The variety of human pursuits and how each gains its particular objective in life are described now. These pursuits fall under three distinct types of activities in the world. The persons belonging to the first type act with self-centered interests in this world. They go about their activities merely fulfilling their ego and egocentric desires. Consequently they suffer from mental agitations and sorrow (papa).
Others in the second category work unselfishly for higher and nobler goals in life. They serve and sacrifice for their chosen ideal. They gain the joys of heaven (punya).
The third variety seeks spiritual Enlightenment. They strive for liberation through their devout offerings to the Supreme Being. They oblate their actions, feelings and thoughts to their altar of Self-realization. Such seekers become liberated from their mundane existence and gain the ultimate bliss of Realization.
A seeker’s direction in the spiritual path matters more than his spiritual status. A righteous person may move towards worldly attractions and devolve spiritually, whereas an unrighteous person may take to the spiritual path and evolve. Therefore, in the spiritual life what really matters is not where you are but what direction you choose to take – the path of evolution or devolution.
The discussion in this Chapter concludes with the encouraging words that anyone can attain Enlightenment through devotion and dedicated effort towards the Supreme Self.
NON-WORSHIPPERS ARE CAUGHT IN THE WHEEL OF BIRTH & DEATH
traividyaa maam somapaah pootapaapaa yajnairishtwaa swargatim praarthayante
te punyamaasaadya surendralokamashnanti divyaandivi devabhogaan // 9.20 //
The knowers of the three Vedas, the drinkers of Soma, purified of all sins, worshipping Me by sacrifices, pray for the way to heaven: they reach the holy world of The Lord of the Gods (Indra) and enjoy in heaven the divine pleasures of the gods.
te tam bhuktwaa swargalokam vishaalam ksheene punye martyalokam vishanti
evam trayeedharmamanuprapannaa gataagatam kaamakaamaa labhante // 9.21 //
They having enjoyed the vast heaven, return to the world of mortals when their merits are exhausted; thus abiding by the injunctions of the three Vedas and desirous of enjoyments, they are subject to birth and death.
The Lord refers to the Vedic Theory that those who perform rituals gain heavenly enjoyments after death and points out how it cannot be regarded as the highest goal. Such men are bound by the law of karma as they are still lured by desire and they will return to this cosmic procession since they act from an ego-centre and since their ignorance is not destroyed.
If we seek rewards in heaven, we will gain them but we return to mortal existence so long as we do not gain the true aim of life. Human life is an opportunity to develop soul's divine nature from the imperfect material we are composed of. We operate from the ego-centered consciousness, whether we seek the pleasures of this world or a future paradise and therefore do not gain liberation from the ever running wheel of birth and death.
ananyaashchintayanto maam ye janaah paryupaasate
teshaam nityaabhiyuktaanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham // 9.22 //
To these men who worship Me alone, thinking of no other, to those ever self-controlled, I secure which is not already possessed (Yoga) and preserve what they already possess (Kshema).
The case of those who worship the Eternal (with love free from any desire) as the Substratum for the entire Universe is illustrated here. They meditate upon The Lord as the one and the only reality behind the entire universe. Sri Krishna promises them Yoga - more and more spiritual enlightenment and Kshema - the final liberation resulting from the Yoga.
This verse can be interpreted to mean that The Lord takes up all the cares and burdens of His devotees. To become conscious of divine love, all other love must be abandoned. If we cast ourselves entirely on the mercy of God, He bears all our sorrows. We can depend on His saving grace and energizing care. The Lord promises complete protection or final merger with His Immortal Being to those who love Him with all their body, heart and soul.
This Verse conveys the central theme of the Gita and is very famous.
WORSHIPPING OF OTHER GODS
yepyanyadevataa bhaktaa yajante shraddhaya’anvitaah
te’pi maameva kaunteya yajantyavidhipoorvakam // 9.23 //
Even those devotees, who endowed with faith, worship other Gods, worship Me alone, O Son of Kunti, by the wrong method.
All do not worship at the same altar since tastes differ from person to person. Although they worship at the different altars, they adore the same Vitality that is the substratum for all the created world of change. Thus even when they worship different deities with perfect faith, all of them invoke nothing but the One Eternal Truth expressed through different forms of worship.
Once it is agreed that the Infinite Reality is the One without a second, which remains the same in the past, present and future, it will be clear that the Self as Consciousness expressed through the instruments of different saints, sages, prophets and incarnations is one and the same wherever and whenever they are born and functioned among the people of their times. Hence Sri Krishna declares that they too worship Me alone, eventhough by wrong methods.
The term other Gods referred to in this verse means different forms or aspects of the single God-hood like Indra, Varuna etc., which the man assumes in his different Gunas. Such worshipers are said to follow wrong methods because while worshipping when there is a possibility of achieving the Highest - Realization of the Self, Liberation - they pray for ordinary things of life like health, wealth etc. Because of this ignorance they come back to the world to satisfy their unfulfilled desires.
aham hi sarvayajnaanaam bhoktaa cha prabhur eva cha
na tu maamabhijaananti tattwenaatashchyavanti te // 9.24 //
(For) I alone am the enjoyer in and the Lord of all sacrifices; but they do not know Me in essence and hence they fall (return to this mortal world).
This verse explains why these methods are wrong and why the pursuers of these wrong methods return to the mortal world when they have finished enjoying the joys of heaven which were the rewards for their merits acquired through ritualism.
These methods are wrong because only a limited potentiality of the Supreme is invoked and Its infinite glory is not realized. Hence they fall into the delusory mundane world again and again.
The Lord alone is the enjoyer of all sacrifices and the lord of all sacrifices. As a result of their sacrifices they attain a higher plane to enjoy their merits. However as they perform the worship without recognizing the Supreme and as they do not consecrate their actions to Him, they return to the mortal world after their merits have been exhausted.
yaanti devavrataa devaan pitreenyaanti pitrivrataah
bhutaani yaanti bhutejyaa yaanti madyaajino‘pi maam // 9.25 //
The worshippers of the Devas or Gods go to the Devas; to the pitris or ancestors go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Bhutas or the elements go the worshippers of the Bhutas; but those who worship Me come to Me.
`Devas' represent the various sense-organs by the activities of which the world is experienced. In other words the word `Devas' means the entire field of all physical experiences. Those who solicit the external world of joys and successes consistently and with the required amount of devotion, come to gain such enjoyments. The worshippers of ancestors mean those who strive to live up to the cultural purity and traditions of their ancients. Such an individual gains the beauty and perfection of a pure life. The worshippers of the Bhutas reach the Bhutas indicate that even for those who diligently pursue the understanding of nature success is assured to the extent of their efforts made.
But these are the limited forms of the Supreme and cannot give the aspiring soul the peace that is beyond all understanding. The result of worship is assimilation to the form worshipped and these limited forms give limited results. But devotion to the Supreme brings the supreme reward of merging with the Self and such persons become on with Brahman.