Gita Series – 85: Bhagavad Gita Chapter VII. Verses 12 – 14

Whatever the beings born with sattva or raja or tamo gunas, know, that these gunas originated from Me. Though they originated from Me, in reality I am not in them. The beings are deluded by the effects of these gunas. Hence, they fail to know Me, as immutable and distinct from them. This is because, the divine illusion comprising of these three gunas is difficult to transcend. However, those who perpetually take refuge in Me alone are able to transcend my illusion.”

Krishna not only gives sermons, but also gives guidance. A real spiritual master is the one who teaches out of his own experience. The word master is now embellished with the newfound epithet ‘guru’, who merely shares what he has memorized from the sacred readings. But, when one speaks out of his own experience, makes all the difference. However, in this busy world, people do not find quality time to study the sacred scriptures, these gurus are of immense help in kindling one’s spiritual quest.

Krishna is totally different from both types of masters, as everything originates from Him. He is the divine incarnate. So, whatever He teaches assumes great significance. In the previous verses, prakriti has been discussed. Prakriti is endowed with these gunas in equal proportion. As a result of souls union with prakriti, a being is born. Such a being, in the beginning has all the three gunas in equilibrium. As it grows, only one guna predominates and this is how a character of a being is determined. When one has more of sattva guna, he turns out to be soft and pious. When one has more of rajo guna, he becomes hyperactive and aggressive and the one with more of tamo guna remains in inertia. Krishna says, though they originated from Him, He does not abide in the gunas, as He is beyond them. Here, Krishna makes a subtle difference between the Brahman with attributes and without attributes. Guna can be explained as quality. When Krishna is said to be beyond qualities, He is referred as the nirguna Brahman or the Lord without attributes. Divinity has two forms, one with attributes and another is without attributes. The one with attributes originate from the one without attributes. The universe can be sustained effectively, only with both prevailing together. The one without the other becomes ineffective. The Lord with attributes assumes more importance, as the whole universe revolves only around attributes. Generally, masculine gender is attributed to the Lord without attributes and feminine gender is attributed to the Lord with attributes. Though in reality, it is not so, in order to go with the known process of creation, gender differentiation is ascribed to the Lord for His different acts.

The Lord with attributes is also known as the illusionary form of the Brahman. The illusion is also known as māyā. The nature of māyā is to cause deception in the minds of all the beings. A spiritual aspirant makes attempts to go past the influence of māyā to realise the Brahman without attributes. Only the Lord without attributes is to be realised and He is referred as the Self. However, realising māyā becomes a precondition to realise the Self. Without knowing what is bad, one cannot refrain from bad. Knowing what is good and bad is called knowledge of discrimination. Māyā acts as a veil covering the Self. Unless one understands the effects of māyā, it is difficult to go past māyā, the ultimate destination of spirituality. During the process of knowing the effects of māyā, a true spiritual aspirant understands that what he sees before his eyes is nothing but illusion, obscuring the Self. The aspirant begins his practice of transcending māyā and understands as the first step that Self alone in immutable and all that exists in the material world is perishable. What the aspirant sees today may not exist at a later date. The aspirant begins to query within and tries to find an answer. He gets answers by undergoing experience. Ultimately, his own experience begins to unravel the Supreme Self in stages. Krishna says that men are bound by illusionary perceptions, failing to remove the veil of māyā to know Him.

Krishna, being the Supreme Master does not stop by sharing His concern. He shows the way out. Those who surrender unto Him and taking refuge in Him can transcend the effect of māyā to realise Him. At the end of these verses, Krishna makes it amply clear that taking refuge in Him, the one from whom everything originates, can transcend the effects of māyā.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VII.15 - 17

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VII. 8 - 11

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VII. 18 - 22