Chapters 13 to 18 constitute the third cycle of the Bhagavad Gita. The first 6 chapters constitute the first cycle, 7 to 12 second cycle and 13 to 18 the third cycle.
Actually an impression can arise that chapters 13 to 18 is a kind of a repetition and because some terms are very familiar to the Indian mentality like ‘Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas’ which appear very often in these chapters, it may even seem that these chapters are common place, almost intelligible without much attention.
One would even wonder as to whether these chapters were necessary at all for delivering the message that Sri Krishna wanted to give, because in any case it seems that by the end of 12th chapter that the message was delivered and it is true that the message is delivered because Sri Krishna wanted to explain to Arjuna why he should fight and with the 11th chapter, when Sri Krishna Himself shows this viśvarūpadarśana, and shows that He Himself has destroyed already all those who are opposing, the coming of the new kingdom, and from that state Sri Krishna commands Arjuna: “fight!”.
In that command the questions of Arjuna are all answered, namely that ‘action must proceed from the Divine’s will’. So long as you dispute in your own mind on the assumption that you are the doer, there will always be dilemmas, there will always be pros and cons and you won’t be able to decide, particularly at the critical moment, such was the moment with Arjuna now. Therefore the dilemmas can be answered only if you can rise to that level where the supreme will manifests itself directly, and when one sees that it is He who is doing and you are only the instrument. That has been achieved already by that 12th chapter. In fact even the 12th chapter is a kind of a further elucidation of the answer that Sri Krishna gives in the 11th chapter.
So, what is the purpose of these last 6 chapters? And even with the impression that many things are very commonplace, one would ask: is there really something superb, something magnificent, something supreme in these thirteen chapters? The answer is that these chapters which seem to be commonplace are so only in appearance. They contain some of the most important insights and the last message that comes at the end of the 18th chapter is the real supreme word, *maha vakya of the Bhagavad Gita. The supreme secret of the highest fulfilment of life is revealed at the end of the 18th chapter.
If we therefore look with a greater interest and deliberate feeling to find out the significance of these chapters, we shall find that these chapters are in a sense revelation of the Truth, revelations of a knowledge, which is a secret knowledge, minted earlier but not so well developed in those earlier chapters. It is as if in the first 6 chapters we are told that all actions ultimately end in knowledge: that in one of the supreme messages of the first 6 chapters--all actions end in knowledge--sarvaṁ karmakhilaṁ pārtha jñāne parisamāpyate (4.33)--all actions ultimately end in knowledge.
7th to 12th chapter, these 6 chapters take us from plane to plane of knowledge to the peak of knowledge in the 9th chapter and then unites these peaks of knowledge from where flows the waters which can quench the thirst of humanity in the deepest heart, the waters of Bhakti. And at the end of the 12th chapter, you get the nectar of the Bhakti and the last line of the 12th chapter speaks of the amṛtam dharmam, of the Dharma which is immortal which can come only by the drinking of ‘ananya’ Bhakti, not only Bhakti but ‘ananya’ Bhakti, the incomparable Bhakti.
Now, if Gita were to be left at that stage, a few questions still would remain and they have to be answered. For example this very question: what is this dharmāmṛtam idaṁ? What is this immortal Dharma? That question is not elucidated in the first 12 chapters. There is of course a talk of Dharma from time to time, but this idea of dharmāmṛtam, this is the last note but a tremendous pregnant note, and this pregnancy has to be brought to the fruition.
So, you might say the first justification of these last 6 chapters is the exposition of ‘ananya’ Bhakti culminating in amṛtam dharma, by a Bhakti which is avyabhicāriṇī, this is the one term which we will come across in these last 6 chapters, Bhakti which is avyabhicāriṇī. There can be Bhakti which is full of desire, expectation, seeking of help, some kind of exploitation of the Divine, you might say, but avyabhicāriṇī, there is no exploitation of the Divine: you are given so much entirely to the Divine, nothing in you belongs to you; every atom of your being belongs to the Divine; it is as it were for the enjoyment of the Divine, not for ‘your’ enjoyment of the Divine, but you are now at the disposal of the Divine so that ‘He’ enjoys ‘you’. If you want to say, even ‘He’ wants to exploit ‘you’, instead of ‘you’ exploiting the Divine.
That is the state of Bhakti to which you rise and that is explained in these 6 chapters. It is not sufficient to realise that even though the first 12 chapters explain the synthesis of Knowledge, Devotion and Action, (Karma, Jnana, and Bhakti), all the three are reconciled, a large synthesis of the three, it is not sufficient to realise that the pivot of these three is knowledge. This supreme realisation of which Sri Krishna speaks of at the end of the 12th chapter, the basic foundation is knowledge.
This is very important because many people believe, you go on doing work for the Divine everything will be alright: knowledge whatever is needed will come to you any time; worship the Divine everything will be alright. And these are not false statements, they are all correct, but they are incomplete: that is not the way in which the Bhagavad Gita would like to speak about these things. Sri Krishna says very clearly: ‘you do work for the Divine, but attain to the state of knowledge’. He does not say ‘now knowledge and all that is not important’. And with regard to knowledge He says: ‘the highest Bhakta is a Jnani’; ‘the dearest Bhakta is the one who is Jnani, one who is full of Knowledge’.
Therefore the pivotal point of this synthesis is knowledge. Just as the concept of the Divine is that of Sachchidananda, (Sat, Chit, and Ananda), in which the pivotal point is Sat: Chit and Ananda are only dependent upon the Sat, and Sat is a being to be known. The knowledge of that ‘Sat’ is the foundation: if that is not grasped, nothing is grasped. Chit and Force: Chit is conscious Force. Conscious Force is related to the process of Karma. Just as Sat relates to the process of Knowledge, Chit relates to the concept of Karmayoga. And Ananda corresponds to the concept of Bhakti.
So, if you really want to have the full Divine, Sachchidananda, in its fullness, then there has to be a synthesis of knowledge, action and devotion. So, Sachchidananda on one side as the object to be realised fully and the synthesis of knowledge, action and devotion, these two correspond to each other and fulfil each other. Therefore, this knowledge of which Sri Krishna speaks still needs to be elucidated further.
We have seen from chapter 7 to chapter 12, in each chapter we have some new aspect of the Divine revealed. In the 7th chapter we have been told a very surprising thing that Divine has two natures: the lower nature and the higher nature.
In the 8th chapter we have the concept of Brahma, Adhyatma, Adidaiva, Adhibhuta, Karma, these difficult concepts are given and about each one of them we are told how it is related to the Supreme.
In the 9th chapter, we get the highest possible definition of the Divine where He is supra-cosmic and cosmic and individual, at once, and their interrelationship; how supra-cosmic is related to the cosmic, and the cosmic to the individual; how the Supreme is originator of all; how the Supreme inhabits all; how the Supreme through His energy is all; how even all do not exhaust Him; how He is present in all and yet He is above all so that it can be said that they are all in Him, but He is not in them.
In the 10th chapter, we have the manifestation of the Divine in an evolutionary form, and a special manifestation of the Divine, the special mention of Vibhutis of various kinds.
In the 11th we have the direct śatśatkara of the Divine to see by divine sight the Divine in its fullness; so in every chapter, we have one aspect of the Divine, as it were, revealed one by one, and the comprehensive description of the Divine that we get from the chapter 7 to 12 gives you the perfect presentation of the supreme Divine which is the object of knowledge.
“Knowledge” is nothing but the knowledge of the Divine, all other knowledge is information. It is when we can grow into the Divine, become the Divine, brahmabhūta, that is the concept of the Bhagavad Gita, brahmabhūta, you yourself become the Divine. It is the process of being, not only of knowing, but the process of being and the real knowing is being; so long as you simply ‘know’ and not ‘become’, it is simply a superficial information, at the most an intellectual articulation, but not possession of the Divine, not growth into the Divine, not become of the Divine.
Now, all this is explained, but what is the process of knowledge itself? That requires to be further elucidated and these 6 chapters take us into the depths of what we may call ‘psychology of knowledge’ and ‘epistemology of knowledge’. Psychology is the process of knowing. Epistemology is the fundamental principle of knowledge which makes knowledge ‘knowledge’. How do we know that ‘this’ is knowledge and ‘this’ is not knowledge? That is the science of epistemology. It is that which is described in these 6 chapters.
There is a further understanding needed as to how we perceive the Divine in action, and this is perhaps one of the most important justifications of these last 6 chapters. We have been told in the second, third and fourth chapters that Karmayoga consists of giving up the fruits of action; secondly to give up the ownership of action, origination of action by offering of action to the supreme Lord; and thirdly when all actions proceeds from the Divine Himself, all this is given to us in the second, third and fourth chapters: divyam karma, what is the divyam Karma: that is expounded in the fourth chapter.
But why is it that this individual is where he is now? That is to say: why is the individual experiencing himself as the ego? Why does he seek after the fruits of action? What is it that impels him to seek after the fruits of action? Why does he feel bondage to the extent to which Arjuna feels in this great moment of crisis, from which he wants to escape, or to be delivered, or to be rescued, or to have salvation from it? Why is it that such a situation arises in life at all? So, this has not been explained so far in the Bhagavad Gita. In other words, we do not have as yet the clue to the bondage of man, and the release from the bondage: what is called the bondage and salvation, bondage and liberation.
And then going farther: the Bhagavad Gita does not teach merely that you have to be released from the world; there is still a farther point in the Bhagavad Gita: that you have to be in the world and act in the world, but act supremely; not as a slave or subject to various kinds of circumstances. How to be free from circumstances, to go above the circumstances and to act as a master of circumstances?
What is the psychology of this mastery over nature which requires the understanding of the difference between Apara Prakriti and Para Prakriti of which Sri Krishna speaks in the 7th chapter? When Sri Krishna says ‘I have two natures, the higher and the lower’, what is the relationship between the two? And how does the soul feel when he is in the lower nature, how does he feel when he is in the higher nature and how does he rise from the lower nature to the higher nature? All this needs to be explained. It is still not answered in the Gita, so far.
And when you rise into the higher nature: what will be the status of your being? What will be the consciousness at that time? It is there that the concept of amṛtam dharma will be explained: amṛtam dharma is basically the law of being when he enters into the higher nature. When he is in the lower nature, there are all kinds of Dharmas: the Tamasic Dharma, Rajasic Dharma, Sattwic Dharma, but not amṛtam dharma. amṛtam dharma comes when you rise into the higher nature Para Prakriti, so, ascending from the lower nature to the higher nature and experience of that higher nature and action through the higher nature. It is action through the higher nature that gives you the mastery over circumstances and what is the consequence of it, when you act from that level of consciousness with that mastery, and how you rise from lower to higher unless and until we know what is the lower nature in the fullness.
It is because Sri Krishna wants to explain the fullness of the lower nature that sometimes we feel such commonplace ideas like Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas repeated several times, but no repetition is without significance. There is a great exposition of different elements of our lower nature, particularly ‘mind’: what is mind which is a part of the lower nature. Sri Krishna explains very clearly what is mind. Sri Krishna explains a very important concept in the Bhagavad Gita, namely what is work.
You remember in the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita there is a profound statement of Sri Krishna: what is Karma, what is Akarma, what is Vikarma. This is a very profound, and very secret movement of Karma, even sages do not know. Therefore, Sri Krishna will explain now in these chapters what is that Karma, what is work.
In all work and in all the movements of our mentality, there is one very important factor which is not sufficiently recognised by us and that is ‘Shraddha’: faith. There is a great revelation in the Bhagavad Gita that all human beings, even the most sceptical of them, are ruled by ‘Shraddha’. They may oppose the idea of Shraddha, they may say ‘we don’t have faith in faith itself, but if you look into the depth of it, everybody.
Therefore, Sri Krishna will explain what are the different kinds of faith: Tamasic Shraddha, Rajasic Shraddha, Sattwic Shraddha and then entering into the real Shraddha which is of the higher nature, (this is only Apara Prakriti), Shraddha of the higher nature in which the Shraddha is transformed into the sun of knowledge, splendour of knowledge. Those who are rebels very often they have got either Rajasic Shraddha or a Sattwic Shraddha, they rebel because the so called faith does not satisfied, it is…that level is gone, there is a seeking for something higher, but why is there a seeking unless there is Shraddha, there is some answer, why is there knocking? The rebel knocks, wants to demolish, wants to create something new, but what is it that drives him? It’s also ‘faith’. The whole world is actually moving because of faith. Now, this great revelation is made in the chapter where Shraddha is described.
And the supreme concept of the Divine as Purusha to which hints are made, sometimes further exposition is made, but not yet fully brought out in its fullness. In the first 6 chapters, we have only the difference emphasised between the immutable Self and the soul which is in the lower nature, relationship between the two, it is all that is expounded in the first 6 chapters: the immortal, immutable Brahman that which is eternal, imperishable and its relationship with the soul. There is only from time to time a reference to an explicit ‘Me’, ‘Myself’, ‘Lord’. These words come but very scarcely in the first 6 chapters because the Bhagavad Gita is an exposition of the greatest teacher who builds up the statement little by little does not say more than necessary at a given time and expounds more as He moves forward, reveals the last word only at the last.
That is why in the first 6 chapters you do not find so much of a reference, excepting in words like atmani atho mayi: first realise the Self and then mayi, then you realise ‘Me’. There is a distinction made between ‘Self’ and ‘Me’. What is the difference between ‘Self’ and ‘Me’? This is expounded further in the 7th to 12th, these chapters, where the Lord, ‘Me’, ‘The Lord’ is expounded in great fullness. But still the relationship between the soul, Self, Supreme, the Immutable, the Mutable, the entire network of this world, in which we as souls are entangled and we do not know why we are entangled, from where we are entangled, how we can come out of it, suffering in this ignorance through the network of difficulties and snares of various kinds. This needs to be expounded, brought out fully.
The entire 15th chapter which is called Purushottama Yoga, where Purusha is described threefold, Akshara Purusha, Kshara Purusha and Purushottama. It is the central concept of the whole of the Bhagavad Gita. You take out this concept and the whole Bhagavad Gita’s teaching falls! So, the supreme revelation of the idea of the Purusha, in all its aspects, is given only in the 15th chapter, quite far and late in the exposition in the whole of the Gita. Because it is at the end of the culmination that the supreme Knowledge is revealed and then if you want to be constantly at the level of the supreme Divine, there are three concepts which are assumed in the exposition of the last maha vakya of the Gita, an all comprehensive process, in which everything is contained, when Sri Krishna tells Arjuna: “sarva dharman parityajya mam ekaṁ śaraṅam vraja, (18.66)”, “Give up all Dharmas, (whether it is Sattwic Dharma, Rajasic Dharma, or Tamasic Dharma), and give yourself wholly, totally, absolutely; the highest Bhakti, in which Action, Knowledge automatically are contained. This is the supreme liberation. It is the key to perfection, not only liberation but perfection. Sri Krishna makes a distinction between ‘liberation’ and ‘perfection’.
Liberation may be freedom from lower nature. When you are able to come out of the snares of the lower nature, you may say you are liberated; there are degrees of liberation; there are kinds of liberation.
Then there is a synthesis of liberations, as a result of which one may attain to what we may call ‘perfection’. It is this perfection which goes beyond all Dharmas, when you renounce all Dharmas, then there remains only amṛtam dharma. That law of perfection is amṛtam dharma. There is no conflict in the manifestation of that Dharma, of that law and every action is a perfect action, masterly action, master act.
All that needs to be expounded, brought out to the fullness: all that is done in the last 6 chapters and that is the importance of these last 6 chapters. We are as it were now reaching up to the climax of the Bhagavad Gita when we ascend on these planes of these 13th to 18th chapters.
If you are a musician and if you want to compose music for the whole of the Bhagavad Gita, if you have a symphony as it were coming to the highest climax of it, it is in these 13th to 18th chapters that you get the highest climax of the symphony, starting with the small sad notes the beginning “viṣāda yoga” with which you can start and a very silent and quiet note of the second chapter, the description of “sthitaprajña”, and then a dynamic movement of action and the various processes of action and then rising up to a peak of knowledge little by little in the 9th chapter, the supreme knowledge is expounded and then a dynamic manifestation of that peak of knowledge in the 11th chapter, perception of the Divine as the “Destroyer”, the Divine as the “Time”, and the Divine in all His aspects.
And now the “drums” as it were which expound, explain all the small steps and the big steps of the Bhagavad Gita and ultimately rising to the complete complex and most harmonious symphony, ending, the big note where everything is to be renounced and only thing remains is the Divine in all the directions. So, this would be as it were a kind of musical composition of the Bhagavad Gita’s music. So, it is now these last 6 chapters that we begin.
And the first…Sri Krishna Himself expounds. Here there are no questions from Arjuna, because all the questions have been answered as far as we know as far as Arjuna is concerned. Only Sri Krishna knows what is still to be explained, because Sri Krishna has promised Arjuna in the 7th chapter: “I shall tell you both jñāna and vijñāna “aśeṣena”: nothing will remain after that, after knowing which there will be no further exposition needed, it is that promise that He is now fulfilling so that what still remains to be told is now repeated.
So, Sri Krishna Himself starts. And He starts with a very important statement:
idaṁ śarīraṁ kaunteya kṣetram ity abhidhīyate |
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ kṣetrajña iti tadvidaḥ ||13.1||
“This body, O kaunteya, is called abhidhīyate, is named kṣetram, is called the field.” Now, you see the terminology is quite new, except in the beginning we are told, ‘dharmakṣetre kurukṣetre (1.1)’, He starts with kṣetra. Now, what is that kṣetra? It is explained now in the 13th chapter. This word ‘kṣetra’ does not appear anywhere afterwards; now, that is one thing which has remained to be explained. So, this chapter starts with that very concept:
idaṁ śarīraṁ kaunteya kṣetram ity abhidhīyate |
“This body, O kaunteya, O Arjuna is called kṣetra, is called the field.”
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ kṣetrajña iti tadvidaḥ ||
“One who knows it as a field, one who knows the body as the field is called kṣetrajña, is known as the knower of the field.”
That is to say normally we do not consider our body as the field, we don’t even notice what body is, we take for granted as it were that ‘body’ exists: we feel healthy, we fill ill, diseased, but nothing more than that, we do not know that we have very important connection with it, that this body is not an accident.
Just as Sri Krishna points out that everything is known by the Divine and as He says even destruction of the enemies is already accomplished, there is no chance, it is not as it were, something might happen, might not happen, the Divine has decided, similarly this body which is given to us is something to be noticed, to be taken into account. What is it? Therefore kṣetra is to be known, and one who knows the kṣetra, is kṣetrajña. There are two important facts which are called ‘indubitable facts’ in the world, which you cannot doubt at all. No sceptic can even doubt these two statements. One is that ‘there is a circumstance’. If you are simply told: ‘there is a circumstance’, it is a statement which cannot be doubted by anybody; secondly that this circumstance confronts us, for each one. Each one confronts a circumstance. Each one makes a distinction between circumstance and himself: circumstance is as it were outside him, he himself is the observer of the circumstance.
Now, these two statements cannot be doubted by anybody because they are so indubitable, to doubt itself requires affirmation of these two statements: to doubt them requires affirmation of these very two statements; to doubt them is to affirm these very two statements. You cannot have doubt: what do you doubt? The doubt itself is a part of the knower. Who doubts? It’s the knower who doubts. Therefore you affirm it, and doubt about what? It’s about circumstance. If there is no circumstance, there is no question of doubting anything at all. So, ‘circumstance’ and the ‘knower of the circumstance’ are the two indubitable propositions. So, if you want to start any kind of exposition regarding knowledge, you should start with these two statements. And this is how this chapter starts with: it starts with a circumstance and with the knower: two indubitable statements.
And then now exposition of this: what is this kṣetra? What is this kṣetrajña? Here, first it is said only “idaṁ śarīraṁ”, this body is the kṣetra.
But now, Sri Krishna in the 3rd verse, He expounds it further:
tat kṣetraṁ yac ca yādṛk ca yadvikāri yataś ca yat |
That body which is a kṣetra, is not only this body, tat kṣetraṁ, the totality of kṣetra, the whole world is actually your circumstance, not only this body, the body is only a microcosm of the totality which is macrocosm, and you get connection with this macrocosm through the microcosm and there is correspondence between the macrocosm and the microcosm.
So, tat kṣetraṁ…
So, now Sri Krishna expounds the idea of kṣetra, starting with body, now He expounds it and says:
tat kṣetraṁ yac ca yādṛk ca yadvikāri yataś ca yat |
sa ca yo yatprabhāvaś ca tat samāsena me śṛṇu ||13.3||
“What is that kṣetra? What is his nature? What are his modifications? yadvikāri, What are the transformations of that? From where it comes? yataś ca, from where these transformations come? sa ca yo yatprabhāvaś ca, what are the effects of these modifications? tat samāsena me śṛṇu, that in fullness you listen from Me.”
In between there is the 2nd verse, (I went to the 3rd because I had to expound the idea of kṣetra), which is explained in the 1st and the 3rd verse. In the 2nd verse we have now the concept of kṣetrajña, who is the knower of the field:
kṣetrajñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarvakṣetreṣu bhārata |
kṣetrakṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama ||13.2||
Who is the kṣetrajña? In the first place we only said that one who observes, one who knows the body is the knower. Now, Sri Krishna expounds the idea further and expounds it: māṁ viddhi, who is the knower? The knower is Me, the supreme Lord Himself is the Knower; the whole world as it appears to us is the kṣetra and the kṣetrajña is the supreme Lord; kṣetrajñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi, you realise Me as the kṣetrajña, one who knows the kṣetra; sarvakṣetreṣu bhārata, He is in all the fields whether is that body, or in that body, or in any body, everywhere there is one knower and that is Myself, the supreme Lord.
kṣetrakṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama, the true knowledge is nothing but the knowledge of kṣetrakṣetrajña: ‘when you know the field and the knower of the field, when both are known, then that is the true knowledge’. Merely knowing the field is never the knowledge of the field unless you know the kṣetrajña: the more you know yourself, the more you know the field, the key is in the kṣetrajña. If you don’t know the eyes you cannot even know the world: the eyes are the key to the knowledge of the world; the more your eyes are luminous, the greater is the luminosity of the world; the eyes are the knowers. So, the more you know the knower, the more you know the kṣetra, the world.
You will see here the psychology of knowledge and the epistemology of knowledge. What is it that can be called knowledge? How do you know that knowledge is knowledge? Why should you call something to be knowledge and something not to be knowledge? What is the characteristic of it? You will see that this question was never raised in all these 12 chapters, it is as if at a very subtle level you are taken up into the profoundest levels, the root-question of all knowledge is raised and answered.
So, He says: what is the definition of knowledge? kṣetrakṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ, the knowledge both of the field and the knower of the field, when both are combined together, the knowledge of this harmony between the kṣetra and the kṣetrajña, then you can say this is knowledge: if you know only kṣetrajña it is not knowledge, if you know only the kṣetra it is not knowledge, it is when the two are united together and you know both of them, then that is knowledge.
So, now comes the exposition of the kṣetra, and it is that which is now described in the verse 4 onwards:
ṛṣibhir bahudhā gītaṁ chandobhir vividhaiḥ pṛthak |
brahmasūtrapadaiś caiva hetumadbhir viniścitaiḥ ||13.4||
ṛṣibhir bahudhā There are many Rishis who have described this kṣetra; chandobhir in many verses of inspired scripture, in the Vedas and the Upanishads; vividhaiḥ gītaṁ, in many form it has been described; then, when you come to brahmasūtra, if you look at the terms of brahmasūtra, then, in detail in a philosophical manner, hetumad, in a philosophical exposition, you will find about this kṣetra* in detail: that is by the Vedas, Upanishads and Brahmasutra, if you refer to these three, you get a detail knowledge of this field.
But, Sri Krishna now describes all that knowledge in a few words, like a summary of all that. What is that field?
mahābhūtāny ahaṅkāro buddhir avyaktam eva ca |
indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ ca pañca cendriyagocarāḥ ||13.5||
icchā dveṣaḥ sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ saṅghātaś cetanā dhṛtiḥ |
etat kṣetraṁ samāsena savikāram udāhṛtam ||13.6||
etat kṣetra, this is the field, (this is the 6th verse) etat kṣetraṁ this is the field, samāsena in this totality, savikāram with all its modifications, udāhṛtam illustrated, expounded. “It is that field which in its totality explains with all its modifications”.
What are those?
mahābhūtāny The five great elements. That is to say: earth, water, fire, air and ether, these are the five great elements; mahābhūtāny ahaṅkāro, the sense of egoism; buddhir, intellect and avyaktam eva ca the highest original state which is called Prakriti; indriyāṇi the sense. Five senses of knowledge and five senses of action: karmendriyā(s) and jñānendriyā(s); indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ ten of them (daśaika means eleven actually, they are ten plus one eka; what is eka, it is the manas; is the 11th sense: five senses of knowledge, five senses of action, plus manas, manas itself is the 11th; pañca cendriyagocarāḥ and the five immediate senses of the objects of the senses. Between these physical objects and our physical senses, there is an intermediate level, which are immediate objects of senses, usually we regard physical objects themselves as the objects of knowledge.
But Sri Krishna goes into subtlety and points out that there are pañca mahābhūtāny, they are not the five direct objects of knowledge. These are known through intermediacy of other objects of the senses namely: there is smell; there is taste; there is cohesion; there is hearing; and there is sight. These are the five direct objects of senses. It is through eyes that things are seen, there is a sight between the eyes and the objects which are seen, there is sight: if there is no sight you cannot see, so sight is the direct object of indriya(s). The taste is the direct object between the vegetable that you eat with taste and our own internal organ of the tongue.
So, for each organ of sense we have an intermediate direct object which actually gives you further knowledge of the objects themselves of pañca mahābhūta(s). So, pañca mahābhūta(s), ahaṅkāra, buddhi, and the original buddhi, namely the Prakriti itself which is in the first place avyakta, which is un-manifested therefore which described as avyakta. Five senses of action, five senses of knowledge and the mind manas, and the five objects of senses.
Question: What are the five senses of action?,
The five senses of action are the actions of the hands, actions of the feet, action of eating, action of evacuation, and action of generating: these are the five senses of action.
This is a summary of the entire theory of evolution which is attributed to Sankhya. In Indian philosophy among the 6 systems of Vedic philosophy, Sankhya is regarded to be one very, very important branch. The entire Bhagavad Gita cannot be fully understood without a very good knowledge of Sankhya.
There are three great words that you come across in the Bhagavad Gita: Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta. The word Vedanta is not used, but the whole of Bhagavad Gita is an exposition of Vedanta and therefore the original book in which Vedanta is expounded in the forms of aphorisms is called Brahmasutra to which reference is just now made in the 4th verse, brahmasūtrapadaiś caiva: “All this knowledge is given in Brahmasutra.” Brahmasutra is nothing but an aphoristic statement ‘sūtra rūpa’, given in the form of Sutras, aphoristic statement of the knowledge contained in the Veda and the Upanishads. So, these three constitute one harmony among all the greatest books of knowledge in India. These three are regarded to be the most authoritative expositions of knowledge: the Veda, Upanishads, and the Brahma Sutras.
Vedas are the first manifestations in Indian history of knowledge; they were re-stated by the Rishis of the Upanishads and they were philosophically expounded by Brahmasutras. The first two are not philosophy themselves, they are inspired revelations. Vedas and Upanishads are not philosophy, there may be philosophy in them, but they are not themselves expositions of philosophy, because in philosophy there has to be the prominence of intellectual quest. In the Vedas and Upanishads, it is not an intellectual quest but a spiritual quest. Therefore, Vedas and Upanishads are not philosophies, but the statements of knowledge which are to be found in the Vedas and Upanishads can be expounded intellectually. Therefore, you can say philosophy is in them, but they are not themselves philosophies, they are manifestations of spiritual quest where knowledge is obtained by spiritual quest, by spiritual means: ātmanā ātmānam, the self is known by the self (not by the intellect); the self knowledge is possessed by the self’s own perception. But when you want to know it also intellectually, then there is an intellectual transcription of this knowledge, but then you have to follow the method of philosophy, method of intellectual groping, so the whole method changes, therefore the whole colouring of that statement is different: atha brahma jijñāsā, it starts with the quest of Brahman and then what is this jijñāsā? It is an intellectual jijñāsā. It is not atha mumukṣutvam; when it is a desire for liberation, it is a spiritual quest, but this jijñāsā starts with an intellectual quest. Therefore philosophy is an answer to jijñāsā. Brahmasutra begins with this basic statement of the brahma jijñasā; it begins with the quest of Brahman. And then there is an intellectual exposition: how intellectually you can grasp that Reality. That intellectual exposition of the quest of the Brahman is ‘Brahmasutra’.
So, that’s why Sri Krishna says that if you want the in kṣetra detail, you go to the Veda, you go to the Upanishad, you go to Brahmasutra. And Brahmasutra contains within itself a kind of a synthesis in which Sankhya plays a great role. The Brahmasutra itself is not a Sankhya philosophy, it takes over within its embrace all that is said in Sankhya, but goes beyond it. You might say that the Sankhya of the Brahmasutra is Vedantic Sankhya, it’s not pure Sankhya, it is Vedantic: it is a body of Vedanta…Vedanta is nothing but the culmination of Veda. Culmination of Veda is Upanishads, but these Upanishads when described philosophically are called Vedanta philosophy. Upanishad is a Vedanta…spirituality: spiritual knowledge, it is also Vedanta but it is a spiritual Vedanta. Brahmasutra is a philosophical Vedanta.
So, in this philosophical statement of Brahmasutra, we have the entire body of Sankhya incorporated and gone beyond: it is a transcendence of the Sankhya, but Sankhya is taken up. Now, in Sankhya there are two very important statements and both these statements are incorporated in the Vedanta, but more than that also it is added to it.
What are these two statements? I would like to state this because this is the most important part in all the 6 chapters, which says that Purusha and Prakriti are the fundamental principles of all existence; the totality of existence can be understood in terms of Prakriti and all its modifications plus Purusha. If you put these two together, there is nothing which remains to be known except Purusha and Prakriti.
Now, Prakriti is in the beginning ‘avyakta’, is unmanifest: now, this unmanifest Prakriti begins to manifest. Now, this beginning of manifestation is caused by Purusha. The Purusha ‘glances’ at Prakriti which is unmanifest and the moment it glances at it, Prakriti begins to manifest, it is as it were Purusha commands Prakriti: “look I want to see you”, therefore She unfolds Herself. The bombardment of manifestation is caused by the glance of Purusha which is a kind of a command: “I want to see you”. And then Prakriti says: “I unfold myself”: it begins to manifest.
And the very first manifestation is called ‘mahat’ (or ‘buddhi’). The very first manifestation is the Vast, ‘mahat’: it’s like a bombardment and the vast is manifested, something like the ‘Bang’ theory: there is a ‘bang’ as it were on the avyakta prakriti, and with that bang the Prakriti begins to manifest. So that large manifestation is called ‘mahat’, the first thing is ‘mahat’. It is also called ‘buddhi’ because Buddhi’s function is to discriminate. The entire movement of Prakriti moves on the basis of division, discrimination. The whole dividing movement which is manifesting in Prakriti…in Prakriti every movement is a dividing movement, is movement of discrimination; that is the function of Buddhi, therefore the ‘mahat’ is called buddhi’.
It also distinguishes between Purusha and Prakriti, it’s a discriminating power; it is Buddhi which can discriminate between Purusha and Prakriti. Ultimately it is by virtue of Buddhi that Purusha, who was observing Prakriti all the time recognises that it is itself her ‘knower’, it is not itself that knows, discriminates between that which is known and that which knows: it’s by virtue of Buddhi that this discrimination comes about in the perceiving, observing Purusha. It is that which awakes the Purusha, as it were, saying: “Are you now satisfied with observation?” And now you withdraw, you come back to yourself.
When Purusha begins to observe, witness the movement of Prakriti by its glance, it gets engaged with observation. This engagement of Purusha in the observation of Prakriti is called ‘bondage’, bandhana. The Purusha as it were gets engaged and goes on observing; it’s also called the act of forgetting, the Purusha forgets itself and gets entangled into observation. By that forgetting there is identification with Prakriti, thinks itself as Prakriti: it is this forgetfulness, it is this engagement with Prakriti, entanglement with Prakriti which is the bondage.
And that bondage can be broken only when Buddhi begins to dominate, because it is by Buddhi that discrimination is made, so when Buddhi is developed, then the Purusha begins to discriminate between that which is the snare, that which has been binding the Purusha and gets himself liberated. This is the fundamental proposition of the Sankhya.
So, first is the ‘avyakta’, Buddhi is avyakta, unmanifest, with the glance of Purusha; the unmanifest Prakriti begins to unfold, and the first enfoldment is the ‘Vast’, which is also the capacity to divide and discriminate and from there all the other things begin to develop, (namely ahaṅkāra), in each division, each divided thing begins to behave as if itself it is alone, in conflict with others, but separate from the others: ahaṅkāra is only this sense of being separate, in some way independent of all the rest, divided from all the rest and affirming itself as if it is different from all the rest: this is ahaṅkāra.
And the basis of ahaṅkāra is Buddhi: if there was no division, then on what would ahaṅkāra rest for its division and separateness. If there was nothing separated, then there is nothing on which ego can say ‘I am different from the others’. Because Buddhi prepares divisions, then out of these divisions arise tendencies of egoism. So, first is the manifestation of Buddhi; then is the manifestation of ahaṅkāra. Out of this ahaṅkāra…this is a subjective manifestation, because ahaṅkāra is a conscious manifestation, it is a subjective manifestation of Prakriti in the form of Buddhi and ahaṅkāra, which gets further, developed into manas.
ahaṅkāra gives rise to the manifestation of a sense: the real sense is only one, namely ‘mind’. Mind is the only sense of which all other senses are only specialisations: that is why when mind is not present; the senses don’t function as in sleep. When all the senses are closed, the mind is withdrawn, then even if there is a mosquito bite, unless it is very sharp, the sleep is not broken, because the mind is not present, there is nothing to sense it. So, ‘Mind’ is the real sense of which different senses are only manifestations.
So, indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ, (13.5), the mind and 10 other senses which are specialisations, namely the 5 senses of knowledge and the five senses of action; and pañca cendriyagocarāḥ, and the five…they are called tanmātrā(s), sight, smell, etc are called tanmātrā(s) in sanskrit, indriyagocarāḥ, those which are direct object of senses are tanmātrā(s): all this is a subjective aspect of the manifestation of Prakriti which gets concretised in the objective form in pañca mahābhūta(s). So, mahābhūtāny, all the five great objects: earth, water, fire, air and ether, these are all called 24 elements on the side of Prakriti and Prakriti’s manifestations, 25th is Purusha: these are all Prakriti’s movements, all that we see is Prakriti, other than that is the real observer at whose command the Prakriti moves: that is Purusha. This is the most elementary exposition of Sankhya. There is much more to be done; we shall come to it later on.
It is because of this that there are in this field certain psychological experiences. What are they? icchā dveṣaḥ, (13.6), ‘all desire and envy’, they are movements of Prakriti; it’s of kṣetra, its not you; when there is dveṣa, when there is icchā, when there is envy, when there is desire, be sure it is not you, it is part of the kṣetra, part of the ‘field’; sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ, the happiness and misery, they also belong to the kṣetra, not to you; saṅghātaś cetanā, the cetanā, the awareness of saṅghāta, of receiving blows, dhṛtiḥ, whether you are shaken or whether you remain firm, (dhṛtiḥ is firmness).
etat kṣetraṁ samāsena savikāram ,
I have now told you in totality, samāsena, totality, etat kṣetraṁ, this entire field, savikāram, with all its modifications; with illustrations I have told you.
So, in two sentences as it were, Sri Krishna describes the entire kṣetra.
amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam |
ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ sthairyam ātmavinigrahaḥ ||13.7||
indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam anahaṅkāra eva ca |
asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ putradāragṛhādiṣu |
nityaṁ ca samacittatvam iṣṭāniṣṭopapattiṣu ||13.9||
mayi cānanyayogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī |
viviktadeśasevitvam aratir janasaṁsadi ||13.10||
adhyātmajñānanityatvaṁ tattvajñānārthadarśanam |
etaj jñānam iti proktam ajñānaṁ yad ato ’nyathā ||13.11||
When you know all these elements of Prakriti and their manifestations and when you enter into a higher level, then your entire state of consciousness begins to change. It’s the kṣetra, when you really begin to understand the kṣetra, then what begins to happen? amānitvam, humility, you begin to become humble; adambham, absence of any deceit; ahiṁsā, non-violence; kṣāntir, tolerance; ārjavam, straight forwardness; ācāryopāsanaṁ, worship of the teacher; śaucaṁ, purity; sthairyam, stability; ātmavinigrahaḥ, self-control: these are the qualities which begin to develop when you begins to understand, when you begin to take cognisance, when you begin to understand properly.
indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam, a sense of disillusionment, detachment from indriyārtheṣu, from the objects of the senses; anahaṅkāra, loss of the sense of ego; janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam: to see with a kind of disappointment, doṣānudarśanam, to see defects in ‘janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi’: when you look upon the janma, birth; mṛtyu, death; jarā, old age; vyādhi, decease; when you look upon these with duḥkha and doṣā, when you see them with defect in them.
asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ putrādāragṛhādiśu, “when you can look upon children wives, and the home with a sense of great detachment…”
nityaṁ ca samacittatvam iṣṭāniṣṭopapattiṣu ||13.9||
“…in all the circumstances, all the events and occurrences which are favourable or unfavourable, when you can look upon them as samacittatvam, with equality.”
mayi cānanyayogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī |
Now comes…these were the first elements, but now you rise higher even… mayi cānanyayogena, “When you can concentrate upon Me; ananyayogena…(we have seen only ananyayoga is a synthesis of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti, that is ananyayoga, which has no comparison, the synthesis of three Yogas has no comparison)…and with Bhakti, supreme Bhakti; avyabhicāriṇī, in which there is no sense of exploitation, complete and pure devotion…
vivikta-deśa-sevitvam aratir janasaṁsadi ||13.10||
When one becomes very much detached from space and time; aratir, there is no sense of pleasure in janasaṁsadi, in the company of the people.”
adhyātma-jñāna-nityatvaṁ, “When the spiritual knowledge of the eternity…”
tattva-jñānārtha-darśanam |, “…and when you have the direct experience of the meaning and the object of tattva-jñānā, of the philosophical or the spiritual knowledge…”
etaj jñānam iti proktam, “…this is really called the knowledge; this is all the science is now given of the state of knowledge…”
ajñānaṁ yad ato ’nyathā ||13.11||, “…opposite of all this is ajñāna, is ignorance.”
jñeyaṁ yat tat pravakṣyāmi yaj jñātvāmṛtam aśnute |
anādi matparaṁ brahma na sat tan nāsad ucyate ||13.12||
“That which is to be known, jñeyaṁ, that which is to be known; yat tat pravakṣyāmi, I will tell you; yaj jñātvā, by knowing which; amṛtam aśnute, you will attain to immortality.”
The same concept of ‘dharma amṛtam’, is the same as amṛtam aśnute, how to attain to that: anādi matparaṁ brahma na sat tan nāsad ucyate ||, “It’s the knowledge of the eternal, anādi, which cannot be described either as existing or as not existing; it is beyond what we can call existing or not existing; matparaṁ brahma, I am that; anādi*, ‘know Me as the origin of all that’ is the supreme knowledge.”
sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṁ tat sarvato ’kṣiśiromukham |
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati ||13.13||
“It is that eternal, (it is a summary of the 11th chapter), sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṁ, whose hands and feet are everywhere, that eternal reality is one whose hands and feet are everywhere; sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṁ tat sarvato ’kṣiśiromukham |, His eyes are everywhere, His face is everywhere, His head is everywhere; sarvataḥ śrutimal loke, He is one who hears everything; *sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati ||, He pervades everything and stands firm in all things.”
sarvendriyaguṇābhāsaṁ sarvendriyavivarjitam |
asaktaṁ sarvabhṛc caiva nirguṇaṁ guṇabhoktṛ ca ||13.14||
sarvendriya-guṇābhāsaṁ, “He is one who is able to perform all the senses even though He is vivarjitam , He is devoid of all the sarvendriya.”
He is devoid of all the senses but yet He is capable of functioning all the senses. That is to say: without eyes He can see, without ears He can hear; all the senses…He does not have senses but He is ‘sense of sense’. This is in the Kena Upanishad (1.2), we have: śrotrasya śrotraṁ, the ear of the ear; cakṣuṣaścakṣu, the eye of the eye; prāṇasya prāṇaḥ, the breath of breath; vāco ha vācaṁ, the speech of the speech.
That is described here: sarvendriyaguṇābhāsaṁ sarvendriyavivarjitam |, “He has no sense but He is sense of all senses, therefore even without senses, He has all the function of senses.”
asaktaṁ sarvabhṛc caiva , “He bears everything, sarvabhṛc, He bears everything; asaktaṁ, and yet He is unattached to all; He is guṇabhoktṛ, He enjoys all the guṇa(s), nirguṇaṁ, but He is without any attachment to any guṇa(s), He is beyond all the guṇa(s).”
(13.15) bahir antaś ca, He is outside and He is inside; bhūtānām, He belongs inside of all, He belongs outside of all; acaraṁ caram eva ca, He is immobile and He is mobile.
sūkṣmatvāt tad, because of Its subtlety, āvijñeyaṁ, He cannot be known because He is so subtle; dūrasthaṁ, He is very far; cāntike, He is very near.
avibhaktaṁ ca bhūteṣu vibhaktam iva ca sthitam | (13.16)
He stands, avibhaktaṁ, undivided, even when things are divided; in division He stands undivided.
bhūtabhartṛ ca, He is the Lord of all the creatures, taj jñeyaṁ, it is that which is to be known, grasiṣṇu, He is the destroyer; *prabhaviṣṇu ca ||, He is the great majestic preserver of all that.
jyotiṣām api taj jyotis tamasaḥ param ucyate (13.17)
Beyond all darkness He is the light of all lights.
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ jñānagamyaṁ hṛdi sarvasya viṣṭthitam, He is there seated in everybody, He is that which is jñāna, He is that which is to be known, He is that which is capable object of all knowledge. He is the knower, He is the knowledge, He is the object of knowledge.
iti kṣetraṁ tathā jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ coktaṁ samsataḥ (13.18)
All that I have now told you into kṣetra, the knowledge, the field and the knowledge, all that has to be known, jñeyaṁ.
madbhakta etad vijñāya madbhāvāyopapadyate ||
All this is known in fullness by My devotee. Even the seeker of knowledge gets all this knowledge only when this knowledge gets imbued with devotion. When ‘Jnani’ becomes ‘Bhakta’, then that Bhakti becomes avyabhicāriṇī (13.10), and then in that highest condition of Bhakti, the supreme knowledge is revealed. Not only that, there is a very important word that comes mad-bhāvāyopapadyate, he attains to My bhāvā, My becoming: he becomes like Me.
There are 3 kinds of realisation of which the highest is madbhāvā. There is sāyujya-mukti, there is sālokya-mukti, and there is sādharmya-mukti: three kinds of liberations. Normally when you pursue the path of knowledge, you get ‘sāyujya-mukti’, you become united completely, you become one, yujya, complete unity with the Divine, you are lost, you are not at all there. The knowledge of the Self which is one, when attained is called sāyujya-mukti. You become liberated; it’s not a complete liberation, although many people describe it as complete liberation; but in the eyes of the Gita, it’s not a complete liberation. It is a ‘liberation’, but to be completed further by other liberations.
What are the other ones? ‘sālokya’, when you begin to ‘stay’ in the Divine. To be one with the Divine is sāyujya, you become one, united, but ‘sālokya’ is to stay in Him: mayi nivaśas viśaṣisi, you will stay in Me. When you begin to ‘live’ in the Divine, act in the Divine, feel in the Divine, be His lover and beloved: that is the result of Bhaktiyoga.
Then there is sādharmya; you not only become one with the Divine, not you live in the Divine, but you act ‘in’ the Divine and act ‘with the power’ of the Divine, act with the nature of the Divine, act with Para Prakriti, (not in Apara Prakriti), madbhāvā: madbhāvā is My Para Prakriti, My direct becoming. It is only when you do Karmayoga that you get this benefit that you participate in His active nature.
But if you follow only Karmayoga and not others, you may get madbhāvā, but you don’t get the privilege of living in Him, that comes by Bhaktiyoga. You don’t get the privilege of becoming one with Him that comes only by Jnanayoga. But all the three together is by ‘ananya’ Bhakti, by supreme, un-comparable devotion, you get all the three: that is amṛtam dharma; madbhāvā, to be stationed in My bhāvā, in all its completeness, all the three liberations put together: that is madbhāvā. You begin to be united with the Supreme, begin to live in the Divine, you become like the Divine Himself; it’s also called sādṛśya-mukti: you become like the Divine. In all your activities your Apara Prakriti is lost; you begin to participate in the higher nature, ‘Para Prakriti’. It is the attainment of Para Prakriti that is the dharma amṛtam. It is when you not only know the Divine, not only when you love the Divine, not only you act in the Divine, or act according to the Divine, but you do all this simultaneously: when will, knowledge, action, all are united perfectly well, then manifest there the Para Prakriti.
Question: Is that the Supramental being?
That’s right. This Para Prakriti is ‘Supermind’. So, you enter into the Supermind, begin to become Supramental.
So, this is the condition which Sri Krishna says is the real condition of Jnana. Till that time, don’t say you have got ‘Jnana’. This is the real definition of perfect knowledge. It’s that perfect knowledge that makes you the Divine, completely acting like the Divine, acting with the nature of the Divine.
I think we will stop here today. We shall continue because now another subject starts with the 19th verse, so we shall take it up separately.
Question: How do you differentiate in the philosophical quest, the spiritual quest?
The spiritual quest is when you use psychological experience as your means. You want to attain to the supreme object of knowledge, not by intellectual methods. When you try to understand the Divine by intellect, it is ‘philosophical’. When you try to understand the Divine by the psychological expansion, by your explosion of your normal functioning of your mind, body, life, and with that explosion, you enter: that is spiritual quest.
Buddha for example did not start a philosophical enquiry when He left His home. He was already a learned man by that time, He was a great philosopher already, but when He saw those four sights, then an explosion took place, then He could not remain at home in the confines of ordinary life, not that He wanted to escape from action and responsibility, not at all, but the quest seized Him in the very psychological being of the totality of the being. And He wanted to find out: what is the cause, (not philosophically), experientially, what is the cause of all the suffering and how that suffering can be remedied? It’s a spiritual quest.
Question: That would include the occult?
Occult quest also, yes, but more than occult also. When the object of spiritual quest and the object of philosophical quest is the same, namely, the supreme object of knowledge, but the methods are different. In philosophy, the method is intellectual doubt, intellectual groping, comparing one fact with the other, finding the connection between them, finding the causes of them, finding the ultimate ‘how’, ultimate ‘why’, grasping as much as possible by intellectual means, by deduction, by induction, by implication, by analogy, by all these methods put together is the philosophical quest.
But in a spiritual quest, you want to see the Divine face to face and nothing else satisfies you.
Question: Does it have a sequence?
It can be either.
Question: What kind of Sadhana one should follow for a spiritual quest?
What Sri Krishna says is you can starts with either quest philosophically…even when your spiritual quest your starting point can be philosophical; or you expand your capacities of experience: that is the real method of Jnanayoga. Philosophical study, there is one part of Jnanayoga and expansion of your capacities, psychological capacities.
When you can begin to see ‘śrotrasya śrotraṁ’ what is behind your ears; there is a śrotra, capacity of hear which is not this physical hearing; so, when you begin to develop this faculty of hearing. When you begin to have the faculty of seeing, not the physical sight but there is a sight ‘behind’ the sight, the ordinary experience of it, is in dreams: you eyes are closed and yet you see in your dreams so there is some other eye than the eyes to which you are accustomed. So, develop that faculty, which you can see, which you can use in dream experience, even in your waking experience you can have that kind of perception; so, develop these psychological faculties in you, until you develop what is called the power of revelation, power of discrimination, power of inspiration, the power of intuition and the power of becoming as vast as possible: to become as universal as possible, to be able to sympathise with everybody directly. These are the capacities, which are called psychological capacities, expand them, develop them: this is the path of Jnana. If you are accustomed to this path, if that path suits you, take this path.
Question: What about the path of Bhakti?
…Also, but you cannot have Para Bhakti, avyabhicāriṇī Bhakti unless you include also the process of knowledge in that Bhakti movement. In the pure Bhakti movement, methods are prayer, asking from the Divine what you really want, instead of asking here and there and everywhere, you just turn to the Divine and say: ‘I will only ask you to give you what I will need’.
Now your need may be because you really need something where there is a physical want; you need something because you are seek, you are ill, you want to be cured, you are miserable psychologically, then you demand from the Divine: all these are accepted by the supreme Divine as a part of Bhaktiyoga, but more than that you relate yourself with the Divine even without all these demands. So, prayer is one, then worship of the Divine, adoration of the Divine, loving of the Divine, that is also part of Bhaktiyoga: it is that which leads you to this pure Bhakti, avyabhicāriṇī Bhakti.
By the time you do this, some knowledge will also expand in you, so Jnana and Bhakti will become united, and when you become more and more devoted to the Divine, you begin to perceive the Divine everywhere: that is the result of Jnana, perceiving the Divine everywhere. Perceiving the Divine everywhere you perceive the Divine is in all actions also, all actions are in the Divine and if you are a Bhakta of the Divine, how can you be away from the Divine in Bhakti? You will also perceive the actions; so, your motivations of action are greatly strengthened by Bhakti. So, by the time you become even a great Bhakta, you become also a great Karmayogi. So, this is one way of approach, but you may also start with Karma yoga.
Question: What about Mantra-Japa?
It is a part of Bhakti, part of it. It is also recognised as a separate part of the movement because even without Bhakti, you can have ‘Japa’. You just take a word and you go on repeating and a mere word has got an effect upon your psychological consciousness, your powers begin to develop. So Mantra-Japa is also not necessarily connected with Bhakti, but is also connected with Jnana Yoga.
You can have Mantra-Japa even without Bhakti and it is a part of Jnana Yoga: you can have Mantra-Japa with Bhakti; that is part of Bhakti- Yoga. Both are perfectly possible and recommended depending upon what is your immediate need and your capacity.
Comment: The need just to know the Divine.
If you want to know the Divine, Mantra is also a starting point, it is a good one, it takes a long time; it is a very long process.
If you really want to know the Divine with all your might, all your vigour, ‘utsaḥ’, then Jnana Yoga is much better.
Comment: You can combine.
You can combine both, you can combine all in fact, even Bhakti Yoga you can start, you can have Karma Yoga also. Either you can start on a chariot which has three wheels at the same time, or you can start with a cycle on which there are only two wheels, or unicycle on which there is only one wheel, all of them are possible…but Sri Krishna recommends all the three wheels, that is His final recommendation, that you start with all the three wheels and you move on your path on all the three wheels. But you can begin with any one of them and then gradually combine all the others that also you can do. All right?