SUPREME KNOWLEDGE AND THE BIG MYSTERY
Lord Krishna said: Since you have faith in My words, I shall reveal to you the most profound, secret, transcendental knowledge, together with transcendental experience. Knowing this, you will be freed from the miseries of worldly existence. (9.01)
KNOWLEDGE OF THE NATURE OF SUPREME IS THE BIGGEST MYSTERY
This Self-knowledge is the king of all knowledge, is the most secret, is very sacred, it can be perceived by instinct, conforms to righteousness (Dharma), is very easy to practice, and is timeless. (9.02)
O Arjuna, those who have no faith in this knowledge do not attain Me and follow the cycles of birth and death. (9.03)
Everything is possible for the person who has faith in God (Mark 9.23). Faith in the Supreme power holds the key to unlock the gates of salvation.
This entire universe is an expansion of Mine. All beings depend on Me (like a gold chain depends on gold and milk products depend on milk). I do not depend on – or become affected by – them; because I am the highest of all. (See also 7.12) (9.04)
From a dualistic viewpoint, waves depend on the ocean; the ocean does not depend on the waves. But from a monist point of view, as stated in verse 9.05 below, the question of wave abiding in the ocean or the ocean abiding in the wave does not arise because there is no wave or ocean. It is water only. Similarly, everything is a manifestation of the Spirit only (Gita 7.19).
Look at the power of My divine mystery; in reality, I – the sustainer and creator of all beings – do not depend on them, and they also do not depend on Me. (In fact, the gold-chain does not depend on gold; the gold-chain is nothing but gold. Also, matter and energy are different, as well as non-different). (9.05)
The wave is water, but the water is not wave. The water has become the vapor, the cloud, the rain, the ice, as well as the bubble, the lake, the river, the wave, and the ocean. These are nothing but names of different forms (or transformations) of water. From a monist viewpoint, there is no ocean, no wave, and no lake, but water only. However, a wave is a wave as long as it does not realize its true nature – that it is not a wave but water. When the wave realizes that it is water, the wave no longer remains a wave, but becomes water. Similarly, when one realizes that he or she is not this physical body – but the Eternal Being in the form of Spirit residing inside the physical body – one transcends physical body and immediately becomes one with the Spirit without undergoing any physical change. As a physical body, one is mortal, limited by a form, with color, gender, and temperament. But as a part of the Spirit, one is free, immortal, and limitless. This is called Nirvana, or salvation.
Perceive that all beings remain in Me — without any contact or without producing any effect — as the mighty wind, moving everywhere, eternally remains in space. (9.06)
Gross objects, such as planets and stars, remain in the subtle space without any visible connection at all. Similarly, the entire universe, including space itself, abides in the unified field called Consciousness. Time has no access to space, similarly, Consciousness is everlasting, indivisible, and unaffected by everything going on in its field just as clouds do not make the sky wet.
THEORY OF EVOLUTION AND INVOLUTION
All beings merge into My primary material Nature at the end of a cycle of just over 311 trillion solar years, O Arjuna, and I create them again at the beginning of the next cycle. (See also 8.17) (9.07)
As a spider spreads out the web from within, plays in it, and again draws the web into itself, similarly, the Eternal Being (or Spirit) creates the material world from itself, plays in it as living entity, and takes it into itself during complete dissolution (BP 11.09.21). All manifestations are born, sustained, and finally merge in Spirit as bubbles of water are born, sustained, and merge in water. Spirit manifests itself into the universe by using its own internal power without the help of any external agent. It is possible for one Spirit — by virtue of possessing diverse powers — to be transformed into multiplicity without any outside help. Spirit (or the Eternal Being) is thus both the efficient and the material cause of creation.
I create the entire multitude of beings again and again with the help of My material Nature. These beings are under control of the modes of material Nature. (9.08)
These acts of creation do not bind Me, O Arjuna, because I remain indifferent and unattached to those acts. (9.09)
The divine kinetic energy (Maya) – with the help of material Nature – creates all animate and inanimate objects under My supervision; thus, the creation keeps on going, O Arjuna. (See also 14.03) (9.10)
WAYS OF THE WISE, AND OF THE IGNORANT ARE DIFFERENT
Ignorant persons despise Me when I appear in human form because they do not know My transcendental nature as the great Lord of all beings (taking Me for an ordinary human being) and because they have false hopes, false actions, and false knowledge, and delusive (T|masika) qualities (See 16.04-18) of fiends and demons (they are unable to recognize Me). (9.11-12)
When Lord Krishna was here on this earth, in spite of accomplishing many transcendental and extraordinary feats, only a few people were able to recognize Him as an incarnation of the Supreme Being. Even a highly evolved soul, such as King Yudhishthira, was quite surprised to learn from sage Narada that his (King’s) cousin brother, Krishna, is the Supreme Being in human form (BP 7.15.79). The moral is that the Supreme cannot be known without one’s good Karma and His personal grace.
But great souls, O Arjuna, who possess divine qualities (See 16.01-03), know Me as immutable – as the material and efficient cause of creation – and worship Me single-mindedly with loving devotion. (9.13)
Persons of firm resolve worship Me with ever-steadfast devotion by always singing My glories, striving to attain Me, and prostrating before Me with devotion. (9.14)
Some worship Me by acquiring and propagating Self-knowledge. Others worship the infinite as one in all (or non-dual), as the master of all (or dual), and in various other ways. (9.15)
EVERYTHING IS A MANIFESTATION
OF THE ABSOLUTE
I am the ritual, I am the sacrifice, I am the offering, I am the herb, I am the mantra, I am the clarified butter, I am the fire, and I am the oblation. (See also 4.24). I am the supporter of the universe, the father, the mother, and the grandfather. I am the object of knowledge, the sacred syllable “AUM”, and the Vedas. I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the substratum, and the immutable seed. (See also 7.10 and 10.39) (9.16-18)
I give heat. I send, as well as withhold, the rain. I am immortality, as well as death. I am also both the eternal Absolute and the temporal, O Arjuna. (The Supreme Being has become everything. See also 13.12) (9.19)
ATTAIN SALVATION BY DEVOTIONAL LOVE
The doers of the rituals prescribed in the Vedas, the drinkers of the nectar of devotion, and whose sins are cleansed, worship Me by doing good deeds for gaining heaven. As a result of their meritorious deeds, they go to heaven and enjoy celestial sense pleasures. (9.20)
They again return to the mortal world – after enjoying the wide world of heavenly pleasures – upon exhaustion of the fruits of their good Karma. Thus, following the injunctions of the Vedas, persons working for the fruit of their actions take repeated birth and death. (See also 8.25) (9.21)
I personally take care of both the spiritual and material welfare of those ever-steadfast devotees who always remember and adore Me with single-minded contemplation. (9.22)
Wealth and happiness automatically come to the righteous person without that person asking for it, as the river automatically goes to the ocean (TR 1.293.02). Material wealth naturally comes to the virtuous person as river water naturally flows downstream (VP 1.11.24). Lord Rama said: I always take care of those who worship Me with unswerving devotion as a mother takes care of her child (TR 3.42.03). The worship of the Mother form of the Lord is encouraged for the seekers of health, wealth, and knowledge. One who always thinks of God is considered to be God-conscious, Krishna-conscious, or Self-realized. Lord personally takes charge of one who remembers Him single-mindedly. His nature is to reciprocate the love of His pure devotees by fulfilling their desires.
Father in the heaven knows all of what you need. Give first place to His Kingdom and what He requires. He will provide you everything (Matthew 6.32-33). Nothing is difficult to obtain when I am pleased, but a pure devotee whose mind is exclusively fixed upon Me does not ask anything, including salvation, but the opportunity to serve Me (BP 6.09.48). The Lord chooses much better things for you if you let Him be your guide by surrendering unto His will.
O Arjuna, even those devotees who worship the deities with faith, they also worship Me, but in an improper way. (9.23)
There is only one Absolute; the wise call Him and worship Him by various names (RV 1.164.46). The worship of the divine as Mother is also found in the Vedas where the sage longs to be a child of the divine Mother (RV 7.81.04). The Absolute has also manifested as celestial controllers – for sustaining creation – who are one with many names and forms (RV 3.55.01). The Supreme Being is a woman, a man, a boy, a girl, and an old person. He exists in all forms (AV 10.08.27). All deities, male or female, are representations of one divine. He is One in many and many in One. One should not worship material objects in creation, such as family, friends, and possessions; but one can worship the creator in material objects because God is in all rocks. The Vedic principle of celestial controllers does not diversify the Unity, but unifies the diversity. Deities are just different names and forms, or symbolic representations, of the energies of nature.
The deity is a conduit through which the water of divine grace can be made to flow by the power of conviction – expressed through worship and prayer – from the reservoir of infinite consciousness. However, the seedling of faith becomes the fruit tree of conviction only when it comes out of the ground of Self-knowledge and survives the frost of logic. We evoke the potential energy of cosmic forces by contemplating deities with faith. Faith really works. The power of faith in rituals or spiritual science works in the same manner as a placebo works by the power of faith in medical science. However, it is not very easy for intellectuals to develop a deep faith in the power of rituals. Joseph Campbell said: “The images of myth are reflections of the spiritual potentialities of everyone of us, and deities stimulate divine love.”
All different types of worship reach One and the same Lord as waters of all different rivers reach the same ocean. External worship with the help of an image or a symbolic representation of God is necessary for beginners. It is very helpful to develop a personal relationship with a deity of one’s choice who can be consulted and counted upon for help during moments of crisis in life. Those who are against deity worship do not understand that all-pervading God can also exist within a deity. Such persons limit His supremacy.
The ancient Vedic scriptures have authorized the deity form of worship of God because it cleanses the heart, mind, and the subtle and gross senses of the worshiper, and increases as well as sustains one’s faith in God.
The next step is the chanting of hymns and the repetition (Japa) of divine names. The next stage is meditation. The vision of Spirit-consciousness, or beholding the Spirit manifested through every individual, is the highest spiritual development.
Because I – the Supreme Being – alone am the enjoyer of all sacrificial services and Lord of the universe. But people do not know My true transcendental nature. Therefore, they fall into the repeated cycles of birth and death. (9.24)
Worshippers of the celestial controllers go to the celestial controllers, the worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, and the worshippers of the ghosts go to the ghosts; but My devotees come to Me, and are not born again. (See also 8.16) (9.25)
It is said that whatever one worships, that destination one attains; or one becomes what one regularly thinks of.
LORD ACCEPTS AND EATS THE OFFERING OF LOVE AND DEVOTION
Whosoever offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water with devotion, I accept and eat the offering of devotion by the pure-hearted. (9.26)
The Lord is hungry for love and the feeling of devotion. A dedicated heart, not complicated rituals, is needed to please God and obtain His grace. One should consume food after offering it to God first. God eats the food offerings to please His devotees. The mind becomes purified when one eats food after offering it first to the Lord.
O Arjuna, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation to the sacred fire, whatever charity you give, whatever austerity you perform; dedicate everything as an offering to Me. (See also 12.10, 18.46) (9.27)
It is neither necessary, nor sufficient that one should follow a certain routine, ritualistic offering of worship everyday to please God. Whatever one does per one’s nature by body, mind, senses, thought, intellect, action, and speech, should be done with the thought that it is all for God only (BP 11.02.36). People have achieved liberation by performing only one type of devotional service, such as chanting, hearing, remembering, serving, meditating, renouncing, and surrendering. The love for fame is a fire that can destroy all yoga and austerity. The illusory power of divine kinetic energy (Maya) is formidable. It betrays everyone, including the yogis, unless one does everything for God.
You shall become free from the bondage – good and bad – of Karma and come to Me by this attitude of complete dedication to Me. (9.28)
The Self is present equally in all beings. There is no one hateful or dear to Me. But those who worship Me with love and devotion are very close to Me, and I am also very close to them. (See also 7.18) (9.29)
Lord Krishna says here that one should not be partial, but should treat a faithful or a helpful person better then others. Lord is neither merciless nor partial to anyone. Lord loves no one and hates no one, but does give special preference to His devotees. He said: My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them (BP 9.4.68). To protect His devotee is His nature. Lord goes out of way to help and fulfill the desires of His sincere devotees. He also reciprocates by always thinking of those devotees who always think of Him and saves such devotees from all calamities and major problems. The best path of perfection – suitable to the individual’s nature – is shown to His sincere devotees.
I am with the Father, and the Father is with Me (John 10.38 and 14.11). Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find (Matthew 7.07). God’s grace is just for the asking. The doors of devotion are open to all, but the faithful and the dedicated ones who burn the incense of devotion in the temple of their heart become one with the Lord. A father loves all his children equally, but the child who is devoted to the father is more dear although he or she may not be very rich, intelligent, or powerful. Similarly, a devotee is very dear to the Lord. Lord does not give everything – such as both material and spiritual wealth – to everybody. One attains perfection — by the grace of God — through the practice of spiritual discipline. Both self-effort and grace are needed. According to the Vedas, the gods help only those who help themselves (RV 4.33.11). Yogananda said: God chooses those who choose Him.
The grace of God, like rays of the sun, is equally available to all, but due to free will one must open the window of the heart to let the sunshine come in. It is said that divinity is our birthright; however, self-effort in the right direction is also necessary to remove hindrances brought about by our own past deeds. The grace of God also comes expeditiously through our own efforts. It is also believed that divine grace and self-effort are one and the same. Self-effort promotes the process of God-realization as manure promotes growth of plants.
THERE IS NO UNFORGIVABLE SINNER
If even the most sinful person resolves to worship Me with single-minded, loving devotion, such a person must be regarded as a saint because of making the right resolution. (9.30)
There are no unforgivable sins or sinners. The fire of sincere repentance burns all sins. The Koran says: Those who believe in Allah and do right action, He will forgive their evil deeds (Surah 64.09). Yogananda used to say: A saint is the sinner who never gave up. Every saint had a past, and every sinner has a future. The Bible says: Everyone who believes in Him shall have eternal life (John 3.15). Acts of austerity, service, and charity done without any selfish motive can atone for sinful acts, as darkness vanishes after sunrise (MB 3.207.57). If a devotee keeps his or her mind focused on God, there will be no room for sinful desires to mature, and a sinful person soon becomes righteous as mentioned below:
Such a person soon becomes righteous and attains everlasting peace. Be aware, O Arjuna, that My devotee never fails to reach the goal. (9.31)
PATH OF DEVOTIONAL LOVE IS EASIER
Anybody can attain the Supreme Abode by just surrendering unto My will with loving devotion, O Arjuna. (See also 18.66) (9.32)
A spiritual discipline should be commensurate with the faith, interest, and ability of the person. Some may be disqualified or not ready to receive the knowledge of the Supreme, but the path of devotion is open to all. No one is disqualified due to caste, creed, gender, or mental capacity to receive devotion. Most saints and sages consider the path of devotion the easiest and the best of all paths.
It should be very easy for the wise and devout sages to attain the Supreme Being. Therefore, having obtained this joyless and transitory human life, one should always worship Me with loving devotion. (9.33)
The living entity, under the spell of illusory power of divine kinetic energy (Maya), goes through the repeated cycles of birth and death. The good Lord, out of His grace, gives to a living entity a human body that is very difficult to obtain. The human body, created in the image of God, is the jewel of creation and has the capacity to deliver the soul from the net of transmigration to higher levels of existence. All other forms of life on the earth, except human life, are devoid of higher intellect and discrimination.
As a tiger suddenly comes and takes away a lamb from the flock, similarly, death takes away a person unexpectedly. Therefore, spiritual discipline and righteous deeds should be performed without waiting for a proper time to come (MB 12.175.13). The goal and obligation of human birth are to seek Him. The search for God should not wait. One should continue this search parallel with other duties of life; otherwise, it may be too late. Lord Krishna concludes this chapter by giving practical ways to engage people in His devotional service below:
Always think of Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me, and bow down to Me. Thus, uniting yourself with Me by setting Me as the supreme goal and the sole refuge, you shall certainly come to Me. (9.34)