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BG Chap 8 - Brahman and Adhyatma

In this chapter entitled "Taraka Brahma yoga" (Yoga of Brahman realization), Kṛṣṇa will explain the different items starting with Brahman mentioned at the end of the last chapter. He also speaks about pure bhakti and yoga-miśra-bhakti (bhakti mixed with yoga) and the destination of the yogīs.

Brahma refers to the indestructible jīvātmā, whose constitution never changes. The śruti confirms that the jīva is called Brahman when it says: Avyakta (subtle state of prakṛti) merges into akṣara (aggregate of the jīvas); akṣara merges into tamas and tamas merges into the Lord. Akṣara here cannot refer to the Lord since it merges into tamas, which merges into the Lord. Beyond Brahman, however, is Para Brahman, the Lord.

Adhyātma refers to the svabhāva, which produces one’s self from imposition of a body. Thus it means the jīva, since it creates the body. Or the meaning of svabhāva can be that which causes one to attain the Paramātmā. In this case adhyātma refers to the purified jīva. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa says adhyātma refers to the impressions held in subtle elements which accompany the jīva birth after birth. Thus adhyātma refers to the nature of the jīva. The constitutional position of the jīva is to serve the Lord but in material consciousness his nature is to be the lord of matter.

BG Chap 8 - Karma and transmigration

Action pertaining to the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma. The creative force which gives rise to the bodies of men and others by combination of the subtle and gross elements is called karma. It is called karma because it is produced from actions. By performance of jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice, one goes to heavenly planets and enjoys there in the body of a devatā. The results of pious actions in the form of enjoyment are eventually depleted, and the jīva comes back to earth and gets a gross body in the form of human or otherwise.

In the Chandogya Upaniṣad it is described that five kinds of offerings namely faith, the enjoyer on the moon, rain, food and semen are made into five kinds of fire namely the heaven, clouds, earth, man and woman. The jīva, following the Vedas, performs sacrifice with faith. This offering with faith envelops the jīva and goes with him to heaven when he dies. The jīva gets a body as an enjoyer in the moon and enjoys the results of his actions. At the end of enjoyment, the jīva is offered into the fire of parjanya (clouds or the god of rain), and becomes rain. That rain comes down into earth, by the offering of the rain along with the jīva into the fire called earth by the devas and become food such as grains. The rice with the jīva is offered into the fire called man (man eats rice) and becomes semen. The semen along with the jīva is offered into the fire called woman (man impregnating woman), and becomes an embryo and transforms into a man. The cause of such states, the consequence of actions, and the results from actions is called karma.

The analogy above is given to show that the jīva takes his subtle body and senses and prāṇas with him, holding his karma. The ācāryas do not comment whether one should take literally the statement that the jīva falls back to earth in the rain, and then becomes food etc. In any case after exhausting puṇyas, the jīva falls back to earth and gets another human body.

BG Chap 8 - Adhibhūta, Adhidaiva and Adhiyajña

Adhibhūta refers to the temporary material body which constantly changes. Viśvanātha says that adhibhūta refers to temporary material objects such as pots and cloth. The physical nature is constantly changing. Material bodies generally pass through six stages: they are born, they grow, they remain for some duration, they produce some by-products, they dwindle, and then they vanish. This physical nature is called adhibhūta.

Adhidaiva refers to the universal form of the Lord, who rules over the devatās such as Āditya and within whom they exist. Since the demigods are included in the gigantic form of the Lord, worship of the Lord in His gigantic material conception or in His transcendental form as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, appeases the demigods and all the other living beings.

Adhiyajña refers to Kṛṣṇa Himself in His form of Paramātmā situated in the body of all living beings, with a form measuring one pradeśa. He inspires worship from within and gives results for that worship. Kṛṣṇa says He alone (eva) is situated as the Paramātmā, although the Paramātmā is only His expansion. This is because the Paramātmā is not different from Him, whereas the other items such as the adhyātma are different from Him.

BG Chap 8 - The state that determines one's next life

A person attains a state similar to whatever object he contemplates, under the control of previous remembrance, when leaving his body. Bharata, remembering a deer at the point of death, became a deer. Whatever one remembers at death is the subject of previous thoughts. His mind being controlled by that previous remembrance, he attains a body according to the object he contemplates at death. Thus by remembering Kṛṣṇa, one attains Him, and by remembering something else one attains something else. If in one's present life one lives in the mode of goodness and always thinks of Kṛṣṇa, it is possible for one to remember Kṛṣṇa at the end of one's life. That will help one be transferred to the transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa. If one is transcendentally absorbed in Kṛṣṇa's service, then his next body will be transcendental (spiritual), not material.

If one worships the Lord as the governing principle of all material manifestation (adhibhūta), of the demigods (adhidaiva), and of all methods of sacrifice (adhiyajña), then he can know the Lord at the time of death. And whoever leaves the body remembering the Lord attains the Lord’s nature, with eight qualities: sinless, ageless, deathless, without grief, without hunger, without thirst, blissful, and his desires are instantly fulfilled. Remembrance of Kṛṣṇa is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Kṛṣṇa consciousness in devotional service. Therefore one should practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness from the very beginning of life. If one wants to achieve success at the end of his life, the process of remembering Kṛṣṇa is essential.

BG Chap 8 - Remembering Kṛṣṇa constantly

Kṛṣṇa asks Arjuna to remember Him at all times and fight. When one offers one’s mind and intelligence to Kṛṣṇa, one would without doubt attain Him. Even though it may be difficult to remember Kṛṣṇa while we work, it will be far more difficult to remember Him at the time of death when our consciousness is disturbed and overwhelmed with pain. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa wants us to practice now. We should remember Kṛṣṇa (mām anusmara) in devotion and work for His pleasure (yudhya ca).

Continuously contemplating Kṛṣṇa, with mind engaged in repeated remembrance without deviation, one attains the Supreme Person. With consciousness unswerving, fixed on one point, contemplating the supreme person, Nārāyaṇa, endowed with great beauty, a person attains Nārāyaṇa. Just as a grassworm confined in a hole of a wall by a bee, always thinks of the bee in fear and later becomes a bee simply because of such remembrance, one who thinks of the Lord always, develops qualities like the Lord. Remembering the Lord by the mind is the highest yoga. By this practice of repeatedly remembering the Lord, one can conquer the mind. We can conquer our conditioned natures of different strengths, weaknesses, attachments and misgivings, by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, thru always remembering Him.

BG Chap 8 - Contemplating the Lord by yoga-miśra-bhakti

Without practice of yoga it is difficult to withdraw the mind from sense objects. Without withdrawing the mind from sense objects, it is difficult to constantly think of the Lord. Therefore one should execute bhakti along with some type of yoga practice, contemplating the Lord as follows: the Lord is omniscient (kavi). But though one may be omniscient, like Sanaka and others, one is not eternal. Therefore, the Lord is described as Purāṇa, without beginning. Though he is both omniscient and without beginning, this does not indicate that he becomes the instructor of bhakti as Paramātmā. Therefore he is called anuśāsitāram, the teacher, by mercy giving instructions about devotion to himself when he appears as Kṛṣṇa or Rāma. Though he is merciful, he is still a difficult object to know factually: compared to the smallest he is even smaller. Then, is he like the jīva, the size of an atom? No, he is also of the greatest size, spreading everywhere, since everything is contained within him (sarvasya dhātāram). Thus he is said to be inconceivable in form (acintya rūpam). Though he appears of medium size, as a human being, his manifestation is independent of all others. Thus he has a form (varṇa), which is like that of the sun (āditya), revealing both himself and others. Thus, though he is the possessor of māyā śakti (prakṛti), his form is transcendental to prakṛti or māyā.

BG Chap 8 - The process by which yogi attains the Lord

One who at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and with an undeviating mind engages himself in remembering the Lord, attains that Supreme Person. He attains an unwavering mind thru the strength of yoga practice. He who remembers with undeviating mind that person at the time of death, with prema for Paramātmā (bhaktyā), thru the accumulation of impressions arising from the experience of samādhi, carefully establishing the life air between the eyebrows, attains the Lord. A pure devotee does not practice such yoga, but because he is always engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, at death he can remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead by His grace.

The knowers of the Vedas say that the syllable oṁ represents the indestructible Brahman. The sannyāsīs, who have given up ignorance, attain that Brahman indicated by the sound oṁ. The students of Brahman, desiring to know this Brahman and its form as oṁ, follow vows of celibacy.

BG Chap 8 - The process of yoga

He who leaves his body, while withdrawing his senses from sense objects, concentrating the mind on the Lord in the heart, fixing the prāṇa (life air) at the ajñā-cakra (top of his head), completely absorbing his thoughts on the Lord, uttering oṁ and meditating on the Lord constantly, attains His planet. One should control all the external doors of knowledge (the senses such as the ear), withdrawing them (pratyāhāra) from the sense objects such as sound, and receive the sense objects by senses disinterested in enjoyment by repeatedly seeing their faults. But even in controlling the senses, the mind will wander. So one needs to control the mind, which is the door to internal knowledge, upon the Lord, situated in the heart. Then one should control the life air, the door to actions, in the lotus of the heart, and then as one gains control, establish it at the top of the head on the path of the suṣumna moving upwards, under the instruction of the guru. Doing this, one should practice thinking of the Lord with complete absorption. One should utter oṁ and meditate on the Paramātmā (Brahman according to Viśvanātha) indicated by that sound. Meditating in this way, he attains the liberation of sālokya. This indicates that oṁ, Brahman and Kṛṣṇa are not different. Thus the yoga-miśra-bhaktas attain sālokya liberation.

BG Chap 8 - The pure devotee as different from the yoga-misra-bhakta

The Supreme person, within whom exists all entities, who is all pervading, is attained by unalloyed devotion. He can be attained easily by pure bhakti but difficult to attain by bhakti mixed with aṣṭāṅga-yoga. Maintaining desires for jñāna, karma, yoga and so on prevents us from attaining Kṛṣṇa.

The pure devotee remembers the Lord at all times without deviation to other processes such as karma yoga or aṣṭāṅga yoga or goals such as Svarga or liberation. He constantly desires association with the Lord in one of the primary relationships and easily attains the Lord. Thru such processes as japa and deity worship, every day continually, without regard for time, place or purity, he remembers the Supreme Lord, who drinks the breast milk of Yaśodā and who appears in this world in many forms. He attains the Lord easily not encountering the difficulties in karma yoga and aṣṭāṅga-yoga or other processes. The Lord is the cause or the doer of the pure devotee attaining Him. The Lord cannot tolerate separation from the devotee and thus shows Himself to the devotee. He is easy to attain for the devotee because He destroys the obstacles and perfects the devotee’s sādhana. Kṛṣṇa gives the devotee the knowledge by which the devotee attains Him (BG 10.10). This devotee is related to the Lord (yoga) in dāsya, sakhya or other rasas. A vivid example of ananya-cetā-bhakti is found in Caitanya-līlā, when the Lord was advised by a small boy Gopāla that Kṛṣṇa’s names are pure and should be chanted always regardless of the external purity of the situation.

BG Chap 8 - The results attained by pure devotees and others

Attaining the Lord, the great devotees do not take birth again, which is full of suffering and temporary. Staying in the womb is painful, and birth is not permanent in the sense that one starts to die as soon as he is born. The great souls attain a birth similar to Kṛṣṇa, which is full of joy because it is eternal. When Kṛṣṇa appears in the house of Vasudeva, His devotees, being His eternal associates, would also appear with Him and not at other times. Other devotees attain perfection, but those who exclusively think of the Lord (ananya cetāḥ) attain the very highest perfection – a position as an assistant in the Lord’s pastimes.

All jīvas take rebirth even if they have great puṇyas. The jīvas attain worlds up to and including Brahmaloka. All the jīvas in Svarga and other planets including Brahmaloka return to the earth and take birth after exhausting their karmas. But some devotees of the Lord who are attached to varṇāśrama and have some interest in experiencing the higher planets, do not fall after going there. With the destruction of those planets, they along with the ruler of the planet go to the Supreme Lord’s planet. The Lord repeats the words ‘mām upetya’ in two consecutive verses to emphasize that those who attain Him do not take birth again. He does not want us bewildered by a desire to go to the heavenly planets. He therefore states that every situation in the material world is miserable.