All existences are contained in God, but God is not contained by them
Let not my thread of life be snapped while I am weaving my song, nor the measure of my work broken up before its time.
- Rig Veda II.28.5, as translated by Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair
In the hour of death those who have turned the focus of the mind inward, and who seeking Union (Yoga) with the God-within, remain in the sustained state of devotion easily attain the Supreme Spirit. These souls are never again reborn into this world, which Krishna describes as the abode of misery and all that is impermanent - the temporal illusory hologram (VIII.14-15).
Like our earthly existence, all the Myriad Worlds, the many heavens and hells, are temporal transient realms. Once the merit which draws one into a particular consciousness - as a location - is exhausted, each of us must transmigrate and return here into another form of flesh and blood. But those who Know and have by their own efforts reached the highest reality, beyond all duality, imperishable and immutable, do not have to experience rebirth ever again (VIII.16).
The Uddhava Gita in the Bhagavata Purana says that ‘a wise man should not long for heaven just as he would not desire for the infernal region’ (XI.20.12-13). In this later text Krishna tells his friend and disciple Uddhava that even the gods desire to be born into a human body because the bodies that inhabit both heavens and hells are not ‘vested’ with the capability to attain Liberation by the path of Knowledge. The Bhagavata Purana suggests that in the celestial worlds there is ‘rivalry between equals, jealousy towards the superiors and the fear of the termination of the period of stay’ (XI.3.20).
Trapped in Time
The enlightened know that this universe perpetually endures the Cycles of Time as the Yugas, Manvantaras, and Kalpas. There will always be another beginning in the periodic creation of all living beings, just as there will forever be the inevitable dissolution and destruction. The night makes way for the day that follows and so on - world without end. The same beings are brought into the world again and again, helpless under the power of the wheels within wheels of eternal cyclical Cosmic Time (VIII.17-19).
Beyond these interminable cycles is the Imperishable (akshara) Unmanifest (avyaktas). This invisible unmanifest state is the highest goal and those who have found their way here, never return. This is the abode of the God-within as the Supreme Spirit. This dwelling place (dhama) is Home eternal (VIII.20-21).
The Two Paths
Verses 23-26 are very specific teachings of the two paths, as the ancient Vedic mystics described them, by which it is said that the soul departs the body. I do not feel qualified to interpret this highly esoteric knowledge to you. I feel it might be quite confusing to the beginner and those who are more advanced will probably disagree as to the exact meaning.
Suffice to say that one path is called the ‘bright’ path or the path of the ‘gods’ by which the enlightened soul travels up the Sushumna nerve out the top of the head. This path leads the soul to liberation.
The other path is called the ‘path of the fathers’ and leads to continual transmigration. My understanding of this is that as long as we are attached to the external hologram, to the people and places we experience through the DNA of the body we inhabit - then we are going to remain in the path of the fathers, meaning our ancestors who contributed to that DNA, and so in perpetual rebirth.
Here are sources for further reading:
Chandogya Upanishad IV.xv.5; V.x.1-4
Brahma Sutras IV.ii.18-21
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iv.1-2; VI.ii.15-16
Krishna feels that his friend now has unwavering faith (sraddha) in this secret teaching. Therefore, based on the fact that Arjuna is not one immersed in disbelief (anasuyave), Krishna continues to reveal that Knowledge (jnanam) which when used with discrimination and right understanding (vijnana) releases one from the impurities of evil (IX.1).
On the pathway Home, there comes a moment when we must leave our doubts behind. With our ignorance removed by Knowledge and firmly established in primordial Truth, we shed our attachment to confusion like a snake sheds its old skin.
Through Knowledge (jnana), we are rooted in an adamantine faith (sraddha) and we live as we believe. Those who have no faith in this teaching do not merge into Union (Yoga) with the Supreme Self (Paramatman) and return to transmigrate in human form (IX.3). ‘They sink anew in flesh and blood, where all things change’(Ganguli).
All existences are contained in God, but God is not contained by them
मत्स्थानि सर्वभूतानि न चाहं तेष्ववस्थितः .. ९- ४..
mayā tatam idaṃ sarvaṃ jagad
matsthāni sarvabhūtāni na cāhaṃ teṣv avasthitaḥ 9.4
This entire universe (jagat) is pervaded by the Unmanifest (IX.4). The God within you is simultaneously within each man, woman, and child. The God-within is ubiquitous everywhere and pervades every forest and field, the infinite skies and the abyssal unfathomable seas. The God-within is every living creature, from the grandest king of lions to the lowliest worm. That same God permeates and pervades those billions of stars that swirl in spirals as millions of galaxies. God is the Space (akasha) between all that is and the All itself (IX.6).
All existences are contained in God, but God is not contained by them (IX.5). This great mystery is made manifest by the power of the Creator (yogam aisvaram). Abhinavagupta here translates yogam as Shakti and aisvaram as glory (B. Marjanovic). It is because of the Creator’s glorious power to veil Its Self in ignorance that beings imagine themselves to be Separate from the One. The truth beneath the illusion of multiplicity is - there is only the One.
The Cycles of Time
Hindu metaphysics time is cyclical and each period of manifestation is called a
KALPA of Brahma, equivalent to 4.32 billion human years.
Kalpa is subdivided into 14 MANVANTARAS.
are now in the seventh Manvantara of this Kalpa.
Manvantara is divided into 71 MAHA-YUGAS of 4,320,000 years each.
are in the 28th MAHA-YUGA of this MANVANTARA.
MAHA-YUGA is made up of four yugas: The SATYA or KRITA, the TRETA, the DVAPARA,
and the KALI.
Each Yuga is preceded by a period of a dawn and followed by a period of twilight. [Linga Purana 1.4.3-6]
The Cycles of Time culminate periodically in a Dissolution. At the end of a Kalpa, all beings (sarvabhutani) go back into the unmanifest Prakriti, the source of the Creator’s material nature. Again and again, at the beginning of a Kalpa the Creator sends forth all beings from the unmanifest Prakriti (IX.7).
‘The realms of visible beings’ (Ganguli) are virtually without will under Prakriti’s pre-programmed automatism. Powerless against the Matrix of Nature and the force of Time, the whole multitude of beings (bhatagramam) is brought forth over and over endlessly by the Creator (IX.8).
These actions of periodic creation and dissolution do not ‘bind’ the Creator, for the Oneness that pervades the All remains unattached and indifferent (IX.9). This state of Cosmic Non-attachment is born from the Truth that all transient multiplicity in the temporal illusory hologram is in reality the Creator veiled in Its myriad forms.
The Creator is the All
All things which are animate (cara) and inanimate (acara), both ‘the living and the lifeless’ (Ganguli), are made manifest by the unmanifest power (Shakti) of Prakriti. The universe (jagat) revolves and functions by the instruments of the Creator’s Prakriti (IX.10). There is no thing that is not caused by the Creator. There is nothing that is not God.
The deluded (mudhas) are in ignorance, confused by the vast spectrum of appearances assumed by the Creator in veiling Its Self. These ‘fools’ (W.Sargeant) do not see God in every Eye and thus they despise those they find lacking (IX.11). They judge the veiled forms of their own Self as inferior, unworthy, or ugly. Puffed up with the pride of their imagined superiority, the deluded do not see The Great Lord of All Beings, Mahesvaram, within these forms they hold in contempt.
Deluded by apparent multiplicity, the ignorant see this world as a terrible place. They do not remember that God is everywhere - playing as a beggar or a tyrant. Having forgotten the God-within and without real Knowledge, the deluded act in vain. Their hopes are futile and their thoughts are prey to the demonic realms (asuras), who find this state of confusion fertile ground for further delusion (IX.12).
As God Realized in man, who embodies the Imperishable, Krishna speaks for the Eternal One Source:
‘But my Mahatmas (the great selves), those of noble soul who tread the path celestial, worship Me with hearts unwandering - knowing Me the Source, The Eternal Source of Life.’
- Ganguli (IX.13)
The ones who by their own effort have overcome delusion, Know the God within the Heart as the very same One that permeates the All. These are the enlightened ones who, with a mind that no longer wanders, love and honor the Creator as the Source of all Life, the Imperishable (avyayam) Oneness.
The Knowledge -Sacrifice
The knowledge-sacrifice (jnana-yajnena) is prescribed as a valuable way to honor the Creator (IX.15). This ‘sacrifice’ takes place in the mind during meditation. By keeping our thoughts from wandering and focused on the God within the Heart, and Knowing that this God-within is the Real you and you are That - we make an offering to God. The Gambhirananda translation says, this sacrifice of knowledge takes ‘the form of contemplating on the non-difference between the Deity meditated on and the meditator.’
The commentary in the Gambhirananda translation also states that those who worship the One as the many, meaning that they are deluded in the wrong impression that there is a distinction between ‘the adored and the adorer’ are of mediocre understanding. Others who are ‘dull and incapable of meditation’ worship this or that symbol, or various gods or other entities, thinking that these manifold (prthaktvena) forms are separate from the One that pervades the All. Vasudeva sarvam iti - God is All (VII.19).
Vyasa’s Poetic Genius
Vyasa, the poet-author, once again delights us with his genius for poetic imagery as Krishna enumerates those manifestations that reveal the profound beauty in the highest purity of consciousness.
The Supreme Self (Paramatman) is both the ritual and the sacrifice, the offering and the fire into which the offering is made. God is Father, Mother, Ancestor, and Arranger of all this boundless universe. The Eternal One is ‘The end of Learning! That which purifies in lustral waters! I am OM!’ (Ganguli). Paramatman - the Self Beyond - is the sacred Sanskrit texts, the Vedas (IX.16-17).
The Supreme Oneness is The Way, the One who sees and supports, the Home, the refuge (sharanam) that gives shelter, and the friend with a good heart. The Great Lord is the origin and birth (prabhavah), the dissolution and death (pralayah), and the support (sthanam) that maintains the Continuum of the All. The Creator is the bijam avyayam, the seed imperishable (IX.18).
Sun’s heat is mine;
Heaven’s rain is mine to grant or to withhold;
Death am I, and Immortal Life I am, Arjuna!
SAT (being and truth) and ASAT (non-being and untruth),
Visible Life, and Life Invisible!
- Ganguli (IX.19)
The Bhagavata Purana - Part V
Translated & Annotated by Dr. G.V. Tagare, 1978
Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1997, Delhi