"Self-realization is meant to ensure fulfilment for one’s own self. It is not reaching somewhere or getting at something external, like going to the peak of a mountain. The attainment is in dissolving the mind and intelligence, and getting into the very core of oneself. In other words, it is like multiplying everything with zero."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

  • Sādhana-śibiram | Delhi | March 2018 17-02-2018

    Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji will be in Delhi from Mar 07 to Apr 01, 2018 to conduct the annual Sādhan¡-Śibiram. Enlightened Living and "Be Master of Yourself" workshop is being offered. Details.

  • Dakshinkhanda Pilgrimage - A Report 15-02-2018

    By the end of the night there were so many words that came up repeatedly in attempt to convey the feelings about this sublime event - blessed, grateful, deeply moved, and humbled. Humbled to see what true bhakti really is.

  • Enlightened Living | Delhi NCR | March 2018 22-01-2018

    Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha Ji will conduct a residential course "Enlightened Living" from 15th to 25th March 2018. Participation requires prior registration. No charge.

  • 54th Annual Jñāna Yajña - Jamshedpur 17-01-2018

    On 6th Feb, Sampoojya Swamiji and Mā will reach CIRD Jameshedpur for the Annual Jñāna Yajña. They will return to the Ashram in Thrissur on February 28th.  Details..

Practical Guidance

Prabhaata Rashmih talks by Poojya Swamiji
  • PR 02 Aug 2016 - The Purushotthama
    Listen to Prabhaata-rashmih Audio

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru. 

    In Rigveda we have a Purusha-suktham. The word Purusha becomes important there. Here, the same Purusha is spoken of as Uttama-Purusha, purushotthama. The chapter is named after that word. Krishna began referring to the creation as a whole as

    ऊर्ध्वमूलमधःशाखमश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् ।
    ūrdhvamūlam-adha:śākham-aśvatthaṃ prāhur-avyayam |

    Imagine the whole creation to be an inverted ashwattha tree. The roots are above, you won’t be able to reach them any time. We only have available that huge inverted tree’s branches and leaves. Now, these leaves, just like in the case of a tree, enable us to find out what is the tree, what are its properties etc. our Vedas are like the leaves to explain the inverted ashwattha tree of creation. So, our Vedas have to be used as an enlightening book. It is not so much a kāraka text, as a jñāpaka text. It reveals revelatory and not mandatory.

    Initially he said,

    निर्मानमोहा जितसङ्गदोषा अध्यात्मनित्या विनिवृत्तकामाः ।
    द्वन्द्वैर्विमुक्ताः सुखदुःखसंज्ञै-र्गच्छन्त्यमूढाः पदमव्ययं तत् ॥
    nirmāna-mohā jita-saṅga-doṣā adhyātmanityā vinivṛtta-kāmā: |
    dvandvair-vimuktā: sukha-du:kha-sañjñair-gacchanty-amūḍhā: padam-avyayaṃ tat ||
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.5)

    The avyaya pada has to be searched, looked for.

    तमेव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी ॥
    tam-eva cādyaṃ puruṣaṃ prapadye yata: pravṛtti: prasṛtā purāṇī ||
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.4)

    I seek refuge under the supreme purusha, from whom all the activities, vibrations and interactions proceeded.

    Then He says, nirmāna-mohā jita-saṅga-doṣā. Māna and moha to be avoided, sanga to be overcome, constantly remain in adhyātma, ātma-chintana, adhyātma-chintana. Get away from desires and desiring habits.

    Dvandvair-vimuktā: sukha-du:kha-sañjñaih. You have to get freedom from dvandvas. What are the dvandvas? Sukha-duhkha themselves. They are the resultant of all other dvandvas. The entire world is a collection of dvandvas. All the dvandvas put together individually and collectively, generate the dvandva inwardly called sukha-duhkhas. Gain redemption from them. When you do so, what happens?

    Gacchanty-amūḍhā: padam-avyayaṃ tat. You will reach the imperishable abode, being de-deluded, getting away from delusion. So, you will become enlightened. And He says, how to be unaffected by this ashwattha tree which is an inverted one. This is the way. sukha-du:kha-sañjñaih gacchanty-amūḍhā: padam-avyayaṃ tat.

    Then He describes the Avyaya pada, na tad-bhāsayate sūryo etc. etc.

    अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः ।
    aham vaiśvānaro bhūtvā prāṇinām deham-āśrita: |
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.14)

    I become the vaiśvānara and digest the food. So, the Supreme Truth is not away from us. It is in us, within us and it is we ourselves.

    Then He says, in the loka, “lokesmin”, he says two purushas are there.

    द्वाविमौ पुरुषौ लोके क्षरश्चाक्षर एव च ।
    dvāv-imau puruṣau loke kṣaraś-cākṣara eva ca |
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.16)

    Kshara and the Akshara. Kshara is the perishable prakriti and Akshara is the imperishable substratum it has. That imperishable substratum is called the purusha. The rest is prakriti. That prakriti is called by Krishna as ‘kshara purusha’ here and the other is ‘akshara purusha’. So, the kshara and akshara purusha explain the whole creation, represent also.

    Then He says,

    उत्तमः पुरुषस्त्वन्यः परमात्मेत्युदाहृतः ।
    uttama: puruṣastv-anya: paramātmety-udāhṛta: |
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.17)

    This is where your attention should be rightly focused. There is still another Purusha, Uttama Purusha. That Uttama Purusha is Paramātma. What is the Atma? Within our body, being a subject of reference as ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’, there is something. That is a Purusha. And that ‘I’, ‘I’ denoted presence, that presence is the Uttama Purusha. Because He is Uttama Purusha, different from kshara and akshara purushas, He is called Purushotthama. That Purushotthama, He says,

    यो लोकत्रयमाविश्य बिभर्त्यव्यय ईश्वरः ॥ १५.१७ ॥
    yo loka-trayam-āviśya bibharty-avyaya īśvara: || 15.17 ||
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.17)

    All we experience and refer to understand are products of three states of ours. Jagrat, swapna and sushupti. Jagrat world, swapna world and sushupti. These are the only three states which are revealing to us whatever they do. So, He has referred to kshara purusha and akshara purusha, then the Purushotthama. That Purushotthama is called Paramātma. Atma means that which is denoted by the term ‘I’. When that presence is understood in its full measure and magnificence, it becomes Paramātma. So, who is Paramātma? The Purushotthama. Where is the Purushotthama? As Paramāthma inside the body. Do you understand that sequence?

    yo loka-trayam-āviśya bibharty-avyaya īśvara:

    It is that imperishable presence in everything.

    यस्मात्क्षरमतीतोऽहमक्षरादपि चोत्तमः ।
    अतोऽस्मि लोके वेदे च प्रथितः पुरुषोत्तमः ॥
    yasmāt-kṣaram-atīto’ham-akṣarād-api cottama: |
    ato’smi loke vede ca prathita: puruṣottama: ||
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.18)

    In the world as well as in the Vedas, this Uttama Purusha is called Purushotthama which is no other than Paramātma.

    Now, whoever understands this Purushotthama, he becomes a ‘sarvavid’, a ‘sarvavid’, a knower of all.

    bhajati māṁ sarva-bhāvena bhārata ||
    भजति मां सर्वभावेन भारत ॥
    (Bhagavad Gita 15.19)

    Such a one starts worshipping Me through all the bhāvās.  So, it is a bhāva worship here, bhāvātmaka worship.

    You will find many people are coming to the temple or common objects of devotion. At one point of time, their bhakti would have become real and expansive and they will start feeling “I don’t like to go to the temple. I feel the presence of God everywhere.” This is how we end up.

    So, in this particular chapter, initially making a reference to the entire creation, then bringing the three concepts of three purushas, and then finding the Uttama Purusha, Purushotthama in yourself, is something very, very important, important. It is not that we are the atma alone, our atma with whatever potentials and possibilities it has, together with them, it becomes the focus for us.

    I thought, I would explain it to you so that you can think about it.  See, He brings the concept of the third purusha and third purusha He says paramātma and parameshwara. If you think in this manner, the fifteenth chapter gives you enough of opportunity to live a very devotional and spiritual life, not affecting you adversely, but making you succeed in whatever you do.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

  • PR 25 July 2016 - Love, Sympathy and Sacrifice
    Listen to Prabhaata-rashmih Audio

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    In the Ashram, we have common routines, morning prayers and evening bhajans. The morning prayers are followed by a program called Pushpa samarpanam.  I am wondering whether you know why this is being done.  The idea is to generate and also preserve a very beautiful note of sublimity, softness, kindness, tenderness in the mind. 

    People are generally rough and tough, sometimes hard, sometimes very crude. Different ways are there. They may not know. People collect the flowers from my feet and they wipe my feet. Everyone will do it in a different manner. You may observe yourself and find out how best it can be done. The tenderness, the softness, the sense of intimacy, any other sublime notes that you can add, all of them will be reflected in your doing this.

    Now here you have a living God, a living Guru. But when you handle an idol or a picture, in wiping it, in pouring water if you have in doing the archana, removing it and cleaning it, this is an abhyasa, an anushthana which will instill a lot of qualitative refinement in you. To be a devotee means to be soft, soft-natured, soft spoken. Try to observe yourself and see how far you are soft. It is equally to develop a number of qualities, to be soft and gentle is one. To be reasonable, proper, firm, decisive will be another. But in a good devotee, especially the one who is able to culture himself as a qualitative person, you will find there is a beautiful blend of the qualities and also emotional fineness.

    The Vishnu Sahasranama is one which when chanted will make you think about various qualities of God. Though you are chanting words which are referring to God, the chanting is done by you and the qualities are going to grow in you provided you do it fondly and well, especially reflecting.

    Today I brought Srimad Bhagavatam, primarily wanting to tell you one important verse which Sri Krishna said in the beginning to Uddhava.

    सर्वभूतसुहृच्छान्तो ज्ञानविज्ञाननिश्र्चय:।
    पश्यन् मदात्मकं विश्वं न विपद्येत वै पुन: ।।
    sarvebhūtasuhṛchānto jñānavijñānaniṣchayaḥ ।
    paśchyan madātmakaṁ viśwaṁ na vipaddyeta vai pūnaḥ ।।
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7.12)

    Sarvebhūta suhṛt shānto. This one word, when I first read it in Srimad Bhagavatam, it appealed to me so much. This is the standard and style for a devotee.

    Sarva Bhootha suhṛt.  You should think as a friend of all creatures, all beings. Your mind may not accept it initially. But keep it as an ideal. Be friendly to the others, kind to the others, considerate to the others. That consideration for others, consideration for others. People are seated here. Whenever there are children, elders should feel that the children should be brought to the front and made to sit. Whether it is here or in a photograph, group. Anywhere and everywhere, be considerate to youngsters. And so far as youngsters are concerned, they should be considerate to the elders, to see that they are not put into discomfort, if at all they are helped with some convenience etc. Some people cannot bend, some people cannot do this, cannot do that. See what are the items of service you can do for them and without being told, sense it and then do it.

    This one phrase, Sarvebhūta suhṛt shānto. If you can keep it in your mind and recite it many, many times, automatically you will become a Sarvebhūta suhṛt. It is Krishna who says this to Uddhava especially as a parting message when Uddhava was to take leave from Krishna and go to Badarikashrama and remain there, contemplating upon Krishna, taking his bath in Mandakini, remembering Krishna and seeing Krishna everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

    When he was with Krishna, Uddhava had a physical focus on him. When Krishna is no more there, the only way he can generate Krishna is by the mind and from the mind. He says paśchyan madātmakaṁ viśwaṁ. When Krishna was alive, he was always identifying Krishna with the body. When the body is no more there, it is not nearby, the only way is to think of Krishna in a much larger dimension. The whole universe is Krishna laden so much so, that you will never miss him even for a moment. Madātmakaṁ viśwaṁ.

    In that case, na vipaddyeta vai pūnaḥ. You will never get into any kind of a trouble at all. Where is the trouble? Who will cause trouble? Everywhere is the same Lord. You must have love. Love, not particularly related to one person, no, loving by nature, loving by nature. Where there is love, there will always be sympathy. Sympathy means a kind of a concern and care for others. “I have love for my mother, but I have no consideration in the matter of helping her in her work. She is becoming older and I am growing , becoming an adult. So as an adult, I should not tax my mother unnecessarily. I should wash my own vessels and keep. After food also maybe I wash my vessels and keep them where they are to be. I don’t ask her to give me a glass of water, I will take it myself. I will give my mother also. She is already cooking. That is is enough burden.” So, love should be accompanied by sympathy and both should be equally leading to sacrifice. 

    Sacrifice means one’s own needs and comforts are left partially or fully, in order to be helpful to the others and pleasing others. Where there is love, there has to be sympathy. Where there is sympathy, there has to be sacrifice. Love, sympathy and sacrifice are the three basic virtues and all the others are multiples and combinations of these.

    We have always felt, when some newcomer comes to the Ashram, maybe in satsang, I have met him, spoken to him. He has got up. Our usual people will simply leave for the dining hall. None of them seems to have a concern, he is a newcomer, he may not know where is the dining hall, “ So please come. Let us go. We will go for breakfast.” I don’t know whether any one of you says that. If you say, well and good, I compliment you. If you don’t say, please think about it.

    What is wrong with us? After all, we don’t know where they stand, what they do, whether they are doubtful, so they will have to go by themselves uninvitedly so to say. That is sometimes very bad. Very bad. Personally, I will not like it at all. Even for the main function here, I always used to say, one or two people should be there to welcome the newcomers, accompany them and guide them to where to sit. These are some of the niceties which every one should know and practice in their respective households. In the Ashram, it is all the more so because we may not be always available to talk to the visitors. They will see us and then go and we cannot accompany them.

    So, everyone who is associated with the Ashram, who have some familiarity, know about the practices here, I think they should keep in mind to welcome the newcomers, and conduct them properly. First time if you have conducted them, maybe they will know. But even then, a courteous word from you is always necessary. The evaluation about all of you will be drastically changing. And then, the greater benefit is that your whole inner personality becomes softer, gentler, more and more considerate. To the extent these qualities grow, you know what will happen? A divine experience will start growing in you. At present we see only the objects through the senses. Without the senses, without even the body, you will find a very pleasant experience, pleasant experience rises in your system and you are able to feel, provided you are emotionally sublime, emotionally refined. That emotional tenderness should be there as much as possible. Try to practice this.

    I think the life style itself should completely change. You must have love for the articles you use, whatever articles you use, have love for them. The vessels should be properly cleaned, dried, make sure that there is no soap powder or washing powder there after washing. The gas stove should be kept clean, the kitchen should be kept clean. Everything should be clean. Your own dress, wear it nicely, keep it nicely and look for any kind of uncleanliness and remove it. All these things I believe will make your inner being much, much better, softer, more and more reflective and will generate that wonderful experience called realization.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

  • PR 29 July 2016 - Contemplate on the Meaning of the Mantra
    Listen to Prabhaata-rashmih Audio

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

    There is a very clear difference between stothras and japa. Stothras are to be uttered and recited loudly. Most of the Vedic Suktas, Veda mantras, they are recited loudly but there is a difference between these hymns and suktas which are recited in praise of different Gods and Goddesses and then mantras. Mantra is supposed to be chanted by the mind alone. The definition of a mantra is like this.

    mananāt trāyate iti. 

    Mananāt, by keeping in the mind, by revolving in the mind, by preserving in the mind, the man who does so will be protected, protected. 

    Mantra japa is very, very effective. You cannot say how effective it is. There is a category of people who are called mantravadis. I like to call them white-magic people, not black-magic, white-magic.  Their services are requisitioned by various people. Their strength is their mantra. Any mantra, it is said, if you chant it akshara-laksha, means what? - As many letters as the mantra has, so many lakhs of times you should recite it. Suppose Gayatri, 24 letters are there. So, you have to recite Gayatri 24 lakhs of times. Then, they say the person has gained the siddhi over that mantra. Means what? That mantra, he has become very, very competent, not competent, what is the right word to be used? He has done so much of austerity with that mantra, that the mantra has become very effective for him and he can employ it for whatever purposes he wants.

    Generally, these mantravadis, white-magic people will have a mantra which they will do minimum akshara-laksha. So, you can imagine, to chant Gayatri 1000 properly, slowly chanted, it will take 3 hours. 3 hours for 1000 times. So, 100,00 times, how much? 300 hours. And 300 multiplied by 24, just see how much it is! Why I am telling you this is you should understand that our mind is very, very resourceful and powerful. To access this mind and to live in the mind, the only way is to take to a mantra.

    These mantravadis and the others who resort to mantra japa, they believe in number and they try to complete the number. Suppose you chant many, many, many times a mantra, don’t think that the mind will always be focused but while you chant a mantra, a hundred times or five hundred times, at least a little of concentration will be there, though not fully. Like that it goes on working.  

    In our Brahmavidya deeksha and sadhana, the mantra is not used like that. It is not counting or number; it is reflecting over the mantra. Whatever mantra you have, you should reflect upon it, try to understand it, associate yourself with the message and content.  So, it is not merely the application of the mind but the application of the intelligence also. So, the mantra institutes in you a particular type of contemplation.

    So suppose you start chanting a mantra like “My dear God, I prostrate before you”. Now you say that “My dear God, I prostrate before you”. By saying I prostrate before you, you really don’t prostrate. And who is this God whom you prostrate? If you start applying the intelligence on this mantra, it will make you reflect upon – “Who is this God before whom I prostrate? Am I really prostrating?’ Or I say “I am prostrating”. Suppose you say “I am eating”, “I am eating”, will it mean that you are eating or you have to have your food specially in a plate, go to the dining table, sit on a chair and take your food? When you are having your food, do you have to say “I am taking food”? No. Suppose you are not taking food and you say “I am taking food”, will it mean that you take? No. So, there is something missing here.

    “Oh God, I prostrate before you”. Which God? And how do I prostrate? Do I bend my body, touch the ground with my forehead? What is this prostration, and especially to God? Who is this God?.He is present inside as well as outside. A presence that is inside and outside, can I offer Him a physical prostration? So, what is this prostration to God and who is this God? When the mind starts reflecting upon in this manner, this is called Tattva manana. Then the mantra assumes a totally different content, message and level. It is such contemplative, contemplative, contemplative process that we mean by real manana and nidhidhyasa. It is upto you to enter into your mind with the mantra and after entering there, make the mantra a cause, a means for your contemplation.

    When you start reflecting upon “Which God am I prostrating before? What is meant by prostration? Am I really prostrating when I say ‘I prostrate’? What would be the real prostration? And who is this God to whom I offer this prostration?” When you start thinking in this manner, the mantra japa is taken over by tattva vichara. And the tattva vichara will be far more effective. A person who does tattva vichara, his mind and intelligence will be very deeply involved in the process. You cannot do it without the involvement of the mind and intelligence. But in any case, you should find that, you should know that you have to enter into the mind plane and engage yourself there. Whether it is by a mere repetition of a mantra or by a contemplative pursuit of that mantra, that is up to you.

    For our purposes, we will not simply say chant the mantra, chant the mantra alone. Whatever is the content and message of the mantra, you should contemplate upon it. And that contemplation will today or tomorrow make you plunge in your own inner essence. Our Upanishads say,

    यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते। अप्राप्य मनसा सह। 
    Yato vācho nivartante | Aprāpya manasā saha |
    (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.9.1)

    From where words recoil, along with the mind, that is the Supreme state. So, by chanting the mantra or engaging the mantra in the mind or mind in the mantra, there will come a time sooner or later, when the whole thinking process itself dissolves. Where will it dissolve? Into its own inmost source. That is where you discover, realize and feel the self that you are.

    I don’t know when I explain it like this, you are following me and getting the spirit of it and you can apply it. You have to enter into the mind level and plunge there to such an extent that you will go to the very source of thinking, knowledge, experience, everything, the source of everything. Think about it. Think about it. All that you need is your mind which you have and a thought process which you can have and then apply the thought process in such a manner that you will have the depth, the vastness, and absorption that is desired. I think it is simple, provided you get drawn to it fondly.

    Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.



Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.

Swamiji's Teachings


Poojya Swamiji says that the real focus

  • of devotional practices is not God, but the devotee's own mind and behaviour;
  • of karmayoga is not action but the attitude of the mind with which an action is performed;
  • of knowledge is not knowledge, but the purification and expansion of the seeker's mind.


NSJi-HmPgSwami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirthaji, a renunciate disciple of Poojya Swamiji, is known for his scientific expositions which are a source of inspiration to seekers.  Read More...


Ma Gurupriya

A disciple of Poojya Swamiji, Ma is the loving mother of Poojya Swamiji's devotees around the world. Devotion and service remain the predominant forces shaping Ma's life.  Read More...


Actionlessness to Unfettered Action

Krishna emphasized the great truth of actionlessness at the core-level of existence. He also explained how the fullness of spiritual wisdom will alone ensure the integration of human life and the welfare of the world. He then proceeds to show how such deep wisdom, far from bringing any conflict, becomes truly harmonious with all kinds of activity one’s life in the world warrants. He explains this point in 5 verses, setting forth different viewpoints, one or the other of which can be taken up by the sadhaka and pursued earnestly.

यस्य सर्वे समारम्भाः कामसङ्कल्पवर्जिताः ।
ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्माणं तमाहुः पण्डितं बुधाः ।।

Knowledgeable people regard him as the Wise or Enlightened One if and when by the fire of wisdom his actions are rendered free of passion, greed, or undue imaginations and expectations.

The role of wisdom is not to interfere with the activities, but to enable and empower one to act with harmony and effectiveness. For this, the mind and buddhi have to be rid of their undue inhibitions and obsessions. Krishna thus points out that only when the desire or greed (kaama), and the unjust imaginations and expectations (sankalpa) are kept away from the mind, one’s performance of any activity will become natural, effective and sublime.

Krishna likens spiritual wisdom with a blazing fire in so far as its power to remove the dross and constrictions of the mind is concerned. It burns off all the traits of desire and expectation, like fire does garbage. The activities of the Knower thus become pure – cleansed by the fire of true wisdom. Only when wisdom accomplishes this task of mind-purification, the seeker is regarded as enlightened. Far from rendering any one inactive or indifferent to activity, true wisdom makes one a source of immense activity, aimed at the welfare of all.

In the next five verses, Krishna reinforces the same point from various angles. The emphasis he brings home is that the Knower, remaining a non-doer at heart, will still be performing all the necessary activities, to keep the society in order for the wellbeing of one and all. All the five verses that follow equally bear upon the magnificence of spiritual wisdom and the transcendental nature of the Self Knower. These verses by themselves stand out as a distinct set to be recited and reflected upon by the seeker repeatedly. The sadhaka should evaluate his sadhana on the basis of what Krishna conveys in them. Proper reflection on these five verses will enable the mind to find out the true Knowledge dimension and incorporate it effectively in the field of activity:


त्यक्त्वा कर्मफलासङ्गं नित्यतृप्तो निराश्रयः ।
कर्मण्यभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि  नैव किञ्चित्करोति सः ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 4.20)

Even when given intensely to activities, he remains a full non-doer. The spiritual wisdom he carries, keeps the truth of non-action shining in the core of his being, subtly taking away the mind’s attachment to the objective results (karma-phala-asanga). The Knower derives his contentment from the Self within, and that makes him ever-delighted (nitya-trpta). He does not depend on any external activity or situation to bring any particular delightful result. His delight reigns in the Self itself. Any dependent delight becomes redundant for him. Such a one irresistibly becomes a powerful performer. Krishna emphasizes that Knowledge of the Self cannot but make one a better and more effective performer.


निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः ।
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 4.21)

In the 2nd verse, Krishna drives home the point that all external activities are incidental to embodiment; they are caused by and related to the body-aggregate. But for embodiment, the body factor, none would have any occasion, need or compulsion to be active in the world.

The words Krishna uses are very suggestive: sariram kevalam karma kurvan-napnoti kilbisam (4.21). Even when engrossed in activities, which are but body-born and body-dependent, he still remains the non-doer, and hence is not the least tainted or bound by the action or its results.

To realize the Self is verily to become the Self. Realization of the Self naturally brings its own sublimity. And the Knower thus becomes a yatatma (a person of control and moderation). Desires fall off from his mind; he becomes one free of the hold of desires (nirasih). A constant note of renunciation adorns him always (tyakta-sarva-parigrahah). He does not look to anything for fulfilment. His fulfilment is self-derived and self-preserved.

3) In the 3rd verse Krishna specifies some qualities which abundantly adorn a Knower who does not get bound by any activity:

यदृच्छालाभसन्तुष्टो द्वन्द्वातीतो विमत्सरः ।
समः सिद्धावसिधौ च कृत्वापि न निबध्यते ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 4.22)

The Knower, Krishna says, has to rise above the hold of dvandvas, which are the ultimate effects the world can cause. The usual note of competition, which the mind is subjected to, must not victimize him. He naturally accepts whatever chance brings to him. Never comparing himself with others, or weighing the gains and losses of any endeavour at any time, he revels in a deep and abiding note of equalness (samatva). As long as such a spiritual note of insulation is there, any extent of actional involvement will not bind or taint him the least.

This spiritual adornment is available to one and all. It is wrong to think that it is a practice or culture or refinement for Hindus or Indians alone. It is a birthright of any human, living anywhere in the world. Mind and intelligence should become sublime and imbibe the resultant enrichment and refinement.

4) The 4th verse highlights spiritual wisdom and its outcome.

गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 4.23)

The mind, by dint of wisdom, attains to its natural freedom from all attachmental notes. Sanga, as gita puts it, falls from it. That brings liberation, mukti. What is mukti and who is a mukta, become quite clear from these words. Krishna calls one freed from attachment of the mind, a mukta. Mukti is quite within the reach of the human mind, Krishna assures again and again.

All actions of such a free one become auspicious and enriching. Krishna calls such an action Yajna, the most sublime that man can think of performing for the sake of one’s own elevation as well as for world welfare. Actions performed as yajna, Krishna says, will get dissolved in the very doer, without causing any kind of binding effects. As a result of the Knower’s activities, whatever and wherever they are, no adverse consequences can result. The fire of Self-knowledge has the unique power of burning all karmic results. His body alone is seen to be acting; but he, the Self, does not do anything. No result of any kind can await him anywhere, before or after the fall of the body. This is what Krishna wants to clarify and assure.

The life of a Self-knower itself becomes a full-fold Yajna, as pointed out earlier. No selfishness ever tarnishes his mind or action. He becomes synonymous with Nature and her Lord. Words like dedication, offering, resignation and the like are truly applicable to the actions of only the Self-knower.

5) The 5th verse is one of the most benedictory statements of Bhagavadgita, recited and repeated by seekers, especially ascetics and renunciates, with great fervour and piety:

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ।।
(Bhagavad Gita 4.24)

Krishna describes here the vision of the Knower about everything that he does, about the world in general, and about the relationship between the two. Yajna, the holy sacrifice, is the most sublime act extolled in the Vedas. The votaries of Vedas hold Yajna to be the summum bonum of life and also as the wish-yielding tree. In the background of this religiosity and ritualistic emphasis, what this verse conveys has untold relevance and importance.

Sarvam khalvidam brahma – is the final revelation of the Vedas. All this is verily Brahman. Brahman has revealed itself in the form of this visible existence. The effect is not different from the cause. The cause alone manifests in a changed form and then it goes by the name ‘effect’. Like ornaments made of gold are but gold itself, so too is creation the Creator Himself. The Self-Knower realizes this supreme truth, and he does not slip from it for any reason.

He does not feel the need to indulge in any separate act of holiness like pooja or sacrifice. For him all are holy, everything small or big, internal or external, thought, word or action – all are expressions of the one Self. Without the Seer can there be any visible or the seen? Without the Subject, can there be any perceived object?

In his perception, any Yajna, together with all its constituents, are nothing but the same Brahman. The ladle used for pouring ghee to the fire in a Yajna is itself Brahman. The material offered is also equally Brahman. The fire into which the oblations are offered and the offerer too, are the same Supreme Brahman. Thus the only result a Yajna can bring about is Brahman.

The Knower already has this outcome by dint of his realization. His Self-knowledge transforms everything into Brahman, the Supreme Reality. He does not have to look to any agency or special act for the sake of gaining any holiness or piety. He himself, together with all his actions, becomes holiness incarnate. It is not merely a state of fullness, but also one of supreme holiness, auspiciousness and sublimity.

The unique sublimity and the fullness of Brahmic thought this verse carries have given it a distinct place and importance in the seeking community, especially amongst renunciates and ascetics. Our body is made of food. Food of any form is a gift of Nature. Though the body consists of infinite parts and cells, with a host of potentials and powers, all of them have been made of the food one takes. Taking food and providing nourishment to the body, is of special importance to  devout seekers or even thinkers.

The best of attention is thus given to preparing food as well as taking it. To sit before the food that is served and partake it to provide the nourishment the body needs is something very significant and sublime. Great thought and introspection have gone into it and our land has evolved a lofty attitude in the matter. How has the talk that transpired between Arjuna and Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra suddenly found a place in the kitchen and dining hall of this land is itself something to be wondered at and enquired into. Only then will the relevance of spiritual thoughts and dialogues in our day to day life become clear.

Ascetics are the people who reflect upon and pursue the spiritual wisdom in its full depth and dedication. Naturally, their practices are bound to reflect and reveal this wisdom fully. Thus, the ascetics (sannyasins) in the Ashrams and the Brahma Vidya students and seekers in this land have made it a practice to recite this verse before taking food, with closed eyes and a spoonful of water kept carefully in the centre of the right palm. When the verse is fully chanted, they sip this sanctified water and then alone begin their meal. To listen to chorus ‘Brahmarpanam’-chant in the Ashrams is common in India and the sublimity it generates is also quite unique.

The whole practice gains its special importance when we find that the usual ceremonial manner in which the Brahmacharins and householders take food is strikingly different. They too make the whole occasion and purpose quite sublime and divine. But the attitude and thoughts invoked are different.

The householders remind themselves that food is not just an offer to their body with the usual material note of selfishness and physical survival. It is instead a sublime oblation made piously to the five pranas (cosmic energy) - prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana. The sublimity does not ebb off there. It extends to reach Brahman at last, when they utter the sixth line ‘Brahmane svaha’ (offering to supreme Brahman). In the non-ascetics, the plural concept has its prevalence. Taking food is nonetheless an equally holy act for them too.

It is not, however, an offering to any celestial deities like Indra, Varuna, etc. of the Vedic sacrifices. Instead it is meant for the five Cosmic Forces like Prana, Apana, etc. residing in one’s own body. The hand which offers the food is the ladle. Mouth is the altar into which it is given. The fire to receive it is the jatharagni (the digestive power in the stomach), and the outcome the offering brings about is the nourishment it gives to the living body. The whole body itself becomes divine, and any act to preserve and employ it also is necessarily divine. The sense of divinity or holiness is thus co-existential with every activity.

The householder life still preserves a sense of plurality. Whereas in the Brahmic seeker, Knower or ascetic, this plural note is replaced with the ultimate singular one. There is only one sublime existence, the Supreme Brahman, and in whatever act is performed and whatever result it brings, it is the same Brahman that shines exclusively. How lofty, deep and wholesome! When one begins to reflect upon these lofty concepts, his mind and heart are bound to expand and be purer and holier. Thoughts and imaginations have immense power to generate divinity and soak man in its abundance.

The Brahmarpanam-chant carries with it the core of Vedic wisdom and the practice of its unifying culture and refinement. This portion of the 4th Chapter must receive special attention and absorption from all sadhakas. From the viewpoint of practical sadhana, Krishna’s statements lay before the seeker a great scope and emphasis.

(to be continued)

*        *        *

(From the Series Essential Concepts In Bhagavad Gita)

Recordings of Poojya Swamiji's Talks

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 1

Bhagavad Gita : A Topic for Research - 2


Vicharasethu is a monthly journal in English and Hindi, edited and published by Poojya Swamiji. It is also published in Malayalam by the name Vicharasarani. With Articles, Correspondance, Guidance for Sādhana and News updates from the Ashram, these monthly publications are a great guide for the earnest sādhaka. 

Devotees hold periodic meetings at their own locations wherein the teachings and messages of Swamiji are heard, read and discussed with a view to comprehend and arrive at their essence and make it a functional note in their life. This section provides resources to facilitate the proceedings at such gatherings. Read More ....

How to chant Bhagavad Gita

How to chant Viṣṇusahasranāma

  • 024 - Dharmam Bhajasva - Live the Life of a True Devotee

    Always be dedicated to the dharma of devotion, disregarding all other common worldly codes of behaviour. Serve the Wise and Noble, eliminating worldly desires. Getting rid of the thoughts of others’ imperfections or virtues, drink to heart’s content the nectar of words of service to the Lord.

    Read More ...

  • 054 - Dhairyam Yasya - Develop Virtues and be Fearless

    A Yogi for whom composure is his father, forbearance his mother, calmness of mind his wife, truth his son, compassion his sister, control of mind his brother, and for whom this earth is the bed, the directions the attire and the nectarine knowledge the food – for whom all these are members of his family, tell me O friend, from what would such a Yogi fear?

    Read More ...

  • 085 - Na Rodhayati - Association of Saints to Uproot Worldliness

    The mind, which runs behind perishable worldly affairs, must turn to God if one wants to attain unbroken peace in life. A person, who is devoted to God, wants to feel His presence every moment. But, unfortunately, he finds that although he worships God following the various injunctions of the scriptures, undergoes several austerities, he is not able to bind God to his heart

    Read More ...