This chapter explains how the Self - Atman - pervades the entire world. The wise seek the Self while the ignorant, disregarding the Self, lead an empty life with vain hopes and unfulfilled aspirations. They go through the endless cycle of birth and death. Confirming the truth behind the saying that whatever one strives for, be it material or spiritual, one attains that particular goal, the ignorant gain their limited, mundane ends but never find accomplishment in their lives, whereas, the wise pursue the ultimate goal of Realization and find absolute peace and bliss in their own Self. Sri Krishna, therefore, advises Arjuna to seek the Self, to subsume all worldly activities to the Self until Spiritual Enlightenment is reached.
Krishna begins the chapter by offering to impart the knowledge of Reality that pervades the world and also as to the means of achieving this supreme knowledge and thereby free oneself from all agitations and sorrows.
The previous Chapter of the Gita dealt with liberation by stages through the process of meditation. But this way is not the only means of emancipation. A direct way is described in this Chapter. This knowledge being unknown to the mankind at large, Krishna terms it as a supreme secret and hence this Chapter is called ‘Yoga of Royal Knowledge and Royal Secret’.
All living beings and inert things arise from the supreme Reality, exist in the Reality and ultimately merge into the Reality. The periods of manifestation of the world and its dissolution run into billions of years. The supreme Reality acts as the disinterested Self, witnessing the entire creation and dissolution. Those who fail to pursue this knowledge remain bound to the world of mortality. Krishna, therefore, appeals to the seekers to free themselves from the manifest world and reach the unmanifest Reality and to discover the Divinity that supports the pluralistic phenomenal existence.
sri bhagavaan uvaacha
idam tu te guhyatamam pravakshyaamyanasooyave
jnaanam vijnaanasahitam yajjnaataa mokshyase’shubhaat // 9.1 //
Sri Bhagavan said
To you, O Arjuna, who do not criticize, I will propound this, the greatest mystery of knowledge combined with realization, by understanding which you will bee released from evil.
In this opening verse Sri Krishna assures Arjuna that He will reveal the theoretical knowledge of the Self combined with Its intuitive perception. Such knowledge is the direct means of attaining liberation. This knowledge about the Self dwelling in the body, and about the identity of the individual self and the Supreme Self, is considered most profound mystery because it has only to be realized through one's own experience or spiritual intuition and cannot be expressed in any words.
Arjuna is considered to be the most suitable candidate to know this deep mystery because he is free from jealousy and does not belong to the category of those who always find fault with whatever others do or say. Jealousy-free mind only can absorb deep knowledge, for jealousy is another form of ignorance.
Sri Bhagavan says that the one who receives this knowledge (a realized person) shall be free from all irksome problems of life, can rule over circumstances and face adversities with a smile. Krishna assures that by understanding that knowledge one will be released from the evil i.e. bondage of the world.
GREATNESS OF THAT KNOWLEDGE
raajavidyaa raajaguhyam pavitramidamuttamam
pratyakshaavagamam dharmyam susukham kartumavyayam // 9.2 //
It is the Royal Science, Royal mystery, and the supreme purifier. It is perceived by direct experience. It accords with Dharma, it is easy to practice and it is imperishable.
In order to develop enthusiasm in the pursuit of Self, perfection is praised in this verse. Here the word secret or mystery means that which is too deep and striking and hence Vedanta is a secret for the uninitiated which has to be unraveled by a person endowed with scriptural knowledge.
Sri Krishna says that Vedanta, the science of life which is sovereign in its import, deep in its substance and supreme in its purifying effects, is clearly comprehensible since it can be verified by direct experience. It is knowledge by acquaintance and not by description. The truth is waiting to be seen by us, if the obstructing veils are removed. The Supreme is to be seen by one as one's own Self, through one's developed and purified intuition. The gains obtained by pursuit of this Royal Science are of imperishable nature.
As a lamp, when lit in a room, instantly destroys the accumulated darkness of the ages, so the knowledge of Brahman, when realized in the heart, reduces to ashes the accumulated karma of all the past ages. Hence it is called supreme purifier.
The Bliss of Brahman is as directly perceived as the feelings of pleasure and pain. An object endowed with great qualities can also be against Dharma; but such is not the case with the knowledge of Brahman which is easily acquired when taught by a qualified teacher. It is always in accordance with Dharma. The Bliss arising out of the knowledge of Brahman, though easily acquired, is eternal. Therefore the knowledge of Brahman should be pursued by all who desire peace and happiness.
ashraddhadhaanaah purushaa dharmasyaasya parantapa
apraapya maam nivartante mrityusamsaaravartmani // 9.3 //
Those who have no faith in this knowledge of the Self and regard physical body itself as the Self, O Parantapa, return to the path of mortal living.
Faith or unswerving conviction of the existence of God, the soul and immortality is the prerequisite of spiritual life. Those without faith mean those who regard the physical body as the self and do not believe in the indestructibility and immortality of the soul.