After Knowing this, nothing remains to be Known ...
Krishna begins Book VII by telling Arjuna that without any doubt we will Know the God-within when we take refuge, and the mind is absorbed in the Supreme One (VII.1). Krishna now teaches his dear friend the Knowledge of discriminating understanding that brings Wisdom. When Arjuna has learned this there will be nothing left on this earth for him to know (VII.2).
This last statement always rather astounded me. Krishna is saying that once we truly understand his teaching in the Bhagavad Gita, we will Know all there is to know here in our earthly existence as corporal beings. The wisdom that Krishna offers has the power to give us the understanding of the Whole. As we acquire similitude (sadharmya) with the God within our Heart, we approach the larger View. We may grok the hologram in its entirety.
Only the very few
Krishna admits that most are lost in the temporal illusory hologram and that out of thousands - these days, billions - very few stretch and expand their consciousness to achieve perfection. Out of those few, even less ever truly Know the God-within (VII.3).
This Universe as a Work of Art
The Creator manifested this universe out a the desire to enjoy Its Self in myriad forms. In his book on the Mahabharata, Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair makes the case for this world to be understood as a work of art. Only those with the most hardened of hearts would deny the exquisite beauty of this universe. The night sky alone should be enough to prove that God is Beauty, and that aesthetics do play a role in the reason for Life. Surely the Creator resides in the illusion of so many separate Selves so that those beings may enjoy the plethora of beauty so splendidly arrayed all over this planet.
Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair uses the word ‘relish’ and as a lady born in the south, I had some difficulty relating to relish as anything beyond a condiment which hopefully disguises the taste of scrambled eggs. But I am forming a relationship with this word.
Relish is defined in the Oxford Etymological Dictionary as an ‘after taste’; to have a pleasing taste, or to taste with pleasure.
The implication is that the Creator desires to taste (rasa) what has been created, and that we are the instruments of that joy of tasting. We are born to taste what emerges, what is produced, in the temporal illusory hologram. The trick or Key is not to become attached to these tastes so that we lose memory of our Real Being. The act of relishing the world is performed in the consciousness of non-attachment - or we soon find our consciousness bound in the ropes of guna-maya.
The universe would collapse
I once suggested to a friend of mine who is from India that if everyone on the planet woke up and became God-Realized, the entire world would be wonderfully changed. She, who is named after a goddess, sagely replied that the entire universe would probably collapse.
I thought about her words of wisdom, and concluded that in every cycle of time there has to be a balance between those who are veiled in the Illusion of Separation and those who are awake and enlightened as their true Self. Perhaps those who are deluded and attached do hold the illusion together in the sense that their consciousness allows the multiplicity of forms to emerge and stand for a time in the hologram. The hologram is the product of mass consciousness and reflects the thoughts in flux of the entire planet.
Prakriti’s Eight Parts
Ahamkara is the Sanskrit word for the small identity ego-self and ahamkara is perceived as being quite distinct from the Soul (Atman). Ahamkara evolves out of Nature (Prakriti) and there are two forms of Prakriti:
Apara Prakriti is the lower, and takes the form of the ego (ahamkara), the mind (manas), and intelligence (buddhis). Apara Prakriti has the choice to be autonomous.
Para Prakriti is made up of the elements - earth (bhumis), water (apas), fire (analas), wind (vayu), and ether or space (kham).
Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair says that Para Prakriti is Logos, which he defines as divine intentionality. The Oxford dictionary defines Logos as the principle of divine reason and creative order. This Para Prakriti is the Nature that moves inexorably through the four seasons. Nature whose tides and ocean currents, winds of gentle caress or hurricane destruction, and earth upheavals lie beyond man’s control.
Man’s autonomy can only hope to guide Nature’s earth, water, fire, and wind to our advantage. Man has free will and thus we may work with Nature, but it is perilous indeed to tyrannize Gaia.
Thus the Creator’s material nature is divided into eight parts; earth, water, fire, wind, ether, mind, intelligence, and the the ego-self, ahamkara, which is the instrument that allows the One to veil Its Self in the temporal illusion of Separation to experience it all. The divisions are only appearances, for the Self is the Supreme (param) that sustains this universe (VII.4-5).
Like pearls strung on a thread
The Bhagavad Gita is filled with poetic images of such brilliant illumination that one is often in sweet awe of Vyasa’s enormous talent to encode the most profound metaphysical principles in superb words. Krishna tells Arjuna that all beings emerge from the womb of the Creator, who is also the origin and dissolution of this universe. The All (sarvam) is strung - like pearls on a thread - on God (VII.7).
मत्तः परतरं नान्यत्किञ्चिदस्ति धनञ्जय .
मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव .. ७- ७..
mattaḥ parataraṃ nānyat kiṃcid asti dhanaṃjaya
mayi sarvam idaṃ protaṃ sūtre maṇigaṇā iva 7.7
Abhinavagupta suggests that just as the thread that connects pearls together is invisible, so ‘in a similar way God exists in the universe’ (B.Marjanovic). Here we have the perfect metaphor for the hologram and for many of the recent theories in quantum physics, such as string theory. The spheres of light, the luminous pearls, are clustered and connected within their Oneness as God. What an extraordinary and beautiful image!
As the manifestation of the God-within fully Realized, Krishna then begins to compare himself with all things bright and beautiful in the universe. The verses that follow are a prime example of Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair’s idea that God creates for aesthetic relish. I am certain that no translation can accurately convey the rhythmic perfection of Vyasa’s Sanskrit lines, but even in English one cannot help but be moved by this expression of Glory to God.
As a painter, I love art and music. Some consider this universe as the ultimate Work of Art. The world is not only suffering, the world is also great beauty. Who among us does not perceive God in beauty? Who does not, in the very depths of the soul, long to create beauty and perfection.
Even though Krishna teaches that pleasure (sukha) is the womb of pain (duhkha), there is so much more in this grand universe that transcends suffering. The primordial secret is to never become attached to what you create and in delusion imagine that your creation can prove to be eternal in what can only ever be a temporal realm. The Art of this universe is in flux.
Krishna praises the beauty of the God within Him as the taste (rasa) in the waters (apsu), and the radiance of the Sun that in splendor lights up the Moon. The Supreme Self is the sacred syllable AUM. It is the manhood in men, and the sound (sabda) in the ether (VII.8).
Hindu metaphysics has an elaborate and highly illuminating theory of sound. Sabda (pronounced shab-dah) is the more subtle inner-sound behind the audible sound. This sabda - also called sphota - is vibrating with meaning and the power of Shakti. The Logos or Divine Sound is formed into words that have power to create. This power of Word is called Vac and is the basis of mantras. Anahata is the unstruck sound which exists in the cavity of Brahma, the principle of Creation, and can be heard by those yogins who are able to sustain the highest concentration (B.Marjanovic).
The fragrance of the earth
In identifying with the Supreme Being that dwells within, Krishna tells Arjuna that He is the pure, sacred, and auspicious fragrance of the earth (VII.9). Now and again in Bollywood films, the hero or heroine will reach down into the dirt, and with their eyes filled with tears, lift up a handful of earth to passionately demonstrate their reason for living or their motive within the plot of the story.
God dwells in the Heart
Krishna says that He is the life of all beings (jivan sarvabhutesu). This echoes what he later says, that God dwells in the Heart of everyone (XV.15).
As God fully Realized in man, Krishna says that He is the strength that is free from desire and passion. He is desire (kama) which is not opposed to Dharma, to law, justice, and duty (VII.11). Here again we see that desire figures predominantly in the metaphysics of this universe. Not all desire is sinful.
Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair translates this verse as - ‘In all beings I am the desire (kama) which is not contrary to integrity (dharma).’ Abhinavagupta writes this as icchasakti, a term used in Kashmir Saivism to denote to power of Shiva ‘which is intent on manifestation’ (B.Marjanovic). It is the Desire of the Creator that brings this world into existence. Sin is the attachment that produces delusion.
The Rig Veda
Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair observes that Plato shared the perception of those ancient poets who wrote the Vedas. In Plato’s philosophy truth, goodness and beauty were the ultimate values which emanate from the transcendental Being. The Rig Veda sees the Creator as the supreme architect of beauty and ‘the total design of the world’ (The Mahabharata, A Literary Study).
Firm-seated are the foundations of Eternal Law.
In its lovely form are many splendid beauties.
By Eternal Law they give us long-lasting nurture.
By Eternal Law have the worlds entered the universal order.
-Rig Veda IV.23.9 as translated by Krishna Chaitanya/KK Nair
Here the poet clearly conveys his vision of this universe being rooted in the Eternal Law. There is a structural order to everything and this order is not only the very foundation of our world, it is also Beauty. ‘In its lovely form are many splendid beauties.’
The things of this Earth belong as much to others as to me
As the eyes and ears of the God-within, we are here to ‘relish’ our creation. Because there is only the One, beneath the illusion of Separation and apparent multiplicity, the world belongs to no one in particular. The world belongs to All.
In the Mahabharata, the poet-author of the text Vyasa takes on the character role of a seer of great wisdom who is master of the Vedas. In the Shanti Parva, after the great war is over, Vyasa advises the King Yudhisthira and says:
‘This body is not mine. Nothing in the Earth is mine. The things of this Earth belong as much to others as to me. Seeing this, the wise do not allow themselves to be beguiled.’
- Mahabharata, Vol.7, Ch 25.19; M.N. Dutt.
‘The things of this Earth belong as much to others as to me.’ This is not a declaration of tyrants who seek to forcibly redistribute wealth as an excuse to keep what they like for themselves. This is a metaphysical reality, a fact based in the enlightened conscious awareness that there is only the One.
When you Become the world, why would you need to possess any part of it? You are all the parts and you see them as they truly are. You perceive the external as the cyclical manifestations of the temporal illusory hologram, which are forever in flux moving towards peaks and slipping down into troughs, hope and despair, youth and old age, birth and death.
The gunas are in God, but God is not in them ...
Continuing his enumeration of the glories of God, Krishna - as a man who is fully God-realized - reveals that He, as the God-within, is the source of the gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas). He says mysteriously that the gunas are in God, but God is not in them (VII.12). Once again Krishna teaches us that even though all this entire universe is within the ‘body’ of God and Vasudeva sarvam iti, meaning God is All (VII.19), the Creator remains forever untouched by its fluctuations.
The whole universe (sarvam idam jagat) becomes deluded by guna-maya. Confused in the delusion (mohitam), the pieces of God who have veiled themselves in the illusion of Separation, forget and do not recognize their real identity as the God-within, that which is forever beyond and above the temporal. The God-within is avyayam - the imperishable (VII.13).
God made the gunas ...
Krishna then reveals that God made guna-maya. God is the source of the creative power of maya that moves through the gunas to produce the temporal illusory hologram. By the power of the three gunas - rajas, sattva, and tamas - the Creator veils Its Self in the Illusion of Separation.
What God has created, man’s deluded ego cannot undo. Only by uniting our consciousness with the God-within and by our own efforts earning similitude (sadhramya) can we attain liberation (moksha) from guna-maya (VII.14). Never underestimate the deceptive powers of guna-maya. The only real freedom we posses is to Become the SELF!
This universe is permeated with the highest consciousness of the One, and yet those who have no Knowledge of this truth and the workings of guna-maya remain in ignorance. The ones who are so confused, foolishly allow the guna tamas to attach their consciousness to the demonic frequencies (VII.15).
Priyas: The ones who are dear
Krishna says that there are four kinds of the good who honor and worship their Creator. There are the ones who are bereft, afflicted, and suffering. There are those who seek wealth, those who desire Knowledge, and then there are those who have Become Wise (VII.16).
God dwells within the Heart of All and as the All, God is partial to none. Yet Krishna says that the one who is of Wisdom is dear (priyas) to the Creator. The wise (jnani) one who is joined in Union with the God-within and is solely devoted to the One in the All, also finds God exceedingly priyas dear (VII.17).
All who honor God are noble, but the wise who have Become enlightened are considered by the Creator to be as Its very Self. They have achieved similitude (sadharmya) and abiding in Union, they remain in that Path which is the Supreme Goal (anuttamam gatim). There is nothing higher (VII.18).
VAC: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras
Andre Padoux; Translated by Jacques Gontier
State University of New York, 1990
Sri Satguru Publications, a Division of Books Center; 1992, Delhi