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Jnana Yoga Begins with Chapter 13

Chapter 13
In chapter thirteen Lord Krishna reveals the distinct difference between the physical body and the immortal soul. He explains that the physical is transitory and perishable whereas the soul is immutable and eternal. The Lord also gives precise knowledge about the individual soul and the ultimate soul. Thus this chapter is entitled: The Individual and Ultimate Consciousness.





Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya

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Dear All: As discussed in several earlier emails, the last eight slokas (slokas 13 to 20) of chapter 12, which is formally known as the Bhakti yoga chapter, describe the qualities of a Bhakta that endear us to Krishna. Slokas 14, 15, 16, 17, all end with Sa may priyah - He is dear to Me - while the last one ends with bhaktas teteeva may priyaahaa - such bhaktas are extremely dear to Me. Krishna ends by adding "ateeva", which means "very", to priyahaa (dear). Here Krishna also refers to these slokas as Dharmyaamrutham - which is amrutham in the form of dharma, in other words, the path to immortality. The devas wanted immortality and churned the Milk Ocean to procure the amrutham. It is through this story (narrated in detail in the Srimad Bhagavatam) that we first learn about "amrutham" - at least I did, as a young boy! If we drink amrutham, we will become immortal. So simple! The devas could not engage in the task of churning the Milk Ocean all alone. They had to get the help of the asuras (the demons) to secure the amrutham. The devas (also called Adityas) were the children of Aditi and the asuras, or demons, also called Daityas, were the children of Diti. Both Diti and Aditi were wives of the sage Kashyapa, and so both devas and asuras are half-brothers, since they have the same father. The task of churning the Milk Ocean was not easy. Anyway, here in chapter 12 of the Gita, Krishna tells us how to become immortal through the dharma that He is teaching us through the instructions to Arjuna. He also wants us to follow this dharma without any deviations, without any digressions - must be followed as is - no modifications, no convenient interpretations. That is the implication of YathOktam = yatha+uktam. "Yatha" means "as" and "uktam" means said. It is the grammatical variation of the past tense "uvaca" which also means "said". Yesterday, at the temple, while we were chanting, someone asked me what is the meaning of "Sooktam" or "Suktam", as in Purusha sooktam, etc. - the Vedic verses that we chant. I immediately said, "Sooktam = Su+uktam" where "su"
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means "good", and "uktam" means said. Sooktam means this is "well said", in other words, the highest of teachings. The words "Sanskrit" is also derived in the same way. It means "well done", where "krutam" means done and instead of "su" we have "sam" or "sum" added. The main point is that the teachings of chapter 12, especially the last eight verses, are, truly transformational. Krishna's statement of "dharmyaamrutam idam" is enough testimony. We do NOT need the testimony from any other acaryas or gurus - KrishNam vande jagat-gurum - but all acaryas also say the same, no doubt. Many commentators refer to the last eight verse of chapter 12 as the "Amruthaashtakam". If we just imbibe the teachings of the last eight verses of chapter 12, our lives will be transformed forever. So, if you felt that you could not ever be in the position of the devas (the gods) who were able to churn the Milk Ocean and enjoy the amrutham - here's the opportunity to relish amrutham through the Gita - these final Bhakti yoga verses. The "dharmam" as spoken here by Krishna is the "amrutham" available to all of us in this human body. But, we must follow it exactly! Yatha uktam. We cannot deviate from the teachings. Chapter 13 begins what is formally called the Jnana yoga section of the Gita. I have pasted, below the signature line, Ramanujacarya's commentary on the first two verses of chapter 13 which mentions this division of the Gita into three sections. According to Advaita scholars, the three sections of the Gita are expositions on the Advaitic teaching "Tat tvam asi" (see commentary by Swami Krishnananda, links given in earlier emails, also see the extract below from

[ There is a belief among commentators of the Gita that the great Upanishadic statement tat tvam asi has something to do with this threefold classification of the chapters of the Gita. The individual is tvam thou. This thou, or individual, is
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taken up for an intensified form of study in the first six chapters. Tat means That the Supreme. The nature of That is taken up for study in the next six chapters. Asi means art; That thou art. The unification of the thou and the That, the methodology of attaining the unity between the individual and the Universal, in all its detail, is supposed to be delineated in the coming chapters, from the Thirteenth onwards. Sri Krishna Himself starts speaking, without any question from Arjuna. Idam sariram kaunteya kshetram ity abhidiyate (13.1): ] The first section of the Gita (chapters 1 through 6) are about the "tvam", which means "You". In these chapters Krishna answers the question "Who are you?", or teaches us about "tvam", who we are. The middle six chapters (7 through 12) are about "tat", which means "that", or "Who is He?" or "Who is God?". In these chapters, ending with chapter 12, Krishna tells Arjuna about Himself (that is the very first verse of chapter 7). He reveals all of His vibhutees - powers and manifestations - in chapter 10. He reveals His vishwaroopam in chapter 11 and finally showers us with dharmyaamrutham in chapter 12. Now, Krishna wants to take us to the next level - with Jnana Yoga, or understand "asi", the one-ness of Tat and Tvam, that we are His manifestations and very very dear to Him. Chapter 13 starts with a question posed by Arjuna, see the link given below. Some texts do NOT include the question posed by Arjuna and go straight to Bhagavan uvaca. Arjuna uvaca: Prakritim purusham caiva kshetram kshetrajnam eva ca l Etadveditum icchaami jnaanam jneyam ca Keshava ll 13.1 ll Because of this above verse, the verse count will differ by "one" when we refer to chapter 13. One must keep this in mind too as we study chapter 13. The question posed by Arjuna is simple. He wants to know about six different things, or three pairs of things. The first is Prakriti and Purusha. The second is kshetra and kshetrajna. The third is jnanam and jneyam. So, we thus begin jnana yoga. What is jnanam, asks Arjuna?
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He also asks what is jneyam, which means what is worth knowing, or what one should know. Knowing something does not mean automatically mean it is worth knowing. We know a lot of things - such as all the junk that we now read on the Internet as well, and all that we are bombarded with 24/7 via TV. May be this is a good start to understand what is really "jnanam". All Hindus have heard about "jnanam" and "jnanees". We all want to be one of these "jnanees" and be blessed with "jnanam". What does that mean? We are implicitly taking "jnanam" to be something "outside" of us, something that we have "to acquire", "to gain", something we do not possess, something we do not have. Well, you will be surprised at what Krishna has to say. As in other chapters of the Gita, Krishna "defines" what "jnanam" is very clearly in verses 8 to 12 of chapter 13, which end with "etat jnanam iti proktam", which means "This has been stated before as being jnanam". Recall that in chapter 7, when Krishna mentions the four types of devotees who worship Him (chapter 7, verse 16), He mentions the "jnaanee" as one of the four. Then, in verse 18, He adds that all four are equally great as far as He is concerned. Nonetheless, Krishna does add, in verses 19 and 20, that the "jnanee" is special. How special? He says, "Jnaanee tu atmaiva may matam". This means, "The jnanee, on the other hand (tu), is none other than Me, He is My very self". In other words, when one is a jnanee, Krishna considers that person to be none other than He Himself. "The jnanee" is "Me", He tells Arjuna. So, now the question is "What is jnanam?" or "Who is this jnanee?" This jnanee is so special that Krishna says "He is Me" jnaanee tu atmaiva may matam". Can we all become jnanees? Yes, Krishna tells us what we have to do. But, then we are no longer "jnanees". Each one of us have become nothing more than Krishna Himself.
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What a great opportunity is presenting itself! Chapter 12 ends with "He is very dear to Me". And chapter 13 tells us how "He is Me". Finally, I also want to mention the teaching of Krishna to Uddava, in Srimad Bhagavatam, in Canto 11, chapters 7 to 29. This is called Uddava Gita. As the sage Shukaacarya concludes this portion of the Srimad Bhagavatam, we find the following two verses, one that is the final statement of Uddava to Krishna and then the Shukaacarya's final statement to King Parikshit, who is receiving the Srimad Bhagavatam. Namostu te Mahaayogin prapannam anushaadi maam l Yathaa tvat-caraNaamboje ratih syaat anapaayinee ll 11.29.40 ll SB Here Uddava concludes with the words "prapannam" and "anushaadi", the same words used by Arjuna in chapter 2 as he surrenders to Krishna and begs for instructions. Uddava wants to be blessed with constant, unending, undiminishing, "rati", which means love, deep affection ("rati is the wife of cupid, madana, or God of love) to the lotus feet of Krishna. And, Shukaacarya says, Bhavabhaya apahantum jnana-vijnaana saaram Nigama-krudupajarhe bhrungvad-vedasaaram l Amrutham-udadhitash-caapaayayad bhrutyavargaan Purusham-rushabhamaadyam KrishNasamjnam natosimi ll 11.29.41 ll SB Note that this verse includes 'jnaan", "amrutha" and "Purusha", all subjects of enquiry starting with chapter 13 of the Gita. Shukaacarya tells Pariskhit, as he concludes the Uddava Gita that these teachings that Parikshit has just heard is the means to get over the afflictions and the "fears" that we face in this life (bhava bhaya). These teachings are the very essence of 'jnanam' and 'vijnaanam'. Like the honey bee collects honey from different flowers (bhrungavat), Krishna has collected for us the "honey" from all the Vedas through these teachings. He is
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literally feeding us (paayayat) with this "amrutham", just like He fed the "devas" with the "amrutham" obtained from the churning of the Milk Ocean. Shukaacarya says, "I bow to that Great Shree Krishna, the Supreme, the Purushottama, the Purusha-rushabha, the Lion Among the Men". Very sincerely

V. Laxmanan November 19, 2012. P. S. You can start your study of the Gita with chapter 13 as well. And then, once enraptured by chapter 13, you can go back and study chapters 1 to 6 and then chapters 7 to 12.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya: Ramanuja's Commentary The first division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Karma Yoga section comprises the first six chapters describing two paths: the path of spiritual actions and Ramanuja the path of spiritual knowledge by which an aspirant may achieve atma tattva or realisation of the eternal soul. It has also been explained that the achievement of atma tattva is essential for attaining moksa or liberation from material existence. The middle division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Bhakti Yoga section comprises the second six chapters which reveals that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion which is preceded by factual spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna as revealed in the Vedic scriptures is the paramount attainment. Such spiritual knowledge about Lord Krishna is prerequisite and essential to bhakti and subsequent attainment of communion with the Supreme Lord and eternal association which is the ultimate goal and most exalted destination. It is also elucidated herein that bhakti constitutes the means by which those aspirants ambitious of acquiring opulence and those aspirants ambitious for atma-tattva or soul realisation can both have their respective desires fulfilled as well. Now in the final division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Jnana Yoga section comprising
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the last six chapters, the topics propounded in the first 12 chapters will be further illuminated by Lord Krishna. Two categories will be examined: prakriti or the spiritual substratum pervading physical existence and Purusa or the Supreme eternal consciousness. Their combined union constitutes the complete cosmic creation. The nature of Isvara or the Supreme Lord, the means of salvation, the paths of karma or spiritual activities for the Supreme Lord, jnana or spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord and bhakti or loving devotion to the Supreme Lord will be further delineated along with instructions on how to practice and perform each path. Beginning this Jnana Yoga section, this chapter explains the nature of matter and the soul, the way to realise the soul as distinctly different from matter, the reason why the atma is associated with matter and the way the atma may be meditated upon. Lord Krishna explains that while in a physical body the jiva or embodied being believes they are that body, thinking I am a man, I am a demigod, I am a female, I am famous, I am powerful, etc. all of which are distinctly different form the atma or eternal soul. The physical body is that which the spiritually intelligent assert as the ksetra or field of enjoyment. One who has the realisation of the jiva being part of an aggregate whole composed of divisible parts being the physical body, the subtle body and the atma. One who has the understanding that I know this body and instead of the mentality that I am this body. One who is cognisant of these things and realises what the atma actually is factually asserted as being ksetrajna or the knower of the field. It can be said that when cognition of objects external to the physical body arises the conception of I am my human body who sees for example this house before me, implying that the one who sees thinks the atma is inseparable from the physical body and not that the atma is totally independent of the physical and subtle bodies. Subsequently when one has achieved atma tattva or realisation of the soul and experienced its spiritual existence then one will be cognisant of their physical body merely as a house within which the atma inhabits. To perceive a house as external from the physical body is the same as perceiving the atma as external from the physical body for one who is realised. One who is cognisant of this reality sees the atma as a distinct entity separate from the physical and subtle bodies. To assert the indisputably modifiable and perishable physical body and its qualitative characteristics to the immortal atma in accordance with the law of coexistence of subject and attribute is as unreasonable as asserting that the milk of cattle is an inseparable attribute of every type of cow, bull or heifer falling under that generic term. Due to the fact that the phenomenally unique and sublime nature of the atma precludes any perceptibility by the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell to experience it and is only perceptible by the consciousness of a clarified mind purified by introspection amd meditation derived from the process of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness perfecting communion with the ultimate consciousness. The spiritually deficient are beguiled and bewildered by the mere propensity of matter and deluded misconstrue the perishable physical
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body and the eternal, immortal atma. This will be further clarified in chapter 15, verses 10 and 11 where Lord Krishna explains that those bereft of wisdom with impure thoughts cannot perceive the atma.

Pancha kosha: Five layers of human existence (and God)


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Soul is wrapped inside five (or seven more precisely) layers (Pancha kosha) of Ari-shad-varga Types of Bodies: Gross, Astral and Causal body Annamaya Kosh (Food Sheath) - Outermost of the Pancha koshas Pranmaya Kosh (Vital Air Sheath) Manomaya Kosh (mind as distinctly different from intelligence - Sheath) Vigyanmaya Kosh (Intellect Sheath) Aanandmaya Kosh (Bliss Sheath - or ceaseless joy not connected with body or mind) Chitta Kosh (spiritual wisdom) Sat Kosh (the final state of merging with the Infinite) An Overview of the Five Koshas Summary of Pancha koshas

Arishadvarga: are the six passions of mind (vicars): Kama (Lust or desire), Krodh (Rage, anger or hatred), Lobh (Greed), Moh (delusory emotional attachment), Mada or Ahankar (Ego or pride) and Matsarya (envy, jealousy)].

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Thanksgiving: Anything in the Gita?

Dear All: Today is Black Friday - the annual mad shopping rush following the Thanksgiving festivities. Thanksgiving means a lot of cooking and a lot of eating, and in the American culture and popular folklore it also means meeting in-laws and relatives you do NOT want to meet and getting into all kinds of arguments. This year there were also articles posted that provided a guide on how to explain the Presidential election results to your in-laws and relatives (and getting into a fight)! Religion and politics are two topics best avoided they say. Anyway, as usual, my thoughts went to the Gita - and this, as you know, has NOTHING at all to do with religion. It is pure philosophy and the gift of knowledge for all mankind. In chapter 3, which is formally known as the Karma yoga chapter, we find an interesting verse that has to do with "food", the focus of the Thanksgiving festivities - and indeed all of our festivals, starting with Navarathri (actually Ganesha Chaturthi) and Diwali. The eating binge and the abdominal (area) bulge start with all these festivities and too much eating. Krishna addresses this topic. In chapter 3, verse 14, He tells Arjuna, Annaad-bhavanti bhootaani parjunyaat anna sambhavahaa l Yajnyaat bhavati parjanyO yajnyah karma samudbhavahaa ll 3.14 ll BG anna (pronounce unna) Here "annam" (pronounce unnam) means food and annaat (with sandhi annaad) means "from food". Krishna starts out by saying that "All beings (bhootani) owe their existence and sustenance to food." annaad-bhavanti bhootani. Then He says, "Food is possible due to rains." parjunyaat anna sambhavahaa.

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The logic is very simple to understand. We need rains to grow crops and without crops there is no possibility of food that we need to sustain this body. In fact, according to the Yoga sutras, the "food sheath" is the outermost sheath - annamaya kosha - that envelopes the atma. We are all in contact only with this outermost sheath, or kosha (see diagrams of the sheaths, or koshas, in the article that I recently posted on the internet, click here or use the link Krishna then tells us how rains are produced. He says, "Rain is possible due to performance of yajnas." yagnyaat bhavati pajanyO. This is a very simple and direct statement. Yajnam refers to various sacrifices offered to propitiate the "gods". In all these sacrifices we chant various mantras and invoke various deities. In the previous verses of chapter 3, Krishna states that the performance of such yajnas were taught by Brahma (who received all the divine instructions from Bhagavan, as Krishna, this is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam) to the progenitors of mankind - the prajapati. The first prajapati was Swambhu Manu. He and his wife Shataroopa are the Adam and Eve according to (Hindu, ah! there it is, religion, actually NOT) teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam also a gift of knowledge to all mankind. After Brahma created this first couple (they came out of his body as Brahma was lying down, breathing and meditating), he told them to create progeny and populate the Universe, for that was Bhagavan's wish. The couple agreed and dutifully asked Brahma where they should make their home. There was no where they could stay and live and enter into this family life. All around there was nothing but water, water, water - the waters of the pralaya that fill the Universe at the end of each day (kalpa) of Brahma. Brahma realized the problem. He had created the first couple but there was no place to stay. The earth was immersed in the waters of the pralaya. So, as we see often in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Brahma dutifully started meditating again and asked for Bhagavan's help. Then Bhagavan appeared as Lord Varaha and lifted the earth out of the waters of the pralaya.

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The Tirupati-Tirumala kshetra, where we have the most renowned temple for Lord Venkateswara is actually the original abode of Varahaswamy. The Lord as Venkateswara has taken residence to take care of His devotees in this Kaliyuga, with the permission of Varahaswamy (You find this info in the Tirupati-Tirumala Devasthanam website, , see later ). There is a small temple to Varahaswamy on the north side of the temple pond (pushkariNi) that we are actually supposed to first visit before we seek the darshan of Lord Venkateswara. But with the long lines to see the Lord, this cannot be fulfilled unless one first visits Lord Varahaswamy and then joins the long lines. Few devotees do this, or are even aware of this important requirement of their trip to Tirupati-Tirumala. Anyway, the Lord appeared as Varaha and lifted the earth out of the waters of pralaya. Now, Swambhu and Shataroopa, had a place to stay. Then Brahma taught them how to perform yajnas. With these yajnas, Brahma said, "You will prosper and get all your material needs." This is stated briefly by Krishna in chapter 3, verse 10 which ends with "Anena prasavishyadvam esha vostu-ishTakamadhuk". The verb used here - prasavishyadam - is interesting. It is derived from "prasavam" which, as used in most Indian languages, refers to child birth. With the birth of children, we prosper and multiply. It is one of the most joyous events of life. Like that, Brahma says to the first couple you will multiply and prosper. I bless you to multiply and prosper with this would be a better translation - since a wish is being stated! Why just a "wish"? Since, it is likely that we do not follow the advice. Brahma knew about that. Repeatedly, his wishes had been thwarted before, starting with the four Sanat kumaras, who were created first (long before the first couple) and asked to create progeny. The Sanat kumaras refused. Then, according to Srimad Bhagavatam, Brahma, in his angry mood, created Rudra but things went awry and the various "beings" (progeny) created by Rudra were all fearsome. So Brahma himself asked Rudra to stop and he gladly did and turned to meditation and changed from Rudra to the auspicious Lord Shiva. Then Brahma tried a few other things (including the famous debacle of creating Saraswati, the first and most
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enchanting female) before hitting upon the plan to creating a male and a female to populate the universe. Thus, started the need for a place to stay, the need for food, the need for rains, and so the "formula" for the orderly functioning of the Universe is this cycle of yajna-rain-food. Krishna uses the word "cycle", or chakram, in verse 16 to describe this plan for the functioning of the Universe. And so it is that we perform various yajnas - like Ganapati homam (done on the first Saturday of each month at the Novi, Michigan, Venkateswara temple), Sudarshana homam (performed regularly in many homes by Sri Balaji temple, which will soon be relocating to a new facility in West Bloomfield, Michigan) and other yajnas to propitiate the "gods". Krishna states in verse 10, cited above, that these yajnas will be like "kamadhenu's milk", in other words milk (dhuk, or dhugdham) that will fulfill all your desires (ishTa kaama). In chapter 3, verse 11, Krishna describes His plan even more clearly. He says that you (i.e., Arjuna, which means we humans) should perform these yajnas and please the "gods". Notice that I have used lower case with "god" not the upper case God. The upper case refers to the Supreme Being. The lower case 'god' refers to literally 33 crores of deities (or gods), celestial beings with superior powers than we humans possess. They have been given the authority to take care of all our needs and bless us once they are propitiated and invoked by using various mantras and making offerings in the "fire". In verse 12, Krishna says that this "mutual admiration" society of humans and gods is His plan for this Universe. They please you, if you please them. Sort of like, I scratch your back and you scratch mine. If the back is itching, it is good to have someone to scratch it for us. Of course, there are ways to scratch one's back without a second party but this implies we are physically endowed to be able to use other "back scratching tools". Don't make too many assumptions. One day you will get old and may not even be able to scratch your back and even the wife (ok, or husband!) may not be around and you might have to depend on your grandchildren who are too busy with their video games and what not. Anyway, now you get the idea ... that is what "prasavishyadvam" means ... grow, multiply, prosper, enjoy. And that is what Thanksgiving is all about.
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When the early immigrants to the USA found this new land and decided to live here, they needed crops and were thankful to the local Indians for helping them and surviving a very difficult winter, the story goes. The following year they had a bountiful crop. And they decided to says "thanks" to the Lord. The first Thanksgiving, history says, was proclaimed by Governor Bradford of the colony of Massachusetts, where I spent my first years in this country (and am proud to say even befriended a direct descendant of Governor Bradford). The idea of giving "Thanks" is actually rooted in Vedic culture as well. Each yajna is an act of Thanksgiving. YajnO Yajnapatir Yajvaa YajnaagO Yajnavaahanahaa l Yajnabhrud-yajnakrud-yagnyee Yajnabhug-yajna-saadhanahaa l Yajnaatakrud-yajna gushyam annam annaada eva ca ll These are verses 104 and 105, very nearly the concluding verses of the Vishnu Sahasranamam. We do not have time to discuss this in detail now, but the process of "Yajna" is being described here (see commentaries at click here and here). Although according to the mantras we chant, we invoke various deities, He, the one Supreme Being (God, as described by Bheeshma to YuddishTiraa) is the ultimate recipient of all our offerings. Notice how all this ends with "annam annaada" the food that we need to sustain this body and its (true) Enjoyer . But, we also owe it to ourselves to go beyond this "annamaya kosha" and discover the other koshas or sheaths - pranamaya kosha (energy), manomaya kosha (mind), vijnana maya kosha (intellect), and anandamaya kosha (Bliss). The process of "Thanksgiving" is the first step. This wonderful American tradition, which also has it roots in the Gita, is one of the most eloquent way to recognize what Krishna is teaching us. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan November 23, 2012.
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Sri Varahaswami Temple

Sri Varahaswami Temple in Tirumala is to the north of the Sri Venkateswara Temple, on the banks of Swami Pushkarini. According to legend, Tirumala was originally Adi Varaha Kshetra (the home of Sri Adi Varaha Swami), and it was with his permission that Lord Sri Venkateswara took up residence here. According to the Brahma Purana, pilgrims should first offer naivedyam to Sri Adi Varaha Swami, before visiting the Sri Venkateswara Temple. According to Atri Samhita (Samurtarchanadhikara), the Varaha avatara is worshipped in three forms:

Adi Varaha Pralaya Varaha Yajna Varaha

The idol of Sri Varahaswami in Tirumala is that of Adi Varaha, as it resembles the description of the Adi Varaha murti in Vaikhanasa Agama texts.

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Who is the Kshetrajna?

Dear All: Yesterday, Sunday December 9, 2012, our Canton Gita group started the study of Jnana yoga and we covered the first 18 slokas of chapter 13. In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita , Swami Krishnanada (click here or go to states, The Thirteenth Chapter is very, very important. Just as the Third Chapter sums up the principles of karma yoga, the Sixth Chapter sums up the principles of raja yoga, and the Eleventh Chapter sums up the principles of bhakti yoga, the Thirteenth Chapter sums up the principles of jnana yoga. Hence, we must read at least these four chapters. To know what karma yoga is, we should read the Third Chapter; to know what bhakti yoga is, we should read the Eleventh Chapter; to know what raja yoga is, we should read the Sixth Chapter; and to know what jnana yoga is, we should read the Thirteenth Chapter. The topics of this chapter are Kshetram and Kshetrajna (discussed in verses 2 to 7, counting the question asked by Arjuna as verse 1, the question is NOT included as verse 1 in some texts, click here or go to, Jnaanam (verses 8 to 12) and Jneyam (verses 13 to 18) and finally Purusha and Prakriti (the remainder of the chapter). One who understands these topics the three pairs just mentioned - is never reborn (verse 24 and also verse 35). Krishna states that they who understand this are destined to get moksha. Chapter 13 and also chapter 15 are the most difficult chapters to understand in the whole Gita, chapter 13 even more so than the more widely read chapter 15. (I know many who can recite chapter 15 from memory, even very young people who were appropriately instructed by their elders.) Verse 3 of chapter 13 (kshetrajnam caapi maam viddhi sarva kshetreshu Bharata) has invited the longest commentary in the entire Bhagavad Gita by Ramanujaacarya who emphasizes the significance of ca api which means and also. Why and? Why also? (click here or go to
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In a nutshell, in verse 2, Krishna states this body that we all possess is known as the kshetram and is so called by those who are fully blessed with the knowledge of such topics. The kshetrajna then is the one who knows (addition of suffix jna) about the kshetram. One is immediately then led to think of ones own body and ones own self as the knower. But, Krishna immediately adds that He is the knower in all the bodies. Ramanuja says that this statement cannot be used to support the idea of nonduality, the oneness of the Jivaatma and the Paramaatma. The use of caapi, Ramanuja says, negates the Advaitic argument of nonduality that the individual soul is no different from the Supreme Soul. We say and only when we have to talk about two different things, such as kshetra and kshetrajna. If the two are the same, there is no need for and. Thus, the use of caapi in this verse has a profound significance that must be understood. Ramanuja then provides a long list of statements from the scriptures (Vedas and the Upanishads), including Krishnas own statements from the Gita, in support of his arguments AGAINST the nonduality interpretation. The Gita verses from chapter 4 (verse 6) and chapter 9 (verse 8) are also worth noting in this context. In chapter 4, verse 6, Krishna is describing how He incarnates and appears again and again in various yugas. The verb used to describe this is adhishThaaya, which literally means sitting on top, or mastering, establishing lordship, or dominant. Prakritim swaam adhishThaaya, He says. He has created Prakriti. It is His (swaam). Yet He lords over it and incarnates Himself. The physical body of that we see in various incarnations is NOT composed of the ingredients of material nature (prakriti). He does not need them to appear before us in a physical body. In chapter 9, verse 8, on the other hand, the verb used in avashTabhya which means following the rules and regulations of prakriti. Here KrishNa says, Prakritim swaam avashTabhya. Now Krishna is talking about us, and all other beings (bhootas, or bhootagraamam, the aggregate of all bhootaas). When all the beings are released (visrujaami) again and again (punah punah), at the beginning of the kalpa (this means the first kalpa, the very first day of Brahma, when even Brahma was created), the rules and regulations of prakriti are followed. There is an order to the Universe. There is no constant tinkering going on with the laws of material nature like we do for example with our laws (of the legal system), especially tax laws, and other (human-made) laws that govern social behavior.
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Going a step further, according to Madhvacarya, the word anadimat (used in verse 13, chapter 13) means without any origin and beginning and denotes that the Supreme Lord is without origin and beginning also. If only anadi was used a doubt might arise that there is an origin for Him and so how can He manifest something without beginning if He is not as well. So the word anadimat is used as a matter of clarification. Please do read Ramanujaacaryas commentary on verse 3 of chapter 13, in the link give above (or here it is once again, click here). We will continue this discussion in subsequent emails.

Very sincerely

V. Laxmanan December 10, 2012.

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