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BG Chap 8 - Lifespan of Brahmā

Brahmaloka and other planets are destroyed because of limitations of time. Even if Brahmā, the master of the planet, must die, what can be said of others? The persons situated on elevated planets such as Mahar-loka know that one day of Brahmā is a thousand cycles of the four yugas by human calculations and such is the duration of Brahmā’s night also. The four yugas are Satya (lasts 1,728,000 years), Tretā (lasts 1,296,000 years), Dvāpara (864,000 years) and Kali (lasts 432,000 years). The total duration of these four yugas is thus 4,320,000 human years. One thousand of this cycle of four yugas is one kalpa or one day of Brahmā. Using a different calculation: One year of human is a day and night of the devatās. Thus 360 days of the devas (1 year of deva) is 360 human years. Twelve thousand devatā years is 4,320,000 human years, and this makes a cycle of four yugas. One thousand of these cycles makes one day of Brahmā. His night is also the same duration. One hundred of those years is the lifespan of Brahmā. After that Brahmā dies. If the Brahmā is a Vaiṣṇava, he will attain liberation. By these calculations the life of Brahmā seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmās rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahmā and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.

BG Chap 8 - Nature of all material planets

The inhabitants of Svarga, earth and the lower planets meet destruction in each day of Brahmā. The planets above Svarga are not destroyed at the end of Brahmā’s day. Those on Brahmaloka may continue to live until the end of Brahmā’s one hundred years. At the commencement of Brahmā’s day, when Brahmā awakens from sleeping state, all bodies, senses, objects of enjoyment, and places of enjoyment become manifest. At the commencement of Brahmā’s night, when it is time to sleep, they disappear within Brahmā, caused by his sleep. The word avyakta, used to refer to the beings becoming unmanifest, does not refer to pradhāna, since this is a description of the daily creation and destruction, during which time the elements like ether remain intact. Thus avyakta here refers to the sleeping state of Brahmā. Merging into pradhāna takes place only at the end of Brahmā’s life. In this way all living beings disappear at the coming of Brahmā’s night and reappear at the approach of his day under the control of karma. When Brahmā’s life is finished, they remain unmanifest within the body of Viṣṇu till the next creation takes place.

BG Chap 8 - The state the devotees attain

Superior to the unmanifest state of Brahmā’s night is another unmanifest state which is eternal and which is not destroyed when everything else is destroyed. This state is invisible because its very form is spiritual. However, by mercy it can be perceived. This object is without beginning and is not destroyed when all bodies are destroyed at the end of Brahmā’s day. The followers of Vedānta call the eternal and unmanifest state as the supreme goal. Attaining that supreme abode, one never returns. This is the state for which we always hanker but unfortunately we search for it within the realm of time and matter. When we attain Kṛṣṇa’s abode, we along with other devotees, will continuously exult in our relationship with Kṛṣṇa. This supreme abode is described by Viśvanātha Cakravarti and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa as the form of the Lord. The jñānīs and yogīs who also perform a small amount of bhakti without offense attain the form of light which is the impersonal Brahman.

BG Chap 8 - The abode of Kṛṣṇa

The supreme abode of the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is described in the Brahma-saṁhitā as cintāmaṇi-dhāma, a place where all desires are fulfilled. The supreme abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa, known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, is full of palaces made of touchstone. There are also trees, called "desire trees," that supply any type of eatable upon demand, and there are cows, known as surabhi cows, which supply a limitless supply of milk. In this abode, the Lord is served by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune (Lakṣmīs), and He is called Govinda, the primal Lord and the cause of all causes. The Lord is accustomed to blow His flute (veṇuṁ kvaṇantam). His transcendental form is the most attractive in all the worlds—His eyes are like lotus petals, and the color of His body is like the color of clouds. He is so attractive that His beauty excels that of thousands of Cupids. He wears yellow cloth, a garland around His neck and a peacock feather in His hair.

BG Chap 8 - The paths by which one leaves the world

The jñānīs, who know Brahman, who depart on the path presided over by the deities of fire, light, day, the waxing fortnight, and the northern progress of the sun, attain Brahman. On dying such persons, who worship Brahman without interruption, whether they undergo cremation rites or not, go to the deity of light. From the deity of light, they go the deity of the day. From the deity of the day they go to the deity of the waxing fortnight. From the deity of the waxing fortnight they go to the deity of the six months leading to the summer solstice. From there they go to the deity of the year. From the deity of the year, they go the deity of air, then to the deity of the sun, then to the deity of the moon, then to the deity of lightning, then to the deity of water, then Indra and then Brahmā. Finally a non-human form (an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord) takes them to Brahman. This is the path of the devas, the path of Brahman. The devas hand the soul over to the next deva until he finally reaches Brahman. Those who go by this path do not return to repeated human birth.

The karma-kāṇḍīs, departing on the path presided over by the deities of smoke, the night, the waning fortnight, and the southern course of the sun, reaches the moon but again comes back. The householders who perform sacrifices, social work and charities go thru the deities of smoke, night, waning fortnight, the six months leading to the winter solstice, and reach Pitṛloka. From there they go to ether, and from ether to the deity of the moon. They become food for the deities, and the deities enjoy them. Having exhausted their puṇyas there, they return to earth.
These two paths of passing in light (enlightenment) by which one does not return, and passing in darkness (ignorance) by which one returns, are accepted as without beginning by those who are qualified for jñāna and karma because saṁsāra itself has no beginning.

The devotee is beyond the guṇas and his path is also beyond the guṇas, not a sāttvika path such as going thru the sun planet.

BG Chap 8 - How does knowledge of these paths affect a devotee?

The yogī, who knows these two paths, is never bewildered because such knowledge produces a sense of discrimination. Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna to be fixed in devotion or samādhi. The devotee does not believe in the necessity of prescribed actions (karma-yoga) which leads one to the path of darkness. A devotee of the Supreme Lord should not worry whether he will depart by arrangement or by accident. The devotee should be firmly established in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. He should know that concern over either of these two paths is troublesome. The best way to be absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to be always dovetailed in His service, and this will make one's path to the spiritual kingdom safe, certain and direct.

BG Chap 8 - The favorable situation of devotional service

A person who accepts the path of devotional service and thus knows the glories of Kṛṣṇa, is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performance of sacrifice and austerity, and giving in charity. He attains the Lord’s eternal abode. Results such as Svarga or a kingdom are promised from thoroughly studying the Vedas and following rules such as observing celibacy and serving the guru, from precisely performing sacrifice complete with all parts, from correctly undergoing austerities according to the rules of scripture, and from giving charity in the proper manner with faith while examining the suitability of place, time and person. But all of these promised results are surpassed by the devotee. Knowing the glories of the Lord and by mercy of devotee association, the devotee considers all these activities as insignificant as grass, devoid of the happiness they promise.

BG Chap 8 - Chapter summary

The aṁśa of Kṛṣṇa, the puruṣa, is obtained by bhakti mixed with yoga, thru the path of light, but Kṛṣṇa Himself is attained only thru ananya bhakti. The words idaṁ viditvā (8.28) indicate that one should understand the instructions given by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in this chapter and the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā. One should try to understand these chapters not by scholarship or mental speculation but by hearing them in association with devotees. Chapters Seven through Twelve are the essence of Bhagavad-gītā. The first six and the last six chapters are like coverings for the middle six chapters, which are especially protected by the Lord. If one is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gītā—especially these middle six chapters—in the association of devotees, then his life at once becomes glorified beyond all penances, sacrifices, charities, speculations, etc., for one can achieve all the results of these activities simply by Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Thus ends Chapter 8 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.

BG Chap 8 - The importance of Kṛṣṇa in this chapter

8.4 – Since He inspires people to do sacrifice, Kṛṣṇa is the principle of sacrifice situated in the body.
8.5 – Exhorting souls to remember Kṛṣṇa – one who quits his body thinking of Kṛṣṇa attains His nature.
8.7 – Exhorting souls to remember Kṛṣṇa - mam anusmara yuddhya ca
8.7 – Coming to Kṛṣṇa - mām evaiṣyasi – surely you will come to me
8.10 – How yoga is construed with bhakti - at the time of death, one absorbed in yoga and who remembers the Lord in full devotion attains the supreme person
8.13 – Exhorting souls to remember Kṛṣṇa -One who passes away uttering om and remembering me attains the supreme destination – om ity ekākṣaram brahmavyāharan mām anusmaran
8.14 – Exhorting souls to remember Kṛṣṇa - One whose thought is always on Kṛṣṇa without deviation – yo mām smarati nitayśaḥ
8.15 – Coming to Kṛṣṇa - mām upetya – having come to me they do not come to repeated birth
8.16 – Coming to Kṛṣṇa - mām upetya – having come to me one does not find repeated birth

BG Chap 9 - Confidential knowledge taught by Kṛṣṇa

Kṛṣṇa stated in the seventh and eighth chapters that He is easily attained by pure bhakti. In this chapter the majestic aspect of the Lord as the object of worship suitable for His servants, and the excellence of pure devotee are described. Kṛṣṇa speaks of His supreme powers which cause astonishment and incite bhakti, as well as the great excellence of bhakti directed to Himself. The Gītā is the essence of all scriptures, and the essence of the Gītā is the middle six chapters. The middle of those six chapters, the ninth and tenth chapters, is the further essence of the six chapters.

Kṛṣṇa says that He would impart the most confidential knowledge, bhakti, along with realization of Him to Arjuna because Arjuna is never envious of the Lord. Knowing this one would be free from all sufferings. The knowledge of the ātmā distinct from the body, useful for liberation taught in the second, third, and subsequent chapters, is confidential. The knowledge taught in the seventh and eighth chapters useful for attaining the Lord is more confidential because that knowledge is actually knowledge of Bhagavān. The knowledge which would be taught in this chapter is knowledge about kevala or śuddha bhakti, which is most confidential. The term confidential indicates Kṛṣṇa is teaching advanced knowledge, and the more advanced the knowledge is, the less number of persons would understand it. Confidential also means the knowledge shared among an inner group of people, who are the devotees in this case. Thus even though Kṛṣṇa is teaching this knowledge openly, still only a few can understand it, and it is in this sense the knowledge is said to be confidential.