Commentary on the Bhagavadgita
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 30: The Tenth Chapter Begins – The Glories of God

In the Tenth Chapter we go further, to a greater emphasis of the immanence of God—not God coming sometimes when we are in a state of distress, not a God who provides us with what we need when we need it, but God perpetually residing in all things which are the glories of this world.

There is such a thing called glory, enhancement of spirit, genius, supernal power, high respectability, the power to attract—something that will not allow us to take our mind away. There are certain things from which we cannot take our mind away, due to their beauty or grandeur. When we look at the beautiful full moon in a clear sky, we do not want to look away. We go on gazing at that scintillating, beautiful, soft, honey-exuding glow, as it were—the full moon, radiating calmness and coolness with its beams. The beauty of the full moon attracts us; but the beauty of the ocean is of a different kind. It exalts our spirit by the magnitude of its superiority over us. Take the example of an elephant. We would like to go on looking at it again and again, for some reason which we cannot understand. For a particular reason, we would not like to take our eyes away from the full moon because of the beauty. Why do we like to look at an elephant? Is it beautiful? It is majestic, and it humbles us to some extent. Our ego feels very small before the might of the elephant and, therefore, we feel the greatness and power of the elephant. We maintain a respectful distance from it on account of the humility that we automatically feel due to the largeness of its body and the greatness of its power. So it is majesty that attracts us here, not beauty. Similarly, the grandeur, the power, the terror, the capacity of the ocean to destroy us, and the largeness which is far beyond our egoism, makes us look at it with great wonder. “Oh, what a wonder is the great ocean of waves, terrific in their nature!” Hence, we can be attracted to things either because of their beauty or because of their grandeur.

God is both beauty and grandeur. Mostly, religions do not consider God as a beautiful person; there is no emphasis on that. So we always fear God as a justice of the Supreme Court or a policeman, and we think that He has to be respected because of His power and His capacity to punish us. We fear God. We do not embrace God as if He is a beautiful, beloved thing. Why is it so? It is because of the emphasis in religious circles—in all religions, whether Semitic or Indian—on the fatherhood of God. That the fatherhood of God is emphasised in all religions is something very peculiar. It may be due to the historical circumstances, or because the prophets and the progenitors of the scriptures happened to be mostly men. Whatever the reason be, it appears that the fatherhood of God has been overemphasised in religions, as if He is only father.

God is also mother. In India, mother worship—Shakti worship—has been inculcated. This other side of God, the feminine aspect, is not completely cut off from the male aspect as if God is only male, and not female. The ardhanarisvara tattva, or the unity of the two polar essences, the positive and negative, are considered in the ardhanarisvara tattva of Lord Siva, where Siva and Shakti are one person. As it is said in religious parlance, especially in India, husband and wife constitute one person. They are not two different persons. Though physically they appear to be two persons, their soul is one.

The idea of Shakti worship—the spirit of there being unity between the positive and the negative, and there being no cleavage between man and woman—was introduced in India; yet, the concept of fatherhood prevails. Though we may accept that God can also be conceived as mother and worshipped as Shakti, or Devi, we think of God predominantly as supremely just—a lawgiver, a judiciary, and a terror Who blesses us only if He is pleased, and punishes us if He is not pleased.

Do we think that God is beautiful? Sakshan manmathamanmathah (S.B. 10.32.2) is a term used in the Bhagavata: “He is the cupid of cupids, the beauty of beauties.” Even if the essences of all the beautiful things in the world—the quintessence of the most beautiful things, human or otherwise, whatever they be—are taken together, it will not stand before the beauty of God. It is very unfortunate that God should be regarded only as a terror, as a justice, and as a fearful person. He is the most enchanting. The enchanting, beautiful character of God is especially brought into high relief in the life of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, who is the might of mights, the power of powers, and represents the fatherhood of God in this tremendous incarnation as the height of yogic ecstasy and power; and yet, he was the beauty of beauties. The Bhagavata Purana and the Mahabharata also describe Bhagavan Sri Krishna as an incarnation of God, and they remove the partial notion of God as only a father who is merely just and legal in His attitude, rather than compassionate and friendly. The friendliness of God, the power of God, the transcendence of God, the superiority of God, the beauty of God, the enchanting capacity of God, the tremendous attraction that He exerts upon us is delineated in Bhagavan Sri Krishna, who is the full incarnation of God.

The glories of God are detailed in the Tenth Chapter. These glories can be seen in certain enhanced, exalted things which are beyond ordinary human concepts.

“Where are You actually present in this world, O Lord? You said that You are in all things. Are You in an atom? Are You in a dustbin? Are You in a tree? Are You in a stone? Where are You?”

“I am in everything, no doubt, yet My presence can be especially felt in certain exalted manifestations.” Towards that description we are entering the most glorious chapter, the Tenth—where Sri Bhagavan Himself starts speaking without Arjuna raising a question. “I shall speak to you further about My glories and My supernal greatness.”

Śrībhagavānuvāca: bhūya eva mahābāho śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ, yat te’haṁ prīyamāṇāya vakṣyāmi hitakāmyayā (10.1): “You are very dear to Me, and I am dear to you; and because of this fact, I feel prompted to tell you a little more for your own welfare, for your hita, for your goodness. I will tell you something that is very secret, something that is supremely good for you.”

Na me viduḥ suragaṇāḥ (10.2): “The gods do not know Me, really speaking, let alone human beings. They cannot know Me in My true essence because I am the origin of all these gods.” Aham ādir hi devānāṁ maharṣīṇāṁ ca sarvaśaḥ: “Even maharishis cannot know Me in full. Nobody can know My origin because I am prior to the manifestation, or the coming into being, of their existence.”

Yo mām ajam anādiṁ ca vetti lokamaheśvaram, asaṁmūḍhaḥ sa martyeṣu sarvapāpaiḥ pramucyate (10.3): “Whoever knows Me as the ancient one, prior to all manifested forms, greater than all the gods of religions—such a person completely non-deluded in mind is free from every kind of fault, and no sin can accrue to that person.” God is not merely in things—in personalities and objects—He is also in the relations between things. That which is between things is also God’s operation, and to that He directs His attention.

Buddhir jñānam asaṁmohaḥ kṣamā satyaṁ damaḥ śamaḥ, sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ bhavo’bhāvo bhayaṁ cābhayam eva ca; ahiṁsā samatā tuṣṭis tapo dānaṁ yaśo’yaśaḥ, bhavanti bhāvā bhūtānāṁ matta eva pṛthagvidhāḥ (10.4-5): “The intelligence in some people, and the absence of intelligence in other people; the capacity to forgive; truthfulness; self-restraint, externally as well as internally; the experience of pleasure and pain; the coming and going of things; fear, and the absence of fear; the capacity of a person to feel the feelings of other people, and be compassionate to others, and not hurt others’ feelings, and maintain an equilibrated attitude towards all people; the charitable nature of people; the glories, and even the absence of glories of people—all these proceed from Me.” Bhavanti bhāvā bhūtānāṁ matta eva pṛthagvidhāḥ: Night and day, life and death, light and darkness, good and bad, necessary and unnecessary—everything is subsumed under this integrality of the supreme inclusiveness of the Absolute Supreme Being.

The Tenth Chapter is a preliminary to the exposition of God’s greatness and glory that is to come later: “Everything comes from Me. Even the gods and the rishis are emanations subsequent to My existence.”

God’s existence is a difficult thing to conceive. We say that God is all-pervading. This idea of the all-pervadingness of God arises due to the space which we see before our eyes. Pervading all things means existing as a vast expanse, like space; but this comparison is inept for God Himself because God is prior to the manifestation of space. He is said to be omnipresent because of our idea that there is an extended spatial universe. If there is no space and no expanse of the three-dimensional world, the idea of omnipresence will not arise in our mind. We say He is omniscient—knows all things; but where were the ‘things’ before creation took place? So the idea that He is all-knowing is also not a good definition of God. We say He is all-powerful, omnipotent; but on whom does He exercise His power if there is nothing external to Him?

Where was God sitting before He created the world? Because of the world, because of this created universe, we say He is everywhere, He knows all things, and He is all-powerful. Do we describe Him in terms of what He has created? What was He before He created? Where was He seated? Such difficulties are beyond human comprehension. The statement “Everything comes from Me—even the universe, the gods, and the rishis” leaves us in a state of mental perplexity as to how God could be the Creator and yet remain transcendent. And, in His transcendent state, where does He exist? This question is very intriguing because the term ‘where’ implies space, location, distance, and a situation. We would realise and appreciate that, because of this difficulty, God cannot be defined. It is Pure Existence.

Maharṣayaḥ sapta pūrve catvāro manavas tathā, madbhāvā mānasā jātā yeṣāṁ loka imāḥ prajāḥ (10.6): The prominent great rishis are supposed to be seven in number. They are Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Vasishtha. Though there are many rishis, these are the most prominent, highly exalted spirits. The chatvāraḥ—Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara—are the four original emanations of Brahma, the Creator. There are fourteen Manus, who are the rulers of the fourteen worlds. All are God’s emanations. Madbhāvā mānasā jātā: “My will—My mere thought, My determination—projected these great rishis.”

Brahma, the first born in the cosmos, thought that he should manifest the variety of this creation, so in the beginning he thought of the four Kumaras: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara. They looked like small children. Brahma told them, “Help me with creation.” They were inwardly established in the eternal Almighty. They said, “We are not going to help you in creation. We are established in our own Self.” The first sons of Brahma were disobedient, and he was very angry with them. Brahma’s anger rose to the midpoint between his eyebrows, but he could not pour that anger on them because they were established in the Almighty Supreme Being. As he could not pour this anger on the Kumaras, what would he do with that fury that rose up? That fury came out as Rudra, who is also known as Siva, and Brahma said, “Please create.” Rudra created demons, goblins and all kinds of ganas, which were not what Brahma intended. Brahma told him, “Please stop your creation. I have had enough of it. Go and meditate somewhere. From now on, you should only meditate, and not create. Go from here.” These are some of the stories in the Bhagavata Purana. All these emanate from the Supreme Being, in the sequence mentioned.

Etāṁ vibhūtiṁ yogaṁ ca mama yo vetti tattvataḥ, so’vikampena yogena yujyate nātra saṁśayaḥ (10.7): “My glory is that I am beyond the world of space, time and objects. I am transcendent in My essential nature, and yet I pervade all things. Aham ādir hi devānāṁ maharṣīṇāṁ ca sarvaśaḥ (10.2): The gods and the rishis, who are the greatest of beings, are emanations from Me; therefore, they cannot know Me. Even such great spiritual stalwarts cannot have an access to My real secret, because I am prior to them. How can the effect know the cause? Hence, nothing in creation—in all the fourteen realms—can know what God ultimately is. “One who knows this secret of Mine—this great yoga through which I manifest Myself and yet seem to be not manifesting anything at all, and remain transcendent and immanent in all things at the same time—such a person is established in unshakeable yoga. Sovikampena yogena yujyate: Not a shakeable, transitory, ‘coming and going’ yoga, but a permanently established unity with Me, which is the highest yoga. That is called unshakeable communion—avikampa yoga. Such is the blessing of that supreme seeker who resorts to Me in My essential nature—tattvato jñātvā.”

Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo (10.8): Again He repeats, “All things come from Me.” Mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: “Everything is an effect manifested from the ultimate cause, Myself.” Iti matvā bhajante māṁ budhā bhāvasamanvitāḥ: “All difficulties vanish in one moment in the case of those great devotees who realise that even the worst of things have a location in My existence.” It was already mentioned that even the worst of sinners have a place in God. “Whoever is established in this conviction that all things emanate from Me—the whole world of goodness and badness, beauty and ugliness, permanence and impermanence, all arise from Me and, therefore, I am the cause of all things—knowing this, they never get disturbed or perturbed in their minds. They resort to Me day in and day out, undisturbed by the events taking place in the world.”

Maccittā madgataprāṇā bodhayantaḥ parasparam, kathayantaś ca māṁ nityaṁ tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca (10.9): “These devotees of Mine are always happy. They smile and dance in ecstasy at all times because their mind is absorbed in Me, and their prana is absorbed in Me. And when they talk among themselves, they talk only about Me and My glory; there is nothing else in their minds. They tell stories about Me—about My incarnations, My manifestations, My performances in this great creation. Every day they are involved in this spiritual activity of contemplating on Me, singing My glories, mutually instructing one another on the mystery of My life. Thus they remain very happy, and are delighted in their life.”

Teṣāṁ satatayuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prītipūrvakam, dadāmi buddhiyogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te (10.10): “In great compassion, I endow these devoted souls with the highest kind of understanding by which they cannot forget Me at any time. Those who are perpetually united with Me—satatyukta—and who worship Me and adore Me and praise Me in intense devotional love, to them I give this great blessing and grace of Mine in the form of superior understanding.”

If the gods want to help us, they do not come to protect us with a stick in their hands like a shepherd protecting sheep. Their help always comes in the form of an enhanced understanding, a blessing which they pour upon us in the form of an increased insight into the nature of things. This is because knowledge is the greatest blessing, insight is the greatest power, and there is nothing in this world equal to illumination. Objects, property, wealth, social status—none of them can stand before illumination and insight into the true nature of things, with which God blesses those who are eternally, perpetually, united with Him.

Teṣām evānukampārtham (10.11): “I am immensely compassionate and merciful towards these people. I think of them, and they are in Me.” Aham ajñānajaṁ tamaḥ nāśayāmy: “I shall destroy even the ignorance in you.” In bhakti marga, the emphasis is on God being entirely responsible for the welfare of the devotee, both here and hereafter. He shall see to it that we are provided with all physical, material amenities for our daily sustenance. He shall also see to it that we are properly educated in the spiritual sense. He shall see to it that all our ignorance is destroyed. He shall see to it that we are absorbed into Him.

When effort is necessary, and we do not merely depend on the pouring of God’s grace from above, this is called markatanyaya, or the monkey doctrine, because when a monkey runs about with a little baby, the baby clings to it with its effort. But where the emphasis is only on God’s grace that He shall take care of us, it is like a cat carrying its kitten. A cat carries its kitten by its neck, and the kitten need not have to cling to it.

Sarvathā vartamāna (6.31): Here God stresses the point that “Whatever you be and in whatever condition you may be living, if your heart is in Me, you need not bother about anything, either of this world or of the other world.” He is emphasising that even the ignorance in our mind will be destroyed. We need not have to read scriptures and go to lectures, or make any particular effort in the direction of what is called spiritual practice. The only sadhana that we are required to perform is surrender. Ananya saranagatih is the pinnacle and the last point in bhakti marga. Love of God is the entire sadhana. There is no need to roll the beads or do different breathing techniques and sit in certain postures; nothing of the kind is necessary. And all these techniques are futile if the love of God is absent.

The highest sadhana is the pouring forth of our soul into the Universal Soul; then everything shall be taken care of automatically. We need not bother about tomorrow: “What shall I eat? Where is my raiment? How long shall I live? Who will take care of me?” We shall be taken care of, and what is to be done tomorrow shall be told to us tomorrow. Jñānadīpena bhāsvatā: “I shall illumine the personality of these great devotees with the light of wisdom, destroying their ignorance and blessing them with the highest illumination, by which they will know the truths of all things.”

This is an introductory oration by Sri Bhagavan Himself in the beginning of the Tenth Chapter, before Arjuna could raise any question. Now Arjuna starts speaking. He is really startled, wonderstruck, after hearing all these things that have been told to him. Arjuna says, “Thou art the Supreme Being. I see that You are inseparable from the Ultimate Reality. I appreciate it, I can understand it, and I accept it. You are the Supreme Abode, O Lord! The greatest of purities, the Purity behind purities, Supreme You are. The Eternal Purusha You are.” Ᾱdideva: the original God; aja: immortal.

Paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān, puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam ādidevam ajaṁ vibhum (10.12). Here Arjuna addresses Sri Krishna; and this is a kind of prayer that we can recite every day: “O God! You are the Eternal Absolute, the Supreme Abode, the Purity behind purities, the Eternal Purusha, the God beyond gods. Rishis glorify You. Narada and other minstrels of God sing Your glory. I have been told by such seers like the rishis Asita, Devala, and Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa that You are the veritable Immortal Being masquerading in this world. You are the Absolute masquerading in this world. This has been told to me by Vyasa and other rishis.”

Ᾱhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve devarṣir nāradas tathā, asito devalo vyāsaḥ svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me (10.13): “Now You Yourself are telling that. You have declared Yourself to be the incomparable, secondless Being. It is a great wonder indeed to hear all this. I accept all this in toto, and I am highly delighted to hear all this discourse of Yours, O Lord!”

Sarvam etad ṛtaṁ manye yan māṁ vadasi keśava (10.14): “The highest Truth of truths are revealed to me now.” Na hi te bhagavan vyaktiṁ vidur devā na dānavāḥ: “Who am I to understand what You are? Not the gods, not all creation, not all the demons, nothing anywhere can know what kind of person You are. Who am I to understand what You are? Only You know Yourself.” God knows God, and nobody else can know God. You cannot know God. I cannot know God. Nothing of the world can know God. The entire creation cannot know God, because it is subsequent to God’s existence. Who knows God? God only knows God and, finally, God attains God.

Svayam evātmanātmānaṁ (10.15): “You know Yourself, and nobody can know You. Thou knowest Thyself.” He puruṣottama: the Supreme Being, Supreme Purusha; bhūtabhāvana: the blessing for all people; bhūteśa: the Lord of creation; devadeva: the God of gods; jagatpate: the ruler of the universe. “I prostrate myself before You. I shall be happy to hear some more details about this. How do You pervade this universe in Your eternal glory? In what forms can I worship You in my daily life, in my behaviour, from morning to evening? Will You kindly dilate upon this subject a little more, to my great satisfaction and happiness?”

Vaktum arhasyaśeṣeṇa: “Without leaving anything out, tell me everything about Yourself—Your glories, Your divine immanence in this world of manifestation.” Vaktum arhasyaśeṣeṇa divyā hyātmavibhūtayaḥ, yābhir vibhūtibhir lokān imāṁs tvaṁ vyāpya tiṣṭhasi (10.16): “What are the ways in which You manifest Yourself in this world? In which place in this world of manifestations, in which object, in what manner can I recognise You? How can I know You? Please tell me.”

Kathaṁ vidyām ahaṁ yogiṁs tvāṁ sadā paricintayan (10.17): “Day and night I would like to meditate and contemplate on You. In what manner should I contemplate? Please tell me in detail.” Keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu cintyosi bhagavan mayā: “In this world which is constituted of millions of forms, in what forms should I contemplate on You? Where are You manifest more, and in what forms are You manifest less? Please detail all these wondrous glories of Yourself.”

Vistareṇātmano yogaṁ vibhūtiṁ ca janārdana, bhūyaḥ kathaya (10.18): “Repeat it once again. You have already told me something about Yourself. I would like to hear it again and again because it is amrita, it is nectar to my ears. Please tell me in all detail Your glories, Your powers and Your manifestations. Tell me once again, though You have already told me once. Please tell me in greater detail because my satisfaction has no end. Let my satisfaction rise from lower to higher states. I am already satisfied. May I be further satisfied, and may I be blessed with immense infinite satisfaction. My ears are never satisfied with any amount of nectar of Your speech that is poured into my ears.” Tṛptir hi śṛṇvato nāsti me’mṛtam: “You are pouring nectar into my ears and I am delighted, but I should be more delighted if You describe Your further glories in Your own way so that I may find it easier to behold You in all things and unite myself with Thee.”

“It is very difficult,” says the Lord, “to tell you in words what I am.”

There was a great sage called Muchukunda, who helped the gods in a war with the demons. Indra, who was highly pleased with him said, “Ask for a boon.”

He said, “I am very much tired. The only thing I need is a good sleep. This is the blessing: Let me sleep somewhere in a corner without disturbance, and bless me also that if anybody disturbs me while I am asleep, he shall perish in one second.”

“Be it so!” said Indra.

Then Muchukunda, with post-war fatigue, went into a cave and fell asleep. Meanwhile, Kalayavana, a demon discharged by Kamsa under the instigation of Jarasandha and others, was pursuing Sri Krishna; and Sri Krishna, with a double motive in his mind, entered the cave in which Muchukunda was sleeping, which Kalayavana saw.

Sri Krishna was dark blue in colour and, fortunately or unfortunately, Muchukunda was also the same colour. Sri Krishna entered the cave and stood in a corner, and the demon Kalayavana also entered. When he saw someone with almost the same colour as Sri Krishna lying down, fast asleep, he said “Oh, you are sleeping here!” and kicked him with his foot. The sleeping man slowly opened his eyes, and immediately the demon was reduced to ashes.

Then Sri Krishna came forward. Muchukunda looked at him and said, “Who are you, this great mysterious magnificence that is standing before me? Will you kindly tell me your name?”

Sri Krishna replied, “Infinite are My names. You can count the grains of sand on the shores of the ocean, but My glories and My names are larger in number than the sands on the beach of the ocean.”

Likewise, here Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, “It is impossible to tell you in toto all the manifestations in this world in which you can behold Me; but briefly, in essence, I shall outline where My excellence can be beheld.”

Śrībhagavānuvāca: hanta te kathayiṣyāmi divyā hyātmavibhūtayaḥ, prādhānyataḥ kuruśreṣṭha nāstyanto vistarasya me (10.19): The Lord says, “I will tell you briefly. The details that you are speaking of are endless, infinite. How will I go on telling you all that is infinite in its nature? But I will give you an outline of where you can locate Me in this world.”

Aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarvabhūtāśayasthitaḥ (10.20): “I am the soul of all beings. Wherever you see existence, there you see Me present as the basic fundamental reality of all. The love of life, which can be seen even in the worst of creatures, is actually a distorted love that they are manifesting towards the existence of their own individuality—but actually, that existence is borrowed from My universal existence. I am the soul, the basic reality, the undiminished essence, the fundamental existence bereft of association with the body, mind, and all other social connections. That deepest essence, the ‘I’ which you refer to, the ‘I’ that is in everything—in plants, in animals, in insects, in gods—that ‘I’, the soul, as it were, of all things, is Me. The deepest reality, the soul, the Self, the indubitable fundamentality in all things, is Me. Wherever you see love of life persisting and a clinging to existence, realise, notice and understand that everybody is clinging to My true universal existence that operates through their individual bodies, which they mistake for real existence. The Atman, the Self of all beings, is Me. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all things. If the universe has come from somewhere, realise that it has come from Me. If it is existing now, it is due to My existence; and one day or the other, it shall be absorbed into Me. This is to tell you, briefly, the cosmic aspect of My manifestations. Now I shall tell you the individualised, specialised forms of My manifestations, which are such glories as the sun and other things.”