Chapter 7 – Jñāna-Vijñāna Yoga
(The Yoga of Knowledge and Realisation)
Listen to this chapter:
मय्यासक्तमनाः पार्थ योगं युञ्जन्मदाश्रयः ।
असंशयं समग्रं मां यथा ज्ञास्यसि तच्छृणु ॥१॥
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
mayy-āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O Pārtha, please listen – when the mind is attached to Me and one practices yoga and takes full shelter of Me, then you will certainly be able to know Me.
ज्ञानं तेऽहं सविज्ञानमिदं वक्ष्याम्यशेषतः ।
यज्ज्ञात्वा नेह भूयोऽन्यज्ज्ञातव्यमवशिष्यते ॥२॥
jñānaṁ te’haṁ sa-vijñānam idaṁ vakṣyāmy-aśeṣataḥ
yaj-jñātvā neha bhūyo’nyaj jñātavyam avaśiṣyate
I will explain to you this knowledge and its realisation. Once you understand this, there is nothing else in this world that remains to be known.
मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये ।
यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ॥३॥
manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
Amongst thousands of men, one may try to achieve perfection. Amongst those rare persons that endeavour for perfection, one may actually know Me.
This chapter of Bhagavad-gītā is entitled Jñāna-Vijñāna Yoga. Jñāna means knowledge of self as distinguished from non-self, or knowledge that the self is not the body. Vijñāna means realised knowledge or realisation of one’s intrinsic relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam also mentions jñāna and vijñāna as follows:
jñānaṁ parama guhyaṁ me yad vijñāna-samanvitam
sa-rahasyaṁ tad aṅgaṁ ca gṛhāṇa gaditaṁ mayā
Knowledge (jñāna) about Kṛṣṇa as described in the Vedic literatures is very confidential, and it has to be realised (vijñāna) in conjunction with the secrets of devotion. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.9.31)
When we speak of knowledge, modern man immediately thinks of scientific knowledge which he deems to be most perfect. However, jñāna in Bhagavad-gītā refers to that knowledge of the self as distinguished from the knowledge of matter or scientific knowledge. Knowledge of matter is called aparā-vidyā and it is quite distinct from the knowledge of the self in that it never leads to self-realisation.
Since the beginning of the Rationalist movement, some five centuries ago, science has completely rejected the idea of consciousness as independent of matter. Many scientific theories have been presented to explain the origin of the universe and the origin of life such as the ‘Big Bang’ and Darwinian Evolution, but these explanations remain mere theories, lacking conclusive evidence.
For centuries, scientific and theistic communities have been at odds with each other, but recently it appears that the two may finally be drawing closer. Leading persons in the scientific community are willing to accept consciousness as a scientific fact. Indeed, biologist and stem-cell therapist, Dr. Robert Lanza has of late rocked the scientific world with his book, Biocentrism – How Life Creates the Universe, in which he postulates that consciousness has evolved matter and not that matter has evolved consciousness. If this current trend continues then indeed science may very well be on the path of jñāna.
The understanding of consciousness being the origin of matter has taken a long time to manifest. But as Kṛṣṇa says in verse 3, those who endeavour for perfection are very rare, and rarer still are those who actually understand Kṛṣṇa. To this end, all learned and educated people in the world should take lessons from Bhagavad-gītā.
भूमिरापोऽनलो वायुः खं मनो बुद्धिरेव च ।
अहंकार इतीयं मे भिन्ना प्रकृतिरष्टधा ॥४॥
bhūmir āpo’nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhireva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence and false ego – these are the eight different elements that constitute My material nature.
अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् ।
जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् ॥५॥
apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat
However, you should know that there is another nature, superior to this inferior nature. It is a conscious potency that consists of the living beings and maintains the universe.
एतद्योनीनि भूतानि सर्वाणीत्युपधारय ।
अहं कृत्स्नस्य जगतः प्रभवः प्रलयस्तथा ॥६॥
etad yonīni bhūtāni sarvāṇīty-upadhāraya
ahaṁ kṛtsnasya jagataḥ prabhavaḥ pralayas tathā
Try to understand that all beings are manifest from these two sources and that I am the cause of the creation and annihilation of the entire universe.
The basic material elements that comprise the universe have been mentioned here. Earth (bhūmi), water (āpa), fire (anala) and air (vāyu) are, for the most part, easy to comprehend – whereas khaṁ, the invisible element, is rather more difficult. Khaṁ is defined as accommodating space for existence. For a long time, modern science has rejected the Bhagavad-gītā’s concept of space as an element. However, once again the scientific community finds itself facing serious problems wherein an elusive element must be present in the universe in order for them to explain how the universe works. This element, physicists say, may comprise up to 80% or more of the universe, but is unknown to them and is thus far undetectable. They have called this ‘Dark Matter’.
The first person to provide evidence and infer the existence of the phenomenon of Dark Matter was the Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky, of the California Institute of Technology in 1933. Zwicky applied the viral theorem to the Coma cluster of galaxies and obtained evidence of unseen mass. Zwicky estimated the cluster’s total mass based on the motions of galaxies near its edge and compared that estimate to one based on the number of galaxies and total brightness of the cluster. He found that there was about four-hundred times more estimated mass than was visually observable. The gravity of the visible galaxies in the cluster would be far too small for such fast orbits, so something extra was required. This is known as the ‘Missing Mass Problem’. Based on these conclusions, Zwicky inferred that there must be some non-visible form of matter that would provide enough of the mass and gravity to hold the cluster together. That was the beginning of the search for Dark Matter.
Seventy-eight years later, science is still looking for Dark Matter. They know it is literally everywhere, but it escapes detection and thus they are unable to observe it. Millions in taxpayers’ money is spent every year by western scientists in the search for Dark Matter. Nothing has yet been discovered.
However, the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam identifies a material element that among its other qualities is, for the most part, elusive. It is all-pervading, but simultaneously it is undetectable. That element according to Bhāgavatam is called nabhas, or as mentioned here in Bhagavad-gītā, khaṁ.
The activities, qualities and characteristics of the khaṁ element can be observed as accommodating space/room for existence. Space itself, both internal and external, is the element khaṁ. This then, if taken notice of by physicists, may very well fit nicely into the ‘Missing Mass Problem’. Khaṁ, being a material element, could theoretically be assigned a numerical code – then they might find what they are looking for.
In the Vedic way of thinking, a physical element is secondary to its qualities – when the qualities of a particular thing are understood, it is as good as or better than having the gross object at hand. In that sense, modern science has already discovered Dark Matter, because they have understood something of its qualities – they just haven’t realised it yet. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam we find the following verse:
bhūtānāṁ chidra-dātṛtvaṁ bahir antaram eva ca
prāṇendriyātma-dhiṣṇyatvaṁ nabhaso vṛtti-lakṣaṇam
The activities and characteristics of nabhas can be observed as accommodation for external and internal existences of all living beings, namely the field of activities of the vital air, the senses and the mind. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.26.34)
This verse is the potential basis for great scientific research work. It explains how subtle forms are generated from nabhas, what their characteristics and actions are, and how the tangible elements, namely air, fire, water and earth, are manifested from the subtle form.
Bhāgavatam does not simply list the basic material elements, but explains quite scientifically how those elements evolve from the most subtle plane of existence up to the divisions of the universe – this is quite elaborate and scientific indeed. Yet for science to take full advantage of this understanding of matter and to discover how the universe came into being, they will have to do more than just add khaṁ to their table of elements – they will have to add ahaṅkāra (false ego), mana (the mind) and buddhi (intelligence). For indeed, Bhagavad-gītā lists these as material elements. Furthermore, these elements, ahaṅkāra, mana and buddhi are categorised as even more subtle than khaṁ, because they are closer in character to consciousness (ātmā).
Beyond the gross and subtle material elements being added to the scientific table, Bhagavad-gītā says that a complete understanding of existence and reality is not possible without adding two transcendental, anti-material concepts – namely ātmā and Paramātmā (consciousness and Super Consciousness). This, it seems, science struggles with even more than Dark Matter. We have dubbed these ‘Light Matter’.
Mind and intelligence should not be confused with the self or ātmā. Mind and intelligence have not arisen out of matter as some philosophers or scientists have suggested. Last in the list is ahaṅkāra or false ego. All these are material elements which manifest from the aparā-prakṛti or the inferior energy of Kṛṣṇa. These gross and subtle elements make up the material body and cover the self within.
Those conditioned by material elements consider the body as the self. But Kṛṣṇa says that there is another energy of His – a superior energy, which is a conscious potency and consists of all living beings.
Bhagavad-gītā clearly explains both the gross and subtle material elements as well as consciousness and Super Consciousness. Any theory that does not include all of these elements is surely inadequate.
मत्तः परतरं नान्यत्किञ्चिदस्ति धनञ्जय ।
मयि सर्वमिदं प्रोतं सूत्रे मणिगणा इव ॥७॥
mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya
mayi sarvam idaṁ protaṁ sūtre maṇi-gaṇā iva
Dhanañjaya, there is nothing superior to Me. All things rest upon Me, just like jewels strung upon a thread.
रसोऽहमप्सु कौन्तेय प्रभास्मि शशिसूर्ययोः ।
प्रणवः सर्ववेदेषु शब्दः खे पौरुषं नृषु ॥८॥
raso’ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣu śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu
I am the taste of water and the light of the sun and the moon, O son of Kuntī. I am the syllable ‘oṁ’ found in all the Vedas, I am the sound in space and I am the masculinity in man.
पुण्यो गन्धः पृथिव्यां च तेजश्चास्मि विभावसौ ।
जीवनं सर्वभूतेषु तपश्चास्मि तपस्विषु ॥९॥
puṇyo gandhaḥ pṛthivyāṁ ca tejaś cāsmi vibhāvasau
jīvanaṁ sarva-bhūteṣu tapaś cāsmi tapasviṣu
I am the original scent of the earth, I am the lustre of fire. I am the life of all creatures and the penances of the performers of austerities.
बीजं मां सर्वभूतानां विद्धि पार्थ सनातनम् ।
बुद्धिर्बुद्धिमतामस्मि तेजस्तेजस्विनामहम् ॥१०॥
bījaṁ māṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ viddhi pārtha sanātanam
buddhir buddhimatām asmi tejas tejasvinām aham
O Pārtha, know that I am the original cause of all living beings. I am the wisdom of the wise and I am the power of the powerful.
बलं बलवतां चाहं कामरागविवर्जितम् ।
धर्माविरुद्धो भूतेषु कामोऽस्मि भरतर्षभ ॥११॥
balaṁ balavatāṁ cāhaṁ kāma-rāga-vivarjitam
dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo’smi bharatarṣabha
I am the might of the mighty which is devoid of passion and attachment. I am the desire to procreate which does not violate the principles of dharma.
ये चैव सात्त्विका भावा राजसास्तामसाश्च ये ।
मत्त एवेति तान्विद्धि न त्वहं तेषु ते मयि ॥१२॥
ye caiva sāttvikā bhāvā rājasās tāmasāś ca ye
matta eveti tān viddhi na tvahaṁ teṣu te mayi
Also, know that all things generated by the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance originate from Me alone. However, I am not in them but they are in Me.
त्रिभिर्गुणमयैर्भावैरेभिः सर्वमिदं जगत् ।
मोहितं नाभिजानाति मामेभ्यः परमव्ययम् ॥१३॥
tribhir guṇamayair bhāvair ebhiḥ sarvam idaṁ jagat
mohitaṁ nābhijānāti mām ebhyaḥ param-avyayam
The whole world is bewildered by these three modes of nature. Thus, no one can understand Me because I am superior to these modes and unchanging.
Since the most ancient times we find the same fundamental questions in the search for knowledge and meaning – Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? How should we conduct ourselves? Is there life after death? These were questions in the minds of our ancestors and we still ask the same questions today. The search for answers to these questions leads an intelligent person to conclude that consciousness is superior to matter and that there must be one absolute source from which everything in the universe and beyond emanates.
Here Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He is the singular cause of everything and that nothing is superior to Him. He is the sum total of the universe and of all living creatures, but He Himself remains separate from everything as the Supreme Individual.
Throughout the yoga systems we find that the chanting of mantras is highly recommended and possibly no mantra is chanted more than oṁ, or oṁkāra. This oṁkāra is described as the supreme combination of letters (a, u and ṁ) and is thus the primary Vedic mantra. Here Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He is the oṁ found in Vedic mantras and as such, it is Kṛṣṇa that is to be meditated on while chanting oṁ. In support of this the Ṛg Veda states as follows:
oṁ ity etad brahmaṇo nediṣṭaṁ
nāma yasmād uccāryamāna
eva saṁsāra-bhayāt tārayati
tasmād-ucyate tāra iti
oṁ āsya jānanto nāma cid-viviktan mahaste viṣṇo
sumatiṁ bhajāmahe oṁ tat sat
tato ‘bhūt trivṛd-oṁkāro yo ‘vyakta prabhavaḥ svarāṭ
yat tal-liṅgaṁ bhagavato brahmaṇaḥ paramātmanaḥ
One who chants oṁ, which is the closest form of Brahman, approaches Brahman. This liberates one from the fear of the material world; therefore, it is known as tāraka-brahman. O Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa, Your self-manifested name, oṁ, is the eternal form of cognisance. Even if my knowledge about the glories of reciting this name is incomplete, still, by the practice of reciting this name, I will achieve perfect knowledge. He who has unmanifested potencies and is fully independent manifests the vibration oṁkāra, which indicates Himself. Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are the three forms He manifests. (Dhṛta Ṛg Veda 1.156.3)
Now the question may arise that if oṁ is non-different from Śrī Kṛṣṇa, what then is the necessity to chant the mahā-mantra? Great ācāryas such as Jīva Gosvāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī, Bhaktivinoda, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Svāmī B.R. Śrīdhara, Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda and others are all in agreement that oṁ helps us up to the stage of liberation from material bondage. But the benefits of chanting the mahā-mantra continue even after liberation, helping us to develop spontaneous affection for Kṛṣṇa and thus cultivate our eternal relationship with Him.
In the ontology of mantras. it is said that oṁ emanates from the flute of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; it then manifests as gāyatrī-mantra, then as the Vedas, Vedānta and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The last verse of Bhāgavatam recommends the chanting of the mahā-mantra.
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya sarva-pāpa-praṇāśanam
praṇāmo duḥkha-śamanas taṁ namāmi hariṁ param
The chanting of the mahā-mantra can relieve us from all undesirable habits, all filthy characteristics and all miseries. Chant the mahā-mantra! Nothing else is necessary. Take this! Chant the mahā-mantra and begin your real life in this dark age of Kali-yuga with the most broad and wide theistic conception. Let us all bow down to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.13.23)
One may chant oṁ and certainly everyone should chant the mahā-mantra. Those who do this under the guidance of the spiritual master will certainly taste the fruits of self-realisation.
दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया ।
मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते ॥१४॥
daivī hy-eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā
māmeva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te
This divine potency of Mine which consists of the three modes of material nature is extremely difficult to defeat. Yet those that take shelter of Me can cross beyond it.
न मां दुष्कृतिनो मूढाः प्रपद्यन्ते नराधमाः ।
माययापहृतज्ञाना आसुरं भावमाश्रिताः ॥१५॥
na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ
māyayāpahṛta jñānā āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
The foolish, the lowest of men, those whose knowledge is covered by illusion and those who take shelter of impious activities – such unrighteous persons never surrender to Me.
चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां जनाः सुकृतिनोऽर्जुन ।
आर्तो जिज्ञासुरर्थार्थी ज्ञानी च भरतर्षभ ॥१६॥
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ janāḥ sukṛtino’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
O descendant of Bharata, there are four kinds of persons who are fortunate enough to worship Me – those who are in distress, the inquisitive, those that seek wealth and those that desire self-realisation.
तेषां ज्ञानी नित्ययुक्त एकभक्तिर्विशिष्यते ।
प्रियो हि ज्ञानिनोऽत्यर्थमहं स च मम प्रियः ॥१७॥
teṣāṁ jñānī nitya-yukta eka-bhaktir viśiṣyate
priyo hi jñānino’tyartham ahaṁ sa ca mama priyaḥ
Of these, one who desires self-realisation is superior. He is always absorbed in thoughts of Me and engaged in bhakti-yoga. I am very dear to him and he is very dear to Me.
उदाराः सर्व एवैते ज्ञानी त्वात्मैव मे मतम् ।
आस्थितः स हि युक्तात्मा मामेवानुत्तमां गतिम् ॥१८॥
udārāḥ sarva evaite jñānī tvātmaiva me matam
āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā mām evānuttamāṁ gatim
Certainly all of them are virtuous, yet I regard the self-realised devotee to be as My own Self because his mind is fully fixed upon Me as his ultimate goal.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa speaks here about His māyā potency, also known as mahā-māyā, to distinguish it from His internal potency known as yoga-māyā. Mahā-māyā is the potency of material energy and the modes of nature that condition all living beings in material existence, binding them to saṁsāra. These three modes of material nature will be discussed at length in Chapter 14 of Bhagavad-gītā.
Kṛṣṇa says that to escape the modes of material nature is very difficult for the conditioned living being, but one who takes shelter of Kṛṣṇa in bhakti-yoga can easily cross beyond them. This is recommended as follows:
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā mokṣa-kāma udāra-dhīḥ
tīvreṇa bhakti-yogena yajeta puruṣaṁ param
Whether one is without desire or full of desire or aspires for liberation – one should take shelter of the Supreme Person through bhakti-yoga. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.3.10).
Kṛṣṇa further explains that pious persons (the distressed, the inquisitive, those seeking wealth and those desiring self-realisation) take shelter of Him, but of these Kṛṣṇa says that those in search of knowledge and self-realisation are superior.
After taking shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa for wealth, out of curiosity or out of distress, it is often seen that such persons again resume their normal course of material activities. Those who come to Kṛṣṇa for knowledge and self-realisation truly become liberated from material desires and enter into a plane of eternal bliss. Ultimately they attain Kṛṣṇa’s Supreme Abode, never to return to the world of birth and death as will be explained in Chapter 15. Therefore, the seekers of self-realisation who take shelter of Kṛṣṇa and absorb all their thoughts and deeds in Kṛṣṇa are considered the best among virtuous persons.
बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते ।
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभः ॥१९॥
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
After many births, one who possesses knowledge surrenders unto Me. He realises that Vāsudeva is the source of everything. Such a great personality is very rare.
कामैस्तैस्तैर्हृतज्ञानाः प्रपद्यन्तेऽन्यदेवताः ।
तं तं नियममास्थाय प्रकृत्या नियताः स्वया ॥२०॥
kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ prapadyante’nya-devatāḥ
taṁ taṁ niyamam āsthāya prakṛtyā niyatāḥ svayā
Those whose intelligence has been lost to various material desires take shelter in other gods. Swayed by their natures they perform various rituals.
यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति ।
तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम् ॥२१॥
yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārchitum icchati
tasya tasyācalāṁ śraddhāṁ tām eva vidadhāmy-aham
Whatever form of the demigods a man desires to worship with faith, I make his faith strong in that particular form.
स तया श्रद्धया युक्तस्तस्याराधनमीहते ।
लभते च ततः कामान्मयैव विहितान्हि तान् ॥२२॥
sa tayā śraddhayā yuktas tasyārādhanam īhate
labhate ca tataḥ kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān
One who worships that particular form with faith, only attains the fulfilment of his desires due to My sanction alone.
अन्तवत्तु फलं तेषां तद्भवत्यल्पमेधसाम् ।
देवान्देवयजो यान्ति मद्भक्ता यान्ति मामपि ॥२३॥
antavat tu phalaṁ teṣāṁ tad bhavaty-alpa-medhasām
devān deva-yajo yānti mad bhaktā yānti mām api
However, the results achieved by such persons of little intelligence are temporary. Those who worship the demigods reach them, but My devotees attain Me.
Surrender to Śrī Kṛṣṇa may not be achieved in one lifetime. In fact Kṛṣṇa says that after many lifetimes of acquiring knowledge one ultimately surrenders unto Him knowing Vāsudeva (Kṛṣṇa) to be the source of all that be. Indeed such persons are very rare – sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ.
Mahātmā literally means a great personality or devotee of Kṛṣṇa, but one does not become a mahātmā simply by ‘rubber stamping’. There are required qualities and only those who manifest such qualities should be respected as a mahātmā. These qualities are mentioned in Caitanya-caritāmṛta as follows:
kṛpālu, akṛta-droha, satya-sāra sama
nidoṣa, vadānya, mṛdu, śuci, akiñcana
sarvopakāraka, śānta, kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa
akāma, anīha, sthira, vijita-ṣaḍ-guṇa
mita-bhuk, apramatta, mānada, amānī
gambhīra, karuṇa, maitra, kavi, dakṣa, maunī
Devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa are always merciful, humble, truthful, and equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and without desire. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and are fixed in devotion to Kṛṣṇa. They completely control the six bad qualities – lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not intoxicated with false ego. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 22. 78-80)
The popularity of the bhakti movement in contemporary times has also come to include the worship of many demigods and demigoddesses such as Śiva, Gaṇeśa, Sarasvatī, Lakṣmī etc. However, according to Bhagavad-gītā, the worship of various demigods is not on the same level as worshipping Kṛṣṇa and thus does not help one advance in self-realisation. Bhakti-yoga is solely meant for Kṛṣṇa. Bhakti is the reciprocal exchange between Kṛṣṇa and His devotees and thus bhakti is incompatible with the worship of the demigods.
It is not that the demigods are ‘false gods,’ but they simply cannot free one from material bondage. Kṛṣṇa knows what is necessary for the ultimate good of all living creatures and therefore He says that worship of demigods is less intelligent.
It can also be said that those who worship the demigods worship Kṛṣṇa indirectly, because the demigods are the representatives of Kṛṣṇa for the management of universal affairs. In that way the worship of demigods is also the worship of Kṛṣṇa, save and except for the fruits of liberation. Only Kṛṣṇa is known as mukti-pada, the giver of liberation, or Mukunda. Speaking in Padma Purāṇa, Śiva says:
mukti-pradātā sarveṣāṁ viṣṇur eva na saṁśayaḥ
Undoubtedly, Viṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa) is the only deliverer of liberation for all. (Padma Purāṇa 6.253.176)
When surrender to Kṛṣṇa is the only shelter from the cycle of birth and death, then it stands to reason that one should take shelter of Kṛṣṇa and forego the worship of various demigods.
अव्यक्तं व्यक्तिमापन्नं मन्यन्ते मामबुद्धयः ।
परं भावमजानन्तो ममाव्ययमनुत्तमम् ॥२४॥
avyaktaṁ vyaktim āpannaṁ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mamāvyayam anuttamam
My nature is eternal, supreme and imperishable. Yet less intelligent persons cannot comprehend this and consider Me to be the impersonal that has now accepted a material form.
नाहं प्रकाशः सर्वस्य योगमायासमावृतः ।
मूढोऽयं नाभिजानाति लोको मामजमव्ययम् ॥२५॥
nāhaṁ prakāśaḥ sarvasya yoga-māyā-samāvṛtaḥ
mūḍho’yaṁ nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam
I do not manifest Myself to everyone. I am hidden by My yoga-māyā potency and thus the foolish cannot recognise Me as eternal and unborn.
Herein Śrī Kṛṣṇa states His position quite unequivocally. He is eternal, without birth, supreme and imperishable. To this He adds that those who are foolish (mūḍha), consider His appearance in this world to be a temporary appearance of the impersonal Brahman in material form. Such misguided philosophers consider that Kṛṣṇa’s body is material and that Kṛṣṇa, like other living beings, is a manifestation from the brahma-jyoti. In Chapter 14 of Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa will explain that He is the very source of the brahma-jyoti and that all living beings emanate from Him. Kṛṣṇa does not manifest or reveal Himself to everyone – particularly to those who are envious or jealous of Him. To the envious Kṛṣṇa is covered by His own spiritual potency, yoga-māyā and at the same time the envious are covered by mahā-māyā in the cycle of birth and death.
वेदाहं समतीतानि वर्तमानानि चार्जुन ।
भविष्याणि च भूतानि मां तु वेद न कश्चन ॥२६॥
vedāhaṁ samatītāni vartamānāni cārjuna
bhaviṣyāṇi ca bhūtāni māṁ tu veda na kaścana
O Arjuna, I know past, present and future. I know all living beings, but they do not know Me.
इच्छाद्वेषसमुत्थेन द्वन्द्वमोहेन भारत ।
सर्वभूतानि सम्मोहं सर्गे यान्ति परन्तप ॥२७॥
icchā-dveṣa samutthena dvandva-mohena bhārata
sarva-bhūtāni saṁmohaṁ sarge yānti parantapa
O conqueror of the enemy, at the beginning of creation, all living beings are born bewildered by the dualities of desire and hatred.
येषां त्वन्तगतं पापं जनानां पुण्यकर्मणाम् ।
ते द्वन्द्वमोहनिर्मुक्ता भजन्ते मां दृढव्रताः ॥२८॥
yeṣāṁ tvanta-gataṁ pāpaṁ janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām
te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
Yet those that perform pious activities become purified of all reactions – they become free from the illusion of duality and worship Me with dedication.
जरामरणमोक्षाय मामाश्रित्य यतन्ति ये ।
ते ब्रह्म तद्विदुः कृत्स्नमध्यात्मं कर्म चाखिलम् ॥२९॥
jarā-maraṇa-mokṣāya mām āśritya yatanti ye
te brahma tad viduḥ kṛtsnam adhyātmaṁ karma cākhilam
Those that strive to become free from old age and death by taking shelter of Me know the Absolute Truth, the individual self and the laws of action and reaction.
साधिभूताधिदैवं मां साधियज्ञं च ये विदुः ।
प्रयाणकालेऽपि च मां ते विदुर्युक्तचेतसः ॥३०॥
sādhibhūtādhidaivaṁ māṁ sādhiyajñaṁ ca ye viduḥ
prayāṇa-kāle’pi ca māṁ te vidur yukta-cetasaḥ
Those who know Me to be the Controller of matter, the Controller of the demigods and the recipient of all sacrifices – with their minds concentrated upon Me, they will know Me at the time of death.
The knowledge in Bhagavad-gītā cannot be found outside Vedic literature. No literary source in the world compares with the Gītā. The divinity of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is stated with such clarity and boldness that no doubt can remain in the mind of a serious student of yoga. Kṛṣṇa has made it very clear that He is eternal, without birth, supreme and imperishable. He knows past, present and future; He knows all living beings and those who fix their minds in meditation on Kṛṣṇa, knowing Him to be the Controller of everything, will not have to take birth again in this material world.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवदीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायं योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
ज्ञानविज्ञानयोगो नाम सप्तमोऽध्यायः।।
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
jñāna-vijñāna yogo nāma saptamo’dhyāyaḥ
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Seven entitled Jñāna-Vijñāna Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.