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CHAPTER 7

IMMACULATE KNOWLEDGE

The foregoing chapters contain almost all the main issues that are brought up in the Geeta. There has been an elaborate presentation of the Way of Selfless Action and the Way of Knowledge; of the nature of action and yagya as well as the mode of their performance and their consequence; of the meaning of yog and its outcome; and of divine manifestation and varnasankar. The importance of waging war-of action-for the welfare of mankind even by men who abide in God has been stressed at length. In the next chapters Krishn will take up some other supplementary questions, in the context of subjects that have already been touched upon, and whose resolution will be of assistance in the act of worship.

In the last verse of Chapter 6, the Yogeshwar himself laid the basis of a question by stating that the best yogi is one whose Self abides in God. What does abiding firmly in God mean? Many a yogi attain to God, but they feel something missing somewhere. When does that stage appear at which there is not even the least imperfection? When does perfect knowledge of God come about ? Krishn now speaks the state in which such knowledge is attained to.

1. ‘‘The Lord said, ‘Listen, O Parth, to how by taking refuge in me and practising yog with devotion, you shall know me beyond any doubt as the all-perfect Soul in all beings.’’’

The essential precondition of this complete awareness of God should be carefully noted. If Arjun wishes to have such knowledge, he has to practise yog with devotion and by casting himself at God’s mercy. But there are several other aspects of the problem which Krishn is going to dwell upon, and he tells Arjun to listen carefully to him so that all his doubts are resolved. The importance of perfect knowledge of the many glories of God is stressed again.

2. "1 shall fully teach you this knowledge as well as the all-pervasive action that results from realization of God (vigyan), after which there remains nothing better in the world to know.’’

Krishn offers to enlighten Arjun fully on the knowledge of God along with the knowledge that is here called "vigyan" . Knowledge is the attainment, in the moment of accomplishment, of the substance of immortality (amrit-tattwa) that is generated by yagya. Direct perception of the essence of God is knowledge. But the other knowledge, called vigyan, is the attainment by a realized sage of the ability to act simultaneously everywhere. It is the knowledge of how God at the same time operates in all beings. It is the knowledge of how he makes us undertake action and of how he enables the Self to travel across the way to the identical Supreme Spirit. This way of God is vigyan. Krishn tells Arjun that he is going to explain this knowledge to him fully, after knowing which there will be nothing better in the world for him to know. True knowers are much too few.

3. "Hardly does one man among thousands strive to know me and hardly does one among the thousands who strive for this know my essence."

Only rarely does a man endeavour to realize God and, among those who strive to do so, there is scarcely a man who succeeds inknowing his reality by direct perception. Now, where is this total reality-the entire essence? Is it stationary at one place as a corporal body-a lump of matter, or is it all-pervading? Krishn now speaks of this.

4. "I am the creator of all nature with its eight divisions-earth, water, fire, wind, ether, mind, intellect, and ego."

From Krishn, God, has arisen nature with all its components. This nature with its eight parts is the lower nature.

5. "This nature, O the mighty-armed, is the lower, insensate nature, but against it there is my conscious, living nature which animates the whole world."

The nature with eight parts is God’s lower nature, dull and insensible. But, along with this, there is his conscious nature which impregnates and gives life to the whole world, But the individual Soul too is "nature" because it is associated with the other, lower nature.

6. "Know that all beings arise from these two natures and that I am both the creator and the end of the whole world."

All beings spring from these animate and inanimate natures. These are the two sources of all life. God (Krishn) is the root of the whole universe, both its creator and destroyer. It springs from him and is also dissolved in him. He is the spring of nature as long as it exists, but he is also the power that dissolves nature after a sage has overcome its limitations. But this is a matter of intuition.Men have always been intrigued by these universal questions of creation and destruction, which is sometimes calles ‘‘doom’’. Almost all holy books of the world have attempted to explain these phenomena in one way or another. Some of them insist that the end of the world is brought about by submersion under water, while according to others the earth is annihilated because the sun comes too close to it and burns it. Some call the event the Day of Final Judgement, the day on which God judges all beings, while others explain away the idea of doom as a recurrent feature or as dependent on a specific cause. According to Krishn, however, nature is without beginning and end. Changes there have been, but it has never been completely destroyed.According to Indian mythology, Manu experienced a doom in which eleven sages had sailed, by tying their boat to the fin of a fish, to a towering peak of the Himalayas and found shelter there. In the sacred composition called the Shreemad Bhagwat ,’ which is contemporaneous with Krishn-God came down to earth for his pleasure-and dealing with his life and precepts, the sage Mrikandu’s son Markandeya Ji has rendered an account of the doom he claims to have seen with his own "eyes." He lived on the north of the Himalayas, on the bank of the Pushpbhadr river.According to Chapters 8 and 9 of the twelfth section of Shreemad Bhagwat, the great sage Shaunak and some others told Sut Ji (a pupil of Vyas) that Markandeya Ji had had a vision of Balmukund (infant Vishnu) on a Banyan-leaf. But the difficulty was that he belonged to their lineage and was born only sometime before them; and it was a fact that the earth was never submerged and destroyed after his birth. With all this, how was it possible that he had beheld destruction of the earth? What kind of deluge was it?Sut Ji told them that, pleased with his prayers, God had manifested himself to Markandeya Ji, who had then expressed his wish to see God’s maya, driven by which the Soul has to wander through endless births. God had granted his wish and one day, when the sage was sitting absorbed in contemplation, he saw towering, furious waves of the sea hurtling on to him from all sides. Terrible fishes leapt from the waves. He scurried here and there to save himself. The sky, the sun, the moon, heaven itself, and all the constellations were drowned in the flood. In the meantime he saw a Banyan tree with an infant on one of its leaves. As the child breathed in, Markandeya Ji was drawn inside him by the inrushing air, and there he discovered his hermitage along with the solar system and the whole universe alive and intact. Soon after, he was cast out with an exhalation. When his eyes opened at last, Markandeya Ji found him self safe on his seat in his hermitage. So whatever he had seen was but a dream-a vision.

It is evident that the sage had this divine, transcendental vision-this intuitive experience - only after worship spread over years beyond reckoning. It was a perception by his Soul; everything outside was the same as before. So doom, too, is an event that is revealed by God within the heart of a yogi. When at the completion of the process of worship, worldly influences cease to be and only God remains in the yogi’s mind-that is doom. This dissolution is not an external phenomenon. Final doom is the inexpressible state of the total identity of Soul with God while the body yet is. This Is something that can be felt through action alone. Whether it is you or me, we are victims of delusion if we judge by the mind alone. This is what we are told now.

7. "There is, O Dhananjay, not even one object other than me, and the whole world is linked up with me like the pearls of a necklace."

There is absolutely nothing else except God and the whole world is tied up with him. But it is possible to know this only when, as it was said in the first verse of the chapter, one engages in yog with total resignation to God, and never before this. Participation in yog is an indispensable necessity.

8. "O Arjun, I am that which makes water liquescent, the radiance in the sun and the moon, the sacred syllable OM, the word’s echo (Shabd) in the ether, and I am also the manliness in men."

God is all these and all knowledge; and the whole wisdom of the Ved has been breathed forth from him. He is also much more.

9. "I am the fragrance in the earth, the flame in fire, the Soul that animates all beings, and the penance of ascetics.’’

God pervades the whole universe, the earth, the fire, all creatures, and even the severe spiritual austerities that are practised by ascetics. He dwells in every atom.

10. "Since l am also the intellect in wise men and the magnificence of men of glory, know you, O Arjun, that I am the eternal fountainhead of all beings.

God is the seed from which all creatures are born. Moreover,-

11. "I am, O the best of Bharat, the selfless power of the strong and I, too, am the aspiration for realization in all beings that is never hostile to God."

God is the righteous aspiration of the mighty and also their strength which is free from all desire. Doesn’t everyone in the world wish to be strong? Some endeavour to achieve it through physical exercise and some through the amassing of nuclear weapons. But Krishn affirms that he is the strength that is beyond all desire and attachment. This is true strength. He is also in all beings the aspiration that is propitious for dharm. God alone is the real dharm. The immortal Soul that holds all within himself is dharm. And God is also that craving which is not inimical to dharm. Krishn had prompted Arjun earlier to aspire to the realization of God. All desires are forbidden, but yearning for the attainment of God is essential because we cannot be inclined to worship in its absence. This hunger for God is also a gift from Krishn.

12. "And know that although all the properties of nature (tamas, rajas and sattwa) have arisen from me, they neither dwell in me nor do I dwell in them."

All the properties of nature, ignorance, passion and virtue, are born from God. Yet, however, he is not in them and they are not in him; he is not absorbed in them and they cannot enter into him because he is unattached to and unsullied by them. He has to gain nothing from nature or its properties, and so they cannot taint him.Despite this, however, as the body’s hunger and thirst are caused by the Soul and yet the Soul is wholly unconcerned with food and water, even so although nature arises from God, he is untouched by its properties and activities.

13. "Since the whole world is deluded by feelings resulting from the operation of the three properties, it is unaware of my imperishable essence that is beyond them."

Blinded by feelings associated with the operation of tamas, rajas and sattwa, men fail to perceive the indestructible and the one reality that is God-quite beyond the properties of nature. So He cannot be known if there is even the slightest trace of these properties. So long as these properties envelop the worshipper’s mind, his journey is incomplete. He has still to go along; he is still on the way.

14. "This divine three-propertied yog-maya of mine is most difficult to overcome, but they who seek refuge in me get over the illusion and achieve salvation.

God’s celestial maya, the power from which the empirical universe is evolved, is most difficult to comprehend, but they who are always engaged in the worship of God navigate safely across it. This maya is called divine, but that does not mean that we should start burning incense sticks as a reverent offering to it. It should never be forgotten that it is something that we have to vanquish and get across.

15. "The ignorant and unwise are the most despicable of men and doers of wickedness, because deluded by maya and having demoniacal qualities they do not worship me."

They who contemplate and adore God know this. And yet there are many others who do not worship. Men with evil propensities whose discrimination has been ravished by maya, the meanest amongst mankind who are immersed in lust and anger, do not worship God. In the following verse Krishn turns to worshippers.

16. "Four kinds of devotees, O the best of Bharat, worship me: the ones who desire material rewards, the distressed and those men of knowledge who aspire to know me.

The four kinds cover all worshippers. There are first those who do the appointed task because doing it will bring good fortune; they are the doers of selfish action. There are, then, men who devote themselves to God because they wish to be liberated from grief. Yet other devotees long to have a direct perception of God. And, lastly, there are the wise men, the realized sages, who have attained to the stage of reaching the supreme goal. Material wealth is the means that sustains the body as well as all its relations. So riches and satisfaction of desires are first provided by God. Krishn says that he is the provider of means, but his words suggest more than this. The really lasting wealth is made up of spiritual acquisition. This is the real treasure.While a worshipper is busy toiling for material gains, God prompts him on towards spiritual achievements, because he knows that spiritual merits are man’s real wealth and that his worshipper will not always be contented with material acquisitions alone. So he also begins to bestow spiritual riches on him. Granting profit in the mortal world and support in the next world are both God’s burden. Under no circumstance does he leave the worshipper unrecompensed.There are, then, worshippers with grief-laden hearts. There are also among worshippers of God men who wish to know him fully. Men who have attained knowledge of God by perception also worship him. Thus, according to Krishn, four kinds of men are his devoted adorers. But of all of them the worshipper with the wisdom that comes from perception is the most superior. The significant point is, however, that this sagacious man is a devotee, too. Among all these kinds,–

17. "To the wise man of knowledge who worships me, the one God, with steady love and devotion, I am the dearest, and so is he to me.’’

Of all worshippers, they love God most who have been enlightened by perception and who therefore abide in him with single-minded devotion. This feeling is reciprocated, for God also loves this worshipper more than anyone else. This wise man corresponds to God; and-

18. "Although they are all generous because they worship me with devotion, the wise man of realization is-I believe-identical with me, his supreme goal.’’

All the four kinds of worshippers are portrayed as generous. But what charity have they shown? Does God benefit by a worshipper’s devotion? Do they give him something he does not have? Obviously, the answer to all these questions is a clear "no." It is really God alone who is magnanimous. He is ever ready to save Souls from degradation. So generosity is also a quality of those who wish that their Souls are not debased. We have thus a case here of mutual charity. They are all, both God and his worshippers, generous. But, according to Krishn, the worshipper endowed with knowledge is identical with him because that discriminating worshipper dwells in him with the faith that he is his sublime goal. In other words, he is God-he is within him. There is no separation between God and him. The same idea is re-emphasized in the next verse:

19. "That great Soul is indeed most rare who worships me with the knowledge, acquired at the end of many births, that I (Vasudev) am the only reality.’’

The enlightened sage, who is at last blessed with perception after meditating for many births, undertakes divine adoration with the conviction that Krishn is everything. Such a sage is the most rare. He does not worship any external entity called Vasudev, but rather feels the presence of God within his own Self. This is the man with discrimination whom Krishn also describes as a seer. Only such realized sages can instruct the human society that is outside them. These seers, who have directly perceived reality, are according to Krishn the most rare. So all men should worship God because he is the giver of spiritual glory as well as pleasure. Yet people do not worship him. This paradox is accounted for in the following verse.

20. "Driven by the properties of their nature, they who fall from knowledge desire worldly pleasures and, in imitation of the prevailing customs, worship other gods instead of the one single God.’’

Bereft of discernment because of their craving for sensual pleasures, ignorant men are unable to see that the enlightened sage, the accomplished teacher and God alone have real worth. So, urged by their nature or rather by the merits (sanskar) they have earned and stored through many lives, they resort to current creed and practices, and devote themselves to the worship of other gods. Here for first time the Geeta makes mention of other gods.

21. ‘‘It is I who bestow steadiness on the faith of covetous worshippers according to the nature of the gods they worship.’’

It is God who imparts the quality of unflinching firmness to the devotion of worshippers who adore other gods because they wish for material rewards. It is God who makes the faith in other gods steady. Had gods really existed, this task would have been accomplished by these entities themselves· But since they are only a myth, it is God who has to render the faith of worshippers in them firm and strong.

22. "Possessing this strengthened faith, the worshipper devotes himself to his chosen deity with devotion and, through this undoubtedly achieves the enjoyment of desired pleasures which are also appointed by my laws."

Possessed of faith that is propped up by God, the desire - ridden worshipper devotes himself with renewed vigour to the adoration of some unworthy gods, but surprisingly he too is rewarded with the desired satisfaction . But this satisfaction is also a gift from God. So God is also the bestower of enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Mean pleasure rather than divine bliss is the reward for those who worship other gods for satisfaction of their desires. But in a way they are rewarded. So there seems apparently nothing wrong with this form of worship. However, this is what Krishn has to say on the question :

23. "But the rewards of these deluded men are finite because they only attain to the gods they worship, whereas the man who worships me howsoever he does it -realizes me.’’

The prizes won by these ignorant men are destructible. They are impermanent because they are worldly pleasures which have a beginning and an end.The pleasures that are with us today slip away from us tomorrow. Men who worship other gods acquire powers that are themselves perishable. The whole world, from the level of divinities to that of the lowest creatures, is mutable and subject to death. On the contrary, the man who worships God attains to him and so to the ineffable peace that descends on the Soul after he is united with God.Yogeshwar Krishn had exhorted Arjun earlier to foster gods, that is pious impulses, through the observance of yagya. Good fortune accrues from an increase and strengthening of these riches. And ultimately, with gradual progress, there is the attaintment of perception and supreme peace. In this context ‘‘gods’’ represent forces of piety by which the divinity of God is secured. These godly impulses that have to be fostered are the means for salvation and their twenty-four attributes are enumerated in Chapter 16.The righteousness which garners the sanctity of God within the worshipper’s heart is named "god." It was at the outset something internal, but with the passage of time people began to visualize these qualities in palpable forms. So idols were made, the karmkand was devised, and truth was lost sight of. Krishn has attempted to refute the misconception about gods and goddesses in verses 20-23 of the present chapter. Naming "other gods" for the first time here in the Geeta, he has emphatically said that they do not exist. Whenever faith declines or grows feeble, it is he who supports it and makes it firm, and it is also he who provides rewards for this faith. But these rewards are finite and perishable.

Fruits are destroyed, gods are destroyed, and worshippers of these gods are also destroyed. So only the ignorant who are lacking in discrimination worship other gods. Later Krishn will even go to the extent of affirming that such worship is an impiety. (9.23)

24. "Wanting in wisdom and oblivious of the reality that I am immaculate and beyond the mind and senses, men regard my manifestation as a physical incarnation."

There is nothing like gods and the rewards, too, for their worship are ephemeral. All this notwithstanding, all men are not devoted to God. This is so because men who are bereft of discernment are, as we have seen in the last verse, only inadequately aware of God’s perfection and magnificence. It is for this reason that they deem the unmanifest God as assuming a human form. In other words, Krishn was a yogi in the body of a man, verily a Yogeshwar, a Lord of Yog. The one who is a yogi himself and has the ability to impart yog to others is called a Yogeshwar, an accomplished teacher. Adopting the right form of worship, and with gradual refinement, sages also come to abide in that state. Although wearing the apparel of a human body, they at last abide in the formless, unmanifest God. But ignorant men yet regard them as ordinary human beings. How can they be God, these men think, when they were born just like them? They are hardly to blame for this, for their deluded minds, wherever they look, see only the external form. Yogeshwar Krishn now explains why they are unable to see the Spirit embodied within the physical body.

25. "Hidden behind my yog-maya, I am not perceived by all and this ignorant man does not know me, the birthless and immutable God.’’

For an ordinary man, maya, the power by which God evolves the physical universe, is like a thick screen behind which God is completely hidden. Beyond this yog-maya, or the practice of yog,there is also another curtain. It is only by a constant and long practice of yog that the worshipper reaches the culminating point of yog where the hidden God is perceived. Yogeshwar Krishn says that he is hidden by his yog-maya and only they who have secured yog can know him. Since he is not manifest to all, the ignorant and unwise man does not know him-the birthless (who is not going to be born again), eternal (who cannot be destroyed), and unmanifest (who is not going to be manifest again). Arjun initially regarded Krishn as just another mortal. But after he is enlightened and his vision is enlarged, he begins to plead and beg. By and large it is only too true that we are no better than blind men in the matter of recognizing the unmanifest Soul of sages and great men.

26. "I know, O Arjun, all beings that have been (or will be) in the past, present, and future, bur no one knows me (without true devotion).’’

Why it is so is explained in the next verse:

27. "All beings in the world fall into ignorance, O Bharat, because of the contradictions of attachment and repugnance, and of happiness and sorrow.’’

All men are victims of delusion because of the endless dualities of material nature and so fail to know God (Krishn). Does it imply that no one will know him? In Krishn’s words:

28. "But they who worship me in every way are selflessly engaged in good deeds, free from sin and delusion, arising from the conflicts of attachment and repulsion, and of firm intent.’’

Freed from evil and conflicting passions, the doers of virtuous action which brings; the worldly life-of birth and death-to a final end, and which has been variously described as worthy action, ordained action, and the deed of yagya, worship and adore him to achieve redemption.Here it is evident beyond any doubt that the way to God-realization is according to Krishn only through an accomplished teacher. One who performs the ordained task under the guidance of such a mentor acquires mastery of spiritual capacity as well as perfect action. This is also further illustrated in the following verses.

29. "Only they who strive for liberation from the cycle of birth and death by finding shelter under me succeed in knowing God, spiritual wisdom and all action.’’

Knowledge of God, of the kinship of the individual and Universal Soul, and of all action prepares a man spiritually to take refuge in God and seek the ultimate liberation. Along with this,-

30."They who know me as the presiding Spiritin all beings (adhibhut) and gods (adhidaiv), and in yagya ( adhiyagya ), and whose minds are fixed on me, know me at the end.’’

Men who know Krishn also know the Supreme Spirit that animates all beings; all gods, and yagya. They, whose minds are absorbed in him, know the God in Krishn, dwell in him, and attain to him for ever. In verses 26-27, Krishn has said that men do not know him because they are ignorant. But they who aspire to be rid of delusion know him along with God, the embodiment of perfection, the identity between him and the individual Soul as well as the material universe, and perfect action: in brief, the immaculate nature of the Spirit that dwells in all beings, gods, and yagya. The source of all this is a seer : one who has realized the truth. So it is not that this awareness is impossible to acquire. But there is an appointed way by following which alone can a man hope to possess this perfect knowledge.

«««««

Yogeshwar Krishn has said in this chapter that they who surrender themselves to him and practise selfless action know him perfectly. But hardly one among thousands endeavours to know him and hardly one among those who try really knows him. The worshipper who has had a direct perception of him knows him not as a corporal body-a clod of earth, but as the all-pervading Spirit. The eightfold nature is his lower, insensate nature, but infusing its depths there is the Spirit which is his conscious nature. All beings arise from the association of these two natures. Krishn is the root of all creation. It is he who has made both the radiance of light and the valour of men. He is the selfless manliness of the strong and he, too, is the sacred aspiration of his devotees. All desires are forbidden, but Arjun is told to cherish the desire to realize him. The emergence of this one worthwhile craving is also a blessing from him. The desire to be united with God is the only desire that is in tune with the essence of dharm.Krishn has further said that ignorant and unwise men do not worship him because, hidden behind his yog-maya, he appears to them as just an ordinary mortal. It is only by continuous meditation that seekers can pierce through the pall of maya and know the unmanifest essence of his physical incarnation. He cannot be known without this.He has four kinds of devotees, coveters of rewards, the distressed, men who desire to know him, and men of knowledge. The wise sage, who is at last blessed with perception after practising meditation over the span of many births, becomes one with Krishn. In other words, it is only by contemplation through a number of lives that God can be attained. But men who are afflicted with attachment and aversion can never know him. On the other hand, they who perform the ordained action (which is worship) in a state of freedom from the delusions of worldly attraction and repulsion, and who are diligently engaged in contemplation to be liberated from mortality, know him perfectly. They know him along with the all-pervasive God, perfect action, adhyatm, adhidaiv, and yagya. They dwell in him and remember him at the end, so that they never lose his memory thereafter. The chapter may thus be summed up as a discourse on the perfect knowledge of God, or what we may call ‘‘immaculate knowledge."

Thus concludes the Seventh Chapter, in the Upanishad of Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta, on the Knowledge of the Supreme Spirit, the Discipline of Yog, and the Dialogue between Krishn and Arjun, entitled:

"Samagr Gyan, or ‘‘Immaculate Knowledge."

Thus concludes the most Swami Adgadanand’s exposition of the Seventh Chapter of the

Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta in

‘‘Yatharth Geeta’’

HARI OM TAT SAT


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