Gita Series – 91: Bhagavad Gita Chapter VIII. Verses 3 – 5:

Brahman is Supreme and indestructible. Individual soul is adhyātma. The force that unfolds itself for creation, sustenance and dissolution of all the beings is called karma. All perishable objects are adhibhūta. The essence of each being is adhidaiva. I am Adhiyajña, remaining as a witness in this body. He, who departs from the body thinking Me alone at the time of his death, attains My state and there is no doubt about it.”

Krishna answers all the seven questions of Arjuna. Brahman is Supreme and is beyond time and space. Brahman is the source of creation, the energy that sustains the creation and into which every creation is absorbed. In spite of these three acts, the Brahman does not undergo any changes. The origin of the Brahman is beyond comprehension. Brahman is realised as the incomprehensible energy that is beyond sensory perceptions. At the most, the Brahman can be visualized. Hence, it is said that Brahman is to be realised through mind. It is only due to the Brahman, the universe gets illuminated. Because of this Illumination, all the activities take place in the universe. Brahman alone is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and Self illuminating.

After having explained the Brahman, Krishna proceeds to explain adhyātma, which is also known as soul. Adhyātma is the representation of the Brahman in a gross body. In other words, the individual representation of the Brahman in a gross form is known as adhyātma. The representation of Self as self in a form is adhyātma. Manifestation of the Brahman is adhyātma. The cause of expression of an individual personality is adhyātma. The sum total of adhyātmas is the Brahman. (There is an epic by name Adhyatma Ramayana, as told by Lord Shiva to His consort Parvati). When one truly understands this principle, he is known as a Self-realised person.

The next question of Arjuna is about karma. Karma generally means action. For every voluntary action that is performed with desire, there is an equal reaction and this reaction is known as karma. Life unfolds according to the quality of one’s karma. Karma is an automated mechanism of Divinity, wherein, one’s actions are recorded that manifest at a prescribed time. Karma is embedded in one’s subtle body that gets manifested through his gross body. No one with intent of desire can escape the clutches of karmic law. Subtle body also leaves the gross body along with the soul at the time of death, to enter another shape and form. Some scholars are of the opinion that one’s karma can be known by the position of planets at the time of his birth. Whatever it is, karmic account has to be necessarily exhausted through mind and body. The karmic law is also known as Law of the Lord.

The fourth question is about adhibhūta. Adhibhūta refers to all those that are perishable. This is in total contrast to the Brahman who is eternal. When soul interacts with prakriti, the resultant factor is adhibhūta. When adhibhūta is formed out of the union of soul and prakriti and both continue to remain in adhibhūta. At the time of cessation of adhibhūta (death), soul goes to the place from where it has originated and gross form gets dissolved into its point of origin, the prakriti.

The essence of every being is called adhidaiva, which is also known as purusha (puruṣa). It is the cosmic agent operating on a material plane. Every faculty is operated by a devata or a deity. For example, the essences or deities of hearing, speaking, seeing, etc. The essences of senses in conjunction with mind and intellect are controlled by adhidaiva. It is the vital energy of creation.

Krishna says that He alone remains in the body as Adhiyajña. Arjuna asks two questions regarding Adhiyajña, who is Adhiyajña and where does he dwell in the body? If Krishna is Adhiyajña, then where does He reside in a body? He resides in His subtle form inside the body, witnessing the actions of the body. Without His presence within as Self, no gross form can function. He remains as the energizing factor of a form, without getting involved in the actions of the form either directly or indirectly.

Based on the above interpretations, one can now understand, why realization within is important. Brahman has two aspects. One is the gross and another is subtle and realization of the Brahman in His subtle form is called Self-realization. Gross forms undergo modifications and ultimately perish. It is only the subtle form that keeps the gross form functional. If the subtle form of the body is withdrawn, the gross form ceases to exist. The energy for the gross form is provided by the subtle form within and this subtle energy needs to be realised. When a spiritual aspirant, at the time of his death remembers the Brahman, he attains the Brahman. At the time of death, one should not think about anything else, be it his kin, wealth, etc and instead fix his consciousness on the Lord, the aspirant, who is worthy of calling him as yogi, merges with the Lord forever.

This section of Bhagavad Gita clarifies why Self is to be realised within.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter VIII. 1-2

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter VIII. 6 - 8

Bhagavad Gita. Chapter IX. 1 - 3