The Seventh Teaching
The Yoga of Wisdom & Realization
Arjuna, you can know me without doubt by practicing nonattachment and surrendering to me. I will teach you the essence of this wisdom and its realization; when you master this there is nothing else in the world that needs to be known.
One man out of ten thousand strives for perfection, and of the ten thousand who strive, perhaps one man knows me in truth. My physical nature has eight aspects: Earth, water, fire, wind, space, mind, understanding and I-sense. This is my lower nature. But I have a higher nature too that sustains this universe. Know that this is the womb from which all beings arise; I am the source of the entire universe, and within me is also its dissolution. Nothing is more fundamental than I. Arjuna; all that exists is woven on me like pearls on a single string.
I am the taste in water, the light in the moon and sun, the sacred syllable Om in the Vedas, the sound in air. I am the fragrance in the earth, the manliness in men, the brilliance in fire, the life in the living, and the abstinence in ascetics. I am the primal seed within all beings, Arjuna. I am the wisdom of those who know, the splendor of high and mighty. Of strong men, I am strength, without desire and attachment; I am desire itself when desire does not impede sacred duty. Know that nature’s three qualities come from me: lucidity, passion and dark inertia; they are in me, not I in them.
Most men are deluded by the qualities inherent in nature, they fail to recognize me, who am beyond these, supreme, eternal. But those who turn to me can penetrate beyond the wondrous magic of maya; this magic created by the three gunas.
Some men are deluded by my power: they do not attempt to find me and in their ignorance, sink into demonic power.
Arjuna, four kinds of virtuous men are devoted to me: the tormented man, the seeker of power, the seeker of wisdom and the sage. Of these four, the sage is the most praiseworthy; unattached, steadfast, that man is set apart by his singular devotion. I am dear to him as he is dear to me. All the four are noble minded but the sage is my very self; calm, untroubled, he dwells in the ultimate goal, in me.
At the end of his many lives, the sage unites with me, thinking, “Krishna is all that is.” Great souls like this are rare.
Men whose wisdom is robbed by stray desires, men who are boxed in by the limits of their own natures, take refuge in other gods; but whatever the form of reverence, whatever god a sincere devotee chooses to worship, I grant him an unwavering faith. I grant unswerving faith to any devotee who wants to worship any form with faith. Empowered by that faith, that man seeks the god’s favor and secures the things he desires, because I myself have granted it. But finite is the reward that men of little wit are given; they will go to the gods they worship, but my devotees come to me.
Though I am unmanifest, fools think that I have a form, unaware of my higher existence, which is unchanging and supreme. Veiled in my mystery and my power, I elude most men; there deluded minds cannot see me, the unborn, the changeless, the undying. I know all beings who have been, who now exist and who are yet to be; but I am beyond knowing. All beings are born to ignorance, ruled by aversion and craving, this is primal duality that keeps them bound.
But when one is released from dualities, he can purely, without attachment, devote himself to me with all his heart. Trusting me, those who strive for release from old age and death, they know infinite freedom and the Self, and the nature of action. Men who know me, as the inner divinity and god, and worship me are always with me in spirit, even at the time of their death.
As I Understand It
The Hindu philosophies explain and elaborate the key concepts of Yoga, Jnana, Purusha, Prakriti, Maya, Samsara and such other religious concepts that have influenced Hindus. In the Gita, however, the spontaneous insights of the early scriptures (Rig Veda and Upanishads) are presented simply with no technical explanations.
The Gita puts forward the basic worldview of Prakriti and Purusha. Purusha is the spirit. Prakriti is the mind and matter. Krishna as Purusha has created the phenomenal world out of himself and he is the transcendental lord of the universe. When Purusha frees itself from Prakriti the self-realization is experienced.
Although the present chapter seems to go in tangents, its unifying theme is the knowledge of the supreme reality underlying the phenomenal world. Here, spiritual wisdom is contrasted with ignorance; transcendental reality with phenomenal world. The seminal concepts of jnana (spiritual wisdom) and vijnana (the ability to carry through the daily affairs with that spiritual understanding) are discussed.
Maya is Krishna’s magical capacity to create form and illusion. Maya is individual appearance, the outward look of self that conceals the Self. Maya hides the true nature of Krishna. The three basic qualities or gunas swirl within this world of illusion that can be delightful or dangerous.
In the Gita all the attention is on the Lord Krishna. Other Hindu personifications of God such as Brahma, Shiva or Devi disappear. Verses 21-24 state whatever other god one worships one is in reality worshipping Krishna.
The Bhagavad Gita, Translated for the Modern Reader with general introduction by Eknath Easwaran, chapter introductions by Diana Morrison. Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California.1996 (1st Pub. 1985).
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna Counsel in Time of War, Translation and Introduction by Barbara Stoler Miller. Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, Inc. New York. Bantam Books, 1986.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2000.