Gita Daily Readings

28th September
Chapter XIII: 30
When a man sees the whole variety of beings as resting in the one, and spreading forth from that alone, he then becomes Brahman.

Commentary

Taken literally, this verse can give rise to all sorts of misconceptions. The variety of beings does not rest in the one as, for instance, “birds rest on a tree.” If we adopt the "actual transformation" (parinama-vada) of creation, (see verse 27 above), a more apt simile would be the fish in the ocean - born in the ocean, existing in it and dissolving in it - truly part of the ocean, but with a distinct personality. It is possible to catch the fish and show that it is separate from the ocean only because ocean is not omnipresent. Since God is omnipresent this paradox does not arise in him.

If, however, we adopt the second view that there is only an “apparent transformation” (vivarta-vada) which is illusory, then this variety and the one bear the same relationship as the different oceans, seas and bays of the world bear to the one vast homogeneous mass of water that the ocean really is. It is not as though the Indian ocean, the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific ocean, and so on, rest in the one ocean that encircles the world, but there is in truth only one ocean - the variety being a mere idea.

"All beings" includes one's self, too. It needs no special emphasis that he who thus sees the one reality realizes that even his own individuality is but an idea, for in truth only God exists. He then becomes Brahman, in the same way as the Arabian sea becomes the ocean when the name and the limitation are removed.

Krishna, however, does not permit us a daydreaming phantasm of oneness; that oneness is not exclusive of the diversity. The obvious (the diversity), in a manner of speaking, clothes the unobvious (the oneness) which is the reality. Nothing that is of value, of sense or of importance in our lives is obvious. He who has realized that unobvious oneness knows that the variety spreads forth from that alone, and shares the dynamism of the diversity, while inwardly enjoying the peace of the one.

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