Prasthanatrayi Swaminarayan Bhashyam (Study)

by Sadhu Gyanananddas | 2021 | 123,778 words

This page relates ‘Videhamukti (Introduction)’ 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.

Bhadreśadāsa defines:

dehapātottaraṃ labhyā videhamuktirucyate |
akṣaradhāmni bhogyeyaṃ mūrtimad brahmaṇā saha ||
Svāminārāyaṇa Siddhāntasudhā Kārikā 437 ||

“The liberation attained after shedding the mortal body is Videhamukti. The released self experiences the bliss of such liberation in Akṣaradhāma along with the human form of Akṣarabrahman.”

Videhamukti is to attain the highest state of enlightenment after leaving the mortal body. Once all the prārabdha kārmas of a jīvanmukta have been experienced, his or her association with the sthūla and sūkṣma bodies also ends, and he or she then goes to Parabrahman’s Akṣaradhāma.[1]

To attain Akṣaradhāma and experience the bliss of Parabrahman is the ultimate goal of a devotee.

As Guṇatitanand Svāmī says:

“Our sole wish should be that we want to go to Akṣaradhāma.” (Svāmīnī Vāto 1/301)

“We must have the firm conviction that we want to go to Akṣaradhāma and serve Parabrahman forever with the company of the akṣaramuktas.” (Svāmīnī Vāto 7/21)

This is the essence of our scriptures. The scriptures described it as the ultimate puruṣārtha, the goal of every self. Indeed, this is the fruit of spirituality as well. A considerable amount of literature has been published on this parama puruṣārtha, ultimate goal or the ultimate liberation. These studies, however, present the complex findings which make the topic more critical, but within the Svāminārāyaṇa Darśana, the first and simplest way to understand liberation is the findings which are firstly experienced by the preachers.[2] As a state of supreme, unending bliss and perfect, ceaseless devotion to Parabrahman, this is the ultimate goal and consummation of all spiritual understanding and praxis towards which Svāminārāyaṇa inspires his devotees.

For example, in Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/21, he urges: All members of our fellowship should develop the following singular conviction:

“We also wish to join the ranks of the akṣararūpa muktas and go to Akṣaradhāma to forever remain in the service of Parabrahman. We have no desire for the temporary and vain worldly pleasures; nor do we wish to be tempted by them in any way.”

Whoever “accepts my refuge and abides by the niyama, then in his last moments, I will grant him My Darśana and take him to Parabrahman’s Akṣaradhāma.” (Vacanāmṛta Jetalapura 5)

721 Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/13, 3/39

Svāminārāyaṇa calls this my principle (Siddhānta) when asked by a follower of the Dvaita School to explain his philosophical system in brief. After concisely expounding the five eternal realities, Svāminārāyaṇa says in conclusion: When a jīva seeks the refuge of Parabrahman, it overcomes Parabrahman's māyā, becomes brahmarūpa..., attains the abode of Parabrahman, and becomes his attendant. This is my principle. (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā III/10) 382

This place in Akṣaradhāma, Svāminārāyaṇa clarifies, is the state of liberation achieved after death, upon leaving the material body behind reason, it is called videhamukti (incorporeal liberation).

He states for the example:

“After such an enlightened devotee (ekāntik bhakta) leaves his body becomes free of all influences of māyā, he attains Akṣaradhāma.” (Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/21)

Bhadreśadāsa elucidates this point while commenting on the verses of the Katha-upaniṣad 2/15, 16, 17 in which he discusses the word ‘padam’ that implies for Akṣaradhāma. After providing vivid references of the Prasthānatrayī, he proves that it is Parabrahman’s abode where the liberated self goes after leaving its physical body.

In his conclusion, he clarifies:

tathā hi brahmasvarūpasatpuruṣaprasaṅgena, tasminnātmabuddhyādinā ca brahmātmaikyaṃ prāpya, tādṛśena brahmarūpeṇātmanā paraṃ paramātmānaṃ tattvata upāsya, laukikadehapātottaraṃ divyākṣaradhāmnyapi manuṣyākārāṃ divyāṃ brāhmīṃ tanuṃ parameśvarecchayā prāpya, taddhāmasthena manuṣyākāreṇaiva mūrtimatā'kṣarabrahmaṇā saha tadbrahmavaiva paramātmasahajānandadarśanānandātmakena sarvotkṛṣṭadivyabhogavaibhavena mahīyata iti sampūrṇabhāvaḥ |” (Katha-upaniṣad 2/17, p.112)

“By the company of the brahmasvarūpa Satpuruṣa, a seeker attains oneness with him and becomes a brahmarūpa. The brahmarūpa devotee continuously offers upāsanā to Parabrahman till his death. After his death, he enters the abode of Parabrahman and gets the divine Brāhmic body by the wish and grace of Him. The liberated self now experiences the ultimate bliss of Parabrahman with the company of Akṣarabrahman itself while residing in the abode.”

The Brahmasūtra also confirms this fact:

brahmarūpasya paropāsakasya videhamuktau brāhmavapurlakṣaṇaṃ navataraṃ divyarūpamabhiniṣpadyate iti | (Brahmasūtra 4/4/1, p.416)

“One who is brahmarūpa and offers upāsanā to Parabrahman attains new divine Brāhmika body in the videhamukti state.”

And, of course, the Bhagavad-Gītā also echoes this principle by a number of verses. For example:

omityekākṣaraṃ brahma vyāharanmāmanusmaran |
yaḥ prayāti tyajandehaṃ sa yāti paramāṃ gatim ||Bhagavad-Gītā
8/13 ||

“While constant remembrance on Akṣarabrahman which is defined as AUM, the sacred sound of Brahman, and offers upāsanā to me, attains the supreme goal.” 383

Bhadreśadāsa provides the definition of the supreme goal:

sa paramāṃ gatiṃ sarvasamutkṛṣṭagantavyasthanabhūtamakṣaradhāma yāti prāpnoti iti | (Bhagavad-Gītā 8/13, p.186)

“Here ‘paramam gati’ refers to the abode of Parabrahman, Akṣaradhāma, which is superior to all abodes and the best destination for all liberated selves.”

Footnotes and references:


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā I/1, 1/21


Vacanāmṛta Gadhadā II/13, 3/39

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