Notes on the Bhagavad Gita — T. Subba Row

Section III

In this lecture I shall consider the premises I have laid down with special reference to the various passages in which they seem to be indicated in this book.

It will be remembered that I started with the very first cause, which I called Parabrahmam. Any positive definition of this principle is of course impossible, and a negative definition is all that can be attempted from the very nature of the case. It is generally believed, at any rate by a certain class of philosophers, that Krishna himself is Parabrahmam — that he is the personal God who is Parabrahmam, — but the words used by Krishna in speaking of Parabrahmam, and the way in which he deals with the subject, clearly show that he draws a distinction between himself and Parabrahmam.

No doubt he is a manifestation of Parabrahmam, as every Logos is. He calls himself Pratyagatma, and Pratyagatma is Parabrahmam in the sense in which that proposition is laid down by the Adwaitis. This statement is at the bottom of all Adwaiti philosophy, but is very often misunderstood. When Adwaitis say "Aham eva Parabrahmam," they do not mean to say that this ahankaram (egotism) is Parabrahmam, but that the only true self in the cosmos, which is the Logos or Pratyagatma, is a manifestation of Parabrahmam.

It will be noticed that when Krishna is speaking of himself he never uses the word Parabrahmam, but always Pratyagatma, and it is from this standpoint that we constantly find him speaking. Whenever he speaks of Pratyagatma he speaks of himself, and whenever he speaks of Parabrahmam, he speaks of it as being something different from himself.

I will now go through all the passages in which reference is made to Parabrahmam in this book. The first passage to which I shall call your attention is chapter viii, verse 3: —

"The eternal (spirit) is the Supreme Brahma. Its condition as Pratyagatma is called Adhyatma. Action which leads to incarnated existence is denoted by Karma."

Here the only words used to denote Parabrahmam are Aksharam and Brahma. These are the words he generally uses. You will notice that he does not in any place call it Eswara or Maheswara; he does not even allude to it often as Atma. Even the term Paramatma he applies to himself, and not to Parabrahmam. I believe that the reason for this is that the word Atma, strictly speaking, means the same thing as self, that idea of self being in no way connected with Parabrahmam. This idea of self first comes into existence with the Logos, and not before; hence Parabrahmam ought not to be called Paramatma or any kind of Atma. In one place only Krishna, speaking of Parabrahmam, says that it is his Atma. Except in that case he nowhere uses the word Atma or Paramatma in speaking of Parabrahmam. Strictly speaking Parabrahmam is the very foundation of the higher self. Paramatma is however a term also applied to Parabrahmam as distinguished from Pratyagatma. When thus applied it is used in a strictly technical sense. Whenever the term Pratyagatma is used, you will find Paramatma used as expressing something distinct from it.

It must not be supposed that either the ego, or any idea of self, can be associated with, or be considered as inherent in Parabrahmam. Perhaps it may be said that the idea of self is latent in Parabrahmam, as everything is latent in it; and, if on that account you connect the idea of self with Parabrahmam, you will be quite justified in applying the term Paramatma to Parabrahmam. But to avoid confusion it is much better to use our words in a clear sense, and to give to each a distinct connotation about which there can be no dispute. Turn now to chapter viii, verse 11: —

"I will briefly explain to thee that place (padam), which those who know the Vedas describe as indestructible (aksharam), which the ascetics, who are free from desire, enter, and which is the desired destination of those who observe Brahmacharyam."

Here we find another word used by Krishna when speaking of Parabrahmam. He calls it his padam — the abode of bliss, or Nirvana. When he calls Parabrahmam his padam or abode, he does not mean vaikuntha loka or any other kind of loka; he speaks of it as his abode, because it is in the bosom of Parabrahmam that the Logos resides. He refers to Parabrahmam as the abode of bliss, wherein resides eternally the Logos, manifested or unmanifested. Again turn to chapter viii, verse 21: —

"That which is stated to be unmanifested and immutable is spoken of as the highest condition to be reached. That place from which there is no return for those who reach it is my supreme abode."

Here the same kind of language is used, and the reference is to Parabrahmam. When any soul is absorbed into the Logos, or reaches the Logos, it may be said to have reached Parabrahmam, which is the centre of the Logos; and as the Logos resides in the bosom of Parabrahmam, when the soul reaches the Logos it reaches Parabrahmam also.

Here you will notice that he again speaks of Parabrahmam as his abode.

Turn now to chapter ix, verses 4, 5 and 6:

"The whole of this Universe is pervaded by me in my Unmanifested form (Avyaktamoorti). I am thus the support of all the manifested existences, but I am not supported by them.
"Look at my condition when manifested as Eswara (Logos): these phenomenal manifestations are not within me. My Atma (however) is the foundation and the origin of manifested beings, though it does not exist in combination with them.
"Conceive that all the manifested beings are within me, just as the atmosphere spreading everywhere is always in space."

In my last lecture I tried to explain the mysterious connection between Parabrahmam and Mulaprakriti. Parabrahmam is never differentiated. What is differentiated is Mulaprakriti, which is sometimes called Avyaktam, and in other places Kutastham, which means simply the undifferentiated Element. Nevertheless Parabrahmam seems to be the one foundation for all physical phenomena, or for all phenomena that are generally referred to Mulaprakriti. After all, any material object is nothing more than a bundle of attributes to us. Either on account of an innate propensity within us or as a matter of inference, we always suppose that there is a non-ego, which has this bundle of attributes superimposed upon it, and which is the basis of all these attributes. Were it not for this essence, there could be no physical body. But these attributes do not spring from Parabrahmam itself, but from Mulaprakriti, which is its veil, just as according to the kabbalists Shekinah is the veil of Ensoph and the garb of Jehovah. Mulaprakriti is the veil of Parabrahmam. It is not Parabrahmam itself, but merely its appearance. It is purely phenomenal. It is no doubt far more persistent than any other kind of objective existence. Being the first mode or manifestation of the only absolute and unconditioned reality, it seems to be the basis of all subsequent manifestations. Speaking of this aspect of Parabrahmam, Krishna says that the whole cosmos is pervaded by it, which is his Avyakta form.

Thus he speaks of Parabrahmam as his Avyaktamoorti, because Parabrahmam is unknowable, and only becomes knowable when manifesting itself as the Logos or Eswara. Here he is trying to indicate that Parabrahmam is the Avyaktamoorti of the Logos, as it is the Atma of the Logos, which is everywhere present, since it is the Atma of the universe, and which appears differentiated, — when manifested in the shape of the various Logoi working in the cosmos, though in itself it is undifferentiated, — and which, though the basis of all phenomenal manifestations, does not partake of the vikarams of those phenomenal manifestations.

Refer now to chapter xiii, verses 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. (3)

Here again, in speaking of Parabrahmam in verses 15, 16 and 17, Krishna is laying down a proposition which I have already explained at length. I need not now go minutely into the meaning of these verses, for you can very easily ascertain them from the commentaries.

Turn to chapter xiv, verse 27: —

"I am the image or the seat of the immortal and indestructible Brahmam, of eternal law and of undisturbed happiness."

Here Krishna is referring to himself as a manifestation or image of Parabrahmam. He says he is the Pratishta of Parabrahmam; he does not call himself Parabrahmam, but only its image or manifestation.

The only other passage in which Krishna refers to the same subject is chapter xv, verse 6: —

"That is my supreme abode (dhama), which neither sun, nor moon, nor fire illumines. Those who enter it do not return."

There again he speaks of padam and refers to Parabrahmam as his abode. I believe that these are all the statements that refer to Parabrahmam in this book, and they are sufficient to indicate its position pretty clearly, and to show the nature of its connection with the Logos. I shall now proceed to point out the passages in which reference is made to the Logos itself.

Strictly speaking the whole of this book may be called the book of the philosophy of the Logos. There is hardly a page which does not directly or indirectly refer to it. There are however a few important and significant passages, to which it is desirable that I should refer you, so that you may see whether what I have said about the nature and functions of the Logos, and its connection with humanity and the human soul, is supported by the teachings of this book. Let us turn to chapter iv, and examine the meaning of verses 5 to 11: — (4)

"O Arjuna, I and thou have passed through many births. I know all of them, but thou dost not know, O harasser of foes.
"Even I, who am unborn, imperishable, the Lord of all beings, controlling my own nature, take birth through the instrumentality of my maya,
"O Bharata, whenever there is a decline of dharma or righteousness and spread of adharma or unrighteousness, I create myself.
"I take birth in every yuga, to protect the good, to destroy evil-doers, and to re-establish dharma.
"O Arjuna, he who understands truly my divine birth and action, abandoning his body, reaches me, and does not come to birth again.
"Many, who are free from passion, fear and anger, devoted to me and full of me, purified by spiritual wisdom, have attained my condition."

This passage refers, of course, not only to the Logos in the abstract, but also to Krishna's own incarnations. It will be noticed that he speaks here as if his Logos had already associated itself with several personalities, or human individualities, in former yugas; and he says that he remembers all that took place in connection with those incarnations. Of course, since there could be no karmabandham as far as he was concerned, his Logos, when it associated itself with a human soul, would not lose its own independence of action, as a soul confined by the bonds of matter. And because his intellect and wisdom were in no way clouded by this association with a human soul, he says he can recollect all his previous incarnations, while Arjuna, not yet having fully received the light of the Logos, is not in a position to understand all that took place in connection with his former births. He says that it is his object to look after the welfare of humanity, and that whenever a special incarnation is necessary, he unites himself with the soul of a particular individual; and that he appears in various forms for the purpose of reestablishing dharma, and of rectifying matters on the plane of human life, if adharma gets the ascendancy. From the words he uses there is reason to suppose that the number of his own incarnations has been very great, more so than our books are willing to admit. He apparently refers to human incarnations; if the janmas or incarnations referred to are simply the recognised human incarnations of Vishnu, there would perhaps be only two incarnations before Krishna, Rama and Parasurama, for the Matsya, Koorma, Varaha and Narasinha Avatars were not, strictly speaking, human incarnations. Even Vamana was not born of human father or mother.

The mysteries of these incarnations lie deep in the inner sanctuaries of the ancient arcane science, and can only be understood by unveiling certain hidden truths. The human incarnations can however be understood by the remarks I have already made. It may be that this Logos, which has taken upon itself the care of humanity, has incarnated not merely in connection with the two individuals whose history we see narrated in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but also perhaps in connection with various individuals who have appeared in different parts of the world and at different times as great reformers and saviours of mankind.

Again, these janmams might not only include all the special incarnations which this Logos has undergone, but might also perhaps include all the incarnations of that individual, who in the course of his spiritual progress finally joined himself, or united his soul with the Logos, which has been figuring as the guardian angel, so to speak, of the best and highest interests of humanity on this planet.

In this connection there is a great truth that I ought to bring to your notice. Whenever any particular individual reaches the highest state of spiritual culture, developes in himself all the virtues that alone entitle him to an union with the Logos, and finally, unites his soul with the Logos, there is, as it were, a sort of reaction emanating from that Logos for the good of humanity. If I am permitted to use a simile, I may compare it to what may happen in the case of the sun when a comet falls upon it. If a comet falls upon the sun, there is necessarily an accession of heat and light. So, in the case of a human being who has developed an unselfish love for humanity in himself. He unites his highest qualities with the Logos, and, when the time of the final union comes, generates in it an impulse to incarnate for the good of humanity. Even when it does not actually incarnate, it sends down its influence for the good of mankind. This influence may be conceived as invisible spiritual grace that descends from heaven, and it is showered down upon humanity, as it were, whenever any great Mahatma unites his soul with the Logos. Every Mahatma who joins his soul with the Logos is thus a source of immense power for the good of humanity in after generations. It is said that the Mahatmas, living as they are apart from the world, are utterly useless so far as humanity is concerned when they are still living, and are still more so when they have reached Nirvana. This is an absurd proposition that has been put forward by certain writers who did not comprehend the true nature of Nirvana. The truth is as I have said; every purified soul joined with the Logos is capable of stimulating the energy of the Logos in a particular direction. I do not mean to say that in the case of every Mahatma there is necessarily any tendency to incarnate for the purpose of teaching dharma to mankind — in special cases this may happen, — but in all cases there is an influence of the highest spiritual efficacy coming down from the Logos for the good of humanity, whether as an invisible essence, or in the shape of another human incarnation, as in the case of Krishna, or rather the Logos with reference to which we have been speaking of Krishna. It might be, that this Logos, that seems to have incarnated already on this planet among various nations for the good of humanity, was that into which the soul of a great Mahatma of a former kalpa was finally absorbed: that the impulse which was thus communicated to it has been acting, as it were, to make it incarnate and reincarnate during the present kalpa for the good of mankind.

In this connection I must frankly tell you, that beyond the mystery I have indicated there is yet another mystery in connection with Krishna and all the incarnations mentioned in this book, and that mystery goes to the very root of all occult science. Rather than attempt to give an imperfect explanation, I think it much better to lose sight of this part of the subject, and proceed to explain the teachings of this book, as if Krishna is not speaking from the stand-point of any particular Logos, but from that of the Logos in the abstract. So far as the general tenour of this book is concerned, it would suit any other Logos as well as that of Krishna, but there are a few scattered passages, that when explained will be found to possess a special significance with reference to this mystery which they do not possess now. An attempt will be made in the Secret Doctrine to indicate the nature of this mystery as far as possible, but it must not be imagined that the veil will be completely drawn, and that the whole mystery will be revealed. Only hints will be given by the help of which you will have to examine and understand the subject. This matter is however foreign to my subject; yet I have thought it better to bring the fact to your notice lest you should be misled. The whole philosophy of this book is the philosophy of the Logos. In general Christ or Buddha might have used the same words as those of Krishna; and what I have said about this mystery only refers to some particular passages that seem to touch upon the nature of Krishna's divine individuality. He himself seems to think there is a mystery, as you may see from the 9th verse. (5)

In the tenth verse Mathbhavam means the condition of the Logos. Krishna says there have been several Mahatmas who have become Eswaras, or have united their souls completely with the Logos.

Turn now to chapter v, verses 14 and 15: —

"The Lord of the world does not bring about or create karma, or the condition by which people attribute karma to themselves; nor does he make people feel the effects of their karma. It is the law of natural causation that works. He does not take upon himself the sin or the merit of any one. Real knowledge is smothered by delusion, and hence created beings are misled."

Here he says that Eswara does not create karma, nor does he create in individuals any desire to do karma. All karma, or impulse to do karma, emanates from Mulaprakriti and its vikarams, and not from the Logos, or the light that emanates from the Logos. You must look upon this light, or Fohat, as a kind of energy eternally beneficent in its nature, as stated in the Idyll of the White Lotus. In itself it is not capable of generating any tendencies that lead to bandham; but ahankaram, and the desire to do karma, and all karma with its various consequences come into existence by reason of the upadhis which are but the manifestations of that one Mulaprakriti.

Strictly and logically speaking, you will have to attribute these results to both of these forces. Mulaprakriti will not act, and is incapable of producing any result, unless energised by the light of the Logos. Nevertheless, most of the results that pertain to karma and the continued existence of man as the responsible producer of karma are traceable to Mulaprakriti, and not to the light that vitalizes it. We may therefore suppose that this Mulaprakriti is the real or principal bandha — karanam, and this light is the one instrument by which we may attain to union with the Logos, which is the source of salvation. This light is the foundation of the better side of human nature, and of all those tendencies of action, which generally lead to liberation from the bonds of avidya.

Turn to chapter vii, verses 4 and 5: —

"My Prakrit (Mulaprakriti) is divided into eight parts — earth, water, fire, wind, ether, mind, intuition and egotism. This Prakriti is called Aparaprakriti.
"Understand my Paraprakrit (Daiviprakriti), as something distinct from this. This Daiviprakriti is the one life by which the whole Universe is supported."

Krishna in verse 5 distinguishes between this Daiviprakriti and Prakriti. This Daiviprakriti is, strictly speaking, the Mahachaitanyam of the whole cosmos, the one energy, or the only force from which spring all force manifestations. He says you must look upon it as something different from the Prakriti of the Sankhyas.

Turn now to chapter vii, verse 7: —

"O Dhanamjaya, there is nothing superior to me, and all this hangs on me as a row of gems on the string running through them."

Please notice that in verses 4 and 5 Krishna is referring to two kinds of Prakriti. Of course that Prakriti, which is differentiated into the eight elements enumerated in Sankhya philosophy, is the avyaktam of the Sankhyas — it is the Mulaprakriti, which must not be confounded with the Daiviprakriti, which is the light of the Logos. Conceive Mulaprakriti as avidya, and Daiviprakriti, the light of the Logos, as vidya. These words have other meanings also. In the Swetaswatara Upanishad Eswara is described as the deity who controls both vidya and avidya.

Here Krishna seems to refer to all the qualities, or all the excellent qualities, manifested in every region of phenomenal existence, as springing from himself.

No doubt the other qualities also or rather their ideal forms originally spring from him, but they ought to be traced mainly to Mulaprakriti, and not to himself.

I will now refer you to verse 24 and the following verses of the same chapter: —

"The ignorant, who do not know my supreme and indestructible and best nature, regard me as a manifestation of avyaktam.
"Veiled by my yoga maya, I am not visible to all. The deluded world does not comprehend me, who am unborn and imperishable.
"I know, O Arjuna, all beings, past, present, and future, but none knows me."

In these verses Krishna is controverting a doctrine that has unfortunately created a good deal of confusion. I have already told you that the Sankhyas have taken their avyaktam, or rather Parabrahmam veiled by Mulaprakriti, as Atma or the real self. Their opinion was that this avyaktam took on a kind of phenomenal differentiation on account of association with upadhi, and when this phenomenal differentiation took place, the avyaktam became the Atma of the individual. They have thus altogether lost sight of this Logos. Startling consequences followed from the doctrine. They thought that there being but one avyaktam, one soul, or one spirit, that existed in every upadhi, appearing differentiated, though not differentiated in reality, if somehow we could control the action of upadhi, and destroy the maya it had created, the result would be the complete extinction of man's self and a final layam in this avyaktam or Parabrahmam. It is this doctrine that has spoilt the Adwaiti philosophy of this country, that has brought the Buddhism of Ceylon, Burmah and China to its present deplorable condition, and led so many Vedantic writers to say that Nirvana was in reality a condition of perfect layam or annihilation.

If those who say that Nirvana is annihilation are right, then, so far as the individuality of the soul is concerned, it is completely annihilated, and what exists ultimately is not the soul, or the individual however purified or exalted, but the one Parabrahmam, which has all along been existing, and that Parabrahmam itself is a sort of unknowable essence which has no idea of self, nor even an individual existence, but which is the one power, the one mysterious basis of the whole cosmos. In interpreting the Pranava, the Sankhyas made the ardhamatra really mean this avyaktam and nothing more. In some Upanishads this ardhamatra is described as that which, appearing differentiated, is the soul of man. When this differentiation, which is mainly due to the upadhi, is destroyed, there is a layam of Atma in Parabrahmam. This is also the view of a considerable number of persons in India, who call themselves Adwaitis. It is also the view put forward as the correct Vedantic view. It was certainly the view of the ancient Sankhyan philosophers, and is the view of all those Buddhists who consider Nirvana to be the layam of the soul in Parabrahmam.

After reaching karana sarira there are two paths, both of which lead to Parabrahmam. Karana sarira, you must know, is an upadhi; it is material, that is to say, it is derived from Mulaprakriti, but there is also acting in it, as its light and energy, the light from the Logos, or Daiviprakriti, or Fohat. Now, as I have said, there are two paths. When you reach Karana sarira, you can either confine your attention to the upadhi and, tracing its genealogy up to Mulaprakriti, arrive at Parabrahmam at the next step, or you may lose sight of the upadhi, altogether, and fix your attention solely upon the energy, or light, or life, that is working within it. You may then try to trace its origin, travelling along the ray till you reach its source, which is the Logos, and from the standpoint of the Logos try to reach Parabrahmam.

Of these two paths a considerable number of modern Vedantists, and all Sankhyas and all Buddhists — except those who are acquainted with the occult doctrine — have chosen the one that leads to Mulaprakriti, hoping thus to reach Parabrahmam ultimately. But in the view taken by these philosophers the Logos and its light were completely lost sight of. Atma, in their opinion, is the differentiated appearance of this avyaktam and nothing more.

Now what is the result? The differentiated appearance ceases when the upadhi ceases to exist, and the thing that existed before exists afterwards, and that thing is avyaktam, and beyond it there is Parabrahmam. The individuality of man is completely annihilated. Further, in such a case it would be simply absurd to speak of Avatars, for they would then be impossible and out of the question. How is it possible for Mahatmas, or adepts, to help mankind in any possible way when once they have reached this stage? The Cingalese Buddhists have pushed this doctrine to its logical conclusion. According to them Buddha is extinguished, and every man who follows his doctrine will eventually lose the individuality of his Atma; therefore they say that the Tibetans are entirely mistaken in thinking that Buddha has been overshadowing, or can overshadow any mortals; since the time he reached Paranirvana the soul of the man who was called Buddha has lost its individuality. Now I say that Krishna protests against the doctrine which leads to such consequences.

He says (verse 24) that such a view is wrong, and that those who hold it do not understand his real position as the Logos or Verbum. Moreover he tells us the reason why he is thus lost sight of. He says it is so because he is always veiled by his yoga maya. This yoga maya is his light. It is supposed that this light alone is visible, the centre from which it radiates remaining always invisible.

As may naturally be expected this light is always seen mixed up, or in conjunction, with the Emanations of Mulaprakriti. Hence Sankhyas have considered it to be an aspect of, or an Emanation from Mulaprakriti. Avyaktam was in their opinion the source, not only of matter, but of force also.

But according to Krishna this light is not to be traced to avyaktam, but to a different source altogether, which source is himself. But, as this source is altogether arupa and mysterious, and cannot be easily detected, it was supposed by these philosophers that there was nothing more in and behind this light, except their avyaktam its basis. But this light is the veil of the Logos in the sense that the Shekinah of the Kabbalists is supposed to be the veil of Adonai. Verily it is the Holy Ghost that seems to form the flesh and blood of the divine Christ. If the Logos were to manifest itself, even to the highest spiritual perception of a human being, it would only be able to do so clothed in this light which forms its body. See what Sankaracharya says in his Soundaryalahari. Addressing the light he says: — "You are the body of Sambhu." This light is, as it were, a cloak, or a mask, with which the Logos is enabled to make its appearance.

The real centre of the light is not visible even to the highest spiritual perception of man. It is this truth which is briefly expressed in that priceless little book Light on the Path, when it says (rule 12): — "It is beyond you; because when you reach it you have lost yourself. It is unattainable because it for ever recedes. You will enter the light, but you will never touch the flame."

You will bear in mind the distinction that Krishna draws between the unfortunate doctrine of the Sankhyas and others, and the true theory which he is endeavouring to inculcate, because it leads to important consequences. Even now I may say that ninety per cent. of the Vedantic writers hold the view which Krishna is trying to combat.

Turn now to chapter viii, and examine the meaning of verses 5 to 16. (6)

In these passages Krishna lays down two propositions which are of immense importance to humanity. First, he says that the soul can reach and become finally assimilated with himself. Next, he says, that when once he is reached there is no more Punarjanmam, or rebirth, for the man who has succeeded in reaching him.

Against the latter proposition some objections have sometimes been raised. It is said that if the soul reaches the Logos and the spiritual individuality of the Logos is preserved, and yet if the Logos has also to overshadow mortals from time to time, or have any connection with a human being living on earth, then the statement that a man who reaches the Logos will have no Punarjanmam is untrue. But this objection arises from a misunderstanding as to the nature of this union with the Logos. As far as we know, judging from our ordinary experience, this individuality, this sense of Ego, which we have at present is a kind of fleeting entity changing from time to time. Day after day the different experiences of man are being stored up, and in a mysterious manner united into a single individuality. Of course it seems to every man that he has a definite individuality during the course of a particular incarnation, but the individuality of his Karana Sarira is made up of several individualities like these. It must not be imagined that all the experiences that are connected with the various incarnations and go to constitute their respective personalities are to be found in a kind of mechanical juxtaposition in the karana sarira. It is not so. Nature has a sort of machinery by which it is able to reduce all these bundles of experiences into a single self. Great as is this higher individuality of the human monad, there is an individuality over and above this and far greater than it is. The Logos has an individuality of its own. When the soul rises to the Logos, all that this latter takes from the soul is that portion of the soul's individuality which is high and spiritual enough to live in the individuality of the Logos; just as the Karana Sarira makes a choice between the various experiences of a man, and only assimilates such portions thereof as belong to its own nature, the Logos, when it unites itself with the soul of a man, only takes from it that which is not repugnant to its nature.

But now see what changes take place in the consciousness of the human being himself. The moment this union takes place, the individual at once feels that he is himself the Logos, the monad formed from whose light has been going through all the experiences which he has now added to his individuality. In fact his own individuality is lost, and he becomes endowed with the original individuality of the Logos. From the standpoint of the Logos the case stands thus. The Logos throws out a kind of feeler, as it were, of its own light into various organisms. This light vibrates along a series of incarnations, and whenever it produces spiritual tendencies, resulting in experience that is capable of being added to the individuality of the Logos, the Logos assimilates that experience. Thus the individuality of the man becomes the individuality of the Logos, and the human being united to the Logos thinks that this is one of the innumerable spiritual individualities that he has assimilated and united in himself, that self being composed of the experiences which the Logos has accumulated, perhaps from the beginning of time. That individual will therefore never return to be born again on earth. Of course if the Logos feels that It is born, whenever a new individual makes his appearance having its light in him, then the individual who has become assimilated with the Logos may no doubt be said to have punarjanmam. But the Logos does not suffer because its light is never contaminated by the Vikarams of Prakriti. Krishna points out that he is simply Upadrishtha, a witness, not personally interested in the result at all, except when a certain amount of spirituality is generated and the Mahatma is sufficiently purified to assimilate his soul with the Logos. Up to that time he says, "I have no personal concern, because I simply watch as a disinterested witness. Because my light appears in different organisms, I do not therefore suffer the pains and sorrows that a man may have to bear. My spiritual nature is in no way contaminated by the appearance of my light in various organisms." One might just as well say that the sun is defiled or rendered impure, because its light shines in impure places. In like manner it cannot be true to say that the Logos suffers. Therefore it is not the real self that feels pleasure or pain, and when a man assimilates his soul with the Logos, he no longer suffers either the pains or pleasures of human life.

Again when I speak of the light of the Logos permeating this cosmos and vibrating in various incarnations, it does not necessarily follow that a being who has gone to the Logos is incarnated again. He has then a well defined spiritual individuality of his own, and though the Logos is Eswara, and its light is the Chaitanyam of the universe, and though the Logos from time to time assimilates with its own spiritual nature the purified souls of various Mahatmas, and also overshadows certain individuals, still the Logos itself never suffers and has nothing like Punarjanmam in the proper sense of the word; and a man who is absorbed into it becomes an immortal, spiritual being, a real Eswara in the cosmos, never to be reborn, and never again to be subject to the pains and pleasures of human life.

It is only in this sense that you have to understand immortality. If unfortunately immortality is understood in the sense in which it is explained by the modern Vedantic writers and by the Cingalese Buddhists, it does not appear to be a very desirable object for man's aspirations. If it be true, as these teach, that the individuality of man, instead of being ennobled and preserved and developed into a spiritual power, is destroyed and annihilated, then the word immortality becomes a meaningless term.

I think I have the complete authority of Krishna for saying that this theory is correct, and this I believe to be, though all may not agree with me on this point, a correct statement of the doctrine of Sankaracharya and Buddha.

Turn now to chapter ix, verse 11: —

"The deluded, not knowing my supreme nature, despise me, the Lord (Eswara) of all beings, when dwelling in a human body."

Here Krishna calls himself the real Eswara. Again in verse 13: -

"The Mahatmas devoted to Daiviprakriti, and knowing me as the imperishable cause of all beings, worship me with their minds concentrated on me."

Here he refers to Daiviprakriti, between which and Mulaprakriti he draws a clear distinction. By some however this Daiviprakriti is looked upon as a thing to be shunned, a force that must be controlled. It is on the other hand a beneficent energy, by taking advantage of which a man may reach its centre and its source.

See verse 18 of the same chapter: —

"I am the refuge, the protector, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the shelter, the friend, the source, the destruction, the place, the receptacle, the imperishable seed."

All these epithets applied by Krishna to himself, show that he is speaking of himself in the same manner as Christ spoke of himself, or as every great teacher, who was supposed to have represented the Logos for the time being on this planet, spoke of himself.

Another very significant passage is verse 22 of the same chapter: -

"I take interest in the welfare of those men, who worship me, and think of me alone, with their attention always fixed on me."

I have told you that in the generality of cases Krishna, or the Logos, would simply be a disinterested witness, watching the career of the human monad, and not concerning itself with its interests. But, in cases where real spiritual progress is made, the way is prepared for a final connection with the Logos. It commences in this manner; the Logos begins to take a greater interest in the welfare of the individual, and becomes his light and his guide, and watches over him, and protects him. This is the way in which the approach of the Logos to the human soul commences. This interest increases more and more, till, when the man reaches the highest spiritual development, the Logos enters into him, and then, instead of finding within himself merely the reflection of the Logos, he finds the Logos itself. Then the final union takes place, after which there is no more incarnation for the man. It is only in such a case that the Logos becomes more than a disinterested spectator.

I must here call your attention to verse 29 and the following verses at the end of this chapter: —

"I am the same to all beings: I have neither friend nor foe: those who worship Me with devotion are in Me, and I am in them.
"Even if he whose conduct is wicked worships Me alone, he is to be regarded as a good man, for he is working in the right direction.
"O son of Kunti, he soon becomes a virtuous person, and obtains eternal peace; rest assured that my worshipper does not perish.
"Those who are born in sin and are devoted to Me, whether women, or Vaishyas, or Sudras, reach my supreme abode.
"How much more holy Brahmans and devoted Rajarshis, having come into this transient and miserable world, worship Me!
"Fix thy mind on Me, worship Me, bow down to Me: those who depend on Me, and are devoted to Me, reach Me."

Here Krishna shows, by the two propositions that he is laying down, that he is speaking from a thoroughly cosmopolitan standpoint. He says, "No one is my friend: no one is my enemy." He has already pointed out the best way of gaining his friendship. He does not assume that any particular man is his enemy or his friend. We know that, even in the case of rakshasas, Prahlada became the greatest of bhagavathas. Krishna is thoroughly impartial in dealing with mankind and in his spiritual ministration. He says it does not matter in the least to him what kind of asramam a man may have, what kind of ritual or formula of faith he professes; and he further says, that he does not make any distinction between Sudras and Brahmans, between men and women, between higher and lower classes. His help is extended to all: there is but one way of reaching him; and that way may be utilized by anybody. In this respect he draws a distinction between the doctrines of the karmayogis and his own teaching. Some people say that certain privileged classes only are entitled to attain Nirvana. He says this is not the case. Moreover he must be taken to reject by implication the doctrine of certain Madhwas, who say that all souls can be divided into three divisions. They say that there is a certain class of people called Nityanarakikas, who are destined, whatever they may do, to go down to bottomless perdition: another class of people called Nityasamsarikas, who can never leave the plane of earth; and a third class, the Nityamuktas, who, whatever mischievous things they do, must be admitted into Vaikuntham. This doctrine is not sanctioned by Krishna. His doctrine further contains a protest against the manner in which certain writers have misrepresented the importance of Buddha Avatar. No doubt some of our Brahmin writers admit that Buddha was an Avatar of Vishnu; but they say it was an Avatar undertaken for mischievous purposes. He came here to teach people all sorts of absurd doctrines, in order to bring about their damnation. These people had to be punished; and he thought the best way to bring about their punishment was to make them mad by preaching false doctrines to them. This view, I am ashamed to say, is solemnly put forward in some of our books. How different this is from what Krishna teaches. He says: "In my sight all men are the same; and if I draw any distinction at all, it is only when a man reaches a very high state of spiritual perfection and looks upon me as his guide and protector. Then, and then only, I cease to be a disinterested witness, and try to interest myself in his affairs. In every other case I am simply a disinterested witness." He takes no account of the fact that this man is a Brahman and that one a Buddhist or a Parsee; but he says that in his eyes all mankind stand on the same level, that what distinguishes one from another is spiritual light and life.

Now turn to the 3rd verse of the next chapter (chapter x): —

"He who is sensible enough amongst men to know me, the unborn Lord of the world who has no beginning, is freed from all sins."

Here he calls himself the unborn: he had no beginning: he is the Eswara of the cosmos. It must not be supposed that the Logos perishes or is destroyed even at the time of cosmic pralaya. Of course it is open to question whether there is such a thing as cosmic pralaya. We can very well conceive a solar pralaya as probable, we can also conceive that there may be a time when activity ceases throughout the whole cosmos, but there is some difficulty in arguing by analogy from a definite and limited system to an indefinite and infinite one. At any rate, among occultists there is a belief that there will be such a cosmic pralaya, though it may not take place for a number of years that it is impossible for us even to imagine. But even though there may be a cosmic pralaya the Logos will not perish even when it takes place; otherwise at the recommencement of cosmic activity, the Logos will have to be born again, as the present Logos came into existence at the time when the present cosmic evolution commenced. In such a case, Krishna cannot call himself aja (unborn); he can only say this of himself, if the Logos does not perish at the time of cosmic pralaya, but sleeps in the bosom of Parabrahmam, and starts into wakefulness when the next day of cosmic activity commences.

I have already said in speaking of this Logos, that it was quite possible that it was the Logos that appeared in the shape of the first Dhyan Chohan, or Planetary Spirit, when the evolution of man was recommenced after the last period of inactivity on this planet, as stated in Mr. Sinnett's book, "Esoteric Buddhism," and after having set the evolutionary current in motion, retired to the spiritual plane congenial to its own nature, and has been watching since over the interests of humanity, and now and then appearing in connection with a human individuality for the good of mankind. Or you may look upon the Logos represented by Krishna as one belonging to the same class as the Logos which so appeared. In speaking of himself Krishna says, (chapter x, verse 6): —

"The seven great Rishis, the four preceding Manus, partaking of my nature, were born from my mind: from them sprang (was born) the human race and the world."

He speaks of the sapta rishis and of the Manus as his manasaputras, or mind-born sons, which they would be if he was the so-called Prajapati, who appeared on this planet and commenced the work of evolution.

In all Puranas the Maharishis are said to be the mind-born sons of Prajapati or Brahma, who was the first manifested being on this planet, and who was called Swayambhuva, as he had neither father nor mother; he commenced the creation of man by forming, or bringing into existence by his own intellectual power, these Maharishis and these Manus. After this was accomplished Prajapati disappeared from the scene; as stated in Manu-Smriti, Swayambhuva thus disappeared after commencing the work of evolution. He has not, however, yet disconnected himself altogether from the group of humanity that has commenced to evolute on this planet, but is still the overshadowing Logos or the manifested Eswara, who does interest himself in the affairs of this planet and is in a position to incarnate as an Avatar for the good of its population.

There is a peculiarity in this passage to which I must call your attention. He speaks here of four Manus. Why does he speak of four? We are now in the seventh Manwantara — that of Vaivaswata. If he is speaking of the past Manus, he ought to speak of six, but he only mentions four. In some commentaries an attempt has been made to interpret this in a peculiar manner.

The word "Chatwaraha" is separated from the word "Manavaha" and is made to refer to Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata, who were also included among the mind-born sons of Prajapati.

But this interpretation will lead to a most absurd conclusion, and make the sentence contradict itself. The persons alluded to in the text have a qualifying clause in the sentence. It is well known that Sanaka and the other three refused to create, though the other sons had consented to do so; therefore, in speaking of those persons from whom humanity has sprung into existence, it would be absurd to include these four also in the list. The passage must be interpreted without splitting the compound into two nouns. The number of Manus will be then four, and the statement would contradict the Puranic account, though it would be in harmony with the occult theory. You will recollect that Mr. Sinnett has stated that we are now in the fifth root race. Each root race is considered as the santhathi of a particular Manu. Now the fourth root race has passed, or in other words there have been four past Manus. There is another point to be considered in connection with this subject. It is stated in Manusmriti that the first Manu (Swayabhuva) created seven Manus. This seems to be the total number of Manus according to this Smriti. It is not alleged that there was, or would be another batch of Manus created, or to be created at some other time.

But the Puranic account makes the number of Manus fourteen. This is a subject, which, I believe, requires a considerable amount of attention at your hands; it is no doubt a very interesting one, and I request such of you as have the required time at your disposal, to try and find out how this confusion has arisen. The commentators try to get the number fourteen out of Manu. Of course an ingenious pandit can get anything out of anything, but if you will go into the matter deeply, it is quite possible we may be able to find out how the whole mistake has arisen, and if there is any mistake or not. Any further discussion of the subject at present is unnecessary.

Another interesting function of the Logos is indicated in the same chapter, verse 11: —

"I, dwelling in them, out of my compassion for them, destroy the darkness born from ignorance by the shining light of spiritual Wisdom."

Here he is said to be not only an instrument of salvation, but also the source of wisdom. As I have already said, the light that emanates from him has three phases, or three aspects. First it is the life, or the Mahachaitanyam of the cosmos; that is one aspect of it; secondly, it is force, and in this aspect it is the Fohat of the Buddhist philosophy; lastly, it is wisdom, in the sense that it is the Chichakti of the Hindu philosophers. All these three aspects are, as you may easily see, combined in our conception of the Gayatri. It is stated to be Chichakti by Vasishta: and its meaning justifies the statement. It is further represented as light, and in the sankalpam that precedes the japam it is evoked as the life of the whole cosmos. If you will read carefully the "Idyll of the White Lotus," you will perhaps gain some further ideas about the functions of this light, and the help it is capable of giving to humanity.

I have now to call your attention to all those verses in chapter x that refer to his so-called vibhuti, or excellence.

He says "Aham Atma" (I am self), because every self is but a manifestation of himself, or a reflection of the Logos, as I have already indicated. It is in that sense he is the Aham (I) manifested everywhere in every upadhi. When he says this he is speaking from the standpoint of the Logos in the abstract, and not from that of any particular Logos. The description of this vibhuti conveys to our mind an important lesson. All that is good and great, sublime and noble in this phenomenal universe, or even in the other lokas, proceeds from the Logos, and is in some way or other the manifestation of its wisdom and power and vibhuti; and all that tends to spiritual degradation and to objective physical life emanates from prakriti. In fact there are two contending forces in the cosmos. The one is this prakriti whose genealogy we have already traced. The other is the Daiviprakriti, the light that comes down, reflection after reflection, to the plane of the lowest organisms. In all those religions in which the fight between the good and the bad impulses of this cosmos is spoken of, the real reference is always to this light, which is constantly attempting to raise men from the lowest level to the highest plane of spiritual life, and that other force, which has its place in Prakriti, and is constantly leading the spirit into material existence. This conception seems to be the foundation of all those wars in heaven, and of all the fighting between good and bad principles in the cosmos, which we meet with in so many religious systems of philosophy. Krishna points out that everything that is considered great or good or noble should be considered as having in it his energy, wisdom and light. This is certainly true, because the Logos is the one source of energy, wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. When you realize what an important place this energy that emanates from the Logos plays in the evolution of the whole cosmos, and examine its powers with reference to the spiritual enlightenment which it is capable of generating, you will see that this description of his vibhuti is by no means an exaggerated account of Krishna's importance in the cosmos.

Turn next to chapter xi.

The inferences I mean to draw from this chapter are these. First, that the Logos reflects the whole cosmos in itself, or, in other words, that the whole cosmos exists in the Logos as its germ. As I have already said, the world is the word made manifest, and the Logos is, in the mystical phraseology of our ancient writers, the pasyanti form of this word. This is the germ in which the whole plan of the solar system eternally exists. The image existing in the Logos becomes expanded and amplified when communicated to its light, and is manifested in matter when the light acts upon Mulaprakriti. No impulse, no energy, no form in the cosmos can ever come into existence without having its original conception in the field of Chit, which constitutes the demiurgic mind of the Logos.

The Logos, its light and Mulaprakriti, constitute the real Tatwatrayam of the Visishtadwaitis, Mulaprakriti being their Achit, this light from the Logos their Chit, and the Logos being their Eswara.

I would here call your attention to the first Anhika of Mahabhashya, where Patanjali speaks of the three forms manifested — Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari Vach. The way in which he classifies them is different.

In his opinion Pasyanti Vach, which corresponds to the Logos, is Chit; Vaikhari Vach, which is a symbol of the manifested cosmos, is Achit, and Madhyama Vach, which represents the light of the Logos, is Chidachit. You know that the word Chit may mean Chaitanyam, or life; it may also mean consciousness. The Logos is simply Chidrupam, it has no material form at all; the whole manifested cosmos is called achidrupam, that is to say, it exists in fact. It exists in idea while it exists merely subjectively in the Logos; the Fohat, being the link between the two, is neither the one nor the other, it is neither Chit nor Achit. It is therefore called Chidachit. Thus, when Patanjali speaks of Madhyama Vach as Chidachit, he refers to it as a link between the mental form (in the Logos) and the manifested form (in matter). The universe exists in idea in the Logos, it exists as a mysterious impression in the region of force, and it is finally transformed into the objectively manifested cosmos, when this force transfers its own image or impulse to cosmic matter. Hence this Logos is called Visvarupi — a term constantly applied to Vishnu, — but only in this sense.

There is yet another way of looking at these entities with which you ought to familiarize yourselves. The whole cosmos, by which I mean all the innumerable solar systems, may be called the physical body of the one Parabrahmam; the whole of this light or force may be called its sukshma sarira; the abstract Logos will then be the karana sarira, while the Atma will be Parabrahmam itself.

But this classification must not be confused with that other classification which relates to the subdivisions of one only of these entities, the manifested solar system, the most objective of these entities, which I have called the sthula sarira of Parabrahmam. This entity is in itself divisible into four planes of existence, that correspond to the four matras in Pranava as generally described. Again this light which is the sukshma sarira of Parabrahmam must not be confounded with the astral light. The astral light is simply the sukshma form of Vaiswanara; but so far as this light is concerned, all the manifested planes in the solar system are objective to it, and so it cannot be the astral light. I find it necessary to draw this distinction, because the two have been confounded in certain writings. What I have said will explain to some extent why the Logos is considered as having viswarupam.

Again, if the Logos is nothing more than a Chidrupam, how is it that Arjuna, with his spiritual intelligence, sees an objective image or form before him, which, however splendid and magnificent, is, strictly speaking, an external image of the world? What is seen by him is not the Logos itself but the viswarupa form of the Logos as manifested in its light — Daiviprakriti. It is only as thus manifested that the Logos can become visible even to the highest spiritual intelligence of man.

There is yet another inference to be drawn from this chapter. Truly the form shown to Arjuna was fearful to look at, and all the terrible things about to happen in the war appeared to him depicted in it. The Logos being the universe in idea, coming events (or those about to manifest themselves on the objective plane) are generally manifested long, it may be, before they actually happen, in the plane of the Logos from which all impulses spring originally. Bhishma, Drona and Karna were still living at the time Krishna showed this form. But yet their deaths and the destruction of almost their whole army seemed to be foreshadowed in this appearance of the Logos. Its terrible form was but an indication of the terrible things that were going to happen. In itself the Logos has no form; clothed in its light it assumes a form which is, as it were, a symbol of the impulses operating, or about to operate, in the cosmos at the time of the manifestation.


3. The Editor of The Theosophist here appended the following footnote:

"This and some of the other quotations have been omitted on account of their length. — Ed."

(See footnotes 4, 5, and 6, seq.)

Chapter xiii of the Bhagavad-Gita, commencing with verse 12:

"I shall now declare to thee that which is the object of knowledge, knowing which one attains immortality:

"That which has no beginning, beyond Brahman [param brahma]. It is said to be neither being nor non-being [na sat tannasaduchyate]. (12)

"That is everywhere hands and feet, everywhere eyes, heads, mouths, everywhere ears. It stands, enclosing everything in the world. (13)

"It possesses phantom-like all qualities of the senses, though devoid [in Itself] of all senses, unattached and yet bearing all, without qualities, and yet the enjoyer of qualities. (14)

'It is without and within all beings; It is moved and unmoved; on account of Its minuteness [or subtilty: sukshmatvat] It is not knowable; though standing far off, It is also near. (15)

"It is not divided into beings, yet It stands as if divided; It is to be known as the supporter of beings, the Devourer and also the Emanator. (16)

"It is again the Light of lights; it is said to be beyond darkness [tamasah]. It is Knowledge, the Object of Knowledge, and the End of Knowledge. It is settled in the heart of All." (17)

— Translation by G. de Purucker (return to text)

4. Verse 11 was omitted; it is as follows:

'Them who thus approach me, in that same way I also frequent. Men follow my path everywhere, O son of Pritha." (11) (return to text)

5. "O Arjuna, he who understands truly my divine birth and action, abandoning his body, reaches me, and does not come to birth again." [chapter iv, verse 9] (return to text)

6. See footnote No. 3.

"He who, with mind on me in the hour of death, proceeds onwards, having cast off the body, proceeds onwards to my nature [madbhavam]. There is no doubt of this. (5)

"Or, indeed, whatever nature [bhavam, existence, thing, being], he has his mind on when he abandons the body, to that very one he goes, O son of Kunti! having continually brooded on it. (6)

"Therefore at all times keep thy mind on me, and fight. With mind and understanding fixed on me, thou shalt go to me, there is no doubt. (7)

"Meditating, O son of Pritha, and with thought disciplined by the practice of yoga and not wandering elsewhere, [a man] goes to the highest divine Purusha. (8)

"He who has his mind on the ancient Spirit [kavim: sage, seer, thinker], the ruler, more atomic than the atom, the orderer of all, of unthinkable form, shining like the sun [adityavarnam], beyond darkness, (9)

"With unwandering mind in the time of death, intent in trust by yoga-power, with the prana properly fixed between the two brows — he passes into that highest divine Purusha. (10)

"What those learned in the Vedas call imperishable, which those who are self-controlled and freed from passion enter into, which those crave who follow the Brahmacharya [-life], that condition [padam: position, rank, dignity, seat], I shall declare to thee briefly. (11)

"He who on abandoning the body, departs, having closed all passages [sarvadvarani samyamya], and with the mind [manas] confined in the inner faculty [hridi], with his prana placed in the forehead, and intent on the maintaining of yoga, (12)

"Uttering the monosyllable Om! which is Brahman, and having the mind on me [mamanusmaran], he [indeed] goes on the highest path. (13)

"He who constantly has his mind on me, with his thought continually on nothing else, by that yogin of constant application, O son of Pritha, I am easily acquired. (14)

"They of great-self [mahatmanah], who have attained unto me, do not undergo rebirth, which is temporary and the womb of sorrow. They have attained perfection. (15)

"All worlds [lokah] up to the abode of Brahman, O Arjuna, are subject to successive revolutions [punaravartino]. But having attained unto me, O son of Kunti! rebirth is not known." (16)

— Translation by G. de Purucker (return to text)

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