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BG Chap 15 - Chapter summary

In this chapter the first five verses describe the process of freeing oneself from these weaknesses of heart, and the rest of the chapter, from the sixth verse through the end, discusses puruṣottama-yoga. It discusses breaking our material attachment and understanding Kṛṣṇa as the source of Brahman; as the maintainer, the Paramātmā; and as Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One learns that the person who is different from the conditioned and liberated souls and who supports both and is superior to both is the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. Knowing all this, one surrenders and becomes one with Him in desire and service. That is the conclusion of all śāstra—the yoga of the Supreme Person.

In this chapter, Krishna addresses the confusion people have: Is the ultimate reality the impersonal Brahman and Krishna is a manifestation of it? When we attain liberation does this mean we merge into Brahman and become the ultimate?

Krishna says in verse 16 there are two kinds of people in this world: kshara and akshara – the perishable (fallible) and the imperishable (infallible). All living beings are fallible but those who are fixed in one state are infallible. One who is fallen from his original svarupa is kshara. One who is situated in a single state because of having no connection to the material world, though existing within it, is liberated or the akshara. The perishable living beings refer to everyone from Brahma to the immovable beings. The imperishable is always in one state, ever liberated.

In verse 17, Krishna says ‘But there is another person who is beyond these two categories and He is the Paramatma’. He uses the word ‘tu’ to distinguish the Supreme Person from these two kinds of people. (uttama purusas tu anyah). By doing so, Krishna rules out that a liberated person can become Supreme because the uttama purusha is someone other than (anya) the kshara (fallible) and the akshara (infallible).

In verse 18, Krishna precisely says that He is superior to the kshara and the akshara and thus celebrated in the Vedas as the Supreme Person (Purusottama). Krishna may be Supreme and superior to the fallible and the infallible but isn’t Brahman the ultimate?

In verse 19, Krishna says one who knows Him as the Supreme Person without doubting is sarva-vid, the knower of everything. Thus there is nothing beyond Krishna to be known, and one who knows thus, engages in devotional service fully. Someone may say all these things of Krishna being the ultimate and nothing beyond Him is said in Bhagavad gita, but there are other scriptures which say differently.

In verse 20, Krishna says He has spoken the most confidential understanding of Vedic scriptures (guhyatamam sastram) and knowing this one will have full knowledge of the scriptures and all his endeavors will succeed. Thus Krishna establishes He is beyond the liberated, one who knows this knows everything and this fact is the secret of all scriptures.

And Krishna prefixes all these with the verse that by all the Vedas He alone is to be known (verse 15). Thus one who understands Bhagavad gita without personal motivation and interpretation can appreciate that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the jivas are His eternal parts and parcels.

The importance of Kṛṣṇa is shown in many verses in this chapter:

15. 6 – Kṛṣṇa’s abode is not illuminated by the sun. moon or fire, and one who reaches that never returns to the material world
15.7 – The jīva is eternally a part of Kṛṣṇa alone
15.12 – Kṛṣṇa sustains all beings with the illumination of the sun and moon
15.13 – Kṛṣṇa sustains all beings by nourishing the eatables
15.14 – Kṛṣṇa is the fire of digestion
15.15 – Kṛṣṇa supplies knowledge. By all the Vedas He alone is to be known and He alone is the knower of the Vedas. He is the compiler of Vedānta
15.18 – Kṛṣṇa is beyond the perishable and imperishable and is the Supreme Person
15.19 – To know Kṛṣṇa - One who knows me as the Supreme Person – yo mām evam asammūḍho jānāti puruṣottama
15.20 – Kṛṣṇa reveals the most confidential part of the Vedas

Thus ends Chapter 15 of Bhagavad gita culled from 'Bhagavad gita As it is' by Srila Prabhupada, 'As they surrender' by Bhurijana Prabhu, 'Sarartha Varsini' by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and 'Gita Bhusana' by Baladeva Vidyabhusana.