, lust etc. Thus ātmaniṣṭhā (self-realization) brings the inflow of all other good qualities and virtues. It dispels the vāsanās (desires) from the self.[8] Therefore, those who want to eliminate worldly desires and attachment from worldly objects of enjoyment, and keep the mind focused on Parabrahman, should cultivate ātmaniṣṭhā.[9] Ātmaniṣṭhā, therefore, is one of the significant means for pleasing Parabrahman and attaining emancipation.[10] Deficiency in ātmaniṣṭhā may cause fall and degeneration, because it sways the mind away when ups and downs of life vacillate one in pleasure and pain, and his mind gets fogged by ideas other than that of Parabrahman.[11] It seems that ātmaniṣṭhā alone is enough to fulfill the ultimate spiritual goal.

Ātmaniṣṭhā Alone is Not Sufficient

However, mere ātmaniṣṭhā without brahmabhāva and Paramātmaniṣṭhā is neither fruitful nor emancipating.[12]

Bhadreśadāsa explains by commenting on the Kena Upaniṣad:

tadeva brahma tvaṃ viddhi nedaṃ yadidamupāsate ||

tad vākprerakaṃ eva brahma paraṃ brahma iti tvaṃ paramātmasvarūpajijñāsuḥ viddhiḥ ||” (Kena-upaniṣad 1/5, p.39)

“Parabrahman ought to be known and worshipped thoroughly since it is an ultimate entity to be known.”

Therefore, If the knowledge does not develop into Parabrahman’s devotion (bhakti), it is of no reward. If the knowledge does not arouse the highest love and oneness with Parabrahman, it is all an intellectual gymnastic. It is knowledge-backed devotion that helps in pleasing Parabrahman and drawing His grace. Thus, Bhadreśadāsa defines the jñānī as with brahmabhāva and total devotion towards Parabrahman.[13]

In the Svāminārāyaṇa Vedanta, knowledge always goes with devotion. When Parāvidyā, the higher knowledge of Brahman is realized, then the devotee sees Parabrahman alone in the intense light of consciousness-bliss and miscarries to perceive any other name or form which is under the range of Mūla-prakṛti.[14] When Parabrahman alone remains shining in the consciousness, it forms a total emptiness (the state of absence of all names and forms in mind), the devotee stops to perceive one's body (piṇda) and the whole universe (brahmānda). He then sees the beautiful divine personality of Parabrahman in the radiating light of his heart.[15]

Bhadreśadāsa expresses the true meaning of ātmaniṣṭhā:

ahamātmāsmyahaṃ brahma brahmarūpe mayi prabhuḥ |
iti sākṣādbrahma yogād yo bhāvaḥ sātmarūpatā ||

“The state of being ātmaniṣṭhā means believing through direct association with the Brahmasvarūpa Guru, I am the ātman, I am Brahman and Parabrahman resides in my ātman, which is brahmarūpa.”

Similarly, he describes the ‘ātmavān’ as who is associated with Akṣarabrahman Guru.[17] Only through this way, the Svāminārāyaṇa School’s ātmaniṣṭhā completes. When a devotee affiliates himself with Akṣarabrahman (the Akṣara-Guru) and gets in unison with him, the right knowledge blossoms to the greatest extent.[18] Such a jñānī devotee (wise man) is described as the best among the devotees and spiritual aspirants, in the Bhagavad Gītā.[19]

Thus, the jñānī is believed of his own self as the pure ātman, being-consciousness bliss (sat-cid-ānanda), stain-free, uncontaminated, immortal being; conversely, the food, sex, fashion, comforts, luxury, etc. pleasures of the world are perishable, insignificant, temporary, and repeated sources of pain; he assumes that his body, senses, mind ego, name, form, relations, properties etc. are also subject to the debacle. He, therefore, remains withdrawn from the external world while being well-settled internally in the meditation of Parabrahman in his heart. To him, life in the forest is as joyful-comfortable as it is in a royal palace in the kingdom; and vice versa. He is equipoised in honor and insult. For him, gold and dust are equal in value. In short, nothing agitates his mind, nor does anything attract or distract or bind him.[20]

Footnotes and references:


Vacanāmṛta Sārangpur 1, Īśa-upaniṣad 15, pp.22-23


Vacanamrut Loyā 7


Bhagavad-Gītā 4/39


Vacanamrut Loyā 2


Vacanāmṛta Sārangpur 1


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/61


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/73, 3/20


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/1


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/62


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/1


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/65, 2/35, 2/26


Bhagavad-Gītā 7/16,17,18, pp.164-65


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/24


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/26


Svāminārāyaṇa Siddhāntasudhā Kārikā 402


Bhagavad-Gītā 2/45


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/24, 2/20


Bhagavad-Gītā 7/18


Vacanamrut Loyā 10, Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/1

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