Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 5

अपरेयमितस्त्वन्यां प्रकृतिं विद्धि मे पराम् |
जीवभूतां महाबाहो ययेदं धार्यते जगत् || 5||

apareyam itas tvanyāṁ prakṛitiṁ viddhi me parām
jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

aparāinferior; iyamthis; itaḥbesides this; tubut; anyāmanother; prakṛitimenergy; viddhiknow; memy; parāmsuperior; jīva-bhūtāmliving beings; mahā-bāhomighty-armed one; yayāby whom; idamthis; dhāryatethe basis; jagatthe material world

Translation

BG 7.5: Such is my inferior energy. But beyond it, O mighty-armed Arjun, I have a superior energy. This is the jīva śhakti (the soul energy), which comprises the embodied souls who are the basis of life in this world.

Commentary

Shree Krishna now goes totally beyond the realm of material science. He explains that the eight-fold prakṛiti mentioned in the previous verse is his inferior material energy. But it is not all that exists. There is also a superior spiritual energy, which is completely transcendental to insentient matter. This energy is the jīva śhakti, which encapsulates all the souls in this world.

The relationship between the jīva (individual soul) and God has been described from various perspectives by India’s great philosophers. The non-dualist philosophers state: jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ “The soul itself is God.” However, this contention raises a number of unanswerable questions:

1) God is all-powerful and Maya is his subservient energy. If the soul is God, then how come it has been overpowered by Maya? Is Maya stronger than God?

2) We all know that the soul is suffering from ignorance. Hence, it perceives the need for scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and the lectures of saints. How can the soul that is subject to the ignorance be considered as God, who is all-knowing?

3) God is all-pervading in the world. This is repeatedly stated in the Vedas. If the soul is God then the soul must exist everywhere at the same time; so where is the question of going to heaven and hell after death?

4) The souls are innumerable in quantity, and they all have their individual identity. However, God is one. Now, if the soul itself were God, then God would also have been many.

We thus see that the claim of non-dualistic philosophers that the soul itself is God makes no sense. On the other hand, the dualist philosophers state that the soul is separate from God. This answers some of the questions above, but it is an incomplete understanding compared to what Shree Krishna states in this verse. He says that the soul is a part of the spiritual energy of God.

So God is the one Supreme Energetic, and everything that exists—both spiritual and material—is composed of all his various lower and higher energies.

eka-deśha-sthitasyāgnir jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā

parasya brahmaṇaḥ śhaktis tathedam akhilaṁ jagat (Viṣhṇu Purāṇ 1.22.53)[v3]

“Just as the sun resides in one place, but its sunlight pervades the entire solar system, similarly there is one God, who by his infinite powers pervades the three worlds.” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said:

jīva-tattva śhakti, kṛiṣhṇa-tattva śhaktimān

gītā-viṣhṇupurāṇādi tāhāte pramāṇa

(Chaitanya Charitāmṛit, Ādi Leela, 7.117)[v4]

“The soul is an energy of God, while he is the Supreme Energetic.”

Once we accept the concept of the soul as a form of his energy, then the non-duality of all creation becomes comprehensible. Any energy is simultaneously one and different from the energetic. For example, a fire and its heat and light can be considered as different entities, but they can also be clubbed together and considered as one. Thus, we can consider the soul and God as one from the point of view of the energy (soul) and the Energetic (God). But we can also consider the soul and God as different, since the energy and Energetic are also distinct entities.

Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has expressed this so perfectly, encapsulating Shree Krishna’s statement in this verse and the previous one:

jīvu’ ‘māyā’, dui śhakti haiñ, śhaktimān bhagavān

śhaktihiñ bheda abheda bhī, śhaktimān te jān (Bhakti Śhatak verse 42)[v5]

“The soul and Maya are both energies of God. Hence, they are both one with God and also different from God.”

From the perspective of the unity between the energies and Energetic, the entire world is non-different from God. Thus, it is stated that the whole world is the veritable form of God.

sarvaṁ khalvidaṁ brahma (Chhāndogya Upaniṣhad 3.14.1)[v6]

“All is Brahman.”

īśhāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ (Īśhopaniṣhad 1)[v7]

“Everything that exists in the world is God.”

puruṣha evedaṁ sarvaṁ (Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad 3.15)[v8]

“The Supreme Divine Personality is everything that exists.”

All these Ved Mantras state that there is only one God and nothing else in the world. At the same time, from the perspective of diversity between the energy and the Energetic, we can understand that within that unity, there is also tremendous variety. The soul is different; matter is different; God is different. Matter is insentient, while the soul is sentient, and God is the supremely sentient source and basis of both soul and matter. Many Vedic mantras talk of three entities in creation:

kṣharaṁ pradhānamamṛitākṣharaṁ haraḥ kṣharātmānāvīśhate deva ekaḥ

tasyābhidhyānād yojanāt tattvabhāvad bhūyaśhchānte viśhwamāyānivṛittiḥ

(Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad 1.10)[v9]

“There are three entities in existence: 1) Matter, which is perishable. 2) The individual souls, who are imperishable. 3) God, who is the controller of both matter and the souls. By meditating upon God, uniting with him, and becoming more like him, the soul is freed from the world’s illusion.”

We see how the Vedas expound both sides—non-dualistic and dualistic mantras. Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has upheld the view of simultaneous and inconceivable oneness and difference between the soul and God.