This chapter begins with Shree Krishna describing the material and spiritual dimensions of God’s energies. He explains that similar to beads strung on a single thread, all these energies have originated from Him and rest in Him. The entire creation begins and dissolves into Him. Although it is very difficult to overcome His material energy Maya, those who surrender to Him can easily cross over it by His grace.
He then describes the four kinds of people who engage in His devotion and the other four who do not surrender to Him. He says that those devotees who worship Him in knowledge with their mind and intellect merged in Him are dearest to Him. Yet, some are deluded by material desires and surrender to the celestial gods, who bestow upon them temporary material prosperity. However, these celestial gods also get their powers from the Supreme Lord. Therefore, the worthiest object of devotion is the Almighty God Himself.
Shree Krishna further confirms that He is the ultimate truth and the highest authority. He possesses several divine attributes such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. However, His divine Yogmaya power hides His imperishable nature and eternal divine form. Those devotees who surrender to Him and take His shelter receive the divine knowledge of the Supreme God, the self, and the entire field of the karmic actions.
The Supreme Lord said: Now listen, O Arjun, how, with the mind attached exclusively to me, and surrendering to me through the practice of bhakti yog, you can know me completely, free from doubt.
I shall now reveal unto you fully this knowledge and wisdom, knowing which nothing else remains to be known in this world.
Amongst thousands of persons, hardly one strives for perfection; and amongst those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows me in truth.
Earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect, and ego—these are eight components of my material energy.
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.
Know that all living beings are manifested by these two energies of mine. I am the source of the entire creation, and into me it again dissolves.
There is nothing higher than myself, O Arjun. Everything rests in me, as beads strung on a thread.
I am the taste in water, O son of Kunti, and the radiance of the sun and the moon. I am the sacred syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether, and the ability in humans.
I am the pure fragrance of the Earth, and the brilliance in fire. I am the life-force in all beings, and the penance of the ascetics.
O Arjun, know that I am the eternal seed of all beings. I am the intellect of the intelligent, and the splendor of the glorious.
O best of the Bharatas, in strong persons, I am their strength devoid of desire and passion. I am sexual activity not conflicting with virtue or scriptural injunctions.
The three states of material existence—goodness, passion, and ignorance—are manifested by my energy. They are in me, but I am beyond them.
Deluded by the three modes of Maya, the people in this world are unable to know me, the imperishable and eternal.
My divine energy Maya, consisting of the three modes of nature, is very difficult to overcome. But those who surrender unto me cross over it easily.
Four kinds of people do not surrender unto me—those ignorant of knowledge, those who lazily follow their lower nature though capable of knowing me, those with deluded intellect, and those with a demoniac nature.
O best amongst the Bharatas, four kinds of pious people engage in my devotion—the distressed, the seekers after knowledge, the seekers of worldly possessions, and those who are situated in knowledge.
Amongst these, I consider them to be the highest, who worship me with knowledge, and are steadfastly and exclusively devoted to me. I am very dear to them and they are dear to me.
Indeed, all those who are devoted to me are indeed noble. But those in knowledge, who are of steadfast mind, whose intellect is merged in me, and who have made me alone as their supreme goal, I consider as my very self.
After many births of spiritual practice, one who is endowed with knowledge surrenders unto me, knowing me to be all that is. Such a great soul is indeed very rare.
Those whose knowledge has been carried away by material desires surrender to the celestial gods. Following their own nature, they worship the devatās, practicing rituals meant to propitiate these celestial personalities.
Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form.
Endowed with faith, the devotee worships a particular celestial god and obtains the objects of desire. But in reality, I alone arrange these benefits.
But the fruit gained by these people of small understanding is perishable. Those who worship the celestial gods go to the celestial abodes, while my devotees come to me.
The less intelligent think that I, the Supreme Lord Shree Krishna, was formless earlier and have now assumed this personality. They do not understand the imperishable exalted nature of my personal form.
I am not manifest to everyone, being veiled by my divine Yogmaya energy. Hence, those without knowledge do not know that I am without birth and changeless.
O Arjun, I know of the the past, present, and future, and I also know all living beings; but me no one knows.
O descendant of Bharat, the dualities of desire and aversion arise from illusion. O conqueror of enemies, all living beings in the material realm are from birth deluded by these.
But persons, whose sins have been destroyed by engaging in pious activities, become free from the illusion of dualities. Such persons worship me with determination.
Those who take shelter in me, striving for liberation from old-age and death, come to know Brahman, the individual self, and the entire field of karmic action.
Those who know me as the governing principle of the adhibhūta (field of matter) and the adhidaiva (the celestial gods), and as adhiyajña (the Lord of all sacrificial performances), such enlightened souls are in full consciousness of me even at the time of death.