Providing the summary swamiji said, chapter 7 is a turning point in the Gita teaching. In the first six chapters, three topics were dealt with: jiva svarupam; prayathnah; and karma yogah;
Jiva svarupam means the essential nature of the individual. The individual is neither the perishable body, nor the changing mind, but the changeless consciousness is the nature of the individual. This was discussed in chapters 2, 3, 4 and 6 respectively.
Prayathnah: Then Krishna highlighted the role of individual effort, so that we do not have a dangerous fatalistic approach. One of the pitfalls of the human pursuit or human life is the tendency to become fatalistic. Especially when we face problems. When we face failures; we conclude that nothing is in our hands; someone controls everything; we are only puppets in the hands of someone. This is a dangerous fatalistic approach to life and it is spiritually fatal. Therefore Sri Krishna gives a strong warning in the first six chapters. Never take to this fatalistic approach; it is not that everything is pre-determined; you have control over your future; you can take charge of your life; Sri Krishna does not say I have got total control. Krishna says I am not totally helpless. Krishna does not say I have total control; Krishna only says I am not totally helpless; I do have a contributory role in deciding my future and therefore take charge of your life. You are responsible for your future; this is called jiva prayathna; “ You are responsible for your future” is an assertion of free will.
Karma Yoga: The third topic was karma yoga as a very important spiritual sadhana for one’s spiritual growth. This karma yoga sadhana also was highlighted up to the end of the 6th chapter.
From chapter 7 onwards three new topics are introduced.
- Ishwara swarupam
- Ishwara anugraha; God’s grace supports our efforts. It is discussed up to chapter 12.
- Upasana sadhana or meditation on god in any form or saguna dhyanam.
Summary of chaper # 7:
Sri Krishna introduces the subject matter in the first three shlokas. Ishwara swarupa gyanam is discussed and it breaks into Saguna Ishwara gyanam and Nirguna Ishwara gyanam also known as Vigyanam. Then he glorifies this knowledge. It is a rare valuable knowledge, a liberating knowledge. It provides emotional and intellectual fulfillment.
The main topic of this chapter and following five chapters is discussed, that is Ishwara swarupam.
First he defines what is God? God is a principle consisting of PP (Para prakriti) and AP (Apara prakriti)
What are the common and uncommon features between PP and AP?
- AP and PP are both eternal principles. AP is also never created or creatable. Consider the fact that science can’t create even an ounce of matter. Combination of AP and PP is called Ishwara.
- This Ishwara (AP+PP) is cause of entire universe. This Ishwara has evolved and manifested as universe. Therefore Ishwara does not create the world and dump it down. Ishwara himself evolves into world as Upadana Karanam.
Then Sri Krishna derives a corollary. If Ishwara is cause and the world the effect then there is no world separate from God. God himself is manifesting as world. Thus, world is also God, only in a different configuration. Citing example gold is cause and ornaments the effect. Then there are no ornaments separate from gold. Ornament is not substantial; gold alone is. The word ornament does not indicate a new substance; it just means another manifestation of gold. It indicates only a configuration difference. Like ice, water and steam, all three are H2O; the difference is in configuration of states. So, Arjuna, don’t look down on this world as it is also my own avatara.
If Sri Krishna, Rama is avatara, this world is also an avatara available to us at all times. It is vishwarupa avatara if you remember that god alone is appearing as world. It is a divine world. Look at world also as divine. This is called shivamayam or vishnumayam jagat.
If world is a manifestation of god, it should consist of PP and AP. What is PP and AP? Whatever you experience is AP. The world, body, mind are all AP. That is why bio-chemistry is possible; all are chemicals only; outside it is known as chemistry, the same chemicals inside the body are known as bio-chemistry; That is the only difference; outside chemistry; inside bio-chemistry. So world is apara prakriti; body is apara prakriti; even mind is apara prakriti; because mind is also subtle matter only; that is why change in body chemistry can often affect your psychological condition as well.
Then, where do I find PP? Sri Krishna says you don’t have to search for it. He says, the experiencer of the world, body and mind, “I” the observer, the conscious principle, is PP. When the consciousness obtains before the creation evolves, it is called paramatma. When the very same consciousness is available, after the creation, in our body, the very same consciousness is called jivatma; Consciousness is ever the same. So this is the Ishwara svarupam, discussed in shlokas 4 to 12.
Then from shloka 13 to 19, Sri Krishna deals with the topic of samsara karanam; and samsara pariharaha; dealing with the cause of human misery; the cause of human worries; human anxieties and human fears. In simple language he diagnoses the disease of samsara and also provides the required remedy for it
The cause of samsara is that when god is available as AP (matter) and PP (spirit) we humans tend to run after AP. We lean on AP for security, happiness and fulfillment. Unfortunately we are dependent on material aspect of god that can change. So, it will never remain steady and same. It fluctuates. First you work for status (yoga) then you work for “quo” (kshema). Leaning on an insecure thing will not give me security. Expecting security from AP is called samsara. AP is only for fun, enjoyment, gains etc. But when you want emotional security turn to PP. There is no need to reject AP.
A beautifully decorated cardboard box, you can keep it for decoration, just don’t sit on it. Similarly use apara prakriti for sport; use para prakriti for fulfillment and security. It is this that people don’t realize and are trapped.
What is the remedy? Sri Krishna says surrender to Me. Bhakti is the remedy. Now this statement can cause confusion. In chapter’s 2 and 4 it says Gyanam alone is the remedy for samsara; now here it says bhakti is the remedy. Is there a contradiction? Teacher should not teach a contradiction. Reality is that Bhakti is not one particular sadhana. It is a series of sadhanas that culminate in gyanam. When this happens it is called Gyana rupa bhakti?? What are the sadhanas that make up bhakti? These sadhanas are discussed in chapter 12. So, when we say bhakti is the remedy it means bhakti culminating in gyanam. So, a bhakta goes through various stages and reaches gyanam. Such a person is called a gyana bhakta.
So bhakthi has to go through various stages; and ultimately bhaktha should get knowledge, and that bhaktha is called Gyani bhaktha. The other bhakthas who are in the process of the journey, they are called either artha bhaktha; artharthi bhaktha, Jignasu bhakthas, they are all only in the process, they will not be free from samsara; Arta bhaktha is samsari; artarthi bhaktha is samsari and jignasu bhatha is also a samsari.
Sri Krishna talks about five levels of bhakti in chapter 12. This chapter will also discuss various sadhanas to be followed by a bhakta. All this will be discussed later.
However, travelling through various levels of bhakthi culminates in gyanam; the bhaktha becomes a gyani bhaktha; He alone is liberated from samsara; because gyani bhaktha alone knows para prakriti; artharthi bhaktha, artha bhaktha, jignasu bhaktha, none of them know para prakriti; Therefore they continue to lean upon apara prakriti alone; a Gyani bhaktha only knows the source of security, which is para prakriti. And Sri Krishna says, that it is a long-term process.
Even a long journey you have to start somewhere; one usually starts from artha bhakthi; I hope you remember that artha bhakthi is worshipping God only when you are in crisis; so only when I am in crisis; I remember Balaji or Guruvaryoorappan. Sri Krishna says you have to start somewhere; therefore bhakthi culminating in Gyanam is the remedy for samsara; this is the topic from verse 13 to 19.
Two forms of bhakti based upon one’s motives are discussed. Thus we have sakama bhakti and nishkama bhakti. Both are acceptable but eventually one has to come to nishkama bhakti. Initially one has to come to sakama and then move to nishkama bhakti. Sri Krishna says Nishkama Bhakti is impossible without sakama bhakti.
Shlokas 20 -26 deal with sakama bhakti. Any form of bhakti seeking AP benefits or material benefits (things, money, status), comes under sakama bhakti. Here one should remember that all objects are subject to arrival and departure. Sakama bhakti has a bright and dark side to it. It is not sinful. You can ask any god for anything. It is valid and fruitful. God does answer our prayers, if bhakti is performed correctly and there are no obstacles within me.
Then what is the darker side; as I said before all the accomplishments belong to apara prakriti which means you can never hold on to them permanently. You cannot hold onto any apara prakriti gain. At any time, it will leave you high and dry. And not only that; even before it actually leaves, our mind is so imaginative, that we constantly think of the possible loss; thus in worrying about it we don’t even enjoy it.
Nishkama bhakti is discussed here. The bhakta uses the bhakti to discover PP or spiritual growth. He looks upon money and material gains as a secondary objective. His goal is spiritual growth. He wants to go beyond time (old age and death) to reach PP. Moksha is discovery of PP. The Nishkama bhakta discovers god in his totality consisting of AP (matter) and PP (spirit).
Sri Krishna concludes by saying nishkama bhakta will obtain Ishwara Gyanam. Sri Krishna now uses six new technical words: Karma, Brahma, Adhyatmam, Adhibhutam, Adhidevam, and adhiyajnam. All six factors equal AP and PP. Arjuna does not know these six factors are the same as AP & PP. So, Arjuna asks seven questions that include how to remember God at the time of death.
This chapter is called Gyana vigyana yogaha.