Topic of the Whole Being: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15 SUMMARY (163)


Lesson 163 brings out the most significant points worthy of inquiry from Chapter 15, the most popular and often chanted chapter of the book.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15, SUMMARY

SUMMARY of Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 15:

  • Name of Chapter 15 is Puruṣottama Yogaḥ. A popular chapter because shortest and contains most significant imports of Upanishads.
  • Using Swami Paramarthananda’s structure, can be summarized in 5 portions:
    1. Description of samsara.
    2. Methods to reduce grip of samsara, and free oneself from it.
    3. Sat-cit (total reality) is both in form of inert world objects, and body-mind (jiva).
    4. Sat-cit is purushottama (the supreme purusha/being).
    5. Benefit of ascertaining, through passage of time, the significance of 3 & 4.
  • The 5 Portions…

1) Description of samsara:

  1. First 2 verses.
  2. Krishna borrows from Katha Upanishad 3.1 and Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1.
    • Universe is compared to ashvattha tree / peepal /fig tree.
    • Living beings (jivas) are compared to birds seated on higher/middle/lower branches of the tree, and consuming the fruits.
    • Fruits are 2 types:
      • Tasty fruits: sukha phalam.
      • Bitter fruits: duhkha phalam.
    • Mixture produce rainbow of experiences: Afraid, Aroused, Apprehensive, Amused, Arrogant, Alert, Depressed, Driven, Guilty, Eager, Heartbroken, Faithful, Hypocritical, Involved, Jealous, Intrigued.
    • Reality-check. Long as alive…
      • No one is experiencing a unform state of pleasantness, nor unpleasantness. Even with all the self-help material in the world and perfect position in life.
        • EG: Gṛhastha/Sannyasa both seem like a good idea. In reality, both bring challenges. So it’s not the position one holds, but their attitude towards their existing position.
      • All are going through light/dark passages.
      • Shine in some areas; feel inadequate in others.
    • Not accepting these facts, one gets entangled in excess control, spends too much time in detail (hoping details will bring harmony), or puts priority in modifying the environment, when problem is an uncultivated mind.
    • How to cultivate the mind? Next…

2) Methods to reduce grip of samsara, and free oneself from it.

  • Verse 3-6; cultivating a mind of a master via 4 evergreen methods:
  • 4 Methods:
    1. Vairāgyam/Virāga: Dispassion  or Objectivity
      • Dispassion isn’t something one develops. Trying to develop dispassion can only be denial/rejection/or escapism. One’s passions can only be concentrated to a HIGHER OBJECTIVE. Hence dispassion is a consequence of a focused mind. When we value something, all our focus goes onto THAT ONE OBJECT.
      • Dispassion results in relative freedom from:
        • Tamasic tendencies:
          • Putting entire person/nation/world in a box, instead of asking “What specific behaviour/action/phenomena don’t I like?”.
          • Anything that opposes universal values. Any behavior you’d be ashamed/embarrassed if camera was watching you, and whole world was watching.
        • Rajasic tendencies:
          • Detaching from things which no longer suit your new svadharma. Else can’t fill cup that’s already occupied.
          • Careful to not fall into “stuff” accumulation.
      • How to free oneself from the 2 foes? Form sattvic addictions. EG: Shastra study, meditation.
    2. Sadguṇaḥ: Vedanta friendly mind.
      • Working in a company; one has to learn and abide by company code of conduct; if wish to continue receiving the paycheck. Similarly, universe is Ishvara’s company.
      • Code of conduct mentioned was “nirmāna mohā jita saṇgadoṣāḥ” (V5); freedom from need to demand respect explicitly or implicitly. Doesn’t mean to keep quiet; advertising oneself has purpose.
    3. Śaraṇgatiḥ: Surrender.
      • Taking the attitude of being Krishna’s flute, through which the Lord can play His song.
        • Remember to polish your flute (mind), else doesn’t play enjoyable music.
      • Involves:
        1. Adopting a certain attitude:
          • Whatever hardships, downfalls, or challenges are presented; they are uniquely sculpted by the vast Intelligence just for me. Each is an opportunity to look within; inquire and grow.
            • If don’t, only other choice is disappointment, anger at world/God.
          • Maintain your time, energy and effort on what you CAN somewhat control; interpretation about what has happened.
        2. Having a constant relationship with the intelligence that’s expressing in form of experience, laws-orders, actions-results. While also knowing that the common principle between you (jiva) and Ishvara is the final-reality, sat-cit (both exist, both are aware).
        3. Taking refuge to attitude of gratitude.
          • Start with things that really matter to you.
          • Story of gratitude: A child saw mother paying cash for services others were doing for her. He thought it was a good way to make money. He gave his mother a bill of $3 for five chores he had done that day. Next morning, he saw a long bill sent by his mother. It listed: cooking and feeding each day, teaching how to walk, talk, bathe, laundering clothes, keeping awake all night when he was sick and so on. Amount charged for each service was zero. The child then understood that it was sheer love that made his mother sacrifice and serve him and the family.
    4. Aligning your mind’s understanding of reality with that of the śāstra, and not it’s own.
      • Why align with śāstra? Because they are the science of the WHOLE. Tried, tested, flawless, beginningless knowledge.
        • Instead of relying on individual minds (always prone to subjectivity), you’re relying on the mind which created the universe.

3) Sat-cit (total reality) is both in form of inert world objects, and mind (jiva).

  • Verse 7-15.
  • No such thing as pot. It’s just clay, which takes on a certain form/shape, and we call it “pot” for sake of differentiating it from another “pot”.
    • Accordingly, sat-cit by it’s own inscrutable creative power, appears as gross/subtle names-forms. Totality of all names-forms (both manifest and unmanifest) is called another name-form “Ishvara”.
      • So there’s no such thing as Ishvara or jiva. But only sat-cit.
    • So why do we bring “God (Ishvara)” (which means everything in past, present and future) into the teaching?
      • Because the mind can’t grasp sat-cit brahman, because the content of the very mind (trying to grasp sat-cit)… is sat-cit.
        • It’s like wave trying to grasp the very water which already obtains throughout it’s entire being.
      • Consequently, since mind can only grasp names-forms (waves), we CAN inquire into nature of names-forms. Our finding reveals they’re all made of smaller names-forms.
        • Even intelligent laws-orders like punya/papam, dharma/adharma, are mere names-forms to describe observed phenomena of the world.
        • Even “time” is a name for phenomena of (apparent) change. Meaning, there’s no such thing as “time”. It’s a concept to explain the modifying nature of world. EG:
          • Object changes from A to B. The duration of that change according to our 5-sense perception, we call “time”.
          • Furthermore, time is associated to the mind. No mind (as in deep sleep) = no time.
          • What gross body the mind is inhibiting, influences time-experience. EG: dream time vs. hallucinogenic vs. anaesthesia vs. waking time.
      • Ultimately, upon inquiry, we discover that even inquiry itself depends on the conscious-existent subject “I”, which can’t be further reduced, because in it’s presence, all attempts of further reduction are witnessed.
    • IN SHORT: sat-cit conditioned by name-form-upādhi = fire, space, earth, etc.
  • Furthermore, there are 2 categories of nāma-rūpa:
      1. sat nāma-rūpa:
        • This name-form only manifests the sat (existence) aspect of Brahman. It’s incapable of manifesting cit (awareness).
      2. sat-cit nāma-rūpa:
        • This name-form manifests both sat-cit (existence & awareness) aspect of Brahman.
          • EG: Physical body & subtle body both exist (sat), but also are capable of hosting cit (awareness).
      • Suppose fire underneath container of water & metal ball.
        • Both will take on heat aspect of fire. But only metal has capacity to take on brightness.
      • IE: Jagat borrows sat. While jiva borrows sat & cit.

4) Sat-cit is purushottama (the supreme purusha/being).

  • Verse 16-18.
  • To convey why Brahman is called “purushottama” (the Supreme Being), Krishna divides the WHOLE into 3 categories…
    1. Kshara-purusha. Manifest matter/phenomena. Gross or energy like heat/light/radiation/reflected consciousness (pratibimba caitanya). Perceptible to sense instruments.
    2. Akshara-purusha. Unmanifest matter/phenomena.
      • EG: adṛṣṭa-phalam, tomorrow, single-cell which has potential to double. Seed/tree.
    3. Uttama-purusha (purushottama). Supreme because it’s neither manifest nor unmanifest, but the ever existent limitless substratum for kshara/akshara-purusha.
      • The real God; attributeless/formless.
  • If Real God is attributeless (neither manifest nor unmanifest), then why is God given manifest names-forms like Krishna/Rama/Shiva/Vishnu/Brahmā/Jesus/Allah?
    • Because form-God is a stepping stone to grasping the formless-God.
    • Knowing this, one accepts all Gods, because they all represent the formless-One.

5) Benefit of ascertaining, through passage of time, the significance of 3 (Sat-cit is in form of world/jiva) & 4 (Sat-cit which is my nature, is the final/eternal reality).

  • Verse 19-20.
  • Benefit is a genuine freedom from limitation relative to body-mind; while living.




Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 22 March, 2022


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