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Gita ch.14 verse 27

brahmano hi pratisthaham amrtasyavyayasya ca sasvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikantikasya ca

What does this verse mean?

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  • Lord is the basis of dharma which gives eternal bliss, which is immortal and permenant.. on performance lords worship like pooja one turns towards god which is actually dharama which gives happiness, eternal bliss which is immortal and permenant other than lord worship is aadharma not dharma
    – Prasanna R
    Sep 27, 2020 at 14:29
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    I’m voting to close this question because English is the language of this website. Sep 28, 2020 at 4:24

4 Answers 4

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I will answer this question, from the point of view of advaita. I will quote a portion of the commentary by Madhusudhana Saraswati (MS) in his Gudartha dipika. The gist is based on the translation of Swami Gambhirananda.

MS commentary (partial)

अत्र हेतुमाह -- ब्रह्मणस्तत्पदवाच्यस्य सोपाधिकस्य जगदुत्पत्तिस्थितिलयहेतोः प्रतिष्ठा पारमार्थिकं निर्विकल्पकं सच्चिदानन्दात्मकं निरुपाधिकं तत्पदलक्ष्यमहं निर्विकल्पको वासुदेवः प्रतितिष्ठत्यत्रेति प्रतिष्ठा कल्पितरूपरहितमकल्पितं रूपमतो यो मामनुपाधिकं ब्रह्म सेवते स ब्रह्मभूयाय कल्पत इति युक्तमेव।

Gist of the above: brahman, here refers to sopAdhika brahman or brahman with limiting adjuncts or the conditioned brahman. Roughly speaking, this is same as saguNa brahman or brahman with attributes/qualities or the lower brahman. This sopAdhika brahman is the creator, preserver and destroyer of the world.

Krishna (or vAsudeva) is saying that he is the basis of the sopAdhika brahman. Here, Krishna or vAsudeva is the nirupAdhika brahman, who is unconditioned, and hence is the supreme brahman, which is the essential nature of the conditioned brahman. Krishna/vAsudeva is the supreme reality, which is sat-chit-Ananda or existence, knowledge and bliss. The true nature of the sopAdhika brahman is the nirupAdhika brahman. That is the idea.

Continuation of MS commentary

कीदृशस्य ब्रह्मणः प्रतिष्ठाहमित्याकाङ्क्षायां विशेषणानि। अमृतस्य विनाशरहितस्य अव्ययस्य विपरिणामरहितस्य च शाश्वतस्यापक्षयरहितस्य च धर्मस्य ज्ञाननिष्ठालक्षणधर्मप्राप्यस्य सुखस्य परमानन्दरूपस्य। सुखस्य विषयेन्द्रियसंयोगजत्वं वारयति -- ऐकान्तिकस्याव्यभिचारिणः सर्वस्मिन्देशे काले च विद्यमानस्य। ऐकान्तिकसुखरूपस्येत्यर्थः।

Gist: Now the qualities of the sopAdhika brahman are listed. It is indestructible, immutable, free from transformations, eternal, devoid of decay, it is the Dharma which is attainable through steadfastness in knowledge, it is happiness which is by nature the supreme bliss, the absolute happiness (not the happiness that arises from contact of objects and senses). It is the happiness that exists in all places and times.

Final gist: Krishna is the unconditioned highest brahman, and He is the real nature of the conditioned lower brahman. Krishna is thus the basis of the lower brahman. The lower brahman rests on Krishna. The qualities of lower brahman are, being immutable, indestructible, eternal etc.

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  • Wow. You really have great knowledge of advaitins and their works.
    – Satya
    Sep 28, 2020 at 17:52
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    @Satya Advaitic works are like an ocean. I have just touched the surface. I am not being unduly modest. This is the truth. I dont know if a person's lifespan is sufficient to read and understand all the advaitic works.
    – user17987
    Sep 28, 2020 at 18:04
  • @kākatālīya ... You said in your answer that sopAdhika aka saguna brahman is the lower conditioned brahman. And this sopAdhika aka saguna brahman is the creator, preserver and destroyer. But then you wrote that Krishna is the unconditioned, supreme nirupAdhika brahman ... My question is... isn't it Krishna who is the sopAdhika or saguna brahman? After all krishna has features, He has a form (rupa) and so its fair to say that krishna is saguna sakara brahman... Also isn't it Krishna who creates, preserves and destroys? ... If krishna isn't sopAdhika saguna sakara brahman, then WHO is? Sep 29, 2020 at 15:50
  • @TheCrimsonUniverse You are correct. I had the same doubt earlier. And Krishna himself is praised as the creator etc at many places, so Krishna is also treated as Ishwara/sopAdhika brahman. However, Krishna (not the body), being Ishwara, can lay claim to being both sopAdhika and nirupAdhika brahman at the same time, because Ishwara is also a jnAni. As Ishwara, Krishna is sopAdhika brahman. But as jnAni (jnAna is natural for Ishwara), Krishna is nirupAdhika brahman. sopAdhika and nirupAdhika brahman are just different ways of looking at the same thing.
    – user17987
    Sep 29, 2020 at 15:59
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    @TheCrimsonUniverse Basis here means, the underlying reality or the substratum. Think of it as a real rope and illusory snake. The real rope is the underlying reality of the illusory snake. Krishna is always Krishna, the nirupAdhika brahman (real rope). But when we see Krishna from the lens of mAyA, Krishna is seen as the sopAdhika brahman (illusory snake). Hope that clarifies the meaning of basis. In fact entire creation has nirupAdhika brahman as its basis.
    – user17987
    Sep 29, 2020 at 16:12
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What is the meaning of Gita ch.14 verse 27?

From Ramanujacharya's Gita Bhashya, the verse means:

Truly, I am the basis of insentient matter as well as the immortal and immutable Self, of everlasting Dharma and of perfect bliss.

His commentary:

Although the expression 'everlasting Dharma’ is usually indicative of the practice [of Dharma or right-living] that leads to the goal; yet in the present context it denotes the actual goal to be obtained and not the practice.

The purport is this:— earlier it has been stated in the passage — 'For this divine Māya of Mine consisting of the three Gunas is hard to transcend, except for those who take refuge in Me alone...' (7.14) — that taking refuge in the Lord is the only means for transcending the Modes of Material Nature and the attainment of Self-realisation, supernal glory and unification with the Supreme Being. Thus, taking refuge (prapatti) with one-pointed mind is the only means for transcending the Gunas and for the attainment of the state of Brahman.

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Consistency requires that Brahma must denote that which is less then and subject to Lord Krishna the Supreme Brahman.

The Brahma Svarupa is discribed in Bhagavad Gita 12.3-4

ye tv akṣaram anirdeśyam avyaktaṃ paryupāsate | sarvatra-gam acintyaṃ ca kūṭastham acalaṃ dhruvam || 3 || sanniyamyendriya-grāmaṃ sarvatra sama-buddhayaḥ | te prāpnuvanti mām eva sarva-bhūta-hite ratāḥ || 4 ||

But those who worship My indescribable, unmanifest, all-pervading, inconceivable, immutable, eternal and featureless brahma-svarūpa, while controlling their senses, maintaining equal vision in all situations and engaging in activities for the welfare of all beings, also attain Me alone.

Here(14.27) Lord Krishna is asserting that the impersonal is still not the ultimate as 'He' the person is the basis and its support

Those who worship the ( impersonal feature) nirviśeṣa-brahma-svarūpa are inferior to devotees. In order to establish this principle, Lord Krishna speaks these the two verses, Akṣara - that brahma cannot be described in words because it is unmanifest, formless (avyaktam), all-pervading (sarvatra-ga) and eternal (dhruvam). It is not subject to transformation (acalam), but it exists uniformly at all times (kūṭa-stham). And it cannot be comprehended by logic (acintya). Also “They attain Me alone after great difficulty

Bhagavad Gita 12.5

kleśo 'dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ dehavadbhir avāpyate

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.

Both practitioners attain transcendental realization , One being Impersonal in nature, whose pratishta the rest is 'Aham' the Supreme Person.

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There are varying interpretations of Bhagavad Gita 14.27 depending upon the school. I will be covering some of them in the answer.

The Acharyas of the Gaudiya and Kumara Vaishnava sampradaya interpret the verse to mean that Krishna is the basis of the impersonal or Formless Brahman. As shown from these excerpts of their respective commentaries-

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:


“But why would your devotees attain the impersonal brahman, which happens only by realizing oneness with God?”

“Because I am also the basis of that famous brahman, since I am the supreme basis of everything. The meaning of pratistha is shelter, that upon which something is standing firmly, as this also is the meaning used everywhere in the srutis, such as in the description of the annamaya purusa in the Taittiriya Upanisad. And I am the basis or shelter of amrta (amrtasya).”


Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

Lord Krishna now gives the evidence why bhakti yoga or exclusive loving devotion to Him is the panacea for transcending the three gunas or modes of material nature and qualify to become eligible for the state of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and attain Him. It is because He is the abode of the brahman which is the effulgence of His inconceivable spiritual form and which is a manifestation of His attributes such as being eternal, imperishable, immortal with attributes characterised by moksa or liberation, ananda or never ending bliss and omniscience. Because the Supreme Lord possesses all these, His devotees who worship Him attaining Him easily transcend the three gunas

.

However, as we see below, The interpretation of the Madhva and Sri vaisnava school differs on the verse-

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

In this verse the brahman or spiritual substrtatum pervading all existence refers to Sri Laxmi, the goddess of fortune. This is what is being clarified by the words brahmano hi. As one attains Sri Laxsmi one attains the Supreme Lord as she is never separated from Him. So by her grace one attains the immortal, eternal, imperishable state of the Lord Krishna. The word aikantikanye means the ultimate and denotes the happiness one experiences in communion with the Supreme Lord. Thus the manner of attaining Him has been explained.

Sri Madhavacharya interprets The word 'brahman' in the verse to mean Sri or Laxmi and not formless brahman.

Similarly, Sri Ramanujacharya also gives an alternate interpration-

Commentary by Sri Ramanujacharya of Sri Vaisnava sampradaya


The term 'hi' (for) denotes cause. I, who am to be served by unswerving Bhakti Yoga, am 'the ground of the individual self, immortal and immutable, and also of eternal Dharma,' namely, surpassing eternal prosperity and also perfect felicity, i.e., of the felicity attained by the Jnanin stated in texts such as 'Realising that Vasudeva is all' (7.19). I, being of such nature, devotion to Me helps the Jiva to transcend the Gunas. Although the expression 'eternal Dharma' is indicative of the conduct to be observed, in the given context, it means the goal to be attained; for, what follows and what precedes it, denote the goal and not conduct. The purport is this: It has been stated that seeking refuge with the Lord is the only means for transcending the Gunas and the attainment of self-realisation, prosperity and the Supreme Being in the earlier text beginning with, 'For this divine Maya of Mine consisting of the three Gunas is hard to break through, except for those who take refuge in Me alone ৷৷.' (7.14). Thus, seeking surrender to the Lord with one-pointed mind is the only means for transcending the Gunas and for the attainment of the state of brahman through that. [Here Prapatti, surrender to the Lord, is mentioned as a limb of unswerving Bhakti Yoga according to some interpreters. This is however a disputable point, as some maintain that Prapatti is in itself an independent path].

Here is how Sri vaisnavacharya Sri Vedanta Desikan interprets the verse in his tatparyachandrika.

Commentary by Sri Vedanta Desikan of Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya


In this manner, regarding the context of bestowing liberation, as explained in the Śārīraka (Brahma Sutras) [3.2.38], it is generally established that to denote the self-sufficiency and independence of the fruit, the term "phala" (fruit) is used. Similarly, in that context, to establish the threefold fruits related to the medium hexad (Madhyamaṣaṭka), an additional verse is quoted to affirm the primacy of nature as the cause, for setting forth the excellence of the threefold fruits. Therefore, the word "aha" is used to indicate the cause. Here, the term "Brahman" is not directly related to the ultimate Brahman. Due to opposition from the section discussing the differentiation of the self and non-self (Vaiyādhikaraṇya), it cannot be said that the Jīva (individual self), which is a part of the threefold Brahman, attains greatness due to being the Lord's part. It is not the establishment of Brahman alone, for then the term "pratiṣṭhā" (foundation) would imply the Lord's omnipresence in the enjoyer and the enjoyed. Nor can it be said that I, as distinct from the mutable and immutable, am the foundation of the imagined Brahman, for it contradicts the teachings of the scriptures (śruti). It is not related to the destruction of that doctrine or the subject of the original nature. Due to the absence of a suitable reason, it is fitting that it is attributed to the attainment of becoming Brahman [14.26] – this indicates the absence of the stage of fruition for the individual being. Thus, the term "Brahma" is used here to represent such a form. Now, what is obtained by the seekers of liberation, when they attain the supreme Brahman-like pure form, from the established truths in the scriptures and attainable realities? In examining this, I have arrived at a state of contemplation and tranquility through reflection. Alternatively, is the term "pratiṣṭhā" (foundation) used as a basis? That foundation is established, following the order of the sun and the moon [Br. Up. 2.8.9], in the regulation of this eternal Brahman. Therefore, based on the order described in the scripture, it is established as the regulation (niyama) [Brahma Sutras 1.3.11]. Thus, even for the pure self, the non-conveyance is presented here. The term "Brahma-bhūyaṁ" is introduced here to express that this attainable state of becoming Brahman is exclusive and unique, just like the eternal dharma, indicating an extraordinary eternal sovereignty.

Now, let us delve into some of the nondualist commentaries of the verse.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya


for; I, the inmost Self; am the pratistha brahmanah, Abode-that in which something abides is pratistha-of Brahman which is the supreme Self. Of Brahman of what kind? Amrtasya, of that which is indestructible; avyayasya, of that which is immutable; and sasvatasya, of that which is eternal; dharmasya, of that which is the Dharma, realizable through the Yoga of Jnana which is called dharma (virtue); and aikantikasya sukhasya, of that which is the absolute, unfailing Bliss by nature. Since the inmost Self is the abode of the supreme Self-which by nature is immortal etc.-, therefore, through perfect Knowledge it (the former) is realized with certainty to be the supreme Self. This has been stated in, 'he qualifies for becoming Brahman'. The purport is this: Indeed, that power of God through which Brahman sets out, comes forth, for the purpose of favouring the devotees, etc., that power which is Brahman Itself, am I. For, a power and the possesser of that power are non-different. Or, brahman means the conditioned Brahman, since It (too,) is referred to by that word. 'Of that Brahman, I Myself, the unconditioned Brahman-and none else-am the Abode.' (The abode of Brahman) of what alities? Of that which is immortal; of that which has the ality of deathlessness; of that which is immutable; so also, of that which is the eternal; which is the dharma having the characteristics of steadfastness in Knowledge; of that which is the absolute, unestionably certain Bliss born of that (steadfastness);-'I am the Abode' is understood.

As per this interpretation, Nirguna Brahman is the pratiṣṭhā (abode) of Saguna Brahman who alone can be worshipped by the devotees (as mentioned in 14.26). The devotion culminates in the highest realisation of the Supreme and the devotee becomes free from ignorance.

Sri Sridhara Swami, In line with Adi Shankara describes Krishna as the embodiment of Brahman. Hence, the devotees engaged in exclusive devotion to Him transcend the three gunas and realise Brahman.

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Svami of Advaita Sampradaya


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This interpretation is somewhat Agreed upon by Kaula acharya Sri Abhinavagupta as well-

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:


14.27 Brahmanah etc. It is ‘I’ who is the support of the Brhaman. [For], one becomes the [very] Brahman, if ‘I’ is served [by him]. Otherwise if the Brahman is contemplated on – because Its nature is like that of the insentient (i.e., simply a being)-then it leads him (the seeker) to an emancipation which would simply be undistinguished from the deep sleep stage.

Sri Jnaneshwar interprets the verse to mean Krishna is non different from brahman.

Commentary called Jnaneshwari by Jnaneshwar of the Varkari Sampradaya


In short Brahman means only my own Self, Oh Pandav, and that very meaning I have made clear in this discourse. The Moon and her disc are not distinct (from each other); in that way there is no distinction between myself and the Brahman. It is Eternal, unshaky and vivid, the very religion incarnate, (giver of) unique and unbounded Bliss, the place where discrimination after completing its prescribed functions, comes to repose—it is that place of established truths which is in fact myself.”


Swami Ramsukhdas ji also agrees with the above interpretation.

Commentary by Swami Ramsukhdas Ji


'ब्रह्मणो हि प्रतिष्ठाहम'—When Lord Krsna declares, that He is the abode of Brahman, He means to say, that He has His identity, with Brahman. As burning fire which is seen, and fire present in a piece of wood which is not seen, are one and the same, similarly the Lord is the same, as endowed with form and also, without form. As the nose smells the same food, while the tongue tastes it, similarly the same Lord is Brahman, for a follower of the path of knowledge, and Krsna for a devotee following the path of devotion.

In fact Lord Krsna and Brahman, are one and the same. The Lord has used the term 'Brahman', for Himself in 5.10 and also ‘unmanifested form’ in 9.4. So He is both with form and without form.

In this verse, in the expression 'ब्रह्मणः' and 'अमृतस्य', like the expression ‘राहो: शिर:', the sixth inflexion has been used, which means that 'Rahu' and 'Sirah' (head), are not two different entities (in phrases like ‘The head of Rahu’ etc.) but both are, one and the same. Similarly, here Brahman, the Immortal, the Imperishable, is Lord Krsna and Lord Krsna is Brahman, the Immortal, the Imperishable. In this verse, emphasis has been laid on the identity of Lord Krsna, with Brahman, the Imperishable and the Eternal Dharma etc. All of them, in spite of being called, by different names, are one and the same. Thus, a devotee, who worships Lord Krsna, attains Brahman (as mentioned in 14.26).

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