The knower is covered by māyā

Now Lord Krsna is entering into the topic of sakāma-bhaktih (devotion to Īśvara with material desires).

kāmaistaistairhrtajñānāh prapadyante'nyadevatāh |

tam tam niyaman āsthāya prakrtyā niyatāh svayā ||7.20|| Those people whose discrimination is robbed away by their own particular desires, driven by their own dispositions, worship other deities following what is stipulated.

By various objects of desire which seems to promise the fulfilment, people's discrimination are robbed away. Because of the predominance of desires for various things, discrimination between ātmā and anātmā, or between nitya and anitya does not arise in such people. They are too busy fulfilling their desires. And for the success of attainment desires, they invoke Īśvara in the form of different devatās - deities. There are prayers to invoke specific devatā for a specific result, and for certain results there are certain specified rituals. So, in order to fulfil their desires they invoke various other devatās. The devatās they worship are looked upon as other than ātmā. There is nothing wrong in this. The only problem is that they are only interested in dharma-artha-kāma, so it becomes very difficult to see Īśvara as everything. To gain this vision they have to see the limitation of these desires and pursue the understanding of ātmā.

yo yo yām yām tanum bhaktah śraddhayārcitum icchati |

tanya tasyācalām śraddhām tāmeva vidadhāmyaham ||7.21||

Whoever be the devotee and in whichever form (of deity) he wishes to worship with faith, indeed, I make that faith firm for him.

Whoever be the devotee, whether he/she be a devotee in distress, a devotee who wants help for accomplishment, and in whichever particular form, he/she desires to worship with faith, Īśvara himself makes that faith unshakable. What premier goal of worship is not important, the importance here is śraddhā. Earlier in chapter 4.39 Lord Krsna had said that, the one who has śraddhā gains knowledge of the identity of the individual and Īśvara, "śraddhāvān labhate jñānam". Īśvara makes that śraddhā firm by giving the results, even though they just recognise a small part of īśvara, do not understand īśvara in total. Īśvara is available in a particular form of devatā that they invoke. No devāta is separate from īśvara, but he is more than these devatā.

How Īśvara is making the śraddha firm in devotee?

sa tayā śraddhayā yuktah tasyārādhanamīhate |

labhate ca tatah kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān ||7.22||

He who, endowed with that faith, engages in worship of that (deity), gains from that (deity he has worshipped) those objects of desire that are definitely ordained by me alone.

The person endowed with śraddha, means he/she accepts the connection between the means in the form of prayer/ritual and its result. If the result is never given, śraddha will not be there. These results are given by Īśvara through the worshipped deities, even though they don't know the fact that Īśvara is behind everything. First, śraddha towards Īśvara as the giver of result corresponding to action - karmaphaladāta must be there, then śraddha towards scriptures and what is prescribed by the scripture will be there. Then one will pursue self-knowledge with śraddha from the same śāstra.

Limitation of being sakāma-bhaktih is being told next.

antavat tu phalam tesām tadbhavatyalpamedhasām |

devān devayajo yānti madbhaktā yānti mām api ||7.23||

But, for those of limited discrimination, that result is finite. The worshippers of the deities go

to the deities; the worshippers of me go to me indeed.

Limited discrimination - these devotees do have discrimination between dharma-adharma, but they don't have discrimination knowledge between ātmā-anātmā. Therefore they only get limited result according to their finite goal. In term of time whatever result they get will definitely end, and being a result it will definitely perish (time wise limitation). In term of place, it is also finite, because by going to one place, another is missed (space wise limitation). When something are available for enjoyment while some are not (object wise limitation). The degree of pleasure one will experience is again limited because of the limitation of the body one has.

On the other hand when one desires only ātmā-jñānam, who seek Īśvara direct as oneself, he gains limitless.

avyaktam vyaktim āpannam manyante māmabuddhayah |

param bhāvam ajānanto mamāvyayam anuttamam ||7.24||

Those who lack discrimination, not knowing my limitless, changeless nature beyond which there is nothing greater, look upon me, who is formless, as one endowed with a manifest form.

Īśvara is avyakta - unmanifest, which is not known as an object. It is not accessible to any means of knowledge we have and therefore, is not known directly. This is because we have the concept that existence of an entity only if it is perceivable. But the truth is what is perceivable, doesn't have its own independent existence. Through drgdrsyavivekah - discrimination between seer and seen, we arrived at everything which is seen, depend on the seer to be exist. And only the ultimate seer is the truth which lending the existence to all the seen. Because of taking the reality of the perceived limited objects, we only go after them which gave limited fulfilment also. It is the same in the case of searching for the place of refuge. People can't hold on to the formless Īśvara. They need to have a concept that Īśvara who is someone with a certain form and watching them from a remote place. Why can't people know the formless nature of Īśvara?

nāham prakāśah sarvasya yoga-māyāsamāvrtah |

mūdho'yam nābhijānāti loko mām ajam avyayam ||7.25||

Completely covered by yoga-māyā, I am not recognised by everyone. This deluded person does not know me clearly as the one who is unborn and changeless.

Even though people is said to be deluded here, but don't feel small for not knowing the truth, because this manifest world is completely covered by yoga-māyā. Meaning of yoga here is arrangement of three guna. By that product of guna, people are covered. But what is being covered? Is it consciousness ātmā being covered? If consciousness is covered, we would not be able to know anything, there would be no world. Then what is covered? Lokah - that by which something is known, which is the knower, which is the consciousness conditioned by the mind as a knower. It is only in the knower standpoint that there is a covering. Knower doesn't know the nature of ātmā, and in the same time taking the nature of body-mind-sense as his/hers, therefore mistaken oneself as a doer and enjoyer, thus subject to birth and death.

nābhijānāti - doesn't know properly. Devotee knows Īśvara, but in some forms other than oneself, or as another individual located somewhere, as paroksa - remote. By not knowing Īśvara's true nature, one also doesn't know oneself.

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