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Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers

Part 61 of the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

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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.

Eternal security

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

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Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita for Awakening

Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:

  1. The Battlefield of the Mind
  2. On the Field of Dharma
  3. Taking Stock
  4. The Smile of Krishna
  5. Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
  6. Experiencing the Unreal
  7. The Unreal and the Real
  8. The Body and the Spirit
  9. Know the Atman!
  10. Practical Self-Knowledge
  11. Perspective on Birth and Death
  12. The Wonder of the Atman
  13. The Indestructible Self
  14. “Happy the Warrior”
  15. Buddhi Yoga
  16. Religiosity Versus Religion
  17. Perspective on Scriptures
  18. How Not To Act
  19. How To Act
  20. Right Perspective
  21. Wisdom About the Wise
  22. Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
  23. The Way of Peace
  24. Calming the Storm
  25. First Steps in Karma Yoga
  26. From the Beginning to the End
  27. The Real “Doers”
  28. Our Spiritual Marching Orders
  29. Freedom From Karma
  30. “Nature”
  31. Swadharma
  32. In the Grip of the Monster
  33. Devotee and Friend
  34. The Eternal Being
  35. The Path
  36. Caste and Karma
  37. Action–Divine and Human
  38. The Mystery of Action and Inaction
  39. The Wise in Action
  40. Sacrificial Offerings
  41. The Worship of Brahman
  42. Action–Renounced and Performed
  43. Freedom (Moksha)
  44. The Brahman-Knower
  45. The Goal of Karma Yoga
  46. Getting There
  47. The Yogi’s Retreat
  48. The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
  49. Union With Brahman
  50. The Yogi’s Future
  51. Success in Yoga
  52. The Net and Its Weaver
  53. Those Who Seek God
  54. Those Who Worship God and the Gods
  55. The Veil in the Mind
  56. The Big Picture
  57. The Sure Way To Realize God
  58. Day, Night, and the Two Paths
  59. The Supreme Knowledge
  60. Universal Being
  61. Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
  62. Worshipping the One
  63. Going To God
  64. Wisdom and Knowing
  65. Going To The Source
  66. From Hearing To Seeing
  67. The Wisdom of Devotion
  68. Right Conduct
  69. The Field and Its Knower
  70. Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
  71. Seeing the One Within the All
  72. The Three Gunas
  73. The Cosmic Tree
  74. Freedom
  75. The All-pervading Reality
  76. The Divine and the Demonic
  77. Faith and the Three Gunas
  78. Food and the Three Gunas
  79. Religion and the Three Gunas
  80. Tapasya and the Three Gunas
  81. Charity and the Three Gunas
  82. Sannyasa and Tyaga
  83. Deeper Insights On Action
  84. Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
  85. The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
  86. The Three Kinds of Happiness
  87. Freedom
  88. The Great Devotee
  89. The Final Words
  90. Glossary

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read The Bhagavad Gita (arranged in verses for singing) by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

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