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Divine Knowledge Can Help Transcend Material Existence: Insights from the Bhagavad Gita

Jun 30th, 2024 | 3 Min Read
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Category: Bhagavad Gita


Language: English

The JKYog Bhagavad Gita Online class discussion covered verses- 4.36, 4.37 and 4.38.
अपि चेदसि पापेभ्य: सर्वेभ्य: पापकृत्तम: |
सर्वं ज्ञानप्लवेनैव वृजिनं सन्तरिष्यसि || 36||
api ched asi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpa-kṛit-tamaḥ
sarvaṁ jñāna-plavenaiva vṛijinaṁ santariṣhyasi
We sail a vast ocean of material existence tossed around by the relentless waves of birth, disease, old age, and death. Material energy subjects everyone to three types of miseries:
  1. Adhyatmik (Ādiātmik/ आध्यात्मिक): Sufferings arising from one's own body and mind, such as physical pain, illness, mental stress, and emotional turmoil. 
  2. Adhi-bhautik (Ādibhautik/ आधिभौतिक): Miseries caused by interactions with other living beings, including conflicts, violence, and misunderstandings with other people or creatures. 
  3. Adhi-daivik (Ādidaivik/ आधिदैविक): Distresses stemming from environmental and cosmic conditions, such as natural disasters, extreme weather, and astrological influences. 
Trapped in this state of material bondage, the soul finds no respite, enduring endless cycles of being elevated to celestial realms, cast into hellish planes, or returning to earthly existence, all dictated by the karmic repercussions of virtuous or sinful deeds.  In this analogy, the soul resembles a football relentlessly kicked around a field, experiencing the highs and lows of existence without a chance to escape from the consequences of its actions. Each lifetime perpetuates this cycle, subjecting the soul to the unpredictable outcomes dictated by its accumulated karma.

Divine knowledge is like a boat guiding us through the vast and turbulent ocean of material existence. Without this knowledge, one finds oneself caught in the web of one's own actions and their consequences, sinking deeper into the cycle of bondage. But for those who embrace divine wisdom, life transforms. They realise that by performing actions as offerings (yajña) to Bhagawan, they can sail free from the entanglements of the material world. This profound understanding becomes their compass, leading them towards liberation and true freedom. The Kaṭhopaniṣhad articulates this principle: 
vijñānasārathiḥyastu manaḥ pragrahavān naraḥ
so ’dhvanaḥ pāramāpnoti tadviṣhṇoḥ paramaṁ padam (1.3.9)
This verse emphasises that one should enlighten one's intellect with divine knowledge. With this illumined intellect, one gains mastery over the restless mind. Through this mastery, one crosses over the ocean of material existence and attains the supreme abode of Viṣhṇu (God).
यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन |
ज्ञानाग्नि: सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा || 37||
yathaidhānsi samiddho ’gnir bhasma-sāt kurute ’rjuna
jñānāgniḥ sarva-karmāṇi bhasma-sāt kurute tathā
Just as a spark of fire can grow into a massive conflagration, each of us carries a heap of karmic reactions accumulated from countless lifetimes—both virtuous and sinful deeds. Endeavouring to exhaust these karmas by reaping their results would take many more lifetimes, and in the meantime, further karmas would accumulate in an endless cycle. 
However, Shree Krishna assures Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita that divine knowledge possesses the transformative power to burn away this vast karmic burden within a single lifetime. This is because knowledge of the soul and its relationship with God leads us to surrender to Him. When we surrender to Bhagawan, He burns our stockpile of endless lifetimes of karma and releases us from material bondage.
न हि ज्ञानेन सदृशं पवित्रमिह विद्यते |
तत्स्वयं योगसंसिद्ध: कालेनात्मनि विन्दति || 38||
na hi jñānena sadṛiśhaṁ pavitramiha vidyate
tatsvayaṁ yogasansiddhaḥ kālenātmani vindati
Knowledge possesses the profound ability to purify, elevate, liberate, and ultimately unite an individual with God. It stands as supremely sublime and inherently pure. However, it is essential to distinguish between theoretical information and practical realisation. Theoretical understanding alone is incomplete; it is akin to someone who has memorised a cookbook but has never stepped into the kitchen. Knowing recipes does not satisfy hunger unless put into practice.

Similarly, acquiring theoretical knowledge about profound subjects such as the soul, God, Maya, karma, jñāna (knowledge), and bhakti (devotion) from a Guru does not automatically lead to the realisation of God. When one practices sadhana in accordance with the theory, it results in the purification of the mind. Then, from within, one realises the nature of the self and its relationship with God. Shree Krishna extols such realised knowledge as the purest and most sublime.

The true realisation comes through sadhana, a spiritual practice aligned with theoretical knowledge. Through sadhana, the mind becomes purified and attuned. This inner purification opens the pathway to realising the true nature of the self and its sacred relationship with God. Thus, while theoretical knowledge sets the stage, it is sadhana that brings about experiential understanding and spiritual realisation.

Summary: JKYog India Online Class- Bhagavad Gita [English]- 29.06.2024