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Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 8 – Aksara Brahma Yoga
How can we remember God while we are engaged in work that needs our total attention?
Anything that we do in our lives needs full attention. We need to stay focused and concentrate to achieve our goal without other distracting thoughts. If so, how do we remember God when we are engaged in work that needs our total attention?
An example would be when I’m at wok on a project, however much challenging and hard it appears to be, I tell my peers and team to remember the pay check that we get at the end of the week, the mere thought of it motivates and keeps everyone going in dealing with difficult tasks.
In verse 5.6, Sri Krishna says in the case of individual who lives life’s battle to win righteous profits and constantly remember the Lord, while doing so, his “mind and intellect get absorbed in Me”, you shall come to Me.
The term death here should be understood clearly. It is not the mere death of the body but the emphasis is also on the death of the ego. Verse 8 confirms that even after the sublimation of the ego, one can continue to live in the body due to prarabdha and is jivan mukti.
It is quite normal to see people chanting the slogans, by habit, without thinking of God, as a routine chore while doing other thing. Mind has the capacity to act on things and manage the chanting. But this is not a focused attention on Lord. It is a monotonous repetition without focus.
As studied earlier chapters, if we perform all actions with Arpana buddhi, that’s everything is done for him alone, as an offering to him then the actions are done with utmost love and care with his thought in mind. He is in the thought constantly and continuously. By performing such karma yoga, over a period of time, it becomes a habit and the Lord is always in our thought in whatever we do, however much focus and attention is required of us for other tasks.
Describe the Karma theory to a common individual.
Karma theory is the core of Hindu philosophy. Few of the prominent principles of this there are:
Responsibility – Every action has a consequence it its own time. Every effect has a cause. Everything that we think, speak and act has its own merits and demerits. We alone are responsible for the given situation and peoples in our life in every birth. This is simply the law of nature. There is no one sitting somewhere, taking notes on what what we do or not. We bear the results of our thoughts and actions, now or later without fail.
Accountability – Good actions result in good results and bad actions give bad results. We call this as merits (punya), and demerits (papa). We are the product of our choices. We create the blueprint for our next life. This karma theory does not mean the destiny will take care of everything. We create our own destiny. This theory emphasizes that we should focus on mindful, conscious living. What we are today is based on our past and what we will be tomorrow is based on our actions today. As you sow, so shall you reap
Effort – The doer alone is the enjoyer or sufferer of those consequences based on his own actions. He cannot transfer the results to or borrow from others. This gives the accountability to each one of us to choose the life that we want in our next birth. This clearly proves that we are the product of our choices so it is better to stop blaming others and be accountable for our actions. As you sow, so shall you reap.
Dissolution (Pralaya) – This is the dormant phase, also called beeja avastha. Neither good actions cancel the results of bad actions nor the bad actions cancel the results of good actions. The doer (karta) gets to enjoy and suffer but the good actions help you to handle the results of bad action with dignity. During the maha pralaya, the merits and demerits are never written off, every Jivan is in dormancy during that time along with the merits and demerits that are simply frozen and all Jivan come back with the same merits and demerits. Sooner or later we pay the price for our own actions. The merits and demerits creates the body and the body accumulates them based on the actions. It is like which came first? The egg or the chicken? It is a natural law of cycle of samsara.
Liberation (Moksha) – When we read scriptures, follow rituals, perform upasana, we need to choose to move up higher in the spiritual ladder through jnana marga and enter into Self enquiry, attain knowledge towards being realized. The next step is to stay there forever with firm conviction, That’s nidhidyasana. This should culminate to ‘Ananya bhakti’, undivided Bakti, that take one to moksha which to be one with Brahman.
Creation-Dissolution Cycle – Pralaya
When we stop to look around, we would recognize that everything around us is in cyclical. The plants come out of the seed, grows, flowers, fruits and dies leaving behind the seed again. People and animals are born as babies, grow, achieve, accomplish, propagate and eventually die. The seasons are also cyclical as spring, summer, fall and winter, returns to spring. In some parts of the world it is distinctly visible while in other parts it is slight.
This cyclical process continues on again and again which confirms that this is neither the first nor the last birth for all of us.
Just as we unfold our day and fold our little world at the end of the day, Brahma manifests and unmanifests this universe at the start and end of his life span. All our merits and demerits are frozen only to continue at the same point when the universe starts again. This is called maha pralaya, great dissolution. This is called the Beeja Avastha, or the seed form when everything is in dormant stage with the potential for creation. Today’s scientists talk about the blackhole, Einstein proved that matter is neither created nor destroyed.
These cycles of creation and dissolution, birth and death go on and on continuously without an end. This is called samsara chakra. One who is tired of this endless coming and going, endless birth and death, develops dispassion from all realms of experience, seeks that which is permanent happiness. The only way out of this birth and death cycle is by Self knowledge.
This Self knowledge could be acquired only in earth (Bhu loka) and only in human form. Therefore it is vital recognize the grand opportunity that we have, to escape out of this creation-dissolution cycle, than merely be attracted to the impermanent fleeting attractions and waste the entire life rather than choose the right path for our next birth.
The difference between Jivan-mukti and Vidheha-mukti
When does a person realizes that he is dreaming? Once he is awake!!
Similarly when an individual realizes that God as his own Self, he is liberated here and now, instantaneously even though he is in the body in the human form living on this earth. Such a person is called Jivan Mukti.
On the other hand, a man of Realization, who has realized that the Self in the body is the same as paramatma and discards his mortal body, he is liberated for he does not identify with the body. For the onlookers, he still lives in that body and is liberated only when he leaves the body.
There are yogis who go through many health conditions but they’re totally unperturbed by it for they know that they are not the body, and it is normal for the body to disintegrate but others tend to do all kinds of treatments to that body which the yogi has already renounced it. Such a yogi is Videha Mukti.
Explain Rebirth Theory
There is life after death and we are reborn in a different form and place based on our actions in previous births. Our scriptures emphasizes this thought with facts.
Rebirth is the core of Hindu philosophy and karma theory is the basis of this which are listed below.
This is not our first birth or the last birth. We will be reborn again and again until liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This the samskaram, (samsara chakra-giant wheel). The body creates the merits and demerits and these choose a suitable body to experience them. It is like ‘did the seed came first or the tree came first? or ‘did the egg came first or the chicken came first’? This is simply the law of nature for all beings to be in the karmic cycle.
From our accumulated capital of karma (consequences of karma), also called ‘Sanchita karma’ (net fructifying results of our thoughts and actions) that decides the form and the place we are born in. When this prarabdha karma is exhausted, the individual jivan leaves the body and is reborn in a new body, again based on the accumulated thoughts and actions, including from the current life.
It is the most intense and strong vasanas that fructify first. That’s probably why it is also called vasanas, fragrance. The strong fragrance stays longer and deeper. Therefore as you think so shall you become. The last thought at the time of death will decide the form and place of an individual jiva goes to.
Again it is the strong vasanas, that we have accumulated by our own thoughts and actions that decides which form we take in the next birth so it might not necessarily be a human form again. We are now born as human, but we could very well be born as any other species in the next birth so we don’t want to miss this opportunity of human form to realize the Self in us.
Apart from the earth, there are many other realms of experiences, heaven is a realm of intense joy for an extended period of time, hell is the opposite, a realm of intense suffering. There are other realms of experiences besides these. Vedanta philosophy mentions 14 of them.
Higher lokas above the earth are.. Satya loka, Tapo loka, Jan loka, Mahar loka, Swargaloka, bhuvar loka, bhu loka(earth), the lower lokas are Atalata, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, Patala
Based on the choices we make, in our thoughts, words and deeds, we experience in these lokas and come back to earth, to purge our vasanas for only from here and only in human body, one can attain liberation (moksha)
Gist of Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad-Gita.
This chapter starts with Sri Krishna’s explanation that there’s only One imperishable Brahman He is that supreme who operates the universe, He is that atman present in each individual body, Prakriti(maya) the perishable universe, He is the creative force that causes all being into existence all actions and their consequences, He is in the presiding deities of the sense organs in the living creatures and the eternal Self.
A popular example is six blind people are touching an elephant and describe the animal from what they have seen and felt. The one who touches the middle of the body says he sees a huge soft wall, the one who touches the leg says he sees a big, tall, cylindrical pillar, the one who touched the ears said he sees a fan that oscillates back and forth, the one who touches the trunk explains that it is hollow tube, the who touches the tail says it is thin rope with some tiny branches at the end and the last one who touched the top of the head said he is on the top of a slide. What does these mean? People see the same object from different angle. Everything is based on individual perception, but they all fail to see the whole.
So also God, Brahman is seen differently by different people based on their experiences, when in fact Brahman is the One whole, without a second. This is the summary of the first six questions by Arjuna. No single word should be taken as a complete one.
The time is not the physical death or the departure from this body, Lord also refers to the Jnanis who renounce their bodies, meaning the time when they do not identify with the body.
He also emphasized that at the time of death, one thinks about what one has been habitually thinking about, throughout one’s life time. It is really hard to think of something new suddenly when one is physically and emotionally weak. It is therefore recommended to make it a habit of thinking on the supreme presence early on, so it becomes a habit and one is able to think of God when the time comes effortlessly.
For everyone who is born death is inevitable, just don’t know when. So, it is advised to live a dharmic life and acquire Self knowledge to be able to easily remember Him. In this chapter Krishna refers himself as Nirguna Brahman.
Brahman is described as one changeless, who is present in all bodies, the creative force in everything that springs into existence, the imperishable appearing as perishable Jagat, as the indweller in each body as a presiding deity and the supreme presence which operates them all.
Just like we plan ahead when we move from one house or state, country to the other, we should also plan ahead for the departure from this body for death is inevitable. We pack our stuff and unpack after reaching. So also we should choose to accumulate our assets which we can carry.
What does this mean? When we leave this body, Stula Sarira, the Sushma Sarira leaves as a package (all the thoughts, actions and convictions).
There are two distinct paths people take as they leave the body. People who lead a disciplined life, doing good to others, following rituals proceed on to Swarga loka, and people who focus on upasanas, Japas and Yajnas but not attained jnana take the path to Brahma loka, where they have a chance to attain moksha after gaining Self knowledge.
In Swarga, Chandra loka, people enjoy their time based on their merits and once exhausted return to Earth to pay for their demerits. Whereas, they also have an opportunity to gain knowledge and moksha, though not guaranteed, would also come back to earth, bhu loka when they don’t gain the knowledge to be one with Lord.
The human life, earthly life is also described as Dukha loka as we need to go through all sorts of sufferings and sorrows. Only here by experiencing those we develop the love for God. If everything is fun all the time, as in Brahma loka we have no opportunity to get Self knowledge.
Then God describes the Jagat, universe as vikara, maya as ‘avikara’ and Brahman as ‘avikara’.
When the maha pralaya happens after one kalpa, the entire universe goes into dormant phase but resumes at the same point where it was left. All Jiva’s get their merits and demerits. Nothing gets erased for whatever reason. Every action has a consequence and it is a matter of when we face them. No one can escape from experiencing the fruits of their actions.
Jivan Mukti is the one who realizes Brahman while alive and his merits and demerits all erase the moment he realizes the Truth (Brahman), even while alive in the current body. Videha Mukti is the one who realizes Brahman but for others he is a realized soul, only after he leaves the body.
What are anya bhakti and ananya bhakti?
There are three types of Bhakti. The first two are ‘anya bhakti’, anya means ‘other than’, refers to duality.
~ First is where the devotee, Lord and the act of worship of the devotee to get something in the world like rain due to famine, flood, natural disasters.
~ Second is where there are two entities, the Lord and the devotee and God is worshipped for the personal benefit (one’s own health, wealth or relationships or growth, happiness),
~ the third is where there is only One and both the devotee and the Lord are one. The devotee is focused on Self realization.
This is Ananya Bhakti, undivided attention on God alone. Only through this Ananya bhakti, a jivan can be one with God.
Since the last thought of GOD, at the time of death results in attaining GOD, how can one make sure that it is feasible?
When we sow a mango seed, we get a mango tree, when we sow an apple seed, we get an apple tree, so is our life. If so what is our seed?
It is not the thought at the exact time of death alone that matters, especially for people who are in coma or who die in accidents but the conviction that they have at the time of death by the constant practice.
We are what our convictions are, not what our thoughts are… Thoughts are fleeting… Strong convictions will have habitual thoughts.
Therefore, it is the deepest conviction that we have, that takes us to the next birth. What we believed and what we practised will bear the result. That’s our seed with potential to bloom. For ex: the stronger the conviction to take and complete this class, the higher the probability to complete. That decision to join the class will take precedence over all the thoughts that come later, like my travel might hinder the study time, or I have guests flying in, or internet is not available, etc. If the conviction is strong we will get it done.
Similarly how strong the conviction of an individual that God exists and God alone exists makes the difference at the time of leaving this body. Such a person who has a life long of practice to this conviction will be the one who realizes the atman as Brahman.
There are no two things to merge but it is the recognition of the appearing to be hidden that has to happen. For this, one doesn’t have to go anywhere or become anything but recognize the Brahman from within. This is possible only by Self knowledge.
Once the knowledge is gained the ignorance is removed instantaneously, like the darkness is removed by the light. Knowledge alone can remove this ignorance and this conviction alone will take one to the future form and life.
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