chapter vii: the two natures of god[2]

chapter vii: the two natures of god[2]

by April 23, 2012

Bhagavad Gita[1], Chapter VII:

The Two Natures of God

Chapter VI concluded with Krishna’s assurance to Arjuna that when one attempts to know Him and consistently offers all fruits of labor to Him, the Highest-One, if s/he must return to this earthly life, s/he will be blessed by being born into a family of truth-seekers. Thus, the benefits and grace earned by spiritual practice (yoga) in this life are never lost, but carry over to the next reincarnation. 

Attach your mind to Me: engaging in spiritual exercise put your trust in Me: listen how you may come to know Me in my entirety, all doubt dispelled. (7.1)

Krishna begins to reveal Himself as Pure Divinity to Arjuna in Chapter VII. Krishna conditions His explanation when He tells the warrior that few humans desire to know the Divine in His true form because they foolishly chase after material possessions and pleasant sensual experiences. One human in thousands of “[spiritual] athletes” attains the highest state that exceeds even beyond “[self-] perfection” (7.3).

The theme of this chapter is the human’s free will. Krishna tells Arjuna that although He is not the passion of a human’s selfish desires or destructive hatred, He is the force that propels the human’s free will. In other words, though Krishna does not create the desires or hatred, He is the force of will that potentiates such personal transgressions—Krishna is not the thief, but rather, is the energy of the thief’s action that makes such theft possible. Thus, while the Divine never places an evil desire in  the human heart, the human can use His power to obtain his/her selfish wishes.

Some people believe that authentic free will is the ability to act in accordance with one’s moral conscience. They define free will as the freedom to act without interference from one’s selfish desires or personal concerns, but rather, to act in accordance with the Divine will that substantiates one’s moral conscience. Moreover, when one’s personal will aligns with the Divine will, and s/he is manifesting the Divine’s purpose, the Divine Itself manifests as well. Krishna tells Arjuna that if he strives toward the Divine through actions and thoughts, he will always feel Krishna’s presence.

Hence, each yogi must make this decision individually, and thereafter, s/he will perpetually sense the Divine’s presence.

In addition, in order to recognize the divinity within, one must initially recognize Krishna as “the one all-highest Way” (7.18). And, although it is the rare person who ever seeks with whole-heartedness and single-minded concentration to know Krishna, His Most Divine will reveal everything about Himself to the warrior because He recognizes such love and commitment in Arjuna. Furthermore, Arjuna is the first person to whom Krishna will reveal His total Self.

This revelation of which Arjuna is its first witness, underscores the newness of the religious practice in India during this period between 5BCE and 2BCE. Former Vedic religious practice consisted of brahmins (priests) performing rituals and sacrifices primarily for those who could afford such services. However, Krishna has announced that He is accessible to anyone who commits his/her life to the Divine, regardless of wealth, financial status, or ancestry.

In the next chapter, Krishna clarifies the terms and concepts He spoke to Arjuna during this chapter, i.e., What is Brahman? What characterizes the man of self-restraint?

 Think deeply prior to committing to the path of Yoga for it’s a difficult journey toward Truth, and once one makes the commitment, it cannot be renounced. 

[1] Zaehner, R. C., trans The Bhagavad Gita London: Oxford University Press, 1973
[2] Zaehner, R. C., trans The Bhagavad Gita London: Oxford University Press, 1973, 69.
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