Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘The Ultimate Goal’ 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.

The scriptures echo:

dharmārthakāmamokṣākhyaṃ puruṣārthacatuṣṭayam[1]

“The four goals or aims of human life which is known as puruṣārtha in Indian philosophy are as follows: dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa (liberation).”

Mokṣa is one of the four goals or aims of human life. In the field of Indian culture and heritage, dharma is explained and placed first because it is considered superior to artha and kāma. Dharma, artha, and kāma are too much linked with man’s social life but mokṣa is concerned with individuals' spiritual or moral life. Moreover, it is the ultimate goal.[2] With reference to the Bhagavad-Gitā it can be said that those who have desires for artha and kāma may follow the karmakāṇḍa without remembering Parabrahman to obtain their desired object, whereas those who are totally free from such desires and aim at mokṣa, they may follow jñāna and remember Parabrahman.

The Bhagavad-Gītā expresses the first group:

kāmātmānaḥ svargaparā janmakarmaphalapradām |
kriyāviśeṣabahulāṃ bhogaiśvaryagatiṃ prati ||
[3] (Bhagavad-Gītā 2/43)

“They are dominated by material cravings and consider going to heaven as the highest goal of life. They indulge in specific rituals for the sake of material prosperity and enjoyment. Rebirth is the result of their action.”

Those who are full of material longings perform various specific rituals for the attainment of pleasure and power and think to go to heaven as the highest goal of life. The rebirth is the fruit of such rituals. On the other hand, with the knowledge of Brahman, a person despite having committed extreme sins attains liberation.

The Bhagavad-Gītā explicitly mentions:

api cedasi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpakṛttamaḥ |
sarvaṃ jñānaplavenaiva vṛjinaṃ santariṣyasi ||
[4] (Bhagavad-Gītā 4/36)

“Even if one is the most sinful of all sinners, yet one shall easily cross over the river of sin with the help of the raft of the knowledge of Parabrahman.”

The lives of personal beings proceed within this global framework from birth to adulthood, old age, death, and rebirth in a never-ending round of sāṃsārika existences. During the cosmic night, they subsist in a kind of limbo or oblivion. The concept of dharma also refers to the timeless and absolute reality beyond the manifested one; it helps to attain the final goal of religious and philosophical quest equated with the ultimate truth. “This truth is eternal, outside time, and independent of the changeable phases of the phenomenal reality manifested within time. The manifestation of the eternal truth or law within the universe dominated by time does not make the world everlasting in the sense of a lineal duration, but provides for its cyclic nature, its recurring rise and fall.”[5]

Footnotes and references:


Gavin Flood, The meaning and context of the Puruṣārtha, in Julius Lipner (Editor) -The Fruits of Our Desiring, 1996,pp 16–21


Bhagavad-Gītā 2/43


Bhagavad-Gītā 4/36


Alban Widgery, The Principles of Hindū Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 1930, pp. 239–240

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