Bhagavad Gita CH8 Summary & Intro to CH9 (King of Knowledge: Raja Vidya) (70)


Lesson 70 summarizes main points of CH8, including 2 types of upasana (meditation on God). 2 types of liberation (krama mukti & jivanmukti). How to sustain Divine thoughts throughout life. CHAPTER 9: Higher/lower nature of Ishvara. Why Self-Knowledge is King of All Knowledges.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 Summary & CH9 – verse 1, 2


  • CH7-12 is middle section of B.Gita (madhyama ṣaṭkam). Sādhana highlighted is upāsana. As important as karma-yoga in first section (Prathama ṣaṭkam), and jñāna-yoga in last section (antima ṣaṭkam).
  • What does upāsana involve (in CH7-12)? Mental activity done by mind.
    • Meaning physical activity (karma-yoga, pūjā, kīrtana, japa chanting, rituals) is NOT upāsana.
    • What kind of mental activity?
      • Meditating/inquiry/contemplation associated with saguṇa Īśvara (with attributes). In Sanskrit: saguṇa brahma viṣaya mānasa vyāpāraḥ
      • Thus main focus in CH7-12 is saguṇa Īśvara, and not nirguṇa Īśvara (which is main topic of CH13-18).
  • Upāsana (saguṇa Īśvara) is of 2 types:
    • Sakāma upāsana: practicing meditation on Īśvara (with attributes) for material benefits in world/lokās. Includes asking for miraculous powers, healing, clairvoyance, etc.
    • Niṣkāma upāsana: practicing mediation on Īśvara (with attributes), WITHOUT material interests. Only desire Īśvara.
      • This Niṣkāma upāsana/bhakti is PRIMARY topic of CH7-12. For those who value spiritual growth above all else.
  • Niṣkāma upāsana divided TWO types:
    • Type ONE: Attains liberation while living (jīvanmuktaḥ)
      • ORDER:
        • Practice saguṇa Īśvara upāsana length of time.
        • Mind gets qualified/purified by CULTIVATING sādhana catuṣṭya (L62: 4-fold practice: Viveka, Vairāgyam, 6 virtues, mumukṣu)
        • STOP saguṇa Īśvara upāsana.
        • Switch to jñāna-yoga (or vedānta vicāra) which teaches nirguṇa Īśvara jñānam, taught by competent ācārya. Involves:
          • Śravaṇam: listening to ācārya expound message of śāstra.
          • Mananam: student removes doubts in intellect.
          • Nididhyāsanam: student dwells upon nirguṇa jñānam for thorough assimilation.
        • Leads to jīvanmuktaḥ.
        • Jīvanmukta BMI dies when prārabdha karma is exhausted. No travelling/rebirth.
      • Difference between Upāsana AND Jñāna-Yoga:
        • Upāsana deals with: saguṇa Īśvara
        • Jñāna-yoga deals with: nirguṇa Īśvara
    • Type TWO: Attains liberation in Brahmaloka, described ONLY in peculiar CH8. Lord Krishna shares for academic interest.
      • ORDER:
        • Practice saguṇa Īśvara upāsana until death.
          • Never came to jñāna-yoga nor śravaṇam. Because mind unqualified OR ācārya not found. Remains ajñāni (ignorant jīva).
        • Since taught of saguṇa Īśvara all life, at time of death, thinks ONLY of God.
          • Whatever we value most in life is remembered when we are most VULNERABLE, weakest or at time of death.
        • Travels path: śukla mārga (gati).
        • Enters Brahmaloka.
        • Brahmāji teaches jñāna-yoga (which avoided on Earth).
        • Effortlessly attains liberation (krama mukti).
        • Body dies. No traveling/rebirth.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 VERSE ANALYSIS:

VERSE 1-4:

  • Arjuna asks 7 Q’s. What is: adhi ātma, bhūtam, daivam, yajñam, Brahman, karma, significance of remembering God time-of-death. Verse 3-4 answer first 6 q’s.
  • adhi ātma:
    • Ātman and Brahman are one SAME all-pervading consciousness
    • Why TWO names for one SAME consciousness?
      • Changes based on point of view. EG: One same person IS father from son’s point of view. Same person is accountant from employer’s point of view.
      • One consciousness from:
        • vyaṣṭi (individual) POV: ātman.
        • samaṣṭi (total) point of view: brahman.
      • Thus words different, meaning is SAME.
  • Adhi bhūtam: Perishable total material universe made of 5 elements.
    • Samaṣṭi gross body of entire universe which includes all 14 lokās: Virāt.
  • Adhi daivam:
    • Just like individual mind GOVERNS individual body, in same way, adhi daivam is total mind GOVERNING total gross body (Adhi bhūtam).
    • Samaṣṭi subtle body: Hiraṇyagarbha.
  • Adhi yajña: Describing omnipresent Īśvara as karma phala dātā (giver of fruits of jīva’s puṇya/pāpa karma).
    • Referring to Īśvara seated in your body – RECORDING every thought/word/action.
    • After recording, Īśvara’s law supplies corresponding, EFFECTS related to (RECORDED causes of) jīva’s thoughts/words/actions.
      • Metaphor: Employee is under exclusive supervision of employer. Every action monitored. Salary depends.
    • Samaṣṭi causal body: Īśvara.
  • Karma: responsible for Creation.
    • Meaning, puṇya/pāpa karma of ignorant jīvās is responsible for manifestation of Creation.
      • REASON: Puṇya/pāpa can only be exhausted via sukha/duḥkha, which NEEDS body AND world.
    • Since countless mixtures of puṇya/pāpa is possible, Īśvara continues creating countless bodies.
      • How are bodies created? According to BEST exhaustion mechanism of PAST puṇya/pāpam.
        • EG: Jīvātma doesn’t need another human being to exhaust laziness. Sloth body better.
        • EG: When mosquito jīva bites human jīva:
          • For mosquito, puṇyam is exhausted (sukham).
          • For human, pāpam is exhausted (duḥkham).
    • Thus creation is an intertwined network.


VERSE 5-14:

  • Answers Q, “What is significance / method of remembering God, time of death?”
  • Significance: Increases chance of conducive environment for self-knowledge in next janma OR brahmaloka (per CH8 context).
  • Observation: Habitual thinking determines > Lifestyle > Dominant thoughts during day & at time of death > Next janma.
  • HOW to influence habitual thinking to REFLECT Godly-thoughts at time of death?
    • First acknowledge: The older BMI is, the weaker willpower AND stronger saṃskārās (habitual impressions).
    • Therefore start TODAY saturating mind with wisdom and living life of dharma. HOW?…
      • Cultivate a sattvic environment.
      • Mindful of speech (change vocabulary choice > changes mind saṃskārās).
      • Nārada in Bhakti Sūtra: Choose company carefully. Need not hate. But keep distance like a cobra from those who invoke discouraging/unpleasant thoughts.
  • Niṣkāma upāsaka also uses ālambanam (concrete symbol of iṣṭa-devata [personal God]) to help redirect thoughts to God during day and at time of death.


VERSE 15-22:

  • 2 Types of human goals. Bhagavān & World.
  • World GOAL symbolizes:
    • Nothing lasts. Joy/sorrow mixture. Life of limitation. Disease & death. Rebirth.
    • Path of Preyaḥ (pleasant): immediate gratification, EASY, arouses 5 senses. Infinite finite goals.
  • Bhagavān GOAL symbolizes:
    • Immortality, everlasting security, peace & happiness.
      • All humans in all ages, only ever seeking these 4. But mistakenly seek through: money, people, possessions, status.
    • Path of Śreyaḥ (good): delayed gratification, HARD, years of dedication. One infinite goal.
  • How to be in world while pursuing Bhagavān?
    • World is like a decorated cardboard chair. Appreciate it. But never sit on it for security.
    • In same way, nothing wrong with worldly possessions/friends/position, but NEVER depend for security.


VERSE 23-27:

  • 2 Paths after death:
    • Kṛṣṇa mārga leads to finite goal. Meaning 6 heavens between Earth and Brahmaloka. Jīvātma returns to earth.
      • What type of person is this?
        • Ritualistic. Performs noble actions. Social service, charity.
        • Practices sakāma-upāsana (present action is done for sake of future enjoyment in this world or heaven).
    • Śukla mārga leads to infinite goal (Brahmaloka > jñānam > krama mukti).
      • What type of person is this?
        • Practices niṣkāma upāsana (Whole life focus was on attaining God, but never attained God thus died ignorant).
        • Never touches jñāna-yoga because of impure mind OR didn’t find ācārya.
  • Therefore CH8 is specifically for:
    • Sakāma-upāsaka: looking for loka/heavenly pleasures.
    • Niṣkāma upāsaka (type 2): who never discovered nirguṇa īśvara jñānam while living. But desirous of nirguṇa Īśvara.
  • Krishna concludes stating that saguṇa Īśvara upāsana is SUPERIOR over mere karma-yoga/service/charity.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 INTRO:

  • In CH8, person is asked to follow saguṇa Īśvara upāsana whole life because unqualified OR disinterested in nirguṇa Īśvara jñānam (jñāna-yoga) on earth. Then attains krama mukti in Brahmaloka.
  • However Krishna is UNINTERESTED in promoting krama mukti, as it’s meant for INFERIOR devotees. Feels Arjuna is a SUPERIOR devotee who desires mokṣa while living.
    • Mokṣa while living only possible by having interest in jñāna-yoga śravaṇa and WILLING to invest time in manana/nididhyāsana.
    • Thus CH9-12 is for Arjuna who sincerely desires jīvātma-paramātma aikya jñānam while living (essence of jīva and Īśvara are one).
    • And CH9 begins by prescribing saguṇa upāsana as stepping stone to jīvātma-paramātma aikya jñānam.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 1:

idaṃ tu te guhyatamaṃ pravakṣyāmyanasūyave |
jñānaṃ vijñānasahitaṃ yajjñātvā mokṣyase'śubhāt ||

The Lord said – however, to you who are non-critical, I shall impart this Jñāna along with vijñāna which is the greatest secret, and gaining which jñāna you will be freed from Saṁsāra.

  • Subject matter of CH9 will be Īśvara jñānam. Īśvara consists of 2 natures: inferior (lower) AND superior (higher).
    • INFERIOR (lower):
      • aparā-prakṛti: Lord with attributes.
      • Names/forms. Anything subject to change in time.
      • Manifest/unmanifest matter (māyā).
      • Saguṇa Īśvara: full of attributes / dimensions / aspects / points of views.
      • Savikāra: innumerable in variations / combinations / possibilities.
      • Savikalpa: full of divisions / partitions.
      • Acetana tatvam: inert in nature. Not conscious.
    • SUPERIOR (higher):
      • parā-prakṛti: Beyond time/space. Absolute/highest reality. Awareness.
      • Nirguṇa Īśvara: devoid of all qualities and properties. Beyond conditions, thus non-dependable.
      • Nirvikāra: remains unaltered, unchanged, uninfluenced, untransformed. Unperturbed.
      • Nirvikalpa: free of thought modifications/reflection. Unwavering [steadfast], not flickering.
      • Cetana tatvam: Consciousness-principle.
  • Krishna says: “Arjuna, I will give you knowledge of both, higher nature (advaita jñānam) and lower nature (dvaita jñānam)”.
    • If want imperfection/comparison/misery/rebirth – focus on dvaita jñānam (knowledge of THIS and THAT).
      • EG: God is perfect/full. I am imperfect/partial.
    • If want freedom FROM perfection AND imperfection – focus on advaita jñānam (non-dual, nirguṇa Īśvara).
      • Total freedom is because nirguṇa has nothing to differentiate between God and self.
  • What type of knowledge will be shared?
    • guhyatamaṃ (greatest secret): Rarest knowledge cannot get anywhere. Because few know or understand nirguṇa Īśvara, so won’t hear it in Universities/schools/social gatherings/weddings.
      • Most only talk/know of saguṇa Īśvara.
      • Hence it remains greatest OPEN secret.
  • How will our lives positively TRANSFORM from it?
    • yat jñātvā mokṣyase aśubhāt: gaining this knowledge and assimilating it through practice, bhakta is released from beginingless rebirth.
    • And while living, one is FREED FROM psychological problems like:
      • Slavery to rāga-dveṣa: likes/dislikes (impatience, insensitive, inconsiderate).
      • kāma: desire.
      • krodha: anger.
      • lobha: greed.
      • moha: attachment/delusion.
      • mada: pride.
      • mātsarya: jelaousy.
    • Highest goal of life is accomplished (which all saints have communicated since time immemorial): mokṣa.
  • Why have I chosen you Arjuna?
    • pravakṣyām-yanasūyave: because of RAREST quality required from student; non-critical mind.
      • Listening WITH critical mind:
        • Find fault in presentED and presentOR.
        • Find out if teacher knows much as I do.
        • Called: Intellectual arrogance (knowledge in absence of dharma leads to subtle superiority).
          • Stifles further growth.
      • Whereas Arjuna is intellectually humble/open. Honest in admitting I don’t know”.
        • Willing to give śāstra/ācārya benefit of doubt.
          • “I might have not understood properly” VS “Scriptures are defective/primitive”.
        • Therefore to question OWN understanding in light of the teaching, and NOT the teaching itself, is called: śraddha (open mindedness/faith).
    • Therefore Krishna says “Arjuna I will teach you this knowledge only because you are open to listening and discovering for yourself if it works, with patience and diligent practice”.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 2:

rājavidyā rājaguhyaṃ pavitramidamuttamam |
pratyakṣa avagamaṃ dharmyaṃ susukhaṃ kartumavyayam ||

This is the greatest knowledge, the greatest secret, the most sacred, directly attainable, unopposed to dharma, very easy to pursue and imperishable.


  • Rājavidyā: Īśvara jñānam (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad: parā-vidyā) is ROYAL knowledge, greatest of all branches of knowledge.
    • Because deals with the non-negatable reality: satyam. Knowing which, everything else is known at once. (ornament/gold).
      • Immediately liberates from pain of “I don’t know”, regarding worldly knowledge.
      • Can’t ever be forgotten.
      • Don’t need to maintain as get older. Only effortlessly “be”.
    • While innumerable branches of knowledge produce SUFFERING in time.
      • Because they’re mithyā (can be falsified by different point of view).
      • Forgetfulness.
      • Never touches the KNOWER of the worldly knowledge (who continues being ignorant).
      • Can’t remove lifetimes of psychological complaints (because sañcita is infinite). EG:
        • I’m not loved.
        • My son/daughter doesn’t spend time with me.
        • I’m not respected at work.
        • Everyone is ignoring me.
      • Whereas Vedānta instantaneously removes lifetimes of psychological upsets.
  • Rāja guhyam: It is greatest open secret.
    • Because self remains hidden from:
      • (1) Senses (pratyakṣa-pramāṇa). EG: KNOWN Hidden treasure
      • (2) Inferred by mind LOGIC (anumāna-pramāṇa). EG: Nature's laws (eg: gravity), not perceived (via #1), but inferred by mind.
  • Uttamam pavitram: Greatest purifier in creation. Destroys sañcita/āgāmi karma and beginingless avidyā.
    • Releases from bondage of rāga/dveṣa and psychological impurities.
    • Impurities are NEVER accumulated again.
      • All other methods (pilgrimages, meditation retreats, kīrtana, self-help book) give TEMPORARY purity. Become impure soon after.
    • 4.38: It sanctifies (holi-nizes) all who contact it.
  • pratyakṣāvagamam: Available here and now. Not a promise after death, which can’t prove.
  • Dharmyam: Keeps with Vedic teaching.
    • Vedas considered source of knowledge in our tradition. If not part of Vedas, it doesn’t flourish in India.
      • EG: Despite Buddha being so glorified, because he rejected Veda (nāstika darśanam: non-believer in God), Buddhism spread in most of world, except India.
    • So even Krishna avatāra sticks with Vedic tradition.
  • susukhaṃ kartum: Gaining this knowledge is far easier then attaining krama mukti, which involves:
    • Doing consistent upāsana through life.
    • Sitting in proper āsana time of death.
    • Withdrawing prāṇa from sense organs > bring to heart > force to suṣumna nāḍī > release through brahma randhra > Brahmaloka > listen classes by Brahmāji > krama mukti.
  • Avyayam: Result of this knowledge is permanent freedom (mokṣa). Whereas all other knowledge become irrelevant throughout person’s life & forgotten by mind.


Keywords: acarya, alambanam, antima satkam, anumana, apara prakriti, apara prakrti, atma, atman, bhagavan, bhutam, brahmaji, catushtaya, duhkha, dvesa, guna, hiranyagarbha, ishta devata, ishvara, ista devata, isvara jnanam, iswara, jiva, jivan-mukta, jivan-mukti, jivanmuktah, jivanmukti, jivatma, jnana-yoga, jnanam, kama, karma phala data, kirtan, kirtana, krishna gati, krsna gati marga, madhyama satkam, matsarya, mithya, narada bhakti sutra, nididhyasana, nirguna, nirvikara, niskama nishkama upasana, papa karma, para prakriti, para prakrti, para vidya, paramatma, pramana, Prathama satkam, pratyaksa, pratyaksha, preya, puja, punya karma, raga-dvesha, raja guhya, raja vidya , sadhana, sadhana catustya, saguna, saguna brahma visaya manasa vyapara, sakama upasana, samasthi, samasti, samskara, samskaras, sastra, savikara, shastra, shatkam, shravana, shreya, shukla, sravana, sreya, sukha, sukla marga gati, sushumna, susumna nadi, upasana, vasana, vedanta vicara, vijnana, virat, vishaya, vyashti, vyasti, yajna, yajnam


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

Recorded 15 Oct, 2019


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