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BG Chap 9 - The Lord is free from all karma

Is the Lord bound by karma, His activities, in creating different bodies? No, these actions do not bind Kṛṣṇa. He is situated as if neutrally uncontaminated by these acts. As a person who works dutifully in a detached spirit remains aloof from the reactions of his work, so Kṛṣṇa becomes neither transformed nor entangled in material events and their reactions because He always remains aloof and detached. Bondage arises from attachment to action. Because all His desires are fulfilled spontaneously without having to act, the Lord has no attachment to action, nor bondage. The Lord is not unjust in creating different bodies for different types of enjoyment and suffering. Previously incurred karmas alone are the causes of different bodies for the jīvas, while the Lord is neutral to their unequal karmas. Since complete neutrality would forbid any sense of doership to the Lord, Kṛṣṇa says He is situated ‘as if’ neutral. Although He has control over every minute detail of material activities, He is sitting as if neutral.

Does this mean the Lord has no engagement at all? The Lord is neutral in the material activities of this world. But in the spiritual world, He is always engaged in His eternal, blissful, spiritual activities.

BG Chap 9 - The neutral position of the Lord

By His direction, prakṛti (material nature) produces all moving and non moving beings. The Lord first glances upon prakṛti. In accordance with the previous karmas of the jīvas, prakṛti then creates the universe of moving and non moving beings. By this cause of His glance, which considers the positions of the jīvas according to their previous karmas, this universe appears again and again. All the living entities, although born under the glance of the Supreme Lord, take their different bodies according to their past deeds and desires. So the Lord is not directly attached to this material creation. He simply glances over material nature; material nature is thus activated, and everything is created immediately. Because He glances over material nature, there is undoubtedly activity on the part of the Supreme Lord, but He has nothing to do with the manifestation of the material world directly. This example is given in the smṛti: when there is a fragrant flower before someone, the fragrance is touched by the smelling power of the person, yet the smelling and the flower are detached from one another. There is a similar connection between the material world and the Supreme Personality of Godhead; actually He has nothing to do with this material world, but He creates by His glance and ordains. Ordered, expanded and inspired by the Lord, under His direction alone, prakṛti creates the universe and the goals for human beings. Being the doer and being neutral are not contradictory because the Lord rules by His mere presence only. Prakṛti is dependent on His control alone. Without Him, she does not have the power to do anything. In the absence of the authority of the king on his throne, his ministers do not have the power to carry out actions.

BG Chap 9 - Fools deride Kṛṣṇa

Why do people not worship Kṛṣṇa, who has great powers? Fools deride Kṛṣṇa in His eternal human form, not knowing that it is His original spiritual form, pure Brahman and higher than anything else. Fools do not know the transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord of everything. They treat Kṛṣṇa with contempt, thinking that He is an ordinary man with great puṇya like other princes. Others consider the Supreme to be impersonal and devoid of attributes. They think that since absolute oneness cannot be understood, it assumes a form thru contact with the material mode of goodness. They act in this way because of associating with people in ignorance and because of lack of association with devotees. Some say in deprecation that Kṛṣṇa’s human form is just an aṁśa of the Mahā-puruṣa lying on the Kāraṇa ocean. They think the form that appeared as the son of Vasudeva is His real form because of having four arms, and the form that went to Vraja was a human form since it has two hands. And since it says tanum āśritam (taking shelter of a body), they think that the human form is not eternal. There are many so-called scholars and commentators of Bhagavad-Gītā who deride Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary man. The scholar may be born an extraordinary man due to his previous good work, but this conception of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is due to a poor fund of knowledge. Therefore he is called mūḍha, for only foolish persons consider Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary human being. And some consider Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary person because it is said that the Supreme resides in every living being.

BG Chap 9 - Clarifying the misinterpretations of Kṛṣṇa's form

The phrase tanum āśritam is employed merely for bringing about practical distinctions arising thru the potency of viśeṣa, rather than indicating actual duality between the Lord and His body, or that Brahman assumes a material body. When the Bhāgavatam (10.3.46) calls Him prākrtaḥ śiśuḥ, it does not mean He is an ordinary material baby. Since the two handed form is eternal, it must mean that the Lord appears in His original form as a baby. Prākṛta also means original or natural. In the one Lord, the two handed and other forms are simultaneously present and eternal. These are worshipped according to one’s preference. When it is said that the Supreme is in every living being, it means Kṛṣṇa, in His plenary expansion as Paramātmā, is situated in the moving and the nonmoving entities as the Supersoul, so any neophyte devotee who simply gives his attention to the arcā-mūrti, the form of the Supreme Lord in the temple, and does not respect other living entities is uselessly worshiping the form of the Lord in the temple.

BG Chap 9 - The nature of Kṛṣṇa's form

The ignorant do not know that the human form is Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa, more attractive and superior to the Mahā-puruṣa lying on the Kāraṇa ocean and other forms as well. Kṛṣṇa’s form is the great lord of Brahman and thus is different from Brahman. Kṛṣṇa’s form is sac-cid-ānanda. It controls everyone and it gives liberation. The human form of Kṛṣṇa is the most exalted state (param bhāvam), viśuddha sattva, a svarūpa of sac cid ānanda. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord of Brahmā and others and He is not different from His human body. His body is Brahman. Those blinded by material energy can understand this truth only thru the scriptures.

Here Kṛṣṇa confirms that His human form is supreme and later Arjuna calls the four armed form human as well (BG 11.51). Thus it is concluded that Kṛṣṇa’s human form is spiritually fixed as part of Himself. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa says that the supreme Brahman called Kṛṣṇa appeared with human form. The Bhāgavatam says the supreme Brahman in its secret aspect has a human form (SB 7.10.48). Also it is said that Kṛṣṇa assumes a human form in order to express the abundance of His human-like actions. Thus He is called human because He has an eternal human form and because He performs human-like activities. One cannot determine Kṛṣṇa as the supreme or human simply based on His having two or four hands. For instance, Kārtavīrya had a thousand arms. But that does not make him God or more than God. Kṛṣṇa is God because of being the supreme conscious entity and His ability to generate and destroy universes. The Gopāla-Tāpanī confirms that the Lord has two arms eternally.

BG Chap 9 - Those who think Kṛṣṇa has a material form

The karmīs, who think this way, do not attain their fruitive results such as svarga. The jñānīs, who study the Vedānta, get no results from their knowledge such as liberation. Even the devotees, who think this way, are deprived of mokṣa, such as sālokya. All these people are perplexed by the sin of rejecting the eternal, spiritual form of the Lord. Taking shelter of entities in the mode of ignorance predominated by violence and entities in the mode of passion with intense lust and pride, they are fit to live in hell. Māyāvādīs, who say that Brahman affected by the mode of goodness becomes īśvara, are ruined, and so are the commentators on Bhagavad Gītā who blaspheme Kṛṣṇa. People jeer at Kṛṣṇa because they are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Their destiny is certainly to take birth after birth in the species of atheistic and demoniac life. Perpetually, their real knowledge will remain under delusion, and gradually they will regress to the darkest region of creation.

BG Chap 9 - Those who accept Kṛṣṇa as He is

The great souls (mahātmās) who are not deluded are under the protection of the divine nature. They take shelter of Kṛṣṇa’s spiritual svarūpa, and fully serve Him with no distractions. They know that Kṛṣṇa’s human like body is the cause of all things and indestructible and fully spiritual. They know Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Brahman with human form and they serve the Lord thru associating with other pure devotees. Such persons have no taste for other forms of the Lord such as the one having thousand heads, though those are also forms of the Lord. Such persons accept with conviction that Kṛṣṇa, with human form, is the cause of all living entities, humans as well as Brahmā and Śiva. Their consciousness is deeply absorbed in Kṛṣṇa’s human form alone. Their minds do not dwell on such things as desires for jñāna and karma. They know the Lord as indestructible since His body is sac cid ānanda. This bhakti, which is exclusively centered on the Lord, is the best of all, the king of knowledge and the king of secrets.

BG Chap 9 - The activities of the mahātmās

The mahātmās always chant the glories of Kṛṣṇa and endeavor with great determination following strict vows. They desire to be the Lord’s associates and worship Him at all times with devotion thru singing, offering respects and other devotional acts. Thus a mahātmā is not an impersonalist. They worship always, not as in karma yoga which is dependent on time, place, person and purity for its execution. For one eager for the name of Hari, there are no restrictions of time, place or impurity. Just as poor men seek out the wealthy to support their families, the devotees seek out the assembly of devotees in order to obtain devotional processes like chanting. They repeatedly recite the scriptures teaching bhakti. They follow strict vows such as chanting a fixed number of rounds, offering so many obeisances and doing service. They also do not fail to observe fasts on Ekādaśī, Janmāṣṭamī and other sacred days. They also perform other processes of bhakti such as hearing and serving the lotus feet of the Lord. They loudly chant the sweet nectar of the Lord’s names related to His auspicious qualities and activities such as Govinda and Govardhana-dhārī. Singing about Kṛṣṇa, they worship Kṛṣṇa. A mahātmā has firm determination to achieve at the ultimate end the association of the Supreme Lord in any one of the five transcendental rasas.

BG Chap 9 - Three types of jñāna yajña

Having explained the method of worship of the mahātmās or the ananya bhaktas, Kṛṣṇa next explains those who worship Him with a predominance of jñāna. Such persons worship Him thru sacrifice of knowledge (jñāna-yajña), thinking themselves as non different from the Lord, seeing Him in different material elements, and worshipping the Lord in the universal form. They worship Him as the one without a second, as diverse in many, and in the form of many devatās. Kṛṣṇa possesses subtle spiritual and material energies and remains one. By willing ‘Let there be many’, He is situated in variegated forms within the universe, from Brahmā down to the inanimate objects. Some persons worship Him to realize this conception. They worship Him who is actually one, but who is situated separately with material forms consisting of pradhāna, mahat-tattva and other elements, and who is situated as the form of the devatās such as Indra.

Jñāna-yajña is a process of knowledge by which one worships the Lord by identifying themselves with Him. Some worship the Lord thru the sacrifice of knowledge, denying difference, simply by contemplating the non difference of the worshipper and the object of worship. Such worship is called ahaṁgrahopāsanā. There are others who, thinking of the difference between worshipper and object of worship, worship the Lord thru sacrifice of knowledge in different external forms representing the Lord: the sun is brahman and so on. In this process called pratīkopāsanā, where one worships the vibhūtis of the Lord, the person thinks that the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu is non different from the sun, non different from Indra and non different from Soma. Still others worship the Lord as the soul of all, viśva rūpa, by doing many activities and worshiping many devatās. This worship of the totality of vibhūtis thinking Viṣṇu is everything is called viśva-rūpa upāsanā. If the same person simultaneously contemplates that He is the Lord, and He is also the servant of the Lord, just as the river going to the ocean is different and non different from the ocean, then there are only two types of jñāna yajña. Śrīla Prabhupāda categorizes these three worshippers as: (1) the monists, who worship themselves as God; (2) the worshippers of demigods, who consider any form to be the form of the Supreme Lord; (3) those who cannot conceive of anything beyond the manifestation of this material universe, and thus who worship the universal form of the Lord.

BG Chap 9 - Kṛṣṇa's form as the universe

Kṛṣṇa is the sacrifices mentioned in the śruti such as the jyotiṣṭoma and those mentioned in the smṛtis such as vaiśvadeva. He is the śrāddha rites offered to the Pitṛs, the food made from herbs, the mantras chanted in offering oblations to the devatās, ghee, the fire used for sacrifice and the act of offering oblations. Kṛṣṇa is situated as the soul of all those things. In other words, the Vedic sacrifices recommended in the karma-kāṇḍa division of the Vedas are in total also Kṛṣṇa. This implies that those who are engaged in rendering devotional service unto Kṛṣṇa are to be understood to have performed all the sacrifices recommended in the Vedas.

Kṛṣṇa is situated as the mother, father and the grandfather of all things in the universe. He is the father because He produces all the ingredients necessary to create the universe. He is the mother because He holds within His womb the universe. He is the grandfather because He produces Brahmā, the creator of the universe. In the form of kings and others, He is the maintainer and nourisher of all beings. Being the possessor of all spiritual and material energies, and the Paramātmā within all matter and jīvas, there is no problem for Him to maintain the universe. He is the object of all knowledge, and the purifier in the form of rivers like the Ganges. He is oṁ, the seed of all the Vedas and the cause of knowledge of Brahman, which is the real object of knowledge. He is also the three Vedas – Ṛg, Yajur and Sāma. The word ca indicates Atharva Veda. Ṛg also refers to the Vedic verses with regular syllables. Sāma refers to those verses with regular meter and which are sung. Some say that sāma refers to any verse which is sung. Yajur refers to verses not sung and with irregular syllables. These three types of mantras are useful in rites.

Kṛṣṇa is the method by which a goal is attained. He is the master, the controller, the witness of all sinful and pious acts, the abode and the deliverer from all dangers. He is the benefactor. He is situated in the acts of creation, destruction and maintenance, and in the nine treasures of Kuvera: padmanidhi, mahānidhi, saṅkhanidhi, makaranidhi, kacchapanidhi, mukundanidhi, nandanidhi, nīlanidhi and kharvanidhi. He is the indestructible cause or seed, unlike rice and other temporary seeds. He gives heat in the form of sun. During monsoon season, He releases rain in the form of clouds, and sometimes holds back rain to create a drought. He is liberation and bondage, and the subtle and the gross. Thus holding all powers, He is situated in the form of the whole universe with many names and forms. Some worship Him searching out the one person in these many things. Since Kṛṣṇa is both matter and spirit, the gigantic universal form comprising all material manifestations is also Kṛṣṇa, and His pastimes in Vṛndāvana as two-handed Śyāmasundara, playing on a flute, are those of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.