The following are the four Mahavakyas (Great Truths) taken out from each of the four Vedas all indicating the same Truth.
We have seen earlier that the eighteen chapters of Gita can be divided into 3 sets of 6 Chapters each explaining the Truth of the Mahavakya - `You Are That'. This sentence summarizes the entire Vedic law and philosophy. The first 6 Chapters of Gita explain the significance of the term `You' (Twam). The next 6 Chapters from the 7th to 12th explain the term `That' (Tat). The last 6 Chapters give the meaning of the term `Are' (Asi) and explain the message of the entire Mahavakya i.e. how the individual can blend with Parabrahman or attain Liberation. This Division does not mean any compartmentalization but implies a close relationship between the verses as also a logical thoughtflow from one Chapter to another.
Sri Krishna ended the previous Chapter by describing the supreme yogi as one who, with his inmost self abiding in Him, adores the Lord. We were told about the technique of meditation for obtaining Self-Realization and that a meditator is superior to a Tapasvi or Gnani. It declared that the one who has successfully merged his mind in the nature of Pure Consciousness through single-pointed meditation is the highest and the dearest to The Lord.
Arjuna still doubts how a limited and mortal mind and intellect of a finite entity like man could ever understand the limitless Infinite with all its virtues and glory. Sri Krishna therefore clarifies this doubt in this Chapter by describing the nature of the Lord Himself, who is the point of concentration of the yogi’s unwavering devotion.
Sri Krishna uses the first person singular pronoun ‘ME’ to mean the supreme Reality or brahman or God. He tells Arjuna that the supreme Godhead has to be realized in both its transcendent and immanent aspects. The Yogi who has reached this summit has nothing more to know.
This complete union with the Lord is difficult of attainment. Among many thousands of human beings, very few aspire for this union, and even among those who aspire for it, few ever reach the pinnacle of spiritual realization.
The Lord gives a clear description of the all-pervading static and infinite state of His Being. He then proceeds to explain His manifestations as the universe and the power behind it.
He speaks of these manifestations as His lower and higher Prakritis. The lower Prakriti is made up of the five elements, mind, ego and intellect. The higher Prakriti is the life-element which upholds the universe, activates it and causes its appearance and final dissolution.
Krishna says that whatever exists is nothing but Himself. He is the cause of the appearance of the universe and all things in it. Everything is strung on Him like clusters of gems on a string. He is the essence, substance and substratum of everything, whether visible or invisible. Although everything is in Him, yet He transcends everything as the actionless Self.
Prakriti or nature is made up of the three Gunas or qualities—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. These three qualities delude the soul and make it forget its true nature, which is one with God. This delusion, termed Maya, can only be removed by the Grace of the Lord Himself.
‘Jnana’ means consummate knowledge of the formless and attributeless aspect of the Lord. ‘Vijnana’ means experiencing that knowledge. Awareness of the Lord comprises of both such knowledge and experience. The present Chapter deals with such Integral Divinity and with practices which lead to its knowledge and the fortunate souls who possess such knowledge. In simple terms the Chapter tells us about
•the concept of God or Brahman or Soul
•examples of manifestation of God in the universe and
•how to perceive God within oneself.
It is therefore named as ‘The Yoga of Jnana and Vijnana’
sri bhagavaan uvaacha
mayyaasaktamanaah paartha yogam yunjanmadaashrayah
asamshayam samagram maam yathaa jnaasyasi tacchrinu // 7.1 //
Sri Bhagavan said
Hear, O Partha, how, with your mind intent on Me, and taking refuge in Me and practicing Yoga, you will without doubt know Me in full.
A Yogi’s mind is attached to the Lord alone setting aside all the disciplines and worships the Lord with complete concentration. The Lord alone is the whole basis of the yogi’s being and the goal of his action. Practicing yoga means being united with the Lord in contemplation. Knowing the Lord in full implies knowing all His six attributes viz., infinite greatness, strength, power, grace, knowledge and detachment. As Arjuna has the necessary qualifications, Sri Krishna assures that He will give him a complete or integral knowledge of the Divine, not merely the Pure Self but also its manifestations in the world.
jnaanam te'ham savijnaanam idam vakshyaamyasheshatah
yajjnaatwaa neha bhooyo'nyaj jnaatavyamavashishyate // 7.2 //
I shall teach you in full both knowledge and experience, which having been known, nothing more remains to be known by you.
Jnana means knowledge, the direct spiritual illumination and Vijnana is the detailed rational knowledge of the principles of existence. We must have not merely the knowledge of the relationless Absolute but also of its varied manifestations.
The awareness that the Lord exists and that He is the inmost spirit of all is knowledge. This knowledge can be acquired by study of the scriptures, and reasoning about their contents. But to realize the Lord in oneself and in all other beings and to act according to that realization is experience, vijnana. For example, to know that one can obtain fire from wood is knowledge. But to kindle fire in the wood and feel its heat and light in a dark winter night is experience, Vijnana. In Hinduism knowledge of God is inseparable from experience.
Because the Lord is everything, when He is fully known everything else is automatically known. The Lord as Sat-chit-ananda (existence-knowledge-bliss absolute) forms the real essence of all objects. Names and forms are mere illusory superimposition.
manushyaanaam sahasreshu kaschidyatati siddhaye
yatataamapi siddhaanaam kaschinmaam vetti tattwatah // 7.3 //
Among thousands of people, one by chance aspires for perfection; even among those successful aspirants, one by chance knows Me in essence.
The question why the Self-Realized masters are so rare and why such a realization is not within the reach of everyone is answered.
‘Knowing Me in essence’ - The Being of the Lord and His diverse manifestations are incomprehensible to the human mind. He is the Impersonal Reality, the Personal God, and many other things besides. Of all living beings on earth, man alone can inquire about his self and its relationship with the Lord. Among innumerable human beings, only a few develop a desire for such an inquiry. Among those who show such desire, only a few know the means of attaining knowledge and strive after it. Among those who strive, only a fortunate few succeed in acquiring the true knowledge of the Lord. Hence knowledge of God is rare on this earth.
Thus far Arjuna has been taught the highest form of devotion, which leads to union with God in its static aspect as also with His dynamic Prakriti. Krishna tells him that there are also other forms of devotion which are inferior as they are performed with various motives. The distressed, the seeker of divine wisdom, and he who desires wealth, worship Him, as also the wise. Of these the Lord deems the wise as dearest to Him. Such a devotee loves the Lord for the sake of pure love alone. Whatever form the devotee worships, the ultimate goal is the Lord Himself. The Lord accepts such worship, knowing that it is directed to Him only.