The tenth chapter is about connecting ourselves to the divine by observing the divine in all the amazing things that we already know of. The Sanskrit term for this is vibhuti-yoga, which is also the Sanskrit title for the Gita’s tenth chapter. The principle is: We are under the sway of illusion and therefore do not directly experience the absolute truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But we can observe the wonders of our illusion and connect those observations to the divine, and in this way elevate ourselves out of that illusion so that we can soon directly experience the divine face to face.
The actual content of this subject as literally given in the tenth chapter may not always be so relevant to modern readers, because some of the examples given are not things that we already know of. Most of it is still quite relevant. The stuff that isn’t relevant to us today is actually quite interesting to people who have a fascination with Vedic India. So I will go through the content we have examined so far. I have a huge book called the “Puranic Encyclopaedia” which I will use to explain the obscure stuff.
The section begins with the 21st text, so I will begin from there.
Among Adityas I am Vishnu
“Aditya” refers to 12 sons born to Aditi and her husband Kashyapa. These are persons placed in charge of various very important universal functions – they are “the demigods” or a certain subgroup of demigods. It is perhaps more truthful to consider them all various features of the demigod who is the Sun.
The Sun is also called “Vishnu” perhaps because the light and heat and energy of the Sun pervades everywhere and maintains everything in our world. If that is the case, than what we can take from Kṛṣṇa’s statement that he is “Vishnu among the Aditya” is that we should appreciate the divine Supreme Personality of Godhead in the all pervading energy of light and warmth that comes from the sun and supports the existence of our world.
Among Jyotisham I am the Sun
“Jyotisham” means things that give off light. Not only is Kṛṣṇa the Vishnu deity who empowers the Sun to have all-pervading light and heat (as we heard in the previous line), also Kṛṣṇa is the actual firey globe of the Sun itself. We should appreciate the divine being as both the light and warmth of the sun as well as the brilliant sun-planet itself.
Among Maruts I am Marici
This is a confusing one, because there are a few people named Marici. One of them is a great famous sage,a son of Lord Brahma. However, Viśvanātha Chakravarti’s commentary on this text reveals that this is not the Marici Krsna is referring to, nor is that Marici one of the Maruts.
The Maruts are other sons from Aditi and Kashyapa, another subset of “adityas.” (Yes, Aditi and Kashyapa has thousands of children, because they are prajapati – beings entrusted to begin universal population). There are 42 Maruts. Why 42? Because Indra went into Aditi’s womb to perform an abortion! He sliced her child into 42 pieces because he thought the child would become his enemy! The 42 pieces, however, were successfully born as 42 different persons! (Remember, Aditi and Kashyapa are not human beings.)
These 42 are all in charge of various types of storms and winds. In fact, it may be that their proper name is “Rudra” (gods of howling storms) because they were named by Indra saying, “Ma Ruda” (don’t cry) as he was cutting them up. Among the 42 the Marici wind is apparently very special.
What do we take away from this?
We should appreciate the divine as the firey globe of the Sun, and as the heat and light that comes from the world and sustains our existence. That heat and light causes weather patterns on earth. That, I believe, is the subject of this “of Maruts I am Marici” – we should appreciate that the awesome weather, storms and winds are all the power of God – so when we experience wind we should be reminded of the divine.
Among Nakshatra I am the Moon
Nakshatra means “heavenly bodies.” There are two types of nakshatra: (1) Stationary, (2) Mobile. The stationary nakshatra are the “stars” the mobile nakshatra are the “planets.” The Sun is also a nakshatra, but it is a very hot, harsh one. The moon is bright and huge like the Sun, but without the flaw of being overbearing and burning. Of all heavenly bodies, therefore, the Moon can remind us and put us in touch with the soft, sweet gentle side of the divine.
So – in this text we hear:
- Remember God in the all-pervading light and warmth of the Sun which sustains our existence
- Remember God as the brilliant sun-globe itself.
- Remember God as the weather and wind that arises from the Sunlight
- Remember God as the Moon which reflects the light of the sun so sweetly and soothingly.
Among Vedas I am Sama
Veda means “knowledge.” Sama is short for saman which means “melody.” This state of Kṛṣṇa could then be read as “of all knowledge I am music.”
The sama-veda is so named because it is a songbook. It takes all the mantras of the Rg Veda and organizes them into songs as a means for performing religious rituals and thus increasing one’s knowledge. The technical manual for using the Sama Veda is “Gandarva-veda” which provides the entire art and science of music, dance, and theatre. In one sense Kṛṣṇa is declaring that these arts are the pinnacle of all learning and knowledge.
What to take away?
All knowledge is impressive, but much of it is ugly – neuclear bombs, silicon chips, etc – the knowledge which is pleasant and beautiful, and melodious is the best knowledge. When we encounter such art and knowledge we should remember Kṛṣṇa, the divine dancer and flute player.
Among Devas I am Vasava
The devas are the beings who live in “heaven.” Vasava is the king of all the heavenly beings, Indra.
Indra is akin to the middle-eastern and western common religious ideas of God (though of course the mystical traditions go beyond Indra). So, one thing to take away from this is that the modern judeo-christian-islamic concept of God is also something worthy to remind us of the divine Supreme Personality.
Among Senses I am the Mind
The Mind controls all the senses. All the senses are shakti of the mind, they all work on behalf of the mind to acquire information about the world, and to experience worldly sensations. Kṛṣṇa is the mind, and all of the senses are all the rest of the living entities.
We constantly deal with our mind and senses, so this is quite a relevant meditation. We can see our senses serving our mind and become more aware of how our soul is supposed to serve Kṛṣṇa by acting as his shakti, acquiring and delivering pleasant sensations to him.
In the Jiva I am Cetana
Jiva means “the soul” – the element that sustains life. The most important quality of the soul is that it is self-aware. Cetana means “awareness.”
Matter is asleep, and spirit is awake. That is one major difference. The spirit is an atom of Kṛṣṇa-shakti. Matter is a reflection of Kṛṣṇa-shakti. The reflection is not the real thing – therefore it has no self-awareness, no true existence. The spirit is atomic but nonetheless it is the real thing.
From this we should take away that, “Kṛṣṇa is my ability to be aware of my own existence.”
Among Rudras I an Sankara
Rudra is a fascinating being. Best I can explain goes like this: Lord Brahma had to populate the universe he created. He therefore produced special powerful beings to generate population. However the first among them were very englightened. They were the “four kumaras.” They had no interest mating and making children and populating the material world. Their disobedience made Brahma so furious that he wanted to destroy the entire universe (thinking it would have no purpose if no one would populate it, perhaps?). At that moment a magnificent being sprang from Brahma’s forhead, the personification of that anger. It was “Rudra.”
Half the body was male, half female. Brahma said, “divide yourself” and left. The female part split from the male. Then the male and female Rudra split into 11 further beings, so that there were 11 rudras and elevent Rudranis. These are deities in charge of destructive power.
Kṛṣṇa says that among these awesome beings, he especially can be identified as sankara. Who is “Shankara”? Shankara is a synonym for Shiva. Shiva is the original Rudra and the original being who manifested in this world through Brahma’s forehead, in my estimation.
What to take away?
Destructive force is also awesome and powerful. When we see destruction we should also remember the power of the divine person and our atomic nature in comparison to him.
Of Yakshas and Rakshasas I am Kuvera
Here are some fascinating details: Among “demigods” there are three categories: (1) deva, (2) ganadeva, (3) upadeva.
Among the devas, is Indra and the others. Among the ganadevas (a less powerful group) the 12 adityas are foremost. It also includes the 11 rudras and many other subclasses. Among the upadevas (a still less powerful group) are 10 subclasses including Vidyadharas, Apsaras, Yaksas, Rakshasas, etc.
I would describe the upadevas as being persons who are incharge with protecting elements of nature. The yakshas seem to be in charge of the power of wealth and the rakshasas are in charge of forests, rivers, etc. They are very primordial beings, all the upadevas – chaotic and unruly.
Kuvera is the king of the Yakshas and the Rakshasas. Kuvera is the lord of material opulence (vitta-isha). The idea is that the upadevas are all the gods of material opulence (talents, sexuality, wealth, nature, etc). The supreme among them is Kuvera, the lord of opulence.
What to take from this?
When we experience material opulence in a beautiful tree, a forest, a powerful primal force like the sex drive… we should be reminded of God, and that God is the supreme master of all such forces.
Among Vasus I am Agni
There are 8 Vasus, they are one subtype of ganadeva. These vasus are famous in Mahabharata, they were the children drowned by Gangadevi as a result of a curse. It could be said that the Vasu are guardians and messengers for the higher gods. There are 8 vasus, one for each major direction (N, NE, E, etc.) Perhaps it is that Agni is the most important messenger to the higher gods, because he acts as fire – which is an indispensible part of Vedic ritual, for it carries sacrifices and offerings to the Gods.
What relevance to find in this?
We can think of the Vasus as our “telephone line” to the divine. Kṛṣṇa then is saying that the best telephone line pertains to him. In Vedic religion the best telephone line to the divine is fire. But in our case I believe the best telephone line to the divine is our guru. Therefore when we interact with our guru we should feel ourselves to be in the presence of the vibhuti of God.
Among Mountains I Am Sumeru
Carucandra Prabhu has described this very eloquently: “mount meru is not only famous for its rich natural resources (made of gold and the ganges runs through it before it comes to our earthly realm) but it is the dead center of our universal system. it sits right in the middle of bhu mandala so it occupies the exact center of the universal bubble (both horizontaly and vertically). so not only does meru represent Krsna as the supreme of all mountains but it also represents Him as the center of our universe. we should understand Krsna to be the center of our universe both literally and figuratively in the sense that He should always be in the center of all our actions. our consciousness should always be centered around Him and His desire.”
Among Priests I am Brihaspati
“Priest” here means purohit – the type of priest who performs religious rituals.
The aim of religion is heaven. The king of heaven is India. How does he maintain such a high position? Because he has the best priest. Who is that priest? Brihaspati.
(As an aside, the planet Jupiter is a representation of Brihaspati).
What does this mean to you and me? It means that paradise is awesome, we all want it. The best guide to paradise represents Kṛṣṇa. The truth is that Indra’s paradise is hell. Why? Because when we get there we sooner or later must face the fact that it is not real, it is only a reflection of reality. Thus losing paradise we plunge into hellish depression. The only real paradise is the real world – the internal energy of Kṛṣṇa. The supreme priest of that paradise is not Brihaspati but Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī. To me, this statement means that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the true vibhuti of Kṛṣṇa in the ultimate sense. We should gave upon her, for in so doing one cannot easily forget her shaktiman, Śrī Krsna, our desired goal.
Of Generals I am Skanda
Everyone wants to get into paradise, and many people don’t want to deal with the paperwork. They try to take heaven by force. These are the “demons.” Because of them (or so they say, at least) Indra needs an army. The army of the king of heaven must be very bad-ass. Who would command such an army? Whoever it is must be the most bad-ass commander. His name is “Skanda” a.k.a. Kartikeya, The Slicer, the god of warfare.
Brutal power such as is seen in military people is awesome in a terrible way. Whenever we see power we can remember the supreme power, God. Even the most powerful of all powerful warriors, Kartikeya, is merely a reflection of the vibhuti of God’s power.
Of Reservoirs I am the Ocean
Finally! Another reference that doesn’t require us to look up ancient Vedic references!!!! I used to live in Southern California. It is a desert. Move a few miles away from the shore and there are cactus. The more you continue inland, the more it becomes serious desert. Living there I came to appreciate how much I love water and moisture. A reservoir is a very important thing. It represents God, because from it we get the moisture that we need to survive.
If a reservoir is a powerful thing, God is so powerful that he is the ocean. That is the idea in this line.
We can swim in a pool or in an ocean and contemplate this line.