Gita 15.18 explained
Transcript of Bhakti-Shastri class on this verse by Chaitanya Charan
Then after that Krishna says that, that Supreme Being is Me only.
yasmāt kṣaram atīto ’ham
akṣarād api cottamaḥ
ato ’smi loke vede ca
yasmāt — because; kṣaram — to the fallible; atītaḥ — transcendental; aham — I am; akṣarāt — beyond the infallible; api — also; ca — and; uttamaḥ — the best; ataḥ — therefore; asmi — I am; loke — in the world; vede— in the Vedic literature; ca — and; prathitaḥ — celebrated; puruṣa–uttamaḥ — as the Supreme Personality.
Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person.
yasmāt kṣaram atīto ’ham, because I am beyond the Ksara
akṣarād api cottamaḥ, and because I am beyond aksara also
So earlier Krishna told that the Uttam Purusha is beyond the Ksara and Aksara, now Krishna is using the word Aham to make things very clear,
I am beyond Ksara and Aksara.
ato ’smi loke vede ca, therefor loke vede ca, therefor in the lokas and in the Vedas, in the world and among the Vedas, prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ, I am celebrated as Purusottamah.
So this chapter is called as Purusottama Yoga. Yoga of the Supreme Person as Srila Prabhupada translates it. So Krishna has clearly established here that I am that Purushottama.
That Purushottama Krishna has referred to when He was talking about upside down banyan tree there He said, actually after one becomes liberated from material world and goes beyond there also in that beyond He has to search for the Supreme Person, it has been talked in 15.4
tataḥ padaṁ tat parimārgitavyaṁ
yasmin gatā na nivartanti bhūyaḥ
tam eva cādyaṁ puruṣaṁ prapadye
yataḥ pravṛttiḥ prasṛtā purāṇī
puruṣaṁ prapadye, There one has to surrender to the Supreme Person, the transcendental person who one can seek for after one becomes disentangled from material existence, that means just disentanglement from material existence and attaining spiritual platform is not enough in spiritual platform also one has to connect to the Supreme Lord. So beyond Brahman one has to rise to Bhagvan. So that Bhagvan is that Purusha who is beyond the liberation also that is Purushottama that is Krishna.
So this three verse exposes Mayavad in most strong way, because Krishna leaves very little scope for any interpretation. People do so many word jugglery but if we let BG speak for itself this verse is so obvious. Srila Prabhupada would often says Krishna can speak about Himself, let Krishna speak you shut up.
So Krishna says first of all there are two persons one is conditioned and other is liberated and Supreme Person is beyond these two person who is maintaining them and I am that Supreme Person. So even if one is liberated he do not merge into Supreme Person, Krishna still remain the Supreme reality. So this is how BG strongly refutes mayavad.
The following verse appears in the Vedas (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.12.3): tāvad eṣa samprasādo ’smāc charīrāt samutthāya paraṁ jyoti-rūpaṁ sampadya svena rūpeṇābhiniṣpadyate sa uttamaḥ puruṣaḥ.
tāvad eṣa samprasādo ’smāc charīrāt samutthāya, the Super Soul comes out of the body
paraṁ jyoti-rūpaṁ sampadya svena rūpeṇābhiniṣpadyate
the Super Soul goes and gets situated in Brahma Jyoti and then how He is situated? In one’s own form and that is called as Purushottama,
So let us look at the summary over here:
15.16-18: Three aspect of AT
Srila Visvanath Chakravarthi Pad has explained this in a slightly different ways, he says as follows:
15.16: Talks about Brahman
15.17: Talks about Paramatma–10.41
15.18: Talks about Bhagavan
15.19 –sarva-vid: head, sarva-bhavena: heart
So let us see how this works out the three aspect of AT Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagvan.
In 15.18 talked about I am celebrated in three worlds as the Purushottama, and I am beyond the Ksara and Aksara. Now we know that the Absolute Truth has three aspects and the Bhagvan aspect is transcendental to everything and everyone, so in that sense it is a logical correlation that this particular verse refers to the Bhagvan and Krishna is clearly using the word Aham.
Then if we look at 15.17 it refers to the Paramatma aspect,
yo loka-trayam āviśya
bibharty avyaya īśvaraḥ
one who enters in all worlds and residing there maintains those, so this is clearly referring to the paramatma, Paramatam enter into three world Maha Vishnu, Garbhodakshayi Vishnu (enters into each universe) and Kshirodakshayi Vishnu (enters into hearts of all the living beings and into all the matters also).
Then how 15.16 is referring to Brahman, actually two things are talked about,
dvāv imau puruṣau loke
kṣaraś cākṣara eva ca
ksara and Aksara, the word Aksara has been used to refer to Brahma,
In 8.1 and 8.2 Arjuna askes question and in 8.3 answer is given
akṣaraṁ brahma paramaṁ
svabhāvo ’dhyātmam ucyate
so aksara is Brahman, so Srila Prabhupada has referred to aksara as living entity but Srila Visvanath Charavarti Thakur is giving us different explanation, and there also he referred to aksara as Brahman.
So aksara what is infallible is Brahman and Brahman is also Kutastha it is situated without any changes situated in transcendence. So there is Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagvan so there is progression in these three verses. And through this progression Krishna is taking us to the ultimate conclusion. And the ultimate conclusion is we have to understand Him to be Supreme Person, so let us look at the another way of looking at the summary verses:
1.Krishna is not the same as the liberated purusha, but is beyond even the liberated
2.Krishna is the Purushottama and the Paramatma
3.Krishna is the highest manifestation of the AT (this will be made clear in next verse)
End of transcription.