Bhagavad Gita Lessons
Lesson 12: On death of the physical body
Session: 198 – 199
We have three bodies. Gross body is obtained by us from our parents. It grows, deteriorates and discarded at the time of death. We take a new physical body in our next birth. This cycle of birth and death continues until we merge with God.
The subtle body and causal body survive the death of physical body. With them, we carry three things along with us:
1. Impressions (Stored in the causal body)
2. Preferences (Stored in the subtle body)
3. Knowledge (Stored in the subtle body)
All these three are result of our actions and they in turn decide our future actions. God controls the functioning of every human being by residing in each one of us as our Impressions, Preferences and Knowledge.
Upasana Yoga is a means to correct the course of action by modifying our thoughts and direct ourselves towards Joyful Living.
All human beings are continuously performing action. Such actions can be good actions or bad actions depending on whether it helps or harms other living beings. We are bound to enjoy the results of good actions and suffer the consequence of bad actions. They do not cancel each other. Moreover, we do not exhaust enjoying/suffering the results of all our actions before the end of our current life-time. We carry the reminder over to our next birth. These accumulated results of all our past actions are called ‘impressions’.
Impressions are born out of our actions.
Impressions are responsible for determining our environment. Environment includes:
1. All the people we encounter in life including parents, siblings, spouse, in-laws, children, friends, colleagues and strangers.
2. All the places that we live or visit, including our residence and workplace.
3. All the equipments and instruments that we use, including computers, cars, washing machine and such.
4. All the events that take place in our family (like birth, death, parties, misunderstanding and such) and at our professional front (like promotion, punishment, award, reward, dismissal and such).
5. All things that we earn including money, wealth, name, fame, property, position, power, status, comforts and companionship.
All human beings are continuously performing action. Such actions strengthen our tastes. Our tastes, comprising of our likes and dislikes, are called ‘preferences’.
Example: We drink coffee every morning. This act creates a strong preference in us. The more coffee we drink more fine-tuned our preferences become. When our preferences are weak, we will be satisfied if we get to drink coffee in the morning. If our preferences are strong, we will be satisfied only if we get a coffee matching strictly according to our taste. (The right proportion of coffee powder, milk and sugar)
Thus, our preferences are set by our action.
When our sense organs are exposed to sense objects, preferences play a strong role of classifying the experiences as our likes and dislikes. Preferences give rise to thoughts which are seeds of our desire. Our knowledge determines whether the specified object will do good or bad to us. After this filtering by our knowledge, thoughts are converted as desires. Desire to seek the object of desire will result in actions.
Thus, our actions are guided by preferences. It is recursive in nature. Actions lead to preferences. Preferences give rise to thoughts and thoughts lead to actions.
All human beings are continuously performing action. Such actions increase our knowledge. We learn from every experience. Some of our actions like reading and listening directly contribute to increase in our knowledge. It should be noted that we would learn only from what we like to listen or read.
Example: Most people will not read or listen to Vedanta because their preferences would have classified it as an object of dislike or indifference.
However, it is possible to venture into a new branch of knowledge, using will power.
Thus, Knowledge controls the conversion of thoughts into desires.
A person, who has gained the ultimate knowledge of God, realizes that there is nothing other than God and therefore he has no desires. Therefore, Knowledge is the important component that can change our future. It is not possible to gain new knowledge when we are very young or very old. It has to be done when we are completely fit.
Chart on the relationship between Impressions, Preferences and Knowledge
1. Action results in Impressions, Preferences and Knowledge
2. Impression presents opportunities (which are known as luck, chance or the ‘unknown’ factor to the common man) and the action converts the opportunities as the environment.
3. Environment stimulates thoughts. Preferences select a part of the thoughts as desirable thoughts and reject the rest (indifferent and undesirable).
4. Desirable thoughts are validated by Knowledge and converted as desires
5. Desires push us into further action
6. Action creates the environment, environment to thoughts, thoughts to desires and desires to action. Thus, we are continuously going around in circle.
7. Such continuous actions keep increasing the stock of impressions, preferences and knowledge.
8. All the three, impressions, preferences and knowledge is carried forward to the next birth and the cycle continues. This is called Eternal Cycle.
9. When the knowledge becomes strong enough to eliminate desires, then the human being is liberated from this Eternal Cycle.
Upasana Yoga is the process of refining our mind so that when the ultimate knowledge is gained, one can lead a Joyful Living.
Journey after death
When we discard our physical body, the course of the journey of our subtle body is determined by our thoughts. Even before we die, our thoughts travel ahead and determine the appropriate environment for our next birth.
Example: In a class room, students stop listening to the teacher during the last few minutes of the class. Their mind would have already travelled to the next event.
Similarly, in our deathbed, the thoughts prevailing at that time will determine the next course of journey. If we are craving about any particular objects of desire, we will continue our journey in the next birth in search of the same objects of desire.
Example: A person is craving for good food. He might be born to a restaurant owner or to a cook in the next birth depending on the impressions he has created during the current birth.
It is not possible to live our life the way we want and then think about God during our last moments. Firstly, we do not know when we are going to die. Secondly, our thoughts are the results of our preferences. Unless we are thinking about God throughout our life, suddenly it is not possible to start thinking about God during our last moments.
It is also important on how we think about God. If we treat God as means to our goals then during the last moments of our life, we will be thinking about our goals and not about God.
On the other hand, if we are doing Karma Yoga, we will be doing our action as a dedication to God. This means our goal is God. In this way, we will be remembering god during our last moments.
Our mind is influenced largely by our involvement in chasing a goal. Whether it is a material goal or a spiritual goal, our mind is the tool, which will make us progress towards the goal. We will continue to work towards our goals, even after the death of our physical body because the Preferences and Knowledge travel with us. While the accumulated Impressions determine the type of environment, how well we use the environment depends on our Preferences and Knowledge.
Thus, the journey of the current life continues after death as well.
Role of Upasana Yoga in determining the course of action
What we are is decided by our thoughts. Our personality and character are the direct result of our thoughts. All our actions are the results of our thoughts. How we interact with the world is determined by our thoughts. Our thoughts influence the way we respond to the objects and events of the world.
Just as our physical body, which requires right quantity/ quality of food and exercise to keep it in a fit condition, our mind also requires right input and exercise. If we do not exercise our body regularly, our health will be in a poor state. Similarly, the status of our mind is the result of our past actions.
We need to build our mind with right inputs. Mind gets the inputs from the five sense organs. What we see, hear and taste should be of right quality to keep the mind fit. Upasana Yoga is one of the good exercises for the mind. Thought by thought we need to build our mind and keep it in a fit condition.
It will be difficult to exercise the mind during our old age. It has to be done while we are still young. It is not possible to decide what we should think. However, it is possible to decide what sort of actions we do and thereby we can influence the quality of thoughts indirectly.
It is the nature of mind to keep thinking about what it is used to or exposed to regularly and for a long duration.
Example: Take one week off from work and keep reciting Bhagavad-Gita for eight hours a day. At the end of the week, it will be difficult to get back to work. The mind will tend to start the recitation. Similarly, if the week is spent on playing card games, the mind will jump at the first opportunity to resume playing the game.
Similarly, when we go to bed, the most repeated activities of the day will dominate our mind and thoughts with respect to them will keep us haunting. When we wake up on the next morning the hangover of the previous day’s thoughts will continue if the preferences were strong enough. Thus, it is important to decide what we do in order to correct our thinking.
Upasana Yoga is a right tool to make our mind fit. Mind is a result of repetition of particular thoughts. Due to our ignorance, we tend to think about object of world and therefore, the mind does not think about God. In order to make the mind turn towards God, we need to practice thinking about God, which is done through Upasana Yoga. Mere knowledge is not enough to correct the mind. Practice is required.
Example: Smoking is injurious to health.
This knowledge will not correct our behavior if our mind is strongly inclined to smoking due to past actions. We need to practice non-smoking for sufficiently long period to remove the thoughts of smoking from the mind. Else, this practice will return at the first opportunity.
Similarly, the mind is used to chase the objects of the world for happiness. The knowledge that God is manifested as world will not arrest the mind from chasing the objects of world. The mind should be given a practice of thinking about God, in order to make it function in line with the ultimate knowledge. This practice is Upasana Yoga.
Requirements to do Upasana Yoga
1. We must have interest in doing Upasana Yoga. It will not be useful if it is done as compulsion or without involvement.
2. We must have the required understanding on the purpose of Upasana Yoga and the method of doing it.
3. We should adopt appropriate lifestyle that is conducive to do Upasana Yoga.
Upasana Yoga is done in many ways.
1. To keep repeating the name or form or attribute of our personal god
2. To do all actions as a dedication to God
3. To think about the various attributes of God
4. To read/ listen to Vedanta and other Holy Scriptures
Meditation upon the personal gods, God or Brahman is called Upasana Yoga. Meditation is the process of refining our mind. Only when we attempt Upasana Yoga, we will realize the difficulties in controlling our thoughts.
Example: I sit down to do meditation on my personal god but mind is thinking about the pending work at the office.
Thus, it is a difficult process to bring the mind into our control. In all through the activities listed, it is essential that the mind be kept on the chosen task. It is easier to direct the mind on a chosen task provided the task is according to one’s desire.
Example: A child does not need any effort to concentrate on the cricket match on TV. However, it needs lots of effort to concentrate on the studies.
Similarly, if we are to concentrate on God during Upasana Yoga, we need to understand God and love god. If God is not our object of our desire, it will be almost impossible to concentrate and do Upasana Yoga.
Living life according to Dharma will help the process of Upasana Yoga. Dharma is the set of rules formed by God at the time of creation. Since the world is governed by God, we need to obey his rules. We will get God’s grace to do Upasana Yoga well if we are to live life according to Dharma.
Joyful Living through Upasana Yoga
It is seen that we are caught in an Eternal Cycle where our action is controlled by thoughts and our thoughts are controlled by our action. The only way to get out of this cycle and merge with God is Upasana Yoga. The steps involved in this path are as follows:
1. Live life according to Dharma
a. This may not be possible since our actions are born out of our thoughts and our thoughts might tell us to ignore Dharma.
b. Therefore, we need to surrender to God and pray to him that we will obey his rules (Dharma).
c. If we do not surrender to God and live life the way we feel, not following Dharma, then we will start suffering in life. In order to relieve us from the pain, we will be forced to surrender to God.
d. Then we will have to live as per God’s rule, which is to follow Dharma.
2. Living according to Dharma will give us positive impressions. This will give us good opportunities to do Upasana Yoga.
3. Upasana Yoga will set our preferences to be more devoted to God. As a result, we will start liking the process of praying to God and reading Holy Scriptures in praise of God. This will increase our knowledge.
4. When we get the right knowledge, the filtering of thoughts into desire will be more effective and our life will progress towards god at a faster pace.
5. When we get the ultimate knowledge on God, we will start living joyfully.
Thus, God will guide us to Joyful Living.
Chapter 8: Attaining the supreme
Verse: 05 – 28
8.5 And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
8.6 Oh Arjuna, thinking of whatever object one gives up the body at the time of death, that very object one attains without fail.
8.7 Therefore, remember Me all the time and fight. With your mind and intellect fixed upon Me, you will attain Me without doubt.
8.8 Constantly thinking of the Brahman with a mind that is undistracted due to constant practice of meditation, one attains the divine, Oh Arjuna.
8.9 One who thinks of the Brahman, who is omniscient, ageless, controller of all, smaller than the smallest, sustainer of everything, incomprehensible, effulgent like the sun is beyond ignorance.
8.10 One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and in full devotion engages himself in remembering the Brahman, will certainly attain Him.
8.11 Persons learned in the Vedas, who utter Om and who are great sages in the renounced order, enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation.
8.12 The yogic concentration is restraining all the sense organs, confining the mind to the heart, and fixing the life air at the top of the head.
8.13 Uttering the sacred syllable Om, which is the name of the Brahman and remembering Me, one who departs this body attains the supreme goal.
8.14 For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, Oh Arjuna, because of his undistracted mind.
8.15 After attaining Me, the great souls, never return to this world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the ultimate liberation.
8.16 From the highest planet to the lowest, all are places are subject to repeated birth and death. But one who attains to Me, Oh Arjuna, never takes birth again.
8.17 By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
8.18 When Brahma's day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma's night they are all annihilated.
8.19 Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, Oh Arjuna, and they are helplessly dissolved.
8.20 However, beyond that un manifest there is another, which is eternal. It does not perish when all beings perish.
8.21 That supreme abode is infallible, and it is the supreme destination. When one goes there, he never comes back. That is My supreme abode.
8.22 The Brahman, who is greater than all, is attainable by undivided devotion. All beings are in Him and all this is pervaded by Him.
8.23 Oh Arjuna, I shall now explain to you the different paths departing which paths yogis attain the world, one does or does not come back.
8.24 Departing by that path of fire, flame, day, the bright fortnight and the six months when the sun passes to the north, those people who meditate on Brahman attain Brahman
8.25 Departing by that path of smoke, night, the dark fortnight and the six months when the sun passes to the south, those people attain the lunar light and return.
8.26 According to the Vedas, these are the two ways of passing from this world--one in the light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns.
8.27 The devotees who know these two paths, Oh Arjuna, are never bewildered. Therefore, be committed to meditation at all times.
8.28 A person who accepts and follows this path is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical activities. At the end he reaches the supreme abode.
Unit 16: Knowledge of the God
Number of Sessions: 25
(201 – 225)
Number of Lessons: 16
Verses: 9.01 – 9.34
11.01 – 11.55
On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Gain the basic understanding of God
(b) Identify the correct method of praying
1. List the four reasons, which make the knowledge of God superior.
2. List the four factors that contribute to the secrecy of the knowledge.
3. List the four levels of truth with respect to the knowledge of God.
4. List the three unique features of the God and the Universe.
5. List the three functions of God.
6. List the three reasons why God is not bound by His actions.
7. List the five types of people who insult God due to ignorance.
8. List the five hallmarks of a true devotee of the God.
9. List the three grades in the knowledge of the devotees.
10. What is the special promise made by God to those who have chosen God to be their destination in life?
11. What are the two specific reasons for giving such promise?
12. List the five benefits of making offerings to God.
13. List the three stages in devotion with respect to the offerings made to God.
14. List the four steps for reaching the God.
15. List the five advices given by Lord Krishna with respect to praying.
16. List the four reasons for repetition in teaching by Lord Krishna.
17. List the seven reasons for describing the glory of God by Lord Krishna.
18. List the three emotions experienced by Arjuna on seeing the miracle.
Lesson 1: Nature of Knowledge about God
Session: 201 – 202
Lord Krishna continues to impart the knowledge of God to Arjuna in an attempt to relieve him from all the sufferings.
Superiority of the knowledge
The knowledge of God is superior to any other type of knowledge because of various factors as discussed below:
Knowledge once gained cannot be erased except by a superior knowledge. Knowledge about the universe will continue to change because the subject is changing all the time. There is no end to the knowledge in any given field because new inventions are being made with the advancement of search techniques. Therefore, the knowledge gets outdated soon. The only exception to this rule is the knowledge about God. Since it reveals the ultimate nature of God, it is permanent. Thus, it is the supreme knowledge.
The intelligence of people is covered by delusion and as a result, they cannot discriminate the truth from falsehood. The knowledge of God reveals the only reality that supports the illusory creation. Once this knowledge is gained, the true picture of all other knowledge is revealed. They all remain within the realm of illusion and therefore it does not matter whether one knows them or not.
One never gets complete satisfaction on gaining any knowledge except that of God. There is no one who can claim that his knowledge is the ultimate and there is nothing more to learn. This statement can be made only with respect to the knowledge about God. It quenches the thirst for knowledge altogether and there is no more seeking.
4. Enables Joyful Living
More intelligent one is more problems are resolved. Happiness directly depends on one’s ability to apply the intelligence to solve the problems in life. It can be observed that fools suffer more in life since they do not have enough intelligence to solve the problems on the hand. As one gains more knowledge and intelligence the ability to solve problems increases. The ultimate of such knowledge is one that removes the root cause of all the problems.
Knowledge of God is the ultimate knowledge that enables one to live joyfully.
Secrecy of this knowledge
There is a distinct difference between the scientific knowledge and the knowledge of God. For example, the fact that the earth is just a planet revolving around the sun remained as a secret for a long time. It took long time and effort by men with extraordinary intelligence to discover this fact. Today, even primary school children are aware of this fact and it is no more a secret.
One does not need as much intelligence nor need to spend as much time/effort to understand the discoveries made by the scientists.
However, the knowledge of God belongs to different dimension. Many have already gained the complete knowledge of God and they are willing to teach the world. However, each individual has to go through the entire process of discovering the fact.
Example: To gain a doctorate degree in any subject one needs to be qualified and put in required effort. It is not possible to claim a doctorate degree merely by understanding the theses submitted. One has to do research and find out something new.
People who work in the spiritual path to gain the knowledge of God, has to spend such efforts every time. Although the knowledge remains the same, it cannot be conveyed to another as it is done in case of normal scientific research.
This makes the knowledge of God very rare. The number of people who have mastered the knowledge of God probably will be much less than the PhDs in the world.
This uniqueness of the knowledge makes it a secret. Following factors contribute to this secrecy.
This knowledge will remain a secret because it is difficult to comprehend the true nature of God. People will understand the same according to the level of intelligence.
Example: The term ‘cost’ is understood by people according to their qualifications. Qualified professional accountants completely comprehend the meaning of this term. A graduate in accounting understands it. Common people who do not have formal education will also understand the term. However, the level of understanding varies with the level of intelligence.
Similarly, most people think that they know the meaning of the word ‘God’, but their understanding will vary with the level of intelligence. Only few among public are qualified accountants and therefore only they have the complete understanding of the term ‘cost’. Similarly, only few people among the spiritual seekers have enough intelligence to comprehend the true meaning of the word ‘God’. Therefore, this knowledge will remain as secret.
The process of gaining this knowledge can be started by anyone. However, only those who are qualified will complete the process. It is essential that the seeker should not be under the influence of evil qualities listed below
a. Lust or any illegitimate desire
c. Hatred towards anyone
e. Greed, the tendency to grab everything
f. Obsession for worldly possessions
i. Viciousness, the feeling, ‘why my miseries are not happening to others
j. Spite or malice, laughing and enjoying about others suffering
k. Pompous, tendency to project of one’s own name in everything
l. Pride, the feeling that nobody else is equal to oneself
These qualities keep one away from the process of knowing God.
3. Faith pending realization
Although no one experiences that the earth is in the shape of a sphere, it is possible for everyone to conduct various experiments and directly perceive the truth. This does not apply to the knowledge of God. The description of God given in the scriptures contradicts the personal experiences. Therefore, faith becomes an essential starting point to commence the learning. People do not know about God. This is not a problem if they are willing to learn. Most of them believe that it is not possible to know God. This is the problem.
When we attempt to discuss the knowledge of God, most people do not listen with an open mind. They have a preconceived notion of God and they assume no one else has the capacity to know God, because it is a super-human concept.
Most often people use the concept of God as a painkiller. Whenever, they suffer with negative emotions, they resort to God and confess. They hope that God, a power higher than the human being, will resolve their problem.
Therefore, they do not think that God can be known.
Following are the hurdles, which prevent most people to comprehend the true meaning of the word ‘God’.
a. Attraction to the world: Many people do not have time for God. The sense objects in the world are continuously distracting them. Only when people get disappointed or when sad events happen, people turn towards God. Even such attention is of momentary in nature. They believe that the time and effort is required to compete in the material pursuit and assume spiritual pursuit is a post-retirement affair.
b. Nature of God: Most people do not think that it is possible to know God. They are under the impression that God is a matter of blind belief. Both believers and non-believers are stuck to their own belief and do not make any attempt to gain the knowledge of God.
c. Role of God: The concept of God is brought in to show the link between the individual and the universe. Until God is known, people assume that they are independent of the universe. Since most people are afraid to lose their ego, they do not pursue the knowledge of God.
d. Benefit of Knowledge: Most people do not link the knowledge of God with Joyful Living. The truth that the knowledge of God will remove all the sufferings in life is not seen by many. Therefore, most people do not have any desire to know God.
e. Vedas: Vedas contain the complete description of God. People in general respect Vedas but they do not attempt to study it.
f. Need for a teacher: Even if someone accepts that God has revealed his nature in the Holy Scriptures, it is not possible for anyone to read and understand the contents without the help of a teacher. Most people do not accept the need for a qualified teacher.
g. Capability of the teacher: Even if someone accepts the need of a teacher, it is very difficult to find the right one. Most people remain skeptical about the capability of the teacher. The teacher should be well versed in scriptural studies and in addition, he should be enlightened. Since it is very rare to find such a teacher, the knowledge remains as a secret.
h. Process of knowing God: While listening to the teaching of Vedas from a capable teacher is the first step, one has to complete two more steps to comprehend the knowledge of God, namely Introspection (reflecting on the teaching and ensuring that the understanding is correct) and Inner Transformation through meditation. Most people find that these steps are difficult to cross and therefore they remain ignorant of God.
i. Dharma: People should live life according to the Dharma prescribed in Vedas. Since people do not see the link between Dharma and the material prosperity, they do not strictly follow Dharma. It is impossible for such people to seek and find the true meaning of the word ‘God’.
4. Mode of gaining knowledge
There are three ways of gaining knowledge
a. By paying money
b. By exchanging knowledge
c. By rendering service
The third way is the only possible way to gain the knowledge of God. It is not possible to hire a teacher for money. There is no chance of exchanging knowledge with the teacher in the modern times. It is difficult for most people to spend time and effort to render service to an enlightened master and learn the knowledge of God. Therefore, it remains as a secret.
Benefits of this knowledge
Lord Krishna promises to give following two benefits to those who strive hard and learn this knowledge with the help of a competent teacher.
1. Joyful Living
There will be no more sufferings in life. The whole world will become a theme park and the life will be a picnic.
2. Perception of God
Everyone wishes to see God. This wish is fulfilled if one systematically learns this knowledge. It is not a theoretical knowledge but it enables practical perception.
Example: If someone gives complete description of a place that we have not visited, the knowledge we have gained about the place is called ‘Indirect Knowledge’. When we actually visit the place and gain first-hand experience, our knowledge becomes ‘Direct Knowledge’.
We gain Direct Knowledge of God by following the teaching of Lord Krishna.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 01 – 03
9.1 Lord Krishna said, because you are non-critical, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.
9.2 This is the greatest knowledge, greatest secret, most sacred, directly attainable, unopposed to Dharma, very easy to pursue and imperishable.
9.3 Those who have no faith in this teaching continue certainly in the course of birth and death without attaining Me.
Lesson 2: Nature of God
Session: 203 – 204
Lord Krishna reveals the true nature of God and its relations with the creation.
“I am formless and I am beyond the reach of five senses. I manifest myself as the creation that can be perceived by all the living beings’
This is understood in different ways by people depending on their ability to comprehend the truth. Lord Krishna does not give varying or contradicting descriptions for God. There is only one right meaning, which can be understood only by those with highest level of intelligence. Others will interpret the meaning differently. All such interpretations are partly true, since they are all based on Lord Krishna’s words.
Teaching 99: Formless Brahman appears to be the universe, which is God
The various levels of truth are discussed below.
1. There is God, the creator of this universe
This is the first level of knowledge. Atheists and those with scientific mind that opposes religion assume that the creation is by chance. Such people have not yet begun their journey towards knowing God. Religious minded people acknowledge the presence of God by seeing the proof, his creation.
Example: A baker bakes the bread. Existence of bread proves the existence of the baker.
In this case, baker is the intelligent cause of the creation. He mixes all the ingredients (which are independent of him) and then bakes the bread. Similarly, it is presumed God is the intelligence cause of the universe.
While it is true that God created this universe, there is something more to know about God. According to this first level of knowledge, creator is independent of the creation. Therefore, technically it cannot be said that God is omnipresent because there is space and time separating God from his creation, similar to the gap between baker and the bread. Since human beings are part of the creation, their power (the power to destroy the world, for example) is independent of the power of God. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.
This creates a contradiction. God is declared in the scriptures as Omnipresent and Omnipotent. It is logically seen that God cannot be a separate entity other than the creation. Therefore, this first level of knowledge is for those who would like to believe in a higher power called God and do not wish to logically enquire and find his true nature. Only when they develop more intelligence, they will be able to comprehend the ultimate truth of God.
2. The creation is the part of the God
This the second level of knowledge wherein God is considered both as the intelligent cause and material cause.
Example: A spider spins the web from its saliva. Spider is the intelligence cause and in addition, it is the material cause since the web is part of the spider.
This view eliminates the logical conflict discussed under the first level. God is no longer considered separate from the creation. However, there are new contradictions.
For example, the problems of the world will become the problems of the God. If the web is damaged the spider cannot be happy and peaceful. This contradicts the declaration in the scriptures that God is ever peaceful and joyful. Therefore, this level of knowledge is partly correct but it does not give complete truth.
3. The creation is God
There is another way to comprehend the words of Lord Krishna to mean the creation itself is God. However, this view contradicts the declaration in the scriptures that God remains unchanged, unattached and unaffected by the creation. In addition, it will amount to saying that God did not exist prior to creation since creation is God.
4. The creation rests on God
This is the ultimate and right truth: God has two parts, Brahman and Illusion.
Brahman is the only reality and the creation is an illusion. Since all the sufferings in the creation are part of the illusion, they do not affect the God. Just as an individual living being is made up of inert objects and conscious principle, God is also made up of two components. The conscious principle in him is called Brahman, which is attributeless, nameless and formless. It is unchanging and is present forever. The creation is the second component which is an illusion resting on Brahman. Creation comprises of inert objects that are ever changing and impermanent.
This view can be comprehended only through devotion of God, surrender to God and through gaining the knowledge revealed in Vedanta.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
9.4 This entire universe is pervaded by Me, whose form is un manifest. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.
Lesson 3: Creator and Creation
Session: 205 – 206
The correct understanding of the nature of God reveals the relationship between the creator and the creation. It is not similar to the relationship between the baker and the bread. Nor it is like the relationship between spider and the web.
Creation consists of name and form. There is no substance in creation. The only substance is Brahman. Brahman is nameless, formless and second less conscious principle. This consciousness together with names and forms appear as creation. Brahman with names, forms and attributes is called God. God includes creation.
The relationship between God and Creation is similar to the relationship between the clay and pot as shown in the following three statements.
1. Clay says, “All pots are with me”
2. Clay says, “I am not with the pots”
3. Clay says, “Pots are not with me”
The first statement and the third statement appear to contradict each other. Lord Krishna’s explanation on the relationship between God and Creation has similar apparent contradiction, which can be understood with logical analysis of these three statements.
1. Clay says, “All pots are with me”
Pots depend on clay for existence. If there is no clay, there are no pots.
Universe depends on God for existence. If there is no God, there is no universe.
Therefore, it is possible for the clay to claim, “All pots are with me”.
2. Clay says, “I am not with the pots”
Clay does not depend on pots for its existence. Even if all the pots are destroyed, the clay continues to exist. The existence is a property that belongs to clay. After the creation, the pots borrow this property from clay.
Similarly, God does not depend on the universe for existence. Even if the entire universe is destroyed, God continues to exist. The existence is a property that belongs to God. The ‘IS’ ness of the entire universe is borrowed from God.
3. Clay says, “Pots are not with me”
Since pots depend on clay for existence, it can be said they do not exist. A reflection of an object cannot be counted as a second object. Similarly, since there is only one substance, clay, it can claim, “Pots are not with me”.
Similarly, the entire universe belongs to a lower order of reality just as our dream. The dream world that is perceived while we are asleep belongs to a lower order of reality. When we wake up the dream world is resolved. Similarly, the so-called real universe is the dream of God. It is an illusion. Just as we are not affected by the events in the dream, God can claim, “The creation is not in me”.
Thus from this discussion, we can derive three types of reality.
Real, that which exists. Only God exists and it is the only reality. Although we experience God all the time, we may not know it.
False, that which does not exists. Like rabbit’s horn. It is not available for experience.
Illusion, that which does not exist but available for experience. The entire universe belongs to this category. It is not real because on analysis it vanishes. It is not false because it is available for experience. Therefore it is an illusion.
There is no creation. There is manifestation. There are no two substances. The only substance is clay. Clay does not have any specific form during un manifested stage. It appears as pots after manifestation.
God is the name for all names. God is the form of all forms. God appears as the universe. We observe that there are many objects in the creation. However, in essence there is only one substance. Everything in the universe that we perceive is just a name and form of the very same substance, God.
The nature of relationship between God and Brahman
Brahman with the power of illusion is called God just as a person who can sing is called a singer. Both the words singer and the person refer to the same entity. Similarly, God and Brahman refer to the same entity.
God can be construed to have two natures, higher and lower. The higher nature refer to the Brahman, which is formless, nameless etc. The lower nature refers to the Illusion, which appears (and disappears) as the universe, which is constantly changing.
The nature of relationship between the Creator and Creation
The Creator is God and the Creation is the Universe.
God is Brahman together with the power of Illusion.
Universe is the expression of the Illusion.
God is the master of the Illusion.
By controlling the Illusion, God cyclically manifests the universe (called creation), sustains it and resolves it at the appropriate time.
Since God is both the intelligence cause and the material cause of the creation, God appears as Universe. There are three unique features with respect to the relation between God and the universe, which are detailed below.
1. God is unattached
The universe is the gross form of God. There is no universe outside God. However, God is beyond the universe as well. Even when there is no universe (prior to Big Bang or after resolution of the universe), God will continue to exist.
This is similar to the relationship between Air and Space. There is no air outside the space. However, Space is beyond the air. Even where this is no air, space continues to exist.
Thus, while air depends on space for existence, space does not depend on air for existence. Similarly, universe depends on God for existence but God does not depend on the universe for existence.
2. God is unaffected
If the air is polluted, it does not affect the space in any way. Similarly, the problems of the world do not taint God. God is not away from creation. Both are in the same place. However, God remains unaffected by the status of the universe.
3. God is unchanging
Space does not move when the air moves. Similarly, God does not change while the universe changes. The universe is continuously changing and God remains unchanging.
Once we understand the relationship between the creator and the creation, we will gain clarity on how to respond to the world. Although, we may continue to see the mirage water, we will not rush towards it to quench the thirst. Similarly, the world continues to appear as before. However, those who understand the relationship between the world and God will not run towards the world for gaining peace, security and happiness.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 04 – 06
9.4 This entire universe is pervaded by Me, whose form is unmanifested. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.
9.5 In fact, the beings are not in Me. Although I Myself am the creator of the beings and sustainer of the beings, I am not in the beings.
9.6 As the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, always rests in space, know that in the same manner all beings rest in Me.
Lesson 4: God’s pursuit
Every one of us is engaged in some activity or another. Similarly, God is also engaged in activities comprising of manifestation of this universe, sustaining it and then resolving it in a cyclical manner.
Teaching 100: God manifests, sustains and resolves the creation cyclically
God monitors all our activities and ensures that we get appropriate results of our actions. The accumulated and unused results will cause human beings to be born again to enjoy/suffer the results. In a similar way, the entire universe is resolved into causal state and manifested again in line with the cumulative accumulated results of all the living beings. After manifesting the universe, God sustains it by ensuring that everything in the creation functions according to this rule.
God is impartial in his work. The job of creation, sustenance and resolution is done by God according to the accumulated impressions of all the living beings. God ensures that the mango seed grows into mango tree and not become an orange tree. Similarly, even human beings are guided by God to function in line with the composition of the constituents, namely, Aura, Energy and Matter.
Teaching 101: God ensures that every human being lives in an environment that is dictated by his past actions
The variations among people are due to the variations in their composition. It is not possible to change any individual. God ensures, that every baby grows into an adult in line with the inherent composition and do not vary depending on the way it is brought up by its parents. This is similar to ensuring mango tree grow out of mango seed. God is thus responsible for sustaining order in the universe.
Teaching 102: God ensures that each child grows into an adult without any influence from its parents or by its environment
God has two different states. At the core, he is formless and nameless conscious principle, called Brahman. When the accumulated impressions of all the living beings are ready to fructify, he becomes the manifested world through the help of his power of illusion. The universe is resolved back into the illusion when it is time for the next cycle. It is similar to our waking state and sleeping state, which keep alternating.
After doing our daily duties, we go to sleep. When we wake up, we continue our work from where we left on the previous day. Similarly, the entire creation goes to sleep during the stage of resolution and comes back to life on manifestation.
There is no discontinuity in the life of an individual due to sleeping. Similarly, there is no discontinuity in the creation due to the cycle of resolution and manifestation.
God uses the power of illusion to manifest the universe and to sustain the living beings/ inert objects. At the time of resolution, the accumulated impressions of all the living beings are resolved into this power of illusion of God. As long as the human beings are ignorant about the true nature of God, this cycle of birth and death, manifestation and resolution will continue. Living beings are helplessly bound to this cycle. God is not bound by his actions because he is aware of his real nature, which is changeless and attribute less. As and when the knowledge of the individual human being reaches this level, he will be liberated from this cycle.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 07 – 08
9.7 Oh Arjuna, at the end of each cycle, all beings resolve into Me and at the beginning of the next cycle, by My potency I again create.
9.8 Resorting to the cosmic order, which is under Me, I manifest again and again this entire multitude of beings, which is helpless, being under the control of the three modes of nature.
Lesson 5: God’s Non-binding action
God is constantly manifesting, sustaining and resolving the universe. In spite of his continuous activity, he is not bound by his actions, unlike the human beings. This is due to many reasons and three of them are given below.
God knows that he is Brahman unlike most human beings who do not know that they are Brahman.
The illusion is under the control of God. Therefore, it does not shield the truth from God. Illusion controls the living beings and makes them ignorant of the knowledge about their true nature.
3. Absence of desire
God is indifferent while doing work because of the absence of desire. God does not want to do any favors to anyone. God is like a contractor who builds the house according to the specification and paying power of the owner. The contractor cannot build the house according to his wishes. It has to be according to the plan provided by the owner.
God remains unaffected by his work.
God does an efficient job of manifestation, sustenance and resolution without being attached to the results of his work.
Example: A teacher does an efficient job of teaching the students. A parent also helps his child to learn. If a child does not do well in the exam, the teacher remains unaffected because he has done the work without attachment. This is not possible for a parent who is attached to the results of his efforts. Both the parent and the teacher expect the child to perform well in the exam and if it does not, the teacher remains unaffected but the parent is upset due to his attachment.
God is working like an efficient teacher and human beings in general are working like the parent, who is attached to the results. God does not have a feeling that he is the doer nor an enjoyer of the fruits of his action. Therefore, he is not bound by his continuous action.
God does not spend time and resource for creation.
The effort of God is not similar to the conventional effort. Creating this universe apparently requires much time and effort compared to creation of a wooden table by a carpenter. However, God does not spend such time and effort. His mere presence enables the creation of the world. Both the carpenter and table belong to the same order of reality. Therefore, this task requires time and effort. As far as God is concerned, his job of creation of universe is much easy since the creation belongs to a lower order of reality.
Example: A person creates a dream world comprising of a universe without spending much effort and time. The moment he sleeps, the dream world is manifested.
God created this universe in a similar fashion. A dead man cannot create a dream world. The conscious principle is essential for creation of the dream world. Mere presence of the conscious principle is enough for the creation. Similarly, the conscious principle of God blesses the creation and the universe is manifested without spending any time and effort by God.
The job of creation is done by the illusion. The power of illusion works in the presence of God.
Example: A king is the source of power to all his ministers. As long as the king is alive, all the ministers do the job of managing the country. They are quite busy doing the work all the time. The king may not do any work. However, if the king dies, the powers of the ministers will cease.
Similarly, the illusion has the power to project and sustain this world in the presence of the God. God does not do any work but support the working of the illusion just as the king lends his power by his mere presence.
Teaching 103: God remains impartial both to a devotee and to an atheist
Illusion is an inert object comprising of Aura, Energy and Matter. It does not have consciousness. The consciousness is lent to it by God. Supported by God’s presence, the Illusion appears to be alive. Illusion cannot exist by itself. God lends existence to it. Thus, illusion functions with the borrowed consciousness and existence. This is similar to our inert body/mind complex appearing to be alive due to the presence of our consciousness.
Illusion is always changing. Consciousness is unchanging. That is why Lord Krishna says that he remains unaffected since Illusion is doing all the work of creation, sustenance and resolution.
Example: An electrical motor lift the water from the well to the overhead tank. The electricity can claim that it did not do any work and all the work is done by the motor. However, the motor cannot function without the presence of the electricity.
Similarly, all the moving and non-moving beings in the world are created by illusion, which functions in the presence of God, the electricity.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 09 – 10
9.9 Oh Arjuna, all these work do not bind Me. I am ever detached and remain like an indifferent person.
9.10 This material nature is working under My direction, Oh Arjuna, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule, this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.
Lesson 6: Insulting God
People in general do not know God because it is difficult to see both the parts of God.
It is expected that we do not pass judgment on anyone whom we do not know. However, in case of God, many people insult God without knowing him.
There are many types of such people.
Type 1: Non-believers
Although the world is available for experience, many people assume that it came about by chance and do not give credit to God for his creation. It is like eating the food but refusing to acknowledge the presence of a cook.
Such people insult God by not recognizing his presence.
Type 2: Blind believers
Many people, who believe in God, pray to him without any understanding on the nature of God. Whenever, their prayers are answered positively, they praise God. However, if their prayers are not answered they blame the God.
Such people insult God by not recognizing his function.
Type 3: Religious people
People, who choose to pray a particular personal god with a specific name and form, insult God by not recognizing his complete powers. God is omnipresent and omniprevalent and not constrained by a form and name. God is the name for all forms.
Type 4: Fundamentalists
People, who belong to a particular religion or sect, refuse to acknowledge the complete power of God. They insult God by abusing the personal gods belonging to other religions and sects.
Type 5: Superstitious
People believe in God without understanding the theory of action and result. God is similar to the accountant who makes the payment of salary according to the attendance record. If one abstains from going to work, he cannot blame the accountant for the reduced pay. Similarly, God manages our account of actions and results. It is an insult to God, if he is blamed for our mistakes.
The only reason for insulting God is our ignorance. We may have extensive knowledge on physics, chemistry and such worldly subjects. All such knowledge will be of no use in living our life happily. We need to gain knowledge on God. Once we gain this knowledge, we will realize the uselessness of the worldly knowledge. Our worldly knowledge enables us to survive and to raise our standard of living. Beyond this, the worldly knowledge actually stands between our happiness and us.
In olden days, people who live in a particular village did not have any access to the information from the rest of the world. They had peaceful life if we are to compare the same with the post information era, namely, after the invasion of the media like television and newspapers. The problem is not more information. The problem is incomplete information. People should get complete knowledge on God and the creation so that they can be peaceful.
If this is not attempted the worldly knowledge that they gain is a wasteful effort. Their material pursuit will never take them towards their destination of Joyful Living. It will not give them the realization that they are searching for happiness in the wrong direction until they know the God and praise him. When they recognize the presence and role of God in creation, they will start living in line with Dharma. God will then ensure that they get an opportunity to be exposed to the Holy Scriptures. Slowly the spiritual pursuit will become an additional pursuit to their material pursuit. Then after sustained efforts, they will realize only the spiritual pursuit will lead them to Joyful Living.
Therefore, praising the God is the only way to make a course correction and start making progress towards Joyful Living. Until they do this, all their efforts remain wasteful.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 11 – 12
9.11 Not knowing My higher nature as the great Lord of all beings, the deluded people look down upon Me who have taken this human form.
9.12 These deluded people are full of vain hopes, vain pursuits and vain knowledge. They are attracted by demonic and atheistic views.
Lesson 7: Praising God
Session: 210 – 211
Those who understand God, praise him all the time. The wise people see nothing but God. They are aware that the entire creation is the manifestation of God and dwell in his presence happily all the time. They are aware all the actions are done under his directions and in line with his wishes.
Following are the hallmarks of a true devotee of God.
He will be working hard on a task given to him by God. Whatever jobs come by his way he will do them as if God has given him that work. He will work hard to give his best because for him the only master is God. He is not working for self-satisfaction or for the satisfaction of his superiors/ customers.
2. Strong minded
He will be strong minded and show steadfast commitment to the chosen task. Once he commences a task, he will remain focused on it. The obstacles and difficulties will not distract or deter him from progressing towards the destination.
3. Conscious of God
He will always be in God consciousness. He will think /talk /act about God all the time. It is not that he will be preaching about God. He is aware that whatever happens is God’s will, every living being around him is the extension of God and the whole creation is nothing but God. Therefore, even if he addresses a board meeting on customer expectations, he will be aware both the directors and customers are God. Thus, whether a person is in God consciousness or not cannot be comprehended by the outsider. He may behave like anyone else but in his heart, he is aware of the true nature of everyone.
He will surrender to God in devotion. Here the act of surrendering is not for any specific purpose. People surrender to those in high positions or to God for gaining some benefits. A true devotee does not require anything from God. Therefore, his surrender to God is motivated only by his pure and unconditional love for God.
He will be peaceful with himself as well as with others, because he is aware that whatever happens is in line with God’s wish. He does not have an ego to claim himself to be either the doer of the actions or the enjoyer of the results of the actions.
Attitude is the result of knowledge. It is impossible to change anyone’s attitude unless the underlying wrong knowledge is replaced with the right knowledge.
Example: When we meet a stranger, our attitude towards him will be that of indifference. As we get to know the stranger better, our attitude will develop in line with the knowledge of the person. We may start liking him, disliking him, respecting him or hating him entirely depending on our knowledge about that person. It is impossible for anyone to think someone as a very good person and hate him at the same time.
Similarly, our devotion to God depends on our knowledge of God. Popularly it is thought that knowledge and devotion are two different paths to God. This is a wrong notion. Knowledge and devotion are the two sides of the same coin. It is impossible to show true devotion to God unless one has complete knowledge of God. However, the knowledge of God varies and therefore there are different grades of devotion.
Teaching 104: Devotion to God is graded based on knowledge of God
The nature of God is revealed in Holy Scriptures. The understanding of the people depends on their level of intelligence. Among those who are devoted to God based on their knowledge of God, there are three grades.
Grade 1: There is God (There is only one form and name for the God)
People, who acknowledge the presence of God, will be devoted to a personal god. However, they assume that their god is the only the god and will not respect the gods of other religions and sects.
Such devotees think God as an independent entity will pray to God with respect. They will praise the God for all his powers and glories.
Grade 2: There is only one God. (God is the name for all forms)
When people gain more maturity, they will understand that there is only one God, who is being worshiped by different people by different names and forms.
It does not matter what name one addresses the God because the true God does not have any name or form. Such devotees are aware that the God, who is formless and nameless, is the same God that appears in different names and forms in the minds of other devotees. Therefore, unlike people in the Grade 1, they do not assume that other devotees are in the wrong path. They are aware that people pray to the same God by different names and forms because their limited intelligence.
Such devotees know that the God is the intelligence cause of the universe.
Grade 3: There is nothing but God. (God is formless and forms are illusion)
This is the ultimate understanding of God. People in this grade are truly devoted to God, since they are aware God being not only the intelligence cause of the creation but also the material cause.
This means there is nothing in the universe that is not God.
Such people are not under the delusion that they are independent of the universe. The entire creation is seen as one entity. Whatever actions they do, it is done as a service to God.
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 13 –15
9.13 Oh Arjuna, those who are not deluded worship Me with an undistracted mind, because they know Me as the imperishable cause of all beings.
9.14 Constantly praising Me, striving with a firm resolve, they surrender to Me and perpetually worship Me with devotion.
9.15 Others, who are engaged in the cultivation of knowledge, worship Me, as the one without a second, diverse in many, and in the universal form.
Lesson 8: God as the giver of happiness
People pray to God to fulfill their wishes. The preferences and Impressions of the devotee determine the level of fulfillment of the wishes.
Role of Preferences:
The accumulated Preferences of a person determine what he wants to achieve in life. His immediate goal in life and the long term objectives are determined by his likes and dislikes prompted from the accumulated Preferences. In addition, to which god he prays and the quantum of the effort he puts in to reach the goal also stem from his accumulated Preferences.
Role of Impressions:
The actions performed by the individual could be classified as good, bad or indifferent. God decides to grant the wishes of the concerned individual depending on the ratio of his good and bad actions.
Happiness depends on the knowledge
Based on the Preferences and Impressions, God grants the wishes of the devotee. However, whether the devotee gains happiness or not depends on his Knowledge. Preferences dictate what is desirable and it may not necessarily be what is good. Whether the goals or objective in life is good or appropriate is decided by the knowledge of the person.
Example: A child will prefer a chocolate to a high value currency note. The knowledge of the child is not yet grown to a sufficient level to guide the child to choose the currency note, which can buy many chocolates.
Similarly, the knowledge level of the individual may guide them to seek a lower level of happiness. Those with the highest level of knowledge will seek the non-diminishing happiness, undisturbed peace and everlasting security. God will accordingly guide them towards their goal.
There are many people, who seek temporary sensual pleasures and God provides them the same.
Therefore, it is essential to treat God as our destination and not as a means to reach our destination. If God is treated as a means, he will meet the expectation and help us reach our chosen destination. However, on reaching the chosen destination we will continue to feel insufficient and again seek the help of God to reach the next destination. This process will continue until we realize that God is our ultimate destination.
Teaching 105: God is not only the means but also the destination for all
Teaching 106: God answers our prayers according to our preferences and impressions
Chapter 9: The Most Confidential Knowledge
Verses: 16 – 21
9.16 I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the holy chant. I am the butter, the fire and the offering.
9.17 I am the father, the mother, the grandfather and supporter of this universe. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable Om. I am also the Rg, the Sama, and the Yajur [Vedas].
9.18 I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the well-wisher. I am the source of creation, sustenance and annihilation of everything. I am resting place and the eternal seed.
9.19 Oh Arjuna, I control heat, the rain and the drought. I am the cause of mortality and immortality. I am the manifest as well as the un manifest.
9.20 Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice, seeking the heavenly planets, worship Me indirectly. They take birth on the planet of Indra, where they enjoy godly delights.
9.21 When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, the seekers of sense pleasures, who have followed the rituals of the Vedas, achieve only flickering happiness.