VII:20-23 Stolen Wisdom

Belief is a fixed mental state of certainty that something is true. Faith on the other hand, is action based. When one trusts the spiritual teachings of their lineage enough to put them into practice, one is acting with faith. Real Faith comes when such action ultimately proves the teachings to be true. 

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Those whose wisdom has been stolen away by various desires for this and that, are surrendering to other gods. They follow this and that practice consistent with their own state of self-interest, and are held back by their own material natures.

  • Wisdom – Inherent wisdom reawakened by knowledge gained through personal experience in meditation, and oral teachings from the master.

Stating desires as “this and that” not only indicates a multiplicity of desires, but emphasizes their dual nature (we either like them or we don’t) and puts them in the relative realm of illusion (things aren’t what they seem). 

Lord Krishna is saying that we are deprived of our inherent wisdom because of the intrusive nature of desires (wanting “this and that”) and that we are driven to chase after them in order to get them fulfilled. We go about this in ways consistent with our existing beliefs and tendencies, which keeps us stuck where we are: in ignorance (mistaking the unreal for the Real). 

“Surrender to other gods
‘Other gods’ refers to desired objects, or to deities believed to be able and willing to provide them when worshipped.

Worshipped = Surrendered to

Wanting to get our desires fulfilled, we resort to praying to, or propitiating, “other gods”.  One propitiates fame, for instance, by seeking it. Seeking to obtain the desired objective, it takes a place of superior importance, worshipped as a god.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”

“Following this and that practice” refers to the actions taken to get what one wants. Among the multiple means available, one follows whatever strategy is necessary to get their desires fulfilled. 

“Held back by their own material natures” refers to the driving force of tendencies seated in one’s history. Acting on these tendencies causes one’s spiritual progress to get held back by motivating one to pursue the desire, an act of self-interest.  

Acting to fulfill a desire, following a course of action to get it, it becomes more important than God/Truth. The only sure way to reconcile this is to surrender to God/Truth instead. By putting a desire before God and acting on it, one is surrendering to another god, engaging their power of choice to get what they want, rather than to get God.  

If you want to know what your priorities really are, look at how you spend most of your time. 

Those who choose the worldly life over a life lived for the purpose of reaching God (by any name), regardless of religious, professional or social orientation, are worshipping ‘other gods’.

Desires can be especially commanding and controlling when they stem from samskaras. The reason for this is that one is usually not aware of them, or can easily explain them away. These dictators demand the fulfillment of desires, and produce even more desires in the process. And one digs oneself in deeper and deeper. This is the meaning of the worship of the golden calf in Exodus. The calf suggests desires for things of value (the gold) in the physical world (the calf, offspring of the wish-fulfilling cow).

  • Samskaras – Potent governing characteristics and tendencies acquired in previous existences.

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For anyone wishing to worship the form of another god with faith, it is I who sustain that faith. Endowed with this faith and propitiating this god to obtain desires, it is I who fulfill them.

When acting to fulfill a desire it is achieved, it is not really you who achieved it, because it is not you who acted in the first place. This is all part of the ‘illusion’. Whether in success or failure, all action in this world is the interaction of the gunas of nature, the basis of which is Absolute God: “it is I (Krishna)”.

Although we may believe with faith that, by this or that technique, we can successfully get what we want, Lord Krishna is informing us that this happens not because of what we do or how we do it, but because God provides it. All such efforts and their results have been God all along. 

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However, this fruit, gained by those of little understanding, is perishable. Those who worship the gods, go to the gods. Those who worship Me, come to Me.

You get what you worship.

A distinction is being made between the worship of God, and the worship of gods. To “those of little understanding”, the gods are not only the means of fulfilling desires, but the desire itself, as well as the object of desire.

The result of worshipping these gods can only be temporary because they are temporary—they are of the Relative Realm and subject to change. But the results of worshipping Absolute God is permanent and eternal, because That, and the power of That, is permanent, eternal, and unlimited.

By worshipping, surrendering to, anything in this relative world, you remain separated from God. By surrendering only to Absolute God, you are united with God, in God, of God, and are God your Self.

There are many gods. There is only one God. 

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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