A Gita Quote on the True Self

As a wave,
Seething and foaming,
Is only water
So all creation,
Streaming out of the Self,
Is only the Self.
Consider a piece of cloth.
It is only threads!
So all creation,
When you look closely,
Is only the Self.
(Ashtavakra Gita 2:4-5)

(ht: www.hindudevotionalblog.com)

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David Charles joined Patheos in September 2008. Since then, he has helped shape the structure and content of the site and has led partnership development with a wide range of academic and religious organizations.

David was educated in Switzerland, England, and the United States. He holds advanced degrees in religious studies from Oxford and Harvard Universities. His academic training spans a number of disciplines and fields of study, including anthropology, literature, and history. He is the recipient of a teaching award from Harvard.

  • http://www.bvml.org avadoot maharaj

    Astavakra is a noted impersonalist yogi. He was bent in eight places due to his over-anxious mother when she was pregnant with him. anyway it is a common idea among those of those of this persuasion which is denigrated in the real Gita of Krishna in chapter 12. Their idea is that God (Brahman) is one which has manifested as the living entities in the same way that the great ocean is ultimately a huge conglomeration of drops of sea water. But it is not that all of us combined make up God.
    Nor does God become divested of His Self by becoming a multitude of tiny selves. God must remain unchanged. Just like the axiom of most impersonalists that Brahman cannot change. ‘Brahma satya’. So, how are the living beings manifested? The idea from the perspective of energy or ‘shakti’ gives us a clue. God has diverse energies, or shakti’s. From His jiva-shakti come the living beings. From His maya-shakti comes the material worlds. He always remains the same and is never transformed, as Shankaracharya proposed. Vivartavad is the idea of transformation presented by the Mayavada philosopher Shankar which is completely non-vedic , although he makes out like it is and no doubt most Hindus today think it really is, but it isn’t. The actual understanding of the material manifestation and that of the living beings is ‘shaki praman’ or transformation of energy. God must always remain as He is, undisturbed, non-transformable, eternally the same. So, therefore, the poetry sounds nice but the idea is lame. We are parts and parcels of the Supreme as stated in 15.7 of the Bhagavad Gita , but we are not the Supreme as Astavakra and others of the advaitavad or mayavad school propose. If we are God then how did we get into this horrible position of having to take birth as a pig, a dog, a mosquito and so on. Does God not like being what He is? Or is there an energy more powerful than Him? These questions come up as soon as one proposes that we are all God. So, we must understand that the living beings are eternally parts and parcels of the Supreme and as long as we accept the position of servant of the Absolute we are in our natural constitutional position. Otherwise, such impersonal concepts are the last snare of illusion which keep the jiva, the living being bound in material existence perpetually.


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