That light which resides in the sun, which illumines the whole world, which is in the moon and in fire–know that light to be mine (15:12).
In chapter thirty of his autobiography Paramhansa Yogananda has written the following:
“Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Even the hypothetical ether, held as the interplanetary medium of light in the undulatory theory, can be discarded on the Einsteinian grounds that the geometrical properties of space render the theory of ether unnecessary. Under either hypothesis, light remains the most subtle, the freest from material dependence, of any natural manifestation.…
“‘Fiat lux! And there was light.’ God’s first command to his ordered creation (Genesis 1:3) brought into being the only atomic reality: light. On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light. ‘The King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.’ (I Timothy 6:15-16)
“A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.”
Everything is light, for everything is God, who is Light (I John 1:5).
Entering the earth, I support all beings with my energy. Having become the watery moon, I cause all plants to thrive (15:13).
Ojas means vitality, vigor, luster, splendor, and energy, including spiritual energy. It is the power which accomplishes all things in the cosmos. It is even the power within the light of the moon, the power that governs the growth of plants. It is not just Divine Power, it is Divinity itself, for God is also Power.
Becoming the digestive fire, I abide in the body of all living beings. Joined with prana and apana, I digest the fourfold food (15:14).
God is Vaishvanara, Cosmic Fire, which includes all forms of manifested fire, including digestive fire in the bodies of sentient beings. Fire is the most precious external element that human beings possess. In our technological age we cannot image how essential fire is, and how necessary it used to be to preserve fire. The scratch of a match, the flick of a gas-powered lighter, or a turn of a knob produces this vital thing. Now the only time we even see fire is when we cook or make fire for our amusement. It has become as disregarded and taken for granted as God, whose manifestation it is.
In ancient times fire was worshipped or honored as a gift of God and an extension of God’s being. This was true even in early Christianity. Even now in India fire is saluted when kindled for either cooking or light, and devout Hindus in the cities salute the electric light when it is first turned on in the evening.
The all-encompassing Being
What a profound state of consciousness it is to see God in all things at all times–to understand that “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). To underline this Krishna says:
Seated within the hearts of all, from me come memory and knowledge and their loss: I alone am to be known by all the Vedas; I am the Author of the Vedanta, and the Knower of the Vedas (15:15).
Brahman is in our hearts as the inmost Indweller, the source of our consciousness and life. Since everything comes to us from God; so also does their departure. Knowledge (understanding) and memory of experience from which reason arises, as well as knowledge and memory of our self-nature, come and go, originating in and returning to God. For he is the eternal Antaryamin: indweller, inner guide, inner ruler, the “witness” who dwells within every living being.
What is found as subject in the writings and discourses of the wise–that is Brahman. For there is none other of which to speak. He originates Wisdom, teaches Wisdom, and is the Knower of the end of Wisdom: his own Self, Brahman.
There are two purushas in this world–the perishable and the imperishable. All beings are the perishable, and Kutastha is called the imperishable (15:16).
It is not the spirit that is perishable, but its wrappings, the various sheaths or bodies. Yet, the spirit is “perishable” in its experience of those bodies until it awakens to its true nature. In this verse Brahman is called Kutashtha, which means changeless, immutable, and “dweller in the height,” or “on the summit.” Unlike Brahman, we dwell in the bottom lands and undergo suffering and change.
But there is also the Highest Purusha, called the Supreme Self, the eternal Ishwara, Who pervades all the three worlds and sustains them (15:17).
Brahman has two aspects–transcendental and immanent. The previous verse is speaking of the immanent, the personal Ishwara aspect of God. The perishable purushas live within Ishwara and can communicate with him. But our association with the personal aspect of God is meant to end when we ourselves become transcendental and can pass from all relative worlds into that Absolute beyond all relativity.
Since I transcend the perishable and am also above the imperishable, so in this world and in the Veda I am known as the Supreme Purusha [Purushottama] (15:18).
The impersonality of Brahman can seem barren, even antiseptic, to us who are so used to the realm of Ishwara, so Krishna then says:
He who, undeluded, thus knows me as the Supreme Purusha, he, knowing all, worships me with his whole being (15:19).
When we truly know Brahman in its transcendent aspect the response is intense devotion–wholehearted worship. Sri Ramana Maharshi is a perfect example of this. Though uncompromisingly non-dual in his ways and words, he was deeply devotional, often shedding tears of love when hearing the lives and words of saint-devotees of God. How important it is for us to have this perspective as well is seen by Krishna’s closing words in this chapter:
This most secret teaching has been imparted by me; awakened to this, a man becomes wise and all his duties are fulfilled (15:20).
Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: The Divine and the Demonic