Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapters VII, VIII & IX

Recall that Chapters 2 to Chapters 6 contain a discussion of Sankhya-Yog (सांख्य-योग or Samnyaas) and Dnyaan-Yog (ज्ञान-योग or Knowledge) as two aspects of Eternal Dharma in addition to Karma-Yog. These earlier chapters explain that these three paths are parts of a integrated whole and not mutually exclusive parts.

But for those who insist in gradation, Shree Krishna, at the beginning of Chapter 5 , states that Karma-Yog is better
(कर्म-योगः विशिष्यते). This is made clear in Verse 46, the penultimate verse of Chapter 6 in which Shree Krishna states that the Karma-Yogi is better than all other three, the Tapasvi who do penance, the people who get knowledge and the people who do rituals. That is why Shree Krishna tells Arjun to become a Karma-Yogi in this verse (तस्मात् योगी भव अर्जुन).

Chapter 6 ends with the statement that “the most accomplished Karma-Yogi is one who worships Shree Krishna in mind and inner self”.  This is often considered to be the beginning of Bhakti-Marg in the Bhagwat Geeta.

From Chapter 7 Chapter 17, the discussion in the Bhagwat Geeta centers around Shree Krishna as the Supreme Entity who is the Creator of all beings and one in which all Universe resides. 

The Bhaagwat Puraan was written with the central message of Shree Krishna as the Supreme Entity. This Puraan teaches Bhakti or Devotion to Shree Krishna as the ultimate and only way to Liberation. The followers of the Bhaagwat-Puraan see the same message in the Bhagwat Geeta from Chapter 7 onwards.

We respectfully and humbly disagree. Nowhere in the Bhagwat Geeta can we find any message that  Bhakti towards Shree Krishna is a different way to Liberation, distinct from other paths like Karma-Yog. Instead, we find the consistent message that Bhakti, devotion or worship of Shree Krishna should accompany Karma-Yog.

In fact, the very first verse of Chapter 7 teaches us so:

  • Chapter 7, Verse 1, Line 1  – With your mind concentrated on me (मयि आसक्त मनाः) and with me as your support (मत आश्रयः) , O Partha (Arjun), Perform Yog (पार्थ योगं युंजन).  

The instruction Perform Yog (योगं युंजन) is the defining message of the Bhagwat Geeta.

In stark contrast, the Bhaagwat Puraan and the traditional Bhakti Marg teaches that Bhakti should be practiced as a stand-alone method. Look at the poems and teachings of Bhaagwat Dharma Saints like Dnyaaneshwar, Tukaram and Meerabai. Their poems are exquisite but they preach devotion to Shree Krishna or Vishnu as a stand alone method virtually to the exclusion of all other paths.

The Bhagwat Geeta does not, most emphatically not. It’s central message is to Perform Karma-Yog. It uses the trust, the devotion, the Bhakti of Shree Krishna as a final and incontrovertible way to shed all doubts. This is why Chapter 7 begins the discussion of Bhakti with the clear cut message Perform Yog (योगं युंजन).

For an even clearer statement, see Chapter 8, Verse 7, Line 1:

       तस्मात् सर्वेषु कालेषु माम अनुस्मर युध्यः च
      Tasmaat Sarveshu Kaaleshu Maam Anusmar Yudhyah cha
      Therefore At All Times, Remember (Focus on) Me and Perform War

Chapters 7 to 9 discuss the ancient aspects of “Nir-Gun, Nir-Aakaar ” and “Sa-Gun, Sa-Aakaar ” duality of Shree Krishna as the God of all Creation (भूत महेश्वरम). Shree Krishna explains that because he has taken on a human form, many people in their ignorance do not understand his true nature. He says:

  • Chapter 9, Verse 4, Line 2“It is I who in (my) beyond description entity (अ-व्यक्त मूर्ति) occupy the entire Universe and all beings reside in me (मत स्थानि सर्व भूतानि), not I in them (न च अहम् तेषु अवस्थितः )“.
As an aside, we remind readers of the deeply devotional verse of Adi Shankar-Aacharya who illustrated this above message of Shree Krishna with a lovely example. The original Samskrut Verse can be found in the section on Shankar-Aacharya in our August 7, 2010 article The Four Aacharya: The translation reads:

  • Despite the disappearance of the difference (despite Advaita), O Lord Protector, I am thine and thou are never mine. A Current (or wave) is of the Ocean, never the Ocean of the Current.

Shree Krishna continues his explanation of his true nature and his role as the Supreme Beyond description Entity. Then he states what is the central basis of all religious worship:

  • Chapter 9, Verse 22Those who worship me with deep continuous devotion, I take the responsibility (वहामि अहम्) of their well being (योग-क्षेमं).
These are not just ancient words. They are alive today. For example, when it was launched, the Life Insurance Company of India chose as its motto योग-क्षेमं  वहामि अहम्.

The all-encompassing nature of Shree Krishna as the Supreme Universal Entity is explained in Verse 23, the defining verse of the religious tolerance of the Eternal Dharma.

Chapter 9, Verse 23

       येपि अन्य देवताः भक्ता यजन्ते श्रद्धयान्विताः
       Yepi Anya Devataah Bhakta Yajante Shradhyanvitaah
       Even Those who worship other deities with deep devotion

      तेपि माम एव कौन्तेय यजन्ते अ-विधिपूर्वकम
      Tepi Maam Ev Kaunteya Yajante A-Vidhi-Purvakam
      They Only Worship Me but in different manner (or with different rituals)

If all worship is essentially the worship of Shree Krishna or Vishnu, then what is the need for conversion of those who worship other deities or icons? It is this central concept that made Eternal Dharma a tolerant religion that does not engage in religious conversions.

Shree Krishna continues to explain the meaning of worship and devotion. In Verse 29, he states:

  • “I am the same to all Beings, I do not dislike anybody and nobody is a special favorite of Mine. Those who worship me with deep devotion (ये भजन्ति तु माम भक्त्या), They are in Me (मयि ते) and I am in them (तेषु च अपि अहम्)“.
Chapter 9 ends with an even more explicit Bhakti instruction to Arjun:

  • Chapter 9, Verse 34Dedicate your mind to Me (मन्मना भव); Become my Bhakt (भव मत भक्तो); Worship Me (मत अद्याजी); Do Namaskaar to Me (or bow to Me) (माम नमस्कुरु) ; Perform as a part of Me (युक्त एव आत्मानम् मत परायणः) ; Then you will reach Me.

It is easy to see why Bhakti Marg followers interpret these verses as a clear exhortation to Bhakti of Shree Krishna. We concur. But the Bhakti in these Chapters is to enable and to accompany the Performance of Action or Karma-Yog.

This is why the first verse of Chapter 7 and the last verse of Chapter 9 contain the instruction to Perform Action.

Thus Endeth Chapter IX named Raj-Vidyaa-Raj-Guhya* Yog (राजविद्या राजगुह्य योग ) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

* Note:
The word Raaj is intended here as the greatest and not as royal. So Raaj-Vidyaa means the great knowledge and Raaj-Guhya means the great secret. In Chapter 9 Verse 2, Shree Krishna describes this Bhakti based Yog as Raaj-Vidyaa and Raaj-Guhya, a method that is pious, great, easy to understand, based on religious justice, easy to implement, and eternal.


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