Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Canto IX : the Secret of Work

Logic and reason and discussion, Socratic dialogue and Vyasan question-and-answer go as far as the limits set by the human brain. At a certain point, the queries stop, the imagination falters, the heart remains unsatisfied. The conviction is partial not total, because the analytic method has not been fulfilled by the mystic visions and intuitive insight.

'The worlds hang on me like pearls on a string' -- was Krishna's poetic metaphor to suggest a mystical truth. He proceeds further now by saying, 'By invisible presence straddles this universe ......' Like the invisible winds reposing in the sky, 'all beings repose in me'. He is referring to the 'yogamaishvaram', the miraculous Yoga by which the invisible informs the visible, the transcendent permeates the physical, the divine irradiates the secular, while remaining 'neutral, unattached, ', unbound (nibadhna). Inapprehensible, we clutch Thee !

The key shloka of Canto IX is number 23 : 'Even the worshippers of images, in reality worship me; their faith (shraddha) is real, though their means is poor'.

It is a magical word : shraddha. The closest English equivalent is 'faith'. But shraddha has associations with darshan, and woshipping a physical image of a non-physical divinity is a form of darshan provided it is done with shraddha. No shraddha is refused : 'I will accept any gift, a fruit, a flower, a leaf, even water, if it is offered purely, and devoutly with love .... No worshipper of mine is ever rejected'.

Krishna continued :

I will give you the profoundest of secrets, Arjuna, leading to perfection, for you are not cynical.

This is the most perfect of sciences, of secrets the most profound, of salvation the supreme; this you will understand immediately, and perform without difficulty.

Disrespectful men, ignoring this, fail to attain me, and fall into fearful rebirths.

My invisible presence straddles this Universe : all beings have life in me, but I am not in them.

Look at my miraculous Yoga, Arjuna, -- even beings are not in me ! Though it creates and sustains beings, my Self is not established in them.

Like the tremendous wind reposing in the sky though it seems to travel everywhere, so all being repose in me.

And when a day of Brahma ends, all beings return to my Nature; when a day begins, they emerge again.

I vitalise my Prakriti, and this swarm of beings is evolved, all subordinate to Prakriti.

But these acts do not affect me, Arjuna -- I am neutral, unattached.

Under my supervision, Nature turns out the animate and the inanimate ; this is the reason the world forever keeps spinning.

The ignorant fail to recognise me in my human form, because they are not aware of my status and lord of all things.

Hollow of hopes, hollow of deeds, hollow of knowledge, they are the rakshasas, swamped by delusions.

But the mahatmas have knowledge of my transcendent nature : they consider me the changeless source of being, they adore me with single-minded devotion.

They worship me, and they sing my praises; they strive resolutely for me; they pay homage to me, they are always constant.

Others worship me as the all-formed, as unity, as many-formed, as separate : each worships as best as he can.

I am the ritual, the sacred gift, and the sacred tree, I am the holy food, and the mantra, I am the sacred fire and the sacred offering.

I am the father and the mother of this world, I maintain it and purify it; I am the goal of knowledge, I am the Aum and the three Vedas;

The supporter, the refuge, the lord, the silent witness, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the storehouse, and the seed.

I offer heat : I send and withhold the rain : I am death and moksha, Arjuna : I am what is, I am what is not.

The learned in the three Vedas worship me and drink the soma juice, and, purified, they pray for the heavens; reaching the worlds of Indra, they enjoy the pleasures of the gods.

Having enjoyed heaven, they return to the material world because their virtues have been sufficiently rewarded. Those who adhere to the words of the Vedas are doomed to constant rebirth.

But those who worship me and my unity in all beings are the truly persevering, and to these I give what they do not have and increase what they have.

Even the worshippers of images, in reality worship me; their faith is real, though their means are poor.

For I am the lord and enjoyer of all ritual; but they do not know me, they are born again.

The worshippers of the gods achieve the gods; of the fathers, the fathers; the worshippers of the spirits go to the spirits; my worshippers come to me.

I will accept any gift, a fruit, a flower, a leaf, even water, if it is offered purely, and devoutedly, and with love.

Whatever you do, Arjuna, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, whatever penance you perform, do it for my sake.

This will free from the fetters of work, and you will come to me, with your heart steady in Yoga.

All beings are the same to me, Arjuna : I hate none, I love none; but those who are my devoted worshippers, they are in me, and I am in them.

If the wickedest man acknowledges me as supreme aboveall, regard him virtuous, Arjuna : he has chosen the true path.

Soon will he become pure-hearted, and achieve undying peace. I promise you this : no worshipper of mine is ever rejected.

Sheltering in me, all achieve the supreme goal -- women, Vaishyas, Shudras, and all of low birth.

Small wonder that the pious Brahmins and the steadfast saints find me. Give up this brief joyless world, Arjuna, and strive for me.

Be in me, Arjuna. Worship me. Sacrifice to me. Bow to me. And so you will come to me.

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