62. The Relationship between the World and the God:
In the ninth chapter of the Gita again
there is an account of the greatness of the Almighty God. This description is
helpful for inspiring us with the spirit of devotion. The more we think of His
greatness the more does our mind surrender at His feet. He is the support of
every being. He is the Energy behind all activity in the whole universe. He is
the Supreme, Independent Lord. Even when He is the support of the universe, the
universe is as nothing to Him. He has nothing to get from it. He is full. He is
perfect. He is eternal and He need not de pend upon the universe for anything
because He has no wants and no unfulfilled desires.
mTSwain svR-Utain n cah< te:vviSwt>,
mat-sth˜ni sarva-bh¨t˜ni na c˜haÕ teÿv-avasthita× -- IX-4
(All have a refuge in Me. But I do not take my refuge in them.)
But the second line of this stanza has
given rise to some confusion. Having said in the first line that all creatures
depend upon Him the following line appears to say that no creatures depend on
Him. Thus these two statements appear to be contradictory.
mat-sth˜ni sarva-bh¨t˜ni -- IX-4
(All beings are within Me)
n c mTSwain -Utain
na ca mat-sth˜ni bh¨t˜ni -- IX-5
(The beings are not in Me)
After making these apparently
contradictory statements, He says:
pZy me yaegmEñrm!,
paþya me yogam-aiþvaram -- IX-5.
"Even though all creatures are in Me, they appear not to be in Me. Look at this miracle of Mine," says Sri Krishna. It is a little difficult to get to the true meaning of this stanza. Some people have so interpreted this as to say that the world is an illusion. If you say that an object is there and in the next breath say that it is not there, it means that the object is not really there but it only appears to be there. An imaginary object may exist only in imagination, but it is actually not there. We may mistake a rope for a snake. But really the snake is not there. Some people say the sloka means what is real is Brahman and even though we see the world it is only an illusion and an imaginary superimposition.
But if we examine this stanza more
critically we see that such an interpretation is erroneous. The clue to the
correct interpretation of this apparent contradiction is given in the next
statement in the Gita itself. Even though the air and ether come in contact with
the objects of nature, they do not acquire any of their characteristics.
Similarly God comes in contact with all objects of nature but none of their
properties stick to Him. He is the unattached. Hence even though God is the
support of all the objects in the universe He is not affected by them and in
that sense we can say that they are not in Him. Even the commentators following
the Advaita school of thought accept that this analogy has been given to
illustrate the non-affectability of God by these objects of nature. This analogy
does not support the interpretation that the world is unreal. No philosopher
believed that the wind blowing in space is an illusion like the snake in the
rope. God is in the universe but He is not affected by its qualities in the same
way as ether, wind and other objects of nature are unaffected by each other even
if they are together. This example brings out the hidden meaning of the
seemingly contradictory ideas in the stanza in the Gita.
pZy me yaegmEñrm!,
paþya me yogam-aiþvaram -- IX-5.
(Look at My lordly power.)
Even though the universe is within Him, it is as though it is not there. That is the power of his lordliness, says Sri Krishna. If the world is not real and if it is only an illusion, there is no need of a miracle by God to show that it is not in Him. Illusion arises out of some defect in our senses. To mistake a rope for a snake which arises out of our ignorance or defect in our senses, God's miracle is not necessary. The very fact that God says that it is His miracle shows that the world is not unreal. Even though He pervades every object in the universe He is not in the least affected by their qualities due to His divinity. This is the contextual meaning of the stanza.
63. Is Hatred of God also a Means to Salvation?
There is a theory that complete utter
hatred of God also leads to salvation as does intense devotion.
In support of this theory they quote Bhagavata wherein it is said that Shishupala and others attained salvation by their hatred of Krishna. Salvation is the manifestation of the true nature of a soul which is similar to God's own nature. Intense meditation on God is the only means of attaining such manifestation. Some say that intense hatred of God is as conducive as intense love to the contemplation of God. We always think of things dear to us. Similarly we never forget the object of our hatred and unity. Both love and hatred alike help us to a state of concentration. Intense God-haters like Shishupala and Kamsa had the thought of Sri Krishna always in their minds and thus could they obtain liberation. Hence they argue that we can choose either of the two paths, intense love or intense hatred of God.
This is a very dangerous interpretation, detrimental to the welfare of the entire organised society. It would not be proper to say that a true devotee who abides by the command of God, submitting himself to discipline and cooperating with the movement and progress of the creation, and the wanton self-willed man, turned away from God and violating the fundamental principles of the universe are both on par as they have a similar one-pointed attention to God and thus share equally the bliss of salvation. It is easier to hate a man and harm him than love a person and sacrifice everything for him. In the former there is no sacrifice or penance involved. So people may be inclined to take to the easier path of God-hatred, immorality and wantonness if that also could lead them to liberation. This will only lead to utter chaos and degradation.
We cannot get liberation simply by
concentrating on God. We can get salvation only if we are able to contemplate
upon his auspicious qualities. If the soul is to unfold its own self of
auspicious qualities, we must contemplate on the good qualities of the Almighty
God. Only when we have love and devotion can we think uninterruptedly of the
good qualities of God. Is it possible to remember them if the mind and heart are
corrupted by hatred? Hatred always looks for bad qualities. The chief aim of the
enemy of God is to brood on the shortcomings of God and this constant gloating
on God against the background of hatred cannot help in any way the blossoming of
the virtuous beauty of the soul.
AvjaniNt ma< mUFa manui;< tnumaiïtm!,
avaj˜nanti m˜Õ m¨ýh˜ m˜nuÿiÕ tanum-˜þritam -- IX-11
(The stupid despise Me by judging Me by the human form i.e. not knowing Me as the Supreme Lord.)
mae"aza mae"kmaR[ae mae"}an ivcets>,
ra]sImasurI— cEv àk«it< maeihnI— iöta>.
mogh˜þ˜ mogha-karm˜õo mogha-jñ˜na vicetasa×
r˜kÿasŸm-˜surŸÕ caiva prak®tiÕ mohinŸÕ srit˜× -- IX-12
(Such are of futile hope, futile actions, futile knowledge, perverted minds and rest either in the Rakshasi or the Asuri, delusive nature.)
That is why such demonical activities have been condemned in the Gita. The Gita has clearly stated that the final release is not within the reach of those who hate God and who lead an ungodly and wanton life. The Gita has clearly laid down that hatred and devotion are two diametrically opposed paths. By some demonical inspiration, even though noble souls like Shishupala (Jaya, Vijaya ...) and others hated Sri Krishna intensely, they had deep within them intense devotion for God. That revealed itself in the end at the vision of the Lord Himself and they obtained their final salvation. This is the opinion of Bhagavata also. Such incidents shows us how the Lord discovers true devotion even in His enemies and showers His grace on them and liberates them. The only royal road to salvation is pure devotion. The Gita points out that we should not be after the daydreams of easily wresting salvation by following the wicked paths.
64. I Will Look After You:
The Lord bears the full burden of his
devotees' welfare. Sri Krishna has solemnly promised in the Gita that He will
look after the welfare of all His devotees sincerely engaged in His worship and
meditation. Why should we despair in our struggle of life when we have an
assurance which inspires us with confidence and courage, from the Lord Himself?
We can engage ourselves with firm determination in raising the massive edifice
of life on the sure basis of devotion to God. In His incarnation as Rama the
Lord has stated that He has vowed that He would protect the devotees who have
surrendered themselves with prayer to Him.
A-y<svR -Ute_y> ddaMyetdœVrt<mm.
abhayaÕsarva bh¨tebhya× dad˜myetadvratammama
(It is My obligation to give an assurance of perfect safety to all those who beseech Me even once saying "I am Yours".)
In His incarnation as Krishna the Lord
once again has given similar assurance.
AnNyaiíNtyNtae ma< ye jna> pyuRpaste,
te;a< inTyai-yuKtana< yaeg]em< vhaMyhm!.
anany˜þ-cintayanto m˜Õ ye jan˜× paryup˜sate
teÿ˜Õ nity˜bhiyukt˜n˜Õ yoga-kÿemaÕ vah˜my-aham -- IX-22
(I will look after those who surrender themselves totally to Me and think of Me without being distracted by other gods.)
kaENtey àitjanIih n me -Kt> à[Zyit.
kaunteya pratij˜nŸhi na me bhakta× praõaþyati -- IX-31
Arjuna, take an oath that my devotee shall not perish.
The Lord proclaims that no harm will come
to a person treading the path of devotion. When such clear assurances by God are
there it pains me much to see some persons propagating the immature and
inconsistent notions like the identity between the Supreme God and the
individual soul and thereby preach a path inimical to devotion and confuse them.
When God Himself has praised the lofty path of the bhakti cult as supreme, pure
and free from danger, then why have reservations or hesitation to follow it? It
is understandable why some people denounce this method as meant for the ignorant
only. Instead of wasting one's time in such irrelevant argument, it is proper to
embrace the bhakti-cult without any hesitation or reservation.
kaENtey àitjanIih n me -Kt> à[Zyit.
kaunteya pratij˜nŸhi na me bhakta× praõaþyati -- IX-31
In this statement Sri Krishna gets Arjuna
to swear that God's devotees would never perish. Why does He do so? One's own
oaths may, sometimes, turn into lies; but Krishna intends to show that the oaths
of His devotees would never turn into lies.
Svinym mphay mTàit}am!
svaniyama mapah˜ya matpratijñ˜m
hariritahantumimaðgatottarŸya× -- Bhagavata
Bhishma says: "How can I forget the gracious lovely face of Sri Krishna who is ready to break His vow by wearing the disc (cakra cKr) for the sake of the devotees, only to see that His devotees' oaths are kept?" Sri Krishna had vowed not to take up any arms during the Mahabharata war. But Bhishma had vowed that he would make Sri Krishna wear arms. Just to make His devotee's words come true, He pretends that He is afflicted by the arrows of Bhishma, and breaking His own vow, He takes to his disc. Some have interestingly glossed the statement by saying that the Lord who treats His devotees' words as worthier than His own, has made His dearest devotee Arjuna take the oath that 'My devotee will not perish' in order to create a greater faith in us.
65. Offering Work to God:
The Lord who has shouldered the burden of the protection of His devotees does not expect much from them in return. He is pleased with our spirit of renunciation if we sacrifice whatever we have in His services instead of using them for our selfish ends. We should have neither a sense of ownership of the things we possess nor the egoism that we are the doers of our actions. If we have the idea that God is the real inspirer of all action and the real doer, all our actions become an offering to God. When behind all our activities there is a desire to please God, all our works are but His worship. God is pleased if our individual actions lead to social welfare. We should lead a disciplined and godly life; then only it becomes a worship.
If thus we transform all our actions in
life into the acts of worship and we have a constant sense that He alone is the
Independent Lord, it is nothing but the offering of all actions to Him. The Gita
says the same thing.
yTkraei; ydîais yJjuhaei; ddais yt!,
yÄpSyis kaENtey tTk…é:v mdpR[m!.
yat-karoÿi yad-aþn˜si yaj-juhoÿi dad˜si yat
yat-tapasyasi kaunteya tat-kuruÿva mad-arpaõam -- IX-27
(Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever sacrifices you perform, whatever you give (acts of charity), whatever penance you undertake, Arjuna, offer it to Me.)
66. Worship of God is Easy:
If our equipment, the body and the organs,
the material wealth, etc. are harnessed to activities that please God, it is
also an act of offering to God. Our material of worship may be small; but it
should not be used to serve our selfish ends but for the things which please
Him. God does not mind the magnitude but the depth and intensity of feeling
behind the material of our worship.
pÇ< pu:p< )l< taey< yae me -KTya àyCDit,
patraÕ puÿpaÕ phalaÕ toyaÕ yo me bhakty˜ prayacchati -- IX-26
(He who gives with devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit or some water.)
However small the object may be, it grows
great by the excellence of devotion. God expects from His devotee a spirit of
renunciation and dedication. By this spirit there will not only be the evolution
of the individual personality but also the progress of the whole nation. The
spiritual perfection which the Chola king could not accomplish with all the pomp
of gold ornaments, was attained by Vishnudasa who worshipped God with the Tulsi
leaves. When the crocodile caught hold of a leg of the elephant king (Gajendra)
it could not get itself free from its clutches by pulling with all its might; at
last it lifted a lotus flower in its trunk and wailed before God and God eagerly
rushed to rescue the devotee. Shabari waited in her hut for years for the
arrival of Lord Rama and when He actually turned up, she offered only a few
fruits gathered from the forest and earned His grace. There is a story of King
Rantideva. He fasted for a number of days. Finally when he was about to break
the fast he saw at his door some hungry huntsmen and he gave his food to them.
When he tried to drink water to quench his thirst he saw a dog dying of thirst
and with open mouth begging for some water to quench its thirst. He gave that
water to the dog as a service to the God inside and said: "Oh Lord, I do
not desire worldly happiness, kingdom or even salvation, give me only the power
to be inside everybody and suffer all their pains and sorrows. If I can wipe
their tears I shall be happy." Here is a noble example of renunciation and
self-sacrifice. Vishnudasa, Gajendra, Shabari, Rantideva are shining models of
those who could worship with leaves, flowers, fruits and even water.
DNda<is ySy p[aRin ... ... ... |
chand˜Õsi yasya parõ˜ni ... ... ... -- XV-1
(The Vedas are its leaves.)
There is another meaning for this stanza.
The world is compared to a huge tree and Vedas are its leaves. If you study the
Vedas and if you collect the honey from its flowers and share it with others, it
is a form of worship with leaves.
(Ahimsa is the first flower, control of senses is verily a flower.)
Non-violence, self-control, compassion, truth, knowledge, penance, action and meditation are described as its eight interior flowers. To practise these in one's life is the greatest floral offering to God. Performing good deeds and not expecting any reward is the offering of fruit. The shedding of tears of joy due to surge of devotional ecstasy on hearing the story of God or during prayers could be the offering of water. Singing songs filled with the essence of devotion is a form of offering of water. This beautiful stanza indicates how we can offer our prayers with devotion and fullness of heart even if we do not have pomp and show.
67. Conduct and Devotion:
There are many who misinterpret this
bhakti-cult to their own advantage. They say that one need not bother about
one's character and conduct if only one has devotion; we need not pay any
importance to conduct, character or righteousness. They say that if only one has
devotion within him, even if one misbehaves outwardly, one gets salvation,
taking the support of statements like:
Aip ceTsuÊracarae -jte mamnNy-akœ,
saxurev s mNtVy> sMyGVyvistae ih s>.
api cet-sudur˜c˜ro bhajate m˜mananya-bh˜k
s˜dhur-eva sa mantavya× samyag-vyavasito hi sa× -- IX-30
(Even if he utterly misbehaves, if he is devoted to Me single-mindedly, he is reckoned to be a good man.)
'Even if one is loose, if he happens to be
a devotee he is good' -- if one understands the statement in this way, one is
apt to feel that the bhaktimarga throws all doors open to misconduct and
naivrtae ÊíirtaÚazaNtae ... ... ...,
... ... ... à}anenEnmaPnuyat!.
n˜virato duþcarit˜n-n˜þ˜nto ... ... ...
... ... ... prajñ˜nena-inam-˜pnuy˜t -- Kathopanishad (II-24)
(The one who has not given up evil ways cannot obtain His grace by mere knowledge.)
It is said in the Upanishad that only a
person who keeps himself away from evil deeds is fit for salvation; devotion
thus inseparably goes with righteous living. How could one who had developed
love of God and is detached, descend to base acts induced by anger and
attachment? How could the devotee who has been won over by the love of God and
is pleased to be under the laws of God governing the universe, ever perform
deeds which have no relation to himself? Hence devotion and righteous living
remain always inseparable. But do we not see people who call themselves
devotees, wearing all the symbols of a devotee and spending hours together in
counting their beads, occupied with base things? Those who keep a pretence of
religious practices outside, but are busy with deception and dishonest deeds,
cannot be ranked with devotees. They are, like actors who play sad and wretched
roles, only enacting parts. It is mere pose without the passion of devotion.
(A man who is steeped in evil acts should be counted a hypocrite even if he bears the external symbols of devotion.)
Our Acharya has severely criticised such persons in his Gita Bhashya. A true devotee is pure both within as well as without. A devotee is quite aware that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, pervades every nook and corner of the universe and therefore he would never stoop to sinful activities. Righteous behaviour is but a product of true devotion and righteous living always go hand in hand. Hence, if we say that it is sufficient if one has devotion in his heart whatever his conduct and character, it is both unscriptural and unscientific. We have to measure the degree of inner devotion by outward conduct and behaviour. The true import of the Gita is: A man may be a sinner to start with but if he repents and changes his life for the better we should certainly accept him without despising him for his past but honour him for what he is. A sinner has a chance to clear his sins away with devotion to God. Devotion is the light of hope which brightens the heart of one who is steeped in despair. One who has tasted the nectar of devotion will not fall again into the whirlpool of temptation and sin.
We see around us in this world rampant dishonesty and there is no better solution for this than the practice of devotion to God. We cannot bring in social reform by legislation. Laws are ineffective because there is no change of heart in the people. If any law is promulgated people will find ways and means of side-tracking it. Legislation is the child of social reform and cannot be its mother. We can institute successful laws only through a reformed heart but we cannot reform the world through laws. The chief task of social reconstruction of today is the creation of basically right psychological attitude. We should make great and vigorous efforts to stimulate this sense of devotion among the educated which alone can inspire them with right conduct and virtues.