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The Ishvara Gita


While Lomaharshana was reciting the Kurma Purana to the assembled sages, Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa arrived on the scene. Lomaharshana and the other sages requested Vedavyasa to instruct them about the true path to knowledge. Vedavyasa responded honestly to the Rishis and told them Isvara Gita, a conversation between Siva and Uma. The poem is one of the principle text on Advaita Vedantha philosophy.

The paramatman (the divine soul) is the only truth. It is ever pure and ever present. It is from the paramatman that the universe is created and it is into the paramatman that the universe merges at the time of pralaya, the total annihilation. The paramatman is not earth, water, energy, wind or sky; it cannot be touched, nor can it be sensed. As smoke, and dust pervade in the Space, but Space is unaffected by these, the paramatman within is unaffected by indriyas (sense organs) and antakharana (mind, ego, intellect, and mindstuff).

The paramatman is always present in the jivatman (human soul). Any sense of distinction between the paramatman and the jivatman is due to illusions and the presence of the ego. The truly learned only rise above such illusions. Therefore, a wise person does not see any distinction between his own self and other objects. The same paramatman pervades everything. Just as all rivers unite with the ocean, a learned person realizes that all individual jivatmans unite with the paramatman. Upon attainment of Atma Jnana, the individuals consider this universe as Brahman. They do not see anything other than Brahman.

Yoga (literally, union) is a technique of meditation that helps to bring about this sense of identity between the jivatman and the paramatman. Yoga has eight components. The pranayama is one such. This means the control of one’s breath. The breath of life is known as ‘prana’ and ‘ayama’ means control. There are three parts to any pranayama exercise. When the breath is being exhaled, that is known as ‘rechaka’; and the process of inhalation is known as ‘puraka’. When the breath is neither being inhaled nor exhaled, that is ‘kumbhaka’.

Another component of yoga is pratyahara. This connotes the control of one’s senses. Yoga must always be performed in a proper posture and this form another component known as asana. The component of Yoga called yama means the practice of non-violence, truthfulness and pity. The niyama follow yama; this encompasses worship, studying the Vedas, cleanliness and meditation.

Dhyana is another important component of Yoga. In this process, one conjures up an image of the paramatman and meditates continuously on it. The process of fixing this image in one’s heart is the component, dharana. And the final component, samadhi, is a situation where the individual realizes the complete identity between the jivatman and the paramatman.

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