ajo ‘pi sann avyayatma
bhutanam isvaro ‘pi san
prakrtim svam adhisthaya
Though I am unborn, of imperishable nature, the Lord of all beings, yet, subordinating My nature (prakriti), I manifest Myself, through My Yogamaya (divine potency).
The Supreme Lord Krishna assumes forms suitable to time, place and circumstances in regards to celestial being the demigods and terrestrial being humans. He manifests himself as if He were of their nature according to His desire. Being unborn He yet incarnates in many forms whenever and wherever He chooses whereas for material beings they are forcefully born impelled by their karma or the bondage caused from reactions to past actions. Next the time of manifestation for the avatars or incarnations will be indicated. He incarnates Himself, as Lord Rama or Krishna etc., displays His sports as a child, and an adolescent and then continues to be an adolescent with a healthy and handsome body, without undergoing any change for hundreds of years. He works, as a chariot-driver of Arjuna, and obeys him, yet His Lordliness, over Arjuna and other beings remains intact. That is why, in spite of being a charioteer, He preaches him, the gospel of the Gita. Lord Rama carries out the order of His father, Dasaratha and goes into exile for fourteen years, yet His Lordliness over Dasaratha and other beings, has not suffered, in the least.
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
Whenever, there is a decline in righteousness and an upsurge in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, I then manifest Myself.
No fixed time schedule has been mandated for Lord Krishna to manifest Himself in His avatar forms or authorised incarnations but he declares beginning with ‘yada yada’ which means that: whenever or wherever dharma or righteousness decreases and unrighteousness increases and becomes dominant, at that time Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations descends and becomes manifest.
When righteous, innocent, weak: pious and spiritual people, are exploited by unrighteous, cruel, strong, wicked and mundane people, and when moral values are lost and immorality prevails-that state, is the state of a decline of righteousness, and upsurge of unrighteousness. Whenever, there is a decline of righteousness and rise of’ unrighteousness, then the Lord manifests Himself for the destruction of unrighteousness and for the establishment of righteousness. When actions are performed with a selfish motive i.e., for reward, there is a decline of righteousness; and when a man, having deviated from his duty performs forbidden action there is rise of unrighteousness. It is desire, which is the root of all unrighteousness, sins and injustice etc. Therefore, God manifests Himself, in order to root out this desire and propagate the principle of the performance of actions, without expectation of any reward.
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
For the protection of the good as for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I manifest myself from age to age.
The purpose of incarnation is explained here. When there is dearth of dharma and abundance of adharma the Lord manifests Himself to protect the good and to punish the wicked. God manifests Himself, in order to protect the good, because they destroy unrighteousness and propagate righteousness. Reasons of Lord Krishna’s avatars or incarnations are: 1) for protecting the virtuous 2) for destroying the wicked 3) for re-establishing dharma or eternal righteousness which had become obscured.
Those who, because of many desires, remain absorbed in vices, such as falsehood, fraud, deception and dishonesty etc. Those who exploit the virtuous and good persons; those who remain engaged in doing evil to others; those who do not know what ought to be done and what ought not to be done; and those, who always condemn God and the scriptures, such persons, of demoniac nature, have been called wicked. The Lord manifests Himself for the destruction of such wicked persons.
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna
He who thus knows in reality the true nature of My divine birth and action, and he having abandoned the body, is not reborn; but he comes to Me, O Arjuna.
The Lord is beyond birth and death, He is birth-less and imperishable. His manifestation in human body is not like the birth of common men. He manifests Himself of His own accord in order to stage the drama of human life, for the welfare of beings. It is because of the Lord’s divine nature that He descends to this mortal world, in order to shower His grace upon beings. Those who know this fact become His devotees and then remain absorbed only in His adoration or devotion. This devotion, leads to salvation. Similarly, when a man knows the divine nature of His actions then his actions also become divine viz., pure and then these lead him, as well as others, to God-realization (salvation) as he renounces his affinity for the world. It is the affinity, which is an obstacle to salvation or God-realization.
Carelessness and indolence in the performance of actions and the desire for fruit of actions are the main stumbling blocks to God-realization. If actions are performed without the desire for fruit in rendering service to others, the affinity for actions is renounced and we realize our affinity for God which is naturally eternal.
man-maya mam upasritah
puta mad-bhavam agatah
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me–and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
In the previous verse Lord Krishna declares that those that truly know Him attain Him. Now the question may be raised, is there any requirements necessary for attaining Him or does it mean that oneness with Him in His abode transpires automatically with knowledge of Him. To clear this up Lord Krishna states: vita-raga-bhaya-krodha meaning completely freed from passion, fear and anger. Passion is attachment to the opposite sex and children and family life. Fear is abhorrence of frightening situations due to lack of faith in God. Anger is a state of mind that blows up when one’s ardent desires are frustrated by obstacles. This clearly indicates that jnana yoga or the cultivation of knowledge is essential for the mind to control the senses.
All three paths of attaining salvation is mentioned here, the path of action, path of knowledge and path of love. All paths are fundamentally meant to purify our mind and make it steady and single pointed.