Pragmatic Gita

Vibhuti Yoga

Chapter 10: Vibhuti Yoga : Unleash the Divine Splendor: Illuminating Insights from Bhagavad Gita Verses 10.19 to 10.25

Contents

Embark on a profound journey through the timeless wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita as we delve into the enlightening verses 10.19 to 10.25. In this insightful commentary, we unravel the divine revelations of Lord Krishna, who unveils his magnificent opulence and all-pervading presence throughout creation. Discover how these powerful verses illuminate the path to spiritual awakening, guiding seekers towards a deeper understanding of the Supreme Being. Through captivating explanations and practical applications, this commentary sheds light on the universal principles of devotion, surrender, and divine love. Immerse yourself in the sacred teachings that have inspired generations, and unlock the key to experiencing the divine splendor within your own being. Join us on this transformative exploration of the Bhagavad Gita’s eternal message, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

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, 12 to 18 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.

Vibhuti Yoga – Verses 10.19 to 10.25

श्रीभगवानुवाच

हन्त ते कथयिष्यामि दिव्या: हि आत्म-विभूतय: | प्राधान्यत: कुरु-श्रेष्ठ न अस्ति अन्त: विस्तरस्य मे ||19||

śrībhagavānuvāca

hanta te kathayiṣyāmi divyā hyātmavibhūtayaḥ prādhānyataḥ kuruśreṣṭha nāstyanto vistarasya me

श्रीभगवानुवाच (śrībhagavānuvāca) – the Supreme Lord said; हन्त (hanta) – now; ते (te) – to you; कथयिष्यामि (kathayiṣyāmi) – I shall describe; दिव्याः (divyāḥ) – divine; हि (hi) – indeed; आत्मविभूतयः (ātmavibhūtayaḥ) – My own opulences; प्राधान्यतः (prādhānyataḥ) – the most prominent; कुरुश्रेष्ठ (kuruśreṣṭha) – O best of the Kurus; न अस्ति (na asti) – there is no; अन्तः (antaḥ) – end; विस्तरस्य (vistarasya) – of the extent; मे (me) – My;

The Supreme Lord said: Now I shall describe to you My divine opulences, O best of the Kurus. I shall describe the most prominent ones, for there is no end to the extent of My opulences.

अहमात्मा गुडाकेश सर्वभूताशयस्थित: | अहमादिश्च मध्यं च भूतानामन्त एव च ||20||

ahamātmā guḍākeśa sarvabhūtāśayasthitaḥ ahamādiśca madhyaṃ ca bhūtānāmanta eva ca

अहम् (aham) – I; आत्मा (ātmā) – the soul; गुडाकेश (guḍākeśa) – O Arjuna; सर्वभूताशयस्थितः (sarvabhūtāśayasthitaḥ) – seated in the hearts of all beings; अहम् (aham) – I; आदिः (ādiḥ) – the beginning; च (ca) – and; मध्यम् (madhyam) – the middle; च (ca) – and; भूतानाम् (bhūtānām) – of all beings; अन्तः (antaḥ) – the end; एव (eva) – certainly; च (ca) – and;

I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all beings.

आदित्यानामहं विष्णुर्ज्योतिषां रविरंशुमान् | मरीचिर्मरुतामस्मि नक्षत्राणामहं शशी ||21||

ādityānāmahaṃ viṣṇurjyotiṣāṃ raviraṃśumān marīcirmarutāmasmi nakṣatrāṇāmahaṃ śaśī

आदित्यानाम् (ādityānām) – among the Adityas; अहम् (aham) – I; विष्णुः (viṣṇuḥ) – Vishnu; ज्योतिषाम् (jyotiṣām) – among the luminaries; रविः (raviḥ) – the sun; अंशुमान् (aṃśumān) – radiant; मरीचिः (marīciḥ) – Marichi; मरुताम् (marutām) – among the Maruts; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; नक्षत्राणाम् (nakṣatrāṇām) – among the stars; अहम् (aham) – I; शशी (śaśī) – the moon;

Among the Adityas, I am Vishnu; among the luminaries, I am the radiant sun. I am Marichi among the Maruts, and among the stars, I am the moon.

वेदानां सामवेदोऽस्मि देवानामस्मि वासव: | इन्द्रियाणां मनश्चास्मि भूतानामस्मि चेतना ||22||

vedānāṃ sāmavedosmi devānāmasmi vāsavaḥ indriyāṇāṃ manaścāsmi bhūtānāmasmi cetanā

वेदानाम् (vedānām) – among the Vedas; सामवेदः (sāmavedaḥ) – Sama Veda; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; देवानाम् (devānām) – among the gods; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; वासवः (vāsavaḥ) – Indra; इन्द्रियाणाम् (indriyāṇām) – among the senses; मनः (manaḥ) – the mind; च (ca) – and; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; भूतानाम् (bhūtānām) – among the living entities; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; चेतना (cetanā) – consciousness;

Among the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda; among the gods, I am Indra. Among the senses, I am the mind, and among the living entities, I am consciousness.

रुद्राणां शङ्करश्चास्मि वित्तेशो यक्षरक्षसाम् | वसूनां पावकश्चास्मि मेरु: शिखरिणामहम् ||23||

rudrāṇāṃ śaṅkaraścāsmi vitteśo yakṣarakṣasām vasūnāṃ pāvakaścāsmi meruḥ śikhariṇāmaham

रुद्राणाम् (rudrāṇām) – among the Rudras; शङ्करः (śaṅkaraḥ) – Shankara; च (ca) – and; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; वित्तेशः (vitteśaḥ) – Kubera; यक्षरक्षसाम् (yakṣarakṣasām) – among the Yakshas and Rakshasas; वसूनाम् (vasūnām) – among the Vasus; पावकः (pāvakaḥ) – fire; च (ca) – and; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; मेरुः (meruḥ) – Meru; शिखरिणाम् (śikhariṇām) – among the peaked mountains; अहम् (aham) – I;

Among the Rudras, I am Shankara, and among the Yakshas and Rakshasas, I am Kubera. Among the Vasus, I am fire, and among the peaked mountains, I am Meru.

पुरोधसां च मुख्यं मां विद्धि पार्थ बृहस्पतिम् | सेनानीनामहं स्कन्द: सरसामस्मि सागर: ||24||

purodhasāṃ ca mukhyaṃ māṃ viddhi pārtha bṛhaspatim senānīnāmahaṃ skandaḥ sarasāmasmi sāgaraḥ

पुरोधसाम् (purodhasām) – among the priests; च (ca) – and; मुख्यम् (mukhyam) – the chief; माम् (mām) – Me; विद्धि (viddhi) – know; पार्थ (pārtha) – O son of Pritha; बृहस्पतिम् (bṛhaspatim) – Brihaspati; सेनानीनाम् (senānīnām) – among the commanders; अहम् (aham) – I; स्कन्दः (skandaḥ) – Skanda; सरसाम् (sarasām) – among the reservoirs of water; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; सागरः (sāgaraḥ) – the ocean;

Among the priests, O Partha, know Me to be the chief, Brihaspati. Among the warrior commanders, I am Skanda (Kartikeya), and among the reservoirs of water, I am the ocean.

महर्षीणां भृगुरहं गिरामस्म्येकमक्षरम् | यज्ञानां जपयज्ञोऽस्मि स्थावराणां हिमालय: ||25||

maharṣīṇāṃ bhṛgurahaṃ girāmasmyekamakṣaram yajñānāṃ japayajñosmi sthāvarāṇāṃ himālayaḥ

महर्षीणाम् (maharṣīṇām) – among the great sages; भृगुः (bhṛguḥ) – Bhrigu; अहम् (aham) – I; गिराम् (girām) – among speeches; अस्मि (asmi) – I am; एकम् (ekam) – the single; अक्षरम् (akṣaram) – syllable (Om); यज्ञानाम् (yajñānām) – among sacrifices; जपयज्ञः (japayajñaḥ) – japa-yajna (chanting); अस्मि (asmi) – I am; स्थावराणाम् (sthāvarāṇām) – among immovable things; हिमालयः (himālayaḥ) – the Himalayas;

Among the great sages, I am Bhrigu; among speeches, I am the single syllable (Om). Among sacrifices, I am the japa-yajna (sacrifice of chanting), and among immovable things, I am the Himalayas.

The limited vs the unlimited

In the Bhagavad Gita, especially in the chapters where Krishna reveals His universal form and discusses His divine manifestations, we encounter the profound concept that, although Arjuna is a close and beloved devotee, he is still a human with inherent limitations in understanding the infinite aspects of the divine. 

We know that our soul is a tiny spark of the divine, and back in the 2nd chapter, Shri Krishna had explained how we cannot comprehend the nature of even our own soul.

आश्चर्यवत् पश्यति कश्चित् एनम् आश्चर्यवत् वदति तथा एव च अन्य: |

आश्चर्यवत् च एनम् अन्य: शृ्णोति श्रुत्वा अपि एनम् वेद न च एव कश्चित्|| 29||

āśhcharya-vat paśhyati kaśhchid enan āśhcharya-vad vadati tathaiva chānyaḥ

āśhcharya-vach chainam anyaḥ śhṛiṇoti śhrutvāpyenaṁ veda na chaiva kaśhchit

Some see the soul as amazing, some describe it as amazing, and some hear of the soul as amazing, while others, even on hearing, cannot understand it at all.

Shri Krishna’s acknowledgment of Arjuna’s limitations is rooted in compassion and realism. Thus, He states in 10.19:

श्रीभगवानुवाच

हन्त ते कथयिष्यामि दिव्या: हि आत्म-विभूतय: | प्राधान्यत: कुरु-श्रेष्ठ न अस्ति अन्त: विस्तरस्य मे ||19||

śrībhagavānuvāca

hanta te kathayiṣyāmi divyā hyātmavibhūtayaḥ prādhānyataḥ kuruśreṣṭha nāstyanto vistarasya me

The Supreme Lord said: Now I shall describe to you My divine opulences, O best of the Kurus. I shall describe the most prominent ones, for there is no end to the extent of My opulences.

This verse sets the stage for a selective revelation; Shri Krishna chooses to disclose only a fraction of His infinite manifestations, recognizing the limits of human comprehension. The narrative here serves a dual purpose: demonstrating the vastness of the divine and acknowledging the finite nature of human understanding.

Shri Krishna reveals that He is seated in the heart of all living entities. This refers to His role as the Paramātmā, or the Supersoul, which is one of the three primary forms of Viṣṇu (Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu). Here, Shri Krishna states “aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarva-bhūtāśaya-sthitaḥ,” which means “I am the Self, O Gudakesha, seated in the hearts of all beings.”

Shri Krishna’s presence in every atom

Furthermore, Krishna states that He is present inside every atom. On one hand, He is the creator of the entire Universe and so He has to be bigger than the Universe. On the other hand, He is tinier than the tiniest and present inside every atom. This concept is difficult for the human mind to grasp, as it points to the omnipresence and all-pervading nature of the Divine.

This is described in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad:

एको देवः सर्व-भूतेषु गूढः सर्व-व्यापी सर्व-भूत-अन्तर-आत्मा । कर्म-अध्यक्षः सर्व-भूत-अधिवासः साक्षी चेता केवलः निर्गुणः च ॥ ६.११ ॥

eko devaḥ sarvabhūteṣu gūḍhaḥ sarvavyāpī sarvabhūtāntarātmā karmādhyakṣaḥ sarvabhūtādhivāsaḥ sākṣī cetā kevalo nirguṇaś ca

The one non-dual Supreme Lord is hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the inner soul of all beings, the impeller of all actions, the dweller in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, and free from all gunas.

He is the one without a second, yet he is hidden in every being. He is all pervasive, the Self of all. He gives to all beings the fruits of their actions, and he is the support of all. He is the witness, bestower of consciousness, without attributes and unconditioned.

This teaching highlights the transcendental nature of God—not bound by physical laws or limitations, existing both infinitely large and infinitesimally small simultaneously. This paradox is one of the central mysteries of spiritual knowledge.

Shri Krishna is the beginning, middle and end of all beings

Krishna then says that He is the beginning, middle and end of all beings. We should understand it like this: All living beings are created by Krishna, so He is the beginning. Krishna is in the heart of every living being throughout their life, so He is the middle. And when we get liberation and mukti, we reach Krishna as the ultimate goal so He is the end.

In the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad it is stated that:

यतो वा इमानि भूतानि जायन्ते

येन जातानि जीवन्ति ।

यत् प्रयन्ति अभिसंविशन्ति

तद् विजिज्ञासस्व तद् ब्रह्म ॥

yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante

yena jātāni jīvanti |

yat prayanti abhisaṃviśanti

tad vijijñāsasva tad brahma ||

From which, indeed, all beings are born,

By which, when born, they live,

To which they go after death,

and into which they enter,

That seek to know – that is Brahman.

God is he from whom all living beings have emanated; God is he within whom all living beings are situated; God is he into whom all living beings shall unite.

This verse encourages the seeker to inquire into the nature of Brahman, the ultimate reality from which all beings originate, by which they are sustained, and into which they ultimately merge. The verse emphasizes the importance of understanding the source, sustenance, and destination of all existence, which is identified as Brahman.

The Mundaka Upanishad is a collection of philosophical poems used to teach meditation and spiritual knowledge regarding the true nature of Brahma and the Self (Atman). It is composed of the three main parts (mundakas):

1) The science of higher and lower knowledge.

2) The true nature of the Self (Atman) and Brahman.

3) The state of knowing Brahman, which is one of bliss and fearlessness.

Verse 2.2.5 of this upanishad states that:

यस्मिन् द्यौः पृथिवी च अन्तरिक्षम् ओतम्

मनः सह प्राणैः च सर्वैः ।

तम् एव एकं जानथ आत्मानम् अन्या वाचः

विमुञ्चथ अमृतस्य एषः सेतुः ॥ ५॥

yasmin dyauḥ pṛthivī ca antarikṣam otam

manaḥ saha prāṇaiḥ ca sarvaiḥ |

tam eva ekaṃ jānatha ātmānam anyā vācaḥ

vimuñcatha amṛtasya eṣaḥ setuḥ || 5 ||

In whom the heaven, the earth, and the interspace are woven,

Together with the mind and all the vital breaths,

Know Him alone as the one Self; other words

Dismiss. He is the bridge to immortality. 

It describes the all-encompassing nature of the Supreme Self (Ātman or Brahman), in whom the entire universe, including the heavens, earth, and the space in between, along with the mind and vital energies, is interwoven. The verse advises the seeker to recognize this one Self as the ultimate reality and to let go of all other topics of discussion, as the realization of this Self is the path to immortality.

Based on this upanishad, Adi Sankaracharya states in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, that the knowledge of the Atman is the road to the attainment of liberation.

Vibhuti Yoga – Shri Krishna is Vishnu 

From here on, until the end of this chapter, Lord Krishna reveals His prominent Vibhutis or divine, transcendental opulences beginning with He being Vishnu of the 12 Adityas.

Through the phrase “Amongst the twelve sons of Aditi I am Vishnu”,  Lord Krishna reveals His divine manifestations and identifies Himself with the supreme or most significant elements in various categories. This specific declaration can be understood by studying the background of the Adityas.

Aditi, the wife of sage Kashyapa, was the mother of the Adityas, a group of solar deities. Aditi, whose name signifies “boundless” or “limitless,” is often associated with the earth, cosmos, and fertility. She is revered as a protector and supporter of all that is good and harmonious in the universe. 

Kashyapa, also known as Prajapati Kashyapa, is considered one of the most important and revered sages. He is mentioned in various scriptures, including the Vedas and Puranas.

According to the Puranic legends, Kashyapa had wives other than Aditi, such as Diti, Vinata, and Kadru, who gave birth to various divine and demonic beings. The Adityas, however, are specifically the children of Aditi and Kashyapa.

The number of Adityas varies in different scriptural sources, ranging from six to twelve. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna has called out twelve, reflecting the twelve months of the year, symbolizing the omnipresence of these deities through all times.

The Twelve Adityas

The twelve traditional Adityas are:

  1. Ansa
  2. Aryaman
  3. Bhaga
  4. Daksha
  5. Dhatri
  6. Indra
  7. Mitra
  8. Ravi (Sun)
  9. Savitar
  10. Surya
  11. Varuna
  12. Vamana or Vishnu (in His dwarf avatar)

Each Aditya governs a specific aspect of existence and is responsible for maintaining the order of the cosmos.

Vishnu Among the Adityas

Vishnu’s inclusion as one of the Adityas highlights His integral role in maintaining cosmic order. Vishnu is known primarily for His role as the preserver and protector of the universe. His association with the Adityas as one of their ranks emphasizes His solar attributes and His overarching influence on life and existence.

In saying “Amongst the twelve sons of Aditi, I am Vishnu,” Krishna identifies Himself with the most supreme and essential of these divine entities. This statement is meant to signify the following:

Primacy in Preservation: 

Just as Vishnu is known for His role in preserving the cosmic order, through this association, Krishna emphasizes His function in maintaining spiritual, moral, and cosmic balance.

Centrality in Devotion: 

By equating Himself with Vishnu, Krishna establishes His identity as an ultimate object of devotion and spiritual focus.

Symbol of Mercy and Goodness: 

Vishnu is often depicted as a benevolent, kind, and protective deity who responds to the prayers of His devotees. By saying that He was Vishnu, Krishna communicates His readiness to offer grace and protection to the followers of the path of righteousness.

Link to Avatars: 

Vishnu is known for His Dashavatara, the ten principal avatars (incarnations) taken to restore cosmic order. Through this identification, Krishna reminds us that He is a perfect and complete avatar, that is Vishnu Himself.

This declaration serves not only as an illustration of Shri Krishna’s divine manifestations but also as a profound connection to the broader themes of preservation, protection, and moral order in the universe.

And then He declares “I am Marichi among the Maruts“. This assertion offers insights into the nature of Marichi and the Maruts.

Background of the Maruts and Marichi

The Maruts are a group of winds which flow throughout the entire universe. They are considered to be the children of Rudra (an earlier form of Shiva) and Prisni or Diti. The Maruts are often depicted as youthful warriors adorned with golden helmets and armed with lightning bolts and spears. They are energetic, heroic, and high-spirited, accompanying Indra in battles and helping to enforce cosmic order by stirring up the atmosphere and battling demons.

The Role and Significance of Marichi

Of the Maruts, Shri Krishna is the primary wind known as Parivaha which precedes all the others and is also known as Marichi

Marichi, although less commonly mentioned in primary scriptures compared to other deities, is considered one of the leaders or the chief among the Maruts. The name “Marichi” literally means a ray of light, suggesting a connection to the sun and solar energies, reflecting brilliance, radiance, and force. This association aligns with the Maruts’ general characterization as bringers of light and chasers of darkness, symbolizing the dispelling of ignorance and negativity through divine energy.

In declaring “I am Marichi among the Maruts,” Krishna emphasizes several key attributes:

Leadership and Guidance: 

Just as Marichi is seen as a leader among the Maruts, Krishna’s alignment with Marichi represents His role as a guiding force and leader in spiritual and cosmic realms. He is the principal influence guiding the forces that protect dharma (cosmic law and order).

Vitality and Energy: 

Marichi embodies the vigorous and dynamic nature of the Maruts. By associating Himself with Marichi, Krishna illustrates His own inexhaustible energy and the ability to animate, invigorate, and stimulate the spiritual progress of His devotees.

Illumination and Clarity: 

As a ray of light, Marichi symbolizes clarity, vision, and enlightenment. Krishna’s identification with Marichi thus highlights His function as a source of spiritual illumination, offering wisdom and insight to overcome ignorance and illusion.

Protection and Heroism: 

The Maruts, known for their heroic deeds and protective nature, especially during storms and battles, reflect Krishna’s protective qualities. He safeguards the righteous and ensures the maintenance of cosmic and moral order, similar to the Maruts’ role.

Shri Krishna as the sun and moon

“Among the stars I am the moon” (नक्षत्राणामहं शशी – Nakṣatrāṇām ahaṁ śaśī). This statement is rich in symbolic meaning and has deep astrological and cosmological implications in Vedic thought.

The Sun and the Moon in Vedic Cosmology

The Vedic texts often discuss the sun and the moon not just as celestial bodies but as key cosmic forces with spiritual significance. The sun, with its powerful and illuminating presence, is often seen as the eye of the cosmos, dispersing darkness and guiding life. It symbolizes knowledge, clarity, and enlightenment. Its radiant energy sustains life on Earth, influencing physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In various sections of the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures like the Rig Veda, the sun is revered as a potent manifestation of the divine—Krishna here identifies with this powerful source of light and life.

Moon’s Significance: Lord of the Nakshatras

In Vedic astrology, the moon is considered a crucial celestial body that influences the mind, emotions, and overall well-being of individuals. It is believed that the moon’s position in different nakshatras at the time of one’s birth can have a significant impact on their personality, strengths, and challenges. By stating that He is the moon, Krishna is affirming His power to influence and guide the lives of individuals through the movement of the moon in these constellations.

Furthermore, the moon is known for its ability to influence the tides and other natural phenomena on earth. Similarly, Krishna, as the divine overseer, has the power to influence and control the destinies of all living beings. Just as the moon’s gravitational pull affects the tides, Krishna’s divine presence and will can shape the course of events in the universe.

 

When Lord Krishna declares Himself to be the innumerous radiant suns and the moon among the stars, He is emphasizing His divine role as the source of all illumination, both physical and spiritual, and His supreme control over the celestial bodies and their influences on the universe and the lives of individuals. This again highlights Krishna’s omnipresence, omnipotence, and His ability to guide and shape the destinies of all beings in the cosmos.

The term “nakṣatranam aham śaśī” highlights Krishna’s identification with the moon, emphasizing His dominion over the 27 nakshatras or lunar mansions that form the core of Vedic astrology. These nakshatras, each associated with specific celestial constellations, are fundamental in calculating astrological charts which guide human affairs, from birth to major life decisions. The nakshatras begin with Ashvini and end with Revati, encompassing a full range of human experiences, potentials, and karmic cycles.

Clarification on the moon being termed as a star

Lord Krishna is not literally calling the moon a star. The confusion arises due to the translation of the Sanskrit word “nakshatra,” which can have different meanings depending on the context.

In Sanskrit, “nakshatra” primarily refers to the 27 (or sometimes 28) lunar mansions or constellations that the moon appears to pass through during its monthly cycle in the sky. These nakshatras are used in Vedic astrology to determine auspicious times for various activities and to understand the influence of celestial bodies on human life.

However, in some contexts, “nakshatra” can also be used more broadly to refer to celestial bodies in general, including stars and planets. This usage is less common but still present in Sanskrit literature.

When Lord Krishna says “nakshatranam aham sasi,” He is using “nakshatra” in its primary sense, referring to the lunar mansions. The correct translation of this phrase would be, “Among the lunar mansions, I am the moon.

Krishna is not equating the moon with a star but rather emphasizing His position as the lord of the nakshatras, just as the moon is the most prominent and influential celestial body that traverses through these lunar mansions.

The confusion likely stems from the English translation, where “nakshatra” might have been translated as “stars” in a broader sense, leading to the misinterpretation that Krishna is calling the moon a star. However, in the original Sanskrit context, Krishna is clearly distinguishing the moon from the nakshatras and asserting His dominion over them.

Shri Krishna is the Supreme and topmost among all

What we should understand is that, given any collection of objects or beings, He is the topmost, best and supreme among them. There is never any competition with Him in any area. 

Shri Krishna then says that ‘I am the Sama Veda of the Vedas, and Vasava (Indra) of the gods; of the senses, I am the mind; and intelligence among living beings am I.’

Vedānām sāma vedo’smi, among the Vedas, I am Sama Veda. That is a very interesting statement because in general, Rig Veda or Yajur Veda is considered to be superior. In fact, in the Manu Smrti it is mentioned that the speech of Sãma Veda is impure. 

The Context of the Sama Veda

The Vedas are the oldest and most authoritative scriptures, comprising the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. While the Rig Veda consists primarily of hymns, the Yajur Veda focuses on rituals, and the Atharva Veda includes spells and incantations. The Sama Veda, distinctively, is composed almost entirely of chants and melodies derived from the Rig Veda but arranged specifically for musical recitation.

Manu Smriti’s View on Sama Veda

The Manu Smriti mentions that the speech of the Sama Veda is impure (“asamam maithunam”), a statement which traditionally reflects concerns over the mixing of sacred chants with musical intonations that could render them less austere or too sensual. However, this characterization also highlights the Veda’s accessibility and emotional appeal, qualities that are essential in bhakti.

Lokamanya Tilak’s Interpretation

Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in his seminal work “Gītā Rahasya,” articulates a compelling interpretation of why Krishna identifies Himself with the Sama Veda. Tilak argues that the essence of bhakti lies in its capacity to evoke deep emotional responses through devotional singing, music, and chant—elements that are central to the Sama Veda. Indian classical music, which has its roots in the Sama Veda, is not just an artistic endeavor but a spiritual practice that uses sound as a medium to elevate the soul and foster a direct connection with the divine.

Bhakti Marga and the Sama Veda

Krishna’s preference for the Sama Veda highlights the significance of bhakti (devotion) as a path to spiritual realization. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna repeatedly emphasizes bhakti as the most straightforward and effective means to attain Him. The use of music and chant in bhakti not only makes the divine more accessible but also enhances the emotional and experiential aspects of worship. The Sama Veda, with its rhythmic hymns and melodies, perfectly supports this devotional approach to spirituality, making it a fitting symbol for Krishna, who is the ultimate object of devotion.

Implications for Devotees

For devotees, Krishna’s identification with the Sama Veda is an invitation to engage more deeply with the musical and chant-based practices of bhakti. It affirms that these practices are not merely ritualistic but are profound means of grace and spiritual insight. By singing, chanting, and engaging with music as a form of worship, devotees can experience a closeness to Krishna, transcending the mere intellectual understanding of the divine and participating in a heartfelt communion.

In the same verse, Krishna further states that devānām asmi vāsavaḥ, among Gods, I am Indra, the King of Gods. Indriyāṇāṁ manaśh ca āsmi – Among the sense organs, I am the ‘manas’. 

Manas is a very unique entity. We have the five sense organs through which we perceive everything in the world. We also have a sixth sense organ and it  is manas. This is basically the mind. The manas is more refined than the other senses and it coordinates the activities of the other five sense organs. So again, Krishna is the best of all our sense organs, which is manas. And then Krishna says that in all living beings, He is the consciousness. There cannot be any life without consciousness, so Krishna is the cause and the supporting consciousness of all life forms.

By identifying Himself with these various elements, Krishna is emphasizing His supremacy and the idea that He is the source and essence of all that exists. He is the divine intelligence that guides the functioning of the mind and senses, and He is the power behind the celestial gods.

Shri Krishna as other supreme entities

Lord Krishna explains His divine manifestations by aligning Himself with the foremost entities within various categories, such as the Rudras, Yakshas, Vasus, mountains, priests, commanders, and sages. This series of declarations helps articulate the concept of divine omnipresence and the supremacy of specific manifestations in the cosmos. Let’s delve into each of these identifications and explore their deeper meanings and implications.

Among the Rudras, He is Shankara (Shiva)

The Rudras are a group of eleven deities associated with aspects of destruction and regeneration. They are manifestations of Lord Shiva, the destroyer and transformer. Shri Krishna identifying Himself as Shankara, another name for Shiva, emphasizes His role as the ultimate force of destruction and renewal, which is essential for the cyclical nature of the cosmos. This association with Shiva highlights the integration and balance of creative and destructive powers within the divine personality.

Of the Yakshas, He is Kubera

Kubera is the lord of wealth and the king of the Yakshas, a class of nature-spirits typically associated with wealth, treasure, and the mysterious forces of nature. By associating Himself with Kubera, Krishna emphasizes His lordship over material wealth and resources. Kubera’s role as a custodian of wealth and material abundance reflects the divine’s guardianship over the resources that sustain the world.

Among the Vasus, He is Pavaka (Agni)

The eight Vasus in Vedic cosmology represent elemental gods and aspects of nature: earth, water, fire, air, ether (space), sun, moon, and stars. Agni, the fire god, is central among them due to his roles in the Vedic rituals and his presence in all sacrificial fires, acting as the mediator between humans and gods. Krishna’s identification with Agni highlights His role as the purifier and energizer, the divine essence that transforms offerings into spiritual nourishment.

Among Mountains, He is Meru

Mount Meru is considered the axis of the universe, a gigantic mountain said to be the center of all physical, metaphysical, and spiritual universes. Meru’s symbolic significance as the center and the most splendid of mountains parallels Shri Krishna’s supremacy in the divine hierarchy. It signifies stability, centrality, and the pivotal role in the cosmic order.

Among Priests, He is Brihaspati

Brihaspati, the guru of the gods, is revered as the wisest of the priests. He represents the pinnacle of spiritual wisdom and ritualistic expertise. By aligning Himself with Brihaspati, Krishna asserts His authority as the supreme spiritual teacher and guide.

Among Commanders, He is Kartikeya (Skanda)

Kartikeya, also known as Skanda, is the elder brother of Lord Ganesha and the commander-in-chief of the gods’ army, a figure of valor and strategic acumen. Shri Krishna’s identification with Kartikeya emphasizes His role as the divine strategist and protector, leading the forces of dharma (righteousness) against adharma (unrighteousness).

Among Reservoirs of Water, He is the Ocean

The ocean, the largest and most encompassing body of water, symbolizes vastness, depth, and a boundless reservoir of life. Shri Krishna as the ocean implies His infinite nature, His depth of character, resources, and His nurturing essence that sustains numerous forms of life.

Among Celestial Sages, He is Bhrigu

Bhrigu is one of the seven great sages (Saptarishis) and is renowned for his wisdom and piety. The incident where Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu’s chest, as mentioned in the Puranas, showcases his boldness and the Lord’s humility and patience. Shri Krishna’s identification with Bhrigu highlights His benevolence and readiness to accept His devotees’ emotions, reinforcing His accessibility and the personal relationship He maintains with His devotees.

Each of these identifications reveals different facets of Krishna’s divine personality and His integral role in the maintenance, operation, and spiritual guidance of the cosmos. They collectively illustrate how the divine permeates and excels in every aspect of existence, guiding and governing the universe with wisdom, strength, and compassion.

Shree Krishna is Om

Shri Krishna’s declaration that He is the syllable ‘Om’, represents the essence of His eternal, omnipresent nature. The syllable ‘Om’ (pronounced as Aum) is universally recognized within Hinduism as the primal sound, the root mantra from which all creation emerged. This mystical syllable contains the essence of the universe and is considered the sound representation of the absolute reality.

The Significance of ‘Om’

‘Om’ is regarded as the anāhat nād, which means the “unstruck sound.” This refers to the sound that exists without two things striking, an eternal vibration that resonates through the cosmos. It is believed to be the first sound that originated at the creation of the universe, signifying the essence of ultimate reality, or Brahman. Shri Krishna’s identification with ‘Om’ highlights His role as the source and sustainer of all that exists.

Krishna’s Declarations in Verses 7.8 and 8.13

In verse 7.8, Krishna says:

रसोऽहमप्सु कौन्तेय प्रभास्मि शशिसूर्ययो: |

प्रणव: सर्ववेदेषु शब्द: खे पौरुषं नृषु || 8||

raso ’ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śhaśhi-sūryayoḥ

praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣhu śhabdaḥ khe pauruṣhaṁ nṛiṣhu

O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.

Here, Krishna associates Himself with fundamental and life-sustaining elements, emphasizing His pervasive and essential presence in everyday life.

In verse 8.13, the significance of ‘Om’ is further elaborated: 

ओम् इति एकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन् माम् अनुस्मरन् |

यः प्रयाति त्यजन् देहं सः याति परमाम् गतिम् || 13||

oṁ ityekākṣharaṁ brahma vyāharan mām anusmaran

yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṁ sa yāti paramāṁ gatim

Departing the body with the mind fixed on Me, the Supreme Personality, and uttering the sacred syllable Om, one achieves the supreme goal.

This verse highlights the power of ‘Om’ as a vehicle for spiritual liberation, illustrating how meditating on this sacred syllable can lead to ultimate union with the divine.

‘Om’ and Vedic Mantras

The presence of ‘Om’ at the beginning of most Vedic mantras is not merely ritualistic but serves to invoke the divine and harmonize the chanters with the cosmic vibrations. It is believed to bring auspiciousness and spiritual presence into the proceedings. The syllable is so powerful that it is considered a form of meditation in itself, capable of connecting the spiritual practitioner with the divine.

Connection with the Gayatri Mantra and the Vedas

The Gayatri Mantra, considered one of the most sacred mantras in Hinduism, is said to have originated from the syllable ‘Om’. This mantra is a petition for enlightenment, imploring the universal spirit to awaken one’s intellect and illuminate one’s understanding. The evolution from ‘Om’ to the Gayatri Mantra and subsequently to the entire corpus of Vedic literature signifies the unfolding of spiritual wisdom from its most condensed to its most expansive form.

Thus, when Shri Krishna identifies Himself with ‘Om’, He is not only stating that He is the basis of all sounds and vibrations but also that He is the origin of all wisdom and the spiritual essence that permeates the entire universe. This identification invites devotees to realize that chanting ‘Om’ is a direct invocation of Krishna’s presence and a way to align oneself with the cosmic and divine reality. It elevates ‘Om’ beyond a mere symbol or tool for meditation, presenting it as the essence of Krishna Himself—a pathway to understanding and merging with the ultimate reality.

The only option in this age of Kali

The Age of Kali, also known as Kali Yuga, is characterized by spiritual degradation, moral decline, and a general lack of righteousness. In this challenging age, the most effective means of spiritual realization is through the chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names, such as the Hare Krishna mantra or the Narayana Mantra “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” OR “Om Namo Narayanaya”.

The idea that the Holy Name of the Lord is the same as the Lord Himself is a fundamental concept in Vaishnavism, particularly in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition founded by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This belief is based on the principle of “Nama-Nami-Abheda,” which means that there is no difference between the Name of the Lord and the Lord Himself.

In other words, when one chants the Holy Names of Krishna with devotion and sincerity, it is considered equivalent to being in the direct presence of Lord Krishna Himself. The Holy Name is seen as a direct manifestation of Krishna’s spiritual energy and a means by which the Lord makes Himself accessible to devotees in the Age of Kali.

By affirming this connection in verse 10.25, Lord Krishna is emphasizing the importance and efficacy of chanting His Holy Names as a means of spiritual realization and connection with Him. This statement also highlights the special significance of the Holy Name in the Age of Kali, where other forms of spiritual practice may be more difficult or less effective due to the prevailing conditions.

Lord Krishna will continue to reveal His Vibhutis, which are His divine opulences, powers, and manifestations in the universe. This process of hearing about the Lord’s glories helps the devotee develop a greater appreciation for the Lord’s all-pervading nature and His presence in every aspect of creation. 

Moreover, by engaging in the process of hearing about the Lord’s glories, the devotee is also engaging in a form of devotional practice known as “Sravanam,” which involves listening to the divine names, forms, qualities, and pastimes of the Lord. This practice is an essential aspect of bhakti yoga, the path of devotional service, which purifies the heart, deepens one’s relationship with the Lord, and ultimately leads to spiritual realization.

kṛṣṇadaasa
(Servant of Krishna)

Aka +Vinayak Raghuvamshi