Gita Series – 133: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XIII. Verse 12 – 18

I shall now explain to you that which is to be known and the knowing of which, one attains the state of immortality. Brahman, the Lord without origin, is neither Sat nor Asat. He has many hands, feet, eyes, heads, mouths and ears pervading everywhere. He is the source of all senses, but He is beyond senses. He is not attached to creation; nonetheless, He sustains His creation. He is free of three qualities, yet He enjoys them. He exists within all beings as well as outside all beings. He is animate and inanimate as well. He is both gross and subtle. He is very far, yet He is very near. Though He is indivisible, yet appears as countless beings. He is the creator as well as the destroyer. He is the source of all lights and beyond darkness. He is embodiment of knowledge and the goal of knowledge. He is seated in the hearts of all. This is in brief, nature and object of wisdom and the knower of this enters into My being.”

After having explained about knowledge that is required to realise the Brahman, Kṛṣṇa begins to explain about the Brahman, the mere knowledge of whom, gives cessation of transmigration. The cessation of transmigration means, an individual soul merges with the Brahman without having any further births and deaths. The soul is said to have been liberated, when it merges with the Brahman, as it need not undergo further pains of birth and existence.

The origin of the Brahman is beyond normal human comprehension. Big Bang theory of Fred Hoyle describes the cosmic explosion of the space itself. Naturally, a question arises about the period prior to this cosmic explosion, before which there existed not even space. It was Einstein who found out that matter and energy are interchangeable. Therefore, for existence both matter and energy are necessary. Unless matter and energy interact with each other, creation is not possible. It is like soul and nature or puruṣa and prakṛti. Therefore, Brahman is the source of energy from which the universe evolved along with animate and inanimate things. At the time of annihilation, matter and energy that remain as independent entities merge into a single entity. Energy, soul or puruṣa are the same and matter, nature or prakṛti are the same. When the matter and energy merge together, this combined energy merges with its origin, the pre Big Bang time or pre-cosmic explosion, which is known as the Brahman. Therefore, the Brahman is not someone who is merely conceptualized, but a reality of existence. For understanding and knowing this reality, knowledge discussed in previous verses is required.

The Brahman is both Sat and Asat. Sat means existence or real and Asat means non-existence or unreal. Asat is also known as māyā or illusion. Māyā is the power of autonomy of the Lord, without which existence is not possible. Therefore, both Sat and Asat form two different and opposite aspects of the Brahman and their independent existence forms the essential nature of creation and sustenance. He has many faces, hands, etc means His subtle and omnipresent existence. He is the cause for senses which is in accordance with His creative and sustenance abilities. But the Brahman is beyond senses. Whenever the senses are active, one is bound to have desire, attachments and associated miseries. But the Lord is beyond all this and obviously, He is beyond sensory afflictions. Though He is the creator of senses, he merely witnesses sensory afflictions in the minds of the ignorant. Sensory inputs do not cause any impressions in the mind of the wise. The Lord never interferes with unfoldment of one’s karmic law and He merely witnesses the karmic law taking its own course in all the beings. He neither takes pity on those who suffer not gets elated when others seek Him with staunch mind and dedication by totally ceding their ego. Irrespective of one’s knowledge, He continues to sustain everyone by His automated mechanisms. For example, the same is air inhaled by both by ignorant and wise. As an embodiment of compassions, the Lord never discriminates.

When evolution of a being takes place, one of the three guṇa-s become predominant. Guṇa-s are constituents of Prakṛiti viz. sattva, rajas, and tamas or goodness, passion, and darkness. Though these guṇa-s originate from Him, He is not affected by guṇa-s. This is in confirmation of the principle that the Lord remains immutable under all circumstances. If He becomes mutable, in the whole of universe, only confusion and disorderliness alone will prevail. Consequent upon His omnipresent and subtle nature, He prevails both inside and outside of all beings. Realizing Him within is Self-realization and worshipping Him as different from one’s self, thereby creating a distance with Him, is ritualistic form of worship. The former is the expression of love for Him and the latter is expression of obeisance. Obviously, lover is more powerful than obeisance. The Lord is always an embodiment of love and compassion. He does not want to be treated as a stranger. He is always ready to be a friend, philosopher and guide. Kṛṣṇa assumes all these roles for the sake of Arjuna.

All the existences are nothing but the reflections of the Lord. The beings are perceived as different from the Lord due to His illusionary aspect, which is also known as māyā. When one is able to transcend māyā, he realizes the Self-illuminating Brahman. Transcending māyā is nothing but looking beyond the beings, their source of origin. Men get deluded by His magic power of māyā. Māyā is a gauging instrument in the hands of the Lord, to test one’s true spiritual aspirations. If one decides to transcend māyā, he has to have perseverance, dedication, unfaltering faith, ability to sacrifice, etc. If one lacks in any of these primary qualities, he cannot understand the true nature of māyā, to transcend it. Everything and everyone originates from Him and ultimately dissolves into Him to reappear again due to His compassion. This primordial energy, which we call as the Lord of the Brahman, is the source of light. Brahman alone is Self-illuminating and all other luminaries derive their light from Him only. For example, the sun draws only a miniscule of His light to sustain our galaxy. Light is always associated with spirituality as a sincere practitioner is able to realise Him only as Effulgence. If someone is a Self-realized person, he is also known as an illuminated person. The ultimate end of spiritual path is illumination, when one leaves behind the darkness of materialistic life.

Knowledge is yet another factor in realizing the Brahman. This knowledge can be attained only through personal experience. Study of scriptures and listening to lectures alone do not help. They are undoubtedly the source of knowledge without which, Brahman cannot be understood. Brahman is the embodiment of knowledge and in fact He is the embodiment of anything that exists. When a person makes sincere efforts to realize Him, it means the aspirant is moving closer to Him. When the aspirant moves closer to Him, he automatically derives His qualities. It is like walking towards the other end of the tunnel, where the rays of light begin to fall on him. Realizing this illuminating Self is attainment of knowledge. This knowledge alone leads a person to look for Him within. A person who is devoid of this knowledge continues to search Him in far-off places, wasting his precious time. Spiritual ignorance is the cause for looking for Him by wasting one’s energy, time and money. He is available for free to everyone and at all the time. He is majestically seated in the heart of all beings, always laughing and just enjoying the egoistic actions of everyone. He laughs at the ignorance of men for unlawfully taking credit for the actions executed by them, the source of which is the Lord, who is seated in their hearts.

Kṛṣṇa concludes this section by saying that the above discussion constitutes the true spiritual wisdom and the one who acquires this Supreme wisdom merges with Him forever, not to be born again.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XIII. 4 - 6

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XIII. 7 - 11

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XIII. 19 - 23