Vibhuti Yoga

The initiative on the part of Krishna continues unabated,
and in fact is in some respects more accentuated than in
the last chapter which, as we have pointed out, together
with the present one, approaches the Absolute from two
viewpoints which may be said to be different only by a
negligible angle.

Intellectual and spiritual notions regarding the Absolute
were reconstructed to the end of the previous chapters, more
or less from the subjective standpoint in which the disciple's
doubts were dispelled and questions answered in a certain
order tacitly kept in mind by the author.

The disciple has his doubts dispelled, but all knowledge is
not gained by this. There is the positive conquest of
knowledge as it penetrates stage by stage from the
theoretically objective to full objective realism at the end of
the Gita.

It is easy to discern this turning point at the beginning of
this chapter. In the second verse Krishna does not hesitate to
praise himself as being non-understandable even to the gods
and sages.

There follows an enumeration of certain spiritual qualities
which are expressions of the absolutist way of life. What this
way of life accomplishes for the individual in terms of
wisdom or Self-realization is also stated by Krishna.
Then comes a section where Arjuna recognizes all that is
claimed by Krishna and more, thus making the adoption
between them as complete as possible. At the specific
request of Arjuna there follows a long enumeration of what
in this chapter is called the Vibhuti (unique value). The
value or glory of the Absolute can be known from the inside
of each individual. It is not so easy to speak of the Absolute
in terms of objective manifestations or other overt values.
The reason for this is a fact recognized by Arjuna himself in 
Verse 15. But it is highly necessary that for purposes of
life's guidance


here that we should have more realistic conceptions of
Absolute values than in just abstract or subjective terms.
Though with some hesitation therefore, Krishna here enumerates
all those highlights in the scheme of real things that we deal
with in this world. Though they do not cover all cases, they
offer to the seeker enough variety of examples by which the
unique glory of the Absolute could be recognized as it
penetrates through the commonplace. This is sufficiently
explained in the concluding verses of the chapter.
The overall characteristics of the Absolute as they are to
be recognized in the world of reality are summed-up finally
by the words vibhutimat srimad urjitam (whatever has
unique living value, abounding in grace and well founded
in truth).

It is true that only a fraction of the Absolute becomes
evident coming into the open for purposes of recognition
as stated in the last verse. But this does not detract from
the importance of recognizing the Absolute from the
standpoint of the person who wants to guide his life or
have aspirations in his life in keeping with the Absolute.
It should be noticed also in passing that these values do
not belong to any known codified religion. They are selected
from a wide range of values, some of them falling generally
within the scope of religion and ethics, but a few which may
be questioned as not failing strictly within what is usually
understood as the field of the sacred or the good, such as
the instances of the gambler and the god of love.
In spite of all these concrete references, we find that
even philosophically this chapter is on a par with the
previous one, for there are statements such as in Verse 4
where existence and even non-existence are said to be
issuing from the absolute outlined here.


Sribhagavan uvacha
bhuya eva mahabaho
srinu me paramam vachah
yat te 'ham priyamanaya
vakshyami hitakamyaya

Sri Krishna said:
Again, 0 Mighty-Armed (Arjuna), listen to My supreme word,
which I, desiring your well-being,shall tell you, so dear
(and favourably disposed).


This opening verse reveals unmistakably the kinship and
equality of status with the previous chapter with its initial
expression bhuya eva (furthermore). The expression
paramam vachah (supreme word) also indicates that the
subject-matter pertains to the highest Absolute.

Not only is Krishna actively interested in teaching Arjuna
because, as he says, he is dear, or as otherwise interpreted,
the teaching pleases him, but also because as he says, he is
interested in his welfare.


ne me viduh suraganah
prabhavam na maharshayah
aham adir hi devanam
maharshinam cha sarvasah

Neither the hosts of the gods nor the great sages know My
origin ; for I am indeed in every way the source of the gods
and the great sages.


Krishna is not just boasting and saying he is superior to
all others. He specifically refers to devas (divinities), i.e.
those spiritual ideals belonging to the hypostatic context of
the Vedic gods, and refers to sages who have existed in
India even before the time of the Vedas. The highest notions
held or represented by either of these groups fall short of
the notion of the Absolute.

By reference to himself as the source and the origin and not
as the end, the author intends to touch that neutral point
starting from which all the various manifestations are to be
later enumerated in an organic fashion.

Before going on to the ramifications, the root or source is
mentioned. The Absolute is appraised at its own zero or
neutral point here. Spiritual values suggested by deities or
sages are treated, as being only secondary in importance.
This superiority to all that is relative is what justifies the
use of the word paramam (supreme) in the previous verse.


yo mam ajam anadim cha
vetti lokamahesvaram
asammudhah sa martyeshu
sarvapapaih pramuchyate

He who understands Me as unborn and beginningless,
as the great Lord of the World, that man undeluded among
mortals is absolved from all sins.


This verse is meant to bring to balance once again the slight
asymmetry which was thought necessary in the previous verse,
in referring to the Absolute as the source.

As well as being the source, the Absolute should be
understood as at the same time marking a neutral point in
the revised terminology of this verse. Here the same
neutrality is referred to as ajam anadim (unborn without
beginning). The Absolute strictly belongs to the Eternal
Present and to speak of it as if it were anterior to the gods
and sages, had to be further clarified, as is done here.
The reference to papa (sin) is again to stress the fact that
even though the idea of the Absolute belongs to the domain
of wisdom or the understanding, it has the potency of
abolishing evil. This will be further defined in the next
two verses where opposites like existence and non-existence,
fear and courage, fame and obloquy, are cancelled out
against each other into a neutrality which must apply to
sin and virtue also.

Liberation from sins must therefore be understood more
correctly in that the question of sin or virtue does not
arise at all, that one is lifted out of the context of both,
and not in the sense that one gains virtue as against sin,
which interpretation would be against the spirit of the

The reference to sin can also be understood in another
way. Sin, which has its opposite in virtue, constitutes the
first degree of reference to such a factor. By transcending or
negating such a dualistic conception, one arrives at a more
unified notion of sin itself by what is called its own double
negation. Such an explanation would not be against the
methods of Western theology either, as may be seen in the
writings of Aquinas. Thus it is Sin with the capital S which
may be said to be transcended here, by Wisdom with a capital
W, on the part of those who are capable of having a non-
dualistic notion of the Absolute as implied here.

If such an interpretation is invalid we have to take it that
this is the usual reference to sin as we find it throughout
the text, since the sense of sin was what started the
dialogue on Arjuna's side. The "sin" here may even have
been consciously referred to as common to both the
absolutist as well as the relativist contexts.


 buddhir jnanam asammohah
kshama satyam damah samah
sukham duhkham bhavo
'bhavo bhayam cha 'bhayam eva cha

ahimsa samata tushtis
tapo danam yaso yasah
bhavanti bhava bhutanam
matta eva prithagvidah

Reason, wisdom, non-delusion, patience, truth,
self-restraint, calmness, pleasure-pain, becoming
and non-becoming, sense of danger and security,

non-hurting, balance, contentment, austerity,
benevolence. fame-shame, are the various distinct
attitudes arising from Me alone.


These two verses enumerate a series of spiritual values,
some of them merely referring to conscious attitudes and
others referring to overt facts or acts. It is difficult to
imagine a common epistemological framework into which
these concepts fit, except by treating all of them
indifferently by making allusion to primary spiritual values,
irrespective of their being subjective, objective, or in the
form of an attitude or act.

We should imagine, as implied here, a man who is perfectly
established in the neutrality of the Absolute beginning to
exercise or enter into conscious or positive awareness
vis-à-vis the Absolute.

The first positive movements of the spirit as it were, are
enumerated indifferently, as having to do with primary
spiritual values. The most important feature to notice here
is that opposites are brought together soon after the
enumeration of such factors as self-restraint, forgiveness,
etc., which are global attitudes of the spirit. Pleasure-
pain, fear-courage and even existence-non existence are
the polarized movements within which the spirit swings,
as we depart more and more from the neutral source of
the spirit, indicated in the previous verse.

In Verse 4, which starts with reason and ends with courage,
we can discern a family group of spiritual attitudes or
feelings. which belong more to the philosophic than to
the religious context.


In Verse 5, however, which again starts with enumerating
global spiritual sentiments such as the attitude of non-
hurting and ends with the dual factors of fame and obloquy
treated together, we have a series which can be said to be
more religious than philosophic.

The whole list, however, may, be said to refer to bhavah
(moods or attitudes) by which the spirit of man is capable
of representing the Absolute in himself or as expressed

A comparison of the series contained in these two verses
come with that in vii, 4, where, besides the elemental factors
in creation, mind, reason and egoism were included, calls
for some clarification.

In the earlier chapter the enumeration was based on the
concept of action viewed phenomenally. The inclusion of
mind, reason and egoism there was because these also were
subject to phenomenal fluctuations as they pertained to the
lower and not to the higher nature of the Absolute.
Here, however, the basic concept for the enumeration of
factors is bhavah (distinct attitudes or expressions). Nature
exists by necessity but the person established in the
Absolute gives expression to certain values through his
dispositions, attitudes or behaviour. It was with a view to
explaining the Absolute that the earlier chapter enumerated
the eightfold factors. In the present chapter, however, the
need for such an explanation has been accomplished. The
enumeration here refers to the various expressions, attitudes
or actions which naturally flow out from that neutral point
which marks the source or the Absolute in a man who
understands it philosophically.

We shall see how a further degree of expression is reached
in a later chapter where it is not expressions, but a
vision of the Absolute in so far as such is possible, is
attempted. While the treatment in chapter vii may be said
to be negative, here it is stated in distinctly positive terms.
In the next chapter the positive character becomes
accentuated to such a degree that it makes the description of
the Absolute so complete and vivid that some writers have
taken objection to it as being of the nature of a crude

Further chapters mark the same process of positive realism
in style and treatment, till we touch actual problems such as
practical ethics, diet, and social organization once again.


maharshayah sapta purve
chatvaro manavas tatha
madbhava manasa jata
yesham loka imah prajah

The seven great sages of old, as also the four law-
givers (manus) are born from My own process of
becoming and mind, and from these all progeny in
the world.


The rishis (sages) and the manus (lawgivers) belong to two
different and divergent developments in spiritual traditions.
At the source of the mystical and contemplative tradition
we must place the rishis (sages, seers or bards) who were
people cut away from society living their own lives free
from social obligation and sometimes transgressing the
rules of society. They were individualists.

The other order referred to who are named here as manus
(lawgivers, thoughtful men) were persons who were
socially and legalistically minded. They laid down the
codes for the government of people who belonged to a
certain group. But during the long course of history it
sometimes happened that what was laid down by the rule-
maker had to be drastically revised in the light of changed
circumstances. The intervening period between one manu
(lawgiver) and another has been named manvantara
(period of a manu) of which fourteen constitute a "day of
Brahma", and of which the present is said to be the seventh.
These refer to natural periods of time in which a certain
tradition remains in vogue with a given group of people. If
we think of humanity in different groups or "races", as it
has been sometimes suggested, these manus may all be
considered as belonging to the same period at the very
beginning of the human race, if such a beginning can be
fixed. But it is more probable that these lawgivers
succeeded one another through manvantaras (periods of a
manu). The names of the first seven are given as follows :
Svayambhuva (the author of the Manusmriti or famous
Code of Manu), Svarochisa, Anuttami, Tamasa, Raivata,
Chakshusha and Vaivasvata.

Whether they existed as contemporaries or succeeded one
another is not of much consequence for us here. What is
important to understand is that the two classes mentioned,
the sages and the lawgivers, who in themselves represent
particular spiritual values important to human life, whether


collective or individual, have both one common origin in
the neutral Absolute, just in the same manner as the other
spiritual values enumerated above.

Maharshayah sapta purve (the seven great sages of old)
refers to the poet-hermits whose names have been renowned
in the Vedas. The Mahabharata, in which the Bhagavad Gita
appears in Book xii, lists the following : Marichi, Atri,
Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya and Vasishta. Other lists of
seven are given, e.g., Kutsa, Atri, Rebha, Agastya, Kushika,
Vasishta and Vyashva, and sometimes other names are included,
such as Gotama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Kasyapa,
Daksha, Prachetas, Bhrigu and Narada (see Shataptaha Brahmana,
xxv, 5.2.6, and Harivamsa, 417 ff.).

In this verse the different sets of public or private values
are personalized. They are represented by the lawgiver or
the hermit type of ancient spiritual person. The difference
is similar to that we know to exist between the lawgiver
Confucius and the mystic Lao Tse in China.

When the mind (of vii, 4) begins to function, it tends to
become directed to society because mind is the seat of the
ego and the interaction of ego and ego is the basis of social
life which throws up the social man. But when pure becoming
works out its own nature we find types representing the
natural man who may be even anti-social but still spiritual
according to the best. standards of spirituality known to
the srutis (revealed spiritual texts), though not to the
smritis (remembered codes of behaviour) to which latter
section the lawgivers naturally belong. Thus the sages
and lawgivers represent two branches of the Absolute when
it enters into the domain of human affairs.


etam vibhutim yogam cha
mamayo vetti tattvatah
so 'vikampena yogena
yujyate na 'tra samsayah

He who understands according to fundamental principles
My unique value together with its unitive balance, by
non-wavering contemplation attains union. In this there
is no room for doubt.


The process of becoming which has its origin in the Absolute
as it has been traced so far has two distinct aspects.


The first is called vibhuti (unique value) and the second
is called Yoga (neutral union).

These two should be understood as indicated by tattvalah
(according to first principles). In other words these are
fundamental notions of methodology, epistemology or value.
If vibhuti represents a unique value as we have said, such
a value must be the resultant of a unitive or neutral
appraisal of it, in which the opposites are cancelled out.
Any value to which a person could be related in order
that it might affect him in any worthwhile manner must be
thought of not merely as a process in a changing flux of
becoming, but in terms of something that has attained
stability and is thus of significance in human relationships.
In attaining such a stable equilibrium as a value there are
always opposites or counterparts involved. Herein consists
the Yoga or neutral unifications referred to. Yoga is always
a balancing, a neutralization, a cancelling out or
equation of component parts. Thus the process of becoming
and its own stabilization, in order to make worthwhile
values emerge, is the subtle understanding called for in
this verse.

Conversely, it is suggested here that a man capable of
such understanding himself does not fluctuate between
poles of his own personal tendencies. The unitive and
stabilized value which he is capable of appreciating and
with which he has established a bipolar relationship has
the effect of inducing the same stability in his own

He thus becomes established in a Yoga that never oscillates,
as indicated in the phrase avikampena (non-wavering). Such
a steady relationship established between himself on the one
hand, and a Supreme value on the other, must lead him to
union with the Absolute.


aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattam sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhavasamanvitah

I am the Source of all ; from Me everything moves
outward; understanding thus, the wise adore Me,
endowed with the intuition of pure becoming.


Any implication in the previous verse suggestive of fixed
states is quickly counteracted and corrected here. The
Absolute can be viewed both statically and as an eternal
flux in the process of becoming. Even maya (principle of
negation) has been defined as bhavarupa (of the form of
becoming). The "wise ones" alluded to by the word budhah here
signify those who are capable of a contemplative view of
reality where the factor of time or duration has its place.
All happenings have to be viewed dynamically as a process
of becoming and not merely statically.

A certain sympathetic emotion is implied in contemplation
of the pure process of becoming when it refers to the
Absolute. The intellect is capable of appraising values
only in the form of stills. Those endowed with contemplation
and who are intuitive are capable of entering into
sympathetic understanding of the flux of becoming. It is
the latter class who are referred to as bhavasamanvitih
(endowed with a sympathetic intuition of pure becoming).
In view of the fact that in Verse 2 the reference has been
made to the source from which everything flows out, here
the repetition of the same idea of generation must be to
correct whatever wrong impression might be left from the
previous verse.


machchitta madgataprana
bodhayantah parasparam
kathayantas cha mam nityam
tushyanti cha ramanti cha

With their relational minds affiliated to Me, their
life-tendencies penetrating in Me, enlightening each
other and ever-conversing about Me, they are content
and rejoice.


The proper kind of relation to be established between the
seeker on the one side and the Absolute on the other is
again stated in a clearer form here. While the affiliation
with the Absolute is considered here in as close terms as
possible, almost establishing identity both at the mental or
relational level of the personality and at the vital psycho-
physical level, which latter is implied by the word prana
(which can mean just breath, life or vital tendencies), the
one-pointedness of the surrender thus implied might make
us think that the seeker is completely lost to all that exists
around him, as if absorbed in a mystic trance of exaltation.


But the second line of the verse refers to conversation with
others of a similar inclination who might be present around

The normal occupation of a person steeped in the Absolute
is not unconsciousness or abnormality of any kind, but a
normal state in which he not only teaches others but is taught
by others, while the mutual exchange of wisdom gives both
parties the characteristic joy which comes from interplay of
teaching and learning. They are both content and positively
happy in this normal kind of life.

Too often we read of trances and other abnormal states
as evidence of spirituality in mystical or yogic literature.
Symptoms of blood pressure, of depression or exaltation,
not to speak of childish forms of emotionalism, all pass as
expressions of the contemplative life.

The Gita here presents a sober picture which suffers from
no exaggerations. God-consciousness is a healthy and normal
state as portrayed here. This does not mean, however, that
abnormal states do not have any element of spirituality at

The spirit in which this verse is written is not different
from xi, 34 and xviii, 65, whose significance in the Gita we
have sufficiently emphasized.


tesham satalayuktanam
bhajatam pritipurvakam
dadami buddhiyogam tam
yena mam upayanti te

To such established in unbroken union (with) affectionate
adoration, I grant that kind of unitive understanding by
which they attain to Me.


The result or reward of this dedication is not anything of the
order of a siddhi (spiritual attainment) as usually mentioned
in books on Yoga, including such respectable treatises as
Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras". This and the next verse refer to
an award which might appear too simple or plain. It is of the
order of Self-realization or what is here called buddhi-yoga
(unitive understanding).

This is a special phrase which runs throughout the Gita
and is employed and extolled as early as ii, 49, where it is
contrasted with mere karma (action, ritual, works) which is
condemned there as very inferior. In vi, 43 the term again


appears, where it is employed in a more technical sense,
suggesting that one fallen from Yoga re-establishes a link
with it through the medium of intelligence or reason.
Here in this verse we find the expression used, it would
seem, with the same intended precision. The same expression
is used in xviii, 57 in summing up the whole teaching,
which is sufficient support for its importance as a
significant phrase. Moreover in x, 4 we find buddhi
(reason) occupying premier place among the unique values
whose source is the Absolute. The gift of intelligence or
reason is the greatest which God could confer on man,
according to the teaching of the Gita.

Attaining the Absolute is the other goal or reward referred
to. This itself should be understood in the same light of
Self-realization suggested in the next verse. We could even
change the idiom and say "attaining to peace", which would
bring together three expressions which would have synonymous
significance, as they have always been recognized to be so
in the language of Vedanta, where Ananda, Atma and Brahman
(joy, Self, Absolute) signify the same.


tesham eva 'nukampartham
aham ajnanajam tamah
nasayamy atmabhavastho
jnanadipena bhasvata

Specifically because of compassion for them I, abiding
as what has become the Self, destroy the ignorance born
of darkness by the shining lamp of wisdom.


It is possible to attain to the Absolute by ascending to
its status through worship, meditation or otherwise by the
process of introspection, by which one may be said to sink
into one's own true Self.

Wisdom is the motive force in these methods. Instead of
a reference to worshipping the Absolute; God or the
Absolute is said here to take pity on the seeker of wisdom
and identify himself with the Self of the seeker and so
dispel the darkness of the seeker. These two - worship on
the part of the seeker, and pity on the part of the Supreme
- are complementary processes and when put together amount
to the same state of unity. In the latter case, it is the
Absolute that influences the Self of the seeker. The bounty
of the Absolute


is the motive behind such an influence. Thus the reciprocity
between Verses 10 and 11 is perfect. God loves man as much
as man loves God and identity results.

The comparison of wisdom to a bright light is a favourite
simile in Vedanta. Between light and darkness there seems
to be opposition; but in reality it is light alone without
duality which is the valid factor. Though at first not
logically convincing, this statement becomes dialectically
valid, because light alone can represent reality and not
darkness, which is merely negation and therefore non-

For this reason the analogy of a lamp has become a favourite
one in Vedanta, where the method is essentially dialectical,
as we have shown many times already. The Absolute is
sometimes called the "Light of lights", as stated definitely
in xiii, 17. Of all analogies that of light seems to clarify
the nature of wisdom and this has been recognized by Plato
and other philosophers, and teachers such as Jesus Christ,
all over the world.

The term atmabhavasthah (abiding as what has become the Self)
is capable of being interpreted in such a way that the Self
implied here represents the Absolute, or as referring to the
Self of the seeker. Both ways give acceptable meanings in
principle, but as a complement to Verse 10, and as consistent
with the general context here, it is the individual Self of
the seeker into which the Absolute transforms itself because
of compassion.


Arjuna uvacha
param brahma param dhama
pavitram paramam bhavan
purusham sasvatam divyam
ididevam ajam vibhum

ahus tvam rishayah sarve
devarshir naradas tatha
asito devalo vyasah
svayam chai 'va bravishi me

Arjuna said:
You as being the supreme Absolute, the supreme Abode, the
supreme Purifier, the eternal divine Person, primal
Divinity, the Unborn, the All-pervading -

all the sages say this of You, the divine sage
Narada, so too Asita, Devala, Vyasa, and You
yourself confirm it to me.


Verse 12 opens a section of seven verses which is necessary
for marking out two sets of vibhutis (unique or perfected
values) which it would be wrong on any account to confuse.
These values, when grasped in most general terms, cover
all perfected stages or states in the process of becoming
which we are capable of conceiving, whether intuitively
or objectively.

Objective manifestations of the Absolute have a much lower
status because only a fraction of the potency of the
Absolute principle is said to be necessary to sustain them,
as stated in the last verse of this chapter.

So far we have covered those aspects of becoming which
fall within the scope of intuition rather than mere

The transition into the other series of values or perfections
calls for the literary device of Arjuna's accepting and
questioning interlude.

Arjuna in the first instance accepts the supremacy of the
Absolute, above the Vedic gods and above even the non-
Vedic spirituality of India, both of which belong to his
natural heritage.

When Arjuna in Verse 15 says that the Absolute knows itself
best, not from outside, but known as it were from inside
the Absolute itself, he gives recognition to the fact that the
intuitive method is what reveals the Absolute fully. But still
he requests guidance in the recognition of the touch of the
Absolute, wherever it occurs in the manifested world. Thus
the way is prepared for the last section where unique
perfections or values or specific expressions of the Absolute
are enumerated, an appendix as it were to the intuitive
approach to wisdom.

It takes two sides to make a statement of truth complete,
especially in a dialogue of this kind. It must be stated by one
who knows it and understood by the hearer who is capable of
grasping it. If there is such a recognition on the part of the
hearer, the case for the verity stated may be said to be fully

In the three verses that follow, Arjuna gives full credit to,
and accepts, the teaching of Krishna. He is no longer a
doubting questioner full of mistrust. His conversion in
principle to the


absolutist standpoint is complete. But there are matters of
applied wisdom on which he still needs clarification.
The full character of the Absolute with all its implications
is referred to in sufficiently familiar terms here. As the
central reality of which the Gita treats is the Absolute, such
a description of the particularized aspects of the Absolute
can only heighten the understanding of life in the light of
the Absolute.

In the list of authorities mentioned here, not only the
generality of sages are cited, but particular reference to
certain of them. Narada is singled out as a devarshi (sage
among gods). He is one who interprets Vedic wisdom to
those who belong to the non-Vedic context, and vice-versa.
He is pictured in Puranas (sacred legends) as descending
with his favourite vina (lute) from the domain of the gods
to spy on mortals and, like the Greek Hermes, to carry tales
about them again to the denizens on high. Thus he has
gained for himself the name of kalahapriya (quarrel-
making meddler). He is, everywhere used as a literary
device for purposes of revaluation of wisdom. His authority
is therefore valuable here to Arjuna who represents in
himself both the streams of wisdom.

Asita (the Dark One) was the son of the old Rik Veda
sage and poet Kasyapa, and Devala was the son of Asita (or
sometimes Asita and Devala are joined together as the name
of a son of Kasyapa.) The name "Asita" has its own
significance, since it means literally "not white", i.e. of
non-Vedic appearance. This, coupled with Vyasa who was also
"black" or "dark", and who is also mentioned in this verse,
has its own significance in the wisdom dialectics. These
sages must be imagined to occupy strategic positions;
Vyasa being quite patently the most central of revaluators
or "arrangers" in the whole field of Indian spirituality,
beginning from the Mahabharata to the Brahma Sutras and
the father of Vedanta.

The crowning conviction for Arjuna in regard to Krishna's
supreme status, however, comes from Krishna himself who
is his immediate Guru and who has himself stated this
verity about the Absolute in reference to himself earlier
in this chapter and elsewhere. The validity of this testimony
is, therefore, complete all round as required by the sastras
(text-books). Thus the acceptance by Arjuna of the claims
of Krishna becomes natural, as stated in the next verse.


sarvam tad ritam manye
yan mim vadasi kesava
na hi te bhagavan vyaktim
vidur deva na danavah

I believe that all this that You say is valid, 0 Kesava
(Krishna); neither the divinities nor the demons, 0 Lord,
know Your unique nature.


Although other authorities have been cited, Arjuna seems
to rely wholly on evidence that is centred in Krishna himself
as representing the Absolute, for he says that even the
divinities and their counterparts the danavah (Titans, i.e.
those who opposed the Vedic divinities), can never understand
the unique individual character belonging to the Absolute
as such - gods and their titan opponents have only a relativist
or tribal status.

The expression vyakti (individuation) refers to this individual
character more than to mere manifestation. This becomes clear
from the next verse, which points out that the best evidence
of the Absolute can only be from the standpoint of the Absolute
itself. All relativist approaches are different photographs
taken from different angles only, never capable of giving the
complete picture, as Bergson ably explains in his "Introduction
to Metaphysics".

Public verification is discarded in favour of a purer approach
to the Absolute through one's own consciousness. The devas
(Vedic gods) and the danavas (titan opponents of the Vedic
gods) can only get partial views of reality.

Though the danavas (Titans) are said to be inferior to the
devas (Vedic gods) in the matter of knowing the Absolute,
both have here a status of equality.

The word ritam (valid) does not mean exactly the same as
satyam (true), which latter is used when there is positive
conviction by the use of intelligence. Arjuna's present state
is one of belief rather than conviction.


svayam evi 'tmana 'tmanam
vettha tvam purushottama
bhutabhavana bhatesa
devadeva jagatpate

You Yourself indeed know Yourself by Yourself, most high
Godhead, presiding Principle of elemental expression and
of becoming, Light of shining ones, the Lord of the universe.


The best way to wisdom is through intuition, which is an
approach different from objective knowledge. The way of
intuition is to identify oneself with the object or, in other
words, to abolish, as far as possible, subjective and objective
prejudices which hide the true nature of the thing as viewed
from its own inside. The present verse supports the view that
the Absolute is best known to the Absolute by its own norms
and standards. Outside norms only measure as if by guesswork,
indirectly at best, through symbolic language or inference.
Knowledge, the object of knowledge and the meaning are
all here conceived as belonging to one normative Principle,
the Self, which is a measure of all things.

The methodological requirement of abolishing the natural tri-
basic (triputi in Vedanta terminology) tendency in
cognition is here openly discarded, and though the status
of the Absolute is still spoken of as a divinity or a
theological entity of some kind, we find it raised beyond
all such suspicions of theology, or above what is merely

This is suggested by each of the series of epithets:
purushottama (most high Godhead), bhutabhavana bhutesa
(presiding Principle of elemental expression and of
becoming), devadeva (God of divinities or Light of shining
ones, i.e. Light of lights), jagatpate (Lord of the universe).
The latter perhaps has a theistic flavour in the usual sense,
but is still capable of being understood in the light of pure
philosophy. Inserted, as the Gita is, in the Puranic context of
the Mahabharata, the author adopts a style which would apply
both to theology and philosophy at once.


vaktum arhasy aseshena
divya hy atmavibhutayah
yabhir vibhutibhir lokan
imams tvam vyapya tishthasi

Be pleased to tell me without omission of the divine
perfections of Your own Self by which specific expressions
You pervade these worlds, while remaining (apart)


In spite of certain indications given about perfections as
applied to the Absolute earlier in this chapter, here we find
Arjuna insistent on, hearing from Krishna of whatever
aspects have not been covered so far in the earlier
enumeration. This is what justifies the expression aseshena
(without remainder) by Arjuna.

In Verse 18 the eagerness of Arjuna is further underlined
and in Krishna's reply which begins with the expression
hanta Alas! well, now!) there seem to be unwillingness or
hesitation to enumerate his flimsy glories as if they were of
little importance philosophically. But Arjuna takes care, in 
Verse 17, to give his reason for asking the question in very
explicit terms. It is for fuller guidance in visualizing or
conceiving the Absolute properly. Krishna accordingly
gives Arjuna a sufficient number of instances for his

The word tishthasi (You remain) is reminiscent of the word
sthito (I stand) in Verse 42, which is derived from the
same root. The Absolute exists without being tainted by its
own manifestations in the worlds. It is not a mechanistic
relationship in which the converse of a proposition holds
good, but one in which the converse is not true. Existence
reveals God, but God is not to be identified with existence
(see Taittiriya Upanishad, ii, 6 and Gita vii, 12).


katham vidyam aham yogima
tvam sada parichintavan
keshu-keshu cha bhaveshu chintyo 'si
bhagavan maya

How shall I, constantly meditating on You, know You,
0 Mystic (yogi); in what particular expressions,
0 blessed One, are You to be cognized by me?


The reference to Krishna as a yogi in preference to all
other epithets like bhagavan (blessed One) here is
significant. As we have explained under Verse 7, vibhuti
(unique perfection or value) and Yoga here have a subtle
interconnection. It is in reference to the power of Yoga
which comes near to that of maya (principle of negation)
but devoid of any derogatory stigma, that the word Yoga
is often applied. The yogi is sometimes even compared to
a magician, and


an mixing up of values to produce entities which are
desirable or attractive is a result of the magic of yoga.
It has its origin in the Absolute. Contemplative values
emerge from the vague matrix of the Absolute as highlights
from the general background of a painting and, when they are
sufficiently respectable as properly belonging to the mystical
context, the author of such manifestations, i.e., the Absolute,
could legitimately be called a yogi. This is exactly the
meaning of the word here.

Having spoken of the Absolute as knowing Himself best,
the reference to him as a Divine Yogi here is but one degree
removed in favour of the actual enumeration of perfection
in the visible world which we are about to enter upon. The
yogi who can work magic and the effect that is magical
both belong to the Absolute.

It is suggested that in meditating on such a yogic aspect,
the seeker himself would be better guided in the path of the
Absolute. Arjuna as a seeker wants to be guided by visible
perfections of the Absolute recognizable here and now.
The expression tvam sada parichintayan (constantly meditating
on you) would seem at first sight to be a superfluous
condition when the perfections to be enumerated belong to,
a manifested world. But it should be noted that it is not
objective values alone that are referred to below. They
are values which are revealed only to the eye of a person
who has at least entered into a mood of recognition of higher
values. The values do not by themselves automatically
impress the mind of the seeker. Hence the necessity of being
always in a meditative mood. In the reference to the
gambling of the gambler for example, the implied value is
not evident on the surface, nor is the grandeur of the
Himalaya as a value, to take but two examples from the
great number of cases given.


vistarena 'tmano yogam
vibhutim cha janardana
bhuyah kathaya triptir hi
srinvato ni 'sti me 'mritam

Tell me, again in detail, 0 Janardana (Krishna), of
your balanced perfections and specific expressions,
for I am never satiated by hearing your words of'
ambrosial immortality.



The request is repeated with the additional reference not only
to desire for guidance, but in the name of sheer enjoyment
itself The "cognition" desired in the first instance is here
supported by sheer affection for the wisdom, which, taken
together with "conation" already covered in Chapter ix,
fulfils all the psychological prerequisites for a wholehearted
affiliation to wisdom, even in its most specific aspects.

Muna refers to the wisdom as the ambrosia that gives
immortality and adds further that he would never be satiated.
The seeker for the Absolute has been compared elsewhere to
a bee sipping nectar in the heart of a lotus. The more it sips,
the more the taste for wisdom increases, and because the
Absolute represents eternal value, there is no term that could
be set for its satisfaction.

Vibhuti (unique value, perfection) and Yoga (neutral union)
are here alluded to again. Instead of particularized
expressions which are going to be enumerated presently, this
more general reference is to conform to the theme of the
chapter as a whole by way of concluding this section, where
Arjuna's conversion to the standpoint of Krishna is completed.
The mutual adoption is wholehearted and strictly bipolar with
no misgivings or mistrust.


Sribhagavan uvacha
hanta te kathayishyami
divya hy atmavibhutayah
pradhanyatah kurusreshtha
na 'sty anto vistarasya me

Krishna said:
Ah ! I shall recount to you the (bright) glorious values that
pertain to Myself, (graded) according to their importance,
0 Best of the Kurus (Arjuna), for there is no end to the
elaboration of items pertaining to Me.


The section dealing with the long enumeration of specific,
unique or glorious values which emerge to view in our life as
it is actually lived, to which reference was made in the
introduction to this chapter, begins here. As in the case of
Hamlet's ghost when it was unwillingly compelled to speak


about itself, we find a characteristic interjection here,
hanta (ah !) which can mean "alack "or "alas ". The world
of the spirit has a certain hesitation or unwillingness to
become the subject of overt commonplace discussion. One
could even say that God himself likes to remain unseen,
untainted by the vulgar look of a humanity which belongs
to the market-place. It is at the insistent request of
Arjuna that a concession is made here. When God makes his
appearance to the common human eye it degenerates into a
theophany which theologians have quite rightly condemned.
This charge may at first sight appear to apply to the
enumeration in this chapter and more definitely to the next
chapter, where Arjuna has the vision of God. But those who
level these charges forget one important difference, which is
that it is not a mere theistic God which is the subject of
discussion in the Gita at all, as we have many times pointed
out, but a far higher subject. The difference will be
expressly brought out in xv, 17 and 18.

The unique values are further qualified as being divya
(divine). If theism is excluded how - can this epithet be
justified ? This would be a natural question. But if we look
at the derivation we find it is light or brightness which is
referred to, as in viii, 26. The Absolute, has its bright
aspects. Aditya, which is named first in Verse 21, has
brightness as its expression, and although some of the other
items may not have brightness explicitly as in this case, the
principle of brightness or at least positiveness, is implied
in all these enumerated values.

The term pradhanyatah (according to their importance) shows
that the list is graded, though by no means exhaustive, as
implied in the term vistarasya (to the elaboration of items)
that pertain to the Absolute. This has to be read side by side
with the two concluding verses where the secondary character
intended here for enumerated items is further underlined.


aham atma gudakesa
sarva bhutasaya sthitah
aham adis cha madhyam cha
bhutanam anta eva cha

I am the soul, 0 Gudakesa (Arjuna), seated in the
heart of all beings; and I am the beginning, and the
middle and even the end of beings.


In keeping with the treatment throughout the Gita, where
cosmology and psychology are dealt with side by side, here
the first and most important item of the glory and unique
value of the Absolute is stated in terms of the Self, before
passing on to items that have more of a cosmological
significance, To treat cosmology and psychology together is
one of the peculiarities of contemplative epistemology, as
we have already seen, in vii, 4, where the eightfold division
of the Absolute includes earth at one end and the "I" sense
at the other end.

Here, however, even the vestige of duality which persisted
in Chapter vii as between the lower and the higher Self is
further abolished.

Earlier in the present chapter there is a list of qualities or
virtues which are said to issue from the Absolute where also
duality is present between those virtues which depend upon
intelligence and others that depend upon personal attitudes.
In the present verse it is neither nature nor virtue which
is dealt with, but a series of values conceived more
unitively, and graded according to an epistemological
principle in which the Self as an overt entity is given a
primary place. Thus, the idea of the Self here approaches as
near as could possibly be to the concept of a soul, understood
as an entity rather than as being identical with the Absolute
or Brahman. Otherwise it could not be spoken of as being
seated in the heart of all beings.

Further, the reference to a beginning, middle and end, as
applied to a purer concept of the Self would become irrelevant
because the Absolute Self is beyond time. The reference to
relative time here, however, is consistent with what has been
said in Verse 2, though not with what is implied in Verse 3.
We have already explained how this chapter is on a par with
the last, although the needle here deflects a little towards
the positive appraisal of the Absolute, instead of being only
a little short of the neutral zero in Chapter ix. The norm
or the zero had to be indicated for the appreciation of the
subtle difference in treatment which we have just pointed out.
Hence the justification for Verse 3.

When the Self is seated in the heart it conforms to the
description in Verse 3, but when it is the beginning, middle
and end, it conforms to the more practical or realistic picture
implied in Verse 2. Instead of being merely the source of
beings, as mentioned in Verse 2, here it is also the middle


and even the end. The asymmetry inevitable to a realistic
approach is here rectified without losing its positive
character. Time and eternity are here brought together as
closely as possible without compromising the positive note
of the chapter.


adityanam aham vishnur
jiyotisham ravir amsuman
marichir marutam asmi
nakshatranam aham sasi

Of the Adityas I am Vishnu, of luminaries the radiant Sun;
I am Marichi of the Maruts ; among the stars I am the Moon.


The enumeration of cosmological entities representing
absolutist value gives first place to the Adityas. They
represent luminaries pertaining to each month of the year
(especially in the later brahmanas or later Vedic works).
The twelve suns are supposed to shine together at the
destruction of the universe, and Vishnu is the last of the
series. If we now think of Vishnu as representing Absolute
value, we can easily see how the eleven other suns previous
to him in the series are implicit in that very value which is
the finalized one. Vishnu-hood therefore includes and
transcends all luminous values in the context of relative time
or duration. He might thus represent Absolute time and
Absolute glory conceived together. Thus, cosmologically, we
arrive at the Absolute in terms of a supreme value in the
eternal present. The cosmological approach to the Absolute
cannot possibly go any further.

Coming one step down from this pure and comprehensive notion
of luminaries treated in the abstract, we come to the notion
of ravi (the sun) which is a unitary entity among the existing
luminaries, which would represent something unique or special,
a sort of model by itself The difference between other
luminaries and the sun, it is suggested, is not one of mere
degree, but of kind.

From an objective luminary, we come in the next instance to
Marichi, i.e., to an entity representing a mere ray of light.
It is therefore the qualitative aspect of light which gains
prominence. As the word also refers to one of the seven
sages, to the first Manu, to one of the mind-born sons of


Brahma, and to Krishna himself, the implication here is that
among the Maruts (which means indifferently "vital breath"
or "shining" or more comprehensively living beings in
general). Marichi itself represents the radiant or shining
principle. The quantitative aspect gives place to the
qualitative, and reveals the Absolute through brightness as
an abstract principle or even presence.

The last example reveals the same underlying method. In
the light of actual objective astronomy, as understood in
modern times, it would be incongruous to say that among
the stars the moon has any superiority or uniqueness; but
considered merely from its relative prominence as we look
at the full moon on a starry night, what is intended here is
unmistakably evident. Sanskrit literature has the familiar
figure of speech in which a beautiful woman surrounded by
her handmaidens is compared to the moon surrounded by
stars. The moon stands out conspicuously in its unique
glory among stars viewed in this way. It is the uniqueness
of the glory that matters here and not factual astronomy.


vedinam samavedo 'smi
devanam asmi vasavah
indriyanam manas cha 'smi
bhutanam asmi chetana

Of the Vedas I am the Sama-Veda; of the divinities I am
Indra (Vasava); in respect of the senses I am the Mind,
and of life-expressions I am (pure) Intelligence.


From the Absolute viewed from a cosmological angle, we turn
again to one in which the approach is more subjective.
The three Vedas represent those branches of learning
which adorn a brahmin who represents a spiritual man. One
versed in the Rig Veda gives importance or primacy to
devas (deities), and one versed in the Yajur Veda gives
primacy to man. The Sama Veda on the other hand, praises
soma (some juicy potent ontological principle) side by side
with the pitris (ancestors). It represents a compromising,
synthetic, middle way in spiritual learning; the passages in it
being drawn from the other two Vedas, and as Sama also
suggests song, or chanting, it represents also an element of
ecstasy. All these mark the unique distinction of the Sama


the other two Vedas. The fourth or Atharvana Veda deals with
black magic and therefore need not figure at all here in
this grouping.

The primacy given to Vasava or Indra, well known as the chief
of gods, cited in the next example, requires no explanation.
The comparison established between the mind and the senses
in the instance which follows might be objected to, as one
that is between different classes or entities, because the
mind is not generally counted as a sense organ. But the
sense organs may he said to inhere or be implied in the mind.
Mind has no being apart from them and itself may be
considered as the focal point where the sensations coming
through the different senses may be said to meet. In such a
revised sense the comparison is quite valid, especially when
we remember that the Absolute always belongs to an order of
its own, though related to its component members.
Chetana (living intelligence) is the finest form of the
expression of life. Life itself is a process of constant
becoming, and when it is not statically viewed, pure
becoming is a notion not far different from pure intelligence.
The difference is subtle and negligible. Life can be equated
with intelligence, when both are understood in the purest
terms; or intelligence may be said to be the cream of life


rudranam samkaras cha 'smi
vitteso yaksharakshasam
vasunam pavakas cha 'smi
meruh sikharinam aham

Of the Rudras I am Samkara (Siva) ; of the Yakshas and
the Rakshasas, Vittesa (Lord of Wealth), of the Vasus I am
Pavakah (the purifying elemental fire) and among heights
I am Meru.


Here we, have a series which is conceived in very earthy
or ontological terms. The name rudra, suggesting "roaring"
or "howling", can also refer to something of a necessary or
matter-of-fact order in life. The tragic aspect of life, which
Siva represents as a destroyer, need not be thought of as a
value representing imperfection. Adversity itself has its
sweet uses. There are references in the Indian scriptures to
many Rudras who, treated together, may be thought of as


representing a form of perfection or auspicious value
derived from the Absolute as suggested by the name samkara
(causing happiness) which is a synonym for Siva.
Yakshas and Rakshasas are said to represent a sort of
cousin class of entities worthy of worship who attend on
Kubera (here called Vittesa) the God of Wealth. To be
wealthy, even in a worldly sense, may be said to be
something unique and even glorious and good. So, in that
category of superiority to which Yakshas and Rakshasas
also belong, the lord of wealth occupies a unique place.
Each notion of the Absolute has to be understood from its
own frame of reference or standpoint. Perfection, goodness
or validity can distinguish entities belonging to classes or
categories which are distinct or apart. Superiority in one
category does not mean superiority in another. Thus,
Kubera or the Lord of Wealth is superior in his own context
and not in the context of devas or divinities, with which
latter group he is not to be compared.

In the hierarchy of beings belonging to Vedism, Yakshas and
Rakshasas do not occupy any laudable position, much less
Kubera, their common chief. His inclusion in the list of
unique values enumerated here must depend not so much on
goodness but rather on some tragic or strong note coming
from urjita (something valid or radical) as in Verse 41.
The norms of Vedic orthodoxy are not strictly adhered to

The Vasus, often spoken of as eight in number, are
elemental divinities suggesting brightness, goodness or

Fire, which is really one of them, is spoken of here as
representing all of them, because it implies the potency
of purification.

Mount Meru has the uniqueness in Puranic cosmology of
being the churning-rod or axis round which the known
universe revolves. Geographically speaking, Meru is
distinguished by its height, as against the Himalaya known
for its massive grandeur. When we take into account the
quality of height of mountains, Meru excels; and thus its
uniqueness is revealed, and that is where its absoluteness


purodhasam cha mukhyam
mam viddhi partha brihaspatim
senaninam aham skandah
sarasam asmi sagarah

Even in the case also) of the household priests, 0 Partha
(Arjuna), know Me the Chief, Brihaspati; of the generals
I am Skandha (the war-god); in respect of lakes I correspond
to the ocean.


Brihaspati is a wise teacher of the Vedic gods, and also
a lawgiver. His claims to Vedic orthodoxy are sometimes
questioned although, on the other hand, the authorship of
certain Vedas or passages in the Vedas are sometimes
attributed to him. He is also often referred to as the head
of the rationalism anterior to the Samkhya philosophy. He can
be taken generally. to represent traditional wisdom at its
highest, although himself belonging to a patriarchal or
familial set-up.

The leader of the family priests here, referred to as
Purodhas is a master of ceremonies in household Vedic
ritualism. In such a category Brihaspati occupies a unique
and glorious position. He represents absolutism as far as it
can go in such a relativist framework.

The war-god Skanda represents prowess in the military
context. He stands for a form of positive spirituality which
is not merely a form of impotent piety.

In the lake and ocean reference, we should think of a person
taking a walk through a district of beautiful lakes and,
while he is enjoying their beauty, his eye catches a glimpse
of the ocean which dominates the whole scene. A sense of
wonder marks the difference between the two appreciations.
The object of the author here is to underline this qualitative
difference. By referring to the ocean among lakes quite
abruptly along with other examples in the same verse in
which the values are more personal, it is not against the
philosophy of the Gita to treat of physical entities alongside
spiritual factors such as the ego or the mind.


maharshinam bhrigur aham
giram asmy ekam aksharam
yajnanam japayajno 'smi
sthavaranam himalayah

Of the great hermit-sages I am Bhrigu; of articulated words
I am the one-syllable (Aum); of sacrifices I am the sacrifice
of silent repetition; of immovables I am the Himalaya.


Bhrigu typifies another type of spirituality, conforming to
what could be called the pattern of rishi or hermit. They are
different from priests or even pontiffs; being recluses or
forest-dwellers, related more to the natural than to the
social man. Their life conforms to standards of pure mystical
morality free from the rigid obligatory framework of social
rules. Although the authorship of the Veda is attributed to
them sometimes, as also a patriarchal status of lawgivers,
they are innocent and pure personalities who may be called
originals in the spiritual pattern that each of them

Many Bhrigus have been referred to in ancient Indian
writing; even a whole race of Bhrigus being sometimes
mentioned. It will suffice for us to understand here that
this type of spiritual person has his absolute counterpart
in a Bhrigu, known generically through the ages associated
with fire or its kindling.

The one syllable referred to in this verse is evidently Aum
and how Aum represents the Absolute has been explained in
the Mandukya Upanishad.

In the matter of repeating holy formulae, how this could
be considered as a form of sacrifice is suggested in iv, 28.
The superiority of silent prayer to loudly uttered formulae
comes from the fact that the former approximates to
contemplation which is subjective and involves no outer
expression. The more outward a prayer or sacrifice is, the
more inferior is its grade in the true contemplative sense.
Loud prayers and elaborate ritual are often attributed in the
Puranas (legends) to rakshasas (fierce demons) like Ravana
or stalwarts like Bhima. One is asked to say one's prayers
in lonely privacy even in Christianity, and only Pharisees
are supposed to make a public display of piety. A life
dedicated to the Absolute should conform to contemplative
requirements rather than to social standards.
The superiority of contemplative sacrifices is also praised
indirectly in iv, 33.

The immobility or stability or radical strength which is
here singled out as the unique or specific quality of the
Himalaya suggests the same subjective attitude implicit in
the other examples. A person who is withdrawn and whose
spirit is attuned to his inmost Self, gains a stability or
steadiness which resembles the immobility of the Himalaya.


asvatthah sarvavrikshanam
devarshinim cha naradah
gandharvanam chitrarathah
siddhanam kapilo munih

Of trees (I am) Asvattha, and of divine sages, Narada,
of Gandharvas, Chitraratha, (and) of those of psycho-physical
attainments, Kapila the recluse.

Here the unitive principle on which the instances converge
is that of a neutrality between extremes rather than one-sided
glory of any kind.

The Asvattha tree (ficus religiosa) or banyan, has aerial
roots and therefore derives nourishment both from the
ground and, theoretically at least, from the atmosphere.
Although there are more glorious trees, this neutral example
is chosen here because of having its roots as it were in
heaven and its branches in the human world, as more
completely pictured in the sequence of verses at the
beginning of Chapter xv. It is not famed for its utility but
has been valued for its religious associations throughout
the ages in India, and it corresponds in some ways to the
Ygdrassil of Scandinavian mythology.

Narada is a typical go-between for gods and men and his
nickname is "scandal-monger". He is known as a devarshi
(divine seer or sage) but his status as such is open to
question. He is a kind of intermediate product between two
different sets of spiritual values.

As for the gandharvas, they also occupy an intermediate
position between regular heavenly divinities, such as Indra,
and mortals. Chitraratha, as the name indicates, is the
possessor of an ornamental chariot. Gandharvas are custodians
of the soma plant with which they engaged themselves in
healing the devas (divinities), in which matter they became
rivals to the latter, Indra himself taking away the soma
medicine by force. From all this we gather that the gandharvas
belong to the mortal world as much as to the heavenly, and
therefore represent a mysterious paradoxical value through
their chief, here named Chitraratha.

The eight siddhis (psycho-physical attainments) are not
divine qualities, but merely perfections attainable from the
mundane side. Lightness of body, for example, does


not imply any supernatural quality, but can be understood
merely as a psycho-physical attainment within the reach of
man. The siddhas are those who possess such attainments,
and are said to inhabit alternately the higher and lower
altitudes of the Himalaya.

Kapila, the reputed founder of the Samkhya (rationalist)
system, being of the heterodox school, rightly represents the
group, especially as the siddhis (psycho-physical attainments)
mentioned in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras have, in the Samkhya of
Kapila, a natural counterpart. Rationalism and yogic
attainments meet in the person of Kapila and he thus
represents a unique spiritual value belonging to a certain
well-known context which is that of munis (recluses).


uchchaihsravasam asvanam
viddhi mam amritodbhavam
airavatam gajendranam
naranam cha naradhipam

Know Me among horses to be Uchchaihsravas, born of the
ambrosia of immortality; of noble elephants, Airavata,
and of men, the King.


From examples suggesting higher hypostatic values we come
now to some belonging to the side of ordinary creation,
such as the horse and the elephant.

The equestrian quality in a horse and the elephantine
quality in an elephant are the aspects in which their own
specific reality remains fixed. It is the specific quality
which always contains the virtue or value.

Taking the example of Uchchaihsravas, the high-eared and
neighing, or in other words, very sensitive horse of Indra
which was obtained on the churning of the ocean of milk, the
author puts his finger on one important item of unique
though utilitarian value which comes within the range of
human life.

The milk ocean is symbolic of the, expansive world of values
belonging to the human environment. Churning throws out
specific values from the general matrix of values.
This general matrix is here referred to as the ambrosia of
immortality, because eternal values are to be kept in mind
when we deal with contemplation of the Absolute.


This horse then is not only a prototype of all horses but is
supposed to excel all others and in this way is related to the
unique value of the Absolute which, by itself, cannot be
conceived by human thought in any definite form.
The case of the elephant is a parallel instance. It is also
born from the Ocean of Milk or Values.

The example of a king among men is also very striking in
that it serves to bring into relief the distinction which in
principle exists between just one among many and that
unique value which gives to the individual a totally different
status. A king might resemble a soldier in details of dress
and appearance, but there is a qualitative difference in their
status which is important to recognize. To mistake a king for
an ordinary soldier may sometimes have disastrous consequences.
Thus the unique value of a king among men is brought into
relief through this example.


ayudhanam aham vajram
dhenunam asmi kamadhuk
prajanas cha 'smi kandarpah
sarpanam asmi vasukih

Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; of cows I am the
milk-yielder of all desires; of progenitors I am the
god of erotics; of serpents I am Vasuki (their chief).


The distinct qualities belonging to weapons or to entities
affecting human life adversely or favourably in a more
ordinary sense are enumerated here.

The thunderbolt of Indra is the fiercest of weapons and the
poison of the king of serpents can have ominous significance.
They thus enter into the world of spiritual values in
different ways.

The Cow of Plenty of Indian mythology occupies an intermediate
position covering all and sundry values comprising both
necessity and luxury.

Man must live and multiply, and the principle of fecundity
involved here is a value which is hypostatized in the chief
of progenitors as also found in Indian mythology.
Vasuki, as the king of serpents, represents a negative value
gaining its status through potency rather than fecundity.
Potency is one of the important component parts of what is
generally understood as spiritual and therefore cannot be


anantas cha 'smi naganam
varuno yadasam aham
pitrinam aryama cha 'smi
yamah samyamatam aham

And I am Ananta of Nagas; I am Varuna of the denizens of
the deep; and Aryama of the ancestors: I am Yama of


The entities included here suggest on the one hand time
or eternity. "Ananta", which means "endlessness", is the snake
of Vishnu. Here it is the negative, dark, or existential
aspects of eternity that are suggested by these various
entities. They may be looked upon as representing human
values belonging to the background of the personality,
where retrospection and the consequent element of regret
are also involved. Varuna, for example, is regarded
sometimes as the counterpart of Mitra, the former having to
do with darkness and the latter with the light of day.

The nagas, or cobras with human faces, in mythology,
definitely belong to the nether world and it is safe to
conjecture that they belong to some form of outmoded or
overcovered spiritual tradition. What is too negative or
retrospective when we think of such semi-human cobras is
balanced or corrected when we think of Ananta, where Time
is treated without asymmetry as the eternal present, a
notion in keeping with the absolutist outlook.

With Varuna the presiding deity of the sea and the watery
element in general, the negative character to which we have
referred is further confirmed, as water has more inertia
implied in it than fire. Varuna is much feared, as evident
from Vedic prayers, because he is supposed to know all the
faults of his worshippers, even the winking of an eye. He is
not just some god high above the world, but part and parcel
of the laws of existence which regulate human life here and

Aryama as the chief of the ancestors is more connected
with vaishyas (farmer-merchants) and women rather than with
the highest class. Pure or higher values are not implied in
such an entity. Ancestor worship has its retrospective lag


which is intended here to be corrected or balanced by the
reference to Aryama, who perhaps represents the highest or
furthermost point to which negative ancestor worship could
be lifted.

Yama is always located in the south, and vis-a-vis the
north has always occupied a place corresponding to Hades.
If heaven is in the Himalaya, Hades may be said to be at
the pointed toe of South India. This does not, however, mean
that Yama has not been given an important place. In fact,
in Vedanta, Yama sometimes (in Katha Upanishad for instance)
occupies the place of a guru. He represents the first man,
with his sister Yami the first woman. His name suggests
strict control and as Dharma-Raja he is in charge of natural
or spiritual laws and judgments bearing on justice. The
stern or inexorable character of Yama, like retribution,
is a negative factor, in keeping with the other values
alluded to above.


prahladas cha 'smi daityanam
kalah kalayatam aham
mriganam cha mrigendro 'ham
vainateyas cha pakshinam

And I am Prahlada of the Daityas; among bases of
measurement I am time; and of beasts I am the lord of
beasts (the lion); and Vainateya of birds.


The Daityas have always been considered enemies of the
Vedic gods. They also inhabit the nether world. At a time
when the notion of Vishnu as representing the Absolute
came into vogue, one of the Daityas called Prahlada caught
on to the new idea, while his father Hiranyakashipu
opposed him on this point. Vishnu himself is said to have
given recognition to Prahlada by making him a chief
among Daityas. As one capable of appreciating absolutism,
though still belonging to a non-Vedic context, Prahlada
attains that unique value justifying his inclusion in the
list here.

Time which consists of moments is included in the abstract
notion of pure time which is here called kala. Each unitive
moment is included in the general notion. It is with these
time-units that all worthwhile measurements as in
astronomy are made possible. Thus pure time represents
the Absolute in relation to moments, based on which
calculations are possible.


There are many animals in the forest, but the lion or the
tiger, and especially the lion, has a striking, unmistakable
supremacy which overshadows all the others. In the sense
of thus dominating everything else of the same kind, the
lion is here held up as an example.

Vainateya is a mysterious bird often referred to as the
brother of the dawn because of its glory. The fabled
phoenix is a bird which is self-immolated to be born again
at once and represents the eternal present. Some such idea is
likely to be implied in Vainateya, which by lineage is also
related to Garuda (Vinata) the hypostatic bird-vehicle of
Vishnu. Birds themselves, with their bright plumage and
aerial flight in the glory of the bright sky, are symbols of
the spirit of man seeking freedom, and it is therefore but
apt that the mystery bird Vainateya should be given here a
prime place as an absolutist value.


pavanah pavatam asmi
ramah sastrabhritam
aham jhashanam makaras
cha 'smi srotasam asmi jahnavi

Of purifiers I am the wind; I am Rama of bowmen; of fishes
I am the makara; of streams I am the Ganges.


Fire which had the name of purifier in Verse 3 of this
chapter is not the only purifier. The wind is expressly
spoken of as such here. We know that water also cleanses
The particular sense in which the wind is spoken of as a
purifier here can be got from the fact, that the wind is an
ally of fire (agni) which is a supreme purifier. In helping fire
to purify, a chance or selective influence is exerted by the

It assists the fire to burn away dross and thus let purer
values remain. It can thus be thought of as the wind of
occasionalism or chance. The sifting or selection of inherent
or lasting values may be regarded as belonging to the
chance-like gusts of the wind.

As a bowman, Rama excels all others, not only because of
correct marksmanship, but because of the absolutist
character of the spiritual value he represents in his own
personality. In the Ramayana every weapon of Ravana is
met by something superior on the part of Rama. Weapons
here represent spiritual values in the process of revaluation.
The values that


Ravana is capable of representing are finally superseded by
the weapon of all weapons known as Rama-bana which is
Absolute in its character. It must be in this additional sense
that Rama may be said to be unique as an archer.
The makara is a semi-mythological "fish" perhaps resembling the
Gangetic cetacean gavialis gangeticus. It is notorious for
its voracity, and just as the lion dominates the forest, so
this makara dominates life in the waters. Hence the place given
to it here.

The holiness of the Ganges is well known. It is believed
that a dip in its waters has the power of absolving one from
all sin. In another symbolic sense also the status of the
Ganges becomes unique in that it represents the flow of
beneficent values originating from the head of Siva. It is
thus a perennial value flowing through time for the benefit
of man.


sarganam adir antas cha
madhyam chai 'va'ham arjuna
adhyatmavidya vidvanam
vadah pravadatam aham

(In the structure) of cantos (or chapters) I am the beginning,
end and also the middle, 0 Arjuna; of the sciences (I am) the
Science of the Self; I am the dialectic of pre-eminent


The items here belong to the category of speech,literature,
or branches of wisdom. It is a well-known rule in
rhetoric or composition that in a paragraph or section of a
book, the most important or conspicuous positions are the
beginning, end and middle. It is true that a cosmological
interpretation can be given to the word sarga, but in view
of the fact that such a reference has already been covered
in Verse 20, and also considering the unity of this verse,
it is more likely that the rhetorical interpretation is

In any work the essential content is likely to be mentioned
at the, beginning, middle or end. The structure of the Gita
itself bears this out.

Especially when understood as Self-knowledge, the Vedanta
is often referred to as the crowning jewel of wisdom, or
as the basis of all knowledge. As it deals with the Absolute
itself this description is justified. The Upanishads refer
to that kind of knowledge by knowing which, everything here
is known, where


the unitive grandeur of Upanishadic Self-knowledge is
extolled. Such passages make the meaning here quite clear.
When two people discuss, there is an interplay of dialectic
implied in the situation, especially when such discussion enters
into very subtle or specific matters of spiritual value. This
implied dialectic is here called vada which represents the
neutral Absolute, standing as it were between two differing
points of view in theses cleverly sustained by adepts in the
dialectic art. The prefix pra being held to indicate utkarsha
(special glory) and khyati (fame), supports the meaning here of
a specially gifted dialectician. If this kind of subtle dialectic
is not meant here, vada can just mean reasonable or normal
argument for finding the truth as against jalpa (overbearing
wrangling) and vitanda (idle carping) as Sankara suggests. But,
in our opinion, dialectic is consistent with the subject-matter
of the Gita, as we have many times said.


akshardnam akiiro 'smi
dvandvah samasikasya cha
aham evd 'kshayah kalo
dhata 'ham visvatomukhah

Among syllabic letters I am the A and of compounds I am the
paired-compound; I am also unexpended Time; I am the
Maintainer, universally facing.


The vowel A here called akara is implied in every other
sound of the syllabaries (as in Sanskrit and other Indian
languages) whether vowel or consonant. Even in vowels that
sound different, the basic sound A is merely modified by
the position of the speech organs. This idea is found also
in the Tamil Tiru-Kural. As the common basis of all sounds
the unique value of A among all syllables is quite evident.
There are many ways by which words are compounded with
others. The various types are called samasas. Of the
component parts of most of them, one is treated as more
important than the other. But in the particular compound
known as the dvandva (paired-compound) both components
are given equal status. This reference is very apt and
supports the contention put forward here that the author
thinks in terms of dialectic rather than, as often thought,
of a reasoning leading to monism. The Absolute cannot be
conceived of except through the method of neutralizing or
cancelling-out of counterparts.


The "here" and the "hereafter", the "universal" and the
"particular", the "one" and the "many", have all to be treated
unitively, after being conceived as a pair. That mysterious
hyphen which joins the counterparts into a central or
Absolute value, which is often but a mere wonder, is the
nearest approach to the understanding of the Absolute which
itself is beyond the reach of mind and work.

The reference to kala (pure Time), which is unexpended And
therefore pure, represents the same subtle value. This value
belongs to the domain of intuition in the process of pure
becoming, it has to be complemented by its own counterpart
which is suggested by the word dhatah (maintainer) in the next
item that follows. If a certain value in life is derived from
its relation to Time as by slow maturation, there are others
which belong to Space. These may be called horizontal values,
while those related to Time (in this sense) may be called
vertical. The reference to Time as a unique value here, side
by side with "gift" coming from every side calls for some
philosophical explanation.

The world as we see it is established in space, although by
intuition we can understand it also as a flux in pure time or
becoming. But even as a flux we are able to be related to it in
a continued or sustained manner. The world established in space
has something stable about it which, though not static, relates
human life to various human values, some ordinary and some
superior. But both these sets of values, horizontal and vertical,
should be thought of as belonging to the contemplative order. The
spatial or horizontal values may be spoken of as gifts coming
from the hands of the original Creator, resulting from the relation
which a person is capable of having between himself and the
value coming to him from the Author of things. These values may
be said to be established in the world of space rather than time.
The word visvatomukhah (universally facing) implies not only
the four points of the compass, but all directions necessary to
face the universe in every way. The universe itself is a value
seen by a universal face. Thus it is a supreme gift as secondarily
implied by the word dhata (given).

Both these last two analogies have to be fitted into one time-
space framework to result in the vision of the Absolute intended
by the author here.


mrityuh sarvaharas cha 'ham
udbhavas cha bhavishyatam
kirtih srir vak cha narinam
smritir medha dhritih kshama


I am all-engulfing Death, and the Source throwing up
all things to be; and of womanly values, fame, grace,
speech, memory, willpower, firmness and endurance.


The first line of this verse suggests a kind of paradox. The
process of becoming is viewed both prospectively and
retrospectively at once. Retrospectively viewed, inasmuch as
everything is lost in "yesterday's ten thousand years" of time
called mriytuh (death). But time prospectively viewed is also a
creative principle in which all the tomorrows are implied. The
two examples taken together leaves us with a notion of the
Absolute in the context of becoming as used by Bergson.
The unique value mentioned above is of the nature of an
abstraction, which has at once to be supported by an example and
for this purpose it would evidently seem that Vyasa enumerates
the qualities which distinguish womanhood in the second line

Seven qualities are mentioned, and the relation of these
qualities with the subject mentioned in the first line, could
only be in that each quality is the resultant of two opposing
forces in creative becoming represented in the personality of

Woman represents nature or becoming more than man, and this
is perhaps the reason why her example is chosen here.
Moreover the qualities of manhood have been mentioned

Of the qualities enumerated, the first, kirtih (fame) is a
general or all-covering one. By merely being beautiful, a woman
might not come up to the requirements of true womanhood.
There is a group of qualities which contribute to the fame or
reputation of a woman. For example, a beautiful woman might
be immodest and lose her reputation.

The next quality which enhances the value of womanhood is
sri (well-being or grace). This suggests harmony. A woman who
is worried or in want may be said to lose this grace and become
a nagging nuisance.

Vak (speech) does not suggest ability to chatter but rather the
apt and pleasing use of speech which also implies the correct
adjustment of the personality, neither too positively into
exaltation, nor negatively into depression.


Smriti (memory) gives depth to human personality. A man or
woman without memory becomes easily a misfit in his or her
normal environment. Hysteria might refer to such a maladjustment.
Many women lack that medha (will-power) which alone can
balance the personality and keep it normal. They are often
subject to emotional crises, and the physiological and organic
demands made on womanhood make them weak in the matter of
taking firm decisions involving the power of will. When women
do have this will-power they get that distinction or value which
is here noted as an expression of the Absolute.

Dhriti (firmness) is also a balancing factor like the previous
will-power. At a moment of disaster, like the death of a near
relative, true womanhood expresses itself in the form of this
kind of firmness, when many men around them might break down.
The last attribute of true womanhood is perhaps the most
distinguishing quality. Kshama (endurance) is expressed by a
nurse like Florence Nightingale when she had to tend thousands
of wounded troops. From the Indian scene we can readily think
of the patient endurance of a Sita under the injustice of a Rama,
or a Sakuntala who forgave and forgot the gross injustice of
Dushyanta till chance reconciled them.

In every one of these, qualities we should recognise an emergent
value resulting from the neutralization of opposite tendencies.
Fickleness is said to be normal to women, even by Shakespeare.
But this could be balanced into a properly feminine quality by
its opposite of faithfulness, and when the mean is struck the
unique values of womanhood mentioned here emerge.


brihatsama tatha samnam
gayatri chandasam aham
masanam margasirsho 'ham
ritunam kusumakarah

Likewise, of hymns I am the brihat-sama; of metres I am the
gayatri; of months I am margasirsha and of seasons the


From the present verse onwards absolutist values belonging
to the category of luxuries are grouped together, leading
gradually to actualities of the contemporary period in which
the author himself lived, by way of concluding his series.
In xv, 1, we find that the great Asvattha (fig) tree has
leaves which are compared to the hymns of the Vedas.
Further in xv, 2, its buds are referred to as objects of sense.
It is therefore easily derivable that Vedic chants are items of
luxury value, although high up in the scale of such values
within the relative domain.

Much importance is attached to the saving effect of chants
such as the brihat-sama and the gayatri by Brahmins.
The word gayatri is said to derive its name from its power
of saving the chanter. Much speculation has been lavished
by orthodoxy on the esoteric meanings and implications of
the metre of these chants, and the Upanishads revalue the
gayatri (e.g., Brihadaranyaka v. xiv, 1-8 and Maitri 6-7).
The potency of the chants is said to depend upon these
esoteric considerations. In the Sama-Veda the brihat-sama
refers to a special kind of metre which is considered as very
potent in its own proper context, as the gayatri is in
morning and evening prayers.

The month of margasirsha, which comes in December, corresponds
in India to that resting period in nature resembling the
systole of the heart-beat. The overt phenomenal happenings
are on either side of this resting-period. The harvests have
been gathered in, and it is too early for the ground to be
prepared for the next crop. The Indian sky is mostly clear
at this time, and it is also the time for nightly drummings
in the villages; drummings which go on to the small hours of
the morning. It is thus a resting period generally favourable
for contemplation, although the leisure afforded is often
misused. Leisure constitutes the luxury item here.
How the flowering season of the Indian spring is an expression
of a value in nature is easily understood.


diyutam chalayatim asmi
tejas tejasvinam aham
jayo 'smi vyavasjyo 'smi
sattvam sattvavatim aham

I am the chance-risk of (irresponsible) gamblers, I am the
brilliance of the brilliant (people); I am victory; I am
decisiveness; I am the goodness of those established in the


Miscellaneous everyday virtues as revealed in human society
may be said to terminate the list of values here. It should
be noticed, as we have pointed out, that it is not a
conventional set of virtues that are held up to view. The
gambler has a certain bold and skilful nonchalance, with an
attitude of abandon ready to risk all for what he prizes
most. One who is ready to lose all will gain all, as the
Biblical parable says. Thus the gambler's gamble, although
it could hardly be counted as a virtue in the conventional
social sense, has an intrinsic spiritual value in the context
of pure absolutism. The sailor who risks his life for
someone who has fallen into the sea is a gambler with life-
values and is superior to many virtuous socially superior

When we examine closely the connotations of the terms
employed, we find on the one hand, dhyuta (the uncertain
prize won in gambling) and on the other hand, the attitude
of irresponsibility implied in the word chalayatam (one
who cheats, breaks his contract, or is incapable of keeping
his word), i.e., one who bases his conduct on chance. Thus
between risk and chance there is an implied value which is
here called dhyuta. It may be said to be full of
indetermination, occasionalism or pure luck, good, bad or
indifferent. A carefree abandon is here extolled.
Tejas, which primarily means brilliance, implies an
intellectual or spiritual alertness, a constant readiness
or preparedness to respond to any contingency, however
hazardous it might be. One hears the expressions brahma-
tejas and kshattra-tejas: the former suggesting intellectual
enthusiasm for truth; and the latter a moral enthusiasm to
see the truth. prevail.

It is easy to see how victory is a positive value, as also

Sattvam (goodness) derives its Value from satyam (truth)
as explained in xvii, 26. There are people who love truth for
its own sake, and conform to the requirements of Absolute
truth directly or indirectly, the latter through truthful habits
to be described in later chapters. But goodness established
in truth transcends the region of mere gunas (qualities)
which operate within nature only, and reaches pure goodness
in itself, thus conforming to the Absolute directly.


vrishninam vasudevo 'smi
pandavanam dhanamjayah
muninam apy aham vyasah
kavinam usana kavih


Of the Vrishnis I am Vasudeva, of the Pandavas, Dhanamjaya
(Arjuna), of the recluses also I am Vyasa, of the poets the
poet Usana.


Before closing the list of values the author refers to
himself, and to Krishna, Arjuna and the poet Usana. This
seems to be by way of putting down the signature of the
people concerned or, as in the closing scene of a drama,
the appearance of all the main characters together. The
veil of illusion is here thinned out as much as possible,
and spiritual values which are intended throughout the
chapter are revealed directly through the personalities
who figure in the work itself.

The one principle which may be said to justify the
inclusion of these figures in the same verse is that they
sail in the same boat as revaluators of ancient wisdom.
Krishna the leader of a clan called Vrishnis is mentioned
first. They were a heretical and heterodox group, not of
brahmins but of kshattriyas (warriors) and vaishyas

Vasudeva is the name of Krishna as the son of Vasudeva,
chief of this clan.

Arjuna too is given that unique value which has been the
subject of discussion in the whole chapter, most probably
because he was a typical purva pakshin (critic taking one
side, a sceptic or questioner) in the context of absolutist
wisdom. By prowess also he excels as a simple warrior,
justifying his position even in the Puranic (legendary)

Vyasa's claims as a representative of the same high value
are quite evident since he is the author of this work on the
subject. The same signature is repeated in xviii, 75 and as
the author of the Brahma-Sutras (aphorisms strung together
dealing with the Science of the Absolute) also, which are
referred to in xiii, 4, his claims are doubly established.
As for Usana, the poet, his claim to be included in this list
of wisdom-revaluators consists in that he did not belong
strictly to the orthodox context. As a teacher of the Daityas,
enemies of the Vedic gods, mentioned in Verse 30, he was
credited with great wisdom, while at the same time he was
a poet who wrote epics rather than sastras (text-books) on
the Science of the Absolute. The spirit of these epics
cannot have been like that of Homer, judging from the fact
that Socrates, according to Plato, had a poor opinion of
Homer, while here the poet Usana is extolled as a true
representative of wisdom.


dando damayatam asmi
niter asmi jigishatam
maunam chai'va'smi guhyanam
jnanam jnanavatam aham

Of rulers I am the sceptre, of those who seek victory I am
the statesmanship, and also in esoterics I am silence, and
of knowers I am knowledge.


Even the thin vestige of realism attached to the values
enumerated in Verse 37 is here removed, and the items are
more of the nature of signs, i.e., figuratively treated as in
metonymy. The real concrete object loses its importance and
its symbol or name or the concept representing it comes into
prominence. We should take the lakshanartha (figurative
meaning) instead of the vachartha (literal or direct.
meaning). This is akin to what in medieval scholasticism was
known as conceptualism or nominalism.

The danda (rod or staff) referred to here is the symbol of
power rather than merely a big stick. It resembles the sceptre
of kingly power.

There is the subtle element of statesmanship or discretion
as the better part of valour, justice or fairness, which is here
referred to as niti, as an important factor in gaining victory.
Like good sportsmanship, it involves both giving and taking,
and these values do not depend on any hard and fast rule.
The situation has to be watched for the laying down of a
particular policy. This intuitive quality is the value referred
to here.

In all matters of esoteric significance here called guhyah
(secrets) there is place for an all-inclusive and subjective
attitude of silence which enhances the value of each secret as
such. A charm which has been rationally analysed loses its
flavour or potency as a charm. The same applies to the
suggestive strength of certain medicines.

Finally there is the reference to knowledge itself as a supreme
value in man.

In the present list the items are more like the ideas of Plato,
such as beauty, justice, and so forth. The opposite is true of
the list given in vii, 8-11, where the ontological principles
of existence, and not merely formal or abstract ideas, are


The list there, instead of revealing the Absolute, can be
looked upon, when taken too realistically, as tending to
hide the Absolute.


yach cha 'pi sarvabhutanam
bijam tad aham arjuna
na tad asti vin yat syan
maya bhutam characharam

And further, what is the seed of all beings, that I
am, 0 Arjuna; nor is there anything moving or unmoving
that can exist without Me.


It will be noticed that there is reference to the Absolute as
a seed in this verse as in vii, 10. In that verse buddhi (pure
reason) was also referred to, while knowledge was referred
to in Verse 38 here. In the seed as a value representing the
Absolute we touch the core which is common to both the series
in Chapters vii and x. The series in vii, 8, may be said
to refer to existential factors, while here it is to
abstractions tending to be hypostatic.

Further, the reference to moving and unmoving entities
would seem to suggest that the seed here represents the
central or neutral ground between the two sets of entities
listed in Chapters vii and x. This common core can be no
other than the Absolute itself, as understood in perfect


na'nto 'sti mama divyanam
vibhatinam paramtapa
esha tu 'ddestah prokto
vibhuter vistaro maya

There is no end to My divine unique values, 0 Paramtapa
(Arjuna); what has been said of these unique values is
but indicatory of their (possible) extensive elaboration.


This verse is intended to point out that the list of values
so far enumerated is not exhaustive. There is more left out
in it than included. The term uddesatah (approximative) shows
that these values are neither to be taken too realistically 
nor too theoretically. They have to be understood in the spirit


in the text and should not lead to subtle forms of idolatry or

The word vistara (extensive elaboration of detail) suggests not
only that the list is incomplete but that it is possible to
enter into minuter subdivisions under each of the items
enumerated. In this sense we can see that there is no limit to
be set for such a process of enumeration of values of the


yad-yad vibhutimat sattvam
srimad urjitam eva va
tad-tad eva 'vagachchha tvam
mama tejomsa sambhavam

Whatever entity is unique in perfected value, in grace or
in radical strength, understand that to have manifested
itself from a (mere fractional) spark of My brilliance.


The word sattvam (entity) covers ideological or conceptual
entities such as implied in the sun of Verse 21, and
statesmanship in Verse 38. Various presences or holy values
have been included side by side with others which do not
particularly belong to the context of holiness. Abstract
and concrete entities have been included indifferently as
representing subtle value-factors.

They are all brought under one sweeping generalization here,
under three headings, namely those that are (1) of unique value,
(2) those that represent grace, abundance, harmony or order, and
(3) anything that stands for vigour, strength, wilful dominating
power or a positive attitude in general, deriving validity from

The whole of the Absolute is not required to give that unique
touch to values as we cognize them in everyday life. The glory
of the Absolute has infinite potency and if we think of it as
a brilliant light, only a minute spark of it is all that is
necessary to give that uniqueness which is indicated in the
entire enumeration listed in this chapter.


athava bahunai 'tena
kim jnatena tavi 'rjuna
vishtabhya 'ham idam kritsnam
ekamsena sthito jagat


But what use is there for you, Arjuna, in this
pluralistic knowledge? Supporting this whole
world by a single fraction (of Myself), I remain
still, as ever).


The word bahuna (many, numerous, plurality) suggests
numerical rather than quantitative vastness. The
implication is that of the two ways of understanding;
namely the unitive and the pluralistic. The unitive
comprehends the Absolute more effectively than if we
were to think of taking in individually all the endless
items which go to make up the notion of the Absolute.
The Absolute is, as we have said, a gold coin for which
no amount of small change can ever suffice, as Bergson put
it. Moreover, whatever aspect of the Absolute could be
brought under enumeration is but a small fraction of what
remains of the Absolute beyond the power of enumeration.
In other words, whatever we are able to enumerate are
factors belonging to the waking world. There are other
subjective or subconscious factors which make up the
totality of existence, belonging to the two other states
of consciousness, dream and deep sleep, and also what is
often called the fourth state of consciousness, the turiya.
It is easy to concede therefore, as mentioned here, that the
Absolute remains unaffected, quite without diminution in
principle, after it has supported the visible world with but
a spark or fraction.

In fact, it is in the light of the well-known peace invocation,
where plenitude taken away from plenitude leaves plenitude
as a remainder: (aum, purnna madah purnna medam purnnat
purnam-udachyate; purnasya purnamadaya purna-meva-vasishyate:
"Plenitude is all that is invisible. Plenitude is all that
is visible. Plenitude was born out of plenitude. When
plenitude is absorbed into plenitude, plenitude alone
remains".); that we should understand here the meaning of
the word sthitah (I remain), as the Absolute, remaining
without suffering any quantitative decrease, even though
supporting the visible universe with a fraction of itself.
This chapter, read side by side with the next chapter,
where a multiplicity of divine, holy or sacred entities come
to be considered from Arjuna's, Samjaya's or Krishna's own
standpoint, would seem at first sight to have such a
miscellaneous character as would perhaps give the impression
that they have more of a religious than a philosophical


Although this would apply to a greater extent to the next
chapter, and more especially with those parts of it which
are attributed to Arjuna or Samjaya who are religious-
minded characters, a close examination of the contents of
both chapters reveals that there is no deflection from the
philosophical approach to the subject of the Absolute.
This last verse of the present chapter brings back the
discussion to a full recognition of the philosophical import
of the notion of the Absolute, after the long digression in
the enumeration of specific. values. Taking the chapter as a
whole without this particular digression, it has a status on
a par with Chapter ix, especially when we note in Verse 4
that the Absolute understood here comprises equally both
existence and non-existence.

The spirit in which this chapter is conceived is therefore
not a religious one and this remark applies equally to the
next chapter where the same kind of digression is seen
perhaps more elaborately marked. We shall see how even
the next chapter conforms to the requirements of a strict
science or a philosophy of the Absolute when we adhere
closely to the main development of the theme in the words
of Krishna himself, without being carried away by what
will be incidentally mentioned through the intermediary
characters of a Samjaya or an Arjuna.

We have only to examine the words of Krishna at the end
of the next chapter (xi, 54-55) to see the continuity of
the theme in spite of these inevitable digressions which
have been purposely introduced by the author to bring out
the specific potent or positive aspects of the Absolute.
The position at the end of the present chapter could
therefore he summed up as follows: ethics, religion and
a way of life in general which would cure Arjuna of his
abnormal attitude in the midst of danger are still to be
described in the various chapters that follow. The
enumeration of vibhutis perfections) in this chapter only
supplies the simple basis for the superstructure which is
still to be erected so that the Gita teaching could do
positive good in curing abnormality and establishing the
spiritual aspirant represented by Arjuna on the proper
progressive path of a life of wisdom. The enumerations of
items here is therefore to be understood as being related
to three kinds of life-values: (1) those in which the
forward-flowing urge of the Absolute principle is evidenced


(vibhutimat), (2) those in which the neutral balancing of
neutral tendencies leads to grace, goodness or bounty in
everyday life (srimat) and (3) those in which the radical,
stable, valid or lasting aspect of Absolute truth or reality
(urjitam) is evidenced. In all three cases, values are the
resultants of the neutralization of opposing tendencies in
the process of flux or becoming characteristic of reality as
a whole, tending to produce perfect, specific models of
value, each unique in its own category or sub-category, of
which there could be a great number.

ity srimad bhagavadgitasupanishatsu brahmavidyayam
yogasastre srikrishnarjunasamvade
vibhutiyogo nama dasamo 'dhyayah

Thus ends in the Upanishads of the Songs of God, in the
Science of the Wisdom of the Absolute, in the Dialogue
between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, the Tenth Chapter, entitled
Unitive Recognition of Positive Values.