Arjuna’s mind is gaining maturity. Didn’t Bhagavān say –
What is buddhi-yoga? Buddhi is a faculty of the antaḥkaraṇa. Manas (mind), saṅkalpa (will), jñāpaka (recall) and other mental faculties hanker after so many external objects, collecting sensory information about them. The buddhi (intellect) gathers all these pieces of information under its purview, analyses them, classifies them, assesses their qualities and strengths, and ascertains their usefulness. This is the work of the buddhi.
buddhir-vivecanā rūpā sā jñāna-jananī śrutau ॥
Brahma-vaivarta, Khaṇḍa 2 Chapter 23
It is the buddhi that gathers the true knowledge of a certain object. Buddhi-yoga is a mechanism to unite the buddhi with the para-tattva – Supreme Principle. This mechanism is a boon that Bhagavān bestows upon the eligible jīva. There is no summum bonum without this boon.
Buddhi-yoga is not a set of subtle intellectual acrobatics. Mathematicians, scientific researchers, lawyers, and logicians perform many intellectual feats. Their life lies in performing these cerebral adventures. But that does not constitute buddhi-yoga. Normally, the scholarly exercises of the śāstrik scholars do not beseech the Divine for boons – those proceed independently. However, when the intellect tries to attain the Supreme, the illumination for its path has to come from the destination. That blessing of the light has been variously referred to as either inspiration or revelation or a vision. Thus attaining the Supreme is impossible without Divine blessing. The Upaniṣads convey the same message.
yamevaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyaḥ ||
Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.23, Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.2.3
dhātuḥ prasādān-mahimānam-ātmanaḥ ||
- Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.20
dhātuḥ prasādān-mahimānam-īśam ॥
What then is the path to Divine favour? The answer is bhakti, worship and surrender.
This is why Arjuna now takes refuge in Bhagavān.
āhus-tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve devarṣir-nāradas-tathā |
na hi te bhagavan vyaktiṃ vidur-devā na dānavāḥ ||
“O svāmin! Sages like Nārada and Vyāsa have declared you to be Supreme Brahma and the final goal. Even you have stated the same. Only you understand yourself completely. None other.”
svayam-evātmanātmānaṃ vettha tvaṃ puruṣottama |
“Therefore only you have to teach me how to experience your complete form.”
kathaṃ vidyām-ahaṃ yogin tvāṃ sadā paricintayan |
keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu cintyo’si bhagavan-mayā ||
“Bhagavan! How can I know you? How should I meditate upon you? What are the forms and symbols through which I can contemplate upon you?”
vistareṇātmano yogaṃ vibhūtiṃ ca janārdana |
bhūyaḥ kathaya tṛptir-hi śṛṇvato nāsti me’mṛtam ||
“O Janārdana! Explain in detail the knowledge of your yoga! That will give me satisfaction. There is no nectar other than this!”
Śrīkṛṣṇa answered Arjuna’s prayer.
aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarva-bhūtāśaya-sthitaḥ |
aham ādiśca madhyaṃ ca bhūtānām anta eva ca ||
“Arjuna, I am the Supreme ātman who resides in the hearts of all beings (as consciousness). I am the first of all beings, their middle as well as the end.”
Thus narrating the Divine glories in a nutshell, Bhagavān then goes on to enumerate the chief symbols of that greatness. He has already stated some of these qualities in the seventh chapter beginning with “raso’ham-apsu” (I am the taste in the waters), “jīvanaṃ sarvabhūteṣu” (life in all beings), and on to radiance, intellect, strength, and the desire permitted by dharma. Now instead of qualities, Bhagavān uses glorious objects as the symbols of Divine opulence thus – Viṣṇu among the twelve ādityas; the moon among celestial objects; the mind among the instruments of perception; Meru among the mountains; Skanda (Subrahmaṇya) among the commanders-in-chief; japa among the yajñas; the sacred aśvattha (Ficus religiosa) among the trees; Kāmadeva among the generators of the clan; the letter “a” (अ) in the alphabet; the knowledge of the ātman among all vidyās; the enthusiasm to be praised, lustre, and attractive speech among women; betting in gamblers; strategy among those desirous of winning; silence among those maintaining a secret; and knowledge of the knowledgeable. In this way, Bhagavān denoted whatever is most excellent in human understanding as a symbol of Divine grandeur and made it easy for Arjuna to practise the presence of the Divine.
There is a certain matter here that we should bring to our attention. Did the Svāmin not state earlier that both daivī and āsurī elements co-exist in creation? He also told us that there are two paths shown by Prakṛti. But when he showed his Divine glories, Bhagavān used only the daivī elements to make his point but not the āsurī elements. Let us try to understand why. This is an important concept that we need to bring to our minds.
ṇa tvahaṃ teṣu te mayi
“I am not in them. They are in me.”
Our body contains blood and flesh as well as urine and faeces. But life-consciousness is established in blood and flesh. Urine and faeces – fit to be egested or excreted out of the body – are not the stations of consciousness. Similarly the Divine body has sublime aspects to it as well as vile ones. The vile aspects of the Divine body are temporary; not long-lasting. Therefore those wishing to experience Divine glories must worship the pure and auspicious aspects of the world. Whatever be the object on which bhagavat-prakāśa - Divine illumination falls, it becomes excellent. Conversely, the worldly object on which Divine illumination does not fall is not auspicious but a mere shadow of the excellent, and is therefore not worthy of adoration. Therefore Bhagavān makes only those excellent aspects of Prakṛti his symbols to make it possible for devotees to easily recognise the Divine aspects.
yac-cāpi sarva-bhūtānāṃ bījaṃ tad-aham-arjuna |
na tad-asti vinā yat-syāt mayā bhūtaṃ carācaram ||
nānto’sti mama divyānāṃ vibhūtīnāṃ parantapa |
“Arjuna, I am the seed (origin) of all beings. There is no end to my divine glories. I have just enumerated a few to you as examples.”
yad-yad-vibhūtimat-sattvaṃ śrīmad-ūrjitam-eva-vā |
tat-tad-evāvagacchatvaṃ mama tejo’ṃśa-saṃbhavam ||
viṣṭabhyāham-idaṃ kṛtsnam ekāṃśena sthito jagat ||
“Wherever there is greatness in this world, wherever there is an exuberance of excellence, wherever there is auspiciousness and happiness, wherever there is bravery and valour, know all of that to be an effect of just a part of my splendour, or a manifestation of it. I sustain the universe by just one particle of Myself.”
In this way, Śrīkṛṣṇa, using Arjuna as a pretext, shows to the entire world the distinction between the daivī and āsurī paths as well as the important indicators of the Divine Path.
This chapter concludes with a verse from Śrīdhara-svāmin’s commentary.
indriya-dvārataś-citte bahir-dhāvati saty-api |
īśa-dṛṣṭi-vidhānāya vibhūtīr-daśame’bravīt ||
yanagaḻinattitta pārvudariyade tannā ।
mane siriyanendu bhagava-
dghanacihnaṃgaḻa naraṃgè tordaṃ kṛṣṇam ॥
(DVG’s Kannada translation)
As the mind-bird flies hither and thither
Through the windows of the sense-organs
Knowing not the riches of its own home,
Śrīkṛṣṇa showed the symbols of Divine Glory to Arjuna.
pravacisidaṃ prakaṭa-vastu-guṇa-liṃga-gaḻiṃ ।
navatarisihudènnutaduvè daśamādhyāyam ॥
Bhagavān described his own splendour
through the enumeration of the excellences of manifest objects
and said that the entire universe is sustained
by a fraction of his Self.
That then is the tenth chapter.
sahānubhūti-pūrṇanaṃtu tatsamuddhṛtikṣamaṃ ।
suhṛttamaṃ mahātmanā hṛṣīkarājyanāyakaṃ
virājikuṃ vidhāyakaṃ sadāsmadīyacittadoḻ ॥
The knower of the subtle sounds of the interiors of myriad people;
overflowing with compassion and capable of uplifting the jīva;
The best of confidantes, the great soul, the leader of the kingdom of the senses,
May that deliverer shine forever in our hearts.
The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.