Summarized through question-answers
By Chaitanya Carana Dasa
[For attaining the supreme result that you just mentioned, what is the easiest process?]
Krishna said: This most confidential knowledge, in both its intellectual and experiential dimensions, I shall impart to you, Arjuna, because you are non-envious; understanding this knowledge, you will be delivered from inauspiciousness (1).
[Why is this knowledge so special?] It is the king of knowledge, the king of all secrets, the supreme purifier; it is directly realizable through personal experience, righteous, joyfully practicable and imperishable (2).
[For receiving this knowledge, why is non-enviousness important?] Because the envious are faithless — and those who refuse to have faith in this knowledge can’t attain me; they are reborn in this world, which is the path of repeated death and transmigration (3).
[What is this knowledge that you will be imparting?] It is the knowledge about my mysterious relationship with the world — this whole universe is pervaded by me in my unmanifest form; all beings abide in me, yet I do not abide in them (4).
[What is mysterious about this relationship?] Because simultaneously all beings don’t abide in me [though they rest in me, they don’t burden me] — behold my mystic opulence: although all beings are sustained by me and are contained within me, I am not contained in them; I exist beyond them, as their source (5).
[Can you explain this complex relationship with an example?] Contemplate this: as the mighty wind, while going everywhere, still abides within the sky, so do all beings [while moving by their free will] abide within me (6).
[When living beings act according to their free will, how do they abide within you?] They are constrained within the boundaries of time — at the end of a kalpa [cosmic age], all living beings, Arjuna, go to my nature; and at the start of a new kalpa, I again send them forth (7).
[Aren’t such cycles of unmanifestation and manifestation just the workings of nature?] Nature belongs to me; acting through my material nature, it is I who sends forth the entire multitude of beings, again and again — while going through these cyclic manifest and unmanifest states, all living beings are powerless, being under the power of material nature (8).
[If you send living beings into this world of suffering, aren’t you implicated by karma?] These actions never bind me, Arjuna, because I am seated as if neutral — I am unattached to these actions [I don’t cause the suffering of living beings; it is the result of their own past karma] (9).
[If you are neutral, what is your role in the working of material nature?] I am its overseer: under my supervision, material nature gives rise to all beings, moving and nonmoving — within its rules, Arjuna, the universe revolves [living beings function within the boundaries of material nature and are held accountable by its laws such as the law of karma] (10).
[When you are the overseer of material nature, why doesn’t everyone understand your divine position?] Because some people are deluded; they despise and deride me when I manifest in a human form — they don’t know my higher nature as the Supreme Lord of all that exists (11).
[What is their fate?] Their hopes, their actions and their knowledge are all futile because their consciousness is misdirected — they end up abiding in fiendish and demonic natures (12).
[What are the characteristics of those who do understand your divine position?] They are great souls: they abide in my divine nature and worship me single-mindedly, knowing me as the imperishable source of all beings (13).
[By what external characteristics can such great souls be known?] They glorify me constantly, endeavoring with firm vows; they honor me with devotion, staying ever steadfast in worshiping me (14).
[Between these two extremes of those who deride you and those who adore you, are there any other categories of people?] There are those who try to gain knowledge by performing sacrifices — they arrive at three conceptions of the Divine: as the oneness of all existence; as the multiplicity of deities; and as the all-pervasive universal form (15).
[What’s lacking if those who perform sacrifices conceive the Divine as oneness?] They don’t know that the oneness that underlies and unites all aspects of the sacrificial ceremony is me — I am the ritual, I am the sacrifice, I am the offering, I am the healing herb, I am the sacred chant, I am the clarified butter, I am the fire; and I am the pouring out [of the oblation] (16).
[Does your unifying oneness extend beyond the sacrificial ceremony?] It extends to the entirety of existence — I am the father of the universe, the mother, the maintainer and the grandfather; I am both the object of knowledge and the means to knowledge, which includes any purifying agent, the sacred syllable om, and the RIg, Sama and Yajur Vedas (17).
[What other ways are you the oneness that unifies existence?] I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend; indeed, I am the creation, the annihilation, the foundation, the treasure house and the imperishable seed (18).
[How do you sustain existence?] I give heat, and I withhold and send forth the rain; I am [the ultimate cause of] death and immortality as well; I am [the ultimate cause of] enduring spirit and ephemeral matter, Arjuna (19).
[What’s lacking if those who perform sacrifices end up conceiving the Divine as the multiplicity of deities?] They don’t know that it is me whom they are worshiping when they are appeasing various deities: when they study the Vedas, drink the soma juice, become cleansed of sins, perform sacrifices to the gods, seek heaven as their goal, attain purity, reach the world of Indra, and enjoy celestial god-like pleasures (20).
[What’s wrong with such an attainment?] It’s temporary — though they enjoy huge pleasures in heaven, they fall back to earth once their pious credits are exhausted; thus, those who follow the three Vedas and desire to fulfill their [worldly] desires stay in the state of going and coming (21).
[How can they attain something more enduring?] By worshiping me — for those who keep their thoughts on me without deviating and those who serve me without wavering, I become the provider of what they don’t have and the protector of what they have (22).
[But when you are the source of everything including all the gods, is their worship entirely disconnected from you?] People who faithfully worship the gods also worship me, Arjuna — but they do so in ignorance (23).
[What are they ignorant of?] My supreme position; I am undoubtedly the enjoyer and master of all sacrifices — those who don’t recognize me in truth fall down (24).
[When the worshipers of the gods attain heaven, why are they considered fallen?] Because worship of any being other than me takes the worshiper to only a temporary destination, be it the realm of the gods attained by those who worship the gods; the realm of ancestors attained by those who worship the ancestors; or the realm of ghosts attained by those who worship ghosts — but those who worship me attain my realm which alone is eternal (25).
[How can you be worshiped?] Very simply; those who offer me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water — that offering of devotion, I accept from them (26).
[What other ways can you be worshiped?] Through all activities; whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give away in charity, whatever you perform in austerity, Arjuna, dedicate it all to me (27).
[What is the result for those who act in this way?] They will be liberated from the bondage of karma which manifests as good and bad fruits; being established in yogic connection with me, steadied by renunciation, they will attain complete liberation and come to me (28).
[For whom are such opportunities for liberation available?] For everyone; I am equal to all living beings: no one is disliked by me, nor is anyone preferred by me — yet those who worship me with devotion are in me and I am in them (29).
[Does everyone even include those who have done terrible misdeeds?] Yes; even if grievous wrongdoers worship me with undivided devotion, they are to be considered righteous, for their determination is rightly situated (30).
[But what about their tendency to do wrong?] Quickly, they become virtuous and attain enduring peace; O Arjuna, know for sure that no devotee of Mine will ever perish (31).
[Does everyone include even those who are lowborn due to their past misdeeds?] All those who take shelter of me, even if they are lowborn, women, vaisyas, or shudras, go to the supreme destination (32).
[What does all this mean for me?] If even the lowborn can be delivered by bhakti-yoga, how much more is that true for brahmanas and devoted saintly kings [like you]? Having attained this impermanent and distressful place, just devote yourself to me (33).
[How can I devote myself to you?] Fix your mind on me; offer your heart’s devotion to me; perform sacrifices for my sake; offer reverence to me — by thus steadfastly dedicating your being to me and making me your supreme purpose, you will attain me (34).