May 29, The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture by Irina N. Gajjar
Commentary and Chapter 7, Knowing God
Chapter 7 of The Gita expands Lord Krishna’s message to Arjun and to the world. Further to speaking of how we should behave to attain oneness with Him, He reveals Himself and tells us how we can know Him. The Sanskrit words for know and knowledge have a deeper meaning than their English translations. Knowing refers to spiritual knowledge rather than to informational knowledge and incorporates the notion of wisdom.
God says that by thinking of Him and loving Him Arjun can get to know Him and that He will help Arjun understand Him. The Lord acknowledges that very few people try to know Him and that of those, very few fully succeed. Nevertheless, He offers us insights into the divine nature. He says that while His lower nature consists of earth, water, fire, air, ether, reason and the self (or soul or spirit), His higher nature, called the “life principle,” is the cause of existence. Everything comes from God and turns back into Him.
Lord Krishna further describes Himself as the wetness in water, the light in the moon and sun, and Om in the Vedas. “Om” is the sacred syllable that represents God, divinity and permanence. God is the essence of all things and is the only reality. He is manliness in men, fragrance in the earth, the brightness in fire, life, the seed, wisdom, strength and He is the wish in our heart.
In Hinduism, permanence is the primary criterion for separating illusion or “Maya” from truth. That which is unchangeable and timeless is real, even though it is beyond our grasp. God tells us that He uses Maya, or make believe, to cause the unreal to seem real but things that perpetually change and do not last forever are mere illusions. Thus God is the only reality.
Lord Krishna tells us that deluded fools and evil people do not understand or worship God. Those who do worship Him fall into four categories: those who are distressed, seekers of truth, those who want material things like wealth, and the wise. While all these people are good, the best, of course, are the wise. The wise are those who love God the most. So, we see again that love for Lord merges with wisdom. They are one and the same and attaining understanding and wisdom comes through love and takes many life times.
The ultimate reward comes from shedding the confusion caused by foolishness. This process takes persistence and results in wisdom. It yields to liberation since only the wise understand that God alone is real.
An aside note: In addressing Arjun Lord Krishna uses many epithets that come from mythology and are known to Hindus. In this chapter alone Arjun is called Partha, Bull of the Bharatas, Dhananjaya, and more. A discussion of these terms is beyond the scope of this commentary.)
Below find Chapter 7. Please enjoy its colorful beauty and consider how you distinguish illusion from reality.
Chapter 7: Knowing God
Bhagvan said: Arjun, listen now to how by thinking of Me and loving Me you will know Me and be sure about Me. I will help you to understand and after you know Gid, nothing in the world will be a secret.
Of thousands of people, a few try to know Me. And of the few who try, just a handful of special ones really understand God completely.
I am made of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason, and the self. These eight things are one side of Me. The other, higher, side of Me is what makes the whole world exist and is called the “life principle.”
Arjun, now you know that everything comes from Me and it all will turn back into Me. And there is nothing in the world but Me. And I am God.
I am the wetness in the water, the light in the moon and the sun; I am Om in the Vedas. “Om” is God’s magic word.
I am the manliness in men and the smell of the earth and the brightness in fire. I am life in living things.
I am the seed in all beings. I am the wisdom in men’s minds. I am the strength of the strong and the wish in your heart.
Everyone thinks that the things in the world are real, but only I, God, am real and unchanging. Everything else is make believe. Only people who understand God can understand this. Only the wise can understand that God alone is real.
The world seems real because I use My divine Maya to make it appear. “Maya” is make-believe. It is magic. It causes the world and everything in it to seem solid and permanent.
But the things in the world are always moving and always changing. That is why they are not real and they do not last forever. Only God is forever real.
The wise who understand God pass beyond the world. They cross over Maya and reach Me.
Fools and evil people do not understand Me. They do not worship Me.
Four kinds of people do worship Me: Those who want something, those who are unhappy, those who want to know the truth, and those who are wise. Of these four kinds of people, the best are the wise because they love Me most. Wise people love God with all their heart and I love them back very much. But only a very wise person after many many lives realizes the truth: God is everything.
I let you worship and love Me in any way you like, any way at all, because loving God is always god. Loving God in every way, in every shape, and with every name is good.
I know all beings, past, present and future, But they do not know Me.
Not all can see Me because their minds are covered by foolishness and desire. They are confused by opposites, like wanting and hating, and their confusion covers up the truth which is God.
Oh Arjun, people in the world do not understand Me. But wise people, the best people, keep trying to understand God. And those who do not stop trying—ever—finally know Me and My secret.
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