तेषामेवानुकम्पार्थमहमज्ञानजं तमः

नाशयाम्यात्मभावस्थो ज्ञानदीपेन भास्वता ॥११॥


teṣām evānukampārtham

aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ

nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho

jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā


teṣām—for them; eva—certainly; anukampā-artham—to show special mercy; aham—I; ajñāna-jam—due to ignorance; tamaḥ—darkness; nāśayāmi—dispel; ātma—within; bhāvasthaḥ—themselves; jñāna—of knowledge; dīpena—with the lamp; bhāsvatā—glowing.

Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.

teṣām evānukampārtham

aham ajñāna-jaṁ tamaḥ

nāśayāmy ātma-bhāva-stho

jñāna-dīpena bhāsvatā


“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”

So, before we go into speaking about the verse, what I’d like to do is just read once again the previous verse that we have looked at, because it’s important to look at this verse that I just read in a broader context.

So, Krishna had stated to Arjuna:

“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”

So, this is quite a heavy statement—the darkness which is born of ignorance. So, you’ve got two things here. You’ve got this ignorance, ignorance meaning ignorance of the spiritual reality, and the term, this darkness born from this ignorance. And we may ask, “So, what exactly is this ignorance and what exactly is the darkness that is born from it?”

There is a famous verse in one of the Upanishads, the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, that many people in yoga circles have heard before, and it’s sometimes referred to the asatoma mantra.

asato ma sad gamaya

amaso ma jyotir gamaya

mryor mamrtam gamaya


The translation of this verse is:

“Oh Lord, lead me from illusion to the eternal reality. Lead me from darkness into the light. Lead me from the realm of death into the nectar of immortality.”

So, what is this ignorance that’s been spoken of here? What is the nature of the illusion that has also been mentioned?  Well, I’m going to reference a verse from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, because this understanding was part of almost all dharmic traditions.

In this verse by Patanjali, from the 2nd pada, the 5th sloka, he defines ignorance. He says:

“Ignorance consists of considering that which is temporary as eternal, the impure as pure, and misery as happiness, and the non-self ([meaning] the body or mind) as the real self.”

So, this is not just within the Ashtanga yoga tradition. In the Bhagavata Purana exactly the same ideas are put forward but perhaps in a slightly more elaborated way. And I’ll read this verse from the Bhagavat Purana:

“Thus mistaking the temporary for the eternal, my body for myself, and sources of misery for sources of happiness, I have tried to take pleasure in material dualities. Covered in this way by ignorance, I could not recognize You as the real object of my love.”

So, in this beautiful verse it goes, of course, further than what Patanjali had mentioned, showing the massive downside to being covered by ignorance: that one is unable to recognize our actual object of love, which is the Lord within our own heart.

This ignorance is founded on this false idea that the body is the self. And once I am covered by this idea, then I am overwhelmed with the notion or the idea that it is going to be possible for me to achieve happiness by stimulating the senses of this body, by exciting them and trying to satisfy the desires that arise from that, and from my mind. But what I end up doing is engaging in an endless cycle of desire followed by action that is karmic and produces a karmic fruit. And then I become bound to this material world, having to experience, to receive and taste the fruits of my actions, of my activities, and I become bound in a perpetual cycle of birth and death.

When one sees things with that much clarity, then the whole idea of the material experience is kind of like, it’s a massive concern. I mean, it becomes an overwhelming concern; and one would be intelligent to seek some relief or liberation from this entanglement.

In another verse from the Bhagavat Purana in the 3rd Canto, a very great saintly personality, Vidura, he says:

“O great sage everyone in this world engages in fruitive activities to attain happiness…”

So, I’ll just pause there for a second. This is a term that Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami would commonly use in English, “fruitive activities,” where a person does something with the desire to benefit, to receive some fruit that they can try to enjoy. This is the essence of karmic activity.

“…everyone in this world engages in fruitive activities to attain happiness, but one finds neither satiation nor the mitigation of distress. On the contrary, one is only aggravated by such activities. Please, therefore, give us direction on how one should live for real happiness.”

One of the verses in the Bhagavad-gita that’s so amazing is—it describes that when a person is always chasing material desire, when one is cultivating material desire and then chasing after the objects of this desire, one cannot possibly ever experience peace.

And then the question is asked by Krishna, “…and how can one be happy when there is no peace.” And He advises Arjuna that one must intelligently learn to tolerate the urges of the mind and become focused on a spiritual life, a spiritual course, in order to find real peace and to achieve real spiritual enlightenment, to come to know Krishna, the Supreme Lord, and to develop and cultivate a relationship with Him. And so, the pursuit of material experience is a huge hurdle for any form of spiritual discovery. One cannot discover the real nature of one’s own self, even, if we are constantly engaged in trying to satisfy the desires of the body and the mind.

In another set of three verses, there is the following:

“In this way the conditioned soul living within the body forgets his self-interest because he identifies himself with the body. Because the body is material, his natural tendency is to be attracted by the varieties of the material world. Thus the living entity suffers the miseries of material existence.”

Reading this, we’re reminded of the famous English saying, “Variety is the spice of life,” and that is the case when one is pursuing material life. One needs constant variety of experience because if you do the same thing, you quickly get burned out. For instance, just say a person’s favourite food is pizza. Okay, we lock them in a room and feed them pizza, their favourite pizza, and only that flavour, three times a day, for a week. Within a day, you’re so over it, you’re so sick of it, it’s no longer your favourite.

One can take the most moving piece of music, something that someone just says, “Oh, I love this so much. It’s a wonderful piece of music.” You put them in a chair and put on a headset, headphones, and then just play that music on a loop, maybe five, six, ten times, into hearing the same thing over, one is already becoming agitated. You’re no longer feeling elated. And if that is kept going for hours, one would describe that as being a form of torture.

And it’s kind of like, what!? How can this thing that is your favourite, and most moving piece of music, that really lifts you up and makes you feel so amazing, how can that become like torture, just by constantly listening? And it’s because there is no inherent pleasure in the material elements. They don’t contain ananda. It’s not their characteristic. And so what’s happening is the mind has this tendency to fantasize, oh, that this is going to be such a wonderful thing, but if I consistently and continuously do that same thing over and over, it becomes like a source of pain and suffering; which is proof that these things do not contain the inherent happiness that we think they do. And so, therefore, you have the saying “Variety is the spice of life,” you have to keep going at it.

So going back to this verse, the 2nd part of it:

“Because the body is material, his natural tendency is to be attracted by the varieties of the material world, and thus the living entity suffers the miseries of material existence.

Just as a deer, because of ignorance, cannot see the water within a well-covered by grass, but runs after water elsewhere, the living entity covered by the material body does not see the happiness within himself but runs after happiness in the material world.

The living entity tries to achieve happiness and rid himself of the causes of distress, but because the various bodies of the living entities are under the full control of material nature, all his plans and different bodies one after another are ultimately baffled.”

This is a description of material existence. This is the darkness that comes from ignorance. The foundational ignorance is to be in denial, to be unaware of my true spiritual nature, myself as an eternal spiritual being. And from that ignorance comes this great darkness which we are always struggling so hard to avoid, but no matter which way we go, we always end up in the same place.

Speaking further to this point, in the Caitanya Caritamrta there is a beautiful verse that describes the following:

“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them have been elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down to the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master [and] by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”

So this is a—the verse that we have read, it has just been expounded on here in the most amazing and wonderful way. From the same Caitanya Caritamrta there is the most beautiful verse, that goes:

“Krishna is compared to sunshine, and maya [illusion] is compared to darkness. Wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be darkness. As soon as one takes to cultivating devotion to the Lord, the darkness of illusion (the influence of the external energy) will immediately vanish.”

So that gives us the most beautiful and wonderful summation of what it is that we have been reading and speaking about here in this and the previous verse from the Bhagavad-gita.

And so, in closing, I will just re-read:

“Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.”

I mean, it’s so incredible how different the Vedic or the actual spiritual perspective is, compared to the material perspective.

In this world you can have a person who has even multiple PhDs, and without meaning to demean anyone, they may have dedicated their entire life to studying a specific specie of mosquito or a particular type of grass or plant, and they’ve become profoundly learned in things associated with that particular insect or plant. Their walls can be covered with samples that they’ve collected from different parts of the world, and they may have written many volumes of work on it. And people may build a statue to such a person, who was incredibly intelligent and contributed so much to learning in this world. But from the perspective of the highly intelligent sages, such a life, if that was all that was produced, would be considered a wasted life, a life of ignorance, of darkness rather than of enlightenment and true knowledge.

The human form of life is for the purpose of self-realization and God-realization. The highest goal of human life is to attain the perfection of actual ecstatic spiritual love for Krishna. And if a person lives their life without having utilized the human form and the human intelligence, the faculties that come with this body, for the purpose of asking the questions, “Who am I? Why am I here? Who am I truly? What am I meant to be doing? What is my purpose? What is the higher meaning, the deeper meaning to life?” then it is considered that a person has wasted that brilliant opportunity, and as a result, may become implicated in more material activity and a continuous changing of bodies one after another, rotating through all the species of life, simply suffering in their ignorance of their actual spiritual identity. But in taking shelter in Krishna, one can be gifted with the shining lamp of knowledge and of spiritual realization.

Thank you very much.