Gita sung by the Yogis, Sannyasins and Brahmacharis . The great teachers who have thrown away all books, having found everything worth knowing in their hearts, still keep this little Gita in their caves and huts.
The lower form of prayer consists of singing hymns and repeating mantrams4 in which the ultimate Reality, the secondless, all-transcending Brahman5 is conceived in terms of duality.
1 Schankaracharya was the greatest of the Indian philosophers. He lived probably in the seventh century A.D. He was perhaps the first exponent of Vedic idealism in philosophic form. He silenced all opposition to the Vedic theory of idealistic non-dualism by traveling through the length and breadth of India, and holding controversies with the learned. His commentaries on the Vedanta Sutras, the Upanishads and the Gita are an immortal monument to his genius. (Schankaracharya is said to have begun to read the Vedas at the age of three, become a sannyasin at the age of nine and realize the ultimate Reality at age sixteen, remaining, thereafter, ever abiding as the Self. He founded 10 monastic orders in a short life span of 686-718. He also wrote several books, including "Viveka Chudamani", Crest-Jewel of Discrimination.
2 Holy Renunciate
4 A mantram is a Vedic formula, the repetition of which, according to approved rules, induces spiritual consciousness, and also psychic powers.
5 Brahman comes from the root meaning majestic, and in philosophy is applied to the Absolute, transcending all thought and feeling and all attributes, it can be spoken of rather provincially as Sat, Chit and Ananda, i.e., Existence Absolute, Intelligence Absolute Bliss Absolute.)
The higher form of prayer consists of feelingly singing of Brahman in terms of non-duality, and in the first person, "Shivoham," I am Shiva1 (Bliss), "Aham Bramhasmi," I am Brahman, and so forth. Our inner life is covered by those attributes of God which we repeat or of which we sing. The Avadhut Gita speaks of the ultimate reality in terms of absolute freedom.
The aim of life is to realize the Truth and to be eternally free. Purification of the heart is essential to this realization. Practice of virtue, devotion to God, pilgrimages and other religious practices, are useful only so far as they purify the heart from the taint of meum and tuum, and bring before us the great vision of Truth, which makes worldly achievements mediocre and ultimately valueless. They create in us an undying desire to realize truth, but the direct cause of realization of God is within, is knowledge of Truth. Knowledge is the magic wand which frees the spirit of peace and Ananda from the rock of personality, covering the fearing ego into a conflagration, burning up all duality and its cause, ignorance.
The Avadhut Gita contains this knowledge in its purest form. The word Avadhut means a high Renunciate, a Mahatma2, one who has found unity with God, and lives a life of perfect freedom, uninfluenced by ignorance and its effects.
Who was this Mahatma Dattatreya, who gave this priceless gift of the Gita? There is no other writing attributed to him. When and where he lived cannot be said with certainty. To some Yogis and devotees he is an immortal, and they still see him and talk to him. In a temple, among the calm and beautiful peaks of the mountain called Girnar, a bed is made for the Mahatma daily.
It is clear that he was an historical person, and not a mythical Mahatma, and that he lived after Shri Krishna , that is, a little over three thousand years ago. From the fact that most of his devotees live in the Bombay presidency we can infer that he lived in Western India. There are many legends about his miraculous birth and life, but they do not take us far.
There is a mention of the Avadhut in the Eleventh Book of the Shrimad Bhagavata, a great Indian classic of devotion and metaphysics, attributed to Vyasa, written in a highly poetic style in pure modern Sanskrit. The following is an extract from this book:
"Salutations to you, O Sage, Kindly tell us what Guru has given you the great knowledge which has made you perfect in wisdom, full of peace, and devoted to the good of all living beings."
This was the reply of the Avadhut:
"One's own Self is one's chief Guru. By knowledge of Self alone through perception, inference and mystic communion one obtains the great bliss."
1 "I am Shiva" (the Destroyer aspect of the Hindu trinity, notably the destroyer of ignorance). "I am Brahman."
2 Mahatma, lit, great soul, a perfected man.
3 Shri Krishna - the teacher of the Bhagavat Gita, the recognized Supreme master of Indian Yoga and philosophy.
He further said that he did not learn from one particular source, but from many teachers, each source of knowledge being his Guru. He then mentioned twenty-four special teachers. Of them, the following are worthy of note:
Water, the earth, the wind, space, the moon, the sun, the sea, and the arrow-maker.
From water he learned purity and the taste of tastelessness. "As water is sweet and pure, so is Atman1. Man should manifest sweetness and purity in his conduct. I have therefore taken water as one of my Gurus," he said.
"Patience, forgiveness, supporting others without expectation of gratitude I have learned from my Guru, the earth."
"The wind blows everywhere, over the flower-beds, deserts, marshes, palaces and prisons, without being attached to any of them, without preference or dislike. So, I, an Avadhut, go everywhere, scattering my blessings of peace, without being attached to anyone. My Guru, the wind, has taught me this lesson."
In the all-pervading space there exist clouds, stars, planets, dust-storms, and so on, but it is not touched by any of them. So is Atman, which, pervading all bodies of men and animals, of saints, sages, kings, madmen, sinners, and paupers, is untainted by any of them. So do I feel, having learned this lesson from space, my Guru."
"As the moon is perfect, in spite of its waning and waxing, which do not exist in it, so is Atman ever perfect, in spite of its seeming imperfections. This is what the moon, my Guru, has taught me."
"As the sun through its rays absorbs water from the earth, only to give it back in a cool and pure form, so ought a Mahatma to take the things of the world, not for his own sake, but in order to give them back in a richer and better form. This is what my Guru, the sun, has taught me."
"Though thousands of rivers empty themselves into the sea, yet it remains within its limits; so remains undisturbed the mind of the knower of God, though objects of all kinds pour themselves into it. Thus, the sea, my Guru, has instructed me."
"From the arrow-maker I have learned the value of concentration. In a certain town there lived an arrow-maker, who devoted his full attention to his occupation. Once he was beating the point of an arrow, when the king and his procession went by the street. He was so attentive to his work that he knew nothing of the king's passing, and when they asked him how he liked the music of the procession he said, 'What procession? When did it pass?' So ought we to concentrate on the Truth that no external object or event should disturb us."
The teachings of Rishi Dattatreya are similar to those of Vasishtha, Loatzu, Abu Ben Adhem, and Jajaluddin Rumi. There are still many Paramahansas1, Bramacharis and Yogis who follow the path of spiritual solitude. Many such Mahatmas have been seen in the Himalayan woods, in the forests of Szechwan province of China, and near the Koyasan in Japan. They are free from the pairs of opposites , established in Atman, and radiate peace and spiritual upliftment. They do not shun human society, and yet they do not relish it. Of them it is said:
"Heed then no more how the body lives or goes; Its task is done; let karma float it down; Let one put garlands on, another kick This frame; say naught. No praise or blame can be
Where praiser praised and blamer blamed are one. Thus be thou calm, Sannyasin bold, and say, OM TAT SAT OM."
The Avadhut Gita breathes the purest spirit of Shri Schankaracharya and the sages of the Upanishads.
1 Paramahansas - Those who have realized the highest Self [and whose Sahasrara -Thousand Pedaled Lotus (the brain) is completely filled with Light].
2 Pairs of opposites - such as heat and cold, love and hate, grief and joy, etc..
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