Gita Daily Readings

21 August
Chapter XI: 38
Thou art the primal God, the ancient purusha, the supreme refuge of this universe, the knower, the knowable and the supreme abode. By thee is the universe pervaded, Oh being of infinite forms.

Commentary

We are often confronted with the unavoidable confusion that arises when an attribute assumes a proper name; a functional or characteristic definition surrenders its value and is used as a label.

"Thou art the adideva": deva is a being of light, in fact, light itself. Thus the term could be translated: thou art the first light! It was this first light that "saw" (in biblical language) that darkness was on the face of the earth, and demanded light. It is the eternal light that shines when all else is dark. Even now, it is that which shines through all else. That light, being luminous, does not need another to illuminate it. It illuminates itself and the other!

"The ancient purusha": purusha does not merely mean "man" but the indwelling presence, one who lives in the body. The ancient body is the body of God - the whole universe. This ancient body was never lifeless; the Lord has dwelt in it from beginningless time and it is he who dwells in it even now.

"Param nidhanam": supreme refuge. Nidhanam may also mean: preserver, reservoir, treasure, wealth. If the ever-changing matter did not have cosmic consciousness as its permanent, stable and indwelling presence, there would be chaos in the universe. That presence is the preserving treasure of the cosmos. It is the reservoir of inexhaustible soul-force that untiringly and ceaselessly perpetuates this world-play. And, when all matter is temporarily dissolved, the soul-force returns to its own center, which we call God.

Who is to know this cosmic indweller? Only God can know himself. 'I' cannot know him; the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. He it is who knows, and he knows himself!

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