The Theosophical Forum – December 1948

THE SEVEN JEWELS IN THE BHAGAVAD-GITA — Alexandra McLean

. . . you will find these Seven Jewels in all the ancient scriptures, scattered about, it is true, but you will find them if you look for them. — G. de Purucker

To Theosophists the Gita needs no introduction, but it may be we have not considered it with perceptions attuned to the "seven fundamental principles of knowledge," the "Seven Jewels," searching within its words and between its lines till we find these precious gems of truth embodied there.

The Sapta Ratnani (1) (the Seven Jewels) are said to be so fundamental that they hold true throughout the universe, inner and outer, and in all its parts, from the lowest to the highest. They have been called "the structure and carpentry of the Universe." We are told that even the Masters and Nirmanakayas study them with relation to further knowledge. These Seven Jewels are in truth seven keys to the vastness of our own true Self, opening the way to seven channels of perception with expanding vistas of profound significance. Let us enumerate and briefly consider these seven basic laws:

1. PUNARJANMAN: rebirth, reimbodiment, reincarnation and regeneration — cyclic recurrence.

2. KARMAN: the undeviating law of Cause and Effect, the reaping of that which we have sown and the sowing of that which we shall reap.

3. LOKAS and TALAS: Hierarchies and hierarchical structure, through which everything evolves in its manifestation. Through a Tala a descent into matter, through a Loka an ascent into spirit.

4. SWABHAVA: Individuality; the inner and real characteristic of every life-form, from an acorn to a galaxy: its own inherent powers; that which it unfolds; that which it has become and is.

5. PRAVRITTI and NIVRITTI: evolution and involution; the flowing forth or unfoldment, and the flowing back or infoldment — at all times a dual process.

6. AMRITA-YANA and PRATYEKA-YANA: the two paths of evolution: the "Pathway of Immortality," and the "Pathway of each for himself." The first path is the way followed self-consciously by the
Great Ones, the Buddhas of Compassion. They work not for themselves alone, but take countless lesser entities with them, helping them in their evolutionary unfoldment, for all is One and every part is linked with every other part. The second and lesser path is the way of those who seek peace and wisdom for themselves, and who at the Moment of Choice will become Pratyeka-Buddhas.

7. ATMA-VIDYA: Self-Knowledge, or the Divine Universal Knowledge.

To consider the Bhagavad-Gita by the clear and vitalizing light of the Jewels is to gain a deeper understanding of the poem. In the second chapter we find Krishna instructing Arjuna in the doctrines of Rebirth, Reimbodiment, Reincarnation — the first of the Seven Jewels:

As a man throweth away old garments and putteth on new, even so the dweller in the body, having quitted its old mortal frames, entereth into others which are new. . . .

Both I and thou have passed through many births, O harasser of thy foes! Mine are known unto me, but thou knowest not of thine.

A solemn impression of the second Jewel, Karman, is found in the awe-inspiring spectacle of the doomed multitudes rushing into the flaming mouths of Krishna in his divine form; and his majestic words give the key:

I am Time matured, come hither for the destruction of all these creatures. Wherefore, arise! seize fame! Defeat the foe and enjoy the full-grown kingdom! They have been already slain by me; be thou only the immediate agent, O thou both-armed one.

And in the following words the Lord Krishna points out in simple and direct language the way of release from Karman:

Whatever thou doest, O son of Kunti, whatever thou eatest. whatever thou sacrificest. whatever thou givest, whatever mortification thou performest, commit each unto me. Thus thou shalt be delivered from the good and evil experiences which are the bonds of action; and thy heart being joined to renunciation and to the practice of action, thou shalt come to me.

We find the doctrine of Hierarchies, the Third Jewel, in Krishna's reference to "all worlds up to that of Brahman," in his description of the great Aswattha Tree, "with its roots above and its branches below"; and in the myriad manifestations of Krishna in the various beings from all the kingdoms of nature, and all the elements; from gods to spirits of the lower orders.

He says:

O son of Kunti, at the end of a kalpa all things return unto my nature, and then again at the beginning of another kalpa I cause them to evolve again. Taking control of my own nature, I emanate again and again this whole assemblage of beings, without their will, by the power of the material essence (prakriti) By reason of my supervision nature produceth the animate and inanimate universe; it is through this cause, O son of Kunti, that the universe revolveth.

The fourth Jewel, Swabhava, is subtle. We say the inner nature within a rose seed will always bring forth a rose and no other thing. Could we say the "swabhava" of any entity is the sum-total of all its previous evolutionary experiences, waiting in seed form and holding the potentials of the entities until the next manifestation? Good or bad, the one predominating will be locked within: the swabhava, ready to unfold through the laws of the fifth Jewel, Evolution-Involution.

Two thoughts that seem to indicate swabhava occur in Chapter Third:

But the wise man also seeketh for that which is homogeneous with his own nature.

All creatures act according to their natures; what then will restraint effect?

In Chapter Sixteenth Krishna discourses on the qualities of beings in this world: the two types of swabhava that beings may manifest: the godlike, and the demoniacal, enumerating some of the qualities of these two types:

. . . universal compassion, modesty, mildness; patience, power, fortitude, and purity; discretion, dignity . . . these are the marks of him whose virtues are of a godlike character. . . . Those who are born with the demoniacal disposition . . . they know not purity nor right behavior, they possess no truthfulness. . . . They indulge insatiable desires, are full of hypocrisy, fast-fixed in false beliefs through their delusions.

Yet, in our inmost, at the "heart of the heart of us," is the divine swabhava, which ultimately it is our duty and great glory to manifest.

In the Antecedent Words to his Recension of the Gita, Mr. Judge tells us that "the story of the Mahabharata can be taken as that of Man in his evolutionary development." Thus the entire counsel of Krishna to Arjuna — self-restraint, renunciation, devotion to the Omnipresent Spirit — by following which "the journey of thy mortal frame" is to be accomplished, and union with the Supreme attained, embodies the Fifth Jewel: the recession of the lower, material qualities, and the unfolding of the spiritual-divine. Through the discriminating action of the Higher Self comes spiritual discernment, leading to an ever more perfect evolution-involution. Spirit "involves" into matter, so that matter may evolve towards spirit.

So closely are the fifth and sixth Jewels interwoven, it is difficult to give a clear-cut example of the sixth: Amrita-Yana and Pratyeka-Yana, the two paths of evolution, but we cannot fail to see his meaning when Krishna says:

These two, light and darkness, are the world's eternal ways; by one a man goes not to return, by the other he cometh back again upon earth. No devotee, O son of Pritha, who knoweth these two paths is ever deluded; wherefore, O Arjuna, at all times be thou fixed in devotion.

and elsewhere:

As the ignorant perform the duties of life from the hope of reward, so the wise man, from the wish to bring the world to duty and benefit mankind, should perform his actions without motives of interest.

We are further told that pure devotion will lead us to freedom from attachment to the three great qualities: sattva, light or truth; rajas, passion or desire; and tamas, indifference or darkness. The qualities will manifest, but we shall be free from attachment to them; doing all for the Self which is all, thus giving true devotion to the One. This is the path of Amrita-Yana.

And now the Seventh Jewel, Atma — Vidya, Self — knowledge. Throughout the entire Song of the Blessed One, the Master is teaching his chela the way to Self-knowledge. Perhaps it is best summed up in the final discourse of Krishna:

It is impossible for mortals to utterly abandon actions; but he who gives up the results of action is the true renouncer. . . . A man's own natural duty, even though stained with faults, ought not to be abandoned. For all human acts are involved in faults, as the fire is wrapped in smoke. . . . Learn from me, in brief, in what manner the man who has reached perfection attains to the Supreme Spirit, which is the end, the aim, and highest condition of spiritual knowledge. . . And having thus attained to the Supreme, he is serene, sorrowing no more, and no more desiring, but alike towards all creatures he attains to supreme devotion to me.

Krishna has encouraged and instructed his eager chela in the "structure and carpentry" of universal, divine Involution-Evolution. The chela — each of us who has seriously begun to follow the "Small Old Path" which leads to the goal of perfection — listening to Krishna, the Higher Self, is instructed in the constant flow and change of life-forms, of death and rebirth, and of regeneration through attaining Spiritual Knowledge. The two paths are pointed out, and we must choose which we will follow.

We find the final way to union with the Inner God on a field of battle, where we must overcome the lower with the Higher. With courage, devotion and right action, without attachment to results, with heart and mind intent on hearing and obeying the directions of Krishna, the Logos within, the final battle is won. Victory is ours. We come to the knowledge of One, and in one, devotion to All.

FOOTNOTE:

1. Ratna (Sk.) — a jewel. (return to text)


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