“Again hear my supreme word which I shall speak to you, who are beloved, with a desire for your welfare” (10:1).
These opening verses of the tenth chapter hold very important truths, truths that must be assimilated before the Divine Glory can be perceived. To undo the conditioning of millions of births in subhuman forms and many human births is no simple thing. Just to get the idea requires that we hear the basic truths of rebirth, karma, and spiritual evolution over and over and over again. We already know these things, but the knowledge is buried so deeply beneath mountains of debris accumulated in past lives that it might just as well not even be there at all. So we have to start by being told it again and again. We continually need refresher courses in fundamental truths. Of course this becomes much easier the moment we become yogis and start digging ourselves out of the prison.
People rarely scrutinize their–or others’–motives in religion, and nobody thinks about what God’s motives may be in communicating with humanity. But Krishna thinks this should be considered, so he tells us that God speaks to us not to express displeasure or pleasure, or to threaten or cajole us or to control us. God’s sole motive is our welfare. He is ever the benevolent friend who counsels us, but never shouts or tries to influence us. A prime factor in our welfare is our free will, and He never transgresses there. Reading this, you may think that this is hardly the situation with most religion. Exactly! And this proves that God is not speaking through those religions. If He ever did, they have corrupted His message so we can no longer hear His real message through them.
The originless Origin
“Neither the multitude of gods [suras–shining ones] nor the great seers know My origin. In truth I am the source of all the gods and the great seers” (10:2).
None of the highly-evolved beings who dwell in the higher astral and the causal worlds, or the enlightened sages of earth, know the origin or beginning of God because He never had one. It is not that such knowledge would be beyond the ken of the saints and angels, but rather that there is nothing to know. God is eternal. He is not just everlasting, He is without beginning. But we can know (not just believe) that God is our source or origin–not in the sense that at time point of time we came into existence or were created by God, but in the sense that we have eternally existed within God, drawing our essential being from Him. There never was a time when we did not exist, any more than there was a time when God did not exist. But God does not draw His being or existence from anyone, whereas we totally derive our being and existence from Him. That is why in the second chapter of the Gita Krishna says to Arjuna: “Truly there was never a time when I was not, nor you, nor these lords of men. And neither will there be a time when we shall cease to be from this time onward.”(2:12) Whether the great beings in all the worlds look before or behind, they only see God–and themselves within God. This is the vision of Immortality.
“He who knows Me, birthless and beginningless, the mighty Lord of the world, he among mortals is undeluded; he is released from all evils” (10:3). If we can attain the direct knowing of God’s immortality and omnipotence, our sins and delusions will evaporate in that vision. For we cannot see God as a subject or object, but only subjectively as one with our own Self. To see God is to become god.
The source of virtues
In the West we continually find the delusion that goodness can somehow be produced by thoughts and deeds, that virtue can be developed in us rather like seeds sown in a garden or steel be tempered in a flame. But this is a great delusion. Real spiritual change (progress) is a matter of mystical experience, of union with God. For Krishna next says: “Intellect, knowledge, freedom from delusion, patience, truth, self-restraint, tranquility, pleasure, pain, birth, death, and fear and fearlessness, non-violence, impartiality, contentment, austerity, charity, fame, disrepute, the manifold conditions of beings, arise from Me alone” (10:4, 5). This list is quite clear, but there are some nuances I think might be helpful to point out.
Intellect=buddhi. Buddhi covers a great deal more than simple intellect. It is understanding, reason, and intelligence. It is the thinking mind. For example, the manas, the sensory mind, receives the visual impression of a tree, but it is the buddhi that says: “That is a tree.” The word buddhi itself is derived from the root verb budh, which means both to know something and be able to communicate what is known. In its highest sense, the buddhi is the faculty of enlightenment, which is why we have the word Buddha for an enlightened individual.
Knowledge=jnana. Jnana means knowledge in the sense of wisdom, of truly understanding something. It can also mean good sense, but in spiritual texts it almost always means knowledge of Brahman, the Absolute.
Freedom from delusion=asammoha. Moha is delusive attachment or infatuation based on a completely false perception and evaluation of the object. Occasionally it has an almost magical connotation, as of a person being “under a spell” of admiration or attachment. The idea is that the person suffering from moha is bereft of reason and utterly overwhelmed by a passionate response to the object. Usually it is thought of as being directed to a person, but it can also be delusive obsession with a material object and even an aspiration or ambition for something or someone. Asammoha is complete absence of such obsession. So asammoha means levelheadedness and clearsightedness.
Patience=kshama. Forgiveness, patience, and forbearance–kshama is all of these.
Truth=satyam. Satyam means truth, reality, truthfulness, and honesty.
Self-restraint=dama. Dama is self-control, self- restraint, and control of the senses.
Tranquility=shama. Shama means calmness, tranquility, and control of the internal sense organs, including the mind. It can also mean being the same in all situations or in relation to others, being equal-minded at all times.
Pleasure=sukham. Sukham is happiness and joy, also the state of being happy and joyful. It is the quality of being pleasant and agreeable, as also the mental condition of being pleasant or agreeable.
Pain=dukham. Dukham is pain, suffering, misery, sorrow, grief, unhappiness, stress, or distress–also that which is unsatisfactory or produces dukha.
Birth=bhava. Bhava is “becoming,” from the verb “bhu” or “bhavh” which means to become or to exist. So it also means birth.
Death=abhava. Abhava means either to never exist or to go out of existence, so death is an implied meaning.
Fear=bhayam. Bhayam means fear or even terror.
Fearlessness=abhayam. Abhayam is “without fear,” fearlessness, or a state of steadfastness in which one is not swayed by fear of any kind.
Non-violence=ahimsa. “Himsa” is injury, violence, or killing. Ahimsa, then, is non-injury in thought, word, and deed, non-violence, non-killing, and harmlessness.
Impartiality=samata. Samata is impartiality, equality; equanimity; and equalness. It is equanimity of outlook in the sense of making no distinction between friend and foe, pleasure and pain, etc.
Contentment=tushtis. Tushtis means contentment or satisfaction, especially satisfaction, contentment, or happiness with the status quo.
Austerity=tapas. Tapas (tapasya) is austerity–practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline, or spiritual force. Literally it means the generation of heat or energy, but is always used in a symbolic manner, referring to spiritual practice and its effect, especially the roasting of karmic seeds, the burning up of karma.
Charity=danam. Danam means giving, gift, charity, almsgiving, self-sacrifice, donation, or generosity.
Fame=yashas. Yasha(s) is fame, celebrity, and good repute.
Disrepute=ayashas. Ayashas is lack of fame, celebrity, or good repute, or actual disrepute or bad reputation.
All these things, and indeed all “the manifold conditions of beings [bhavanti bhava bhutanam]” are arising solely from the Supreme Being in response to their actions. The conditions are not imposed on those beings, but come as a result of their karmas created by their free will in the form of thoughts, words, and deeds.
The progenitors of humanity
“The seven great seers [rishis] of old, and also the four Manus, from whom have sprung these creatures of the world, originated from Me, born of My mind” (10:6). Krishna is telling us about the progenitors of the universe and the human race. First we have the Seven Rishis (Sapta Rishis), those seven great beings who exist at the top of creation and supervise it in all its aspects. For the production of humanity there were four great ones known as Manus, who produce and then guide–both esoterically and through actual verbal instruction–humanity in its development.
The Seven and the Four were “mind-born” sons of God. That is, when they awoke at the proper time in this creation cycle, they found themselves embodied in forms mentally created by Brahma. This is also true of the early humans. By the power of their creative thought the creators brought them into physical manifestation by merely thinking them into embodiment.
Some believe that the Manus existed at the same time, and others consider that there was a succession of four extending over a huge span of time. Since there seems to be evidence that human beings appeared in different parts of the world at about the same time, the idea of them being contemporary with one another may be the right one, and may even explain racial differences. However that may be, all human beings are children of God, being children of the original sons of God.
I have concentrated on humanity, but Krishna makes it clear that all the forms of sentient beings ultimately come from these eleven co-creators. So there is one great family–not just of humans, but of all sentient beings.
“He who knows in truth this, My manifested glory and power, is united with Me by unwavering yoga; of this there is no doubt” (10:7).
The only way to know the power and glory of God is to directly perceive it through yoga and to even experience it within ourselves. Yoga enables us to see God, and the seeing establishes us in yoga–a perfect symbiosis. Krishna says this is beyond the possibility of any doubt.
Someone once asked a mystic teacher how to meditate. He gave the cryptic answer: “Go back to before there was any creation.” It is unlikely that anyone who heard or have read these words understands them. But the Gita makes them clear: “I am the origin of all; all proceeds from Me. Thinking thus, the intelligent ones worship Me” (10:8). In other words, the mystic was telling them to erase all relative existence from their consciousness and go back to God alone. God Himself is the bindu–the point–from which all beings began and extended into manifestation.
Here we see that when a yogi sees the truth of Brahman he does not become an impersonal, abstractionist intellectual, but rather becomes a worshipper of God. “Those who think of Me, who focus their lives on Me, enlightening each other, and speaking of Me constantly, they are content and rejoice. Those who are constantly steadfast, who worship Me with love, I give the yoga of intelligence [buddhi yoga] by which they come to Me” (10:9, 10). This is an accurate description of a real jnani, a true knower of Brahman. Contrast this with the contemporary “advaita teachers” that clutter the landscape at this time. Also notice that verse nine implies that when we completely orient our lives toward God we will attract to ourselves other devotees with whom we will speak of divine things, each encouraging and assisting one another in the path to God-realization.
“Out of compassion for them, I, who dwell within their own beings, destroy the darkness born of ignorance with the shining lamp of knowledge” (10:11).
The Absolute in all Its glory dwells as much in the heart of the ignorant as in the heart of the wise–It needs only to be perceived. In His mercy God shines, Himself lighting the mind and heart, dispelling the darkness of ignorance.
Read the next article in the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening: Going To The Source
Bhagavad Gita for Awakening links:
- The Battlefield of the Mind
- On the Field of Dharma
- Taking Stock
- The Smile of Krishna
- Birth and Death–The Great Illusions
- Experiencing the Unreal
- The Unreal and the Real
- The Body and the Spirit
- Know the Atman!
- Practical Self-Knowledge
- Perspective on Birth and Death
- The Wonder of the Atman
- The Indestructible Self
- “Happy the Warrior”
- Buddhi Yoga
- Religiosity Versus Religion
- Perspective on Scriptures
- How Not To Act
- How To Act
- Right Perspective
- Wisdom About the Wise
- Wisdom About Both the Foolish and the Wise
- The Way of Peace
- Calming the Storm
- First Steps in Karma Yoga
- From the Beginning to the End
- The Real “Doers”
- Our Spiritual Marching Orders
- Freedom From Karma
- In the Grip of the Monster
- Devotee and Friend
- The Eternal Being
- The Path
- Caste and Karma
- Action–Divine and Human
- The Mystery of Action and Inaction
- The Wise in Action
- Sacrificial Offerings
- The Worship of Brahman
- Action–Renounced and Performed
- Freedom (Moksha)
- The Brahman-Knower
- The Goal of Karma Yoga
- Getting There
- The Yogi’s Retreat
- The Yogi’s Inner and Outer Life
- Union With Brahman
- The Yogi’s Future
- Success in Yoga
- The Net and Its Weaver
- Those Who Seek God
- Those Who Worship God and the Gods
- The Veil in the Mind
- The Big Picture
- The Sure Way To Realize God
- Day, Night, and the Two Paths
- The Supreme Knowledge
- Universal Being
- Maya–Its Dupes and Its Knowers
- Worshipping the One
- Going To God
- Wisdom and Knowing
- Going To The Source
- From Hearing To Seeing
- The Wisdom of Devotion
- Right Conduct
- The Field and Its Knower
- Interaction of Purusha and Prakriti
- Seeing the One Within the All
- The Three Gunas
- The Cosmic Tree
- The All-pervading Reality
- The Divine and the Demonic
- Faith and the Three Gunas
- Food and the Three Gunas
- Religion and the Three Gunas
- Tapasya and the Three Gunas
- Charity and the Three Gunas
- Sannyasa and Tyaga
- Deeper Insights On Action
- Knowledge, Action, Doer, and the Three Gunas
- The Three Gunas: Intellect and Firmness
- The Three Kinds of Happiness
- The Great Devotee
- The Final Words
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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