Baghawat Geeta, Class 123: Chapter 9, Verses 17 to 20


Shloka # 17:

पिताऽहमस्य जगतो माता धाता पितामहः
वेद्यं पवित्रमोंकार ऋक् साम यजुरेव ।।9.17।।

The Father of this world am I;(its) Mother, sustainer, and grandsire; I am the holy object of knowledge; the scared syllable AUM; Rk, Sama, also Yajus.

Continuing his talk on chapter 9, Swamiji said, Sri Krishna has been talking about the means of attaining freedom from Samsara or moksha. He gives bhakti as a solution. Here we have to understand Bhakti carefully. Bhakti, here, refers to a range of sadhanas. In Chapter 12 we will see more on Bhakti. When Bhakti is presented as a means of moksha three types of Bhakti are being discussed. They are:

  1. Karma lakshana bhakthi;
  2. Upasana lakshana bhakthi; and
  3. Gyana lakshana bhakthi.

The first stage of bhakthi is in the form of karma yoga; which will purify the mind, then one has to graduate to the upasana lakshana bhakthi; bhakthi in the form of

meditation, by which a person gets the integration of the mind, and then one has to necessarily go through the final Gyana lakshana bhakthi; which is nothing but bhakthi in the form of vedanta shravana manana nidhidhyasana.

In Viveka Chudamani, Shankaracharya beautifully defines this bhakti. He says, the third and final level of bhakthi is not in the form of puja, not in the form of parayanam; not in the form of social service; the final level of bhakthi is in the form of enquiry; with the help of scriptures and Upanishads, I make an enquiry into the essential nature of the Lord.

Thus, we have to remember that bhakti without Gyanam can’t give moksha. In Kaivalya Upanishad also it says there is no method other than Gyanam.

All the Upanishads are uniformly insistent that Gyana alone is Kaivalyam.

So bhakti’s final stage is Gyana Yogam. Gyana Yogam, the systematic study of scriptures, is the subtlest form of Bhakti. It is also the highest form of bhakti. We can take solace that even our study here is, bhakti alone.

Thus Bhakti=Karma+ Upasana+ Gyanam. This topic will be elaborated upon later in the Chapter 12 titled Bhakti Yoga.

When we say Bhakti as a means of liberation it also means that the object of our Bhakti too evolves even as our Bhakti evolves.

So when I start my bhakthi; my appreciation of the Lord, the object of devotion is a very gross appreciation and my bhakthi should evolve, the culmination of which will be the ideal form of bhakthi and only when that bhakthi is evolved into that form; it will lead to liberation.

What is the evolution of bhakti? In initial stages Bhatkti is Eka Rupa Ishwara bhakti. It then evolves to Aneka or Vishwa rupa Ishwara bhakti; here lord is everything. Thus, in Rudram mantras, Shiva is described as everything. Thus: Lord Shiva who is in the form of tree; who is in the form of mud, who is in the form of green leaf; the one who is in the form of dry leaf; whatever ordinary materials are there in the whole world, everything is Shiva;

So therefore, the appreciation of God changes and mode of bhakthi also changes; how does the mode of bhakthi change; karma to upasanam to Vedanta vichara;

This is the change in the mode of my expression of devotion; And not only the mode of devotion varies; the object of devotion; the Lord’s nature also varies; And what is the culmination of bhakthi; culmination of bhakthi is nothing but the knowledge that the Lord in his formless nature is none other than myself; it also culminates in discovery of Advaita gyanam.

If you ask what is the proof for all these things; in seventh chapter, while enumerating bhakthas, Sri Krishna says, the greatest bhaktha is one, who

has gained the knowledge, aham Brahmasmi;

The mode of bhakthi has three levels, karma plus upasana plus vichara. The object of bhakthi also has three levels; ekarupa, aneka rupa and arupa. And such a bhakthi will give liberation.

Sri Krishna is describing aneka rupa bhakti from shloka # 16 onwards. We have just gone through Shlokas 16 and 17.

Shloka # 18:

गतिर्भर्ता प्रभुः साक्षी निवासः शरणं सुहृत्
प्रभवः प्रलयः स्थानं निधानं बीजमव्ययम्।।9.18।।

The Goal, the Support, The Lord, The Witness, Abode, Refuge, Friend, Source, Dissolution, Existence, Treasury, and the indestructible Seed.

This shloka continues Vishwarupa Ishwara. Here, we are going through training on seeing everything as God.

So Sri Krishna gives a list of things here and points out that all these things are I Ishwara or myself only. So he says I am Gati, Bharta, Prabhu, Sakshi, etc, so we will see the meaning of each one of them described in the shloka.

Gati: means a destination; a goal, which is kept in mind by every person; we can say it is karma phalam. Every body does Karma not for enjoyment but to obtain a result or karma phalam. So, Karma phalam is always the goal and goal is called Gatihi.

And every karma phalam, I am; that means what; success is one type of karma phalam; and what is another; failure is another type of karma phalam.

So, every karma phalam has success and failure built into it. Therefore, never reject failure. Work for success but be prepared to welcome failure. Rejection of failure is rejection of God.

Therefore all good and bad, any experience you get, learn to accept it as God himself.

Bhartha: sustainer or karma phala dhata; one, who gives karma phalam. To perform this I have to take control of all laws of creation. To predict rain, they say, there are 160 variables that have to be taken into consideration. There are many unknown factors. So, Sri Krishna says, “ I am the giver of karma phalam”. So, don’t reject any karma phalam. Don’t ask why “Me”?

Prabhuhu: A master capable of doing the job; omniscient and omnipotent. I am Prabhu.

Sakshi: While doing all these karma phalams, from my own point of view I am just a witness or sakshi. Thus in an earthquake all do not feel the same effect as it varies according to their karmas.

Nivasaha: Abode of everything; Vishwadhara. I am the adhara of the world.

Thus in one shloka it says of Lord Padmanabha, “ I am lying on a snake. Snake is supporting God. In second line it says whole creation is resting on Lord.”

Sharanam: Refuge. When the world rejects me; when I am helpless; I am the ultimate refuge for everyone. I am protector of anyone who surrenders to Me. Such devotees included Dhruva, Prahlada, Draupadi and Gajendra.

All these stories indicate that Lord is a two-fold protector; the Lord protects from incidental problems that a person faces, like Draupadi or Gajendra; and also Lord is the ultimate protector from samsara.  To protect from the samsara crocodile he sent, the “Tat Tam Asi” sudarshana chakram.

Sharanam means one in whose presence we are free from all problems.

Suhrit means well wisher. Chapter # 6 talks of two kinds of help. One is where you help somebody in return for a favor later. The other is where one helps even if a person is unknown. He helps without any expectations. The second is Suhrit. Lord is Suhrit.

Citing an example, a person promised a large house to God, thinking God will not solve his problem. But the problem got solved. Now he wanted to escape from his promise. He said house and cat are available for sale. House was for Rs 1 and cat for Rs 9 laks. The money from house I will give to Lord. Such is the human mind even then Lord helps as a Suhrit.

Prabhavaha: Srishti karanam.

Pralayaha: Laya Karanam.

Sthanam: Sthiti karanam.

These three words put together means srishti sthiti laya karanam; I am the substratum from whom the creation arises; in whom the creation rests; into whom the creation resolves.

Nidhanam: Repository of everything including knowledge, in creation.  Our shastra says that even before invention of a knowledge that knowledge exists in the creation in God.

Therefore, knowledge is also a discovery. In fact, we do not produce knowledge we only remove ignorance. Every knowledge is a discovery; and where does it exist, in God. Therefore I am the storehouse of all things, all beings and all forms of knowledge.

Avyayam Bijam: Inexhaustible seed, out of which infinite things appear. Therefore, the difference between nidhanam and bijam, one can be taken to be the karma phalam, which are in potential form; sanchita rupam; and avyayam bijam can be taken as everything and being in the creation, I am the inexhaustible seed. In short, I am everything.

Shloka # 19:

तपाम्यहमहं वर्षं निगृह्णाम्युत्सृजामि
अमृतं चैव मृत्युश्च सदसच्चाहमर्जुन।।9.19।।

I cause heat; I arrest and send forth rain; I am mortality and death; both being and non-being am I, O Arjuna. 

Now Sri Krishna comes to something recognized by all people, the God Surya or Sun. What role does sun play? The sun energizes each being. We survive because of the sun. Sun helps with its many seasons. Sun is usually shown as manifestation of Ishwara. Thus in sandhyavandanam it is all about glorification of sun.

Sun is taken as a representative of God. It is the only source of inexhaustible energy. That Sun I am; Aham Tapami. As sun, I alone energize. I also heat oceanic waters and evaporate them producing tons of pure water. He also transports the water to land through Vayu Bhagawan. Then it rains. When these things happen seasonally, do not take it for granted, appreciate bhagawan.

“ I am creator of rain taking it to land and releasing it on land”. This shloka has two meanings attributed to it.

Relative meaning:  I am the cause of survival. Through rain I produce food, so people escape death or survive through anna danam. Suppose I withdraw this blessing and then there will be draught and death. Thus I am responsible for draught and death as well.

Philosophical meaning: I am the cause for both mortality and immortality; So here mortality means Gyanam; so I am the cause of immortality; in the form of Gyanam; I give Gyanam; and give immortality to the seekers; and I am the cause of mortality also; when I do not bless the people or through Agyanam; so I am the cause of both, mortality and immortality.

Sat: Means manifest creation, visible creation, such as physical body.

Asat: unmanifest creation; includes subtle body. 

Shloka # 20:

त्रैविद्या मां सोमपाः पूतपापा
यज्ञैरिष्ट्वा स्वर्गतिं प्रार्थयन्ते
ते पुण्यमासाद्य सुरेन्द्रलोक
मश्नन्ति दिव्यान्दिवि देवभोगान्

Conversant with the lore of the triple Vedic texts, drinkers of soma-juice, cleansed of sins, crave attainment after having sacrificed unto Me. They reach the meritorious world of Indra and enjoy there devine felicities. 

With shloka # 19, bhakti as a means of moksha is over. In shlokas # 20-# 29 Sri Krishna wants to talk about types of bhakti: 1) Sakama bhakti and 2) Nishkama bhakti.

Sakama Bhakti: Here one seeks artha and kama used for material gains. Sri Krishna does not say which to use. He gives the means and the ends. Sakama bhakti will give worldly security and entertainment.

Nishkama Bhakti: I am not interested in artha or kama. I want to use bhakti for moksha or related goals such as Sadhana chatushtaya sampathihi. If I have all qualifications, I can go to shastra vichara under a qualified Guru.

Sri Krishna wants to compare both, Sakama and Nishkama bhakti’s, in shlokas 20 and 21.

How to know who is a Sakama Bhakta? It is seen in motive of one’s sankalpa. What is the purpose of your business? If money is secondary and my goal is Chitta shuddhi, then even my business is Nishkama Bhakti.

Sri Krishna says most people are interested in pleasure. Highest pleasure is heaven. Sri Krishna says even from heaven, one finally has to come back to earth.

Take away:

  1. Work for success but be prepared to welcome failure. Rejection of failure is rejection of God.
  2. All the Upanishads are uniformly insistent that Gyanam alone is Kaivalyam.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy