What is Brahman, Atman, Karma, Maya, TOTAL Mind? And Why Creation? (65)


Lesson 65 answers important Vedantic terms which further remove false notions of Creation on macrocosmic and microcosmic picture. Example why we get exactly what we deserve based on our daily actions. And how Karma is cause of entire creation. Also Brahman (the Supreme Ultimate Truth) is introduced.

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – verse 1, 2, 3, 4.


  • 8th CH based on last CH7 last 2 verses.
  • Krishna introduced 6 terms: Brahma, karma, adhyātma (adhi ātma), adhi bhūtam, adhi daivam, adhi yajñam, Remembering Bhagavān at time of death.
  • Krishna utilizes Arjuna’s curiosity to answer 7 questions by introducing topic of Upāsana. Also called: saguṇa īśvara dhyānam (Meditating on God with attributes).
    • For context, CH2-6 highlighted Karma-Yoga sādhana. While CH7-12 highlights Upāsana sādhana.
  • Begins now verse 1, addressing Arjuna’s questions…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 1:

kiṃ tad-Brahma kimadhyātmaṃ kiṃ karma puruṣottama|
adhibhūtaṃ ca kiṃ proktamadhidaivaṃ kimucyate ||

Arjuna asked – What is that Brahman? What is adhyātmam? What is Karma? What is said to be adhibhūta? What is said to be adhidaiva, O Krishna!


  • Arjuna asks questions pertaining to verse 29/30 of CH7.
  • Q1: tad brahma kim. What do you mean by Brahman?
  • Q2: kim adhyātmam. What is meaning of adhi-ātma?
  • Q3: kim karma. What is significance of word karma in every day life?
  • Q4: adhibhūtam kim proktam. Do explain adhi-bhūtam.
  • Q5: puruṣottama adhidaivam kim ucyate. O Krishna, best of puruṣās, answer what is adhi-daivam.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 2:

adhiyajñaḥ kathaṃ ko'tra dehe'smin madhusūdana |
prayāṇakāle ca kathaṃ jñeyo'si niyatātmabhiḥ ||

Who is adhiyajñaḥ? How does (he remain) here in the body? And how are you to be remembered at the time of death by the self-disciplined ones, Oh Madhusūdana.


  • Q6: adhiyajñaḥ kaḥ. Who or what is adhi yajñaḥ?
    • Arjuna adds 2nd part to question: katham atra asmin dehe. How does adhiyajñaḥ reside in the body? (Implying he probably heard this elsewhere to ask such Q).
  • Q7: 2 parts:
    1. What is significance of remembering God time of death?
    2. How to remember God time of death?
      • Because difficult to remember God even during Meditation. Mind goes to worldly objects. Memory.
      • If there is technique, teach me Krishna.
      • How is Bhagavān to be remembered by niyatātmabhiḥ, committed/integrated/disciplined/self-controlled people.
  • Madhusūdana: destroyer of Madhu (asuras)
    • Philosophically, Madhu symbolizes ALL karmās. So madhusūdana means: destroyer of all sanchita, prārabdha, āgāmi karmās.
    • Therefore Krishna is one who GIVES mokṣa.
    • Also in Muṇḍaka upaniṣad, karma phalam is equated to Madhu. So Madhu is destroyer of karma, leading to mokṣa.
  • NEXT VERSE: Krishna addresses each question…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 3:

akṣaraṃ Brahma paramaṃ svabhāvo'dhyātmamucyate |
bhūtabhāvodbhavakaro visargaḥ karmasaṃjñitaḥ ||

The Lord answered – What is limitless and not subject to change is Brahman. The self is said to be adhyātmam. The sacrificial offering which brings about the origin of beings is known as Karma.


  • Q1: What is Brahman? paramam akṣaram Brahma. Supreme imperishable Truth.
    • akṣaram: imperishable. Can’t be created-destroyed, expanded/contracted, abiding eternally as itself.
      • Changeless substratum.
      • PRECAUTION: Because akṣaram could be taken as imperishable matter, Krishna precedes word with: paramam, the GREATEST imperishable principle is Brahman.
      • Also in Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, Brahman is called akṣaram. Which is caitanya tatvam (consciousness principle).
    • akṣaram CAN NOT be referring to matter, because matter perishes in terms of manifest/unmanifest.
      • Manifest/unmanifest depends on (1) reality FROM which it manifests, and (2) reality INTO which it unmanifests.
    • Also akṣaram can’t be referring to time, because sense of time perishes (kṣara) in deep sleep, coma, faint.
      • Time concept is not SAME for everyone. Dream time different to Waking time. Child/Adult.
    • In short:
      • akṣaram (imperishable) = parā-prakṛti / caitanya tatvam.
      • And kṣara (perishable) = aparā-prakṛti.
    • akṣaram: Interpretation #2:
      • akṣaram: refers to any alphabetic letter.
      • akṣara-mālā: Garland of letters. Alphabet.
        • Put together create meaningful words, from unchanging akṣaram sounds.
        • But even sounds are changing. Manifest/unmanifest.
        • Thus they all resolve to: SILENCE (the TRULY imperishable akṣara). (Caution: Don’t now equate Brahman to silence. This is just an implied meaning to help point to nature of Brahman).
      • Indian ceremony “akṣara-abhyāsa” initiates child read/write. OM written on tongue. Signifies education not just for degrees/job, but to KNOW akṣara-brahman.
    • Brahman: derived from Sanskrit root √bṛh. BIG.
      • How big? Unconditionally, infinitely BIG.
        • bṛhattvād brahma: all-pervasive BIG.
      • Therefore what is Brahman? Limitless, all-pervading Consciousness.
      • NOTE: Krishna doesn’t say much about Brahman, because covered CH7, as parā-prakṛti.
  • Q2: What is adhyātmam (adhi + ātman)? svabhāvaḥ adhyātmam ucyate (said to be)
    • If akṣara-Brahma (Consciousness) is all-pervading, then it SHOULD be available all the time in jīva’s body-mind.
      • Thus adhi ātma (adhi: corresponding to) refers to: That which is self-evident (svabhāvaḥ).
        • What is self-evident?
          • I AM Conscious of Aliveness/Sentience. I effortlessly, awarefully AM.
          • The same subjective reality of all human beings. The ever-present principle because of which nobody can ever say “I ceased to exist”. If you say that, you've contradicted yourself. Because to say “I wasn't there”, is to remember of not being present. And to remember, is to be present during that experience.
          • Adhyātma does NOT refer to aham kāra (sense of individuality of “I AM”).
    • DIFFERENCE: Brahman / adhyātman (ātman)
      • ONE SAME Consciousness from angle of:
        • samaṣṭi (macro/total/not-excluding anything): Brahman
        • vyaṣṭi (micro/body-mind): adhyātma, jīvātma (because ātma is essence of jīva).
      • QUESTION: Why two different words for ONE SAME Consciousness?
        • Depending on which order of reality speaking about, the name changes.
        • EG: A general person (puruṣa) from standpoint of:
          • Expressing with wife, gains name husband.
          • Transacting with children, gains name parent.
        • SUMMARY: When point of reference changes, the NAME correspondingly changes.
  • Q3: What is Karma? (entire 2nd line): bhūtabhāvod bhavakaro visargaḥ karma saṃjñitaḥ
    • visargaḥ: lower (sakāma). Refers to all performed actions/activities of human beings.
    • What defines an action of TODAY? Actions of YESTERDAY. (texture, quality, personality)
      • Meaning life of TODAY is defined/shaped/influenced by YESTERDAY.
      • Meaning TODAY’s actions, shape TOMORROW.
    • So what is Karma?
      • Any activity produced by a human being, which is RESPONSIBLE for his/her future. (Thus nothing is already scripted.)
      • “My life is my life because of actions I put out into the field, on a daily bases” – is karma.
      • Meaning every action put out (kartā) today, REQUIRES a tomorrow. Why?
        • So one CAN enjoy/suffer (bhoktā) the results of actions which ALREADY modified the field.
        • Hence to enjoy/suffer, one NEEDS a WORLD/Creation to continue reaping what it sown.
      • Thus Creation is a beginingless cause/effect (called Karma) phenomena. Creation is not an accident.
        • EG: You/I are born on Earth, in a certain country, certain parents… NOT because of accident. But our life perfectly matches our individual past karma.
    • Krishna (Īśvara) answers what is karma:
      • bhūtabhāvodbhavakaraḥ: Karma is principle which BRINGS existence to ALL living beings.
        • EG: Even bee enjoys “bee body” because of karma.
      • Therefore, karma determines what KIND of Creation is created/supplied for each vyaṣṭi object.
        • Since many vyaṣṭi objects make up TOTAL samaṣṭi Universe… it means:
          • Present Universe is also result of the previous Universe.
          • Creation result of past creation. Etc.
          • And present creation gives way to future creation.
      • This means Creation did NOT come because of Īśvara. God didn’t create anything, nor wish, nor desire it. Meaning, Īśvara has NOTHING to do with creation. Explained…
        • FIRST ACKNOWLEDGE: Īśvara is sarvam-jñānam, sarvam-śakti. All knowledge/power.
          • Meaning presence of Īśvara = presence of all knowledge/power.
        • NOW RAISE OBJECTION: If Īśvara didn’t wish/desire/instigate the Creation, why is there Creation?
          • Does “all knowledge/power” exclude possibility of Creation? No.
          • Example: A woman. Power/knowledge to dance. She dances.
            • For dancing to manifest, a corresponding world is created.
            • Her dancing (CAUSE) has produced EFFECTS.
              • EG: Man is smitten. Approaches and marries her. Children.
              • Now world keeps being sustained for BOTH.
      • Why is there necessity for Creation? Because I have ASKED FOR IT.
        • Asked how? By putting out appropriate/inappropriate/mixed actions. Puṇya/pāpam.
      • Thus what kind of Creation do I get?
        • Whichever suits the combination of past puṇya/pāpam mixture.
        • Owning to various combinations, we have 14 lokās, and not because God wants 14.
          • EG1: Lots of pāpam = hellish lokā.
          • EG2: Plenty of upāsana/dharma = heaven/svarga/brahma-loka.
          • EG3: Mixture of puṇya/pāpam = manuṣya loka. (Earth)
        • Therefore, creation is NOT because of way God wants it, but to ACCOMODATE karma, being a by-product of all knowledge/power. That’s why there is order/logic in universe.
      • Therefore, karma is defined: sṛṣṭi kāraṇam. Cause of Creation.
    • What is reason for jīva re-birth? (to give some context to Karma discussed above)
      • So it can continue reaping what it sown in previous life in beginningless CHAIN of events.
        • Because instrument wore out, it gotten another body to finish unfinished business.
      • Only mokṣa can break this process of finding myself in the limited world.
        • Meaning after death, an aparokṣa-jñāni doesn’t find self again enveloped by 5 sheaths.
        • Jñāni, as though, sleeps (free of creation), yet FULLY AWARE as limitless Brahman.
          • Nirvikalpa-samādhi gives glimpse of this, but it’s still subtle māyā. Not limitless.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 4:

adhibhūtaṃ kṣaro bhāvaḥ puruṣaścādhidaivatam |
adhiyajño'hamevātra dehe dehabhṛtāṃ vara ||

The perishable creation is adhibhūta and Hiranyagarbha is adhidaiva. I myself, (who reside), in this body, am adhiyajñā. O Arjuna, the best of the embodied.


  • Q4: What is adhibhūtam?
    • kṣaraḥ bhāvaḥ: Everything perishable in creation. Matter. Aparā-prakṛti.
    • Anything experienced/witnessed/known.
    • 5 elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth.
    • Periodic table of elements.
    • Vyāvahārika: Imperial – phenomenal world.
    • Manifest/unmanifest.
    • Body also. Reason why we look for security/well-being in body. Thinking body is self.
      • Meaning to give importance to body-mind (looks, strength, profession) – exposes avidyā:
        • “I don’t have knowledge of paramam akṣara (imperishable)”.
  • Q5: What is adhidaivam?
    • Krishna defines “adhi daivam” as: puruṣa.
      • Another name: hiraṇyagarbha, meaning: Total consciousness (Īśvara) associated with TOTAL MIND.
        • What is TOTAL MIND? Macrocosmic subtle body (samaṣṭi sūkṣma-śarīra).
      • Meaning, Hiraṇyagarbha / puruṣa is Īśvara associated with total knowledge (sarvam-jñānam).
    • And this Hiraṇyagarbha (TOTAL MIND) is a presiding deity of every organ, for every individual.
      • Explanation:
        • Just like individual mind (subtle body) is a presiding deity over individual’s organs.
        • In same way, Hiraṇyagarbha / adhi daivam / puruṣa – is the presiding deity for everything/everyone in cosmos (vyaṣṭi/samaṣṭi).
  • Q6: What is adhi yajñaḥ?
    • Krishna says: aham eva, I (Īśvara) myself am adhi yajñaḥ. Explanation…
      • What is Īśvara?
        • Consciousness (satcitānanda) AND māyā śakti = Īśvaraḥ
        • What is māyā śakti? Whole universe existing in potential form.
          • And Consciousness associated with WHOLE universe in potential form = Īśvara.
        • Meaning:
          • Consciousness AND potential (māyā) = Īśvaraḥ.
          • In Science language: Consciousness AND energy = Īśvaraḥ.
        • So Īśvara is the SEED of the universe. Seed which fructifies into a result: adhi yajñaḥ.
        • And where is this Īśvara? Where can I find God?
          • atra dehe dehabhṛtāṃ vara: Lord resides in every human being. Sinner/saint.
            • Also called: nārāyanaḥ: Residing in all living beings.
            • Meaning no need to look for God in special temple, aśram, heaven.
            • Īśvara is ONE Self of all beings. Including YOU.
    • Why is Īśvara called adhi yajñāḥ?
      • Firstly let’s define yajña: ANY ACT of prayer, worship, pūyā, ritual. Both sakāma or niṣkāma.
      • Meaning Īśvara, in form of laws/orders is IN your every ACTION/ritual (yajña).
        • But also God is the very principle which gives/outputs CORRESPONDING karma phalam (giver of results according to your chosen actions/yajñā).
      • So yajñā has 2 meanings:
        1. The consciousness (parā) because of which the body-mind can perform the yajña.
        2. Karma phala dātā of jīva’s yajña. Giver of results of persons rituals.
    • So what does “I am adhi yajña” mean?
      • Īśvara is karma phala dātā. One who gives enjoyment/suffering/consequences based on person’s yajña (actions).
      • Thus can’t blame Bhagavān for gotten results. Because they’re based on person’s past actions. Law of Karma.
      • Sometimes person justifies, “I don’t remember what was done to deserve THIS!”. Point is: We don’t even remember what was said 2 classes ago, let alone remembering events years ago, like Jan 5th, 2:52pm.
    • Conclusion:
      • Whatever results gotten from our actions, is given by “adhi yajña” (deliverer of our actions, ACCORDING to our dharmic/adharmic actions.)
      • So God’s laws/orders DELIVERS results, which REFLECT types of actions we do on DAILY bases.


Keywords: abhyasa, adhi atman, adhyatma, agami , aksara, aksaram, akshara, aksharam, apara-prakriti, aparoksa , aparoksha, atma, avidya, bhagavan, bhagavan , bhokta, bhutabhavod, bhutam, brhattvad, dhyana, dhyanam, hiranyagarbha, ishvara, isvara, jiva, jivatma, jnana, jnanam, jnani, karana, karmas, karta, ksara, kshara, lokas, madhusudana, manushya, manusya , maya , moksa, moksha, mundaka, mundaka , niskama, niyatatmabhi, papa, papam, para-prakriti , prarabdha, punya, purusas, purusha, sadhana, saguna, sakama, sakti, samashthi, samashti, samasti, sanjnita, satchitananda, shakti, srshti, srsti karanam, sukshma, suksma-sarira, svabhava, svabhavah , upanisad, upanishad, upasana, visarga, vyashti, vyasti, yajna, yajnam

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

Recorded 10 Sept, 2019



  1. “ Isvara has NOTHING to do with creation “.
    It is further stated that karma is the cause of creation.
    The buddhists claim also that this is a beginningless reality.
    An eternal chain of independent causal events.
    So one puts an action into the field and that becomes a cause.
    Therefore under Isvara’s laws it must produce an effect.
    Is it right to say that Isvara is the field, or is it right to say that karma is the field?
    If Isvara, then can’t he be said to be creating the world by supplying the substratum of reality in which events can take place?
    If karma, then seems as though karma precedes Isvara, which introduces time and duality.
    I have obviously got my thinking tangled up here.
    Please help me to understand my confusion. ?

    1. For sake of clarity, Isvara shouldn’t get new words attached onto it, like “Field”. At least not in strict Sanskrit tradition.

      Field = jagat (time, space, objects, including all laws-orders like dharma, karma).

      Just as person AND person’s-field-of-vision enjoy satya-mithya relationship (because vision depends on presence of intelligent person), so does Ishvara AND field (jagat) enjoy satya-mithya relationship.

  2. It seems like the ‘ field’ occupies some sort of intermediate position between Mitya and Satya.
    It is not objects.
    It is that out of which objects arise.
    The zero point field that science talks about is also described as infinite.
    Yet I understand that in order to exist it too is pervaded by consciousness.
    My understanding is that the field does not equal Jagat, but that Jagat is contained within it and arises out of it.
    Of course, this is just my understanding and may quite possibly be mistaken.
    But it is not pure potential either.
    Quarks and other sub atomic particles are said to live in a state of virtual superimposition and to wink in and out of reality.
    In fact it is the consciousness of an observer that collapses the wave function and gives us a determinate reality.
    This sounds like Isvara to me.
    All knowledge and all power acting through consciousness to manifest a universe.
    Please tell me if the language I am using here is:
    Not valid from the point of view of Vedanta.
    Contains incorrect assumptions.
    ( or both).

    1. =====
      My understanding is that the field does not equal Jagat, but that Jagat is contained within it and arises out of it.

      Yes, “field” can be seen this way also. IE: The field = all-knowledge-power (Ishvara) manifesting as jagat.

      Example in Quantum Field Theory, every description of “Field” points to “Intelligence”, thus Ishvara.

      However word “field” is simply not used because it has different definitions depending on scientific model.

      Regarding order of reality from highest:

      1) Brahman (Limitless reality that is true now).
      2) Īśvara (limitlessness manifesting as…)
      3) Jagat (time-space and infinite limited objects).

      Let me know if anything else.

  3. ‘our life perfectly matches our individual past karma’
    This seems over-simplistic. I can follow road rules but still be run over by a car.
    Also I cannot know the future. The subtle body could do it’s best to predict a suitable body for rebirth but due to biological issues outside its control the new Jiva may be born with a disability.
    The Buddhist notion of conditioned coproduction seems much more apt in this regard.

    1. Karma in this context means “unseen causes”. These causes influence the individual to a certain way of life. Long as they remain unconscious, the individual will manifest as certain way of thought, word and action.

      Since causes are unconscious (hidden), they can’t be known directly. Only indirectly through their effects.

      Meaning, soon as the individual starts to inquiry into his/her behaviour (effects), they are effectively starting to modify the causes, hence potentially changing their behavior.

      SUMMARY: Jiva today is product of yesterday. Hence, unless jiva starts to look into his/her behaviour, they’re actually just repeating the past in a different way.

      Conditioned Co-production : all things occur in dependence on conditions, and when those conditions cease, things cease – their existence being relative.

      Both explanations don’t contract.

  4. I know it has been argued that this over simplified view of karma in Hinduism is a pollution from the caste system, which needed to reinforce this individualistic view to justify condemning people to the fate of their caste and thereby creating social order. Great for the Brahmins who can revel in their superiority of having an apparently good rebirth based on good past karma, but not so good for the untouchables who not only have a crappy life but also get blamed for it.

    1. ====
      “over simplified view of karma in Hinduism is a pollution from the caste system”.

      That’s not what’s been said here at all. Many more videos on karma will expound the fullness of it. This video isn’t dedicated to complex subject of karma/cause-effect.

      Although comment holds somewhat reality on a mass scale in India; generally being “It’s my karma to suffer!”. We need to have empathetic towards the mass error of turning deep truths into subjectivity. Most are working, busy and caught up. Thus no time to see what Hinduism/Buddhism/etc is really communicating.

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