When India received independence, the founders wanted to ensure that the newly-created states within India did not disintegrate due to infighting. To that end, they created a two tier government system with a state government that was aligned to state interests, and a central government that put the interests of India before anything else.
 
Furthermore, in order to ensure that residents of a state did not forget that they are part of a bigger country, our founders instituted the national flag, the national anthem, independence day, republic day, the national emblem and so on. These symbols are expressions, or “vibhootis” of India. They are highly important because they remind us of the existence of the nation of India no matter where we are. They make the abstract concept of the nation of India tangible and visible.
 
Shri Krishna ended the previous chapter by urging Arjuna, and all devotees, to always keep their minds within Ishvara. In this chapter, Arjuna asked Shri Krishna, “how can I know Ishvara when my eyes cannot see him?” The answer to Arjuna’s question is the main teaching of this chapter, in the form of natural, historic, Puraanic and other awe-inspiring people and objects that serve as Ishvara’s expressions or manifestations.
 
How do these expressions benefit us? Just like we use symbols of India to constantly invoke the notion of India, we should use one or some or all of these expressions to constantly remember and think of Ishvara. This chapter is not meant to be a lesson in the Puraanas. It is meant to be practiced as a daily meditation, by employing one expression, whichever we like, as the object of our meditation.
 
So for example, if we have an affinity for the sun, we should bring the shloka “aadityaanaamaham vishnuhu” to attention and keep it in our minds as much as possible, whenever we see the sun. This will transform our vision to look beyond the visible aspect of the sun, connect the sun to Ishvara and see the Ishvara inside.

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