Brahman-Maya (Satya-Mithya) Relationship: Essence of Non-Duality in Upanishads (71)


Lesson 71 revisits most important qualification, faith in Upanishads/Vedanta, without which tree of samsara can't be cut. Next we mention 5 glories/descriptions of Higher Reality (Awareness) and relationship with Lower Reality (apparently existent; maya).

Source: Bhagavad Gita, CH9 – verse 3, 4, 5, 6


  • In CH9, Krishna is focusing on Īśvara jñānam.
    • Dealing with:
      • Higher nature: parā-prakṛti in CH7.
        • Reality beyond conditions of time/space.
        • For this reason it is: division-less, changeless, timeless, space-less, Absolute.
      • Lower nature: aparā-prakṛti in CH7.
        • Relative empirical world within time/space.
        • Consequently, it’s subject to division/adjustment, influenced by variables, undergoes manifest/unmanifest.
    • Per Upaniṣad, higher nature: Brahman (or Ātman). Lower nature: Māyā.
    • Knowledge of:
      • Higher: vijñānam / advaitam.
      • Lower: jñānam / dvaitam.
      • Moreover, Krishna says he will deal with both.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 3:

aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā dharmasyāsya parāntapa |
aprāpya māṃ nivartante mṛtyusaṃsāravartmani ||

Oh Arjuna! Those people who have no faith in this teaching continue certainly in the course of saṁsāra fraught with death without attaining me.


  • Despite glory of īśvara-jñānam and it’s gift of offering highest joy/security, and it’s FREE availability on internet / āśramās, many people REJECT it.
    • One reason: people don’t trust what is freely & easily available.
      • EG: Boy married without dowry = “Something fishy for boy being cheaply available”.
      • Reality is: Most essential (water, air, food) is free & taken for granted. While non-essential (jewelry, makeup, king size bed, public figure) is valued.
  • For such reason, aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣaḥ dharmasyāsya, many lack śraddha (faith; non-critical mind) in efficacy in īśvara jñānam.
  • What happens to them? Aprāpya mām, they lose opportunity to attain Me, the unlimited ānanda / security.
    • “Yea, BUT I can do this next life!”: No guarantee gaining human body, nor receiving conducive environment.
  • Finally, what is their state of affairs? nivartantē mṛtyusaṃsāravartmani, these folks remain in grip of spellbinding- saṃsāra, doing what? Acquiring-losing. Eternal struggle. (Punarapi jananam, punarapi maraṇam)
    • Folks also receive fresh doses of disease, decay, separation, loss – each lifetime!


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 4:

mayā tatamidaṃ sarvaṃ jagadavyaktamūrtinā |
matsthāni sarvabhūtāni na cāhaṃ teṣvavasthitaḥ ||

All this Universe is pervaded by Me, whose form is unmanifest. All beings are in Me; still, I am not in them.


  • Krishna has finished glorification of Īśvara jñānam, and stated necessary qualification for this rāja-vidya; śraddha (non-critical mind).
    • Or anasūya in V1. Absence of ill-will.
      • SYMBOLISM:
        • Wife of Atri sage (Vedic era).
        • Transcended 3: wife = anasūya (freedom from ill-will, envy, judgement)
        • Not Transcended 3: wife = asūya (grumbling displeasure)
      • Central them of CH9 being V4-10. Gītā’s significant section contains essence of Upaniṣads. Krishna starts by revealing Īśvara’s higher nature.
  • GLORY/DEFINITION 1 of Īśvara’s higher nature: NOT perceptible to any sense organs. In contrast, vyakta is perceptible to indriyāni. EG:
    • If object has sound property: PERCEPTIBLE to ear.
    • Touch (tactile feedback) property: KNOWN through skin.
    • Shape/color/form property: NOTICED through eyes.
    • Taste property (saltiness, sourness, sweetness, bitterness): DETECTED by tongue.
    • Fragrance/aroma property: RECOGNIZED by nose.
    • Meaning, if experienced God at any time/form, it was lower nature ONLY. From Vedāntic angle, it was not higher Īśvara because experience is not here NOW. Sublime māyā (inspiring awe).
    • Then HOW to “experience” higher Īśvara?

      • Īśvara is not an OBJECT of experience, because God is avyaktam (non-perceptible).
      • Instead, Īśvara is ever-available as the conscious SUBJECT. What is nature of Subject? Illuminating-validating.
        • Illuminating-validating what specifically? Whatever experience is presented. Moods, thoughts, back pain, joys, memories.
    • CONCLUSION: Lord is never away. Nor will Lord ever come, because He never left.
  • GLORY 2 of Īśvara’s higher nature: tatam idam sarvam jagat: He is pervaded all over. (present past participle)
    • What does “all over” mean?
      • How is form of mountain determined? By evaluating it’s boundaries. Meaning form = boundary. Hence form can never be “all over”.
      • And since Īśvara is formless, Lord is boundless (all-overness).
    • QUIZ Q 1: “Is God in heaven?”. What is answer?
      • Wrong if just answer “yes” or “no”, and stop at that.
      • “God is indeed in heaven ALSO”. (Implying Īśvara is also here and now).
    • QUIZ Q 2: “What do we mean by “merging with Īśvara”?
      • Gaining wisdom that Lord has never been AWAY from self. Dropping notion of division = “merger”.
  • GLORY 3 of Īśvara’s higher nature: matsthāni sarvabhūtāni, whole world is resting in Me. I am supporter of the universe.
    • At same time, I am not supported by the world. I am never supported. But supportless supporter of whole universe.
    • Glory 1: Lord is formless. Avyaktam (not perceptible).
    • Glory 2: Lord is all-pervading. Sarvagatatvam (being everywhere, omnipresence).
    • Glory 3: Lord is support of all, the substratum of the mithyā universe. Jagat adhiṣṭhāna (Abode of world).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 5:

na ca matsthāni bhūtāni paśya me yogamaiśvaram |
bhūtabhṛnna ca bhūtastho mama”tmā bhūtabhāvanaḥ ||

In fact, the beings are not in Me. See My divine yoga. I, Myself am the creator of the beings and the sustainer of the beings; but (I am) not in the beings.


  • Continuing Glory 3 (Lord is support of all), bhūtāni na matshāni; infact the world/beings do NOT rest in Me. World is not in Me at all.
    • Krishna is contradicting last śloka: All beings are in Me. This śloka: All beings are not in Me. How to resolve this?
      • Śaṅkarācārya resolves this through an inquiry:
        • X is existent (manifest). Next moment: X is not-existent (unmanifest).
          • EG: Where was existence of your sibling before I just said “sibling”?
        • ONE angle: Existent (World/beings are in Me). ANOTHER angle: Seemingly-existent (World/beings are not in Me).
        • In other words, I am independent of whether world is in me OR not. That’s why I can speak about 2 conditions of existent/non-existent (manifest/unmanifest).
      • EXAMPLE: Is your nighttime dream existent DURING time of actual dreaming?
        • Dream is existent because we experience it with LEGIT emotions.
        • However dream becomes NON-existent from a “higher standpoint” of waker. From waker standpoint, we know everything in dream didn’t really exist. It was my OWN thought projections.
        • IN SHORT:

          • From lower order of reality (eg: dream): World is real.
          • From higher order of reality (eg: waking): World WAS apparently real.
          • Lower order is called: mithyā / apparently real (experientially available but factually non-existent).
            • Anything capable invoking response, but also disappears upon waking of a higher angle.
            • Called: sat asadbhyām anirvacanīyam
              • You can’t say it is NOT there. Because it frightens.
              • Can’t say it IS there. Because not seen from higher angle.
              • EG: Lottery won in dream gave genuine happiness. But upon waking, it has no benefit/meaningless.
    • In this way, Krishna is pointing out: world DOES exist. But it is lower order of reality.
      • From ajñāni BMI standpoint, world is existent. From Jñāni BMI standpoint: word is SEEMINGLY existent.
        • For both, world is mithyā jagat / vyāvahārika (empirical reality).
      • From Brahman standpoint, world is completely non-existent.
  • Concluding 1st line (na ca matsthāni bhūtāni paśya mē yōgam aiśvaram), may you appreciate my higher yoga (reality), called pāramārthika (Brahman).
    • May you know, from higher yoga (reality), the lower reality (vyāvahārika) is non-existent. But from jīvātma’s point of view, the empirical reality is SEEMINGLY existent.
    • Glory 1: Lord is formless. Avyaktam (not perceptible).
    • Glory 2: Lord is all-pervading. Sarvagatatvam (being everywhere, omnipresence).
    • Glory 3: Lord is support of all, the substratum of the mithyā universe. Jagat adhiṣṭhāna (Abode of world).
  • GLORY 4: mama ātmā bhūtabhāvanaḥ bhūtabhṛn, I am (indicated by ātmā / parā-prakṛti) the sṛṣṭi, sthiti, laya kāraṇam – just like how waker is creator, sustainer, destroyer of dream world.
    • I (as waker) create dream world, which ironically scares me. When I wake up, whole dream world of baggage – is resolved into me.
      • Meaning I (as waker) am the supporter of the dream-world. I do not depend upon the dream-world. Dream-world can’t exist without me, yet I exist without the dream-world.
        • This is called: satya-mithyā-sambandha (relationship) OR adhiṣṭhāna-adhyāsa-sambandha (substratum-superimposition relation) OR brahman satyam, jagat mithyā.
        • In same way, satyam (Awareness) exists independent of mithyā jagat.
          • EG: Each ornament has attributes from point of view of itself. But it’s just one same gold. Where ornament is, that’s exactly where gold is.
    • SUMMARY: I am the bhūtabhāvanaḥ (projector of world), bhūtabhṛn (sustainer of projection), and also swallower the whole universe, including time/space. EG: Spider creates and eats it’s own web.
    • POTENTIAL DOUBT: How can Brahman be without vyāvahārika if there is a vyāvahārika world? Person in South Africa is dreaming right now. Their dream world is mixture of joys/sorrows. Are you having that dream right now, or they are? They are. In same way, Brahman is free of māyā which is creating/sustaining/destroying world for ignorant jīvās.
      • In same way, when jīvanmukta DROPS physical body at death, THERE remains awareness of self as limitless (ānanda). Without finding oneself in world ever again.
        • Whereas vyāvahārika empirical world continues for jīvā (with BMI).
    • Glory 1: Lord is formless. Avyaktam (not perceptible).
    • Glory 2: Lord is all-pervading. Sarvagatam (being everywhere, omnipresence).
    • Glory 3: Lord is support of all, the substratum of the mithyā universe. Jagat adhiṣṭhāna (Abode of world).
    • Glory 4: I am creator, sustainer, swallower of mithyā universe.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9 – Verse 6:

yathākāśasthito nityaṃ vāyuḥ sarvatrago mahān |
tathā sarvāṇi bhūtāni matsthānītyupādhāraya ||

Just as the great, all-pervading wind is ever present in space, in the same manner, all beings are in Me. May you understand.

  • GLORY 5: asaṅgatva, detachedness. Remains unsullied/untained.
    • Addresses doubt created in V5: Whole universe is resting in Īśvara. Meaning all impurities/defects may affect Īśvara. EG: Dirty object marks your clothes. Dirt remains until change.
      • Means all people’s puṇya/pāpa also contaminates Lord.
    • Krishna says: Even though I accommodate everything, I am untainted by the accommodated.
      • EG: Golden angel (beauty) transforms into golden middle finger (beast). Neither sully gold itself.
    • Krishna uses example of space (ākāśa), which is nearest comparison to Īśvara’s higher nature.
      • Both are formless and all-pervading.
    • For instance, space accommodates everything, but can’t burn it with (bad) fire, wet with (good) water, nor cut space.
    • In same way, Lord is NEITHER good nor bad, beautiful nor ugly. Because all pairs of opposites (dvandva) belong to mithyā / vyāvahārika / empirical world. EG: “God is compassionate/loving” is actually lower nature.
    • SUMMARY of Verse: Air may be contaminated by foul/pleasant odor, but it doesn’t contaminate space. Else odor would remain in one place, and no odor could ever take over.
      • In same way, sarvāṇi bhūtāni matasthāni, good/bad people, good/bad smells… do not affect Me.
    • matsthānītyupadhāraya: may you be convinced of this.
    • Glory 1: Lord is formless. Avyaktam (not perceptible).
    • Glory 2: Lord is all-pervading. Sarvagatatvam (being everywhere, omnipresence).
    • Glory 3: Lord is support of all, the substratum of the mithyā universe. Jagat adhiṣṭhāna (Abode of world).
    • Glory 4: I am creator, sustainer, swallower of mithyā universe.
    • Glory 5: I am unsullied. Asaṅgatvam.


Keywords: adhishtana, adhistana adhyasa sambandha, ajnani, akasa, akasha, anasuya, anirvacaniya, apara-prakriti, asangatva, asangatvam, ashram, asram, asuya, bhutabhavana, bhutabhrn, indriyani, ishvara, isvara jnanam, jnana, jnani, karana, matsthanityupadharaya, maya, mithya, papa, para-prakriti , paramarthika, prakrti, punya, samsara, sarvani bhutani matasthani, satya mithya sambandha, shankara, shankaracarya, sholka, shraddha, sloka, sraddha, srishti, srsti, vedantic, vijnana, vyavaharik, sat asadbhyam, anirvacanīya, sat asatbhyām anirvacaniya


  • After-class group work: Discuss differences between Higher Reality (metaphor for Waking) & Lower Reality (metaphor for Dream)

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

Recorded 22 Oct, 2019


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