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 Bhagavad Gita in English >> Self-Knowledge and Enlightenment- Chapter 7

Bhagavad Gita in English - Chapter 7
Self-Knowledge and Enlightenment - Chapter 7

Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, listen how you shall know Me fully without any doubt, with your mind attached to Me, taking refuge in Me and performing spiritual practices. (7.01)


I shall impart to you both the transcendental knowledge and the transcendental experience or a vision, after knowing that nothing more remains to be known in this world. (7.02)

Those who have transcendental experience become perfect (RV 1.164.39). Everything becomes (as though) known when the Supreme Being is heard, reflected, meditated upon, seen, and known (BrU 4.05.06). The need to know all other things becomes irrelevant with the dawn of the knowledge of the Absolute, the Supreme Spirit. All articles made of gold become known after knowing gold. Similarly after knowing the Supreme Being (ParaBrahma), all other manifestations of the Eternal Being (Brahma) become known. It is said: One who knows Lord Krishna as the Supreme Being (ParaBrahma), is considered to have known all, but one who knows everything, but does not know Krishna, does not know anything. The intent of the above verse is that knowledge of all other subjects remains incomplete without one’s understanding of who am I?


Scarcely one out of thousands of persons strives for perfection of Self-realization. Scarcely one among those successful strivers truly understands Me. (7.03)

Few are fortunate enough to obtain knowledge of, and devotion to, the Supreme Being.


The mind, intellect, ego, ether, air, fire, water, and earth are the eight­fold division of My material Nature. (See also 13.05) (7.04)

'Material Nature' is defined as the material cause or the mate­rial energy out of which everything is made. Material Nature is the original source of the material world, consisting of three modes of material Nature and eight basic elements out of which everything in the universe has evolved, according to Sankhya doctrine. Material Nature is one of the transformations of divine power (Maya) and is the material cause of creation of the entire uni­verse. Matter is thus a part of Lord's illusory energy, Maya. Material Nature is also referred to as perishable, body, matter, Nature, Maya, field, creation, and manifest state. That which creates diversity as well as the diversity itself, and all that can be seen or known, in­clud­ing the universal mind, is called material Nature.

Material Nature or matter is My lower Nature. My other higher Nature is the Spirit or consciousness by which this entire universe is sustained, O Arjuna. (7.05)

Two types of material Nature are described in verses 7.04 and 7.05. The eightfold material Nature described in verse 7.04 is called lower energy or material energy. This is commonly known as material Nature or Prakriti. It creates the material world with the help of consciousness. The other higher Nature mentioned in verse 7.05, is also called the higher energy or the spiritual energy (Purusha). This is derived from consciousness, the Supreme Spirit (or Spirit). Purusha with the help of Prakriti creates and sustains the entire universe. Spirit is immutable; and material Nature, born of Spirit, is mutable. Purusha (or spirit) observes, witnesses, enjoys as well as supervises material Nature.

The Supreme Spirit is the efficient cause of creation of the universe.
The material Nature and Spirit (Purusha) are not two independent identi­ties but the two aspects of the Supreme Spirit. The Supreme Spirit, Spirit (Purusha), and material Nature are the same, yet different as the sun and its light and heat are the same as well as different.

The water and the fish that is born in and sustained by the water, are not one and the same. Similarly the Spirit and the material Nature that is born out of Spirit, are not one and the same (MB 12.315.14). The spirit is also called soul when spirit enjoys the modes of material Nature by associating with the senses. The Spirit and soul are also different because Spirit sustains soul, but the wise perceive no difference between the two (BP 4.28.62).

Some of the terms---such as the Supreme Spirit, Spirit, material Nature, and soul---have different definitions in different doctrines and also take different meanings, depending on the context. In this rendering, the nonsectarian word ‘God’ stands for the one and only Lord of the universe---the Supreme Being---whom Hindus prefer to call by various personal names such as Rama, Krishna, Shiva, and Mother. Different terminology does confuse a reader who has to learn---preferably with the help of a teacher---full connotation, usage, and hierarchic relationships between these and various other expressions as one progresses on the path of spiritual journey.


Know that all creatures have evolved from this twofold energy and I, the Supreme Spirit, am the source or the origin as well as the dissolution of the entire universe. (See also 13.26) (7.06)

There is nothing other (or higher) than Me, the Supreme Being, O Arjuna. Everything in the universe is strung on Me like different thread-beads are strung on the thread. (7.07)

One and the same Spirit is present in cows, horses, human beings, birds, and all other living beings just as the same thread is present in the necklace made of diamond, gold, pearl, or wood (MB 12.206.02-03). The entire creation is permeated by Him (YV 32.08).

O Arjuna, I am the sapidity in the water, I am the radiance in the sun and the moon, the sacred syllable ‘AUM’ in all the Vedas, the sound in the ether, and potency in human beings. I am the sweet fragrance in the earth. I am the heat in the fire, the life in all living beings, and the austerity in the ascetics. (7.08-09)

O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. I am the in­telligence of the intelligent and the brilliance of the brilliant. (See also 9.18 and 10.39). I am the strength of the strong that are devoid of lust and attachment. I am the lust or Cupid in human beings that is not only for sense gratification and is in accord with Dharma (for the sacred purpose of procreation after marriage), O Arjuna. (7.10-11)

Know that three modes of material Nature---goodness, passion, and ignorance---also emanate from Me.
I am neither dependent on, nor affected by, the modes of material Nature; but the modes of material Nature are dependent on Me. (See also 9.04 and 9.05) (7.12)

Human beings get deluded by various aspects of these three modes of material Nature; therefore, they do not know Me, who am eternal and above these modes. (7.13)


This divine power of Mine called Maya, consisting of three modes of Nature, is very difficult to overcome. Only those who surrender unto My Will, easily pierce the veil of Maya and know the Absolute Reality. (See also 14.26, 15.19, and 18.66) (7.14)

When one fully dedicates one's life to the Supreme power and depends on Him under all circumstances, just as a small child depends on its parents, then Lord personally takes charge of such a devotee. And when He takes charge of you, there is no need to be afraid of anything or to depend on anybody else for anything---spiritual or material---in life.


The evil doers, the ignorant, the lowest persons who are attached to demonic nature and whose power of judgment has been taken away by divine illusive power (Maya), do not surrender to My Will. (7.15)

Four types of virtuous ones worship or seek Me, O Arjuna. They are: the distressed, the seeker of Self-knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the enlightened one (who has experienced the Supreme Being). (7.16)

Whatever a person does is the product of desire. Nobody can ever do anything without the desire for it (MS 2.04). Desires cannot be completely wiped out. One should first transmute the lower forms of selfish desires. Desire for salvation is a higher or no­ble form of desire. Desire for devotional love of God is regarded as the highest and the purest form of all human desires. It is said that ad­vanced devotees do not even desire salvation from God. They long for loving devotional service to God, life after life.

The lower desires of devotees who approach Him for fulfillment become like roasted seeds that cannot sprout and grow into a big tree of desire. What really matters is the deep concentration of mind on God through feelings of devotion, love, fear, or even for material gain (BP 10.22.26).

Among them the enlightened one, who is ever united with Me and whose de­votion is exclusive, is the best. Because I am very dear to the enlightened and the enlightened is very dear to Me. (7.17)

Knowledge of God without devotion---the love of God---is a dry speculation, and devotion without knowledge of God is a blind faith. Bhakti (devotion) is the flower of Self-knowledge (Jnana) and enlightenment is the fruit. Jnani is called the best of all yogis or Bhakta in the above verse. Bhakti remains incomplete without Jnana. Saint Tulasidasa, a proponent of the path of Bhakti, even has said: Jnana brings faith, without faith there can be no love of God, without love, devotion and detachment will not abide, any more than the lubricity of water (TR 7.88.04). An enlightened person does not want anything from God and is considered the best devotee. Also see the commentary of verse 15.19.

All these seekers are indeed noble, but I regard the enlightened devotee as My very Self (ParaBrahma) because one who is steadfast becomes one with Me and abides in My supreme abode. (See also 9.29) (7.18)


After many births, the enlightened one surrenders to My Will by realiz­ing that everything is, indeed, My manifestation. Such a great soul is very rare. (See also 7.07, 18.66) (7.19)

The other seven Sanskrit verses of the Vedas, called great sayings are:

(1) All this is, of course, the Spirit because everything is born from, rests in, and merges into the Spirit (ChU 3.14.01).

(2) All this is Spirit. The Spirit is everywhere. All this universe is, indeed, Supreme Brahman (MuU 2.02.11). The Bible also says: You are gods (John 10.34). The Vedas and Upanishads declare:

(3) Consciousness is Spirit (AiU 3.03 in Rigveda).

(4) I am the Spirit (BrU 1.04.10 in Yajurveda).

(5) You are the Spirit (ChU 6.08.07 in Samaveda).

(6) The individual Self (Jivatma, Jiva) is one and the same with the Absolute (or Brahman, Brahm, Brahma) (MaU 02 in Atharvaveda) and

(7) That which is One has become all these (RV 8.58.02).

The firm understanding---that the entire creation and every or­der of Reality are nothing but another form of divinity
---is true Self-knowledge. The same Atman is viewed as individual soul from micro (or Vyashthi, Jeeva, unreal ‘i’) level, is also the Universal soul from macro (or Samashthi, Virat, Real ‘I’ level. In other words, the Universe is the same as Brahman. (Read verse 18.66 for a more detailed commentary of this key verse.)

The male musk deer, after a vain search for the cause of the scent of the musk, at last will have to find the musk in himself. After God-realization, one sees that it is the Spirit of God (or Consciousness) that has be­come the universe and all living beings. Everything is con­sciousness. Creation is like countless waves appearing in the ocean of con­sciousness by the wind of divine power (Maya). Everything, including the primordial divine energy called Maya, is nothing but part and parcel of the Absolute.

Persons whose discernment has been carried away by desires im­pelled by their Karmic impression, resort to celestial controllers and practice various religious rites for fulfillment of their material desires. (7.20)


Whosoever desires to worship whatever deity---using any name, form, and method---with faith, I make their faith steady in that very de­ity. Endowed with steady faith, they worship that deity and obtain their wishes through that deity. Those wishes are, indeed, granted by Me. (7.21-22)

The power in the deities comes from the Supreme Lord as the aroma in the wind comes from the flower (BP 6.04.34). God is the bestower of fruits of work (BS 3.02.38). God fulfills all desires of His worshippers (BP 4.13.34). One should not look down upon any method of seeking God because all worship is worship of the same God. He fulfills all sincere and beneficial prayers of a devotee if He is worshipped with faith and love. The wise realize that all names and forms are His, whereas the ignorant play the game of holy war in the name of religion to seek personal gain at the cost of others. All deities are one; they are different aspects of the Absolute.

It is said that whatever deity a person may worship, all his or her obeisance and prayers reach the Supreme Being just as all water that falls as rain eventually reaches the ocean. Whatever name and form of divinity one adores is worship of the same Supreme Being, and one gets the reward of deity-worship performed with faith. Desired results of worship are given indirectly by the Lord through one's favorite deity. Human beings live in the darkness of the prison cells of pairs of opposites. Deities are like icons or a medium that can open the window through which the Supreme may be perceived. However, the worship of deities without full understanding of the nature of the Supreme Being is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.

But such material gains of these less intelligent human beings are tem­po­rary. The worshipers of celestial controllers go to celestial controllers, but My devotees certainly come to Me. (7.23)

Those who worship deities or celestial controllers are under the mode of goodness or passion; and those who practice other, much lower grades of worship, such as the worship of evil spirits, ghosts, black magic, and Tantra---also known as idolatry---to get progeny, fame, or to destroy their enemies are under the mode of ignorance. Lord Krishna advises against such lower grades of worship and recommends worship of the one and only Supreme Lord, using any one name and form. The devotees of Krishna may sometimes worship Krishna in other forms also. In Mahabharata, Lord Krishna Himself advised Arjuna to worship a much gentler mother form of God, known as Mother Durga, just before the start of the war for victory. This is like a child going to ask something from Mother instead of Father. The Lord is actually both mother and father of all creatures.


The ignorant ones---unable to completely understand My immutable, incomparable, incomprehensible, and transcendental form and existence---believe that I, the Supreme Being, am formless and take forms or incarnate. I do not manifest Myself to the ignorant whose Self-knowledge is obscured by My divine power (YogaMaya) and does not know My unborn, eternal, and transcendental form and personality (and consider Me formless). (See also 5.16) (7.24-25)

The Sanskrit word ‘Avyakta’ has been used in verses 2.25, 2.28, 7.24, 8.18, 8.20, 8.21, 9.04, 12.01, 12.03, 12.05, and 13.05. It takes different meanings accord­ing to the context. It is used in the sense of unmanifest, material Nature and also in the sense of Spirit. Supreme Being---the Abso­lute Consciousness---is higher than both unmanifest Nature and Spirit. ‘Avyakta’ does not mean formless; it means unmanifest or a transcendental form that is invisible to our physical eyes and cannot be comprehended by the human mind or described by words. Everything has a form. Nothing in the cosmos, including the Supreme Being, is formless. Every form is His form. Supreme Being has a transcendental form and Supreme Personality. He is eternal, without any origin and end. The invisible Absolute is the basis of the visible world.

The meaning of verse 7.24 also seems to contradict the common belief that Lord incarnates, as mentioned in verses 4.06-08, and 9.11. It is said here that the Supreme Being is ever unmanifest, and, as such, He never becomes manifest. In a true sense, the Supreme Being or Absolute does not incarnate. He actually never leaves His Supreme Abode! It is the intellect of the Supreme Being that does the work of creation, maintenance, incarnation, and destruction by using His innumerable powers. The deep meaning of this verse may be understood if one seriously studies the peace invocation of Ishopanishad that states: “The invisible is the Infinite, the visible too is infinite. From the Infinite, the infinite universes manifest. The Infinite (Absolute) remains Infinite or unchanged, even though infinite universes come out of it.” People do not know the transcendental and imperishable nature of God and wrongly think that God also incarnates like an ordinary person. He does not incarnate, but manifests using His own divine potencies. His birth, activities and form are transcendental or out of this world.

The transcendental Being is beyond the human conception of form and formless. Those who consider God formless are as wrong as those who say God has a form. The argument whether God is formless or has a form has nothing to do with our worship and spiritual practice. We can worship Him in any way or form that suits us. A name, form, and description of the imperceptible, all pervasive, and indescribable Lord has been given by saints and sages for cultivating the love of God in the hearts of common devotees. A name and a form are absolutely necessary for the purpose of worship and to nurture devotion. God appears to a devotee in a form in order to make his or her faith firm if one believes in God with a form. He does not appear to those who believe only in a formless Brahma. It is necessary that one should respect all forms of God (or deity), but establish relationship and worship one form only.

I know, O Arjuna, the beings of the past, of the present, and those of the future, but no one really knows Me. (7.26)

All beings in this world are in utter ignorance due to the delusion of pairs of opposites born of likes and dislikes, O Arjuna. But the persons purified by unselfish deeds, whose Karma has come to an end, become free from the delusion of pairs of opposites and worship Me with firm resolve. (7.27-28)

When the Karma of a person comes to an end, only then one can understand the transcendental science and develop love and devotion to God.

Those who strive for freedom from the cycles of birth, old age, and death---by taking refuge in Me---fully comprehend Brahman (or Brahma, Spirit, Eternal Being, Eternal Brahman) and the true nature and creative powers of Brahman. (7.29)
The steadfast persons who know Me alone as the basis of all---mortal beings, Divine Beings, and the Supreme Being---even at the time of death, attain Me. (See also 8.04) (7.30)

No human being can know God or Brahman. But those, who know God to be the governing principle of the whole creation and the underlying basis of all, are blessed. The creation is not in Brahman (or Atma) or created by Brahman, but creation is Brahman Itself. Jiva (individual soul), Jagat (the cosmos) and Jagadish or the God are not three separate entity, but One and the same. In other words, there is nothing other than Atma or God in the universe. Since Atma is invisible and creation is visible; human eyes cannot see the invisible connection between Atma and the creation. And our mind makes us believe that the creator is other than and separate from the creation.

Thus, creation appearing separate from the creator is just an illusion, similar to a dream, created by the mind. Actually Jiva and Jagat do not exist, only Brahman exists. We have to recondition our mind that Atma and physical bodies or creation are one and the same and nothing else but Brahman exists in all different forms. Creation---including our body, mind and ego---is just another form of Consciousness and integral part and parcel of God. All is nothing but Brahman (verses 7.07 and 7.19). One should always practice to see Brahman in all (verse 6.30) with the firm understanding that all is Brahman. This is called constant remembrance of God and is much easier to practice than Japa, meditation or any other spiritual practice. The goal of any spiritual practice is to achieve this state of mind where there is no duality. This practice leads one from body consciousness to God consciousness and equanimity of mind. All human weaknesses such as likes and dislikes, attachment etc. disappear, leading one to Nirvana.

The creation is not in Brahman (Atma, Atma), but it is Brahman that exists in the form of creation. Creation is the visible part of the cosmic body of Brahman. Because we cannot see Brahman, the mind makes us believe that creation is separate and different from Brahman. Thus appearance of duality (or the world) is nothing but a creation of mind or Maya like a dream world is a creation of mind. This appearance of duality creates ego or ignorance due to which we think ourselves different and separate from Atma and other beings and go through the cycles of transmigration. Only Self-knowledge can break this cycle. A simple method of Self-realization is presented below:

One should always contemplate: I am neither this body, nor the mind or the intellect; but I have my body, mind and intellect. I am That all-pervading Brahma, because there is nothing other than Brahma in the universe. I, being the eternal Atma, have no birth and death and I am free. It’s the physical body---the abode of Atma---that takes birth and dies. This is the gist of Vedantic teachings and Self-realization.


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