Pragmatic Gita

Vibhuti Yoga

Chapter 10: Vibhuti Yoga : Journey to Tranquility: Mastering Heya, Divya, and Brahma through Avikampa Yoga

In the study of Vibhuti Yoga, the Heya phase, Divya phase, and Brahma phase represent the transformative journey of a seeker, profoundly connected through the practice of Avikampa Yoga. Our understanding of Avikampa Yoga shapes how we perceive spiritual maturity and unwavering commitment to divine principles.

If you have not already done so, I would request you to review the Chapter 9, Raja Vidya Raja Guhya Yoga before studying chapter 9 as that would help set the right context.
You can find the explanation of the previous set of shlokas, 1 to 6 of chapter 10 here. Please go through that to get a better understand and maintain continuity in your learning.
You can also listen to all the episodes through my Spotify Portal. And here on YouTube as well.

Verses 10.7 – 10.11

एतां विभूतिं योगं च मम यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः। सोऽविकम्पेन योगेन युज्यते नात्र संशयः।।10.7।।

etāṁ vibhūtiṁ yogaṁ ca mama yo vetti tattvataḥ so ‘vikampena yogena yujyate nātra saṁśayaḥ

एताम् (etām) – this; विभूतिम् (vibhūtim) – opulence; योगम् (yogam) – mystic power; च (ca) – and; मम (mama) – of mine; यः (yaḥ) – who; वेत्ति (vetti) – knows; तत्त्वतः (tattvataḥ) – in truth; सः (saḥ) – he; अविकम्पेन (avikampena) – undeviating; योगेन (yogena) – by devotional service; युज्यते (yujyate) – is engaged; न (na) – not; अत्र (atra) – here; संशयः (saṁśayaḥ) – doubt;

One who truly understands this glory and mystic power of Mine becomes united with me through undeviating devotional service to Me. Of this, there is no doubt.

अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो मत्तः सर्वं प्रवर्तते। इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां बुधा भावसमन्विताः।।10.8।।

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate iti matvā bhajante māṁ budhā bhāvasamanvitāḥ

अहम् (aham) – I; सर्वस्य (sarvasya) – of all; प्रभवः (prabhavaḥ) – the source; मत्तः (mattaḥ) – from Me; सर्वम् (sarvam) – everything; प्रवर्तते (pravartate) – emanates; इति (iti) – thus; मत्वा (matvā) – knowing; भजन्ते (bhajante) – worship; माम् (mām) – Me; बुधाः (budhāḥ) – the wise; भावसमन्विताः (bhāva-samanvitāḥ) – with devotion;

I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this worship Me with great faith and devotion.

मच्चित्ता मद्गतप्राणा बोधयन्तः परस्परम्। कथयन्तश्च मां नित्यं तुष्यन्ति च रमन्ति च।।10.9।।

mac-cittā mad-gata-prāṇā bodhayantaḥ parasparam kathayantaś ca māṁ nityaṁ tuṣyanti ca ramanti ca

मत्-चित्ताः (mat-cittāḥ) – their minds fixed on Me; मत्-गत-प्राणाः (mat-gata-prāṇāḥ) – their lives devoted to Me; बोधयन्तः (bodhayantaḥ) – enlightening; परस्परम् (parasparam) – one another; कथयन्तः (kathayantaḥ) – speaking; च (ca) – and; माम् (mām) – about Me; नित्यम् (nityam) – always; तुष्यन्ति (tuṣyanti) – they derive satisfaction; च (ca) – and; रमन्ति (ramanti) – they enjoy; च (ca) – and;

The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another about Me and in conversing about My glories.

तेषां सततयुक्तानां भजतां प्रीतिपूर्वकम्। ददामि बुद्धियोगं तं येन मामुपयान्ति ते।।10.10।।

teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te

तेषाम् (teṣām) – to them; सतत-युक्तानाम् (satata-yuktānām) – always engaged; भजताम् (bhajatām) – worshiping; प्रीति-पूर्वकम् (prīti-pūrvakam) – with love; ददामि (dadāmi) – I give; बुद्धि-योगम् (buddhi-yogam) – the understanding; तम् (tam) – that; येन (yena) – by which; माम् (mām) – to Me; उपयान्ति (upayānti) – they come; ते (te) – they;

To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.

तेषाम् एव अनुकम्पा-अर्थम् अहम् अज्ञान-जम् तमः। नाशयामि आत्म-भाव-स्थः ज्ञान-दीपेन भास्वता।।10.11।।

teṣām evānukampārtham aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā

तेषाम् (teṣām) – for them; एव (eva) – certainly; अनुकम्पा-अर्थम् (anukampā-artham) – out of compassion; अहम् (aham) – I; अज्ञान-जम् (ajñāna-jam) – born of ignorance; तमः (tamaḥ) – darkness; नाशयामि (nāśayāmi) – destroy; आत्म-भाव-स्थः (ātma-bhāva-sthaḥ) – situated within their hearts; ज्ञान-दीपेन (jñāna-dīpena) – with the lamp of knowledge; भास्वता (bhāsvatā) – shining;

Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

As explained in Vedanta, there are three phases or stages of perceiving God, the world, and ourselves, that offer a profound journey from the mundane to the sublime. These stages reflect a deepening of understanding and realization of reality.

The three stages of perceiving the world 

Phase One: Heya

The first phase, Heya, recognizes the world as temporary, full of sorrow, and ultimately illusory. The Bhagavad-gītā (2.16) highlights this perspective, stating:

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सत: | उभयोरपि द्रष्टः अन्तः तु अनयो: तत्त्व-दर्शिभि:|| 16||

nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ ubhayorapi dṛiṣhṭo ’nta stvanayos tattva-darśhibhiḥ

The transient has no lasting existence, while the eternal never ceases to be. The conclusion about both these has been perceived and concluded by the seers of the Truth, after studying the nature of both.

Here, the material world is seen as transient (anityam), full of suffering (duḥkham), and illusory (mithyā). This phase urges one to turn away from the transient or temporary world and seek refuge in the divine.

The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.84.13) supports this view: 

यस्यात्मबुद्धि: कुणपे त्रिधातुके स्वधी: कलत्रादिषु भौम इज्यधी: ।
यत्तीर्थबुद्धि: सलिले न कर्हिचि- ज्जनेष्वभिज्ञेषु स एव गोखर: ॥ १३ ॥

yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ

The person who considers their body, made of three elements, as the Self; Who regards their wife and others as their own;
Who deems the mere earth as worthy of worship; And whose idea of a holy place is limited to water;
Yet, who has no such enlightened view towards learned people – Is indeed equal to an ass among the cattle.

Phase Two: Divya

The second phase, Divya, perceives the world as a divine manifestation, the Vibhuti of God. This perspective is elaborated in this 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna reveals His opulences (Vibhutis). In verses 10.20-10.42, Shri Krishna describes how He manifests as the best of everything in creation: “I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all beings.” 

This stage encourages seeing God’s presence in every aspect of the world, thus fostering a sense of reverence and awe. By recognizing the world as divya, a devotee can cultivate bhakti (devotion).

This verse appears in the Chandogya Upanishad, which is one of the principal Upanishads and is associated with the Sama Veda. The Upanishad presents this idea as a central teaching, encouraging individuals to understand the unity of all existence in Brahman and to cultivate a purposeful life in accordance with this realization.

Chandogya Upanishad, 3.14.1:



सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म तज्जलानिति शान्त उपासीत ।
अथ खलु क्रतुमयः पुरुषो यथाक्रतुरस्मिँल्लोके
पुरुषो भवति तथेतः प्रेत्य भवति स क्रतुं कुर्वीत ॥ ३.१४.१ ॥

sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma tajjalāniti śānta upāsīta |
atha khalu kratumayaḥ puruṣo yathākraturasmim̐lloke
puruṣo bhavati tathetaḥ pretya bhavati sa kratuṃ kurvīta || 3.14.1 ||

All this is Brahman. All this is born from , dissolves in , and exists in That Brahman. Therefore , one should meditate by becoming calm . Because a person is identified with  one’s conviction, and just as the conviction a person has in this world, so does one become after departing from here . Therefore one should shape one’s conviction.

The purpose of shaping our conviction and how it should be shaped are addressed in the text starting with “atha (khalu),” which establishes the connection between shaping one’s conviction and attaining the desired result. The words “atha khalu” are used to mean “because.”

The reason is that a person (purushah) is identified with the kind of conviction they hold (kratumayah). In other words, a person’s nature is determined by their conviction. Therefore, just as a person’s conviction is in this world (asmin loke) while living here, so will they become (tatha bhavati) after departing from here (itah pretya), that is, after leaving the body at death.

This verse emphasizes that an individual’s conviction shapes their existence not only in this world but also after death. The kind of conviction one holds during their lifetime will determine the nature of their existence after leaving the body. 

Shri Krishna had emphasized this in the 8th chapter:

अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् |
य: प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशय: || 5||

anta-kāle cha mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ yāti nāstyatra sanśhayaḥ

Whoever, at the end of their life, quits their body remembering Me alone, attains Me. Of this, there is no doubt.

यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् |
तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावित: || 6||

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajatyante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

Whatever one remembers when they quit their body, that state they will attain without fail. And that state depends on what they were mostly absorbed in or thinking about during their lifetime. 

Phase Three: Brahma

The third phase transcends the duality of existence and non-existence, recognizing that only Brahman, the Absolute Reality, truly exists. This ultimate realization is articulated in the Advaita Vedānta philosophy. 

This is captured and expressed through the four Mahavakyas, which form the core of Advaita Vedanta:

The four Mahavakyas

  1. “Prajnanam Brahma” (प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म): Found in the Aitareya Upanishad. Meaning: “Consciousness is Brahman” or “Brahman is supreme knowledge”.  This Mahavakya asserts that the ultimate reality, Brahman, is pure consciousness. It emphasizes that the foundational nature of existence is not matter but consciousness itself. It implies that by realizing the true nature of one’s own consciousness, one can understand the ultimate reality.
  1. “Ayam Atma Brahma” (अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म): Found in the Mandukya Upanishad. Meaning: “This Self is Brahman” or “This Atman is Brahman”. This Mahavakya affirms that the individual self (Atman) is identical with the ultimate reality (Brahman). It emphasizes the non-dual nature of existence, stating that the apparent distinction between the individual and the divine is illusory. By recognizing the true nature of one’s self, one realizes their unity with Brahman.
  1. “Tat Tvam Asi” (तत् त्वम् असि): Found in the Chandogya Upanishad. Meaning: “Thou art That” or “You are one with the ultimate reality”. This Mahavakya is a statement of identity, revealing that the individual (Tvam) is one with the ultimate reality (Tat). It is often used in the context of a teacher instructing a student, pointing out the student’s true nature. It encourages the realization that one’s true self is not limited by the body or mind but is the same as the infinite Brahman.
  1. “Aham Brahmasmi” (अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि): Found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Meaning: “I am Brahman” or “I am the Absolute”. This Mahavakya is a direct assertion of one’s true identity as Brahman. It represents the ultimate state of self-realization, where the individual recognizes that their essence is the same as the ultimate reality.

These four Mahavakyas, taken together, form the foundation of Advaita Vedanta philosophy. They guide us towards the realization of our true nature and the ultimate reality, emphasizing the non-dual nature of existence and the unity of the individual self with the divine.

Adi Shankara, in his commentary on the Brahma Sūtras, emphasizes that the world is mithyā (illusory) and Brahman alone is satya (real). This realization leads to the state of jīvanmukti (liberation while living), where a person transcends all dualities and remains established in the non-dual consciousness of Brahman.

The three stages of perceiving the Self

As discussed earlier, the three phases also apply to self-realization:

Phase one: Bodily Consciousness

Identifying oneself solely as the physical body, struggling through the trials of material existence. This is the most superficial level, marked by ignorance (avidyā) and attachment (rāga).

Phase two: Spiritual Awareness 

Recognizing oneself as a spiritual being, part of God’s divine manifestation. Here, one understands that they are not merely the body but a soul (ātman) connected to the divine. This level is characterized by spiritual awakening and the beginning of true self-awareness.

Phase three: Unity with Brahman

Realizing “Aham Brahmāsmi” (I am Brahman). In this stage, one sees that their true essence is non-different from Brahman, the ultimate reality. This profound realization is the culmination of spiritual practice, leading to liberation (mokṣa).

The Role of Vibhuti Yoga

This Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad-gītā, Vibhuti Yoga, is key to understanding the second phase or stage. Here, Krishna explains His divine manifestations, encouraging devotees to see the divinity in everything. He states in verse 10.8, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”

Krishna guarantees that understanding His vibhutis leads to unwavering devotion and clarity (avikampa). Verses 10.9-10.11 describe how devotees who recognize this truth engage in constant worship, develop deep wisdom, and are guided by Krishna Himself, dispelling the darkness of ignorance with the lamp of knowledge.

The journey from Heya to Divya to Brahma represents a profound transformation in understanding reality and oneself. By moving from the perception of the world as a source of suffering to recognizing it as a divine manifestation, and finally realizing the ultimate truth of Brahman, one achieves true enlightenment. Vibhuti Yoga, as explained by Lord Krishna, serves as a bridge in this journey, helping devotees to see the divine in all aspects of life, leading to an unwavering devotion and ultimate liberation.

Avikampa yoga

Avikampa yoga ‘yoga which cannot be shaken’, is a steadfast devotion to the Lord. In this,  pure devotees engage themselves fully in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without any deviation of their minds. Their hearts and souls are constantly submerged in Kṛṣṇa, and they take pleasure in discussing Him with other devotees. This is another example of the greatness and importance of satsang where we are able to maintain the association of other devotees.

From such surrender, comes contentment. Since devotees offer the results of their activities to their beloved Lord, they gladly accept both positive and negative circumstances as the will of God, and maintain samatvam in both. If you remember what Krishna said back in 2.15:

यं हि न व्यथ यन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ |
समदु:खसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते || 15||

yaṁ hi na vyathayantyete puruṣhaṁ puruṣharṣhabha
sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīraṁ so ’mṛitatvāya kalpate

O noblest amongst men, that person who is not affected by happiness and distress, and remains steady in both, becomes eligible for liberation.

Sri Ramakrishna and his majār kuti

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa demonstrated this state of an avikampa yogi—one who remains unwaveringly established in the divine consciousness. His life was a testament to the profound joy and bliss that can be experienced when one surrenders completely to the divine will.

In a small village near Kolkata, Sri Ramakrishna spent his days in his humble hut, immersed in spiritual practices and divine contemplation. This hut came to be known as the ‘majār kuti‘ or the ‘hut of joy‘ in Bengali, a reflection of the inexhaustible happiness that emanated from within its walls.

Those who had the fortune to be in Sri Ramakrishna’s presence were struck by his childlike innocence, infectious laughter, and the profound wisdom he shared through simple parables and stories. His every action, every word, and every gesture radiated an otherworldly joy that seemed to transcend the mundane concerns of the material world.

Sri Ramakrishna’s unwavering state of bliss was rooted in his complete surrender to the divine. He saw the hand of the Divine Mother, Kali, in every aspect of existence—from the rustling of leaves to the laughter of children. This constant awareness of the divine presence allowed him to remain unaffected by the ups and downs of life, as he knew that everything was unfolding according to a greater cosmic plan.

The knowledge of vibhuti yoga sheds light on how one can cultivate a similar state of unwavering faith and devotion. This branch of yoga focuses on recognizing the divine manifestations in the world around us and surrendering to the supreme consciousness that pervades all of creation.

By practicing vibhuti yoga, we learn to see the divine in every being, every object, and every situation. We begin to understand that the same consciousness that animates us also pulsates through the entire universe. This realization helps us let go of our ego-driven desires and attachments, allowing us to surrender our actions and their fruits to the divine will.

As we deepen our practice of vibhuti yoga, we start to experience a profound sense of joy and contentment that is not dependent on external circumstances. We realize that true happiness lies not in the fleeting pleasures of the world, but in the eternal bliss of the divine consciousness.

Sri Ramakrishna’s life serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of surrender and devotion. By following in his footsteps and embracing the principles of vibhuti yoga, we too can progress on the path towards liberation while remaining anchored in a state of unshakable joy.

The journey may not always be easy, as it requires us to confront our own limitations and let go of our deeply ingrained patterns of thought and behavior. However, as we persist in our practice and cultivate a deeper connection with the divine, we begin to experience glimpses of the same bliss that radiated from the ‘majār kuti’.

In a world that often seems filled with chaos and suffering, the example of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa stands as a ray of hope and inspiration. It reminds us that it is possible to find lasting joy and peace, even amidst the challenges and uncertainties of life.

As we navigate our own spiritual journeys, let us draw strength from the knowledge of vibhuti yoga and the example of avikampa yogis like Sri Ramakrishna. Let us strive to cultivate a heart full of devotion, a mind rooted in surrender, and a life that radiates the bliss of the divine consciousness. For it is in this state of unwavering joy that we can truly experience the liberating power of the spiritual path.

Buddhi yoga

And in 10.10, Shri Krishna says 

To those who are ever steadfast, worshiping Me with love, I grant that ‘buddhi yoga‘ or devotional attitude of a mature state by which they can reach Me.

Shri Krishna also says that he destroys the darkness in their heart with the lamp of wisdom.

This is another beautiful and strong message from the Lord for those who are consistent, committed and unwavering in their devotion.

Buddhi-yoga’ is the wisdom and positive thought force that will help us to reach or attain God. It is said in the Mahabharata that when the Demi-Gods want to destroy a person, they just turn away his/her buddhi (intellect) in a bad direction. Then that person will destroy himself/herself.

Vinasha kale vipreet buddhi

One of Chanakya’s   famous quotes is “Vinasha kale vipreet buddhi”, which means “intelligence leaves the man at the time when destruction is imminent”.

Lord Krishna is telling us that He will do the opposite, wherein, He will help turn our buddhi in a good direction that will help us liberate ourselves and attain Him.

The nature of free will

The beauty of this verse lies in the fact that the Lord is implying that He is going to help us and not force us. So, ultimately we are accountable and empowered to go in either direction, positive or negative, based on how we use our buddhi. I suppose this is what is termed as ‘free will’ in many western texts.

The famous Greek philosopher Socrates had a very compelling and strong view about free will which resonates with the messages of the Bhagavad Gita.

As per Socrates’ view, free will is impossible without self-control. For people without self-control are not capable of free will because they are themselves slaves to their passions and ignorance. If they had the free will, they would have gained victory and control over themselves.

What a deep thought! The general society looks at free will only as what you can or cannot do ‘externally’. You can go to any place you want, wear any clothes you want and so on. However, the true free will is the will to have mastery over yourself. In the external facing world, slaves cannot be called as ‘free’ as they live under bondage to their masters. 

Similarly, in the bigger, internal world, we cannot claim to be free or as having free will as long as we remain slaves to our own senses and ignorance.

Lord Krishna says that He will provide us with the required intellect to see this so that we can actually learn to use our free will in the right direction and attain true freedom and liberation. 

When we say we have to ‘reach God’, it is not an alien destination. God is inside each one of us as expounded by Lord Krishna in previous verses, especially verse 3.38 which makes it clear that what is required for us is to use our intellect to destroy the layers of dust and ignorance that covers our inner self. 

Once we manage to do that, we would have reached God because by definition, the moment you realize God (the self within), you attain Him.

There is one clarification I would like to make here. The term ‘knowledge’ that is used here is with regards to the knowledge of the greatness and kindness of God. This is not referring to the ‘scholarly’ knowledge of Vedas or anything else. One does not have to be ‘educated’ in order to develop bhakti. They just need to have the knowledge of God’s greatness. That is exactly what Krishna has said repeatedly throughout the Gita.

(Servant of Krishna)