ajo’pi sann avyayātāmā bhūtānām īśvaro’pi san,
prakṛtim svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātmamāyayā (4.6)
[4.6] :”Although imperishable, birthless, and God of all beings,I manifest myself subduing the materialistic world of nature by the mysterious power of atm-maya.”
Sri Krishn is imperishable, birthless, and pervading the breath of all beings, but he is manifested when he restrains materialistic attachments by atm-maya.
One kind of maya is the moral ignorance that makes one accept the reality of the material world, and which is the cause of rebirth in low and inferior forms. The other maya is that which Sri Krishn calls yog-maya, of which we are unaware. This is the maya of Self that provides access to the Soul and leads to awareness of the Supreme Spirit.It is by the operation of this yog-maya that Sri Krishn subdues his three-propertied nature and manifests himself.
People usually say that they will have a vision of God when he manifests himself through an incarnation. According to Sri Krishn, however, there is no such incarnation as may be seen by others.
God is not born in a corporal form. It is only by gradual stages that he controls his three-propertied nature by the exercise of yog-maya and manifests himself. But what are the circumstances of such manifestation?We will find this in next verse.
yadā-yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata,
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadā’tmānam sṛjāmy aham (4.7)
[4.7] :”Whenever, O Bharat, righteousness (dharm) declines and unrighteousness is rampant, I manifest myself.”
Sri Krishn tells the devout Arjun that when hearts fall into inertia in regard to the Supreme Spirit, the most sublime dharm, and when the pious are unable to see how to cross safely to the other bank, he begins to shape his form in order to manifest himself.
Such a feeling of weariness had come to Manu. Goswami Tulsidas has written of his grief-laden heart because his life had passed without contemplation of God. When despairing tears flow from the eyes of loving worshippers because of their overpowering feeling of helplessness at their inability to steer across unrighteousness, God begins to mould his form into a manifest shape. But that also implies that God manifests himself to only loving worshippers and only for their well-being.
God’s incarnation comes about only within the heart of a blessed worshipper. But what does the manifest God do?We will see this in next verse.
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām,
sambhavāmi yuge-yuge (4.8)
[4.8] :”I manifest myself from age to age to defend the pious, destroy the wicked, and strengthen dharm.”
God manifests himself as a saviour of saintly men. He, the adored, is the one God after attaining whom there is nothing else to contemplate.
Sri Krishn assumes a manifest form from age to age to destroy impediments that obstruct the smooth flow of righteous impulses such as wisdom, renunciation and restraint, as also to annihilate the demoniacal forces of passion, anger, attachment and repugnance, and to reinforce dharm.
“Age”, as used by Sri Krishn here, does not refer to historical ages like the Golden Age (Satyug) or the Iron Age (Kaliyug). It rather alludes to the stages of rise and fall, of the waxing and waning, of dharm through which human nature has to pass. These are stages of dharm and the human heart has to progress through them.
Goswami Tulsidas has written about it in Ram Charit Manas (7. 10)- the devotional retelling and translation of the Indian epic, Ramayan from Sanskrit into the language of the people by the poet Tulsidas. The stages of dharm undergo variation in every heart at all times, not because of ignorance but because of the operation of the divine power of maya. This is what has been named atm-maya in the sixth verse of the chapter.
Inspired by God, this knowledge is the one which makes the heart a veritable dwelling of God. But how can one know through which Stage one is passing at the moment?
When virtue and moral goodness (sattwa) alone are active in the heart, when passion and ignorance have subsided, when all fears are stilled, when there is no feeling of repulsion, when there is the necessary strength to rest firmly on the signals that are received from the desired goal, when the mind is overflowing with happiness-then alone is one enabled to enter into the Golden Age.
On the other hand, when the forces of darkness (tamas), combined with passion and moral blindness (rajas), are sweeping through, when there are animosities and conflicts all around, the worshipper is passing through the Iron Age (Kaliyug).
When there is predominance of ignorance and abundance of lethargy, slumber and procrastination, that is the stage of the Kaliyug of dharm. The man passing through this stage does not do his duty even though he knows it. He knows what he is forbidden to do, and yet he does it. These stages of dharm, of its ascent and descent, are determined by innate properties.
These stages are the four ages (yug) according to some, the four classes (varn) according to others, and the four levels of spiritual seeking-excellent, good, medium, and low-according to yet others. In all the stages God stands by the worshipper. Nevertheless, there is a plenty of divine favour at the highest stage, whereas the assistance appears to be meagre at the lower stages.
So Sri Krishn tells Arjun that a worshipper who is earnestly devoted to his ultimate goal is a sage, but he can be saved only when the flow of divine impulses such as wisdom, renunciation, and self-restraint, which provide access to the object, is unimpeded. Similarly, doers of wicked deeds are not undone just by the destruction of their non-existent mortal bodies, because they will be reborn with the same wicked impressions (sanskar) they had earned in the previous life, and do the same evil which they had done before.
So Sri Krishn manifests himself in all ages to destroy moral perversions and to strengthen dharm.
Installation of the one changeless God alone is the final destruction of evil.In brief,Sri Krishn has said that he manifests himself again and again, in all circumstances and categories, to destroy evil and foster good, and to strengthen faith in the Supreme Spirit.But he does this only if there is profound regret in the worshippers’ heart.
So long as the grace of the worshipped God is not with us, we cannot even know whether evil has been destroyed or how much of it still remains. From the beginning to the moment of final attainment, God stays by the worshipper at all stages. He manifests himself only in the devotee’s heart. Doesn’t everyone see him when he manifests himself? According to Sri Krishn it is not.
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvataḥ,
tyaktvā deham punarjanma
nai’ti mām eti so’rjuna (4.9)
[4.9]:”He who has perceived the essence of my radiant incarnations and works, O Arjun, is never born again after discarding his body, but dwells in me.’’
God’s incarnation, his gradual manifestation through profound remorse, and his works-eradication of hindrances which generate evil, provision of the essentials of Self-realization, and reinstatement of dharm- are not like the birth and deeds of mortals. Perceived only as abstractions, God’s incarnation and operations cannot be seen with physical eyes. He cannot be measured by mind and wisdom.
God, so inscrutable and mysterious, is perceptible only to him who has known the reality. Only he can view God’s incarnation and works, and once he has made this direct perception, he is not born again but dwells in Sri Krishn.
When seers alone can see God’s incarnation and works, why do we have these crowds of hundreds of thousands of men awaiting the birth of God so that they can see him? Are we all seers?
There are many who masquerade as sages, mainly by dressing as holy men, and who claim that they are incarnations, and whose agents resort to publicity to prove it. The credulous rush like sheep to have a view of these “God-men,” but Sri Krishn affirms that only men of perfection can see God.
Now, who is this man we call a seer?
Giving his verdict on the real and the false in Chapter 2,Sri Krishn told Arjun that the unreal has no being and that the real has never been nonexistent in all time-past, present and future. This has been the experience of seers rather than of linguists or wealthy men. Now he reiterates that although God manifests himself, only perceivers of essence can see him. He has been united with ultimate reality and become a seer.
We do not become seers by learning to count the five (or twenty-five) elements.Sri Krishn further says that the Soul alone is the ultimate reality. When the Soul is united with this Universal Spirit, he too becomes God. So only a man who has realized the Self can see and comprehend God’s manifestation. It is evident therefore that God manifests himself in a worshippers’s heart.
At the outset the worshipper is not able to recognize the power which transmits signals to him. Who is showing him the way? But after he has perceived the truth of the Supreme Spirit, he begins to see and understand, and thereafter when he discards the body he is not reborn.
Sri Krishn has said that his manifestation is internal, obscure, and luminous, and that the one who sees his radiance becomes one with him.If men do the ordained task, they will find that they too are radiant. What others have the potential to be,Sri Krishn already is. He represents the possibilities of mankind-their future. The day we achieve perfection within ourselves, we will also be what Sri Krishn is; we will be identical with him.
Incarnation is never external. If a heart is brimming with love and adoration, there is a possibility of its experiencing the divine incarnation.
All the same Sri Krishn provides solace to the common people by telling them that many have realized him by treading on the ordained path.
vītarāgabhayakrodhā manmayā mām upāśritāḥ,
bahavo jñānatapasā pūtā madhāvam āgatāḥ (4.10)
“Free from passion and anger, wholly dedicated to me, finding shelter in me, and purified by knowledge and penance, many have realized my being.”
Many who have taken refuge in Sri Krishn- with single-mindedness and complete detachment, freed equally from passion and passionlessness, fear and fearlessness, anger and absence of anger, and purified by knowledge and penance, have attained to his state.
It is not that only now it is so. This canon has always been in operation. Many have attained to his state before. But what is the way?
Sri Krishn shapes himself and appears in a heart that is filled with profound sorrow at the predominance of unrighteousness. It is people with such hearts who realize him. What Yogeshwar Krishn had previously called perception of reality he now calls knowledge (gyan).
God is the ultimate reality. To perceive him is wisdom. Men with this knowledge therefore realize him.
[As expounded by most revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans]
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