Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9 Summary (Terms Recapped) (78)


Lesson 78 covers main points throughout CH9. V1-3: How Self-Knowledge is superior to all other knowledges. V4-10: How All Knowledge/Power (Ishvara) is everywhere. V11: Why is there samsara (causing rebirth)? V12-19: Remedy for samsara. The 3 bhakti attitudes & levels. What are best actions for worship? V20-29: Sakama/Nishkama bhakti difference. V30-34: Obstacles to jnana-yoga.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, CH9 SUMMARY


  • CH9 similar to CH7. Different from CH8.
  • REMINDER IN CH8: saguṇa īśvara upāsana described, meditation upon the Lord with various attributes/virtues. Gives indirect liberation: krama mukti.
    • Sādhaka practices saguṇa īśvara upāsana throughout life, without coming to jñāna yoga. Avoids it. Confines life to saguṇa upāsana.
    • After physical death, jīvātma travels to Brahma loka to assimilate jñāna yoga. Gains mokṣa. Called krama mukti.
    • Krishna not interested prescribing Krama mukti, because it’s unnecessary postponement of liberation. He wants us to enjoy jīvanmukti in this birth (janma). How?
      • Practice saguṇa upāsana > acquire qualifications > switch to jñāna-yoga (Vedānta vicāraḥ; inquiry).
      • How is liberation attained in this life?
        • In CH7, first known Īśvara’s 2 natures:
          • Saguṇa / aparā-prakṛti: Lower / inferior nature. Manifest/unmanifest world (jagat).
          • Nirguṇa / parā-prakṛti: Higher / superior nature; consciousness.
            • Remember: Consciousness is the content out of which even aparā-prakṛti is made of.
        • Then negate aparā-prakṛti via Vedānta vicāraḥ. “Not this, not this”.


Verse 1-3: Mentions subject matter

  • Rāja-vidyā: King of Knowledge.
    • All relative knowledges have innumerable branches. Take place in mind.
      • Self, “I” is the illuminator of the mind. Thus foundation of all relative knowledge.
    • Relative knowledges can’t permanently remove sorrow/fear. Only Self-Knowledge can, by re-identifying with limitlessness.
    • SK inspired poets (Rumi), Kingdoms renounced (Janaka).
  • Rāja-guhyam: Greatest secret because not perceptible to senses/mind. Thus remains hidden because of unprepared buddhi.
  • Pratyakṣa-avagamam: Realized directly. EG: Knowledge of a book does not turn us into the book.
    • K is realised directly “I am the WHOLE”.
  • Dharmyam:K integrates our physical, emotional, intellectual personality to work in harmony.
    • Unites all because shows how one Self is truth of everyone.
  • Susukham kartum: Relative knowledges require ceaseless EFFORT to maintain and enjoy.
    • K is effortless & easiest. No action to “be”. You already are.
  • CH9 Subject Matter: Rāja-vidyā – rāja-guhyam: Nirguṇa īśvara jñānam.
    • Important qualification: śraddhā: Keeping open mind, until I understand. Meaning don’t reject pramāṇa/guru.


Verse 4-10: Central theme: Reveals the REAL nature of Īśvara; nirguṇa Īśvara / parā-prakṛti / consciousness-principle.

  • What is parā/aparā-prakṛti? 2 natures which make up what we call: Īśvara (Lord of the Universe).
  • Refer to video for explanation.
  • In presence of Īśvara, owning to it’s All Knowledge/Power (via 3 guṇas), a manifests jagat (world) is manifest. So world is a mixture of: parā-prakṛti (consciousness) and aparā-prakṛti (TOTAL matter/energy/potential created by 3 guṇās).
  • What compels a world to manifest? TOTAL saṃkārās of all beings.
    • Jīvas likes/dislikes compel one to act them out and either enjoy/suffer. For this, an appropriate environment is made for jīva to exhaust karma.
  • FEATURES of nirguṇa Īśvara:
    • 1) All-pervading (nirguṇam)
      • Meaning any deity located in place is saguṇa. Eg: Brahmaloka, Vaikuṇṭhā, Father in Heaven.
        • Presented at beginning ONLY. Because can’t come to nirguṇa without saguṇa sādhana.
        • Saguṇa īśvara without nirguṇa is incomplete spirituality.
      • INSTRUCTION: Person’s saguṇa-sādhana should culminate > nirguṇa jñanam.
        • Parable: 2 disciples asked to feed a cat, where no one watching. One fed in corner. Other couldn’t find place with no one around, “I was always around” (all-pervading).
          • In same way, jñāni feels at home everywhere. Because understands “Truth of self and everything is one without a second”. No such thing as privacy.
    • 2) Avyaktaḥ: Beyond sensory perception.
      • Soundless, felt-less, sight-less, taste-less, smell-less.
      • Any vision of Īśvara is saguṇa / aparā-prakṛti
    • 3) Mithyā jagat adhiṣṭhānam: Īśrava is support of unreal mithyā
      • Why we call world unreal?
        • EG: Dream world is real from standpoint of dreaming individual. But UNREAL from standpoint of waker.
          • Similarly, mithyā world is seemingly real from standpoint of BMI. But unreal from standpoint of Īśvara (WHOLE).
            • EG: Gold bangle is only real to another individual golden ornament. But from standpoint of their content (Gold), they are neither bangle nor earing. They are Gold only.
    • 4) asaṅga svarūpaḥ: Free from all impurities of world.
      • EG: Dirty object sullies clean cloth. In case of nirguṇa Īśvara… saguṇa attributes don’t sully.
        • Thus nirguṇa Īśvara is compared to space. Space accommodates all, without contamination.
    • 5) Īśvara is sṛṣti, sthiti, laya kāraṇam. Cause of forms, Sustainer of forms, Changer of forms.
      • Doubt: If Īśvara is creator of universe, then Īśvara is also kartā/bhoktā. EG: Earthquake > millions die. Meaning Īśvara also has puṇya/pāpa-karma.
        • RESPONSE: Īśvara doesn’t create. In Īśvara’s presence: creation arises, exists, resolves.
          • EG: Light in hall not responsible for noble/ignoble people actions in hall. Results don’t go to light.
            • Light just illumines, making it possible for karma to take place.


Verse 11: Why is there saṃsāra (mixture of pain/pleasures – causing ongoing birth/death)?

  • Saṃsāra cased by ignorance of nirguṇa īśvara / parā-prakṛti.
    • Logic: Nirguṇa is beyond time/space. Totally attributeless. Can’t think / sense / contemplate it.
      • Hence without knowledge of nirguṇa jñānam, attention choicelessly goes onto constant changes of the world; saguṇa (time/space/objects) / aparā-prakṛti.
        • Meaning all security/peace has to DEPEND on decaying, disappearing, subject to association/disassociation. Leads to disappointment / dissatisfied expectations / frustration. Takes it out on Lord.
      • Therefore, absence of parā-prakṛti knowledge, causes seeking security in aparā-prakṛti
  • What is cause of saṃsāra?
    • Moghāśā: Living in false hope owning to false notions.
      • Expecting permanence from an impermanent world. Because doesn’t know parā-prakṛti is the REAL permanent.
    • Mogha-karma: Doing useless activity to fulfill false hope.
      • EG: Sit in glass cage with scorpions just to be in Guinness Book of World Records. Butt/Abs sculping.
    • Mogha-jñāna: Useless knowledge. To learn useless activity, to satisfy useless hopes, must learn useless knowledge.
    • Vicetaḥ: Wrong thinking. “Believe in Jesus, go to heaven!”.


Verse 12-19: Saṃsāra remedy

  • Bhakti is solution. It’s not a single sādhana. But series of sādhanās > culminating to > jñānam.
    • Because problem is ignorance. Thus solution HAS to be jñānam.
      • EG: Ātma Bodha: if darkness is problem… then sweeping it with broom, will make you tired.
        • Prāṇayāma / Meditating / chanting viṣnu sahasranāma won’t remove.
        • Only one solution will work: Light a lamp.
  • 3 Attitudes of Worship: (9.15)
    1. Pṛthaktvena: Worship Īśvara as a friend, beloved, child. Remain different from Lord. Incarnations like: Gaṇeśa, Jesus, Buddha, Kṛṣṇa, Ramana M.
    2. Bahudhā Viśvato Mukham: Worship as all forms in creation.
    3. Ekatvena: Seek oneness with Īśvara.
  • 3 levels of Bhakti sādhana:
    1. Karma-yoga:
      • Convert every action as worship to the WHOLE. Because all actions are only possible because of Īśvara.
      • Give up insistence of receiving specific expectations.
    2. Upāsana:
      • Since karma-yoga is ACTION-based, it sustains extroverted mind; selfish or selfless.
      • Next stage, during meditation… turn mind’s attention onto the mind’s own activity. (Turn mind inwards)
    3. Vedānta vicāra
      • Jñāna-yoga involving: śravaṇa, manana, nididhyāsana.
      • This stage leads to jīvanmuktaḥ.
      • 33, called: jñāna-yajña.
  • When bhakta gone thought 3 levels, becomes jñāni because of 100% assimilated parā-prakṛti / nirguṇa īśvara jñānam.
    • Who comes to which level?
      • Misguided / dull minds won’t even come to karma-yoga. But hop sādhanās / satsaṇga.
      • Rajas/tamas minds > karma-yoga.
      • Sattva/rajas > upāsana.
      • Mostly sāttvika mind > jñāna-yoga.
  • What type of actions qualify for bhakti/worship?
    • Action doesn’t matter. It is the intention behind the action that counts.
      • EG1: Mom doesn’t consider cost/quality of present, gifted by child. But love with which it’s given, melts her heart.
      • EG2: To invoke big dad, any king of baby touch or cry will invoke him.
    • Meaning any kind of worship / offering is accepted.
      • How is this possible? Īśvara is everything.
        • Like in a dream, there is: Dream worship (yajñaḥ), materials, fire for oblation, mantras.
        • All are made out of ONE waker’s mind (whose truth is not different from Īśvara).


Verse 20-29: Sakāma/Niṣkāma Bhakti

  • Previously 3 levels of bhakti based on sādhana. Now, 2 levels of bhakti based on motives.
    1. Sakāma-bhakti:
      • Path of preyaḥ. (Path of EASY. Instant gratification.)
      • Bhakti according to rāga/dveṣa. Actions produce mixture of puṇya/pāpa-karma.
        • EG: Save world, children find good spouse, health, finances.
      • Gives infinite finite results because goals are finite. Ups & downs.
      • Reveals absence of vairāgyam / viveka (primary for Vedānta).
    2. Niṣkāma-bhakti:
      • Path of sreyaḥ (path of HARD. Nobility according to śāstra. Not-compromising.)
      • Understood permanent security/peace/contentment lies only in parā-prakṛti. Hence bhakti used for parā-prakṛti jñānam.
      • Progresses quickly because dispassionately drops prior sādhana. Keeps asking for HIGHER.
        • EG: Mother gives milk to child from her own body. Not permanently. At child grows, she supplies different food.
          • In same way, niṣkāma-bhakta stops one sādhana to progress to higher > highest nididhyāsana.
        • Gives ONE infinite result.
  • In reality, sakāma is harder. Full of rules. Mistakes need prāyaścitta-karma (atonement).


Verse 30-34: Glory of Bhakti

  • Potential obstacle: Guilt.
    • Sometimes past transgressions / ignoble acts make us guilty. Suffocates our self-confidence.
    • Krishna gives 2 reasons why to drop guilt:
      • Moment decide to change for better, you are a sādhu-purūsa. EG: Ratnakar > vālmīki
        • Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a saintly potential.
      • Īśvara’s laws are impartial to all. EG: Laws digest food & shower rain for both saint/sinner, rich/poor, materialist/spiritualist.
        • In same way, fire is same to all. Who come close, receive it’s warmth. Who remain far, shiver. EG: Arjuna / Duryodhana.
  • Obstacle to nirguṇa jñānam:
    • Womanly qualities like: attachment, dependency, and emotional nature.
  • Caste (varṇa) is based on guṇa mixtures (since universe made of 3 guṇā) and profession. Not birth. Varṇa can been seen as “attitude of mind”. — SEE CHART —
  • Finally:
    • Even after ātma-jñānam, remain humble – otherwise subtle arrogance comes. How to remain humble?…
      • Remember it’s only because of Īśvara’s laws-orders that you are successful. Which continue giving enjoyment AFTER jñānam.
    • Krishna concludes CH9 with glorification of Bhakti.


Keywords:adhisthana, apara prakriti, asanga, atma bodha, avyakta, bhokta, guna, isvara ishvara, jivanmukta, jivanmukti, jivatma, jnana yoga, jnanam, jnani, karana, karta, mithya, moghasa, nididhyasana, nirguna, para prakrti, pramana, pranayama, prayascitta prayashcitta karma, raja guhyam, raja vidya, sadhaka, sadhana, sadhu purusa purusha, saguna, samsara, samskara, samskaras, sattvika, sraddha, sravana shravana, srsti srshti sristi, svarupa, upaasana, upasana, vaikuntha, vairagyam, valmiki, varna, vasana, vedanta, vicara, viceta, vishnu sahasranama, visnu sahasranama, yajna


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

Recorded 14 Jan, 2020



  1. Hi Andre,


    One doubt I have .. suppose in a party one person say that sorry I don’t want to drinks as I have to study for my exam in night
    So here what he has used to avoid drinks
    Self (awareness) or
    Budhi(intellect) or

    I have confused whether he used intellect or consciousness, as I think consciousness only tell to intellect that what is right or wrong.. please clarify

    1. It can’t be Self (Awareness/Consciousness), as Self is merely a watcher of the whole phenomena decided by the buddhi (intellect) and mind.

      Buddhi and mind are one and the same “Thinking Mechanism”. They’re never apart. We give them two names for sake of dealing with our experience with more accuracy.

      Manas (mind) is experienced when we’re in doubt. I should drink. I shouldn’t drink. Like pendulum. Swinging left to right. This swinging is experienced as discomfort.

      The moment the swinging stops, and sticks to ONE side or the OTHER, it then becomes buddhi (a solid, unmoving thought).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *