Ch. 8 Yoga of the Meaning of Om (Part 2)

This article is part 62 of 119 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

The Importance of Feeling

During dhyāna, it is not syllables that are important, neither are sound or meaning. Feeling is paramount. The syllable is a means to bring the right feeling to the mind. Mūrtis and pictures of deities, worship with incense sticks and lamps are also the means to bring to mind the emotion associated with the divine. Therefore, the mind should be made to focus on the meaning of the syllable — the feeling associated with the icon. This is dhyāna-yoga.

Is it not easier for dhyāna if the syllable of a mantra has only one meaning, rather than a multitude of them? We saw earlier that praṇava can have many meanings; will not the mind get scattered here and there by that? The answer is thus: a mantra that has a single meaning is suitable in the beginning. However, should not the meaning expand gradually? Initially, let it be "Om Namaḥ Śivāya" or "Om Namo Nārāyaṇāya". Steadily, let the focus increasingly move towards Om. It is fine if any one among the various meanings of the praṇava strikes the mind. It could be the triad of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara — or Earth, space and sky — or sattva, rajas and tamas — or energy, water and food — whichever triad of these strikes the mind first, it gradually expands and covers all other triads, and transcends them all. This is the power of practice. As already conveyed, the secret has to be learnt from adepts; I am not one. Let us now move to the next topic.

ananyacetāḥ satataṃ yo māṃ bhajati nityaśaḥ
tasyāhaṃ sulabhaḥ pārtha nityayuktasya yoginaḥ ॥ (BG 8.14)

“A yogi is one who does not let his mind wander, but follows me always. I (Bhagavān) am easily obtained by him, who is always one with me”

ābrahma-bhuvanāl-lokāḥ punar-āvartino’rjuna
māmupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate ॥ (BG 8.16)

The entire universe — starting from the world of Brahmā is born again and again, and perishes each time. "Punarapi jananaṃ punarapi maraṇam" is true for everything and everyone, until the jīvatma becomes one with Parabrahma. The liberated, pure ātmā always abides in the presence of the Supreme Brahma — that is, in the best of lokas. The Svāmi now explains this exalted state.

In the previous chapter, it is said that Brahma exists in two states — vyakta or manifest and avyakta or unimanifest. Vyakta is the visible or tangible universe. Avyakta is invisible or something that transcends the visible universe. The single fundamental substratum for both of these is sanātana (eternal); that is Brahma. Mokṣa is the constant experience of Brahma. Achieving Mokṣa is the fulfillment of Yoga.

parastasmāttu bhāvo’nyo’vyakto’vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati ॥ (BG 8.20)

Parabrahma is that which is beyond the manifest and unmanifest. It is the eternal element in transient bodies”.

avyakto’kṣara ityuktastamāhuḥ paramāṃ gatiṃ
yaṃ prāpya na nivartante taddhāma paramaṃ mama ॥ (BG 8.21)

After reaching the abode of Brahma which is beyond the universe, intangible and imperishable, there is no returning. That is the supreme abode, the presence of the divine. That is the state of mokṣa. A sādhaka might achieve it in his lifetime on earth, in this world. Such mokṣa is jīvanmukti. Our śrutis and purāṇas mention that ṛṣis like Śuka and Vāmadeva were jīvanmuktas.

Even if that does not happen, if a sādhaka is free of kāma and krodha and is engrossed only in Brahma, he may attain mokṣa when he departs from his body and leaves this world. That is videhamukti. Thus, mokṣa is of two types.

There is no calculation of tithi, vāra and nakṣatra required for the attainment of mokṣa. It happens by itself. No outward force can speed it up or slow it down. It is an experience that happens deep within one’s heart. It does not have external dos and don’ts.

The liberation that is achieved by a jīva after experiencing the fruits of its past actions and finally giving up his body is of two kinds — sadyomukti and kramamukti.

Sadyomukti is that which is achieved when a sādhaka leaves this world and becomes one with Brahma without stopping at any intervening stations. This path is called Devayāna. When a jīva on the way to mukti pauses at other, gradually better lokas, it is kramamukti or pitṛyāna. The Svāmi describes it thus —

agnirjyotirahaḥ śuklaḥ ṣaṇmāsā uttarāyaṇam । (BG 8.24)

The characteristics of the path to the Brahma are fire, light, day, purity, and the half of the year that is called uttarāyaṇa.

dhūmo rātristathā kṛṣṇaḥ ṣaṇmāsā dakṣiṇāyanaṃ ॥ (BG 8.25)

The characteristics of the path to the other puṇyalokas are smoke, night, darkness, the six months of the year that are known as dakṣiṇāyana.

śuklakṛṣṇe gatī hyete jagataḥ śāśvate mate
ekayā yātyanāvṛttim anyayā’’avartate punaḥ ॥ (BG 8.26)

Through devayāna is achieved the state of Brahma and the cessation of births. Through pitṛyāna, one goes through multiple births — gains puṇya again and again, spends it, and gains it again — thus continues the circle of births.

Pitṛyāna is the way of gradually better lives — good family, justly acquired wealth, good karma, good children, good pastimes — these are indicative of puṇya. Even if a man established in Brahma is not able to achieve mokṣa immediately, even if he has to take a few more births because of various reasons, he sometimes attains better worlds and is again born on the earth in suitable families and leads a life established in Brahma.

prāpya puṇyakṛtān lokān uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṃ śrīmatāṃ gehe yogabhraṣṭo’bhijāyate ॥ (BG 6.41)

Thus, he ascends in steps. This is the mukti of Pitṛyāna. It is not to be understood as inferior or fearsome. Good progeny and good family are gained by the blessings of Pitṛdevatas; it is training to the jīva. Should we be scared of training and tests? One who refuses such training is not eligible to experience Brahma.

The belief that death during the uttarāyaṇa brings mokṣa and death during the dakṣiṇāyana brings about rebirth is older than the time of Śrīkṛṣṇa. It is in the Vedas [Ya evaṃ vidvānudagayane pramīyate devānāmeva mahimānaṃ gatvā''dityasya sāyujyaṃ gacchatyatha yo dakṣiṇe pramīyate pitṛṇāmeva mahimānaṃ gatvā candramasassāyujyaṃ salokatāmāpnoti (Taittirīyopaniṣad 4)]. Bhīṣma would have believed in it — which is why he bore the severe pain of lying on a bed of arrows and waited for the arrival of uttarāyaṇa.

Should we now believe in it or not? This belief is not troublesome; there is no reason to stop believing it. Just lack of direct evidence is not enough to erase this ancient belief. There should be a concrete reason to disbelieve in it. In any case, what do we lose by believing in it?

We can have three kinds of attitudes towards any concept — 1. Belief 2. Disbelief 3. Suspension of belief.

All of us believe in our own existence. We say that eight elephants carrying the world is reality but is a mere story. But in the matter of pañcāṅga and jātaka, we do not argue. If someone condemns it as untrue, we cannot prove it to be true. If someone obstinately argues that it is true, we cannot argue and prove him wrong. When many people have been believing in something for a very long time and it is not really troubling to us, it is better to follow it as much as possible. If someone says that the attack by China [in 1962] was because of the confluence of eight planets, we cannot say that it was not so. If someone says that the two are not related, we cannot argue with them either. Our consideration should only be this — on the pretext of the aṣṭagrahas, the minds of at least a few people turned towards the divine. Even that is beneficial. Some people found courage and satisfaction because of those pūjas and homas. That is beneficial too.

The concept of uttarāyaṇa-devayāna and dakṣiṇāyana-pitṛyāna should be viewed similarly. It is about something that happens after death — something that cannot be seen by us here with our physical eyes. Actually, ordinary people like us cannot clearly discern the difference between uttarāyaṇa and dakṣiṇāyana. Physicists or meteorologists may explain the physical difference to us. However, who can explain the passage of a jīva?

The matter in the minds of those who harbour questions about this topic is actually a doubt about the superiority of devayāna and the inferiority of pitṛyāna. At the bottom of this is the question — why should we say that those who die in dakṣiṇāyana are inferior? They fear that their end might arrive in dakṣiṇāyana. There are two things here.

  1. Pitṛyāna is not base or vile. If someone thinks that they are eligible for more, they are deluded. That sense of entitlement itself shows their ineligibility.
  2. Pitṛyāna paves the way to obtain worldly wealth, pleasure, prosperity and progeny. How many of us can say no to these?

Those with the firmness and greatness of Bhīṣma do not have to raise this question at all. He was a svecchāmaraṇi — he could give up his body whenever he wanted. There is no remedy for the delusion that that just dying in uttarāyaṇa can bestow mukti. The goal of this chapter is mainly to inculcate ennobling emotion in people. It is certainly not the supreme truth. Like in other places, this is an instructive means of drawing attention to differences in the eligibility of aspirants to achieve mukti. The most important principle to take away from this chapter is -

tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu māmanusmara yuddhya ca ॥ (BG 8.7)
(Therefore, at all times, fight while remembering me)



pathaveraḍu paradi sukṛtige
sita-sauraṃ deva-yānam-adu mokṣārthaṃ
pitṛyānaṃ satkula-saṃ-

Two ways there are to reach the divine for the righteous.
Bright and sunny is Devayāna, the way to mokṣa.
Pitṛyāna, the way to a better birth and training
To the jīva, and brings about gradual progress.

sṛṣṭi-layāvṛtti jīva-jani-mṛti-katheyaṃ
naṣṭama-gīteyali puṇya-yātreya pariyaṃ

With answers to questions eight
Achyuta explained in chapter eight.
the generation and destruction of the universe,
the birth and death of a jīva, the passing of a man righteous.

bhuvana-ghaṭa-kulālaṃ vismayāścarya-jālaṃ
bhava-ratha-gati-kīlaṃ sarva-jīvānukūlaṃ
sadhana-kṛta-kucelaṃ duṣṭa-saṃhara-kālaṃ
prakṛti-puruṣa-khelaṃ nitya-dharmādi-mūlaṃ

The maker of the world-pot, the web of wonder and marvel,
The peg of the wheel of saṃsāra, beneficial to all jīvas
One who made Kuchela prosperous, Yama who destroys evil
One who plays the game of prakṛti and Puruṣa and the source of all dharma.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

Indian Perspective of Truth and Beauty in Homer’s Epics is a unique work on the comparative study of the Greek Epics Iliad and Odyssey with the Indian Epics – Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Homer, who laid the foundations for the classical tradition of the West, occupies a stature similar to that occupied by the seer-poets Vālmīki and Vyāsa, who are synonymous with the Indian culture. The author...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the sixth volume of reminiscences character sketches of prominent public figures, liberals, and social workers. These remarkable personages hailing from different corners of South India are from a period that spans from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Written in Kannada in the 1970s, these memoirs go...

An Introduction to Hinduism based on Primary Sources

Authors: Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh, Hari Ravikumar

What is the philosophical basis for Sanātana-dharma, the ancient Indian way of life? What makes it the most inclusive and natural of all religio-philosophical systems in the world?

The Essential Sanātana-dharma serves as a handbook for anyone who wishes to grasp the...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fifth volume, episodes from the lives of traditional savants responsible for upholding the Vedic culture. These memorable characters lived a life of opulence amidst poverty— theirs  was the wealth of the soul, far beyond money and gold. These vidvāns hailed from different corners of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and lived in...

Padma Bhushan Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam represents the quintessence of Sage Bharata’s art and Bhārata, the country that gave birth to the peerless seer of the Nāṭya-veda. Padma’s erudition in various streams of Indic knowledge, mastery over many classical arts, deep understanding of the nuances of Indian culture, creative genius, and sublime vision bolstered by the vedāntic and nationalistic...

Bhārata has been a land of plenty in many ways. We have had a timeless tradition of the twofold principle of Brāhma (spirit of wisdom) and Kṣāttra (spirit of valour) nourishing and protecting this sacred land. The Hindu civilisation, rooted in Sanātana-dharma, has constantly been enriched by brāhma and safeguarded by kṣāttra.
The renowned Sanskrit poet and scholar, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R...

ಛಂದೋವಿವೇಕವು ವರ್ಣವೃತ್ತ, ಮಾತ್ರಾಜಾತಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕರ್ಷಣಜಾತಿ ಎಂದು ವಿಭಕ್ತವಾದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಬಗೆಯ ಛಂದಸ್ಸುಗಳನ್ನೂ ವಿವೇಚಿಸುವ ಪ್ರಬಂಧಗಳ ಸಂಕಲನ. ಲೇಖಕರ ದೀರ್ಘಕಾಲಿಕ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯ ಸಾರವನ್ನು ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ಈ ಹೊತ್ತಗೆ ಪ್ರಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಛಂದಸ್ಸಿನ ಸೌಂದರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ತೌಲನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅಂತಃಶಾಸ್ತ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಯನಗಳ ತೆಕ್ಕೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಬರೆಹಗಳೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿವೆ. ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಕಾರನಿಗಲ್ಲದೆ ಸಿದ್ಧಹಸ್ತನಾದ ಕವಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸ್ಫುರಿಸಬಲ್ಲ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳು ಕೃತಿಯ ಮೌಲಿಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿವೆ. ಈ...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...