Petitioning God – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 13-18

Arjuna petitions Lord Krishna
Arjuna petitions Lord Krishna

Petitioning God

This Bhagavad Gita of eighteen chapters is a conversation between Arjuna and his childhood friend and Guru, Lord Krishna. Since chapter two, we have been hearing mostly from Lord Krishna. Now Arjuna, petitioning God, his guru, takes these verses to do so:

Arjuna is speaking:
13
So say all the sages—Devarshi Narada, Asita Devela, and Vyasa—and so you yourself tell me.

This refers to what Arjuna has said in the previous verse—that Lord Krishna is Absolute God, the Highest Abode, the best means of purification, and the Eternal Divine Individual who is Personal God. Here he gives this description its credentials for having been said by these three sages, and even by Lord Krishna Himself.

The three sages mentioned are Devarshi Narada, the ‘god-sage’ and famous blissfully-mad devotee who ‘carries messages from the gods to humans’; Asita Devala, ‘the virtuous and unbound dark one’; and Vyasa himself, the author of the Mahabharata from which this Bhagavad Gita is taken.

The name Vyasa means ‘arranger, or complier’. Vyasa sometimes shows up in his own work. He has a great sense of humor, usually putting himself in a poor light. This cagey fellow, who hides himself inside his own stories, is full of covert messages. For instance, we have a god-sage (Devarshi Narada) who carries messages to folks like us, and another sage (Asita Devala) who is without bounds and is dark but virtuous. Might this indicate that the messages themselves are ‘dark’, hidden, and carrying ‘virtuous’ esoteric teachings? Knowing the author, it is likely.

Vyasa is telling us in this roundabout way, that he is spilling the beans on that secret yoga we talked about earlier, and that we are going to have to learn how to read between the lines to get everything he is telling us. How do we do that? We do yoga sadhana and let experience be our guide in this, and consult guru to either validate our understanding or correct us.

14 – 15
All that You tell me I regard as Divine Truth. Indeed, neither the gods nor the demons understand Your manifestations. 
You know Yourself by Your Self alone, O First and Highest Purusha, Lord of Beings, Lord of Worlds, God of gods.

When Arjuna says “You know Yourself by Your Self alone,” he reveals his understanding of Lord Krishna’s awareness of Himself as Absolute and Self-Knowing.

Speaking of Lord Krishna as the first and highest purusha, he acknowledges Him as the first individual in the Absolute to become Self-aware and knowing Others as the same as Himself. He is therefore Lord of Beings, lord of those individuals like ourselves who have come into being.

Calling Him Lord of Worlds, Arjuna acknowledges Him as Creator. The Illusion of this Creation, this world, is often spoken of in scriptures as awesome and amazing for a reason—it is so powerfully difficult to see beyond because of the Power behind it: Absolute God.

Calling Him God of gods, he acknowledges Him as lord of those individuals who became what we humans think of as ‘gods’. The traditional ‘gods’ are Divine Individuals who, upon becoming self-aware and knowing Others, immediately accepted them all as the same as themselves.

16 – 18
Please describe completely, your divine manifestations by which you pervade and abide in all these worlds. How can I know You by constant meditation, Lord of Yoga, and in what aspects of being are you to be known by me? Please explain to me in complete detail, Your power and manifestations, for there is no end to my desire to hear your nectar-like words.

Arjuna wants to hear more.
Arjuna wants to hear more.

Now look who’s being cagey! Arjuna is covering all the bases. Not only does he not want to miss anything, any detail, and do his practice perfectly, but he has a hidden agenda: He is swimming in loving devotion for his guru and wants to keep him talking, for it is bringing forth a happiness that he wants to sustain as long as possible.

Guru cannot resist this kind of devotion (which is why devotion is so effective), so of course Lord Krishna will accommodate Arjuna with an answer. In our next installment, we will get to listen in as He explains.

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Time – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 6

“In earlier ages, seven Great Sages and four Manus, who were brought forth from a notion arising from My essence, produced all living creatures in all the worlds.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 6

Read the Prelude to this chapter

Having previously stated that He is the source of all creation, Lord Krishna, avatara of Vishnu, now says that the first Four Manus and Great Sages produced all living beings in all the worlds. This suggests that the worlds were already in existence but living beings were not. He created the Manus and Sages to manage the job of populating them. Having created these ‘creators’ He remains the Source of all Creation.

In previous verses we came to some understanding about Creation. Now Lord Krishna is going to expand on this as it pertains to Himself and all the worlds and universes in existence. In revealing His magnificence in this way, He shows us something about ourselves, and the nature of our own personal cosmology and journey through time.  

Ruling Forces, Sages and Time

Lord Krishna is an avatara of Lord Vishnu, the first self-aware individual in the Absolute. With the awareness of His own individual existence, like a ripple effect, all other individuals became self-aware.

  • Self-aware – The awareness of one’s own existence in the Absolute.

The first four Manus are the first four individuals known to Lord Vishnu. The Sages are the first individuals known to the Manus and consequently known also to Lord Vishnu.

  • Known – Upon becoming self-aware, becoming aware of another as the same as oneself.   

That there can be a ‘first’ in a timeless place (the Absolute) indicates the beginning of time and space and relativity, the effect of which is the vibrations of the sound of OM, “The Word” at the beginning of Creation.

The Manus suggest the nature of the mind as the ruling force in huge time periods called a Manvantaras. There are fourteen Manvantaras, so there are fourteen Manus. We are currently in the seventh Manvantara.

  • Manu – ‘Thinker’. The ruling force of a Manvantara. From the root man (pronounced mun), to think, reason, imagine, have notions, thoughts, ideas. 
  • Manvantara Manu (the ruling force) + antara, (between): A Manvantara is the time period between Manus, 306,720,000 of our years.
  • Sages – Seven perfect beings who bring us knowledge of Truth. Their purpose within any given Manvantara is to guide humanity toward the dissolution of ignorance (enlightenment). There are different Sages in different Manvantaras, who go about this differently.

The root of the word Manu, man, is the same for the word for mind (manas) and man (humankind). The four Manus mentioned in this verse are the first four Manus and are said to be the progenitors of humankind.

The First Four Manus

In the Absolute before Creation, the first individual to become self-aware is known to us as Vishnu (‘all-pervader’). It is Vishnu that gives us a sense of Personal God, or a “Supreme Being”.

Vishnu immediately became aware of four Others, knew them as the same as Himself, and went on to know all Others. The first four Others accepted as the same as Himself are the first four Manus of the first four Manvantaras.

Not all Others accepted those of whom they became aware as the same as themselves. These Others became embodied beings. Those who did accept Others and accepted them all, may come into embodiment if they choose. They have no imposed journey to take, but they may take embodiment for the welfare of others who do. Embodied, they are called avataras (ava, ‘descent’ + tara, ‘liberator’).

This first fully knowing individual, Vishnu, together with the first four Manus, are responsible for our five senses, and one that is different: the ability to know directly (without the aid of the physical senses).

Manvantaras

At the end of a Manvantara there is a dissolution (not destruction) to make way for a new Manvantara. Our current Manvantara began as taught in the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible, and in the story of the Manu of our current Manvantara in which living beings were gathered into a boat to keep them safe from the waters in order to repopulate a new world.

The current Manu, Vaivasvata (‘sunlight’), is also known as Shraddhadeva (god of faith) and Satyavrata (Truth as our sphere of action in our manner of living). This Manu, our Ruling Force, is like the light of the sun that makes things perceptible to us so that we can see (pay attention), have faith, and live in Truth. This is why the yamas and niyamas are so important. They show us how.

We are provided with the means of succeeding in this with Lord Krishna’s teachings, and we have the Sages to guide us with their Divine Sight—their perception is not dependent upon reflected light as is our ownWe see things indirectly. We need light to shine on things in order to see them. Thus depending almost solely on our senses, with our indirect perception we rely on appearances and judge accordingly. This is what we are meant to rise above in our current Manvantara.

In our next installment, we will look at how Manus, Sages and Time pertain to us and the journey we are on, at a more personal level.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma
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What You Really Are Does Nothing – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 9, Vs 9-10

“And these actions do not bind Me, Conquerer of Wealth, for I am like one sitting apart, unattached to these actions. I observe Prakriti flawlessly creating all moving and nonmoving things spontaneously. From this cause, the world turns.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Verses 9-10

9
And these actions do not bind Me, Conquerer of Wealth, for I am like one sitting apart, unattached to these actions.

“And” – He is continuing from the previous verses.

In saying that He is not attached to these actions, Lord Krishna is saying that He is not identified with the actions of Creation as His own, even though Creation goes out from Him. 

Again our attention is drawn to the idea that action causes bondage when we assume the role of the actor, the doer of the action, but does not cause bondage when we do not. This isn’t a mental idea, or an attempt at denial, but a self-known Reality: What we really are does nothing. This is exactly what Lord Krishna is talking about as it applies not only to Himself, but to us.

When in surrender yoga one experiences action, one comes to realize that this action is not done by oneself, but by nature (prakriti). It is the very nature of nature to move, urged into action by Shakti, Divine Goddess, instigator of all action. When in Experiential (Surrender) Meditation one does not suppress the urge to move, the body, which is a part of nature, will move. Correctly understanding this, no karma is incurred. In this way, surrender yoga frees one from the bondage of karma, liberating one from the cycles of death and rebirth.

The nature of nature is to move.

10
I observe Prakriti flawlessly creating all moving and nonmoving things spontaneously. From this cause, the world turns.

The world turns, the universe turns, the cosmos revolves, cycling through the ages, coming into being again and again. Stars die, and stars are born. Everything comes and goes.

Here, the Sanskrit word for ‘creating’ also indicates soma, the precursor of amrita, the nectar of immortality, implying that immortality is inherently present in all of us. 

We are all divine individuals who are never born and never die, abiding in the bodies of the beings that we now experience as ourselves, and which come and go. But it is the being that goes through these changes, not our real Selves—our immortality is absolute and cannot be changed. This is Lord Krishna’s Reality. With this teaching, He teaches us something that we already know but have forgotten.

Alternate translation:
Prakriti produces both the animate and inanimate spontaneously (without will), effortlessly and without error, as I watch. Thus the cycle of Life revolves.

“Effortlessly…as I watch”
So Prakriti, another Divine Individual, is also not bound by these actions. As far as that Individual is concerned, you are Prakriti and she is Purusha. So Prakriti is in the same position of not-doing-anything for all this creation come to be, effortlessly and without error, as You watch.

You are Purusha, the seer. Prakriti, seen by you, is the cause (but not the willful maker) of creation, nature. This is the source of Personal God, God as other than self.

Prakriti Creates

Sarasvati, Goddess of Music and Learning. It is Her music that does it.
Sarasvati, Goddess of Music and Learning. It is Her Music that Creates the World.

Is it any wonder that liberation is so difficult to attain? Somewhere deep inside, we know that all this is going to end…someday. But we are identified with “all this”, and we are identified with our physical bodies which are a part of it.

We tell ourselves that we are not afraid to die. We can say this and mean it because, deep inside, we know (without knowing that we know it) that what we really are cannot die. But our bodies are afraid of death. They are built to put survival first and we are identified with them. In order to handle this dichotomy we resort to our minds and tell ourselves what to believe and what not to believe.

Thus we live self-deceived, shunning the liberation we came here to obtain as we chase after the fluff of illusion, trying to make ourselves feel good, look good, be liked, do the right thing. We know deep inside what will happen if we seriously take this road to Truth. We will become disinterested in the fluff and lose the approval of others because we will become unable to keep up appearances and play the game any more.

It is not a matter of trying. It just happens when you begin to change inside. Not seeing yourself as a doer of action, the ego begins to dry up. You begin to hear the thoughts of others, and now you are living a different mystery. Nothing of your previous ‘reality’ makes sense anymore. It’s not that you disapprove or are unwilling to participate, it is a matter of familiarity—familiarity is gone and you don’t know how to do that anymore. So you don’t. This describes what in earlier chapters was called “indifference”, which is said to be the key to liberation. It is a journey for the brave rebel with an adventurous spirit.      

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
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