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Introduction to Verse No.8


That existent Reality does not have names and forms.  However, allotting names and forms to That Absolute, taking it to be God and worshipping it will pave the way for Self-Realisation.  In spite of all these it is the actual experience that shows it truthfully.  There is no alternate means of realising it. This is the content of this eighth verse of Bhagavan.


Verse No.8


Eppeyar iTTu, evvuruvil Ettinum,

Ar, pEr, uru, il apporuLaikkAN vazhi adu. Ayinum,

am-meypporuLin uNmaiyil tan uNmaiyinai Orndu oDungi

onDrudalE uNmaiyil kANal, uNar.


Translation (Lakshmana Sharma)


Even though to worship Him in any form and by any name is a means towards the right vision of Him, who (really) is without name and form, true vision of Him consists in being at one with Him, by merging in Him the Transcendental Being, through the realisation of the identity of the Real Self with His real essence.


Translation (Prof. K. Swaminathan)


Under whatever name or form we worship It, It leads us on to knowledge of the nameless, formless Absolute. Yet, to see one's true Self in the Absolute, to subside into It and be one with It, this is the true Knowledge of the Truth.


Translation (Osborne)


Under whatever name and form one may worship the Absolute Reality, it is only a means for realizing It without name and form. That alone is true realization, wherein one knows oneself in relation to that Reality, attains peace and realizes one's identity with it.


Word by Word


eppeyar-iTTu : Whatever name you assign

evvuru-vil:  (and) in whatever form

Ettinum : (you) propitiate it

adu. : that is

kANvazhi  : the means of realizing

Ar apporuLai: that full and complete Reality

il :  (which is) without

pEr:  name

uru: (and) form.

Ayinum:  However,

kANal:  the Vision

uNmaiyil :  in truth (is)

onDrudalE: only in becoming one

oDungi : (after) subsiding, sublating (oneself)

Orndu:  (and) cognizing

tan uNmaiyinai: one’s own reality

uNmaiyil: in the Truth

ammeyp-poruLin : of that Reality.

uNar: Know (this)


Commentary (Lakshmana Sharma)


The JIva, Ishvara and the Universe are all mental constructs. In sleep where there is no mind, they don’t exist; the only Reality therefore is the Atman which is sat-cit-svarUpa. But man, trapped in the mAyA of the mind, thinks, out of Ignorance, he is a separate JIva and thus revolves in the vortex of samsAra; as such he cannot but think of a God as the maker of all Jivas and Universes. So long as he thinks of his Jivahood as real, God also has to be real for him.  That God is in fact the unique sat-cit- svarUpa Reality.  Because of Ignorance, the Atman which is the ever-existent Reality becomes foreign to him and is termed by him as God or Ishvara. That Reality is assigned names and forms by the ignorant devotee and he thinks of Him as distinct from him, as the Overlord of the Universe and as the Most Compassionate One.  We already said that this is but natural. Our Bhagavan says this Bhakti type of worship will lead to a purification of the mind and a discriminating intellect and finally will take him to Self-Realisation. The second line of the present verse means exactly this.  To get out of the bondage caused by names and forms, one can thus adopt the means of worshipping the Absolute Reality as God by assigning it names and forms.


The first line of the verse says that Brahman can be given any name and form associated with Shiva or Vishnu and one can worship it according to one’s taste. It is quite fitting to say that, since the Brahman that is worshipped as God is nameless and formless, whatever names and forms are imagined by a devotee those names and forms are accepted by God.  This is Equanimity.  It is only nonsense to fight with one another using notions of ‘My God’ and ‘Your God’.


The form for worship may be just a construct by the mind; or one might take any form in the outside world and worship the Absolute to be in that form. Thus the Sun, the Firmament, Fire, Mountain, River – any such natural form might be imagined as the form of the Absolute and worshipped. The highest among all such forms is that of the Guru who is an Atma-JnAni (One who has realised the Self). For, a JnAni does not think of himself as something different from the Absolute, nor as a body. That is why Krishna says in the Gita (VII: 18): ‘JnAni is Myself’. The Guru who is himself a JnAni, whatever way he thinks of himself, in the same way we should consider him. It is wrong to think of him as something different from Brahman. That seeker who thinks like that and works for Self-Realisation will not attain it.


The devotee who worships in this manner, without understanding that Self-Realisation is the ultimate objective, would want God to present before him in the form which he has imagined for Him.  By the strength of his devotion he may even get a vision of that kind. But the vision that appears would not be a permanent one.  It will be mentioned later that since in actuality God is not distinct from the Atman, the vision that shows up to him is again a mental construct, not real.


Though the devotee may not want Self-Realisation, he will ultimately attain it.  It has to be said that is only due to God’s Grace. And that Grace is nothing but Brahman, that is God, being the Atman in the heart.


It is this Self-Realisation that gives permanent satisfaction. The latter half of the present verse indicates only this Self-Realisation. The last few verses of this chapter give the same meaning.


Bhagavan used to say that the above truth is also the lesson that we learn from the story of Prahlada occurring in JnAna-VashishhTam (different froim the one that occurs in the Bhagavatam and other Puranas).  Prahlada’s father Hiranya-Kashipu conquered the three worlds and was comfortable in the thought of his being matchless. So his son Prahlada was living without any fear.  But the father was vanquished and killed by Lord Vishnu.  Prahlada thought that the same Vishnu could kill him also and this generated the fear of death in him. In order to overcome this fear, he surrendered to Vishnu Himself. To obtain His Grace, he observed devotion to Him by means of pUja, japa and dhyAna. Vishnu appeared before him in person and said: “For you to obtain immortality, this vision of mine is not enough. You have to realise the Vishnu in your Atman inside.”. And he was also taught what to practise. Accordingly Prahlada attained Self-Realisation and Immortality with the attendant Fearlessness.


Thus it is confirmed in this verse that the existent Reality, Brahman, is nothing but the Atman.

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