Aila Gita (ऐलगीता)
Aila Gita (Samskrit: ऐलगीता) refers to the outpourings of Aila (the son of Ila), also known as Pururavas. It is found in the 26th chapter of the 11th canto in the Bhagavata Purana and appears within the conversation between Shri Krishna and his friend Uddhava known as Uddhava Gita.
परिचयः ॥ Introduction
In the chapter preceeding the Aila Gita, Shri Krishna describes the effects of the trigunas and their combinations one by one. It is mentioned therein that human beings are bound to trigunas because they manifest in the mind and lead to attachment to life-forms and sense-objects. However, those who take shelter of the Supreme Being become free from the trigunas and attain the Supreme Being. It also emphasizes that happiness generated by sense objects is rajasik in nature while that which arises from realising the Supreme Being is beyond the Gunas.
Infact, elsewhere also, the Bhagavata Purana (Canto 11, Chapter 15) states that when one focusses one's mind that is pure in the Supreme Being, the impersonal brahman that is free from material qualities, one obtains the supreme of happiness wherein one's desire finds its complete fulfillment.
निर्गुणे ब्रह्मणि मयि धारयन्विशदं मनः । परमानन्दमाप्नोति यत्र कामोऽवसीयते ।। १७ ।। nirguṇe brahmaṇi mayi dhārayanviśadaṁ manaḥ । paramānandamāpnoti yatra kāmo'vasīyate ।। 17 ।।
The Bhagavad Gita also iterates that one discovers happiness in the Self when unattached to the external contacts. And that, with the Self engaged in the meditation of the Brahman one attains endless happiness.
बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत् सुखम् । स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते ॥५.२१॥ bāhyasparśeṣvasaktātmā vindatyātmani yat sukham । sa brahmayogayuktātmā sukhamakṣayamaśnute ॥5.21॥
पार्श्वभूमिः ॥ Background
In the chapter leading to the Aila Gita it is explained that material substance, place, fruit of action, time, knowledge, activity, the performer, faith, the state of consciousness and the species and the destinations of life, all are affected by the trigunas. In fact, all that exists is a composition of the trigunas.
द्रव्यं देशः फलं कालो ज्ञानं कर्म च कारकः । श्रद्धावस्थाकृतिर्निष्ठा त्रैगुण्यः सर्व एव हि ।। ३० ।। सर्वे गुणमया भावाः ... dravyaṁ deśaḥ phalaṁ kālo jñānaṁ karma ca kārakaḥ । śraddhāvasthākr̥tirniṣṭhā traiguṇyaḥ sarva eva hi ।। 30 ।। sarve guṇamayā bhāvāḥ ...
However, though the various forms of existence and stages of life of the repeatedly incarnating living beings are bound to the operation of the gunas, those who being dedicated to the Supreme Being in bhakti yoga conquer these gunas that manifest in the mind, qualify for the transcendental love of the Supreme being.
एताः संसृतयः पुंसो गुणकर्मनिबन्धनाः । येनेमे निर्जिताः सौम्य गुणा जीवेन चित्तजाः ।। ३२ ।। भक्तियोगेन मन्निष्ठो मद्भावाय प्रपद्यते । etāḥ saṁsr̥tayaḥ puṁso guṇakarmanibandhanāḥ । yeneme nirjitāḥ saumya guṇā jīvena cittajāḥ ।। 32 ।। bhaktiyogena manniṣṭho madbhāvāya prapadyate ।
Having elaborated on the human body as the substratum of the trigunas that lead one to be bound by attachments, it further emphasizes on the human body as the means by which one acquires knowledge and develops wisdom. Therefore, it is suggested that those who obtain the human body should be smart enough to shake off their attachment to the gunas and worship the Supreme Being.
तस्माद्देहमिमं लब्ध्वा ज्ञानविज्ञानसम्भवम् ।। ३३ ।। गुणसङ्गं विनिर्धूय मां भजन्तु विचक्षणाः । tasmāddehamimaṁ labdhvā jñānavijñānasambhavam ।। 33 ।। guṇasaṅgaṁ vinirdhūya māṁ bhajantu vicakṣaṇāḥ ।
It is said that when the wise worship the Supreme Being with alertness, controlled senses and without attachment to anything else; when one conquers Rajas and Tamas by developing Sattva and thereafter overcomes even Sattva by means of desirelessness and by concentrating the mind on the Supreme Being, one goes beyond the Gunas, abandons the body and attains the Supreme Being. And such a person who is released from the body and from the Gunas which arise in the mind, being full of the Para Brahman, shall not do anything external or internal i.e., leading to Samsara or Moksha. Such a person will have nothing to do with the objects of sense externally through actual contract nor internally through thought.
जीवो जीवविनिर्मुक्तो गुणैश्चाशयसम्भवैः । मयैव ब्रह्मणा पूर्णो न बहिर्नान्तरश्चरेत् ।। ३६ ।। jīvo jīvavinirmukto guṇaiścāśayasambhavaiḥ । mayaiva brahmaṇā pūrṇo na bahirnāntaraścaret ।। 36 ।।
This discussion on the trigunas highlighting the need to go beyond material desires and develop the quality of detachment forms the basis for the Song of Pururavas or Aila Gita that appears in the succeeding chapter (Chapter 26) of the 11th Canto in the Bhagavata Purana.
विषयविस्तारः ॥ Subject Matter
At the outset, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains that one who has become free from the cause of material life that is a product of the trigunas by being fixed in spiritual knowledge, does not get entangled with the illusionary objects of the world despite being surrounded by them. Although present in front of one's eyes, they become insubstantial and remain nothing but an illusion. It is strongly advised that one should never at any time seek the company of materialists devoted to the gratification of their sense organs and cravings because those who follow such people will fall into the darkest pit, like a blind man following another blind man.
सङ्गं न कुर्यादसतां शिश्नोदरतृपां क्वचित् । तस्यानुगस्तमस्यन्धे पतत्यन्धानुगान्धवत् ॥ ३ ॥ saṅgaṁ na kuryādasatāṁ śiśnodaratr̥pāṁ kvacit । tasyānugastamasyandhe patatyandhānugāndhavat ॥ 3 ॥
It is in this context that the descendant of Ila known as Aila or Pururavas is mentioned. It is said that the highly renowned emperor Aila (Pururavas) was overcome with grief and despair on account of his separation from Urvashi whom he passionately loved. When he got over the sorrow, he developed dispassion and renunciation, and sang the Aila Gita out of sheer disgust for his past disgraceful life.
ऐलस्य विलापः ॥ Aila's Lament
When Urvashi abandoned Pururavas and left, he wept aloud and followed her naked like a madman crying; asking her to stop and not run away. Urvashi had lived with him for many years but his desire was not satiated. Infact, his mind was so allured by Urvashi that he was not aware of the passing of the days, nights and years.
Pururavas confesses that his understanding was clouded by lust so much so that his passing lifetime went unnoticed and made him, an emperor, a plaything of a woman. He wonders of what use is knowledge, austerities, renunciation, scriptures, solitude and silence to the one whose mind is stolen by women. And states that only the Supreme Being can be powerful enough to make the mind pure and free when it gets carried away behind a courtesan.
पुंश्चल्यापहृतं चित्तं को न्वन्यो मोचितुं प्रभुः । आत्मारामेश्वरमृते भगवन्तम् अधोक्षजम् ॥ १५ ॥ puṁścalyāpahr̥taṁ cittaṁ ko nvanyo mocituṁ prabhuḥ । ātmārāmeśvaramr̥te bhagavantam adhokṣajam ॥ 15 ॥
He also mentions that Urvashi did try to talk him out of his passion with eloquent verses of advice. However, being dull-minded and out of control with his senses, there was no end to his confusion. He says,
किमेतया नोऽपकृतं रज्ज्वा वा सर्पचेतसः । रज्जु स्वरूपाविदुषो योऽहं यदजितेन्द्रियः ॥ १७ ॥ kimetayā no'pakr̥taṁ rajjvā vā sarpacetasaḥ । rajju svarūpāviduṣo yo'haṁ yadajitendriyaḥ ॥ 17 ॥
Meaning: What could she have done when one has no notion of one's real nature or svarupa and thereby mistakes a rope for a snake.
ऐलस्य अवबोधः ॥ Aila's Understanding
Lamenting over the power of delusion, Aila shares his understanding. He says,
One can never tell whether this body belongs to one's parents, wife, employer, fire (of one's funeral), dogs, vultures, oneself or one's friends. Even then, one gets attached to this unholy matter and praises it, especially in case of a woman, for having such a cute nose, beautiful smile and face. And by doing so one heads with it for the lowest destination of decay. For, there is no difference between a worm and the one who enjoys what is composed of skin, flesh, blood, tendon, fat, muscle, marrow, bone, urine, stool and pus.
त्वङ्मांसरुधिरस्नायु मेदोमज्जास्थिसंहतौ । विण्मूत्रपूये रमतां कृमीणां कियदन्तरम् ॥ २१ ॥ tvaṅmāṁsarudhirasnāyu medomajjāsthisaṁhatau । viṇmūtrapūye ramatāṁ kr̥mīṇāṁ kiyadantaram ॥ 21 ॥
Therefore, a man who understands what's best for him should never run after women or associate with men thus engaged. Because, the mind united with the senses reaches for sense objects and thus, gets agitated. However, a thing not heard of or seen gives no rise to mental agitation. Therefore, the mind of someone not engaging his senses becomes fixed and pacified. Moreover, even wise men cannot rely on the six enemies viz. lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, intoxication and envy known as the Ari-Shad Varga. One should therefore, not get sensorily attached to women or to men attached to women.
तस्मात्सङ्गो न कर्तव्यः स्त्रीषु स्त्रैणेषु चेन्द्रियैः । विदुषां चाप्यविस्रब्धः षड्वर्गः किमु मादृशाम् ॥ २४ ॥ tasmātsaṅgo na kartavyaḥ strīṣu straiṇeṣu cendriyaiḥ । viduṣāṁ cāpyavisrabdhaḥ ṣaḍvargaḥ kimu mādr̥śām ॥ 24 ॥
Infact, it is stated in 5th Canto of the Bhagavata Purana that according to the wise, service rendered to great people is the gateway to mukti, while association with those who are attached to women, is the entrance to tamas or samsara. It is indeed those who are of balanced mind, serene and composed, free from anger, friendly and righteous that are really great.
महत्सेवां द्वारमाहुर्विमुक्तेस्तमोद्वारं योषितां सङ्गिसङ्गम् । महान्तस्ते समचित्ताः प्रशान्ता विमन्यवः सुहृदः साधवो ये ॥ २ ॥
mahatsevāṁ dvāramāhurvimuktestamodvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgisaṅgam ।
mahāntaste samacittāḥ praśāntā vimanyavaḥ suhr̥daḥ sādhavo ye ॥ 2 ॥
सत्सङ्गतिः ॥ Good Association
Bhagavan states that Pururavas who spoke the Aila Gita then shook off the delusion through knowledge, realised the Supreme Being and attained the bliss of Self-realisation. He advices that an intelligent person, having abandoned bad company should associate himself with the righteous and the wise, for only their company can cut off the deep attachment of one's mind.
ततो दुःसङ्गमुत्सृज्य सत्सु सज्जेत बुद्धिमान् । सन्त एवास्य छिन्दन्ति मनोव्यासङ्गमुक्तिभिः ॥ २६ ॥ tato duḥsaṅgamutsr̥jya satsu sajjeta buddhimān । santa evāsya chindanti manovyāsaṅgamuktibhiḥ ॥ 26 ॥
To emphasize the benefits of associating with good people, Bhagavan explains their characteristics. He says,
The wise desire nothing. They are independent and do not accept any gifts. They devote their mind to the Supreme, have a calm mind and visualise the Supreme equally everywhere. They are free from the notions of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ and are beyond the pairs of opposites. They are free from attachments of any kind.
Also, they constantly talk of the Supreme Being and by virtue of listening to talks or stories about the Supreme Being (from them), one is completely absolved from their papas. For, those who listen to talks or stories about the Supreme Being with sincerity, reverence and faith in their efficacy, sing them and are delighted in them, become attached to the Supreme Being and attain faith and devotion to Him. And once devotional service unto the Supreme Being, the embodiment of knowledge and bliss, is achieved, there remains nothing else to be accomplished by one.
ता ये श्रृण्वन्ति गायन्ति ह्यनुमोदन्ति चादृताः । मत्पराः श्रद्दधानाश्च भक्तिं विन्दन्ति ते मयि ॥ २९ ॥
भक्तिं लब्धवतः साधोः किमन्यद् अवशिष्यते । मय्यनन्तगुणे ब्रह्मण्यानन्दानुभवात्मनि ॥ ३० ॥
tā ye śrr̥ṇvanti gāyanti hyanumodanti cādr̥tāḥ । matparāḥ śraddadhānāśca bhaktiṁ vindanti te mayi ॥ 29 ॥
bhaktiṁ labdhavataḥ sādhoḥ kimanyad avaśiṣyate । mayyanantaguṇe brahmaṇyānandānubhavātmani ॥ 30 ॥
Elaborating further on the importance of Satsangati, Bhagavan says,
यथोपश्रयमाणस्य भगवन्तं विभावसुम् । शीतं भयं तमोऽप्येति साधून् संसेवतस्तथा ॥ ३१ ॥
निमज्ज्योन्मज्जतां घोरे भवाब्धौ परमायनम् । सन्तो ब्रह्मविदः शान्ता नौर्दृढेवाप्सु मज्जताम् ॥ ३२ ॥
सन्तो दिशन्ति चक्षूंषि बहिरर्कः समुत्थितः । देवता बान्धवाः सन्तः सन्त आत्माहमेव च ॥ ३४ ॥
yathopaśrayamāṇasya bhagavantaṁ vibhāvasum । śītaṁ bhayaṁ tamo'pyeti sādhūn saṁsevatastathā ॥ 31 ॥
nimajjyonmajjatāṁ ghore bhavābdhau paramāyanam । santo brahmavidaḥ śāntā naurdr̥ḍhevāpsu majjatām ॥ 32 ॥
santo diśanti cakṣūṁṣi bahirarkaḥ samutthitaḥ । devatā bāndhavāḥ santaḥ santa ātmāhameva ca ॥ 34 ॥
Meaning: Just as cold, fear and darkness leave the one who resorts to Agni, similarly, ignorance, fear of death and all other evils run away from the one who associates, worships and lives with the wise. Infact, the wise who have realised Brahman are the supreme resort for those who rise and fall ie. take higher and lower births in the fearful ocean of Samsara like a strong life boat to those drowning in water. And unlike the Sun that bestows only one external eye on people after having risen, the wise bestow on them many eyes (internal) i.e., many ways of attaining knowledge. Thus, the wise are the veritable deities and true friends; They are the Supreme Being, the Atman.
Infact, it is mentioned in the very first chapter of the Bhagavata Purana that even water of the divine Ganga sanctifies only after actual ablutions while the mere presence of those who have taken resort to the Supreme Being's feet and who are the abodes of tranquility, purify one immediately when approached.
It is said that Pururavas or Aila, for this very reason abandoned his desire for the world of Urvashi. And then, liberated from all attachment, wandered the earth being innerly satisfied.
- Uddhava Gita (Refer Chapter 26)
- Anand Aadhar (2022), Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 11)
- Swami Sivananda (2000), Lord Krishna His Lilas and Teachings, Uttar Pradesh: The Divine Life Society.
- Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 11, Adhyaya 15
- Swami Sivananda (2000), Bhagavad Gita, Uttar Pradesh: The Divine Life Society.
- Bhagavad Gita, Adhyaya 5 (Karma Sannyasa Yoga).
- Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 11, Adhyaya 25
- Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 11, Adhyaya 26.
- The Bhagavata Purana (Part 2), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
- Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 5, Adhyaya 5.
- The Bhagavata Purana (Part 1), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.