Baghawat Geeta, Class 107: Chapter 7, Verses 19 to 22


Greetings All,

Shloka # 19:

बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति महात्मा सुदुर्लभः।।7.19।।

At the end of many births, the man of knowledge directly reaches Me, realizing, “Vasudeva is all”. Such a magnanimous soul is extremely rare.

Continuing his teaching of the Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, having talked about the problem of samasara in shloka # 13, Sri Krishna then talked about the remedy for the samasara problem in shlokas # 14 through # 19. He says human beings seek three things in life. They seek security, permanence in something to hold on to and purnatvam or ananda. However, human beings do not know where to find these three things. They do not realize that these three things can only be found in Para Prakriti (PP) of Ishwara. Instead, they go looking for these three in Apara Parkriti (AP), the lower nature of God.

Unfortunately all these three things are not available in the creation, the world cannot give security because it itself is bound by time; the world cannot give permanence, because it is all the time changed by time and the world cannot give purnatvam or ananda because everything in the creation is apurnah or finite.

Chandogya upanishad says: alpa vasthu cannot give happiness, because happiness is the expression of purnatvam; so purna vasthu alone can give ananda; apurna vasthu cannot give ananda or fulfillment. Even if it seems to give ananda; it is only a fake ananda; that is why when one actually gets it; one does not find any ananda. And because he does not know the real source, he is expecting these three things from the world, where it is not there; and since his expectations are wrong expectations all the expectations fail; and this failure leads to sorrow, depression; disappointment; frustration; all these consequences put together we call Samsara.

So, what is the remedy for this Samsara problem? Sri Krishna says the remedy is bhakthi alone. A bhaktha alone will be able to fulfill this basic yearning for security; permanence and purnatvam. He says there are four types of bhakthas: artah; artharthi; Jignasu and gyani.

He says of the four types of bhaktas it is only the Gyani Bhakta who fulfills all three wishes. And therefore the aim of a seeker is becoming a Gyani bhaktha and a Gyani bhaktha knows where to tap in to get these three things. He says, it will take time to become a Gyani Bhakta.  A person has to go through many stages to become a gyani bhakti. Scriptures say, a Gyani Bhakta goes through many lives to become one. In the last class in shloka # 19 we discussed this topic.

Shloka # 20:

कामैस्तैस्तैर्हृतज्ञानाः प्रपद्यन्तेऽन्यदेवताः
तं तं नियममास्थाय प्रकृत्या नियताः स्वया।।7.20।।

Deprived of knowledge by a variety of cravings, (people) resort to other deities; they adopt other disciplines, being constrained by their inborn nature.

Here, Sri Krishna is going to clarify that bhakti is of two types, Sakama and Nishkama. Shloka’s # 20-26 are sakama bhakti related. Here Sri Krishna talks of the pluses and minuses of this bhakti. Shloka’s 27-30 are about Nishkama bhakti. Thus, we get a comparison of these two bhaktis.

Bhakti means the act of worship of god using an attitude of devotion.

Sakama bhakti: It is using bhakti as a means of accomplishing finite goals of life of dharma, artha, and kama.

Artha is acquisition of material wealth and is a finite goal.

Kama is experiencing sense pleasures and it is also a finite goal.

Dharma means all forms of punyam which will take a person to higher worlds after death; bhulokah; bhuvarloka, suvar loka, mahar lokah, etc. and according to shastras, all the higher lokas are also finite in nature. So therefore dharma, that is punyam; arta and kama, all come under finite goal.

Anything other than God is a finite goal. In Vedantic language all material things are finite goals; all anatma; all material things are finite goals because all materials are subject to destruction; And sakama bhakthi means a bhakthi through which I seek finite goals; in simple language we can say materialistic bhakthi; business bhakthi or commercial bhakthi.

Nishkama Bhakti: is not used for materialistic goals. It is not a goal without desires. There is a desire but it is for the infinite or God. So nishkama bhakthi is a sakama bhakthi in which a person is no more interested in dharma, artha or kama, no more interested in finite ends; no more interested in material ends; but he is interested in infinite; that is security, fulfillment and permanence, this is nishkama bhakthi. Mumukshu bhakthi is nishkama bhakthi; bubukshu bhakthi is sakama bhakthi.

Both are acceptable, however, Nishkama bhakti is superior. In Gita, Sri Krishna says, he represents the infinite moksha. All other gods represent finite ends. The personal god, Sri Krishna, is finite. Citing an example, a flag is small but it symbolizes a vast country. And we have got in our religion, any number of symbols, because deities are countless in our religion; Rama, Krishna, Shiva are all there. Each devatha is finite; but any finite devatha can represent the infinite; and the general convention is depending upon the type of scripture, the representation will change.

In Shivapuranam, shiva represents infinite. In Bhagavatham, Vishnu represents the infinite. In Devi puranam, Devi represents the infinite while others represent finite. Any deity can be used to invoke the infinite. It is my invocation of an Ishta Devata that makes a deity superior. Citing an example, it is like in a checkbook, which leaf is important? The check leaf where you have written the largest sum is probably the most important one. Similarly, people are quarrelling even now as to who is great between Shiva and Vishnu; Vaishnavas claim Vishnu alone is great; Shaivas claim Shiva alone is great; our Shastras say that both have not understood the Vedic teaching; who is great depends upon your invocation.

So, sakama bhakti is presented as anya devata bhakti; that is other than Sri Krishna bhakti.

Nishkama bhakti is Sri Krishna bhakti where he is considered the infinite God.

In shloka # 20 some bhaktas are only interested in wealth, entertainment, punyam or higher lokas. So, they worship other deities such as Lakshmi who can bestow wealth or Dhanwantari who can bestow health or Surya who can bestow perception, or Ganesha who can prevent obstacles. They worship, due to their intense desire. This intense desire blunts their discriminative powers. They forget that objects of desire will go away one day; that they are not permanent. Sakama bhaktas are short sighted. Sakama bhakti puja requires one to follow specific rules to obtain results. So, you have to observe: ahara niyama; naivedya niyama; which deity will like which particular naivedya; which particular dress etc. This desire for sakama bhakti is due to an individual’s Ragaha and Dveshaha.

Shloka # 21:

यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति
तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम्।।7.21।।

I give unswerving faith to each devotee who seeks to worship with faith whatever divine form (of his choice).

Vedapurva bhaga of scriptures prescribes details of sakama bhakti. They detail which gods will fulfill which desire etc.

Thus, for disease one can worship: Vishnu, Dhanwantari, Mrithyunjaya, Ashwini kumar and Lord Surya. Thus sakama bhaktha will take to one of these deities.

Sri Krishna says, sakama bhakti is valid and the deity will fulfill their wishes, if one worships with faith.

There are seven items which will give you benefit directly proportional to your faith; higher the faith, higher the benefit; no faith; no benefit; and in that Ishvara bhakthi is also included.

Sri Krishna says, “ I reinforce his bhakti by fulfilling his desires”. This reinforces faith and propagates the message of the scriptures. Thus, temples and Swami’s can fulfill desires as well.

Note: Sri Krishna says I will fulfill their desires, although they worship other deities. In Gita, Sri Krishna represents totality while other deities represent the finite. So, all finite devatas become part of the infinite Sri Krishna. Since all Devatas are part of Sri Krishna, he is finally receiving all the worships offered. So all pujas offered to other gods also go to Sri Krishna. So, phalam also comes from Sri Krishna. He gives the phalam through the Devata worshipped. I bless every devata. Infinite God receives all pujas offered to finite gods.

And that is why, you take any ashtothara archana; you find that certain names will be common for all; the description will be different in ashtothara; Shiva description will be different; Vishnu description will be different; but certain namas will be common; ananthaya namah; in everything; ananthah means infinite; sarva gathaya namah; all pervading; how many all pervading Gods are possible? Both, Shiva and Vishnu are both names of the infinite.

Shloka # 22:

तया श्रद्धया युक्तस्तस्याराधनमीहते
लभते ततः कामान्मयैव विहितान् हि तान्।।7.22।।

Pssessed of that faith, he desires the worship of that form. From that divinity he secures the objects of his desires; for, I Myself have ordained them.

Since one infinite god fulfills desires of bhakta through a particular deity, that deity is the worshipped god. Each person feels, “my god is superior”. Sri Krishna says, I allow him to entertain such a conclusion. In doing so his bhakti is reinforced. An Acharya gives a japa mantra based upon one’s Ishta Devata; one to whom your mind is attracted. Because of this the bhakta wants to do more worship of that deity. He also gets more and more desires fulfilled. Sri Krishna reminds us that “ I” the infinite Lord fulfills through that deity all desires of devotee. I am the ultimate of all pujas and ultimate giver of all desires.

Take away:

  1. The human problem has been defined as: seeking security, permanence in something to hold on to and purnatvam or ananda.
  2. The remedy provided by Sri Krishna to this human problem is Bhakti alone.
  3. Bhakti is the act of worship of god with an attitude of devotion.

With Best Wishes

Ram Ramaswamy