by Swami Krishnananda
Srotram chakshuh sparsanam cha rasam ghranam eva cha, adhishthaya manas chayam vishayan upasevate (15.9): “With the help of the mind and the five senses – hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling – the individual jiva enjoys by indulging in the objects of sense.”
Utkramantam sthitam vapi bhunjanam va gunanvitam, vimudha nanupasyanti pasyanti jnana-chakshushah (15.10): “But foolish people don’t know that I am at the back of all things. Whether they are standing, moving, getting up, taking their meals – whatever be their occupation, that occupation becomes possible because of My being there as an active impelling power; but fools think that they themselves are doing everything.”
When we walk, we feel that we ourselves are walking; when we eat, we feel that we ourselves are eating; when we see a thing, we feel that we ourselves are seeing – whereas, somebody else walks for us, somebody else sees for us, somebody else tastes for us. “Fools do not understand this, but those who have the eye of wisdom know that I am doing all these things – even the perception of things, even the digestion of food, and even the locomotion or the movement through the feet.” Pasyanti jnana-chakshushah, vimudha nanupasyanti.
Yatanto yoginas chainam pasyanty atmany avasthitam (15.11): This great Being, responsible for every kind of activity in the world, is visualised by the great yogins as located, lodged, in their own heart. There is no great difficulty in having a vision of this great Reality, because it is the Self of all; and as the Self is the nearest and the dearest, it should be very easy to come in contact with That. Actually, there is no such thing as contact with the Self, because the Self does not come in contact with anything. It is just what it is, and this mystery of the Self having not to come in contact with anything and being all things at the same time is seen only by yogins, not by those who are spiritually illiterate.
Yatanto’py akrtatmano nainam pasyanty achetasah: “Yogins have a vision of this inner Reality masquerading through all the forms of the world; but those who are indulgent through their sense organs, even if they put forth immense effort, will not be able to see Me or visualise Me.” Here is a clue as to why it is not so easy to have a vision of God, though it is well known that God is nearest – nearer than our very neck, as is well told in all the scriptures and by saints and sages. The reason is akritatma.
When Dhritarashtra heard that Sri Krishna was coming as an ambassador and wanted to know and see him, Sanjaya said, “What can you see? You cannot see Him, because Sri Krishna is kritatma and you are an akritatma. Akritatma cannot have a vision of the kritatma. So why are you saying that you want to see Him?”
What is the meaning of kritatma and akritatma? A person who has subdued his sense organs perfectly is kritatma, and such a person is Lord Krishna; and we are the opposite of it. Kritatmata means subjugating the sense organs and integrating the personality into a single power, rather than a diffused power manifesting itself through five channels of expression. In the personality of integrated beings like Sri Krishna, the energy does not flow in different directions. Their energy acts as a total impact, not as a diffused impact through the channels of sense perception. Therefore, those who are not kritatma – who are akritatmanah, who have not controlled their sense organs and are very much indulgent in respect of objects outside – even if they struggle hard, they will not see It. What is the use of struggle when it is based on ignorance and a desire for that which is quite different from what one is asking for?
Yad aditya-gatam tejo jagad bhasayate’khilam, yac candramasi yac cagnau tat tejo viddhi mamakam (15.12): “Know that the light and the radiance that you are seeing in the sun above, the luminosity that you see in the moon, the brightness that you see in glowing fire – all this is an emanation from My great radiance. Whatever be the glorious brilliance of these mighty luminaries here in this world – sun, moon, and stars, and fire – they appear bright due to the brightness that is reflected through them, and that brightness is Mine.”
As the mind appears to be intelligent on account of the reflection of the Atman consciousness through the mind, a mirror appears to be bright on account of the light that is cast on it. A mirror cannot shine of its own accord. It cannot shine in darkness; it shines only in light. Actually, it is the light that shines, and not the mirror. In the same way, the mind does not understand anything. It is the Atman that causes the apparent behaviour of the mind as if it is intelligent. All light comes from the Supreme Being.
Gam avisya cha bhutani dharayamy aham ojasa, pushnami chaushadhih sarvah somo bhutva rasatmakah (15.13): “Entering this entire earth, I support all beings. There is a vitality in the earth, energy in this very planet, and whoever is inhabiting this world is made to be self-sufficient and happy, and made to feel that they are guarded, protected and provided for, because of My entry into the very substance of the earth.”
The earth is not a dead entity; it is full of life. We call this earth Bhudevi – a divinity which is the earth. Vishnu-patni namastubhyam pada sparsham kshamasva me: “Please, Divine Mother Earth, excuse my placing my foot on you.” People sometimes utter this mantra when they wake up in the morning and put their foot down on the ground.
“And having entered all the plants and trees, I become the essence of medicines.” It is said that on amavasya, the day of the new moon, the entire energy of the moon is poured into the vegetable kingdom. According to Indian tradition, we should not pluck a leaf or cut a plant or fell a tree on amavasya day, because the full strength of the moon which is the source of medicinal plants is supposed to be pervading the entire plant kingdom in the world. Even a leaf of tulasi is not plucked on amavasya day, because it is all light. If the essence of the bark of a particular tree – or any tree, for that matter – is boiled and drunk on that day, it is considered to be a medicine for illnesses of various types.
Somo bhutva: God becomes the moon, which is responsible for the medicinal influence in all plants and trees. It is believed that there is a direct connection between the moon and the plant kingdom. The rays of the moon influence the plant kingdom in a particular way, so that the plants become medicines. Every plant can be considered to be a medicine for some purpose or other, and has a curative effect of some kind.
Pushnami chaushadhih sarvah somo bhutva rasatmakah: “I enter into these plants by becoming the very energy of the soma, or the moon, and sustain these plants with the vigour, the rasam.” This rasam may be called the protoplasm. The protoplasm in the plant is nothing but God Himself acting through the power of the moon presiding over the plant and all the trees.
Aham vaisvanaro bhutva praninam deham asritah, pranapana-samayuktah pachamy annam chatur-vidham (15.14): When the prana and the apana conjointly act at the root of the naval within the stomach, they operate in a different manner altogether, and go by the name of samana; and that creates a kind of heat in the stomach, which is necessary for the digestion of food. This heat is known as Vaisvanara-agni, the universal fire. It is the energy of God that operates through the metabolic process of individuals and causes the digestion of the four kinds of food – pachamy annam chatur-vidham.
There are six kinds of taste and four kinds of food. If I describe all these, your tongue will water. That which is swallowed, that which is chewed, that which is licked, and that which is drunk – these are the four varieties. “I actually digest these four varieties of food in your stomach by bringing the prana and the apana together for action and generating the heat inside as Vaisvanara-agni – the universal Vaisvanara himself operating through all individual stomachs as the energy of metabolism.”
Sarvasya chaham hrdi samnivishto (15.15): “I am in the hearts of all.” Mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam cha: “Memory and loss of memory are also due to My presence or withdrawal.” Vedais cha sarvair aham eva vedyo: “After all, you see, I am the only Being that is to be known through all the Veda Samhitas.” Vedanta-krd veda-vid eva chaham: “That which is glorified in the Vedanta sastra also is Me and, finally, I am the one who really knows the meaning of the Vedas.”
This is a summing up of the essence of the earlier teaching that God pervades all things. Sarvasya chaham hrdi samnivishto: “In the deepest recesses of the heart of all beings, I am present. Both knowledge and ignorance are there on account of My manifestation or absence of manifestation.” The Vedas are supposed to be the glorification of the magnificence of God; and that God Who is glorified in the Vedas is this one God Who is teaching the Bhagavadgita. And that Supreme Brahman who is glorified in the Upanishads is this great God who speaks this Gita. And, finally, the meaning of the Veda and the Vedanta can be known in its entirety only by God. Nobody can fully know it: veda-vid-eva chaham.