Bhagavad Gita with Commentaries of Shankara | Discourse 7 verse 1-12

SEVENTH DISCOURSE.

VIJÑĀNA - YOGA.

Realisation of the Lord by meditation.

Having given in vi.47 an occasion for further interroga­tion, and wishing to teach, without being asked, that “so and so is My Real Being, and such and such is the one whose inner self abides in Me,” the Lord said:

The Blessed Lord said:
1. With the mind intent on Me, O Pārtha, practising Yoga, and finding refuge in Me, how in full without doubt thou shalt know Me, that do thou hear.

Shankara's commentary:

The Yogin’s mind is intent on Me, the Supreme Lord, possessed of such attributes as will be mentioned below. He practises Yoga or steadfastness of mind and finds refuge in Me alone, the Supreme Lord.

He who seeks a human end resorts to some action such as Agnihotra, or to an austerity, or to a gift or the like, as a means of attaining that end.

The Yogin, on the other hand, resorts to Me alone, abandoning all other means with his thought intent on Me alone.

Now, listen to what I am going to say as to how you also, thus acting, will, without doubt, know Me in full, possessed of infinite greatness, strength, power, grace and other attributes;

you will know Me without doubt, that “The Lord is so and so only.”

2. I shall fully teach thee this knowledge combined with experience, which being known, nothing more besides here remains to be known.

Shankara's commentary:

And this knowledge concerning Me, as borne out by My own experience, I shall relate to thee in full.—In the latter portion of the verse the Lord extols the knowledge which is going to be taught, with a view to prepare the hearer to follow it.

Nothing more: no other means to a human end. He who knows Me in truth becomes omniscient. Thus the knowledge is productive of great results and is therefore very hard to obtain.

How?

—Listen:

3. Among thousands of men, one perchance strives for perfection; even among those who strive and are perfect, only one perchance knows me in truth.

Shankara's commentary:

Perfect: they are indeed perfect who strive for moksha.

Evolution of the Universe out of Divine Prakriti.

Having prepared the hearer for the teaching by inducing in him a taste for it, the Lord proceeds thus:

4. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, thought (Manas) and reason (Buddhi), egoism (Ahaṁkāra)—thus is My Prakriti divided eightfold.

Shankara's commentary:

Earth stands for the subtile rudimental element or Tanmātra, the Prithivī-tanmātra or the subtile rudimental element of earth; and so water, fire, air and ether stand for the Tanmātras of water, etc.

Thought (Manas) stands for its cause Ahaṁkāra or egoism; reason (Buddhi) for the Mahat principle, which is the cause of Ahaṁkāra; and Ahaṁkāra for the Avyakta, the Unmanifested, conjoined with Avidya or nescience.

Just as food which is mixed with poison is itself called poison, so the Avyakta, the First Cause, conjoined with the vāsanā, or latent unconscious impression, of Ahaṁkāra, is itself called here Ahaṁkāra inasmuch as Ego­ism is the impelling cause of all.

As a matter of fact, we find, from our ordinary experience, that egoism is the cause of the activity of every being.

Thus divided eightfold is My Prakriti, the Māyā belonging to the Īśvara.

5. This is the inferior (Prakriti); but as distinct from this know thou My superior Prakriti, the very life, O mighty-armed, by which this universe is upheld.

Shankara's commentary:

This Prakriti is inferior, impure, productive of evil, itself constituting the bondage of saṁsāra;

but the superior Prakriti is pure: it is My very Self, the Kshetrajna, that by which life is sustained, that which enters within the whole universe and sustains it.

6. Know that all beings have their birth in these. So, I am the source and dissolution of the whole universe.

Shankara's commentary:

These, My inferior Nature (Prakriti) and My superior Nature (Prakriti), matter (Kshetra) and spirit (Kshetrajna), are the womb of all creatures.

Because my Prakriti is the womb of all beings, I am the origin and the end of the whole universe. That is to say, through this twofold Prakriti, I, the omniscient Īśvara, am the cause of the universe.

Wherefore,

7. There is naught else higher than I, O Dhananjaya: in Me all this is woven as clusters of gems on a string.

Shankara's commentary:

There is no other cause besides Me, the Supreme Lord: I alone am the cause of the universe. Wherefore all beings as well as the whole of this universe are woven in Me, as a cloth in the warp, or clusters of beads on a string.

The Divine Principle penetrating the Universe.

What are Thy attributes showing that the whole of this is woven in Thee?

—Listen:

8. I am the sapidity in water, O son of Kuntī. I am the light in the moon and the sun. I am the syllable Om in all the Vedas, sound in ether, hu­manity in men.

Shankara's commentary:

The essence of water is sapidity. In Me who am that sapidity waters are woven.

—So in all cases.—

Just as I am the sapidity in waters, so am I the light in the moon and the sun; I am the Praṇava, the syllable Om in all the Vedas: in Me who am that Praṇava all the Vedas are woven.

So also, I am humanity in men, i.e., I am that in a person which makes that person regarded a human being. In Me as humanity all persons are woven. Sound is the essence of ākāśa: in Me as sound ākāśa is woven.

9. And I am the agreeable odour in the earth and the brilliance in the fire, the vitality in all be­ings, and I am the austerity in ascetics.

Shankara's commentary:

In Me as odour the earth is woven.—Odour by itself is agreeable; the disagreeableness of odour in the earth and of the like being due to the combination of one element with some other element or elements under the influence of the avidya and a-dharma of individual souls in the world.

The agreeableness thus spoken of with reference to the earth applies also to the agreeableness of the sapidity in waters, and so on.—I am the vitality in all beings, that by which all beings live. In Me as austerity the ascetics are woven.

10. Know Me, O Pārtha, as the eternal seed of all beings; I am the intelligence of the intelligent, the bravery of the brave.

Shankara's commentary:

Seed: the cause of growth. Intelligence: the discrimi­native power of the antaḥ-kāraṇa.

11. And of the energetic am I the energy de­void of passion and attachment; and in (all) beings I am the desire unopposed to dharma, O lord of the Bhāratas.

Shankara's commentary:

Passion (Kāma): thirst for objects not present to the senses. Attachment (rāga): love for those presented to the senses.

I am that energy which is necessary for the bare sustenance of the body, certainly not that which causes thirst and attachment (for sense-objects) in the case of worldly mortals.

So I am the desire not opposed to the teaching of the scriptures: I am, for instance, the desire for that much of eating and drinking, etc., which is necessary for the bare sustenance of the body.

Moreover,

12. And whatever beings are of Sattva or of Rajas or of Tamas, know them to proceed from Me: still, I am not in them, they are in me.

Shankara's commentary:

Know that all beings, whether formed of Sattva, or of Rajas, or of Tamas, and which come into existence as the result of the respective karma of living beings, proceed from Me.

Though they thus proceed from Me, I am not subject to them like mortal beings (samsārins). On the other hand, they are subject to Me: they are dependent on Me.