The Devi Gita: Chapter Six
The Goal of the Yogas: The Knowledge of Brahman
THE SUMMARY OF THE GOAL OF THE YOGIC DISCIPLINES
Cultivating the Yogas just described, one should meditate on me as the true form of Brahman with sincere devotion, assuming the proper posture, O King.
It (Brahman) is manifest, well fixed, pervading the hearts of beings, indeed; it is the great foundation. Thereupon all that moves, breathes, and blinks is established.
Know that as existent and nonexistence, as the most desirable, as supreme, as beyond the understanding of humankind. What is luminous, what is smaller than the small, in which the worlds and their inhabitants are rooted,
This is the imperishable Brahman; it is the life principle, speech, and mind. This is the real, the immortal; know, good sir, that this is what you are to pierce.
Taking the great weapon of the Upanishads as the bow, nocked with the arrow honed by meditation, drawing it with a mind absorbed in contemplating that Brahman, know, good sir, that imperishable reality is the target.
The syllable Om is the bow, while the Self is the arrow; Brahman is named as the target. One who concentrates will pierce it. One will merge into it, like the arrow.
In it are woven the sky, earth and atmosphere, as well as the mind along with all the breaths; know it alone as the one Self; let go of other notions, as this is the bridge to immortality.
Where the subtle channels of the body come together, like the spokes in the nave of a wheel, there this Self circulates within, manifesting in diverse modes.
Meditate on Om as the Self; may you fare well in crossing to the far shore beyond darkness. Within the space in the bright city of Brahman, the Self is established.
Infused by the mind, directing the breaths and body, it abides in material form, taking charge of the heart. By their understanding the wise recognize this blissful immortal, which shines brightly.
The knot of the heart is untied, all doubts are removed, and the binding effects of one’s deeds pass away where that self is seen, both higher and the lower.
In the highest golden sheath resides the unstained indivisible Brahman. It is radiant, the light of lights; that is what Self-knower knows.
The sun shines not here, nor the moon and stars, nor do these lightenings shine, much less this fire. All things shine only after it shines; by its light this entire world becomes visible.
Just this Brahman is immortal; in front is Brahman, behind is Brahman, on the right and the left; it extends above and below. The whole universe is just this Brahman, the greatest.
THE GODDESS SINGS THE PRAISES OF HE PERSON WHO ATTAINS THE KNOWLEDGE OF BRAHMAN
Whoever realizes Brahman as such is the highest of human, wholly fulfilled. Merged in Brahman and serene, that one neither grieves nor desires.
Fear surely arises from another, O King; in the absence of another, one does not fear.
I am not separate from anyone nor is anyone separate from me.
I, indeed, am that person and that person truly is I; regard this as certain, O Mountain. One sees me wherever one finds a person who knows me.
I do not abide in any sacred site, not even in Kailasa, nor in Vaikuntha; yet I dwell in the midst of the lotus-heart of one who knows me.
Worshiping just once, a person who knows me gives the same fruit as worshiping me millions of times. One’s family is purified, one’s mother is completely fulfilled.
And the whole earth is blessed when one’s heart dissolves into pure consciousness.
The knowledge of Brahman that you inquired about, Best of Mountains, I have described fully; there is nothing more to say.
WHO IS THE PROPER RECIPIENT OT THIS TEACHING
This teaching, to an eldest son filled with devotion and of good character, and to a disciple of proper disposition, is to be revealed, but not to anyone else at all. For one who is supremely devoted to God, and to the gurus as to God, for such a noble soul these matters just describe become clear.
THE PRAISES FOR THE TEACHER OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF BRAHMAN.
One who teaches this knowledge is indeed the supreme Lord.
Whose generosity the disciple can never repay. Greater even than the father, it is said, is the bestower of birth through spiritual knowledge,
For the birth engendered by the father perishes, but never what is engendered by the teacher. “Do no injury to the teacher,” so says a sacred precept, O Mountain.
Thus the religious law concludes that the guru bestowing spiritual knowledge is supreme. When Siva is provoked, the guru can save; when the guru is provoked, Siva cannot save.
Therefore, O Mountain, one should please the holy guru with all one’s effort. Dedicating all one does with body, mind, and speech to the guru, one should remain thus focused.
Otherwise, one becomes ungrateful, and there is no expiation for ingratitude.
THE STORY OF THE BEHEADING OF THE SAGE ATHARAVANA
Indra revealed this knowledge to Atharvana, threatening to decapitate him.
When Atharvana revealed it to the two Aswins, Indra cut off his head. Seeing his horse head destroyed, the two Aswins, excellent, divine physicians, restored the sage’s original head once again. Thus is the knowledge of Brahman difficult to attain, Mountain chief.
One who attains it is blessed and completely fulfilled, O Mountain.
As I Understand It:
The sixth chapter emphasizes the significance of yogas as the three paths to the ultimate reality. The Devi Gita proclaims that the knowledge of the Goddess is same as the knowledge of Brahman (brahmavidya), that the Devi is the true form of Brahman (brahma-svarupini).
The Goddess praises the devotee who has attained the knowledge of Brahman that leads to union with her. Such a devotee no longer has fear or desire. The Devi gives him the status even greater than her own, thus reflecting her humble nature. Her humility reveals her love for those who truly know her.
Indian tradition stresses the importance of a guru who initiates a disciple through Vedic knowledge, ritual and mantric practices. The guru’s position is more important than that of the natural father. While father engenders physical birth guru engenders spiritual life. A guru must have considerable degree of spiritual insight if not complete self-realization. A disciple should have discretion in his relationship with his guru and he should be a fit receptacle for receiving secret teachings. The efficacy of religious teachings depends on them being kept secret. The moral of the myth, in this chapter, of beheading of Atharvan is not to ever reveal the secret knowledge that a guru passes to his disciple.
The qualifications of a disciple ‘of proper disposition’ are a good family, devotion to his parents and guru, well-versed in Vedas, a pure heart, intent on four goals of life: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, duty, family, financial responsibility and self-realization respectively.
Brown, C. Mackenzie, The Devi Gita, The Song of the Goddess: A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary, Albany: State University of New York Press. 1998.
___________, The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of the Devi-Bhagavata Purana. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1990.