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The English translation of Bhagavad Gita isn't quite perfect to what actually Krishna conveyed in Bhagavad Gita. When I read that, there Lord Krishna mentions the word, Paramatma, Parameshwar in so many places and in the verse 21 of chapter 8 he says, (I am translating to English in correct manner)

"What is described as unmanifest & eternal, the highest surrendered principle parampurush, is the supreme destination for all souls, and that's my Paramapatham (abode)"

In the google translated versions, Parampurush, Parameshwar words are completely missing. Krishna uses the words "AVAYKATHA, AKSHARA" frequently in chapter 8 meaning - ParamPurush.

So is - Parampurush the supreme destination for we souls which is beyond the "Brahmajyoti" ?

  • voting to close as 1)answer will depend upon which recension of the Gita you are using and answer will vary depending upon sect and philosophical school followed. answers are opinion based. – Swami Vishwananda Aug 24 '18 at 8:47
  • Well my intention here's not an opinion based. I am asking for references. Then what's true version of Bhagavad Gita? Without any manipulation? – Akshay S Aug 24 '18 at 10:07
  • We can never be sure what the truth is (what Krishna actually told us in Gita) coz various sects have interpreted HIS words differently. But IMO, the advaita sect's interpretation comes close to the truth. The soul is always nirguna & so upon moksha after death, its bound to return to it's original UNembodied condition. BUT those who worship Saguna, they IMO are given a spiritual body (blessed with individuality) so they could spend time with Lord in his dhama. i.e. their souls don't return to it's original nirguna state but put on spiritual bodies to enter Vaikuntha. This is just my opinion. – The Crimson Universe Aug 29 '18 at 6:45
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    @TheCrimsonUniverse - I agree, nobody can be sure what truth is, but Soul = Purush & supersoul = Parampurush. So both sections of interpretation are correct. But what I would say is do not be satisifed with the knowledge we have from scriptures and decide the supreme destination. Once when Deva & asura went to Lord Brahma to know what is Atman, Brahma said body is atman and Asura left after that answer. But Deva was not satisified with it and he waited patiently for many years, and then Brahma revealed true nature of Atman. – Akshay S Aug 29 '18 at 6:56
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    @SwamiVishwananda, by that logic, the whole of Hinduism is opinion-based... of course different schools will have different answers, let all answers be posted.. this site should mirror real-life in basic scriptural opinions. – ram Nov 17 '18 at 7:30
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+50

Let me quote the verse again from different sources.

avyakto ’kṣhara ityuktas tam āhuḥ paramāṁ gatim
yaṁ prāpya na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama

This is the main quote from the Gita, as Krishna has uttered (rather as Ved Vyasa has written).

Now lets look at a few commentaries by different gurus. This will be long. So please have patience.

* RAMANUJA'S COMMENTARY (VISHISHTADVAITA)

Lord Krishna now reveals His superior conscious avyakta or unmanifest which is different in principle and substance then the unconscious avyakta or unmanifest of Brahma which is non-intelligent and operates according to set parameters.

Lord Krishna's superior avyakta is characterised by eternality due to its possession of ātma tattva or soul realisation. Thus it is also characterised by jñāna or consciousness.

Avyakta is also known as indistinct because it beyond any perceptive faculty of the mind or senses to cognise it as a perceivable reality. The purport is that avyakta is a principle of self-consciousness and as such is completely unique in its nature.

The word Sanātana meaning eternal because His superior avyakta is not subject to combination and aggregation or resolution and disintegration

and never disperses or dissipates when all the material elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether in their rudimental forms and derivative forms dissolve away, although His superior avyakta abides within them.

This is why the Vedic scriptures call it avyakta or indistinct as well as akṣara or indestructible.

Those steeped in the wisdom of the Vedic scriptures have declared that this is the paramam gatim or supreme exalted goal to be achieved.

Lord Krishna previously mentioned akṣara in verse three of this chapter and will later mention it again in chapters XII.III and XV.XVI.

The superior state of avyakta is where ātma tattva or soul realisation abounds and when once reached immediately precludes forever the subjection to union with matter again as there is no more rebirth for reincarnation has been terminated.

Lord Krishna specifies their destination with the words dhāma paramam mama meaning His supreme personal abode of eternity, knowledge and bliss where all things reciprocate fully with Him and is the abode of the liberated beings.

The word dhāma also denotes luminosity as in the light of consciousness which is the primary attribute of the ātma or soul.

Thus Lord Krishna is indicating His paramam dhāma as non-different from the infinite consciousness of the ātma in contrast to the limited state of consciousness one possesses,

who is oblivious to the ātma due to being deluded by the illusory material energy known as māyā and cherishing the association of the senses with sense objects.

The other avyakta where resides prakṛti or the material substratum which contains all living entities and which is perishable is controlled by Lord Krishna as well,

through His manifestation as the eternal ātma or soul within the etheric heart of all created beings throughout all existence. This is the abode of the non-liberated beings.

From the superior avyakta there is no return to samsāra the cycle of birth and death.


* ADI SHANKARA'S COMMENTARY (ADVAITA)

He Himself who has been (uktah) mentioned; as (avyaktah) Unmanifest; the (aksarah) Immutable; (ahuh), they call; (tam), Him - that very unmanifest Reality which is termed as the Immutable; the Supreme Goal (paramam gatim). (Tat) That is the supreme abode (paramam dhama), i.e. the Supreme State; (mama), of Mine, of Vishnu; (yam prapya), reaching which Reality; (na nivartante) they do not return to the worldly state.


* MADHAVA'S COMMENTARY (DVAITA)

The avyakta, the unmanifest; and aksara, the indestructible is the resplendent Supreme Lord, Krishna Himself, upon whom attaining there is no more returning to samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The Garuda Purana states: The avyakta is the Supreme Lord Himself. It shows the use of the word 'dhaama' or abode as also denoting the resplendent form of the Supreme Lord. Showing that the resplendent Supreme Lord’s form and abode are both indicated such are the confidential meanings understood by those of spiritual wisdom.


* SRI VISHVANATHA CHAKRAVARTHI THAKURA (ACHINTYA BHEDABHEDA)

The word avyakta of the previous verse is explained. That which is avyakta is without destruction: Narayana. As the sruti says, eko narayana asin na brahma na ca sankarah: one Narayana existed, and not Brahma or Siva. Attaining my eternal form (mama paramam dhama), they do not return.

The word aksara may also be interpreted as the impersonal brahman, in which case dhama paramam mama means “my form of light,” since dhama also means “light.”


Bottom line, what they are all trying to say is that the Supreme Destination is the Unmanifest form of the Lord which is technically Nirguna Brahman. Although Adi Shankara posits Nirguna Brahman as the ultimate reality, and the Supreme Reality, other Sampradayas don't accept this view. They believe in the Supremacy of Saguna, at the same time, not fully discounting this Unmanifest formless state of the Lord, which is (for the non-Advaita Vedantins) a state of perpetual bliss and jnana. For them the Saguna roop has control over their Nirguna roop. Whereas for Advaita it is both-ways, since there is no difference between the two. So the unanimous definition of this Param Dhama would be Satchidananda which is the purest state of existence that is not characterized by universal manifestation of forms (avyakta) and is immutable (aksarah), that since it is the first cause, it can never be muted. Rather all the other causes may be muted into this first cause hence its immutability is proved.

Let me support this with a verse from Katha Upanishad Chapter 2, Verse 22:

When the wise realize the Self
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midst of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.

  • In another sloka, Krishna says he is basis of impersonal Brahman. Assuming he was in Yoga with supreme, I think Supreme lord must be beyond Brahman. Ishopanishad says "My lord your face is covered by dazzling influence, kindly remove it and please reveal yourself to your pure devotee" – Akshay S Aug 25 '18 at 14:54
  • Yes because as an Advaitin I am bound to say that Nirguna roop has all the characteristics of the Saguna roop hence the validity of Satchidananda holds. – user9072 Aug 25 '18 at 14:56
  • But Brahman is supreme anyway. The Supreme Lord Himself is Brahman. There is nothing beyond the Supreme Lord, the same way there is nothing beyond Brahman. They two are identical. – user9072 Aug 25 '18 at 14:57
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    Surrendering to the supersoul in Advaita terms is equivalent to the loss of Ahamkara. And Kaivalya Moksha is verily merging into Brahman. So that depends on where you want to go. If you're an Advaitin, you'll merge into the impersonal aspect of God. If you are a worshipper of Saguna you'll go there. Kaivalya moksha is merging with Brahman/Supersoul/Parabrahma. – user9072 Aug 25 '18 at 15:06
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    This only is possible when you lose ego and develop a yearning for realizing the Truth. In Dvaita terms, you do Sharanagati, accept Lord as the Doer, instead of you, and be immersed in Bhakti. However Advaita is not merely discarding forms. Advaita too has bhakti. Bhakti is the culmination of Jnana. When you truly realize that Nirguna = Saguna. So praying to a deity is also praying to the First Cause. – user9072 Aug 25 '18 at 15:08
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The word to word translation could be as below:

अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्युक्तस्तमाहुः परमां गतिम्। यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम

अव्यक्तो - Indescribable/Unmanifested; ऽक्षर - Indestructible; इत्युक्त - Called as such; स्तमाहुः - that [is] known; परमां - ultimate/final/beyond; गतिम् - state/movement; यं - which; प्राप्य - gaining/obtaining; न - not/never; निवर्तन्ते - doesn't return; तद्धाम - that destination; परमं - ultimate/final; मम - mine;

So we can get following meaning out of it:

BG 8.21 - What is called as "Indescribable Indestructible", that's known as the ultimate state (viz. Moksha). Gaining which [one] doesn't return; That is "My" transcendental destination.

Usually the closest translations are from Swami Gambhirananda, and that also matches it:

BG 8.21 - What is called the Unmanifested and the Imperishable, That they say is the highest goal. They who reach It do not return (to this Samsara). That is My highest abode (place or state). [Gambhirananda]


So it's correct that "ParamAtma" or "ParamPurusha" are indeed not in that particular verse. However, Krishna refers following terms interchangeably and all of them yield similar meaning:

That - Atma - ParamAtma - ParamPurusha (only once) - Me/I

Hence to answer the question in title, the ultimate destination of any soul, is the state from which it 'cannot' return[8.21]. A soul can return from any state, if it's describable. Hence this state is described as "indescribable". Yet Krishna refers it as "I/Me" and we also sometimes call it as Atma gyAna (self realisation).

  • But after attaining moksha upon death, if souls no longer return, then why there's a rumour going around, that Vivekananda who already attained moksha (soul passed thru his head) , will again reincarnate? Thnx. – The Crimson Universe Aug 29 '18 at 6:18
  • @TheCrimsonUniverse, one cannot return after attaining Moksha. e.g. in a movie if an actor dies at some point, then how many times we replay the movie, the actor will go through the same events & death. Should we think that the actor got reborn in the next replay or should we not? So Moksha also can be interpreted in 2 ways due to cycling nature of Brahman. You may refer this answer for both the perspectives. For Swami Vivekananda, many believe that he didn't attain Moksha; refer this question. – iammilind Aug 29 '18 at 7:30
  • I went thru the latter link, and there user 'Keshava' says that Vivekananda and other yogins wanted to attain moksha directly after death and so they didn't choose the slow gradual process mentioned by Krishna in the Gita, where one deity would take them to one loka, and from there to another and then finally to Satyaloka, which is a slow gradual process that Vivekananda didn't choose. So according to Keshava he (being an advaitin) attained moksha on the spot. So, my question still remains the same. How can liberated souls come back? – The Crimson Universe Aug 29 '18 at 16:10
  • @The, liberated soul can't come back, because once liberated, it loses its individual nature. Similar to Once a water drop falls in river, it can't come back. Regarding deities escorting soul towards liberation is merely an interpretation. You may want check the word to word translation in this answer. Vivekananda died during particular time, in which their consciousness will return. If someone dies during 6 months of Uttarayan && 15 days towards Shukla Paksha && day time && when Sun is in south East, then it couod be liberation as per verse. – iammilind Aug 30 '18 at 2:54
  • @TheCrimsonUniverse Not every liberated soul can come back. There is a special category callled Isvarakotis, they can come back to the world if they wish. Ordinary jivas after attaining realization cannot come back. – Chinmay Sarupria Nov 17 '18 at 8:17

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