śrī bhagavān uvāca –
idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ pravakṣyāmy-anasūyave
jñānaṁ vijñāna-sahitaṁ yaj jñātvā mokṣyase’śubhāt
(Śrī Bhagavān said:) O Arjuna! You are a person devoid of envy. Therefore, I am teaching you this most confidential knowledge in connection with the most highest type of realisation. By accruing this, become free from all inauspiciousness.
The adhyātmika-jñāna (knowledge of the ātmā) that I spoke of in the second and third chapters is confidential. What I spoke in the seventh and eighth chapters in regards to knowledge of bhagavat-tattva (the Supreme Lord) which gives rise to bhakti, is more confidential. The knowledge that I will discuss now has the characteristics of pure bhakti, thus it is the most confidential. Through this, being free from the inauspiciousness which takes the form of the modes of material nature, you will cross beyond those modes.
rāja-vidyā rāja-guhyaṁ pavitram idam uttamam
pratyakṣāvagamaṁ dharmyaṁ susukhaṁ kartum avyayam
This knowledge is rāja-vidyā (the king of knowledge), it is more secret than all other confidential tattvas, the most pure, the very form of self-realisation, the perfection of all dharma, it transcends the modes of nature, and you should know that it is natural.
aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā dharmasyāsya parantapa
aprāpya māṁ nivartante mṛtyu-saṁsāra-vartmani
Śraddhā is the foundation of this knowledge, because the inherent nature of this knowledge, which is natural viśuddha-rati (transcendental attachment), initially arises as śraddhā in the heart of a bound jīva. O Parantapa! All those jīvas within whom this śraddhā does not manifest, being unable of achieving rati for Bhagavān in the form of the highest dharma, are apathetic towards Me and constantly fall into the path of saṁsāra.
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣv-avasthitaḥ
I pervade all the worlds as the avyakta-mūrti (an unmanifest form), in other words, a form which is incomprehensible to the mundane senses. All living beings are situated within Me, the very embodiment of consciousness. I am not situated as earth is situated in a pot. In other words, the world is not a transformation, or vivarta, of Me. I am the inherent nature and form of consciousness (caitanya-svarūpa); the world has come into existence due to the influence of My potency. The world acts due to My potency. I am accessible as a separate tattva in the form of complete Consciousness.
na ca mat sthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogam aiśvaram
bhūta-bhṛn na ca bhūta-stho mamātmā bhūta-bhāvanaḥ
I have said that all living beings reside within Me. This does not mean that all the living beings are situated within My pure form, since they are all located under the influence of My māyā potency. You will not be able to harmonise this with the intellect of a jīva. Thus, understand this to be My aiśvarya-yoga (mystic power), that the actions of My potency are also My actions. Know that I am bhūta-bhṛt, the maintainer of all living entities, that all beings are situated within Me, and that I am bhūta-bhāvana, the source of all living beings. This determines that there is no difference between Myself and My body, and although I am situated everywhere, I am also completely disassociated with everything.
yathākāśa-sthito nityaṁ vāyuḥ sarvatra-go mahān
tathā sarvāṇi bhūtāni mat-sthānīty-upadhāraya
Mundane examples in relation to this point are unsatisfactory. Therefore, bound jīvas cannot conceive of this principle. However, to a certain extent, an example can be given. I will explain this. Even if you cannot fully grasp it through deliberation, you can still consider it to a certain extent. The sky is an all-pervading substance. Within that, the air, in other worlds the atoms etc. move in all directions. Even though the sky is the foundation of everything, it is always disassociated with everything. Similarly, even though all living entities arise and move within My potency, like the sky, I am always disassociated.
sarva-bhūtāni kaunteya prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām
kalpa-kṣaye punas tāni kalpādau visṛjāmy-aham
O Kaunteya! At the end of the kalpa, all living beings enter into My material nature (prakṛti), and again at the beginning of a kalpa, I create everything through that prakṛti.
prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhya visṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥ
bhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnam avaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt
This world is subject to My prakṛti. They are subjugated by that prakṛti, and by My will I create them again and again. They are created through My prakṛti.
na ca māṁ tāni karmāṇi nibadhnanti dhanañjaya
udāsīnavad āsīnam asaktaṁ teṣu karmasu
mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram
hetunānena kaunteya jagad viparivartate
But, O Dhanañjaya, all these actions cannot bind Me. I remain detached and indifferent to all these actions. Factually, I am not indifferent. I am always attached to transcendental bliss. Nourishing that transcendental bliss, I create these living beings with My māyā and taṭasthā potencies. My nature is never effected by them. Whatever the living beings do under the enchantment of māyā, My pure transcendental and blissful divine pastimes are nourished by that. In regard to material affairs, I am naturally seen to be indifferent.
Prakṛti is My potency. Under My refuge, My potency is activated. In relation to My divine pastimes, due to My will, I glance over this prakṛti then I manage all activities. Initiated by that glance, prakṛti gives birth to the animate and inanimate things of this world. In this way, this world is manifested again and again.
avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mama bhūta-maheśvaram
From what I have said, you can discern that My nature is comprised of sac-cid-ānanda (eternity, knowledge and bliss) and that My potency acts due to My mercy. However, I am independent of all activities. If I am perceived in this mundane world, it is only by My mercy and through the influence of My potency. I am a tattva which is beyond all material rules. That is why even though I possess a form of pure consciousness (caitanya-svarūpa), I manifest within the gross physical world in My own intrinsic form. The unlimited specific attributes that humans have such affinity for such as minuteness, vastness, invisibility etc. are simply the functions of intelligence bound by māyā. That is not My superior nature (param-bhāva). My superior nature is this – I am most remarkable. Although I possess a medium-sized form, by My potency I am simultaneously all-pervading and more minute than the atom. This manifestation of My form only occurs through My acintya-śakti (inconceivable potency). Fools consider that this sac-cid-ānanda form of Mine is a human body, and determine that I have accepted a body which has been imposed upon Me because I am bound to the laws of the material world. They cannot understand that in this form, I am the Great Controller of all living beings. Thus, through their perception which lacks knowledge, they relegate Me as having a negligible existence. Those within whom a knowledgeable perception has arisen, can understand that this form of Mine is eternally a tattva of sac-cid-ānanda.
moghāśā mogha-karmāṇo mogha-jñānā vicetasaḥ
rākṣasīm āsurīṁ caiva prakṛtiṁ mohinīṁ śritāḥ
If you ask why this ignorant perception arises, then listen! The hopes, activities and knowledge of foolish persons, who are bewildered by their rākṣasa and asura natures, are all futile. Their minds are distracted with various activities with the hope of attaining higher realms. By engaging in such useless deeds which award insignificant results, they cannot achieve transcendental knowledge. If they ever do seek knowledge, then it is lost due to the influence of impure knowledge in the form of monistic philosophies. Then they think that My form is comprised of māyā and that I am Īśvara, a principle which is inferior to Brahman. If their minds are purified by worshipping Me, then they attain nirguṇa-brahma (Brahman without qualities). The result is that eventually the jīva’s divine nature is obliterated due to his rākṣasa and asura nature.
mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ
bhajanty-ananya-manaso jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam
O Pārtha! Those who achieve a knowledgeable perception are mahātmās. With a focused mind, taking refuge in their divine nature – in other words, without trusting in karma which gives insignificant results, and jñāna in the form of dry monistic philosophy which eliminates the self, they worship My form of Kṛṣṇa, the inexhaustible origin of all creatures, and the supreme tattva.
satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā nitya-yuktā upāsate
All the devotee mahātmās with knowledgeable perception always glorify my Name, form, qualities and pastimes. That is to say, they engage in the nine kinds of bhakti such as śravaṇa (hearing), kīrtana (chanting) etc. In order to achieve eternal servitorship unto My sac-cid-ānanda form, they cultivate Me by making firm vows with their body, mind, society and ātmā. They are not distracted by worldly activities and during the time that they maintain themselves in the material world, they surrender unto Me through the process of bhakti-yoga.
jñāna-yajñena cāpy-anye yajanto mām upāsate
ekatvena pṛthaktvena bahudhā viśvato-mukham
O Arjuna, all these ananya-bhaktas (devotees who are focused upon Me) are superior to those devotees who are in search of wealth etc. I have shown this to you in many ways by referring to them by the word mahātmā. Now there are three categories of devotees who are inferior to them that have not yet been mentioned, and I will talk about them. The wise refer to them as the ahaṁgrahopāsaka (worshippers of the self), the pratīkopāsaka (worshippers of the Devas), and the viśvarūpopāsaka (worshippers of the universal form). Amongst these aforementioned three classes of inferior devotees, the ahaṁgrahopāsakas are primary. His worships consists of the conception of identifying himself as Bhagavān. This is one kind of yajña of worshipping the Supreme. Worshipping with this conception of non-difference, the ahaṁgrahopāsakas worship Me.* The pratīkopāsakas are inferior to them. Considering themselves to be separate from Bhagavān, they worship Sūrya, Indra etc. as the expanded energies (vibhūti) of Bhagavān. Inferior to them are persons with stunted intelligence who worship Bhagavān as the universal form. In this way, three kinds of jñāna-yajña (sacrifices of knowledge) are observed.
* Translator’s Note: In his commentary to this verse, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has elaborated on the process of ahaṁgrahopāsana by stating that the phrase ekatvena pṛthaktvena in this verse can refer to two states – firstly the worshipper may meditate that, “I am Kṛṣṇa” and simultaneously think “I am the servant of Kṛṣṇa,” just as a river flowing into the ocean is both different and non-different from the ocean. In other words, the worshipper contemplates his simultaneous oneness and difference with his worshippable Deity. However, the Gauḍīya ācāryas have categorically stated that ahaṁgrahopāsana is dangerous to pure devotion as it can lead to monism. Thus, Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has stated in his commentary to Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.296 that ahaṁgrahopāsana is antagonistic to the cultivation of rāgānuga–bhakti.
ahaṁ kratur ahaṁ yajñaḥ svadhāham aham auṣadham
mantro’ham aham evājyam aham agnir ahaṁ hutam
pitāham asya jagato mātā dhātā pitāmahaḥ
vedyaṁ pavitram oṁkāra ṛk sāma yajureva ca
gatir bhartā prabhuḥ sākṣī nivāsaḥ śaraṇaṁ suhṛt
prabhavaḥ pralayaḥ sthānaṁ nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
tapāmy-aham ahaṁ varṣaṁ nigṛhṇāmy-utsṛjāmi ca
amṛtaṁ caiva mṛtyuś ca sad asac cāham arjuna
I am the agniṣṭoma and other sacrifices mentioned in the śruti, as well as the viśvadeva sacrifice etc. mentioned in the smṛti. I am svadhā (the oblations to the forefathers), I am the auṣadha (medicinal herbs), I am the mantra, I am the ghee, I am the sacrifice.
I am the father of this world, the mother, the support and the grandfather. I am the pure oṁkāra, I am the Ṛk, Sāma and Yajur Veda. I am the supreme destination of all, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the dear friend, the creation, the annihilation, the maintenance, the cause and the imperishable seed.
I am the heat of the summer season and the rain in the monsoon season. I am the one who sends rain, and withdraws it. I am immortality. I am death and, O Arjuna, I am matter and spirit. Meditating in this way, I am worshipped in the form of the viśvarūpa (universal form).
trai-vidyā māṁ soma-pāḥ pūta-pāpā
yajñair iṣṭvā svargatiṁ prārthayante
te puṇyam āsādya surendra-lokam
aśnanti divyān divi deva-bhogān
te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
evaṁ trayī-dharmam anuprapannā
gatāgataṁ kāma-kāmā labhante
If there is a shred of bhakti in these three kinds of worship, then after worshipping Me as the Supreme Lord, the jīva will gradually abandon any contamination and achieve liberation in the form of pure bhakti to Me. The followers of ahaṁgrahopāsana who consider themselves to be Bhagavān, by deliberating on devotion, eventually advance to the stage of pure bhakti. The followers of pratīkopāsana who consider various Devatās to be Bhagavān, by deliberating on philosophical principles and through sādhu-saṅga, gradually accept My intrinsic sac-cid-ānanda form and nature. The followers of viśvarūpopāsana who are uncertain about the knowledge of Paramātmā, concentrate on My medium-sized sac-cid-ānanda form and nature, as that form gradually manifests. However, within these three kinds of worship, those who are averse to Bhagavān and maintain the characteristics of holding on to karma and jñāna do not achieve the eternally auspicious state of bhakti. Eventually these practitioners of non-difference fall into the net of poor logic in the form of māyāvāda due to their aversion towards Bhagavān. The pratīkopāsakas, who are bound by the activities of karma written in the Ṛk, Sāma and Yajur Veda, having studied the three Vedas that teach karma, become cleansed of pāpa by drinking soma. Eventually, having worshipped Me through all types of yajña, they pray to attain Svarga (the celestial realm). By attaining puṇya, they achieve the realm of the Devas along with all kinds of divine enjoyment. After enjoying Svarga, which awards immense happiness, when their puṇya is destroyed, they return to martya-loka (the realm of death). Those persons who wish to fulfill their desires by following the three Vedas come and go again and again.
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy-aham
You should not think that those worshippers following the three Vedas who harbour material desires attain all kinds of happiness, and My devotees undergo all kinds of suffering. All My devotees think of Me with exclusivity. In order to maintain the body, they accept all those things which are not opposed to bhakti-yoga. Thus they are nityābhiyukta (eternally fixed in thoughts of Me). They are selfless and they offer everything unto Me. I give them all kinds of wealth and I maintain them. The meaning of this is that when they accept all those objects that are prescribed in bhakti-yoga, they seem to be enjoying those things. Thus there is not much difference between My devotees and the pratīkopāsakas who have material desires. Therefore, even if the devotees have no desires, I carry whatever they require. The special benefit of My devotees is that by My mercy, they enjoy all things proportionately as they deserve, and finally they attain eternal bliss. The pratīkopāsakas experience happiness through the senses, then again reappear in the field of result-oriented work (karma-kṣetra). They have no eternal happiness. Although I am indifferent in all matters, since I am bhakta-vātsalya (affectionate to the devotees), I achieve bliss by trying to favour the devotees. Therein, My devotees certainly make no offence because they do not pray to Me for anything. I Myself make up for whatever they lack.
ye’pyanya-devatā bhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ
te’pi mām eva kaunteya yajanty-avidhi-pūrvakam
Factually, I alone am the Supreme who possesses a form and nature of sac-cid-ānanda. In My intrinsic form and nature (sva-svarūpa) I am always a tattva which is transcendental sac-cid-ānanda beyond the gross material world. There is no other Devatā independent of Me. Sūrya and other Devas are worshipped by many. All the forms manifested by Me in the universe by the modes under māyā are worshipped as other Devatās by the humans of this world. Upon deliberation, one can see that they are My guṇāvatāras (qualitative avatāras). The worship of those who know the tattva of My guṇāvatāras and the tattva of My form and nature, is according to the rules of śāstra – in other words, it is according to their stage of progress. Those who venerate the Devatās considering them to be eternal, perform worship which is against the rules of śāstra. Due to this, they do not achieve eternal results.
ahaṁ hi sarva-yajñānāṁ bhoktā ca prabhureva ca
na tu mām abhijānanti tattvenātaś cyavanti te
I am the enjoyer and master of all yajñas. Those who worship other Devatās considering them to be independent of Me are know as pratīkopāsakas. They are unaware of My tattva, thus they deviate from the truth due to unauthorised worship (atattvika-upāsana). Those who worship Sūrya and other Devatās as My expanded energies (vibhūti) can finally become benefitted.
yānti deva-vratā devān pitṛn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā yānti mad yājino’pi mām
Those who worship other Devatās as Īśvara, taking refuge in temporary objects or taking shelter of the temporary qualities of those objects, achieve the temporary nature of the Devatā that they invoke. Those who worship the Pitṛs (forefathers) achieve the temporary nature of the Pitṛs. Those who worship ghosts achieve the state of a ghost. Those who worship My eternal spiritual form and nature (nitya cit-tattva-svarūpa), attain Me. Therefore, I have no bias in awarding results. It is my unwavering rule to determine the karma of the jīvas with indifference.
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ
I accept with great affection whatever the prayatātmā-bhakta (devotee with purified mind) offers with bhakti – a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water. I do not accept the many endeavours and great wealth of those who venerate the Devatās, for all their worship is offered with only fleeting faith. That is because they only worship Me to request something.
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad arpaṇam
Those eligible for bhakti are of four categories – the ārta (those in distress), jijñāsu (the inquisitive), arthārthī (those who desire wealth) and the jñānī (the wise). In the stage before they ascended to bhakti, their sādhana was of three types – ahaṁgrahopāsana, pratikopāsana and viśvarūpopāsana. At the time of ascending to bhakti, they have four ways of conduct in regards to the world of humans – sakāma-karma (actions for selfish results), niṣkāma–karma-yoga (the yoga of selfless action), jñāna-yoga (the yoga of knowledge) and aṣṭāṅga–yoga (the yoga of eight-fold divisions). Having spoken about all these, I have explained the nature of transcendental bhakti. Now, O Arjuna, you decide what is your own qualification. You have descended with Me with the nature of a dharma-vīra (righteous hero) and you are engaged in deeds that nourish My līlā. Therefore you cannot be counted amongst the nirapekṣa-bhaktas (neutral devotee) of the sakāma-bhaktas (devotees with material desires). Thus you should engage in bhakti mixed with karma-and jñāna which is selfless. Your duty is that whatever you do, whatever you enjoy, whatever you sacrifice, whatever penance you perform, offer it to Me. When activities are performed with other intentions, persons who are deeply engrossed in matter finally offer the results unto Me. This is pointless. Offering your actions unto Me from the beginning, engage in bhakti.
śubhāśubha-phalair evaṁ mokṣyase karma-bandhanaiḥ
sannyāsa-yoga-yuktātmā vimukto mām upaiṣyasi
In this way, reject the bondage of the results of auspicious and inauspicious actions such as fighting etc. and engage in sannyāsa-yoga (the state of renunciation). You will achieve liberation and knowledge concerning My intrinsic nature.
samo’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu na me dveṣyo’sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣu cāpy-aham
My secret is this – I conduct Myself by showing equality to all beings. I do not hate anyone. I do not love anyone. This is My general rule. However, My special rule is that whoever worships Me with bhakti is attached to Me, and I an attached to them.
api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ samyag vyavasito hi saḥ
He who worships Me with a one-pointed mind, even if he engages in the most wicked type of conduct, should be considered to be a sādhu because his behaviour is correct in every way. One should understand the phrase su-duracāra (‘the most wicked type of conduct’) properly. A bound jīva has two kinds of behaviour – sāmbandhika (relative conduct) and svarūpa–gata (conduct in relation to his intrinsic identity). Various kinds of conduct performed in relation to providing that which is lacking for the protection of the body, protection of society and uplifting the mind such as cleanliness, puṇya and nourishment are all sāmbandhika. The conduct of the pure jīva in the form of transcendental activities in worshipping Me is the svarūpa–gata of the jīva. Another name for this is amiśra (unalloyed) or kevala–bhakti (pure bhakti). The pure bhakti of a jīva in a bound state also retains an inevitable relationship with sāmbandhika conduct. If bhakti in the form of ananya-bhajana (exclusive bhajana) arises in the bound jīva, sāmbandhika conduct must continue while the physical body remains. When bhakti arises, the jīva has no other taste (ruci). To the extent that ruci for Kṛṣṇa flourishes, the taste for lower things will deteriorate. Until that is completely exhausted, sometimes the power of those things of a lower taste may manifest and lead one to engage in abominable acts. However, this will very soon be suppressed by kṛṣṇa-ruci. The resolution of the jīva to ascend the staircase of bhakti is beautiful in all respects. In the course of events some deplorable behaviour may occur. Although bad conduct may sometimes be observed (activities that devotees generally do not have a taste for such as violence, theft of property, enjoying another man’s wife etc.), it will soon go away. The strong influence of bhakti unto Me is not contaminated. This should be understood. Even if it is seen that a great devotee previously ate fish etc. or enjoyed another man’s wife etc., he cannot be thought of as asādhu (unprincipled).
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā śaśvac chāntiṁ nigacchati
kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
O Kaunteya! My promise is that the jīva who ascends the path of exclusive bhakti will never be lost. Even if some adharma remains in the initial stage due to his nature and circumstances, that adharma will vanish through the supreme medicine in the form of hari-bhakti. That jīva who is steady in the conduct of his svarūpa-gata in the form of eternal dharma achieves supreme tranquility stemming from bhakti, which is beyond the fetters of pāpa and puṇya.
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye’pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās te’pi yānti parāṁ gatim
O Pārtha! Low-born mlecchas, fallen women such as prostitutes, as well as men of lower varṇas such as vaiśyas and śūdras – if they take refuge in exclusive bhakti unto Me, they will swiftly achieve the Supreme Abode. For those who take refuge in My path of bhakti, there is no impediment in regards to birth, varṇa etc.
kiṁ punar brāhmaṇāḥ puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayas tathā
anityam asukhaṁ lokam imaṁ prāpya bhajasva mām
When all low-born persons become eligible for transcendental bhakti unto Me, their inherent sinful behaviour cannot be an obstacle to them, for by the appearance of bhakti, all impious tendencies within the mind are very quickly subdued. Then is there any doubt that pious brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas that engage in svarūpa-gata activities in relation to bhakti, swiftly remove the inauspicious of puṇya? Therefore, having secured a position in this temporal and unhappy world, simply engage in pure worship of Me.
man-manā bhava mad bhakto mad yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ
Engage your mind in thoughts of Me. Engage your body in devotional worship and in surrendering unto Me. Then, becoming devoted unto Me and by engaging in all activities such as fighting etc., you will surely attain Me.
Thus ends Chapter Nine entitled Rāja-Guhya Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the ninth chapter