Haṃsagitā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Hamsagita, HaMsagitA, Hamsagitaa


Haṃsagitā literally means ‘the Song of the Swan’.

Origin

As the Bhagavadgītā of the Mahābhārata became extremely popular, many more Gītās were composed by later writers imitating it. They were either integrated into the purāṇas or were circulated as independent works. Out of the 36 such Gītās, the Hamsagitā is also the one. It forms a part of the Bhāgavata[1]

Context

When the four sages led by Sanaka questioned their father Brahmā about the way of freeing oneself from the clutches of the guṇas, he remembered Mahāviṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa, since he himself did not know the answer. Then Mahāviṣṇu appeared there in the form of a hamsa or swan and taught them the way. This has been christened as Hamsagitā.

Summary

A brief summary of this Gītā is as follows:

  • The Ātman is only one.
  • The prakṛti, out of which the various bodies have been made, is also one.
  • The mind of the jīva gets attached to viṣayas or objects of senses. This creates sanskāras[2] in it.
  • By meditating upon one’s Self as Paramātman (Supreme Self) and by an analysis of three states of consciousness[3] that leads to the conviction that one is the spirit beyond these states, one can transcend this attachment to the guṇas.[4]
  • The three fold discipline viz., śravaṇa,[5] manana[6] and nididhyāsana[7] will help in achieving this.
  • Once a person realizes himself as the Ātman, he becomes free from all the bondage, though he has to live for some more time due to prārabdha or residual karma. However, this will never affect his mind.

Haṃsagitā in the Mahābhārata

Mahābhārata also has Haṃsagitā in the Śāntiparva 299. It teaches the necessity of developing the virtues to realize the ultimate Reality. These attributes are:

  1. Truthfulness
  2. Self-control
  3. Forbearance
  4. Forgiveness

References

  1. Bhāgavata 11.13.16-42
  2. Sanskāras means strong tendencies.
  3. Three states of consciousness are jāgrat or awake, svapna or dream and suṣupti or deep-sleep.
  4. Guṇas are sattva, rajas and tamas.
  5. Śravaṇa means hearing about the Ātman.
  6. Manana means reflecting on Ātman.
  7. Nididhyāsana means meditating on Ātman.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore