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  1. The Hamsa-avatar Answers the Questions of the Sons of Brahma
  2. Krishna Explains the Yoga System to Uddhava

13. The Hamsa-avatara Answers the Questions of the Sons of Brahma

The Lord said: The three modes of material nature, namely goodness, passion and ignorance, pertain to material intelligence and not to the spirit soul. By development of material goodness one can conquer the modes of passion and ignorance, and by cultivation of transcendental goodness one may free oneself even from material goodness. [13.1]

When the living entity becomes strongly situated in the mode of goodness, then religious principles, characterized by devotional service to me, become prominent. One can strengthen the mode of goodness by cultivation of those things that are already situated in goodness, and thus religious principles arise. [13.2]

Religious principles, strengthened by the mode of goodness, destroy the influence of passion and ignorance. When passion and ignorance are overcome, their original cause, irreligion, is quickly vanquished. [13.3]

According to the quality of religious scriptures, water, one's association with one's children or with people in general, the particular place, the time, activities, birth, meditation, chanting of mantras, and purificatory rituals, the modes of nature become differently prominent. [13.4]

Among the ten items I have just mentioned, the great sages who understand Vedic knowledge have praised and recommended those that are in the mode of goodness, criticized and rejected those in the mode of ignorance, and shown indifference to those in the mode of passion. [13.5]

Until one revives one's direct knowledge of the spirit soul and drives away the illusory identification with the material body and mind caused by the three modes of nature, one must cultivate those things in the mode of goodness. By increasing the mode of goodness, one automatically can understand and practice religious principles, and by such practice transcendental knowledge is awakened. [13.6]

In a bamboo forest the wind sometimes rubs the bamboo stalks together, and such friction generates a blazing fire that consumes the very source of its birth, the bamboo forest. Thus, the fire is automatically calmed by its own action. Similarly, by the competition and interaction of the material modes of nature, the subtle and gross material bodies are generated. If one uses his mind and body to cultivate knowledge, then such enlightenment destroys the influence of the modes of nature that generated one's body. Thus, like the fire, the body and mind are pacified by their own actions in destroying the source of their birth. [13.7]

Uddhava said: Dear Krishna, generally human beings know that material life brings great future unhappiness, and still they try to enjoy material life. Dear Lord, how can one in knowledge act just like a dog, an ass or a goat? [13.8]

The Lord said: Dear Uddhava, a person bereft of intelligence first falsely identifies himself with the material body and mind, and when such false knowledge arises within one's consciousness, material passion, the cause of great suffering, pervades the mind, which by nature is situated in goodness. Then the mind, contaminated by passion, becomes absorbed in making and changing many plans for material advancement. Thus, by constantly thinking of the modes of material nature, a foolish person is afflicted with unbearable material desires. [13.9-10]

One who does not control the material senses comes under the control of material desires and is thus bewildered by the strong waves of the mode of passion. Such a person executes material activities, although clearly seeing that the result will be future unhappiness. [13.11]

Although the intelligence of a learned person may be bewildered by the modes of passion and ignorance, he should again carefully bring the mind under control. By clearly seeing the contamination of the modes of nature, he does not become attached. [13.12]

A person should be attentive and grave and never lazy or morose. Mastering the yoga procedures of breathing and sitting properly, one should practice fixing the mind on me at dawn, noon and sunset, and thus gradually the mind should be completely absorbed in me. [13.13]

The actual yoga system as taught by my devotees, headed by Sanaka-kumara, is simply this: Having withdrawn the mind from all other objects, one should directly and appropriately absorb it in me. [13.14]

Uddhava said: Dear Kesava, at what time and in what form did you instruct the science of yoga to Sanaka and his brothers? I now desire to know about these things. [13.15]

The Lord said: Once, the mental sons of Brahma, namely, the sages headed by Sanaka, inquired from their father about the difficult subject matter of the supreme goal of yoga. [13.16]

The sages headed by Sanaka said: Lord, people's minds are naturally attracted to material sense objects, and similarly the sense objects in the form of desire enter within the mind. Therefore, how can a person who desires liberation, who desires to cross over activities of sense gratification, destroy this mutual relationship between the sense objects and the mind? Please explain this to us. [13.17]

The Lord said: Dear Uddhava, Brahma himself, who is born directly from the body of the Lord and who is the creator of all living entities within the material world, being the best of the gods, seriously contemplated the question of his sons headed by Sanaka. The intelligence of Brahma, however, was affected by his own activities of creation, and thus he could not discover the essential answer to this question. [13.18]

Brahma desired to attain the answer to the question that was puzzling him, and thus he fixed his mind on me, the Supreme Lord. At that time, in my form of Hamsa, I became visible to Brahma. [13.19]

Thus seeing me, the sages, placing Brahma in the lead, came forward and worshiped my lotus feet. Then they frankly asked me, "Who are you?" [13.20]

Dear Uddhava, the sages, being eager to understand the ultimate truth of the yoga system, thus inquired from me. Now please hear as I explain that which I spoke unto the sages. [13.21]

Dear Brahmins, if, when asking me who I am, you believe that I am also a jiva soul and that there is no ultimate difference between us — since all souls are ultimately one without individuality — then how is your question possible or appropriate? Ultimately, what is the real situation or resting place both of yourselves and of me? [13.22]

If by asking me "Who are you?" you were referring to the material body, then I must point out that all material bodies are constituted of five elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. Thus, you should have asked, "Who are you five?" If you consider that all material bodies are ultimately one, being constituted essentially of the same elements, then your question is still meaningless, since there would be no deep purpose in distinguishing one body from another. Thus, it appears that in asking my identity, you are merely speaking words, without any real meaning or purpose. [13.23]

Within this world, whatever is perceived by the mind, speech, eyes or other senses is me alone and nothing besides me. All of you please understand this by a straightforward analysis of the facts. [13.24]

Dear sons, the mind has a natural proclivity to enter into the material sense objects, and similarly the sense objects enter into the mind; but both this material mind and the sense objects are merely designations that cover the spirit soul, who is part and parcel of me. [13.25]

A person who has thus achieved me by understanding that he is not different from me realizes that the material mind is lodged within the sense objects because of constant sense gratification, and that the material objects are existing prominently within the material mind. Having understood my transcendental nature, he gives up both the material mind and its objects. [13.26]

Waking, sleeping and deep sleep are the three functions of the intelligence and are caused by the modes of material nature. The living entity within the body is ascertained to possess characteristics different from these three states and thus remains us a witness to them. [13.27]

The spirit soul is trapped in the bondage of material intelligence, which awards him constant engagement in the illusory modes of nature. But I am the fourth stage of consciousness, beyond wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep. Becoming situated in me, the soul should give up the bondage of material consciousness. At that time, the living entity will automatically renounce the material sense objects and the material mind. [13.28]

The false ego of the living entity places him in bondage and awards him exactly the opposite of what he really desires. Therefore, an intelligent person should give up his constant anxiety to enjoy material life and remain situated in the Lord, who is beyond the functions of material consciousness. [13.29]

According to my instructions, one should fix the mind on me alone. If, however, one continues to see many different values and goals in life rather than seeing everything within me, then although apparently awake, one is actually dreaming due to incomplete knowledge, just as one may dream that one has wakened from a dream. [13.30]

Those states of existence that are conceived of as separate from the Lord have no actual existence, although they create a sense of separation from the Absolute Truth. Just as the seer of a dream imagines many different activities and rewards, similarly, because of the sense of an existence separate from the Lord's existence, the living entity falsely performs fruitive activities, thinking them to be the cause of future rewards and destinations. [13.31]

While awake the living entity enjoys with all of his senses the fleeting characteristics of the material body and mind; while dreaming he enjoys similar experiences within the mind; and in deep dreamless sleep all such experiences merge into ignorance. By remembering and contemplating the succession of wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep, the living entity can understand that he is one throughout the three stages of consciousness and is transcendental. Thus, he becomes the lord of the senses. [13.32]

You should consider how, by the influence of my illusory energy, these three states of the mind, caused by the modes of nature, have been artificially imagined to exist in me. Having definitely ascertained the truth of the soul, you should utilize the sharpened sword of knowledge, acquired by logical reflection and from the instructions of sages and Vedic literatures, to completely cut off the false ego, which is the breeding ground of all doubts. All of you should then worship me, who am situated within the heart. [13.33]

One should see that the material world is a distinct illusion appearing in the mind, because material objects have an extremely flickering existence and are here today and gone tomorrow. They can be compared to the streaking red line created by whirling a fiery stick. The spirit soul by nature exists in the single state of pure consciousness. However, in this world he appears in many different forms and stages of existence. The modes of nature divide the soul's consciousness into normal wakefulness, dreaming and dreamless sleep. All such varieties of perception, however, are actually maya and exist only like a dream. [13.34]

Having understood the temporary illusory nature of material things, and thus having pulled one's vision away from illusion, one should remain without material desires. By experiencing the happiness of the soul, one should give up material speaking and activities. If sometimes one must observe the material world, one should remember that it is not ultimate reality and therefore one has given it up. By such constant remembrance up till the time of death, one will not again fall into illusion. [13.35]

Just as a drunken man does not notice if he is wearing his coat or shirt, similarly, one who is perfect in self-realization and who has thus achieved his eternal identity does not notice whether the temporary body is sitting or standing. Indeed, if by God's will the body is finished or if by God's will he obtains a new body, a self-realized soul does not notice, just as a drunken man does not notice the situation of his outward dress. [13.36]

The material body certainly moves under the control of supreme destiny and therefore must continue to live along with the senses and vital air as long as one's karma is in effect. A self-realized soul, however, who is awakened to the absolute reality and who is thus highly situated in the perfect stage of yoga, will never again surrender to the material body and its manifold manifestations, knowing it to be just like a body visualized in a dream. [13.37]

Dear Brahmins, I have now explained to you the confidential knowledge of Sankhya, by which one philosophically distinguishes matter from spirit, and of astanga-yoga, by which one links up with the Supreme. Please understand that I am the Lord, Visnu, and that I have appeared before you desiring to explain your actual religious duties. [13.38]

Best of the Brahmins, please know that I am the supreme shelter of the yoga system, analytic philosophy, virtuous action, truthful religious principles, power, beauty, fame and self-control. [13.39]

All superior transcendental qualities, such as being beyond the modes of nature, detached, the well -wisher, the most dear, the Supersoul, equally situated everywhere, and free from material entanglement — all such qualities, free from the transformations of material qualities, find their shelter and worshipable object in me. [13.40]

Dear Uddhava, thus all of the doubts of the sages headed by Sanaka were destroyed by my words. Fully worshiping me with transcendental love and devotion, they chanted my glories with excellent hymns. [13.41]

The greatest of sages, headed by Sanaka Rishi, thus perfectly worshiped and glorified me, and as Brahma looked on, I returned to my own abode. [13.42]

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14. Krishna Explains the Yoga System to Uddhava

Uddhava said: Dear Krishna, the learned sages who explain Vedic literature recommend various processes for perfecting one's life. Considering these varieties of viewpoint, my Lord, please tell me whether all these processes are equally important, or whether one of them is supreme. [14.1]

Dear Lord, you have clearly explained the process of unalloyed devotional service, by which a devotee removes all material association from his life, enabling him to fix his mind on you. [14.2]

The Lord said: By the influence of time, the transcendental sound of Vedic knowledge was lost at the time of annihilation. Therefore, when the subsequent creation took place, I spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahma because I Myself am the religious principles enunciated in the Vedas. [14.3]

Brahma spoke this Vedic knowledge to his eldest son, Manu, and the seven great sages headed by Bhrigu Muni then accepted the same knowledge from Manu. [14.4]

From the forefathers headed by Bhrigu Muni and other sons of Brahma appeared many children and descendants, who assumed different forms as gods, demons, human beings, Guhyakas, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas, Caranas, Kindevas, Kinnaras, Nagas, Kimpurusas, and so on. All of the many universal species, along with their respective leaders, appeared with different natures and desires generated from the three modes of material nature. Therefore, because of the different characteristics of the living entities within the universe, there are a great many Vedic rituals, mantras and rewards. [14.5-7]

Thus, due to the great variety of desires and natures among human beings, there are many different theistic philosophies of life, which are handed down through tradition, custom and disciplic succession. There are other teachers who directly support atheistic viewpoints. [14.8]

Best among men, the intelligence of human beings is bewildered by my illusory potency, and thus, according to their own activities and whims, they speak in innumerable ways about what is actually good for people. [14.9]

Some say that people will be happy by performing pious religious activities. Others say that happiness is attained through fame, sense gratification, truthfulness, self-control, peace, self- interest, political influence, opulence, renunciation, consumption, sacrifice, penance, charity, vows, regulated duties or strict disciplinary regulation. Each process has its proponents. [14.10]

All the persons I have just mentioned obtain temporary fruits from their material work. Indeed, the meagre and miserable situations they achieve bring future unhappiness and are based on ignorance. Even while enjoying the fruits of their work, such persons are filled with lamentation. [14.11]

Learned Uddhava, those who fix their consciousness on me, giving up all material desires, share with me a happiness that cannot possibly be experienced by those engaged in sense gratification. [14.12]

One who does not desire anything within this world, who has achieved peace by controlling his senses, whose consciousness is equal in all conditions and whose mind is completely satisfied in me finds only happiness wherever he goes. [14.13]

One who has fixed his consciousness on me desires neither the position or abode of Brahma or Indra, nor an empire on the earth, nor sovereignty in the lower planetary systems, nor the eightfold perfection of yoga, nor liberation from birth and death. Such a person desires me alone. [14.14]

Dear Uddhava, neither Brahma, Shiva, Shankarsana, the goddess of fortune nor indeed my own self are as dear to me as you are. [14.15]

With the dust of my devotees' lotus feet I desire to purify the material worlds, which are situated within me. Thus, I always follow the footsteps of my pure devotees, who are free from all personal desire, rapt in thought of my pastimes, peaceful, without any feelings of enmity, and of equal disposition everywhere. [14.16]

Those who are without any desire for personal gratification, whose minds are always attached to me, who are peaceful, without false ego and merciful to all living entities, and whose consciousness is never affected by opportunities for sense gratification — such persons enjoy in me a happiness that cannot be known or achieved by those lacking such detachment from the material world. [14.17]

Dear Uddhava, if my devotee has not fully conquered his senses, he may be harassed by material desires, but because of his unflinching devotion for me, he will not be defeated by sense gratification. [14.18]

Dear Uddhava, just as a blazing fire turns firewood into ashes, similarly, devotion unto me completely burns to ashes sins committed by my devotees. [14.19]

Dear Uddhava, the unalloyed devotional service rendered to me by my devotees brings me under their control. I cannot be thus controlled by those engaged in mystic yoga, Sankhya philosophy, pious work, Vedic study, austerity or renunciation. [14.20]

Only by practicing unalloyed devotional service with full faith in me can one obtain me, the Lord. I am naturally dear to my devotees, who take me as the only goal of their loving service. By engaging in such pure devotional service, even the dog-eaters can purify themselves from the contamination of their low birth. [14.21]

Neither religious activities endowed with honesty and mercy nor knowledge obtained with great penance can completely purify one's consciousness if they are bereft of loving service to me. [14.22]

If one's hairs do not stand on end, how can the heart melt? And if the heart does not melt, how can tears of love flow from the eyes? If one does not cry in spiritual happiness, how can one render loving service to the Lord? And without such service, how can the consciousness be purified? [14.23]

A devotee whose speech is sometimes choked up, whose heart melts, who cries continually and sometimes laughs, who feels ashamed and cries out loudly and then dances — a devotee thus fixed in loving service to me purifies the entire universe. [14.24]

Just as gold, when smelted in fire, gives up its impurities and returns to its pure brilliant state, similarly, the spirit soul, absorbed in the fire of bhakti-yoga, is purified of all contamination caused by previous fruitive activities and returns to its original position of serving me in the spiritual world. [14.25]

When a diseased eye is treated with medicinal ointment it gradually recovers its power to see. Similarly, as a conscious living entity cleanses himself of material contamination by hearing and chanting the pious narrations of my glories, he regains his ability to see me, the Absolute Truth, in my subtle spiritual form. [14.26]

The mind of one meditating on the objects of sense gratification is certainly entangled in such objects, but if one constantly remembers me, then the mind is absorbed in me. [14.27]

Therefore, one should reject all material processes of elevation, which are like the mental creations of a dream, and should completely absorb one's mind in me. By constantly thinking of me, one becomes purified. [14.28]

Being conscious of the eternal self, one should give up association with women and those intimately associated with women. Sitting fearlessly in a solitary place, one should concentrate the mind on me with great attention. [14.29]

Of all kinds of suffering and bondage arising from various attachments, none is greater than the suffering and bondage arising from attachment to women and intimate contact with those attached to women. [14.30]

Uddhava said: Dear lotus-eyed Krishna, by what process should one who desires liberation meditate on you, of what specific nature should his meditation be, and on which form should he meditate? Kindly explain to me this topic of meditation. [14.31]

The Lord said: Sitting on a level seat that is not too high or too low, keeping the body straight and erect yet comfortable, placing the two hands on one's lap and focusing the eyes on the tip of one's nose, one should purify the pathways of breathing by practicing the mechanical exercises of puraka, kumbhaka and recaka, and then one should reverse the procedure (recaka, kumbhaka, puraka). Having fully controlled the senses, one may thus practice pranayama step by step. [14.32-33]

Beginning from the muladhara-chakra, one should move the life air continuously upward like the fibers in the lotus stalk until one reaches the heart, where the sacred syllable om is situated like the sound of a bell. One should thus continue raising the sacred syllable upward the distance of twelve angulas, and there the omkara should be joined together with the fifteen vibrations produced with anusvara. [14.34]

Being fixed in the omkara, one should carefully practice the pranayama system ten times at each sunrise, noon and sunset. Thus, after one month one will have conquered the life air. [14.35]

Keeping the eyes half closed and fixed on the tip of one's nose, being enlivened and alert, one should meditate on the lotus flower situated within the heart. This lotus has eight petals and is situated on an erect lotus stalk. One should meditate on the sun, moon and fire, placing them one after the other within the whorl of that lotus flower. Placing my transcendental form within the fire, one should meditate on it as the auspicious goal of all meditation. That form is perfectly proportioned, gentle and cheerful. It possesses four beautiful long arms, a charming, beautiful neck, a handsome forehead, a pure smile and glowing, shark-shaped earrings suspended from two identical ears. That spiritual form is the color of a dark rain cloud and is garbed in golden-yellowish silk. The chest of that form is the abode of Srivatsa and the goddess of fortune, and that form is also decorated with a conchshell, disc, club, lotus flower and garland of forest flowers. The two brilliant lotus feet are decorated with ankle bells and bracelets, and that form exhibits the Kaustubha gem along with an effulgent crown. The upper hips are beautified by a golden belt, and the arms are decorated with valuable bracelets. All of the limbs of that beautiful form capture the heart, and the face is beautified by merciful glancing. Pulling the senses back from the sense objects, one should be grave and self-controlled and should use the intelligence to strongly fix the mind on all of the limbs of my transcendental body. Thus one should meditate on that most delicate transcendental form of Mine. [14.36-42]

One should then pull the consciousness back from all the limbs of that transcendental body. At that time, one should meditate only on the wonderfully smiling face of the Lord. [14.43]

Being established in meditation on the Lord's face, one should then withdraw the consciousness and fix it in the sky. Then giving up such meditation, one should become established in me and give up the process of meditation altogether. [14.44]

One who has completely fixed his mind on me should see me within his own soul and should see the individual soul within me, the Lord. Thus, he sees the individual souls united with the Supreme Soul, just as one sees the sun's rays completely united with the sun. [14.45]

When the yogi thus controls his mind by intensely concentrated meditation, his illusory identification with material objects, knowledge and activities is very quickly extinguished. [14.46]

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