Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 31: Chapter 9—Verses 26-34 (22 February 2000)

We have taken too long with the 9th chapter, but it is appropriate because it is rājavidyārājaguhya-yogaḥ, it is the chapter which deals with the supreme Knowledge, rājavidya, the royal knowledge and that rājaguhya, the supreme secret, what is called ‘secret of secrets’ and as we found out, the verses 4&5, which are the most difficult verses of the Bhagavad Gita which require a lot of elucidation and this chapter also gives you a synthesis of three Yogas: Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Jnanayoga. So, this one chapter gives you integral knowledge of the integral divine and gives you an integral path to attain to the integral knowledge and the integral divine. So, you might say this is the summit, the summit of the entire teaching and that is why this entire chapter deserved to be dealt with in such an elaborated manner.

You will see also in the 10th chapter again there is a summary of the 9th chapter. Because Sri Krishna will tell Arjuna that ‘I shall tell you once again the supreme word, the word which has been explained in the 9th chapter in order to make sure to Arjuna that that knowledge is precisely seized by the mind of Arjuna to make it sure He says, ‘bhūyaḥ ṣṛṇu me vacaḥ, ‘Once again you listen to that word’; so, once again in the 10th chapter there is a summary of the summary of the 9th chapter. But let us still continue with the 9th chapter because we had only done the first 5 verses of the 9th chapter. The other verses of this chapter are not very difficult, but you will see in the rest of the verses an elucidation of the three Yogas: the statement of the integral knowledge and then the statement of the three Yogas: Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Jnanayoga. But these three Yogas are given in such a way that they can be integrated. And there is a greater emphasis upon the unity of Jnana and Bhakti. The reason is that the union of Karma and Jnana, (action and knowledge) was already expounded fully in the first 6 chapters. The union of action and knowledge was the theme of the first 6 chapters. From chapter 7 to 12, the theme is of the union of knowledge and devotion as continued with the union of action and knowledge. That is why in this chapter particularly which is a kind of a summit of the Bhagavad Gita you might say, the secret of secrets is given here, rājaguhya is given, the supreme secret is given, there you will find an integration of knowledge, devotion, and action.

Now, with regard with integral knowledge, verses 4&5 which you have given already, which we have studied already, these two verses which are the most difficult verses, elucidate to us the most important elements of integral knowledge: the supra-cosmic, which is not extra-cosmic; the supreme Reality is supra-cosmic, it is transcendental but which is not extra-cosmic, it does not exclude the universe and yet it is more than universe. Because it is more than universe, the Reality, the supreme is supposed to be not contained in the world and yet the whole world is something which is within the Supreme, nothing is outside the Supreme.

Chapter 9 Verses—6-11

That is why in the 4th verse it is said: matsthāni sarvabhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣvavasthitaḥ (9.4), ‘They are all in Me, but I am not in them’; and then Sri Krishna says that that Reality is such which itself becomes all, which itself becomes the universe. The Reality which is supra cosmic and which is not extra cosmic, becomes cosmic and it is omnipresent everywhere in the world including in every individual. That is present in every individual is given in verse 11:

avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuīṁ tanum āśritam |
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mama bhūtamaheśvaram ||9.11||

mūḍha, those who are dull minded; avajānanti, they ignore Me, (māṁ means Me), ‘the dull minded ignore Me’, even though mānuṣīṁ tanumāśritam, although I am seated in the body of every individual which is human: mānuṣīṁ tanumāśritam.”

Now, you have three statements: ‘I am above everything’, ‘Everything that is here is manifested by Me’ and ‘I am in everyone’. These three statements put together are a statement of integral knowledge. When these three statements are read together you have the right conception of what is called the supreme Lord. At one time earlier we had spoken of the supreme Reality as at once Brahman, Purusha, and Ishwara.

Brahman is that of which the world is made: that is the stuff of the world is the supreme Reality; supreme Reality as the stuff of the universe is termed ‘Brahman’ in all the Vedantic texts. Whenever the word Brahman occurs, Brahman is the supreme Reality that is the stuff of everything that is in the world. But this stuff is the result of the will; the supreme becoming all, is the decision of the Supreme to become all.

Now, the decider, Supreme as the decider to become the stuff of everything is called Purusha. Purusha always means the originator, the originator who can then look up on that which is originated: that which is originated the power of origination as distinguished from the originator is called Prakriti. So Purusha is always co-terminus with Prakriti.

So, supreme Purusha as the originator of the universe who is superior to everything that happens in the world, superior to Prakriti is also Ishwara: Ishwara is the Lord. The Reality not only originates all that is here, but also commands and rules everything and all that is here is itself Its own stuff. Therefore, these three words indicate the totality of the Reality: Reality is at once Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara. When these three are combined together you have the knowledge of the integral Reality. Now, these three statements you find in verse 11.

Now, let us go to verse 6:

yathākāśasthito nityaṁ vāyuḥ sarvatrago mahān |
tathā sarvāṇi bhūtāni matshānīty upadhāraya ||9.6||

There is an analogy given here to indicate the relationship between the Supreme and the world. The analogy is with yathākāśa-sthito nityaṁ vāyuḥ: ‘Just as the wind is always located in Akasha’, (in Ether)…vāyu itself is a manifestation of Ether. Now, Ether therefore is present everywhere; sarvatra-go, that which is moving everywhere, sarvatra-go, that which moves on, gaḥ, gacchati, that which moves on, sarvatra-go, that which moves everywhere. Just as the vāyu is located, vāyu which is moving everywhere, is located in Ether, even so all the creatures of the world are all located in the Supreme: mat-shānīty upadhāraya, they are all seated in Me; sarvāṇi bhūtāni, all the creatures, mat-shānī, they are all located in Me.

sarvabhūtāni kaunteya prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām |
kalpakṣaye punas tāni kalpādau visṛjāṁy aham ||9.7||

O kaunteya, O Arjuna, sarva-bhūtāni prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām: māmikām prakṛtiṁ, My own Prakriti, (that is Para Prakriti), sarvabhūtāni, all the creatures are moving in My supreme Prakriti; they are manifestations of My own supreme Prakriti. At the end of every kalpa, kalpa is a period of time, at the end of a very long period of time…the longest period of time in calculation is called kalpa…)

So, kalpa, is a period of time, longest period of time, when that period is over then, they all dissolved, all creatures are dissolved, but kalpādau visṛjāṁy aham, but in the other kalpa, in the other period of time they all come into existence once again, manifestation again.

Then, in the 8th verse, there is a further explanation of this, what is in the 7th verse:

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ |
bhūtagrāmam imaṁ kṛtsaṁ avaśam prakṛter vaśāt ||9.8||

prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya, ‘I lean down upon My nature and then I create all the creatures of the world’.

There is a difference between two kinds of creations. When all the creatures are created and the Avatar Himself is created, there are two kinds of creations; when He Himself comes on this earth, and when He creates creatures, there is a different kind of process. If you turn to chapter 4, and turn to verse 6, when Sri Krishna explains the process of Avatarhood, how the Avatar takes birth, you see, the language which is used is very important. For purposes of comparative study, the word that used here is, in chapter 4, verse 6; prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya, it is almost the same terms excepting this word prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya, and there it is prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya, when the supreme Lord comes on this earth, He does not becomes avaṣṭabhya, He does not lean down, He remains above, adhiṣṭhāya, He remains supreme; so, when He comes down Himself, although He assumes the Lord’s nature, He does not become overpowered by the lower nature. He remains supreme, prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya, presiding over My nature, My own nature Para Prakriti, I take sambhavāmy ātma māyayā, I take birth Myself, I keep Myself presiding over the nature’. Whereas here when the creatures are created then prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya, (ava means leaning down), adhiṣṭhāya means keeping above; avaṣṭabhya, means going down, leaning down; therefore, there is a downward movement, when the lower creatures are created and they become prakṛter vaśāt, they become subject to Prakriti, they become deluded by Prakriti.

So, prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ |, I create the whole world in which bhūta-grāmam imaṁ, all these creatures, bhūta-grāmam, grāmam is like a village, collectivity, collectivity of all the bhūta(s), all the creatures, all those who are born here, all of them, kṛtsnam avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt, they become helpless, (avaśaṁ means helpless) because being subject to Prakriti, prakṛter vaśāt.

But in spite of this in verse 9, Sri Krishna says:

na ca māṁ tāni karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya |
In spite of all this, when creatures become completely subject to Prakriti, I Myself remain above Prakriti’s movement and I do not become bound.

na ca māṁ tāni karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya |


udāsīnavad āsīnaṁ asaktaṁ teṣu karmasu ||9.9||

Because ‘I am seated above and from above without attachment, I work upon those works; teṣu karmasu, among all these works, while engaged I remain still asakta, non-attached. I am seated above them and therefore I do not become bound by these actions.’ The creatures are bound, prakṛter vaśāt, they are all subject to the Prakriti, but I remain above.

mayādhyakṣena prakṛtiḥ sūyate sacarācaram |

mayādhyakṣena, I remain presiding; mayādhyakṣena, I remaining presiding, prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram, Prakriti gives birth to all that is mobile and to all that is immobile.

hetunānena kaunteya jagad viparivartate ||9.10||

That is how the whole world goes on rotating from Pralaya to Sambhava and from Sambhava to Pralaya. There is a birth of the world, there is dissolution of the world and again there is a rebirth of the world. It all goes on but I remain presiding over all of them. Such is My nature and then, at the end He says that, I am to be known as the individual in every human being. I am seated and those who do not know Me, and do not try to consider Me, conceive Me, they are mūḍha, they are dull minded.

avajānanti māṁ mūḍha mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam |
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mama bhūtamaheśvaram ||9.11||

“They do not understand Me, I who am at the same time bhūtamaheśvaram, I am the Lord of all this”. So, you have now also the statement of maheśvara, the supreme Lord: Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara, all the three statements are contained in these verses.

Now, comes the process of Yoga. This was the description of the supreme Divine from verse 1 to verse 11: this was the statement of the knowledge of the integral divine.

Question: When we talk of Brahman and Atman, what is the cosmic consciousness?

It is the Supreme which becomes ‘cosmic’.

Question: The Supreme which becomes ‘cosmic’… and the Purusha it is the Supreme which becomes the Immanent?

He is the originator.

Question: ...and the Ishwara, it is the Supreme who is the Transcendental?

…the cosmic that is transcendental, the transcendental which is cosmic; all are the same together.

You need not use the three words at all if you like: you can simply say the Supreme decides to originate the world. He decides to originate the world by Himself becoming the world and having become the world, He presides over it, He rules over it and He is the sovereign of everything who is not exhausted in anything, who still remains above all this.

Question: But in this whole thing that you just said where is the Purusha?

Originator. One who determines to create.

Comment: Originator and the…

…and the supreme Lord. So, you need not use the three words, but I am using these symbols because you come across these three words often in Indian literature and therefore it is good to know all the three words quite clearly. You can only state only one statement. The Supreme originates the world; in originating the world He himself becomes the world, so He Himself is the stuff of the world and then He rules over it. Even though He rules over it He is not Himself engaged in it; He is not attached to it and He still remains above it, so much above it, in a sense you might even say that He is not here at all. “They are in Him, but He is not in them”: this statement can be stated about the Transcendental. He is such a Lord that although He determines to create the world, although He Himself is the stuff of the world…but what is the stuff of the world…He is…as the puruṣasūkta of the Rig Veda says: He is only one aṅgula as distinguished from daśaṅgula; He is ‘ten fingers’ and what is world is only ‘one finger’. And there Sri Krishna says at the end of the 10th chapter that the whole world is nothing but only a manifestation of one ray of His consciousness. So, in the sense that He is still above this, to specify that ‘Transcendence’, Sri Krishna says, ‘They are in Me but I am not in them’.

Question: In these three terms and this whole explanation, the soul has not yet been identified…”He’s been in them”.

Let us use those terms which are also used. The three terms which are always used in Indian literature are: He is ‘Transcendental’, He is ‘Universal’, He is ‘Individual’. That ‘He is Transcendental’ is already described when you say that ‘He is puruṣottama, He is parabrahma and He is Himself parameśvara. All the three: Ishwara, Parameshwara; Purusha, Purushottama; and He is Parabrahma, Brahma. So, He is whatever is the superlative of Brahma, Purusha, Ishwara, it is He, He is transcendental.

‘All this is He’: He is Universal.

And then when He says, in the 11th verse: mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam, ‘I am also individual who is to be found in the body of the human beings’, He is also the ‘Individual’. So, this is also given here in the 11th verse. So, He is Transcendental, Universal, Individual. He is Supra-cosmic, He is Universal and He is Omnipresent, Individual. All right?

Now, having done this, describes the supreme Reality, now comes the application of this knowledge. So first Sri Krishna describes all those people who don’t apply this knowledge at all; so for them, Sri Krishna says:

moghāśā moghakarmāṇo moghajñānā vicetasaḥ |
rākṣasīm āsurīṁ caiva prakṛtiṁ mohinīṁ śritāḥ ||9.12||

Those who don’t apply this knowledge in their life at all, their hopes are useless, vain, moghāśā; mogha-karmāṇo, all their activities are vain; mogha-jñānā, all what they call their knowledge is vain; they are entirely gripped, śritāḥ, they are all gripped; by what? By Prakriti, by nature which is mohinīṁ, which enchants, which keeps them engaged, and when they get engaged, they are gripped by rākṣasīm āsurīṁ prakṛtiṁ, the nature in which they begin to delve is rākṣasī or āsurī.

Once I explained the distinction between a Rakshasa and an Asura. The distinction is that Rakshasa is a desire which has many grades, from petty desires to world devouring desires, (like the desires of Hitler or Napoleon; they wanted to devour the whole world). So the desires for overpowering the whole world are a manifestation of the rākṣasī māyā, the desire which is Rakshasi in character. Asuri is not only a desire but which is guided by the mental operations. Rakshasa is not a mental being, the mind is not preponderant in the Rakshasa, he is a devourer, he is simply hungry, he wants to eat, devour everything. Asura is more cunning; he also wants to devour but uses the mental power, he is a trickster, gambler, designer, plotter, conspirator. His mind is utilised not for perceiving the Supreme but finding the means and ways by which the whole world can be devoured with cunning and with conspiracy.

So, these human beings who don’t apply this integral knowledge, for them Sri Krishna says very clearly, that all their hopes are in vain, all their actions are in vain, all their knowledge is in vain, they remain completely gripped in the desire and in the cunning that is used for desire in the largest possible terms. But those who apply, in the next verse, Sri Krishna says, those who apply this integral knowledge…

mahātmānas tu mā pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ |

…they are the real great souls who take resort to daivīṁ prakṛtim, who take resort to My divine nature; not the lower nature but My divine nature, not Apara Prakriti, but Para Prakriti, they take resort to Para Prakriti. In the analogy that I gave earlier was, ‘those who decide knowingly to sit in the aeroplane. So:

mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ |

They decide to be gripped by daivīṁ prakṛtim, by the higher nature. And then what happens when they are in the grip of the higher nature…bhajanti, this is one word of devotion arises; this is the synthesis of knowledge and devotion.

Question: Would you say these Rakshasas and Asuras are Tamasic?

No, Rakshasas and Asuras…Rakshasas are purely Rajasic and Asuras are also Rajasic with some kind of Sattwa in them, but Sattwa used for the purposes of Rajas. Those who make Sattwa also utilised for the purposes of Rajas.

Pure Sattwa who go even beyond, because daivīṁ prakṛtim is beyond Sattwa. Prakriti consists of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas, but daivīṁ prakṛtim goes beyond Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. So, those who want to apply this knowledge certainly pass through the Sattwa because it is Sattwa which leads them, but then they become āśritāḥ, they become gripped, gripped by daivīṁ prakṛtim, by the higher nature: mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ, and when they are gripped by the higher nature then automatically the movement of bhakti originates. The real bhakti originates when there is resort to the higher nature.

bhajanty ananyamanaso jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam ||9.13||

This devotion arises out of the knowledge. It is when the knowledge is given…as the prophet Mohamed has said: ‘To see God and not to love Him is impossible’. To see God is to know God. Once you know God it is impossible for you not to fall in love with Him. So, jñātvā, having known that reality, bhajanty ananya-manaso, then they begin to love Me, ananya-manaso, one-pointedly: their mind becomes ananya-manaso, without any distraction whatsoever. This happens when they come to know Me, bhūtādim avyayam, when they come to know Me as the origin of all the creatures and avyayam, one who is indestructible. Having known Me to be the origin of all things, having known Me as something that is indestructible, they fall into My devotion without any kind of destruction in their mind. Once they enter into devotion, then now there is intensification of devotion which is now given in the next verse.

satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍhavratāḥ |
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā nityayuktā upasate ||9.14||

There is intensification of devotion, satataṁ kīrtayanto, they constantly say the praise of the Lord, satataṁ, without any break, all the time, uninterruptedly, kīrtayanto, they become singers of the glory of the Supreme.

Yes, because in love there is only one word: love, and love, and love. You might even say love, greater love, intensest love, ecstasy. What more can you say about it? About knowledge you can describe in many ways, in Karma there is so much variety, but in love there is only one: love, and more love, and more intense love. So again and again the same words are repeated.

Comment: Just one word, here

Even if you open the last paragraph, the last verse of this chapter, there is the climax of this chapter, 9th chapter, verse 34, this is the last message of this chapter: man-manā bhava, become My minded; man-manā bhava, become My minded; mad-bhakto, become My devotee; mad-yājī, worshipper of Me; māṁ namaskuru, you surrender to Me, bow down to Me; mām evaiṣyasi, you will come to Me only; yuktaivaṁ ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ: mat-parāyaṇaḥ, when you become fully endowed engaged in Me, then you will unfailingly come to Me.

So, even that sentence, even at the climax, it is the same thing. What more can you say? The tongue has no language to describe the sweetness, and the ecstasy of the Love of the Divine, so, in human language, it goes on repeating the same and that is why among all yajña(s), Japa yajña, is regarded as the highest. As we shall see later on in the Bhagavad Gita that when you approach the Supreme…how will you approach Him? By repeating His name; there is nothing more to be done; you repeat Him all the time. In fact, the experience of love is nothing but repetition of the name of the beloved. At every repetition it becomes more and more intense; and that is the Bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is nothing but Japa yajña, in which you repeat the name of the Lord again, and again, and again, and again, and again, endlessly.

Yes, your mind becomes endowed with Me, mad-bhakto, My devotee; mad-yājī, My worshipper; and mat-parāyaṇaḥ. So, all of them actually are one and the same but they are different levels of consciousness where mind itself becomes full of devotion: ‘when you become devoted to Me, you become worshipper of Me and you become completely engaged in Me mat-parāyaṇaḥ.

Comment : śaraṇagat bhava?

Yes, that is śaraṇagat, even to say śaraṇagat, is becoming little more dry; ‘surrender’ is even dry, mat-parāyaṇaḥ, as He says mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru, that is surrender, but mat-parāyaṇaḥ, you become completely engaged in Me, in śaraṇa also there is some kind of a distinction between you and Him, but mat-parāyaṇaḥ you become engaged in Me, completely.

Now, Sri Krishna explains that although out of knowledge comes this Bhakti, you can also approach Me with Knowledge alone; you may not have the power of Bhakti:

jñānayajñina cāpy anye yajanto mām upāsate |

“You can worship Me, also merely by attaining the integral knowledge of Me; jñāna-yajñina cāpy anye yajanto mām upāsate, even Jnanis are actually kind of devotees of Me, but they are using only Jnana as the instrument. Integral Yogis of course they have combined both knowledge and devotion, but even those who do not combine the two, they only approach Me with Jnana, even they, internally, inwardly are only worshiping Me. And this worship is of 3 kinds:

ekatvena ptaktvena bahudhā viśvatomukham ||9.15||

“You can know Me by identity, you can know Me by difference between Me and the worshipper, you can know Me in many forms, bahudhā viśvato-mukham, seeing Me everywhere with My mouth spread in every direction”.

So, with Jnana you can approach Me by identity, by difference, and in many other ways or in every possible way: this is a secret kind of devotion, it is not explicit devotion. To be engaged in thinking and having known the Divine and doing the Divine either by identity, or by difference, or by many ways or in every way. That is you may have Jnanayoga of one kind, or of another kind, or a Jnanayoga which is integral viśvato-mukham, you can know Me integrally, that also is a kind of devotion to Me, but the colour, the taste of that yajña is different, different from the kind of yajña which was in the verse 14, satataṁ kīrtayanto, that experience is not here.

In other words Sri Krishna explains the distinction between Jnanayoga and Bhaktiyoga, and also shows that the two are united and when the two can be united, the condition of union.

Now, comes the path of action. All action is considered in the Gita as a sacrifice: all action is an offering. This we have seen already in the 3rd and the 4th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita when the principle of the sacrifice was described. Now, Sri Krishna reveals and says that even action is basically nothing but a kind of upāsanā, even that is nothing but devotion.

Although in a pure Karma yoga, you can do action without the feeling of Love for the Divine, one can do an action for the sake of action; one can offer as an offering. We know ourselves how very often we are indifferent while offering, even doing namaskar is also as if it were a kind of an obligation, that devotion does not accompany it, so even that is a kind of a secret devotion, but not explicit and manifest. So, there are different gradations of Karma yoga, all of them are secret forms of devotion, that is how ultimately when you read the supreme climax of Karma yoga, it becomes one with Bhakti yoga, because already, right from the beginning, even in the lower forms, it was already kind of devotion. The very fact that you are offering to the Divine, whether with that great emotion or not, is still some kind of a turning, some kind of upāsanā.

So, Sri Krishna now explains (9.16) as to how every action is also a kind of devotion because ahaṁ kratuḥ, ahaṁ yajñaḥ, ‘I am the offering and I am Myself the sacrifice; svadhāham, I am the offerings which are made for the pitṛ(s); aham auṣadham |, I am the samidh(s) which is offered into the yajña; mantraḥ, I am the Mantra which is recited at the time of sacrifice; aham evājyaṁ, I am Myself the clarified butter; aham agnir ahaṁ hutam, I am Myself the Agni, I am Myself the hutam, that which is sacrifice. So, whether you know it or not, while performing every action, that action has only these aspects: kratu, yajña, svadhā, auṣadha, mantra, agni, hutam, these are all elements of sacrifice and action. In every action, every element of action, ahaṁ, I am present; therefore in one way or the other I am the object of worship even by those who are performing Karma yoga.

Gradually when your Karma yoga rises, then at a higher level of knowledge begins to dawn upon you, dawn of knowledge in regards to activities which are manifested in the world and the origin of these activities is ultimately reached. When you reach this ultimate origination of action you now recognise Him as pitāham asya jagataḥ , (9.17) then you recognise I am the father of all action of the entire world because the world is nothing but a movement of action.

Comment: So, this is the ritual…

…ritual which is given in its purely internal aspect. The greatness of the Bhagavad Gita is that the ritualism of the Vedic path, or the Vedic path which has descended into ritualism at one time and which was prevalent at the time of the Gita’s composition is now transformed into its original terms in which psychological aspects are explained. Everything that is physical and ritual is now translated into psychological equivalence.

pitāham asya jagato, you begin to recognise that I am the father of all action of the whole world, mātā dhātā pitāmahaḥ, I am the mother, I am the dhātā, I am the former, one who formulates; pitāmahaḥ, I am the father of father; vedyaṁ pavitram, I am the one who is deserving to be known, I am pavitram, I am holy; I am oṁkāra, the whole praṇava, the word in which whole knowledge is contained, I am that; ṛk sāma yajur eva ca.

There are three words: there is a word which is called ṛk; the word which is called sāma; the word which is called yaju. In fact we have 3 Vedas: the Yajur Veda, the Rig Veda and Sama Veda. There is also the fourth Veda, Atharva Veda which is a combination of all the three.

Now, ṛk is the word of illumination; sāma is the word of harmony; and yaju is the word of action, of will. In Yajur Veda you get the secret of action; in Rig Veda you get the secret of knowledge; in Sama Veda you get the secret of harmony: all the three are nothing but Myself, the supreme Lord. This is the knowledge that comes to you when you begin to do Karma yoga.

Question: When they talk of the herb and the Mantra and the clarified butter in the Vedas, in the Rig Veda also, they really meant the clarified butter, they actually meant the clarified mind, so if you could explain those, these terms actually so we could actually understand.

In the Veda, there is a parallelism so outer ritualism runs parallel to the inner psychological movements: yajña which is outwardly a kind of havana, yajña-kuṇḍa, …

Chapter 9 Verses 17-34

The entire process of yajña, in ritualism is the totality of the ignition of the fire in which the clarified butter, and various kinds of wooden sticks are all offered along with the mantroccāra, along with the recitation of Mantras starting with saṅkalpa; this is the totality of sacrifice, ritualistically: there is a saṅkalpa, a ‘will’ to do sacrifice, then there is offering, offerings of various kinds, then there is mantroccāra, and then there is clarified butter, and then there is ignition of fire, and then many other things which are offered to the fire. This is the entire process of the ritualistic sacrifice.

The parallel in psychological terms is the following: the entire yajña begins with the saṅkalpa, kratuḥ, it is an inner saṅkalpa: “I want to offer all myself to the Divine, all my actions to the Divine”. You need not necessarily have the havana. This yajña, internal yajña, is performed by the Yogi all the time; in every action that he does, there is this kratuḥ, the ‘will to offer’: kratu is the ‘will to act’; svadhā is the remembrance of the origin of all actions; auṣadha is various energies of your being; mantra is the secret word by which action is guided; ājya, the clarified butter, is clarified intelligence, your intellect becomes clarified. In other words, you cannot properly do your sacrifice internally unless your mind is clarified; the dull-minded cannot properly do the sacrifice. It is only when your intelligence is clarified, becomes pure, then only your sacrifice becomes perfect.

So, Krishna says that actually speaking, if you go behind the outer ritualism and go into the psychological terms, which were originally meant in the Veda but forgotten, they all refer to ‘My presence’, the ‘Supreme’s presence’, the ‘Lord’s presence’ and ‘I am present everywhere’.

Question:That is why the clarified butter is put in the end because towards the end of the yajña the clarification of the mind takes place. Is that…?

Yes. There is a gradual process of clarification and the highest term comes at the end. The real mind becomes bright. And the Agni which is then ignited by the offering of ghee, of ghṛtam, is also very bright.

Pitāham asya jagato mātā dhātā pitāmahaḥ |
vedyaṁ pavitram oṁkāra ṛk sāma Yajur eva ca ||9.17||

So, while in the process of yajña, in the process of action, I am now realised as origin of all action, pitāhamasya jagato: I am the mother, I am the formulator I am the father of father, pitāmahaḥ; I am the one to be known, I am the holy, I am the oṁkāra, I am the word of illumination, I am the word of harmony, I am the word of action or will.

You go further into this knowledge and then you realise.

gatir bhartā prabhūḥ sākṣī nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṁ suhṛt |
prabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṁ nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam ||9.18||

This knowledge which comes to you by Karma yoga, one realises that, gatir bhartā prabhūḥ, that there is the bearer of all movement. Not only there is the movement which is action, but there is the bearer of the movement and that is prabhū, He is the Lord; He is the sākṣī, He is the witness; He is nivāsaḥ, He is the inhabitation, He is the one in whom you can take resort, śaraṇaṁ; suhṛt, He is the friend; prabhavaḥ, He is the originator; pralayaḥ, He is the dissolver; sthānaṁ, He is the stability; He is nidhānaṁ; He is the light; bījam avyayam, I am the seed which is inexhaustible.

This knowledge which comes by Karma yoga is further now expanded:

tapāmy aham ahaṁ varṣaṁ nigṛhṇāmy utsṛjāmi ca |
amṛtaṁ caiva mṛtyuś ca sad asac cāham arjuna ||9.19||

Then you realise that I am the one who heats tapāmy aham; everything that is heated in the world, everything that shines and emit heat in the world is Myself; varṣaṁ ahaṁ, I am the rain, I am the absorber and I am the one releases, nigṛhṇāmy utsṛjāmi ca; amṛtaṁ caiva mṛtyuśca, I am immortality, I am the death; I am sat, I am asat, That which is Real, That which is unreal, all That I am O Arjuna.

Now, all that is the result of a real Karma yoga, but this Karma yoga can be done at a lower level. Now, that lower kind of a yajña, or Karma yoga is filled with desire. In the highest Karma yoga desire is offered away; but at a lower level Karma yoga also is done when you do an action with a great desire: you make a sacrifice, but you exchange it for the reward of your action, it is a kind of bargaining: I do this action, I sacrifice this much, O Lord you give me back so much; it is not niṣkāma Karma yoga, it is a kind of Karma yoga, karmakāṇda of a certain kind.

Question: Would it be called Karma yoga because it is not Yoga?

At least you sacrifice something.

Comment: And still you are uniting to the Lord?

To some extent, yes. To some extent you are making a yoga because you are trying to offer something to the Divine, although your mind is not yet purified of desire. So, it is a lower kind of Karma yoga.

Question: So, it is bargaining, so it is not actually Karma yoga.

It is not the highest form of Karma yoga. There are various kinds of Karma yogas. There are for examples Karma yogas in which you try to unite yourself with lower beings: it is also Yoga; when for example you want a favour of somebody and you loiter about that person all the time, it is also yoga, it is also Karma yoga, but it is a lower kind because at least you are giving your mind to that person, you are offering something to that person to that extend, so small favour you want to get from somebody you go on loitering round and round and round until at last some bread is thrown to you and you feel that well at least something has come, now I can go to next step. So, there are many kinds and many levels of Karma yoga.

The essence of Yoga is offering; the object of offering, the expectation of the offering, the ultimate result of offering, all this may be quite different. The highest Karma yoga is one which Sri Krishna will explain here, but at the lower level, the action is still guided by desire. And even the kind of ritualistic yoga which was done by the Vedic ritualists, which was ruled by three vidyā(s), it means three kinds of knowledge: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda. When you give the mantra of Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, it is called the yajña which is done by three vidyā(s), Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda. Now, this ritualistic yajña is usually done in order to please the gods, knowing that in this world there are so many cosmic forces who control so much, knowing that Ganesha is the lord of wealth and you worship Ganesha, you offer so much you invite many people, you sacrifice so much, but with the desire that now wealth will come from Ganesha; lot of rituals you do, but it is addressed to Ganesha. Similarly there are many other gods, you call Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Mahasaraswati, many kinds of goddesses you worship separately or individually or collectively: all these are full of desire of one kind or the other.

So, Sri Krishna says now:

traividyā māṁ somapāḥ pūtapāpā yajñair iṣṭvā svargatiṁ prārthayante |

Those who are drinkers of Soma, those who get purified of pāpa, by traividyā, by means of three vidyā(s); yajñair iṣṭvā, they worship by sacrifices; svar-gatiṁ prārthayante but they desire to go to svarga, which is supposed to be the abode of pleasure and happiness.

te puṇyam āsādya surendralokam aśnanti divyān divi devabhogān ||9.20||

Even they attain merit and they go to the svarga-loka, surendra-lokam: Surendra is the loka of Indra; so they do go to higher heaven of Indra, and there, aśnanti divyāndivi deva-bhogān, they also enjoy, aśnanti, (they enjoy); deva-bhogān, they enjoy divine and celestial happinesses.

But then what happens? (9.21):

te taṁ bhuktvā svargalokaṁ viśālaṁ: these individuals having enjoyed bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ, the wide svarga, paradise, having enjoyed the pleasures of the paradise…

kṣīṇe puṇye martyalokaṁ viśanti, but when their merits are finished, the lower bargain comes to an end, kṣīṇe puṇye martyalokaṁ viśanti, they again come back to this world; evaṁ trayīdharmam anuprapannā, these are the people which are attracted by three vidyā(s), Sama Veda Rig Veda,Yajur Veda, those who are attracted by these three vidyā(s), they…

gatāgataṁ kāmakāmā labhante ||9.21||

They also attain to their desired results.

But now comes the higher Karma yoga, the Karma yoga which enters into the true devotion.

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate |
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yogakṣemaṁ vahāmy aham ||9.22||

Those who are full of desires, they enjoy all these pleasures, which are described earlier, but others who think of Me alone, without distraction, teṣāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham, in their case whatever they need, I am responsible for it, they are never in want, they may live like sudama, but when the time comes even seven palaces can be built within a short time for him because teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham, whatever they need at any given time is fulfilled by Me.

Question: Yoga and kṣemaṁ are two words?

There are many meanings of these two words, and there are contradictions in it, but basically ‘whatever union they want, and whatever wellbeing they want, that is being provided; kṣemaṁ, is actually ‘well being’ and ‘Yoga’ is any kind of union: whatever union they need, and whatever wellbeing they need, whatever object they want, whatever wellbeing they want, all that is provided by Me.

Question: Yoga does not mean here union with the Divine alone that means…

Anything, anything, what is needed; you are already united with Me, the Divine, then whatever is needed, it is given to you.

Question: But you may not want anything.

You may not want it but whatever you need, even for work you may need something. If you are a warrior, Sri Krishna is in the battlefield, He needs a chariot, so a chariot will be given to Him, because for the work whatever is needed will be given to Him.

ye ’py anyadevatābhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ |
te ’pi mām eva kaunteya yajanty avidhipūrvakam ||9.23||

Even those others who are doing lower kind of Karma yoga and who are doing upāsanā at a lower level with all kinds of desires, even they basically all that worship comes to Me because I am behind everybody, but avidhi-pūrvakam, but only it is without any special method, avidhi-pūrvakam, it is haphazard, pell-mell, it is disorganised offerings, it is unintelligent offering, but even that offering comes to Me because I am behind everybody.

So that’s why, that is to say, what Sri Krishna says is in this chapter there is an exposition of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, and the lower forms and the higher forms and then the integration of all the three. So, in a very brief manner…that is why many people who read the 9 chapters don't see with striking emphasis, the entire meaning of this chapter. But if you read with great intensity you find that Sri Krishna expounds in so many few verses lower forms of Karma Yoga and higher forms of Karma Yoga, higher form of Bhakti Yoga and lower form of Bhakti Yoga, lower form of Jnana Yoga and higher form of Jnana Yoga, and then the integration of all the higher forms so that you get integral Yoga of Karma, integral Yoga of Jnana and integral Yoga of Bhakti and then the integral Yoga of Jnana, Karma and Bhakti, all these together in these few verses everything is given.

ahaṁ hi sarvayajñānāṁ bhoktā ca prabhur eva ca |
na tu mām abhijānanti tatvenātaś cyavanti te ||9.24||

“I am Myself the enjoyer, or receiver of all the sacrifices, I am the Lord of all the sacrifices, but they do not know Me; they are doing lower kind of upāsanā, lower kind of bhakti and lower kind of karma yoga, therefore na tu mām abhijānanti, although I receive all the offerings, they do not know that I am receiving them. Therefore they do not know Me na abhijānanti tatvena, therefore they do not know Me essentially, ataścyavanti te, therefore they come back again to the ordinary world, ordinary life again and again. Since they do not come to know Me essentially, therefore they come back to this world of misery.

yānti devavratā devān, those who are attached to God, they go to God.

pitṛn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ, those who are worshippers of their forefathers, they go to the forefathers.

bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā, those who are worshipping ordinary bhūtā(s),creatures, they attain to them.

yānti madyājino’pi mām ||9.25||

But those who worship Me, they indeed come to Me.

Now, in order to come to Me, the path of action involves ‘sacrifice’. But there is also simple path of devotion in which what is offered,

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ, (9.26), even a leaf is enough; if you are really endowed with devotion, you don’t need to do very big sacrifice, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, a drop of water; yo me bhaktyā prayacchati, those who bring these little things with devotion,

tad ahaṁ bhaktyupahṛtaṁ aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ ||9.26||

One who comes to Me with a great effort brings Me anything (even patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ), that I receive tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtaṁ aśnāmi, I kṣemaṁ enjoy it.

Therefore now comes the last word of this entire process of Jnana Yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma Yoga, or combined together. He says:

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat |
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva madarpaṇam ||9.27||

Therefore, the sum total of everything is that whatever you are doing, even whatever you are eating, whatever you are offering, whatever you are giving, whatever you are endeavouring for, O Kaunteya, O Arjuna, tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam, you offer to Me.

This is the sum and substance of the entire Bhakti yoga in substance, in brief as it were; mad arpaṇam, offer everything to the Divine. That is why it is the simplest formula in which Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, all is summarised: mad arpaṇam, offer everything to the Divine.

śubhāśubhaphalair evaṁ mokṣyase karmabandhanaiḥ |

If you do this, then, you will be liberated from all karmabandhan, all bondage of action. All śubhāśubha-phalair, whether the fruits are pleasant or unpleasant, even from this you will be liberated.

sanyāsa yogayuktātmā vimukto mām upaiṣyasi ||9.28||

You will really be endowed with sannyasa, with renunciation, with yoga and you will become liberated, and having been liberated, mām upaiṣyasi, you will arrive to Me.

samo ’haṁ sarvabhūteṣu na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ |
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy aham ||9.29||

In this world everything is equal to Me. I am omnipresent equally. There is nobody dear to Me, nobody whom I have any special kind of envy; na me dveṣyo’sti na priyaḥ, and still, ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā, those who worship Me with great devotion, te teṣu cāpy aham, they are very dear to Me and I also return to them great devotion.

As Sri Aurobindo says, ‘the Bhakta of course pursues the Divine, but the Divine pursues the Bhakta even more vigorously, because it is the Divine’s offering and the Divine’s offering is always perfect. Our offering may be imperfect, so when we pursue the Lord, it is an imperfect pursuit, but when He comes to You, He comes with rapidity and with full force, with completion and perfection.

api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananyabhāk |
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ saṁyag vyavasito hi saḥ ||9.30||

Even a man who has been in the direst wickedness, who has been endowed with wicked actions, but if suddenly bhajate mām ananya-bhāk, with one pointed devotion he turns to Me, then he is to be considered to be sādhur eva, he is the right man, a man who is endowed with goodness; saṁyag vyavasito hi saḥ, he is rightly re-organised, the moment he turns to Me with one-pointed attention.

kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā, immediately he becomes dharmātmā. This is the magic of turning to the Divine:

kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvacchāntiṁ nigacchati |

he attains to eternal peace;

kaunteya, O Arjuna, pratijānīhi, know this, na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyatī ||9.31||

Any one who turns to Me with bhakti, he never perishes.

Question: What about all durachari like Valmiki?

All is burnt, that is the meaning of sacrifice. Sacrifice is what? There is a fire in which all that you offer is burnt; therefore you become mukta from action. So that offering basically is the offering to the Lord, whether you do Agni or not, Supreme Himself is the supreme Fire; the moment you turn to Him, everything is burnt.

That is one view, but not the Gita’s view. It is the view of those who believe only in the law of Karma. They believe that any Karma must have its consequences. The real Veda says that you can destroy Karma.

Comment: You can burn it.

You can burn it: the whole path of sacrifice is given, that is the Vedic path that you can burn the actions, you are not anymore bound to it, you can become liberated merely by turning to the Divine. That is why He says that Bhakti yoga is so simple in a sense, although to my mind it is very difficult, but still it is said that if you really turn to the Divine so easily, ananyaḥ, that must be very important, there should be no distraction, your bhāva should be ananyaḥ, it should be without any distraction whatsoever and then if you turn to Him, then shipram bhāvati sudhatma.

māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye ’pi syuḥ pāpayonayaḥ |
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās te ’pi yānti parāṁ gatim ||9.32||

Even those who are born of the lower origin, they may be not Brahmins, they may Vaishyas, they may be Shudras, they may be women, they all arrive at the highest parāṁ gatim, they reach the Supreme.

kiṁ punar brāhmaṇāḥ, if they can arrive at this what to talk of those who are Brahmanas, those who are already given to knowledge,

puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayas tathā, what to talk of these who are Brahmanas, who are puṇyā, full of meritorious actions, who are bhaktā, who are devotees, who are rājarṣaya, who are royal personalities turned into illumined minds, therefore:

anityama sukhaṁ lokam imaṁ prāpya bhajasva mām ||9.33||

For one word is bhajasva mām, therefore worship Me; having attained to this particular world which is anityam, which is perishable, asukhaṁ, which is full of misery, lokam imaṁ prāpya, having arrived at this world which is perishable and which is full of misery, give it up, prāpya bhajasva mām, you turn away from it and you worship Me.

Question: I could understand Shudras and Vaishyas, but I could not understand the women?

You must understand that this book was written at a given time, when the position of women was considered to be limited. In fact that is one of the supreme questions of Draupadi to Bhishma: “Has the husband the right to put his own wife at stake, particularly when the husband himself has become a slave, when he is not himself not a free man? What right has he got to put his wife at stake?” And there was a big debate on this question and Draupadi goes to all of them including Bhishma and they all remain quite because there was at that time a kind of a tacit understanding that woman’s position is subordinate to man’s position. Right or wrong but this is the position. And this is not peculiar to India, you must remember this. Modern feminists point out to India saying: ‘Look this was the position of women’, forgetting that women got franchise in England after India became free; the position of women in England was still inferior to the women’s position in India in 1947. When India became free the universal suffrage was given to all men and women all equal. In every civilisation, except a few, women were always regarded as subordinate. So you must understand this; to our mind today, this looks a little odd as to why women are singled out; but actually we must understand the cultural background in which it is written.

Comment: In the Ramayana – Dhol gawar Shudra, pashu, nari......

Not Tulsi, it is said by Samudra. Tulsidas has written but it is a dialogue between Rama and Samudra and these words are actually words by Samudra. They are not the words of Tulsidas. It is a dialogue written by Tulsidas but it is not Tulsidas’s own view. This is a view expressed by Samudra.

These are all interpretations, but it is a fact: even Plato, for example, wrote that men and women are equal except that women are slightly inferior and weaker than man; so even Plato wrote like this, it is a fact. It is only in India that Mahalakshmi is worshipped, Mahakali is worshipped, the position of women in India was actually much superior than the position of women given to them anywhere else. When Manu himself says: yatra naristra punjyante ramantre tatra devatāḥ, “Where women are worshipped there indeed the gods come and enjoy”. So, this is the kind of statement which is made by Manu Smriti, which is supposed to be very orthodox and which is also supposed to be opposed to women; even in that statement this kind of prominence is given to the women.

But that was the position at that time, why should he even say this. He said that because that was the legal position, so he could not say anything. Legally there was a tacit acceptance of the position that Duryodhana affirmed, so nobody could oppose it.

Now, comes therefore the final word of Bhakti yoga:

manmanā bhava madbhakto madyājī māṁ namaskuru |
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam ātmānaṁ matparāyaṇaḥ ||9.34||

“Therefore become My minded, become My devotee, become My worshipper, offer your obeisance to Me. when yourself is completely united with Me, you will certainly come to Me, mat-parāyaṇaḥ, when you are fully engaged in Me.”

So, this chapter 9 is a statement of the integral Divine, integral knowledge, integral action, integral devotion culminating in the crowning bhakti, this is the last word of this 9th chapter.