॥ શ્રી સ્વામિનારાયણો વિજયતે ॥


Spiritual Discourses

by Bhagwan Swaminarayan


Explaining Ātmadarshan Using the Analogies of a Doll and a Cow

On the night of Māgshar vadi 13, Samvat 1877 [2 January 1821], Shriji Mahārāj was sitting in Surā Khāchar’s darbār in Loyā. He was wearing a warm, red dagli and a white khes. He had tied a white feto around His head and had tied a bokāni with another white feto. In addition to this, He had covered Himself with a thick, cotton cloth that had been placed together with a white blanket. At that time, an assembly of devotees from various places as well as paramhansas had gathered before Him.

Thereupon Shriji Mahārāj said out of compassion, “The jiva pervades the entire body from head to toe through its three powers of adhyātma, adhibhut and adhidev. Through the indriyas and their presiding deities, it experiences the vishays, but it cannot experience anything by being distinct from the presiding deities and the indriyas.”

Thereupon Nityānand Swāmi raised a doubt, “Mahārāj, it is said that the jiva pervades the whole body in general, but resides specifically within the heart. How, then, should one understand the fact that awareness is not present everywhere equally?”

Shriji Mahārāj answered, “The sun pervades each and every object equally by its rays, but its light is seen according to the object before it. For example, pure sunlight is not experienced as intensely on stone or sand or in dirty water as it is on a floor made of glass or in clean water. Thus, just as one experiences a greater and lesser intensity in the sun’s light, in the same way, even though the jiva resides equally in the indriyas, the antahkaran and the indriyas’ organs, one experiences its power more intensely in the indriyas because of their purity. Just see, does one experience as much sensation in one’s nose and ears as one does in one’s eyes? Certainly not. Furthermore, the four antahkarans are even purer than the indriyas, and so the jiva’s power can be experienced there even more intensely. In comparison, it is experienced to a lesser degree in the indriyas. Nevertheless, the jiva does pervade the entire body equally.”

Thereafter Brahmānand Swāmi asked, “Many see the jiva to be like a star, or like the flame of an oil lamp, or like the flash from a firecracker. How should one understand these differences in experiences?”

Shriji Mahārāj explained, “Just as a person who has mastered akshividyā can see the jiva and the form of God therein with his eyes, one who has attained realization through the indriyas sees the ātmā in a similar manner. For example, if there were a glass doll shaped in the form of a human - with all of its limbs, hair and vessels made of glass - and if it were filled with light, then the light would be seen only according to the size and shape of the tubes within; it would not be seen everywhere. In the very same way, people describe the nature of the jiva according to however they have seen it. But, because they have not attained transcendent vision, they do not see the ātmā as it is. However, when a person’s vision does become transcendent and one with his ātmā, he no longer perceives the divisions of the different organs of the indriyas; instead, he realizes the ātmā as it truly is. Just as one who has attained the viewpoint of ākāsh does not perceive the other four bhuts, similarly, one with transcendental vision does not perceive differences in the jiva’s light arising from its indriyas, their organs and presiding deities, and the antahkaran; instead, he realizes the jiva precisely as it is. Conversely, one who perceives distinctions does not realize the jiva as it is. For example, from a group of people, someone saw the tail of a cow, someone else saw its mouth, someone saw its hoof, another saw its stomach, and yet another saw its udder. Whichever part of the cow was seen did, in fact, belong to the cow, yet no one saw the cow completely. But, because at least one part was seen, it can be said that the cow was actually seen. In the same manner, a person can be said to have seen the ātmā to the extent to which he has seen the light of the ātmā through his indriyas or antahkaran. This, however, cannot be said to be perfect ātmā-realization. Thus, I explain the general and the specific experiences of the jiva in this manner.”

At that point, Nityānand Swāmi questioned, “Mahārāj, you have described the jiva as being formless. Therefore, when God dwells within the jiva, does He reside without a form, or does He possess a form?”

Shriji Mahārāj clarified, “God dwells as the refuge of the indriyas, their presiding deities, the antahkaran and the jiva. Shri Krishna Bhagwān, for example, made Uddhavji explain to the gopis, ‘I am near to you by being the refuge of your indriyas, antahkaran, their presiding deities and jiva. Just as the very same five mahābhuts which reside in the brahmānds are also within everyone’s body, similarly, I reside in Mathurā like the mahābhuts reside predominantly in the brahmānds; but just like those mahābhuts reside subtly in the bodies of the jivas, I also reside within all of you. The fact that I cannot be seen is to keep the vrutti of your mind confined within me; that is why I cannot be seen. Nevertheless, I reside within you possessing a definite form.”

Hearing this, Nityānand Swāmi questioned further, “But Mahārāj, does God, who resides as the refuge of the indriyas etc., reside in the form of Purush, Akshar, or as Purushottam Himself?”

Shriji Mahārāj replied, “The light of the jiva, Purush, Akshar and Purushottam is very similar in terms of luminosity. So much so, that no one is capable of distinguishing between their light. Actually, though, they are absolutely distinct from each other, but no one is capable of seeing these distinctions. Only one who receives a divine body composed of divine light by the grace of God realizes, ‘This is myself, this is Purush, this is Akshar, and this is Purushottam - who is distinct from all.’ In this way, one can see them separately and their light distinctly. However, no one else is capable of distinguishing between them. Thus, God may reside in whichever form He chooses, but it is He Himself who resides within the jiva - no one else.”

Then Shriji Mahārāj continued, “There are three sets of scriptures which are eternal and which describe only the form of Shri Krishna Paramātmā. They are Yoga, Sānkhya and Vedānta, i.e., the Upanishads. I shall now explain the principles of each, so please listen.

“Those belonging to the Sānkhya philosophy propound the existence of 24 elements and believe Paramātmā to transcend them; that is, Paramātmā is the 25th element. However, they do not accept jiva and ishwar as being distinct from the 24 elements. Their reasoning is that the elements cannot be sustained without the jiva, and so, the jiva is conceived only as a form of the elements because of its close co-existence with them. As a result, they do not consider the jiva to be distinct. Also, just as they regard the jiva as a form of the elements, they regard the ishwars - who believe the brahmānds to be their true form - as a form of the 24 elements. In this manner, they conceive both jiva and ishwar among the 24 elements, and thus count them together with the 24 elements; they do not consider them as being distinct from the elements. So, this, along with believing Paramātmā to be the 25th element, is the philosophy of Sānkhya.

“Despite this, one should not conclude that there is no jiva at all, because the propounders of Sānkhya have prescribed the six endeavors1 as well as shravan, manan, nididhyās, etc., for the jiva. By endeavouring in this way, the jiva attains a thought that eventually leads to the realization of its distinction from the elements. Then, realizing oneself to be brahmarup, one engages in the worship of God. This is the Sānkhya philosophy. It is also mentioned in the Moksh-dharma, where Nāradji explains to Shukdevji,

Tyaja dharmam-adharmam cha ubhe satyānrute tyaja |
Ubhe satyānrute tyaktvā yena tyajasi tat-tyaja ||

“The meaning of this verse is that when a spiritual aspirant prepares to contemplate upon his ātmā, he should renounce all thoughts of dharma and adharma, truth and falsehood that disturb him. In fact, he should also renounce the thought by which he renounces these other thoughts. In this way, he should behave as brahmarup. However, the verse does not suggest that one should physically forsake the niyams in the form of dharma. This is the correct interpretation of the verse.

“Next, propounders of the Yoga philosophy propagate the 24 elements distinctly from the jiva and ishwar, whom they regard as the 25th element, and Paramātmā, as the 26th. With the power of discernment they distinguish the 25th element from the other elements, and firmly resolving that to be their form, they gather the vruttis of the 24 elements and forcefully attach them to the 26th element - they do not allow them to be drawn towards the vishays. They believe, ‘If my vruttis forsake God and wander elsewhere, I will have to pass through the cycle of births and deaths.’ Therefore, they forcibly keep the vruttis of their indriyas and antahkaran on God.

“In comparison, the propounders of Sānkhya believe, ‘I have no indriyas or antahkaran, so where shall they go?’ Thus, they consider themselves to be brahmarup and remain fearless. Those belonging to the Yoga philosophy remain constantly fearful. For example, if a person had to carry a vessel filled to the brim with oil up some stairs without spilling any oil at all, and if two swordsmen with drawn swords were on both sides trying to frighten him, that person would be extremely fearful. Followers of Yoga remain just as fearful of the vishays and strive to keep their vrutti fixed on God. This is the philosophy of Yoga.

“Vedānta, that is, the Upanishads, expound only Purushottam Nārāyan Brahma, the ultimate cause of all, as being satya and claim all else to be false. Just as when one attains the viewpoint of ākāsh, one does not perceive the other elements; in the same way, one who sees only Brahma perceives nothing else. That is the philosophy of Vedānta.”

Vachanamrut ॥ 15 ॥ 123 ॥

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This Vachanamrut took place ago.


1. The six endeavours, ‘shat-sampatti’, propounded by the Sānkhya philosophy: (1) sham - tranquillity, i.e. restraint of mind; (2) dam - self-control, i.e. restraint of outer sense organs; (3) uparati - abstinence, i.e. refraining from unnecessary, especially mundane, objects and activities; (4) titikshā - endurance, i.e, overcoming of comforts and hardships; (5) samādhān - stability, i.e. balance of mind and focus on God; and (6) shraddhā - faith and persistence.

2. त्यज धर्ममधर्मं च उभे सत्यानृते त्यज ।
उभे सत्यानृते त्यक्त्वा येन त्यजसि तत्त्यज ॥ - Mahābhārat: Shānti-parva, Moksh-dharma 33.40

Prakaran Gadhada I (78) Sarangpur (18) Kariyani (12) Loya (18) Panchala (7) Gadhada II (67) Vartal (20) Amdavad (3) Gadhada III (39) Bhugol-Khagol Additional (11) Additional Info Vachanamrut Study People in the Vachanamrut Vachanamrut Introduction Vachanamrut Principles Vachanamrut Preface Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Blessings Vachanamrut Calendar Paratharo 4: Auspicious Marks Paratharo 5: Daily Routine Appendices

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