SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND ENLIGHTENMENT
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, listen how you shall know Me fully without any doubt, with your mind absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, and performing yogic practices. (7.01)
METAPHYSICAL KNOWLEDGE IS THE ULTIMATE KNOWLEDGE
I shall impart you both the transcendental knowledge and the transcendental experience or a vision, after knowing that nothing more remains to be known in this world. (7.02)
Those who have transcendental experience become perfect (RV 1.164.39). Everything becomes (as though) known when the Supreme Being is heard, reflected, meditated upon, seen, and known (BrU 4.05.06). The need to know all other things becomes irrelevant with the dawn of the knowledge of the Absolute, the Supreme Spirit. All articles made of gold become known after knowing gold. Similarly, after knowing the Supreme Spirit, all manifestations of the Spirit become known. One who knows the Supreme Spirit is considered to have known all, but one who knows everything, but does not know the Supreme Spirit or God, does not know anything. The intent of the above verse is that knowledge of all other subjects remains incomplete without one’s understanding of who am I?
SEEKERS ARE VERY FEW
Scarcely one out of thousands of persons strives for perfection of Self-realization. Scarcely one among those successful strivers truly understands Me. (7.03)
Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22.14). Few are fortunate enough to obtain knowledge of, and devotion to, the Supreme Being.
DEFINITION OF SPIRIT AND MATTER
The mind, intellect, ego, ether, air, fire, water, and earth are the eightfold division of My material energy. (See also 13.05) (7.04)
‘Material Nature’ is defined as the material cause or the material out of which everything is made. Material Nature is the original source of the material world, consisting of three modes of material Nature and eight basic elements out of which everything in the universe has evolved, according to Sankhya doctrine. Material Nature is one of the transformations of divine power (Maya) and is the material cause of creation of the entire universe. Matter is thus a part of Lord’s illusory energy, Maya. Material Nature is also referred to as perishable, body, matter, Nature, Maya, field, creation, and manifest state. That which creates diversity as well as the diversity itself, and all that can be seen or known, including the mind, is called material Nature.
The material Nature or matter is My lower Nature. My other higher Nature is the Spirit by which this entire universe is sustained, O Arjuna. (7.05)
Two types of material Nature are described in verses 7.04 and 7.05. The eightfold material Nature described in verse 7.04 is called lower energy or material energy. This is commonly known as material Nature. It creates the material world. The other higher Nature mentioned in verse 7.05 is also called higher energy or the spiritual energy. This is also called consciousness, Self, Spirit, or Spiritual Being. Spirit is immutable; and material Nature, born of Spirit, is mutable. Spirit observes, witnesses, as well as supervises material Nature.
The Supreme Spirit is the efficient cause of creation of the universe. The material Nature and Spirit are not two independent identities but the two aspects of the Supreme Spirit. The Supreme Spirit, Spirit, and material Nature are the same yet different as the sun and its light and heat are the same as well as different.
The water and the fish that is born in and sustained by the water, are not one and the same. Similarly, the Spirit and the material Nature that is born out of Spirit, are not one and the same (MB 12.315.14). The soul is also called spirit when soul enjoys the modes of material Nature by associating with the senses. The Spirit and soul are also different because Spirit sustains soul, but the wise perceive no difference between the two (BP 4.28.62).
Some of the terms — such as the Supreme Spirit, Spirit, material Nature, and soul — have different definitions in different doctrines and also take different meanings, depending on the context. In this rendering, the nonsectarian word ‘God’ stands for the one and the only Lord of the universe ¾ the Supreme Being ¾ whom Hindus prefer to call by various personal names such as Rama, Krishna, Shiva, and Mother. Different terminology does confuse a reader who has to learn ¾ preferably with the help of a teacher ¾ full connotation, usage, and hierarchic relationships between these and various other expressions as one progresses on the path of spiritual journey.
SUPREME SPIRIT IS THE BASIS OF EVERYTHING
Know that all creatures have evolved from this twofold energy, and the Supreme Spirit is the source of the origin as well as the dissolution of the entire universe. (See also 13.26) (7.06)
There is nothing higher than the Supreme Being, O Arjuna. Everything in the universe is strung on the Supreme Being, like different jewels are strung on the thread of a necklace. (7.07)
One and the same Spirit is present in cows, horses, human beings, birds, and all other living beings just as the same thread is present in the necklace made of diamond, gold, pearl, or wood (MB 12.206.02-03). The entire creation is permeated by Him (YV 32.08).
O Arjuna, I am the sapidity in the water, I am the radiance in the sun and the moon, the sacred syllable “AUM” in all the Vedas, the sound in the ether, and potency in human beings. I am the sweet fragrance in the earth. I am the heat in the fire, the life in all living beings, and the austerity in the ascetics. (7.08-09)
O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. I am the intelligence of the intelligent and the brilliance of the brilliant. (See also 9.18 and 10.39). I am the strength of the strong who are devoid of selfish attachment. I am the lust or Cupid in human beings that is devoid of sense gratification, and is in accord with Dharma (for the sacred purpose of procreation after marriage), O Arjuna. (7.10-11)
Know that three modes of material Nature ¾ goodness, passion, and ignorance ¾ also emanate indirectly from Me. I am not dependent on, nor affected by, the modes of material Nature; but the modes of material Nature are dependent on Me. (See also 9.04 and 9.05) (7.12)
Human beings get deluded by various aspects of these three modes of material Nature; therefore, they do not know Me who am eternal and above these modes. (7.13)
HOW TO OVERCOME THE DELUSIVE DIVINE POWER (MAYA)
This divine power of Mine called Maya, consisting of three modes of matter or mind, is very difficult to overcome. Only those who surrender unto Me easily pierce the veil of Maya and know the Absolute Reality. (See also 14.26, 15.19, and 18.66) (7.14)
When one fully dedicates one’s life to the Supreme power and depends on Him in all circumstances, as a small child depends on the parents, then Lord personally takes charge of such a devotee. And when He takes charge of you, there is no need to be afraid of anything or to depend on anybody else for anything ¾ spiritual or material ¾ in life.
WHO SEEKS GOD?
The evil doers, the ignorant, the lowest persons who are attached to demonic nature and whose power of discrimination has been taken away by divine illusive power (Maya), do not worship or seek Me. (7.15)
Four types of virtuous ones worship or seek Me, O Arjuna. They are: The distressed, the seeker of Self-knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the enlightened one who has experienced the Supreme Being. (7.16)
Whatever a person does is the product of desire. Nobody can ever do anything without the desire for it (MS 2.04). Desires cannot be completely wiped out. One should transmute the lower forms of selfish desires. Desire for salvation is a higher or noble form of desire. Desire for devotional love of God is regarded as the highest and the purest form of all human desires. It is said that advanced devotees do not even desire salvation from God. They long for loving devotional service to God, life after life.
The lower desires of devotees who approach Him for fulfillment become like roasted seeds that cannot sprout and grow into a big tree of desire. What really matters is the deep concentration of mind on God through feelings of devotion, love, fear, or even for material gain (BP 10.22.26).
Among them the enlightened devotee, who is ever united with Me and whose devotion is single-minded, is the best because I am very dear to the enlightened and the enlightened is very dear to Me. (7.17)
Knowledge of God without devotion ¾ the love of God ¾ is a dry speculation, and devotion without knowledge of God is blind faith. The fruit of enlightenment grows on the tree of Self-knowledge only when the tree receives the water of pure devotion.
All these seekers are indeed noble, but I regard the enlightened devotee as My very Self because one who is steadfast becomes one with Me and abides in My supreme abode. (See also 9.29) (7.18)
After many births, the enlightened one resorts to Me by realizing that everything is, indeed, My manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (7.19)
All this is, of course, the Spirit because everything is born from, rests in, and merges into the Spirit (ChU 3.14.01). All this is Spirit. The Spirit is everywhere. All this universe is, indeed, Spirit (MuU 2.02.11). The Bible says: You are gods (John 10.34). The Vedas and Upanishads declare: Consciousness is Spirit (AiU 3.03 in Rigveda). I am Spirit (BrU 1.04.10 in Yajurveda). You are Spirit (ChU 6.08.07 in Samaveda). The Spirit is also called Atma (or Brahman, Brahm, Brahma) (MaU 02 in Atharvaveda). That which is One has become all these (RV 8.58.02). The entire creation and every order of reality are nothing but another form of divinity.
The male musk deer, after a vain search for the cause of the scent of the musk, at last will have to find the musk in himself. After God-realization, one sees that it is the Spirit of God (or Consciousness) that has become the universe and all living beings. Everything is consciousness. Creation is like countless waves appearing in the ocean of consciousness by the wind of divine power (Maya). Everything, including the primordial divine energy called Maya, is nothing but part and parcel of the Absolute.
Persons, whose discernment has been carried away by desires impelled by their Karmic impression, resort to celestial controllers and practice various religious rites for fulfillment of their material desires. (7.20)
WORSHIP OF DEITY IS ALSO A WORSHIP OF GOD
Whosoever desires to worship whatever deity — using any name, form, and method — with faith, I make their faith steady in that very deity. Endowed with steady faith, they worship that deity and obtain their wishes through that deity. Those wishes are, indeed, granted by Me. (7.21-22)
The power of the deities comes from the Supreme Lord as the aroma of the wind comes from the flower (BP 6.04.34). God is the bestower of fruits of work (BS 3.02.38). God fulfills all desires of His worshippers (BP 4.13.34). One should not look down upon any method of seeking God because all worships are the worship of the same God. He fulfills all sincere and beneficial prayers of a devotee if He is worshipped with faith and love. The wise realize that all names and forms are His, whereas the ignorant play the game of holy war in the name of religion to seek personal gain at the cost of others.
It is said that whatever deity a person may worship, all his or her obeisance and prayers reach the Supreme Being as all water that falls as rain eventually reaches the ocean. Whatever name and form of divinity one adores is worship of the same Supreme Being, and one gets the reward of deity-worship performed with faith. Desired results of worship are given, indirectly, by the Lord through one’s favorite deity. Human beings live in the darkness of the prison cells of pairs of opposites. Deities are like icons that can open the window through which the Supreme may be perceived. However, the worship of deities without full understanding of the nature of the Supreme Being is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.
Such material gains of these less intelligent human beings are temporary. The worshipers of celestial controllers go to celestial controllers, but My devotees certainly come to Me. (7.23)
Those who worship celestial controllers are under the mode of passion; and those who practice other, much lower grades of worship, such as the worship of evil spirits, ghosts, black magic, and Tantra ¾ also known as idolatry ¾ to get progeny, fame, or to destroy their enemies are under the mode of ignorance. Lord Krishna advises against such lower grades of worship and recommends worship of the one and only Supreme Lord, using any one name and form. The devotees of Krishna may, sometimes, worship Krishna in other forms also. In Mahabharata Lord Krishna Himself advised Arjuna to worship a much gentler mother form of God, known as Mother Durga, just before the start of the war for victory. This is like a child going to ask something from Mother instead of Father. The Lord is actually both mother and father of all creatures.
GOD CAN BE SEEN IN AN IMAGE OF ANY DESIRED FORM OF WORSHIP
The ignorant ones — unable to understand My immutable, incomparable, incomprehen- sible, and transcendental form — assume that I, the Supreme Being, am formless and take forms or incarnate. Concealed by My divine power (Maya), I do not reveal Myself to such ignorants who do not know and understand My unborn, eternal, and transcendental form and personality. (7.24-25)
The Sanskrit word “Avyakta” has been used in verses 2.25, 2.28, 7.24, 8.18, 8.20, 8.21, 9.04, 12.01, 12.03, 12.05, and 13.05. It takes different meanings according to the context. It is used in the sense of unmanifest, material Nature and also in the sense of Spirit. Supreme Being ¾ the Absolute Consciousness ¾ is higher than both unmanifest Nature and Spirit. “Avyakta” does not mean formless; it means unmanifest or a transcendental form that is invisible to our physical eyes and cannot be comprehended by the human mind or described by words. Everything has a form. Nothing in the cosmos, including the Supreme Being, is formless. Every form is His form. Supreme Being has a transcendental form and Supreme Personality. He is eternal, without any origin and end. The invisible Absolute is the basis of the visible world.
The meaning of verse 7.24 also seems to contradict the common belief that Lord incarnates, as mentioned in verses 4.06-08, and 9.11. It is said here that the Supreme Being is ever unmanifest, and, as such, He never becomes manifest. In a true sense, the Supreme Being or Absolute does not incarnate. He actually never leaves His Supreme Abode! It is the intellect of the Supreme Being that does the work of creation, maintenance, incarnation, and destruction by using His innumerable powers. The deep meaning of this verse may be understood if one seriously studies the peace invocation of Ishopanishad that states: “The invisible is the Infinite, the visible too is infinite. From the Infinite, the infinite universes manifest. The Infinite (Absolute) remains Infinite or unchanged, even though infinite universes come out of it.” People do not know the transcendental and imperishable nature of God and wrongly think that God also incarnates like an ordinary person. He does not incarnate, but manifests using His own divine potencies.
The transcendental Being is beyond the human conception of form and formless. Those who consider God formless are as wrong as those who say God has a form. The argument whether God is formless or has a form has nothing to do with our worship and spiritual practice. We can worship Him in any way or form that suits us. A name, form, and description of the imperceptible, all pervasive, and indescribable Lord has been given by saints and sages for cultivating the love of God in the hearts of common devotees. A name and a form are absolutely necessary for the purpose of worship and to nurture devotion ¾ a deep love for God. God appears to a devotee in a form in order to make his or her faith firm. Therefore, it is necessary that one should respect all forms of God (or deity), but establish relationship with and worship one form only.
I know, O Arjuna, the beings of the past, of the present, and those of the future, but no one really knows Me. (7.26)
All beings in this world are in utter ignorance due to the delusion of pairs of opposites born of likes and dislikes, O Arjuna. But the persons purified by unselfish deeds, whose Karma has come to an end, become free from the delusion of pairs of opposites and worship Me with firm resolve. (7.27-28)
When the Karma of a person comes to an end, only then one can understand the transcendental science and develop love and devotion to God.
Those who strive for freedom from the cycles of birth, old age, and death — by taking refuge in God — fully comprehend the true nature and powers of the Supreme. (7.29)
The steadfast persons who know Me alone as the basis of all ¾ the mortal beings, Divine Beings, and the Eternal Being ¾ even at the time of death, attain Me. (See also 8.04) (7.30)
Those who understand God to be the governing principle of the whole creation, the underlying basis of all Temporal Beings, the sustainer of all entities, and the enjoyer of all sacrifices and pleasures, are blessed with the freedom from the cycle of birth and death and attain salvation.