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Does Ishwara or Saguna Brahm acts or does he remain actionless and a mere witness?

Discussion in 'Hinduism DIR' started by Greg Levenski, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. Greg Levenski

    Greg Levenski Member

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    In Gita chapter 9 verse 7, the Lord says that at the end of a kalpa, all beings goes into his prakriti and remains there in an unmanifested dormant state. Then He says, that at the beginning of the next kalpa he manifests them again.

    Since the Lord says here that "I manifest them again", does this mean that the actionless Ishwara becomes occasionally active?

    As per ChidbhavaNanda's commentary (of verse 7) Ishwara is actionless. ChidbhavaNanda has stated in his commentary that, due to
    Ishwara's proximity to prakriti OR Ishwara's supervision of prakriti,
    it makes prakriti to carry out her activities of creation, preservation and destruction.

    In chapter 9 verse 10, the Lord has said the same thing that ChidbhavaNanda explained under verse 7.

    The Lord said in verse 10 that because of My supervision of prakriti or proximity to prakriti, she (prakriti) produces all this moving and unmoving and therefore the world revolves.

    My question is, if Ishwara or Saguna Brahm is really actionless and a mere witness and that all the cosmic activities are done by Prakriti, then what about Krishna killing all the asuras while he was here on Earth, what about Krishna grazing his cows, playing his flute, stealing butter, lifting the Govardhana mountain, saving Draupadi from the clutches of the kauravas, then lifted the chariot wheel in the Kurukshetra war to attack Bhisma, he even killed Sishupal with his sudarshana chakra etc.

    Were all these acts done by prakriti/maya as well?
     
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  2. Mindmaster

    Mindmaster Well-Known Member
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    No, the creation-maintenance-destruction is an automatic process. The only difference between you and Krishna, in this case, is that he is automatically realized and you aren't, you have to do the work. As an avatar, he still is capable of acting like a man. The point to me, of course, was that Krishna is simply standing in for ourselves in the story in that he is the aim to achieve. If we did we'd be just like him, etc.
     
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  3. Greg Levenski

    Greg Levenski Member

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    But as far as i know, saguna brahman or Ishwara maintains his own distinct identity. He is above maya. Whereas we are not. We are under the clutches of maya. Many great sages who've had self realization, came and gone but none of them even came close to becoming saguna brahman. They on the other hand merged with nirakara brahman upon moksha but they could never be like saguna brahman. If i'm wrong, then someone here please do correct me.
     
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  4. Mindmaster

    Mindmaster Well-Known Member
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    I don't necessarily feel you're wrong, but philosophically "one is one" and not two. That's the entirety of Advaita. Others may read it differently, lol.
     
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  5. Sw. Vandana Jyothi

    Sw. Vandana Jyothi Truth is One, many are the Names
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    Namaste Greg,
    If I may recommend to you, be sure to pick up other translations of the Gita to peruse. If you do not know Sanskrit yourself, it often helps one's own understanding to grapple with what other translators, some who also do commentary, have to say about the meaning of a particular verse. (Go beyond "The Bhagavad Gita--As it Is," for sure.)
     
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  6. ManSinha

    ManSinha Well-Known Member

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  7. Greg Levenski

    Greg Levenski Member

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    I have three gitas. The Iskcon gita - As It Is (which i don't like), the ChidbhavaNanda's gita from RamaKrishna mission (which is an advaita gita) and finally Shankaracharya's gita bhasya translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri. Even after studying and comparing all these three gitas, i am still confused whether Ishwara acts or not. :=(
     
  8. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    It is not books but life-experience which gives you the answer. Saguna is not actionless.

    "yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati, bhārata;
    abhyutthānam adharmasya, tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham." BG 4.7


    Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I create Myself (in the universe).

    "paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ, vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām;
    dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya, sambhavāmi yuge yuge." BG 4.8


    To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, eras after eras.

    However, I cannot vouch for the reality of Saguna Brahman. It is not 'Paramarthika Satya' (being an advaitist). :)
    Greg, we are all Saguna (and Nirguna) Brahmans. We are Brahman (Sarve Khalvidam Brahma - All things here are Brahman) and we have gunas, therefore, we are 'saguna brahmans'. Gunas are things only in 'Vyavaharika Satya'. There are no gunas in 'Parmamarthika Satya'.

    But that is a strict Advaitist explanation and not the only view in Hinduism. Let us be very clear about it that it is a minority view in Hinduism. :)

    "Many great sages who've had self realization, came and gone but none of them even came close to becoming saguna brahman.":
    It is believed that those sages had the power to do whatever they wanted. Even devotees have that power. There are many stories of how devotees made Gods to work for them. Narsi Bhagat (Narsimha Mehta of Gujarat) said that Kan ji Seth (Krishna), will bring the gifts* for his daughter who was going to be married, and lo, Krishna (Kan ji Seth, Richman Kanha ji, Krishna) sent unending cartloads of gifts.

    * It is customary for the bride's maternal uncle to bring gifts (whatever they may be) before the marriage in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

    It is said "Brahma veda Brahmaia bhavati" (One who knows/understands Brahman, verily becomes Brahman). The sages too were Brahman.
     
    #8 Aupmanyav, Jul 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  9. Sw. Vandana Jyothi

    Sw. Vandana Jyothi Truth is One, many are the Names
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    In the three translations of the Gita that I have on hand, including one by my own guru, Sadguru Sant Keshavadas, Sri Krishna does not say that He performs no actions. The verses speak of His two aspects, Nirguna the Unmanifested/Brahman/Impersonal God which permeates all that is created but is not creation itself. By the power of His will (iccha shakti), He causes Shakti Ma to create (kriya shakti). Abiding in Brahman in Her unmanifested state (prakriti), all three gunas are in perfect balance and when commanded, "She" does the assigned job by causing imbalance in the gunas, in different proportions, to create all that is created.

    In His manifested form, Saguna/Ishwara/Personal God (yes, Aupji, It exists and I so wish you could see That Shining Form before you leave this earth plane! :)), He acts (tends the cows, counsels Arjuna, etc.) but is totally unaffected by those actions because He is non-attached to them. He advises His devotee elsewhere in the Gita to adopt the same discipline, that is, perform actions without regard for the fruits of those actions in order to escape the wheel of karma, the birth-death cycle.

    In both cases, Nirguna and Saguna Brahman, it should be remembered that we're talking about something transcendental (beyond mind, ego, intellect, senses, et al).
     
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  10. Greg Levenski

    Greg Levenski Member

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    @Aupmanyav Yes its true we're all Brahman. (Aham Brahmasmi).
    Our true nature is nirakara brahman. Not saguna brahman. We should transcend all our gunas, egos, etc. and only then we can merge with the infinite, omnipresent nirakara brahman (upon attaining moksha after death).

    Besides even though we are made up of gunas in the vyavaharika satya, i am not calling ourselves saguna brahman because we normally use the word 'saguna brahman' for the supreme Lord Vishnu or Shiva. Only Vishnu can preserve the cosmos and only Shiva can destroy this universe. No other sages/yogis, no matter how much spiritually advance they may be, no matter how much siddhai powers they might have, they could never create, preserve or destroy this universe. These three tasks can be done only by the almighty Ishwara.

    When i say that all these tasks can only be done by the Supreme Lord, i'm believing that saguna brahman or ishwara actually acts, (which is kinda true, coz as we all know, Ishwara incarnates age after age and partakes in so many activities as you've pointed out). But then on the other hand ChidbhavaNanda's advaita gita says Iswara doesn't act, only prakriti/maya does. This is the reason why i'm confused.
     
  11. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Gita says that Ishwara performs ceaseless unattached action.
     
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  12. Sw. Vandana Jyothi

    Sw. Vandana Jyothi Truth is One, many are the Names
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    Greg, one does not have to die (bodily liberation) to attain moksha (soul's final liberation from the bondage of ignorance). The "Jeevan Mukta Gita" of Lord Dattatreya explains that possibility fully. It's a beautiful song, soars.
     
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  13. Greg Levenski

    Greg Levenski Member

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    Thanks for the wonderful answer Vandana. The Shankara Gita Bhasya that i have also speaks of the same thing that you've said in your post. That is, the Lord's acts binds Him not, because there is an absence of the egoistic feeling of agency in the Lord (e.g. I work, i play etc.). That is, the Lord doesn't considers Himself the karta. There is no sense of doership in Him.
    It is also mentioned there that since He doesn't craves for the fruits of his actions, he is free from the bondage of karma. :)

     
    #13 Greg Levenski, Jul 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Greg, that can happen even while living. This is enlightenment, jnana, mukti (freedom from all bondages, like in a Jeevanamukta). So many people have attained this state. If Lord Vishnu gets a universe created or Shiva dstroys it, it is all in Vyavaharika. There is no creation or destruction in Paramarthika.

    Those who believe there is are welcome to do so. Hinduism never made it compulsory to follow a particular view point. There is no need to be confused about it. The choice is yours. Choose according to your inclination.
     
  15. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Actually Greg, Krishna very clearly supports action and warns against inaction.

    "karmaṇy evādhikārah te, mā phaleṣu kadācana'
    mā karma-phala-hetur bhūh, mā te saṅgah tu akarmaṇi."
    BG 2.47

    Your right extends only up to the performance of your duty, not to the fruits of your action. Do not consider yourself (alone) the cause of the the result of your action (don't forget that there are many other variables), and never be enamored of inaction.
     
    #15 Aupmanyav, Jul 7, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
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  16. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    It is important here to understand the distinction between the
    witness and the mind. The mind, doer and ego are one and the same.

    Awareness/witness/pure consciousness/Self is distinct from the mind or ego or impure consciousness with its cravings and aversions.

    Awareness/witness has nondual perception while the dualistic mind divides things into polar opposites through thought and labels: the conqueror and the conquered, the observer and the observed, the object and the subject, the day and the night, male and female, rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged, friend and enemy.The mind goes on dividing everything incessantly into polarities, opposites and has dualistic perception through incessant thinking and emoting.

    Krishna was performing everything as a witness in thoughtless awareness , above and beyond the pair of opposites. He used his mind as a useful instrument when needed and was not a slave to it as manifest in chronic thinking and emoting due to bondage.

    A witness performs actions, but it is not the same as the egocentric actions of the doers who identify with Prakriti (body-mind-intellect ) and act under the influence of the pairs of opposites like craving and aversion.

    This is the subtle difference between the witness/Self and the doer.

    The witness identifies with awareness or pure consciousness while the doer identifies with Prakriti (body-mind-intellect ).

    The witness is not in the bondage of his thoughts, emotions, desires while the doer is in such bondage and suffers thus from emotional afflictions and consequent suffering.

    These sayings of Annamalai Swami can shed clarity on this subject...

    In every moment you only have one real choice: to be aware of the Self or to identify with the body and the mind. ~ Annamalai Swami

    In that thought-free state you will begin to experience yourself as consciousness, not as mind or body.~ Annamalai Swami

    Your main objective is establishing yourself as consciousness. ~Annamalai Swami

    The ego is the 'I am the body' idea. Remove this idea and you shine as the Self.~ Annamalai Swami

     
    #16 ajay0, Jul 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  17. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    Krishna performed all these actions or duties as a witness free of emotional agitation, not as a doer prompted by emotional cravings and aversions.

    Ishwara or Saguna Brahman being actionless actually means the lack of sense of doership due to identification with Prakriti (body-mind-intellect).

    This is a very subtle difference and requires a subtle and sharp intellect to grasp this difference.

    The enlightened identifies with consciousness while the unenlightened identifies with Prakriti (body-mind-intellect).
     
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  18. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    The witness performs duties for the sake of duty with enthusiasm, and enjoys the process. Even if the witness meets with failure in his efforts, he pursues his objective without getting demoralised learning from the failure.

    He keeps himself motivated with joy and happiness derived from creative work , disciplining his attitude to be positive and enthusiastic at all times, and converting every work intelligently into one that suits their taste. This is why Krishna is often pictured as smiling and characterized as an incessant worker without fatigue in the scriptures, the ideal Karma Yogi.

    The doer on the other hand, performs duty for the sake of desired results. Consequently if he meets with failure, he gets dejected and emotionally agitated affecting the quality of his work and judgement.

    Many world-class athletes know this process instinctively and talk about enjoying the process rather than focus on the end results so as to be consistent in motivation.


    The Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi recognised and named the psychological concept of flow, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.

    In an interview with Wired magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."


    This is similar to Krishna's teaching of ‘Yogah karmasu kaushalam’ of the Gita (II – 50) which means Yoga is ‘skill in action’.
     
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