In the Gita Upanisad known as Srimad Bhagavad-Gita five main topics are described:
1) isvara… the Supreme Lord
2) jiva… the living entities
3) prakriti… the material substratum
4) kala… time
5) karma… the results of actions
Among these five the only one among them who is all pervading and omniscient is Isvara, the Supreme Lord and the one who is incomplete in knowledge is the known as jiva, all living entities.
The one which in substance contains the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance is prakriti, the material substratum. The one which although is of material substance but is beyond the three modes is kala, time and the one which is invariably performed by all living entities or jivas and is variously defined as advishta which is fate, destiny, predestination and others is karma, the results of actions.
Among these five, Isvara, jiva, prakriti and kala are eternal and the four being jiva, prakriti, kala and karma are all subject to Isvara. Karma, the results of actions is described as pragathava which has no beginning but does have an end. An example of pragathava is: summer is coming but from where summer has come from cannot be ascertained; but it can be determined when summer is over and has ended. Karma is to be understood like that.
Isvara is knowledge Himself; so is the jiva and they are both the knower. Isvara is complete, the predominator and the jiva is incomplete, the predominated. Both are substantiated by the word asmad, meaning the ego. In both cases the ego is not of the mahat-tattva, the total material energy.
Isvara and jiva are both the knowers and the enjoyers. This is verified by Vedanta and the sagacious conclusions of the learned. Though knowledge and the knower are non-different like the sun and its rays yet there is a difference due to special attributes. The special attribute likened to difference is not actually different and although there is no essential difference the function of difference is utilised to discern dharmi the subject from dharma the object. Like the difference between fire and fires power of combustion. When it is said that time is always present, it is apparent that there is no difference between time and always; yet they are used together anyway. So in this way the wise realise difference in spite of apparent non-difference.
In Srimad Bhagavad-Gita, the difference between Brahman the Ultimate Truth and its attributes which are also the Ultimate Truth is not sanctioned.
In Srimad Bhagavad-Gita the identity of the jiva-atma the individual consciousness, paramatma the Ultimate Consciousness and His dhama or transcendental abode and the means of attaining His dhama are revealed. In the process of revealing this the science of the individual consciousness in relation to the Ultimate Consciousness and the science of the Ultimate Consciousness in relation to the performance of devotional service to the Ultimate Supreme Personality is declared. The components of the material substratum are also declared as the 24 elements of creation from the creator paramatma, the Supreme Soul and Ultimate Consciousness.
The means of attaining paramatma who is the Ultimate Consciousness and indwelling monitor of every living entity are threefold: By karma, jnana and bhakti. Karma is described as included within the successive order of the means only when all sense of proprietorship conceptions of I and mine and all desires for the results of ones actions as described in the Vedas are completely renounced; by this the individual consciousness is sufficiently purified to qualify for jnana and bhakti.
Karma as verified in the Vedas are primarily those actions without any violence. Karma activated due to violence is considered secondary because activities of this nature have no connection whatsoever to the means of attaining the Ultimate Consciousness who is paramatma and takes one far, far away from any oppurtunity for the means of attaining any communion with Him and receiving salvation. Whereas jnana and bhakti are directly connected to the means of salvation.
Now the question arises that if by performing karma as described in the Vedic scriptures, the consciousness becomes purified and the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth begins to dawn and salvation is attained. Then what is the necessity of bhakti. The answer is when that very knowledge is enhanced with some special quality it is called bhakti. The difference between jnana and bhakti are like a winkless gaze and a side long glance.
The jnanis enquire after the transcendental manifestation by which the five types of liberation are gained. Whereas bhakti enquires about the variegated pastimes of the transcendental manifestation who is the Supreme Lord Krishna and His Vedically authorised incarnations and expansions, by which the bliss of His direct service is the highest objective that automatically includes all that liberation has to offer.
Bhakti is often found to be associated with sravanam, which is hearing and others and also with bhava which is transcendental ecstasy and others as well. It should be clearly understood that the hearing referred to herein is hearing Hari katha which is topics about the Supreme Lord Krishna and His phenomenal pastimes. Now if bhakti is an enhanced form of jnana then how can hearing about the Supreme Lord be considered the practice of jnana. Like a locket of hair from the Supreme Lord Krishna represents transcendental bliss; similarly as Hari katha or relishing the topics and pastimes of Lord Krishna fully represents the most complete bliss of jnana.
Srimad Bhagavad-Gita is divided into three sections each one containing six chapters. In the first section it is desribed that the jiva the individual consciousness is factually a part of isvara the Ultimate Consciousness and that the individual consciousness has the inherent capabilty to experience devotion for the Ultimate Consciousness. The jnana referred to in this section is accomplished by niskama karma which is desireless actions.
In the middle section, bhakti which manifests itself from knowledge of the unlimited glories of the Supreme Lord Krishna is described as the means of attaining Him, the highest objective.
In the final section the identity of isvara, jiva and prakriti which Lord Krishna mentioned earlier are described in full.
The names of the three sections in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita are the first section is called Karma Yoga, the second section is called Bhakti Yoga and the third section is called Jnana Yoga. These names are given as such because the knowledge given in each section is predominated by that particular subject matter; but Lord Krishna’s final words in the concluding chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita, establishes the supreme position of bhakti. Like what is indicated on a box, labelled treasure chest, the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita factually proclaims the glories of bhakti.
Those by qualification who are entitled entry to Srimad Bhagavad-Gita are of three categories:
1) sraddhyam…those who are reverent
2) sa-dharma nishta…those who are righteous and sincere in performing their scriptural duties
3) vigitendriya…those who are of controlled senses
Furthermore there are three types of living entities within the aforementioned categories. The first two are performed by householders and the third is performed by one who is in renunciation.
1) sanistha…those who sincerely practice scriptural duties for gaining admission to heavenly planets
2) pari nistha…those who are devoted to the Supreme Lord Krishna performing devotional service out of love for Him in order to inspire and demonstrate to the common man the glories of bhakti yoga
3) nirapakya…those who have completely purified their consciousness by consistently chanting the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna and by constantly meditating on His form and His pastimes. Engaged 100 per cent in His transcendental, devotional service, exclusively; totally renounced internally from all material conceptions and completely free from all material designations.
The relationship between the Supreme Lord Krishna and Srimad Bhagavat-Gita is that Lord Krishna is the established and Srimad Bhagavad-Gita is the establisher. Factually all the Vedic scriptures are the establisher of Lord Krishna; but the unique speciality of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita is that Lord Krishna, Himself is directly speaking.
The subject matter of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita scientifically and comprehensively establishes the reality of Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord of all. The objective of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita establishes that the highest goal of life is to surrender fully to Him and to ecstatically join Him in His eternal pastimes; by the cessation of ignorance and all other miseries.
In Srimad Bhagavad-Gita the words Brahman which is the spiritual substratum pervading all existence indicates the Ultimate Truth and aksar which means imperishable refer also to: isvara the Supreme Lord, jiva-atma the self realized soul and prakriti the material substratum. The word ksar meaning perishable refers to the conditioned souls and the physical body.
The word atman meaning soul also refers to: isvara, jiva-atma the individual consciousness, deha the physical body, manah the mind, buddhi spiritual intelligence, dhriti patience and yatna endeavor.
The word prakriti material substratum also refers to the three modes being: sattva goodness, rajas passion and tamas ignorance; desires, ones own individual nature and ones eternal spiritual identity.
The word bhava which can mean transcendental ecstasy also refers to satta existence, avipraya intention, ones own individual nature, padartha matter, janma birth, kriya actions and atma soul.
The word yoga which is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness refers to karma reactions, bhakti devotional service, jnana knowledge and citta vritti-nirodha which is complete control of all mental faculties.
Srimad Bhagavad-Gita contains the revelatory words of the Supreme Lord, Himself. Thus it is the best of all scriptures. What is the necessity of other elaborate scriptures if they are not used in conjunction with Srimad Bhagavad-Gita which emanated directly from the mouth of Lord Krishna.
The words of King Dhritarastra and others as quoted in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita were composed by Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa to keep the consistency with the narration and they are absorbed into Srimad Bhagavad-Gita in the way salt particles are absorbed in a salt ocean.
Thus ends the introduction to the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya commentary entitled: Bhagavad-Gita-Bhusana-Bhasya by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana.