ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
manusyah partha sarvasah
O Partha! However, the way devotees worship Me, so do I approach them; for all men ultimately follow My path.
In whatever form one seeks the Lord, He appears in the same form to the devotee. The criticism of Hinduism being pantheistic is proved wrong by this. There is only one God who can be called by any name or conceived in any form; provided the worshipper remembers that He is not limited to that name or form. The Lord who is everywhere, in and out of all being is naturally present also in the particular form in which one thinks of Him. So Krishna affirms that all men follow His path only. If a devotee thinks of Him, as his preceptor, He becomes an excellent preceptor. Similarly, God becomes a worthy father, mother, son, brother, friend or even, an obedient servant, according to the desire of the devotee. If a devotee feels restless without God, He also becomes restless without, His devotee. If a devotee takes one step towards God, God may take hundreds of strides to meet him. The Lord is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Moreover, He is His devotee’s supreme and unselfish friend and true to His resolve. A devotee should use his full power to attain Him, and then the Lord is attained, through His limitless power.
A car gets its power from fuel. The same power can be used to drive the car and reach home safely or drive recklessly and reach a hospital bed with broken bones. This depends on you, the driver. Similarly divine power resides in you, use it wisely. This is what means when the Lord declares “I lend my power to all without any partiality in whatever form they invoke me”.
Egoistic notions and selfishness are the stumbling blocks to devotion for God. When a man loves anyone, without egoism and selfishness, that love automatically flows towards the Lord. It is because of egoism and selfishness, that his love is confined to narrow limits.
kanksantah karmanam siddhim
yajanta iha devatah
ksipram hi manuse loke
siddhir bhavati karma-ja
Those who desire the fruit of their actions, worship the gods; because success is quickly attained, by men through action.
It may be questioned that since Lord Krishna is the exclusive awarder of moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death; then why is it that most people are obliviously worshipping lesser gods instead of Him? The reason He answers is factual. People worship the lesser gods because they desire material benefits which is what the lesser gods can give. Worshipping lesser gods for wealth, dominion, a beautiful wife, a powerful son, such efforts easily bring quick results and the desired rewards. But moksa or liberation is only achieved as a result of cultivating Vedic knowledge about the Supreme Lord and thus it is hard to attain.
The Lord is like, a father, while the gods are like shopkeepers. We can take a thing from a shopkeeper, only by paying the money but we can take it from the father, free of cost. Similarly, we have to perform rituals according to scriptural methods for gods, in order to obtain fruits from them, while God bestows upon us our necessities, free of cost. Moreover, as a shopkeeper gives even hazardous things, such as, a match box or a knife etc., to a boy on payment, but if the boy wants such things from his father, the latter will not only refuse but take away, the money also. A father gives only beneficial things to a boy. In spite of this fact, the ignorant or dull-witted people, because of their attachment, sense of mine and desire for the perishable materials, worship other gods, as they do not realise the glory, the benevolence and selflessness, friendliness of the Lord.
catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam
The four orders of society are created by Me according to the differences in their attitude and actions. Though I am the creator, know me to be a non-agent of action and immutable.
This is one of the most misinterpreted stanzas of the Bhagavad Gita. Antagonists attribute Lord Krishna’s action to the ills of the society that is plaguing these days. Even political parties are divided based on castes in India. Lord Krishna clearly states here that the division is based on their attitudes, mental attributes and work. In Yoga sastra mental temperaments are associated with colour. Sattva is considered white, Rajas is red and Tamas black. Krishna refers this as varna (colour)and people perform actions based on these mental temperaments. However over a period of time, this has been changed to division by birth. And superiority assigned to Brahmans, then Kshatriyas, vaisyas and shudras.
The Brahmins or priestly class have a preponderance of sattva guna or mode of goodness and having their mind and senses under control their duties are to spiritually guide mankind in righteousness. The Kshatriya or royal warrior class possesses some sattva but have a preponderance of rajas guna or mode of passion and their duties are to protect dharma or righteousness from the influence of evil and to protect humanity from demoniac forces. The vaisyas possess some rajas but have a preponderance of tama-guna or mode of ignorance and their duties are farming, agriculture, trade and cow protection. The sudra or lower class possess only a preponderance for tama guna and their duty is to serve the three previous classes to earn their livelihood. So although Lord Krishna is the origin of them all it should be understood that He is not affected by any of them the reason being that He is immutable, imperishable, eternal and transcendental to prakriti or material nature.
The Lord is the creator of everything. Everything is born of Him, everything is sustained by Him, and everything, after annihilation, rests in Him. He is therefore the creator of the four divisions of the social order, beginning with the intelligent class of men, technically called Brahmans due to their being situated in the mode of goodness. Next is the administrative class, technically called the Kshatriyas due to their being situated in the mode of passion. The mercantile men, called the vaisyas, are situated in the mixed modes of passion and ignorance, and the sudras, or labourer class, are situated in the ignorant mode of material nature. In spite of His creating the four divisions of human society, Lord Krishna does not belong to any of these divisions, because He is not one of the conditioned souls, a section of whom forms human society.
In an organization all jobs and positions are important and critical for its success. A sales person is as important as the sales manager and so are the Peon and the President. They should all be complimenting each other and not competing or fighting. Similarly in a society also we need different classes of people with different skill sets and temperament to do different functions. It is almost difficult to say which caste is better than the other as the other caste will not survive without this one.
na mam karmani limpanti
na me karma-phale sprha
iti mam yo ‘bhijanati
karmabhir na sa badhyate
Actions do not affect Me nor do I have desire for the fruit of action. The one who knows Me as such is also not bound by actions.
Lord Krishna is declaring that actions do not bind Him as He has no desires to the rewards of any actions. This is not to imply that He does not want the best for creation but only He is equipoise to prakriti or material nature. Even though the Supreme Lord wills the creation into existence and always is the protector of dharma or eternal righteousness and out of His causeless mercy has the best wishes for its development He is not attached to it. This knowledge of this attribute of the Supreme Lord removes one’s own misconceptions of attachment and craving for rewards to the point where one’s desires are not binding by performing prescribed Vedic activities exclusively.
As there are constitutional laws in the material world stating that the king can do no wrong, or that the king is not subject to the state laws, similarly the Lord, although He is the creator of this material world, is not affected by the activities of the material world. He creates and remains aloof from the creation, whereas the living entities are entangled in the fruitive results of material activities because of their propensity for lording it over material resources. For advancement of sense gratification, the living entities are engaged in the work of this world, and they aspire to heavenly happiness after death. The Lord, being full in Himself, has no attraction for so-called heavenly happiness. For example, the rains are not responsible for different types of vegetation that appear on the earth, although without such rains there is no possibility of vegetative growth.
evam jnatva krtam karma
purvair api mumuksubhih
kuru karmaiva tasmat tvam
purvaih purvataram krtam
All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and so attained liberation. Therefore, as the ancients, you should perform your duty in this divine consciousness.
So Lord Krishna sums up His conclusion for this theme by stating that having known that He is completely free from desire and attachment although performing such magnificent activities like creation of all the worlds He is never implicated by it. But great beings like Manu and Janaka performed actions according to the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and being free from egoism without desire for rewards also achieved moksa or liberation as such actions are never binding. Therefore Arjuna and anyone else should perform such actions following in their footsteps as they have come down through the ages in parampara or disciplined succession.
It is mentioned in the scriptures, that when desire for liberation is aroused in a seeker, he should abandon actions, because in that case, he becomes eligible to attain knowledge (wisdom), rather than to perform actions. But here, He urges Arjuna, a seeker of liberation, to perform his duty in a disinterested manner, and cites the example of other ancient seekers of liberation. In order to follow the path of Karma yoga the seeker must be very clear as to which actions will lead him to bondage and which will secure release from bondage.