Two traveling paths

purusah sa param pārtha bhaktyā labhyastvananyayā ||

yasyāntahsthāni bhūtāni yena sarvamidam tatam ||8.22||

That purusah who is the limitless, Pārtha (Arjuna)! can be gained by devotion in which there is no other. (He is) the one in whom all the beings have their being, the one by whom all this is pervaded.

Purusah, Śankara-acarya says here as the one who seems to sleep in the body in that he resides there without performing any action. Ātmā which is of the nature of consciousness is residing in the body of every being. Therefore, to gain this limitless ātmā, it is only the matter of recognising what I already am. But how to gain this recognition? By devotion which is characterised by knowledge. If brahman is already non-separate from oneself, the only way one can pursue him is through the committed pursuit of knowledge. And this devotion is ananyayā bhakti - devotion in which there is no other, a devotion to brahman which is the self alone. Another meaning of purusah is the one who filled/pervade. Just like all earthen-ware are pervaded by clay, therefore earthen-ware have their beings in clay, similarly brahman pervades the entire creation, therefore all beings in the creation have their beings in brahman.

Next five verses, with the intention to praise the meditators who go to brahma-loka, Lord Krsna describes about two paths after death, one is the path for omkāra-upāsaka who reach brahma-loka and do not come back, and another path where the ritualists who do karma to get material benefits and being caught in the cycle of samsāra.

yatra kāle tvanāvrttim āvrttim caiva yoginah |

prayātā yānti tam kālam vaksyāmi bharatarsabha ||8.23||

Arjuna, the foremost in the clan of Bharata! I will tell you what is the time (route) of no return and also the time (route) of return by which the departed yogins go.

agnirjyotirahah śuklah sanmāsā uttarāyanam |

tatra prayātā gacchanti brahma brahmavido janāh ||8.24||

Departing there (through that path) in which the deity of fire, the deity of light, the deity of the day, the deity of the bright fortnight (of the waxing moon), the deity of the six months of the northern solstice (the sun's travel towards the north) are present, the meditators of Brahman go to brahma-loka.

dhūmo rātristathā krsnah sanmāsā daksināyanam |

tatra cāndramasam jyotih yogī prāpya nivartate ||8.25||

The yogins, (travelling by the route) where the presiding deity of clouds, the deity of night, the deity of the dark fortnight (of the waning moon), and the deity of the six months of the southern solstice (the sun's travel towards the south) are present, having gained the world of the moon, returns.

śukla krsne gatī ayete jagatah śāśvate mate |

ekayā yātyanāvrttim anyayāvartate punah ||8.26||

As is well known in the śāstra, these two paths of the worlds, the bright and the dark, are considered eternal. By the one (path), one goes to a place of no return, by the other, one returns again.

The real travel is being described here. First route is called uttara-mārga which described beautifully here. After death, the omkāra-upāsaka travel on the way with all the bright deities are there, like the deity of fire, the deity of time, the deity of day, the deity of the fortnight of the bright half of the moon, and the deity of the half of the year in which the sun travels north. All these bright deities invite the jīva on the path, taking him/her to brahma-loka. The idea here is to indicate this path is a bright path which ultimately brings one to moksa. This path is called Uttara-mārga, where north symbolises moksa.

There is another mārga - route for ritualist who do dharma and ritual for gaining material benefits. He also is called yogī here, because yoga as the means for one to reach whatever one desires, and the person who employ these means is called yogī in this context. This path is called daksina-mārga, which also called as smokey path. The deities on this path all preside over things that represent darkness. The deity of the night, the deity of dark side of the moon, the deity of the half of the year in which the sun travels south are there on this path.

These two paths are considered good paths, because they are relatively eternal compared to other paths. There are others which are not so good.

naite srtī pārtha jānan yogī muhyati kaścana |

tasmāt sarvesu kālesu yoga yukt bhavārjuna ||8.27||

Knowing these two paths, oh son of Prthā, a yogī is not deluded. Therefore at all times may you be united to yoga, Arjuna.

Now the yogī in this verse is a jijñāsu (one who pursues moksa through self-knowledge). He/she is not at all deluded about these two paths because he knows one is for samsāra and the other is for moksa by stages. He/she has no confusion about the fact that gaining another sphere of experience does not give liberation. What a jijñāsu wants is moksa here and now. Therefore, equip oneself for self-knowledge all the times - yoga. Whatever preparatory action is necessary for one to gain self-knowledge, please do.

vedesu yajñesu tapahsu caiva

dānesu yatpunyaphalam pradistam

atyeti tatsarvamidam viditvā

yogī param sthānamupaiti cādyam ||8.28||

The yogin knowing this, (the answers to Arjuna's questions here) goes beyond all things taught by the śāstra, with reference to the result of good actions, which abides in the (study of the) Veda, the rituals, disciplines, and charities. And he reaches the primal cause (of creation), which is the highest state.

Śāstra as the means to help one fulfils one's desires within the scope of dharma, and helps one grow into a mature person with purity of the mind as the preparation for self-knowledge. With prescribed karma, rituals, various religious disciplines, and giving in any form, one gains punya which will fructify as conducive infrastructure and purity of the mind as prerequisite for one to gain self-knowledge. But when one knows that there is only one satyam as the primal cause of all here, the entire world become mithyā - doesn't have its own existence apart from satyam. It is said that one goes beyond all things taught in śāstra, because one is no longer bound even by punya-karma and their result. Therefore having understood what is taught by Lord Krsna, one is free now and here - jĪvan-mukti, and if one chooses the path of upāsana which is prescribed in this chapter, one attains destination where one will gain moksa in sequence.

Om Tat Sat

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