Maya does it all
With me as overseer Prakriti produces both the animate and the inanimate; because of this the world revolves (9:10).
Sankhya philosophy says that prakriti is inert by nature, but by the mere proximity of purusha–on both the cosmic and individual levels–prakriti moves and produces all that exist. So even though the spirit is the observer, and even in some ineffable way the controller, still the only “creator” is prakriti. Except for the spirits, prakriti is the sole source of all without exception. Both the living and the dead are made from the same substance. In fact, the differentiation is only one of movement or non-movement. The entire drama is the play of prakriti. When we realize this division we can begin to get a perspective on ourselves within this world and the process we are experiencing as life.
The blind, helpless, and hopeless
The deluded despise me dwelling in human form, not knowing of my higher being as the Great Lord of all beings (9:11).
The foolish daily encounter divinity in themselves and in all that is around them. But, being blind, they stumble on by unaware, knowing nothing at all about themselves or others–and usually not caring, either, despising both themselves and others, and often denying the very existence of their true Self.
Cut off–at least in perception–from their own essential being, what can be their fate?
Those of vain hopes, vain deeds, vain knowledge, without intelligence, abide in the delusive nature of rakshasas and asuras (9:12).
They are not just deluded–they are the source, the producer, of their delusion. Their hopes, actions, and seeming knowledge are vain because they are based on delusions. They live instinctually and sensually, unthinking. Their nature manifests the qualities of rakshasas and asuras. Rakshasas are cannibal demons, and we continually encounter people who devour life rather than live it. Asuras are willful dwellers in darkness. As Jesus said: “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:19, 20). But not all are like this. So Krishna says:
But those great souls that abide in their divine nature, worship me single-mindedly, knowing me as the eternal Origin of beings… (9:13).
It is necessary to be good, but the good must then progress on to become godlike, to be a deva, a “shining one” filled with the Divine Light. Fixing their mind on God they make themselves living offerings. That is why the Manu Smriti (Laws of Manu) says that the greatest sacrifice is the offering of ourselves (purushamedha). And Patanjali says that samadhi is attained by offering our lives to God (Ishwarapranidhana). Such persons live in the awareness of God:
Always glorifying me and striving with firm vows, bowing to me with devotion, always steadfast, they worship me (9:14).
This is a description of true devotion (bhakti), free from emotionalism and childish dependency.
Three views of God
But there is the approach of wisdom (jnana), which Krishna outlines thusly:
And others, sacrificing by the sacrifice of knowledge, worship me as One and Manifold, variously manifested, omniscient (9:15).
This is very important because it has become the vogue to insist that only one way of viewing God is either right or the best. Krishna, however, states here that there are two legitimate ways the jnanis worship God: as absolute Unity and divine Diversity. Even those who prefer to look upon God as One will yet consider that the One has manifested in countless modes, omniscient and omnipresent in all. Both views are means to reach God. We must keep this in mind and not fall into the laziness of simplistic thinking in these matters.
God is all
I am the ritual, I am the sacrifice, I am the offering, I am the herb, I am the mantra, I am the ghee, I am the fire, and the pouring out into the fire (9:16).
Over and over in the Gita it is pointed out that ritual is greatly inferior to yoga and wisdom. Yet, Krishna states that God is embodied in all those things, that they are the presence of God. They may be gone beyond, but they are not to be despised.
I am the Father and Mother of this world, Establisher, Grandfather, the object of knowledge, the Purifier, the Omkara (Om), the Rig, Sama, and Yajur Vedas (9:17).
In relation to creation God has three aspects: one transcendent and two immanent. This is the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity as taught by Jesus, however far contemporary Christianity has drifted from the original understanding. God is immanent in creation as both the guiding intelligence and the creative energy–the divine Father and Mother. Transcending these two aspects is the Unmanifest Absolute which can symbolically be called the Great Father, Pitamaha. “Grandfather” is not really a very satisfactory equivalent since the connotations are just too human and folksy.
I am the Goal, the Sustainer, the Lord, the Witness, the Abode, the Refuge, the Friend, the Origin, the Dissolution, the Foundation, the Treasure house and the Eternal Seed (9:18).
The Gita is absolutely perfect in expressing God through words.
As the sun I radiate heat; I withhold and send forth rain; I am immortality and death; being and non-being am I (9:19).
Round trip ticket!
The eighteenth verse indicates that God is the ultimate Goal. Wanting to help us to attain that Goal, Krishna now speaks of the way that falls short of the Goal.
The knowers of the three Vedas, the Soma drinkers, purified of sins, worshipping by sacrifices, seek the goal of heaven; they, the meritorious, attaining the world of Indra, enjoy divine, heavenly pleasures of the gods. Having enjoyed the vast heaven-world, with merit exhausted, they re-enter the world of mortals. Thus, carrying out the injunctions of the three Vedas, desiring objects of desire, going and coming from birth to birth, they obtain them (9:20-21).
Heaven is a trap, and the desire for heaven is the bait. For heaven keeps us from the only Goal: God. Those who go to heaven are the righteous, so Krishna says, but there is more for us than goodness, namely Godness. Since the Being of God transcends all relativity, so must we, and heaven is very much a matter of relative existence. As Krishna points out, heaven is desired only by those who hunger for sensory enjoyments, impelled by desire–and thereby hurled again and again into earthly rebirth. At the root of all is ego.
Those men who single-mindedly direct their thoughts to me, worship me. For them who are constantly steadfast I bestow what they lack and preserve that which they possess (9:22).
This last clause is not about earthly or heavenly possessions, but about spiritual attainments.
Those yogis who steadfastly fix their minds on God without wavering or slacking off, will find all their lacks being filled up and their present attainments preserved. They will remain with God forever, even if they should take up a human body for some higher purpose.
Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: Worshipping the One