What is the most confidential knowledge in Bhagavad-Gita spoken in BG 18.64?


Firstly, although Krsna (beginning with Chapter 2, verse 11: "While speaking learned words you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead") appears to be speaking the Bhagavad-gita in order to incite Arjuna to fight, this is not Krsna s actual purpose. Krsna does not need to convince Arjuna to fight, for Arjuna will fight anyway (Chapter 18, verse 60: "Under illusion you are now declining to act according to My direction. But, compelled by Your own nature, you will act all the same, 0 son of Kunti." ). Krsna's actual intention in speaking the Gita was to teach the ultimate goal of life.

Bhagavata Gita verses 18.61-66 are as follows:


īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā

The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.


tam eva śaraṇaṁ gaccha sarva-bhāvena bhārata tat-prasādāt parāṁ śāntiṁ sthānaṁ prāpsyasi śāśvatam

O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode.


iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ guhyād guhya-taraṁ mayā vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa yathecchasi tathā kuru

Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.


sarva-guhyatamaṁ bhūyaḥ śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ iṣṭo ’si me dṛḍham iti tato vakṣyāmi te hitam

Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit.


man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo ’si me

Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.


sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

The ultimate goal of life, which is the actual message of Bhagavad-gita, is described as a great secret. Lord Krsna says in 18.64.

The word "guhyat" (in verse 63) refers to knowledge of impersonal Brahman, and the word "guhyataram" refers to the more confidential knowledge of the all-pervading Supersoul.

In these six verses from Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna explains the worship performed by one situated in a little transcendental knowledge (in verse 18.61, beginning with the words "isvarah sarva-bhutanam"), and he openly states the supreme secret of pure devotional service (in verse 18.65, beginning with the words "man-mana bhava"). In the first quote the reference to Lord Krsna is remote, but in the second quote the reference to Him is obvious.

This same description of pure devotional service was also given previously in almost the same words in the following verse (Bhagavad-gita 9.34): "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me."* Krishna uses 'bhuyah' in 18.64 to indicate this.

Someone may question:

Lord Krsna explains (18.63-64) that the last verses of Bhagavad-gita are the most confidential part of knowledge. This last part of Bhagavad-gita, however simply restates what has already been stated in a general way in the previous verses of the Gita(18.61-62). Why does Lord Krsna say that this last part is more confidential?

The answer is: It is not that in the later part of Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna explains a higher method of worship, but rather, in the last part of the Gita He explains a higher object of worship. Earlier in the Gita, the Lord describes the all-pervading Supersoul, the neutral observer of all living entities (8.4) ("tat =Him), and later the Lord describes Himself as the Original Supreme Person ("mat =Me). In this way Lord Krsna is described as the ultimate object of worship, just as in the Vedanta sutra (3.2.39), the Personality of Godhead (and not the demigods) is described as the ultimate bestower of the results of sacrifice.

That pure devotional service was described by the Lord before 18.63 is confirmed by verse 18.62 ("0 scion of Bharata, surrender to Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace, and the supreme and eternal abode"). In this verse the word "eva (certainly)" emphasizes the meaning, and the phrase "sarva-bhavena" should be interpreted according to the primary meaning of the words ("in all respects"). The secondary meaning of the words ("by accepting the process of meditation") should not be accepted here. We may also note that the Lord's own planet in the spiritual world is also described in the words "You will attain the supreme and eternal abode." In this way it should be understood that the great secret revealed after verse 18.64 is not the process of pure devotional service, but rather, the ultimate object of that service: Sri Krsna.

It is not, therefore, that in the earlier portions of Bhagavad-gita, the Lord describes an inferior process of worship, and neither does He describe the object of worship in a more indirect way in that portion of the Gita. In the beginning portion of the Gita, therefore, the Lord describes the all-pervading Supersoul, and afterwards He describes Himself as the Original Personality of Godhead, above the Supersoul.

That the form of Sri Krsna is more important than the form of the Supersoul is confirmed in the following verse of Bhagavad-gita (7.30), where Lord Krsna says: "The Supersoul form of Mine is the governing principle of the material manifestation, the one underlying all the demigods, and the one sustaining all sacrifices. The devotees know that I am the Original Supreme Lord, and that My form as Sri Krsna is more important than My form as the Supersoul." We may note the use of the word "sa" (with) in the words "sadhibhutadhidaivam" and "sadhiyajam" in this verse. The word "sa" in these compound words indicates that the word understood to be in the instrumental case in these compounds is considered secondary, and the word expressed by the whole compound is considered primary. This is confirmed in the following sutra of Panini (Astadhyayi 2.3.19): "saha-yukte 'pradhane". From this we may understand that the form of Sri Krsna is most important, and the form of the Supersoul is only secondary.

But one may doubt the above explanation because Krsna described Himself as the Supersoul present in the hearts of all living entities. This is described in the following words spoken by Lord Krsna Himself (Bhagavadgita 8.4): "I am the Supreme Lord, represented as the Supersoul, dwelling in the heart of every embodied being."

This should be understood to mean that Lord Krsna expands Himself to appear as the all-pervading Supersoul. This does not mean that the original form of Sri Krsna is present as the all-pervading Supersoul. This is something like the following explanation of Dronacarya found in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.7.45): "He (Dronacarya) is certainly still existing, being represented by his son."

In verses 18.63-18.64: Krishna says: I have taught you this knowledge which is more secret (guhyataram) than knowledge of Brahman which is also secret (guhyat). The suffix tara indicates superiority

Thinking that this is not sufficient for his great, exclusive devotee, Kṛṣṇa then boldly teaches the highest knowledge of all, surpassing the hierarchy of worship with gradations of superiority among Pradyumna, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva and the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha. Please listen to the the highest teaching, the greatest secret (sarva-guhyatamam). Though what is most secret (guhyatamam) means that it is greater than the secret and more secret, use of the word sarva with guhyatamam indicates that it surpasses what is taught in other scriptures about worship of the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha because of the meaning of guhyatamam by itself simply means most secret. The suffix tama means excellent among all or supreme.

Thus in Summary:

1. The knowledge of Brahman is confidential.(guhya)[BG 14.27 - Verily, I am the foundation of Brahman]

2. The knowledge of Paramatma(Supersoul) is very confidential.(guhya tara)[BG 18.61-62]

3. The knowledge of Bhagavan is most confidential.(guhyatama)

4. The knowledge of Sri Krishna, among all the forms of Bhagavan is the most confidential teaching of Bhagavad Gita. This Krishna indicates by using sarva. (sarva guhyatama)

Reference: Krishna Sandarbha of Jiva Goswami, Anuccheda 82

Just adding additional notes on the terms Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan for more clarity.

SB 1.2.11:

vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jñAnam advayam brahmeti paramAtmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate

Knowers of reality declare that reality to be nondual consciousness, called “Brahman,” “Paramatma,” and “Bhagavan.”

Jiva Goswami recognizes the fact that the three designations are often used interchangeably in texts; the BhAgavata mentions them here in order to indicate their primary significance. The selection of names is not arbitrary; the verse does not, for example, give “living entity” (jiva) as a name of the nondual reality. Nor is the order in which the names appear random. The BhAgavata PurAna is indicating a hierarchy of forms from Brahman to Bhagavan, based on the degree of revelation.


Bhagavan is the complete manifestation of the nondual reality and, indeed, identifiable with it. In him, all the inherent energies (saktis) of the Supreme are clearly visible—beauty, power, wisdom, majesty, abode, and associates.

Then, depending on the degree to which the fullness of the Lord’s glory is hidden, he is known as either Brahman or Paramatma.


When Bhagavan’s energies are manifest in a partial way, mainly in regard to directing material nature (prakrti) and the living entities ( jivas), he is known as Paramatma—the inner controller, inspirer, and support of the cosmos.


"When his attributes are totally unmanifest, he is known as Brahman—the undifferentiated, unqualified, and impersonal Absolute."


“That which is not qualified, and which shines because it is pure consciousness,know it to be Brahman.”

In his instructions to Sanatana Gosvami at Kasi, Caitanya explains the implications of the “vadanti” verse:

The word “Brahman” refers to Svayam Bhagavan, who is one consciousness without a second, and without whom there is nothing else. “Knowers of reality declare that reality to be nondual consciousness, called ‘Brahman,’ ‘Paramatma,’ and ‘Bhagavan.’” That nondual reality is Krsna, Bhagavan himself. He exists in all three phases of time (past, present, and future). This is evident from the scriptures. . . . The word “AtmA” refers to Krsna. His nature is greatness [brhattva]. He is all pervading, the witness of everything, and the supreme form . . . Although the words “Brahman” and “AtmA” refer to Krsna, by conventional usage they refer to the Undifferentiated [nirviSesa] and the Inner Controller [antaryAmI], respectively.

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