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 explains that beyond the eight-fold prakṛiti, the material energy, which He says is inferior; there exists another energy, which is far more superior. This energy is completely transcendental compared to the lifeless matter. It is His spiritual energy, the jīva śhakti, which includes all the living souls of the world. Now, He has moved from explaining material science towards the spiritual realm.

Many great philosophers of India have given their perspectives and described the relationship between God and the jīva, the individual soul.  For example, the non-dualist state: jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ “The soul itself is God.”  But this concept gives rise to several questions, such as:

How can a soul itself be God? God is most powerful and Maya is His subservient energy. The souls are always overpowered by Maya. Then is Maya stronger than God?

The individual soul is always gripped by ignorance and misery. It needs a continuous reminder from the saints and scriptures even of its own existence and purpose. How can God who is all-knowing be considered a soul which is subject to ignorance?

The Vedas repeatedly state that, God is all-pervading in this world and beyond. Similarly, the individual souls should also be able to exist anywhere at any given time. Then what about the question of going to heaven or hell after death?

There is only one God, but the souls are countless. If the soul itself is God, then there should be many Gods. Therefore, the claims by non-dualistic philosophers that the soul itself is God are inconclusive.

The dualist philosophers state: The souls and God are separate. Even though it may answer some of the above questions, yet it is still incomplete philosophy in light of what Shree Krishna has stated in this verse. He said that the soul is a part of jīva śhakti God’s spiritual energy. And as previously explained Maya, the material energy is also His servient. This means that God is Supreme; He is the governor of both the lower material and the higher spiritual energies.

Now let us see what the scriptures and various saints have said:

eka-deśha-sthitasyāgnir jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā
parasya brahmaṇaḥ śhaktis tathedam akhilaṁ jagat
(Viṣhṇu Purāṇ 1.22.53)

“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)

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

From what is being said here, on understanding and accepting that the soul is a part of God’s infinite energy, the concept of non-duality of the entire creation becomes clear. Energies can exist concurrently within the same energetic. For example, fire contains both heat and light, which are different entities and have different properties. But they are part of the same fire which emits them. Likewise, God as the Energetic and the souls His energy can be considered one. At the same time, due to their distinct properties both entities are different from each other.

Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj has encapsulated and perfectly expressed Shree Krishna’s statement in this and the previous verse:

‘jīvu’ ‘māyā’, dui śhakti haiñ, śhaktimān bhagavān
śhaktihiñ bheda abheda bhī, śhaktimān te jān
(Bhakti Śhatak verse 42)

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

Considering the unison of both, the Energetic and His energies, it is stated that God and His creation are non-different. The entire world is a veritable form of God.

sarvaṁ khalvidaṁ brahma   (Chhāndogya Upaniṣhad 3.14.1)

“All is Brahman.”

īśhāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ   (Īśhopaniṣhad 1)

“Everything that exists in the world is God.”

puruṣha evedaṁ sarvaṁ   (Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad 3.15)

“The Supreme Divine Personality is everything that exists.”

According to these Vedic verses, there is only one God and nothing else. Yet, when we consider the energetic and energy concept, there is diversity within this unity and an incredible variety. God, the souls, and the matter all three are different entities, with different properties. God is Supremely sentient; He is the source of both the souls and the matter. Yet, souls are sentient and matter is insentient.

The scriptures also state the existence of three entities in creation:

kṣharaṁ pradhānamamṛitākṣharaṁ haraḥ
kṣharātmānāvīśhate deva ekaḥ
tasyābhidhyānād yojanāt tattvabhāvad
bhūyaśhchānte viśhwamāyānivṛittiḥ
(Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad 1.10)

“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.”

The Vedas have expounded both dualistic and non-dualistic concepts. Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has upheld the concept of concurrent coherence yet variance between the soul and God. This means, God and the soul are one; yet separate from each other.