chapter ix: yoga of royal knowledge and royal mystery

chapter ix: yoga of royal knowledge and royal mystery

by May 9, 2012

For this week, because Chapter 9 is dense with Krishna’s discernments between the Great Brahman, also referred to as the “Unmanifest beyond the Unmanifest,” the spiritual Self, and all other contingent beings, we’ll discuss only lines 9.1 -10, and then complete the chapter next week (8.20). In addition, Krishna’s teachings in this chapter are well worth the extra time and effort. 

Bhagavad Gita[1], Chapter IX:

“Yoga of Royal Knowledge and Royal Mystery”[2]

In Chapter 9, only Krishna speaks—Arjuna listens to Krishna’s words very thoughtfully because they answer many questions that have perplexed Arjuna throughout the story. For instance, in the previous chapter, Arjuna’s first question to Krishna was:”What is that Brahman?” (8.1) Krishna now reveals His precise association or interrelation with all of the contingent beings within the world.

When Krishna explains to the warrior that, “in Me subsist all beings, I do not subsist in them,” this revelation radically departs from the Christian doctrine of the totality of God and the way that humans are a part of that wholeness (9.5). This disclosure implies that we, as human beings, are not solely material creations of the Most Highest One, but rather, that we are within God. In other words, God is not only the divine spark within each of us that we refer to as the Self, but alternatively, we are the material nature of God, manifested through the lower aspect of Brahman as material Nature. [3]

Even so, we must note that human beings are not corporeally contained in the All-Highest Brahman because the highest aspect of Brahman is the “Unmanifest beyond the Unmanifest” (8.20). However, we subsist in Him “as the wind subsists in space” (Zaehner 275). We are like the wind and Brahman is the space. Though we are in the space, the space, in its essence, does not contain us. Thus, we do not subsist in the Highest Unmanifest in the manner that our vital organs subsist in us, because in that highest form, or more accurately, non-form, Brahman is not corporeal nor does He depend upon our existence in any way whatsoever for His own existence.

Krishna continues that, ’Living Nature’ is, then, the result of the fusion of God’s seed, the spiritual principle with His lower Nature—matter” (Zaehner 276). All living beings of all kinds lack any independent agency because “from Nature comes the power” (9.8). This explanation pertains to the statement in the last chapter in which Krishna informed Arjuna that while He is not the evil act committed by the wrongdoer, He is the kinetic force that propels the act.

This revelation abolishes all subsequent portrayals of Krishna as God as described within the Hindu Vedic Scriptures, which preceded the Upanishads and Vedanta Scriptures of the Gita. God is not a Spirit or Source outside of the human, but is, instead, the Source or Spirit that literally gives the human being life by breathing through him/her. 

We should meditate on the knowledge that we are within God’s being as He manifests Himself in material nature, that is, the lowest aspect of Brahman, and that we do not simply have the spark of God within us. The prana of Yoga is the God or Krishna breathing life through us.

In closing this week’s discussion, recall the Gita quotation in last week’s session, that reminds us that God’s breathe is “personally present in the body of every living thing—[…]and it is there that He is either loved or hated” (Zaehner 261).

When you meditate this week, please focus it on Krishna’s revelation in this chapter. In recognizing our breathe as God’s spiritual presence, Krishna assures us that so long as we are alive on this Earth, we are filled with God’s eminent being. Allow yourself to experience the awesomeness of this revelation, for you will never be the same. 


[1] Zaehner, R. C., trans The Bhagavad Gita London: Oxford University Press, 1973
[2] Zaehner 273
[3] Think of the adage, “We are spiritual beings having a material experience, not material beings having a spiritual experience.” Unmanifest God is experiencing material God through us human beings.
[4] photo credit
copyright © Eileen M. Sembrot – All rights reserved