By Swami Harshananda
Haṃsagitā literally means ‘the Song of the Swan’.
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
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.
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 in it.
- By meditating upon one’s Self as Paramātman (Supreme Self) and by an analysis of three states of consciousness that leads to the conviction that one is the spirit beyond these states, one can transcend this attachment to the guṇas.
- The three fold discipline viz., śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana 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:
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore