Direct & Indirect Knowledge of God / Ishvara (56)


Lesson 56 introduces us into Brahman's Higher & Lower natures (para-prakriti & apara-prakriti). See 3 conditions required from the devotee to assimilate Ishvara jnanam (TOTAL knowledge of God). How to identify 3 levels of samsara. Finally we see why attaining absolutely security/freedom is RARE indeed.

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – verse 1, 2, 3

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 1:

mayyāsaktamanāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjanmadāśrayaḥ |
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tacchṛṇu ||

The Lord said – taking refuge in ME and practicing Yoga with a mind which is totally absorbed in ME, how you will come to know ME completely and doubtlessly – may you listen to this, Oh, Arjuna.

  • First 3 verses are intro to subject matter of CH7-12.
  • Krishna says, samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi: If follow My (Krishna speaking as Īśvara/God) teaching, result is jñānam of My nature. Will come to know Me. Means knowing Ishvara completely. And IF pursue, will get Īśvara jñānam.
  • Īśvara jñānam has 2 components: Higher & lower Krishna will teach us both in CH7.
    • Before mentioning 2 natures below, first know that “prakṛti” word has dozens of definitions. They can be generalized in 2 definitions:
      1. Original nature/state/condition. Untempered. Untamed.
      2. Primal, meaning, out of which something comes. So it's referring to māyā, or more specifically all 3 guṇas. “Guṇa” means thread/string.
    • Lower: aparā prakṛti
      • Physical/Material Matter.
      • 5 Elements: both subtle and gross.
      • Includes both sentient & inert.
      • Includes gross, subtle body.
        • Including Rāma / Kṛṣṇa / Jesus śarīram (bodies). EG: Krishna body is subject to arrival on birth through Devaki (mother), thus death also.
        • When majority devotees think of Īśvara, think of lower nature as form/body.
      • It is divided into kāraṇa (cause) and kārya (effect). Because effect is never separate from cause.
        • EG: Mud-house (kārya) is never separate from the mud (kāraṇa).
        • Therefore aparā-prakṛti is the cause (kāraṇa) for everything created (kārya), whether it's subtle or gross (eg: body / mind).
      • Also called:
        • kārya-prakṛti: Effect of 3 guṇas. Meaning, māyā.
        • saguṇa svarūpam: Has attributes/qualities. Made of 3 guṇas.
        • māyā.
        • upādhi:
          • That which as though LENDS it's attributes to something else.
            • EG:  When a red-rose is in proximity to a crystal, the crystal appears red. The rose becomes the upādhi because it as though lending its characteristic of “redness” to the pure crystal.
        • svabhāva-prakṛti.
        • avyakta.
        • mūla-prakṛti.
        • pariṇāmi-upādāna-kāraṇam:
          • Modifying material cause. Meaning, the cause undergoes change to become the effect.
            • EG: Milk turning into yoghurt. Milk was sweet and liquid, now it is sour and dense. No doubt milk is the upādāna-kāraṇa for the yoghurt, but the yoghurt is definitely not in the form of milk.
        • False “I” (ahaṃ kāra).
      • Excludes ātman (parā-prakṛti).
    • Higher: parā-prakṛti
      • Eternal, all-pervading, attributeless, unnameable, formless nature.
      • Causeless cause. Ultimate cause. Nothing caused parā-prakṛti.
      • For beginner, formless is too abstract to conceive / worship. How to express devotion to nothing in particular?
        • Thus nirguṇa Īśvara is incomprehensible for starters.
        • Meaning everyone has to start from lower saguṇa. Everybody travels FROM saguṇam > nirguṇam. Dvaitam > Advaitam. Concrete > Abstract.
        • Reason why Vedas prescribe concrete rituals FIRST – and vedānta/upaniṣad LAST.
      • ONLY when KNOW both, saguṇa/nirguṇa (finite/infinite) nature of Īśvara… then Īśvara jñānam is COMPLETE.
      • Also called:
        • nirguṇa svarūpam.
        • vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam.
          • Firstly, this is different from “upādāna-kāraṇa“.
          • Cause doesn't undergo change to become the effect.
            • EG: Clay can be turned into clay-pot, clay-form, clay-house, etc. But clay remains it's original nature in all forms.
        • ātman (self).
        • The real “I”.
        • upāhitam:
          • The one which as though TAKES ON attributes of something else.
            • EG: Clear crystal becomes upāhita as it takes on the attribute of redness, from the red-rose.
  • Krishna advertising the benefit: How will I teaching you? asaṃśayam jñāsyasi
    • Krishna is so confident, says: I will impart the knowledge doubtlessly/thoroughly.
  • What are conditions for RECEIVING this knowledge? mayyāsaktamanāḥ: You should have DESIRE to know Me.
    • If NO desire, bored with topic. Listening passively. Irrelevant. No interest. Not alert. Won’t capture.
    • Will have desire to know ONLY IF Īśvara is your destination. Because whatever destination / love, want to know more about it.
    • Therefore Krishna presents: Bhagavān must be the GOAL of the seeker.
  • OBJECTION to last point: Should God or mokṣa be the goal? Which goal should I have?
    • Telling me mokṣa is #1 all this time, and now I have 2 goals!
    • ANSWER: God or mokṣa are IDENTICAL.
    • In language of spirituality, destination presented as mokṣa. The same mokṣa in religious language, symbolised as Bhagavān.
    • Asking what it mean to say mokṣa … is equivalent to asking what is the ultimate GOAL/destination of every person? Independence. Peace. Ānanda. SECURITY.
      • Krishna says, Bhagavān represents total SECURITY because Bhagavān is infinite.
        • What is ever SECURE? That which is Infinite. Owning to it’s fullness WITHOUT limits. While anything finite is bound by time/space, subject to fluctuations/destruction. EG: Sun, stars, body looks, intellect, objects.
          • Thus anything finite = insecure. Seeking security from finite is most UNINTELLIGENT approach.
        • Meaning only TRUE permanent SECURITY worth pursuing is INFINITE… which in religion is called Bhagavān.
      • And Infinite/ Bhagavān is symbolised in FORM, because “infinite” is abstract / cannot be conceived.
        • EG: Krishna/Rāma Form is finite, but the form SYMBOLIZES infinite.
      • Meaning Bhagavān means Infinite. And infinite means: eternal security, peace, independence, limitless.
        • Infinite is another name for: mokṣa. Meaning mokṣa and Bhagavān are SYNONYMOUS. Seeker of liberation = seeker of Bhagavan.
  • So condition 1 for receiving Īśvara-jñānam: Fixing mind upon Me as ULTIMATE Called devotion/bhakti.
  • What about other destinations? Children, marriage, work?
    • Whatever “other” is, all incidental Not the ULTIMATE.
    • For instance: When fulfil ANY incidental goal, get peace of mind.
      • EG: When married, get peace. But immediately after, next story starts by either you or another. This shows INCIDENTAL journey never ends.
      • EG: First worked for children. Now working on grandchildren. Lifetime effort.
    • When does journey truly end?
      1. Only when DISCOVER pūrṇatvam by accomplishing Mokṣa or Bhagavān.
      2. Never. To even ask this question is a flaw in thinking and can only be posed by a non-jñāni (saṃsāri) who mistakes Mithyā (apparent reality), as the absolute reality (Satyam). Brahman (Consciousness) alone IS. Thus to “end” something is dvaitam. And implies “I am a DOER who is trying to end something which is NOT Consciousness”. The “I AM” is Consciousness. And Consciousness (Self/Ātman) is all there is.
        Thus one can't end “all there is”. It's like trying to end space. Can't do it. Only realize there is nothing to end. You (Self/Ātman) are ALWAYS free of creation.
        To attempt to end the apparent water-oasis on the desert is foolish and simply can't be done, because the vyāvahārika (empirical/transactional reality all humans collectively agree on and share) is OF Īśvara alone and not of the jīva (Brahman associated with BMI, whose BMI doesn't know real nature of self is Brahman).
  • yogam yuñjan: Practice the RELEVANT sādhanā (Yoga).
    • What kind of Yoga? Depends on personality. Karma / upāsana / śravaṇam. WHY? Turn mind to Bhagavān.
    • Indicates individual EFFORT.
      • Thus do NOT say Bhagavān will take care. Suppose You pray. Bhagavan may bring food and even put into your mouth. But still you must swallow.
      • Therefore yogam yuñjan means: put forth your OWN EFFORT.
    • But ALONG with individual effort…
  • madāśrayaḥ: take grace of Bhagavan ALSO. Do not be arrogant / over-confident / CHALLENGE God.
    • In short, this means: take refuge in God.
    • EG: When train climbing the mountain, 2 engines are NEEDED. 1st in front to pull. 2nd behind to push.
      • Similarly, spiritual growth is UPHILL Not easy. Higher one goes, more lonely it gets.
        • For instance, you believe moving But family members act as if NO change on you whatsoever. While you feel you’ve improved.
          • Can discourage, and makes spiritual train move in MILLIMETERS.
        • Therefore you require TWO engines.
          1. puruṣaḥ prayatanam / madāśrayaḥ. Front. Pull wherever going.
          2. Īśvara anugraha (God's helping hand / Bhagavan's grace). Behind. Push for support.
    • Therefore madāśrayaḥ (grace) with 2 engines is called: Bhakti / Devotion.
  • SUMMARY of 3 Conditions for Īśvara jñānam to take place COMPLETELY:
    1. Keep God as DESTINATION in all activities. Meaning keep peace of mind, permanent fulfillment / security, independence as #1 goal.
    2. Self-effort.
    3. Seek grace of Bhagavān.
      • If 3 conditions checked, then bound to reach destination and know/attain Bhagavān. Meaning I’ve never been away from.
  • yathā jñāsyasi tacchṛṇu: This is the topic, listen carefully Arjuna. Because I will reveal nature of Bhagavān completely, doubtlessly, rationally, logically.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 2:

jñānaṁ te'haṁ savijñānamidaṁ vakṣyāmyaśeṣataḥ |
yajjñātvā neha bhūyo'nyajjñātavyamavaśiṣyate ||

I shall completely impart to you this Jñāna along with Vijñāna gaining which knowledge nothing more remains to be known in this life.

  • 1st Verse, Krisha promises Īśvara jñānam (knowledge of), which consists of 2 fold: Higher nature (nirguṇa svarūpam) and Lower nature (saguṇa svarūpam).
  • Verse 2:
    • Saguṇa = jñānam. Intellectual Parokṣa. Information. “Brahman is the final Reality pervading all names/forms”.
      • There is difference between God & Devotee.
    • Nirguṇa = vijñānam. Direct Aparokṣa. Unverbalized Aham brahmāsi. Inseparable.
      • When devotee reaches: to SURPRISE finds difference between God & self is REMOVED.
      • Eg:
        • When see WAVE / OCEAN from name/form standpoint, they are DIFFERENT. One called “Wave”. Another “Ocean”.
        • Form also different. Wave small Ocean VAST magnitude. So when observed at name/form LEVEL, you see difference only.
        • But when go to essential nature of both, wave / ocean are essentially WATER / H2O / satcitānanda / Brahman. Wave / water no more distinct.
  • In short…
    • Jñānam = dvaita. Meaning self and God are different (Wave/ocean name).
    • Vijñānam = advaita. (Wave/Ocean are both essentially one same H2O).
    • Krishna will GIVE both how? aśeṣataḥ: thoroughly, TOTALLY.
  • What is BENEFIT of this knowledge? yajjñātvā neha bhūyo'nyajjñātavyamavaśiṣyate: Having gained this knowledge, nothing more to know.
    • All intellectual questions will resolve. Total satisfaction.
    • Meaning saṃsāra ends…
  • Saṃsāra is experienced at 3 levels:
    1. Saṃsāra at physical body / gross
      • Talk about diseases, old age, looks. Majority of health/exercise industry.
      • Saṃsāra at grossest Because farthest away from the most subtle (Self).
    2. More advanced saṃsāri: Not bothered about physical Feel MORE emotional needs of life.
      • They say: “I am fine, health very good”. Children care for me. BUT not spend time with me. Not even ask whether I am alive or not.
      • Feel emotional deprivation. Reason looking SOMETHING to connect Want to talk to anyone about anything.
      • Needs EG: LOVE, acknowledged, compassion, companionship, connection.
      • Long as depend on external factors for emotional fulfilment, I am a samsāri.
    3. Higher samsāri: Need not physical/emotional. He is intellectual. Most scientists, geeks, engineers.
      • Burning questions about creation. How came? Who was 1st human? How did life evolve?
      • Studying skeleton / Earth. What is consciousness? Life after death? Philosophical questions afflict them.
      • No time to talk to WIFE Because don’t FEEL need.
        • Emotional wife says “Do you not see my tears? You do not spend time with me at all!”
        • Intellectual Chemistry research husband responds: I know what they are. H20. Water and little salt. Not tested? Try next time.
        • SUMMARY: Husband’s intellectual saṃsāra can not fully see wife’s emotional deprivation saṃsāra. Hence he sees chemical components in tears.
  • Vedānta solves saṃsāra at all 3 levels. Gives emotional/intellectual fulfillment. Because it answers Fundamental Q’s. On what?…
    • 3 categories all human intellect questions:
      1. Myself: why I am born? Where am I going? Jīva.
      2. Questions about world. Jagat.
      3. Īśvara.
  • Therefore this CH worth studying Arjuna.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 3:

manuṣyāṇāṃ sahasreṣu kaścidyatati siddhaye |
yatatāmapi siddhānāṃ kaścinmāṃ vetti tattvataḥ ||

Among thousands of human beings, a rare one strives for liberation. Even among those seekers who strive, a rare one knows ME in reality.

  • Krishna speaks of rarity of gaining Īśvara-jñānam.
  • Says, very few people GAIN this knowledge because out of 4 puruṣārtha’s, most running after artha, kāma or dharma.
    • Even if mokṣa is mentioned… misinterpreted owning to not having ācārya. EG: Blissed out, ultra-wise, special-powers.
  • Meaning:
    • Few truly desire (TRUE definition) of moksa. Even fewer KNOW that mokṣa requires Īśvara jñānam.
    • Even fewer KNOW how to identify PROPER Īśvara jñānam. So attempt all kinds of things for Enlightenment.
    • What is the only permanent and final MEANS of gaining Īśvara jñānam? BG 4.34: guru śāstra upadeśa śravaṇam
      • Meaning: Śravaṇam or enquiry into, exposing oneself to the teaching of śāstrā, by a competent ācārya. Few know this.
    • Even fewer who discover MEANS, remain interested. Not what thought it was.
  • Hypothetical Estimate:
    • Out of 7 billion, 5 billion not interested in mokṣa. Only first 3 stages.
    • Out of 500 million, 70% don’t know that Īśvara jñānam is required.
    • Of 30% left WHO know Īśvara jñānam is required, 70% don’t know guru śāstrā upadeśa śravaṇam is MEANS.
    • For leftovers, because of punya, recognize śāstra But 90% unqualified to understand, lacking viveka/vairāgyam. Thus don’t resonate. Soon leave.
  • Therefore, manuṣyāṇām sahasreṣu, among millions of people, only rare STRIVE in the right direction.
    • Right direction means: guru śāstrā upadēśa śravaṇam: exposing oneself to teaching through ācāryaḥ.
  • The rare STRIVE for what? Siddhaye: Absolute freedom from insecurity/incompleteness. Absolute security.
    • According to śāstrā (scriptures), insecurity only a false notion in mind born of Cause? NOT knowing one’s ātma-svarūpam (nature of self).
    • Hence if do NOT attack inner sense of insecurity by guru śāstrā upadeśa śravaṇam, THEN whatever security get in any lifetime, even heaven, never enough. Timebound.
  • Official teaching begins verse 4.
Keywords: acarya, ananda, apara prakriti, aparoksa, aparoksha, atma, atma-svarupa, atman, bhagavan, guru sastra upadesa sravanam, jnanam, madashraya, mithya, moksha, nirguna svarupa, para prakriti, paroksa, paroksha, prakrti, purusartha, purushartha, sadhana, saguna svarupa, samsari, sastra, satchitananda, satcitananda, shastra, shravanam, sravana, upanishad, vedanta, vijnanam, vyavaharika, aham kara, ahamkara, karya prakriti, karana prakrti, maya, svabhava-prakriti, mula-prakrti, parinami upadana karana, upadhi, upahita, upahitam, vivarta upadana karana


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation, Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 2 July, 2019



  1. Andre, Are the 3 levels of samsara linear? I sense much more entanglement with physical level (health/food issues) and the next 2 levels dissolved much more. Could this be a result of years of practice that emphasized experience over knowledge, such as ‘no thought’ meditation, visualization as dhyana and mantra (from my years in Hatha and then Trika Shaivism)-putting the cart before the horse, so to speak? Also, your teaching to drop the ‘feelings’ and focus on the knowledge is a game changer-it is so simple to see now. I have been wandering for near 2 decades waiting for a big bang of altered consciousness that would indicate awakening to the Self. I understand now it is not that, so simple, like the tilt of a head, “oh, yes”. I am in awe of this Vedanta and grateful for your course.

    1. Dear Laura. Appreciate the Q. Samsara in this context refers to a common hard-working man/woman whose not necessarily into spirituality… but rather sees family, exercise, money, children, etc as the end of life. Thus all attention goes on either his thoughts (intellect), emotions or physical body health.

      While all 3 need attention, it only becomes samsara when they’re the END of life. When the 3 are seen as MEANS to liberation (need a healthy body, clean thoughts and balanced emotions), then it’s NOT classified as samsara.

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