In chapter thirteen Lord Krishna reveals the distinct difference between the physical body and the immortal soul. He explains that the physical is transitory and perishable whereas the soul is immutable and eternal. The Lord also gives precise knowledge about the individual soul and the ultimate soul. Thus this chapter is entitled: The Individual and Ultimate Consciousness.
अर्जुन उवाच |
प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव क्षेत्रं क्षेत्रज्ञमेव च |
एतद्वेदितुमिच्छामि ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं च केशव ||१३- १||
इदं शरीरं कौन्तेय क्षेत्रमित्यभिधीयते |
एतद्यो वेत्ति तं प्राहुः क्षेत्रज्ञ इति तद्विदः ||१३- २||
prakR^itiM puruSha.n chaiva kShetra.n kShetraGYameva cha |
etadveditumichchhAmi GYAnaM GYeya.n cha keshava || 13-1 ||
idaM sharIraM kaunteya kShetramityabhidhIyate |
etadyo vetti taM prAhuH kShetraGYa iti tadvidaH || 13-2 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.1, 13.2
Anvaya: arjunah uvaca–Arjuna said; prakrtim–nature; purusam–the enjoyer; ca–also; eva–certainly; ksetram–body; ksetra-jnam–knower of the body; eva–certainly; ca–also; etat–all this; veditum–to understand; icchami–I wish; jnanam–knowledge; jneyam–the object of knowledge; ca–also; kesava–O Krsna; sri-bhagavan uvaca–the Personality of Godhead said; idam–this; sariram–body; kaunteya–O son of Kunti; ksetram–the field; iti–thus; abhidhiyate–is called; etat–this; yah–anyone; vetti–knows; tam–he; prahuh–is called; ksetra-jnah–knower of the body; iti–thus; tat-vidah–one who knows.
Translation: Arjuna said: O my dear Krsna, I wish to know about prakrti [nature], purusa [the enjoyer], and the field and the knower of the field, and of knowledge and the end of knowledge. The Blessed Lord then said: This body, O son of Kunti, is called the field, and one who knows this body is called the knower of the field.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
In verse seven of the previous chapter Lord Krishna declares sammuddharta mrtyu-samsara sagarat meaning saves them from the perpetual cycle of birth and the death which is like an ocean because in a day of Brahma every human being has approximately 43,000 separate births and life cycles. So the figure is astronomical if one calculates how many human lifetimes transpire in a only year of Brahma’s lifetime. So in this present chapter the truth about redemption from this transmigration from the cycle of birth and death is being revealed for this fulfilment. As it is not even remotely possible to achieve the fulfilment of redemption without atma-tattva or realisation of the eternal soul within. So in order to inoculate this knowledge of truth this chapter will delineate the relationship between prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the Pususa or the Supreme Consciousness pervading spiritual existence that is the source of all existence. It is the lack of discrimination and discernment between the prakriti and Purusa which causes delusion and binds the atma or eternal soul which is an infinitesimal spark of the Purusa within the etheric heart of the jiva or embodied being, keeping them in bondage locked by samsara or the perpetual cycle of transmigratory existence birth after birth, life after life. It is by the power of first Purusa and then prakriti that the Supreme Lord Krishna manifests all creation and they are distinctly different from each other. Prakriti is related to the ksetra or the field and the Purusa is related to ksetrajnam or knower of the field. The ksetra is the material body which is the basis for all physical enjoyment and the sprouting ground for endless transmigration. The ksetrajnam is that which is conscious of itself and thinks in terms of I and mine and is called the jiva by those who have factual discriminative knowledge of both. This is because the jiva is the beneficiary of the results of the actions performed by the body like the farmer who reaps the harvest of his field.
Hari OM! In this chapter whatever has been previously stated about knowledge, the object of knowledge, prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the Purusa or the Supreme eternal consciousness is herein being categorically collated and elucidated by Lord Krishna. The means of developing spiritual intelligence through karma or activities was given by Lord Krishna in the first six chapters known as the Karma Yoga section and the means of achieving bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Lord Krishna was revealed in the subsequent six chapters known as the Bhakti Yoga section along with the different manifestations of the Supreme Lord have all been arranged here together in summation.
The jiva or embodied being is by itself eternal because it possesses an atma or eternal soul bestowed by the Lord Krishna which is an infinitesimal spark from Him; but the physical body although energized by the Supreme Lord is not eternal and disintegrates with time. Therefore the physical body is called sharira because it appears to die and since the Supreme Lord resides within all jivas as the atma He is known as ksetrajna or the consciousness within the ksetra or field of activity. This consciousness envelopes the physical body and is the source of the material senses which display their perceptions of duality in the ksetra of the physical body with emotions of like and dislike, happiness and misery, pleasant and unpleasant, love and hate etc.
Now begins the summation.
One who is freed from the modulations of desires and the bewilderment of attractions is able to unite with pure thoughts of spiritual consciousness. Such a jiva or embodied being is considered to have achieved moksa or liberation from material existence. The Narayana Scripture states that there are two manifestations of moksa. The superior form of moksa is known as suddha or pure liberation and its consciousness is always attuned and in harmony with dharma or eternal righteousness and the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorized avatars or incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. This consciousness has an all comprehensive knowledge about the atma or eternal soul and following the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures is always engaged in performing different levels of bhakti or devotion to the Supreme Lord which eventually results in direct communion with the Supreme Lord eternal association with Him.
The inferior form of moksa is known as asuric or demoniac liberation and its consciousness is antagonistic to dharma or eternal righteousness, it is addicted to perverse pleasures of the physical body, it has a distorted conceptions of the atma and is always desiring to perform degraded and prohibited activities. Its mentality is adverse to engaging in any service of the Supreme Lord and eventually without fail end up in the most fallen of species in the lowest hellish realms due to offenses made against the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
The first division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Karma Yoga section comprises the first six chapters describing two paths: the path of spiritual actions and the path of spiritual knowledge by which an aspirant may achieve atma tattva or realisation of the eternal soul. It has also been explained that the achievement of atma tattva is essential for attaining moksa or liberation from material existence.
The middle division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Bhakti Yoga section comprises the second six chapters which reveals that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion which is preceded by factual spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna as revealed in the Vedic scriptures is the paramount attainment. Such spiritual knowledge about Lord Krishna is prerequisite and essential to bhakti and subsequent attainment of communion with the Supreme Lord and eternal association which is the ultimate goal and most exalted destination. It is also elucidated herein that bhakti constitutes the means by which those aspirants ambitious of acquiring opulence and those aspirants ambitious for atma-tattva or soul realisation can both have their respective desires fulfilled as well.
Now in the final division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Jnana Yoga section comprising the last six chapters, the topics propounded in the first 12 chapters will be further illuminated by Lord Krishna. Two categories will be examined: prakriti or the spiritual substratum pervading physical existence and Purusa or the Supreme eternal consciousness. Their combined union constitutes the complete cosmic creation. The nature of Isvara or the Supreme Lord, the means of salvation, the paths of karma or spiritual activities for the Supreme Lord, jnana or spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord and bhakti or loving devotion to the Supreme Lord will be further delineated along with instructions on how to practice and perform each path.
Beginning this Jnana Yoga section, this chapter explains the nature of matter and the soul, the way to realise the soul as distinctly different from matter, the reason why the atma is associated with matter and the way the atma may be meditated upon.
Lord Krishna explains that while in a physical body the jiva or embodied being believes they are that body, thinking I am a man, I am a demigod, I am a female, I am famous, I am powerful, etc. all of which are distinctly different form the atma or eternal soul. The physical body is that which the spiritually intelligent assert as the ksetra or field of enjoyment. One who has the realisation of the jiva being part of an aggregate whole composed of divisible parts being the physical body, the subtle body and the atma. One who has the understanding that I know this body and instead of the mentality that I am this body. One who is cognisant of these things and realises what the atma actually is factually asserted as being ksetrajna or the knower of the field. It can be said that when cognition of objects external to the physical body arises the conception of I am my human body who sees for example this house before me, implying that the one who sees thinks the atma is inseparable from the physical body and not that the atma is totally independent of the physical and subtle bodies. Subsequently when one has achieved atma tattva or realisation of the soul and experienced its spiritual existence then one will be cognisant of their physical body merely as a house within which the atma inhabits. To perceive a house as external from the physical body is the same as perceiving the atma as external from the physical body for one who is realised. One who is cognisant of this reality sees the atma as a distinct entity separate from the physical and subtle bodies.
To assert the indisputably modifiable and perishable physical body and its qualitative characteristics to the immortal atma in accordance with the law of coexistence of subject and attribute is as unreasonable as asserting that the milk of cattle is an inseparable attribute of every type of cow, bull or heifer falling under that generic term.
Due to the fact that the phenomenally unique and sublime nature of the atma precludes any perceptibility by the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell to experience it and is only perceptible by the consciousness of a clarified mind purified by introspection amd meditation derived from the process of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness perfecting communion with the ultimate consciousness. The spiritually deficient are beguiled and bewildered by the mere propensity of matter and deluded misconstrue the perishable physical body and the eternal, immortal atma. This will be further clarified in chapter 15, verses 10 and 11 where Lord Krishna explains that those bereft of wisdom with impure thoughts cannot perceive the atma.
In the first six chapters of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Karma Yoga section, Lord Krishna described the true nature of the atma or eternal soul, which is the sole objective of realisation and the means to perceive it by either jnana yoga or the path of spiritual knowledge or karma yoga the path of spiritual activities. In the second six chapters known as the Bhakti Yoga section, Lord Krishna explains the true nature of the Supreme Lord, who is the ultimate goal of attainment along with precise knowledge of His glory, majesty and supremacy revealing in conclusion that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion is the most superior of processes for attaining the Supreme Lord as it is the most profound means as well as the topmost goal of human existence. Now in the final six chapters known as the Jnana Yoga section, Lord Krishna expands on the topics of penance, detachment, the three types of sacrifice, etc. that were not fully delineated in the previous 12 chapters. The true nature of god-realisation achieved by the those qualified by bhakti possessing godly endowments of spiritual attributes as well as knowledge and renunciation are exclusively enraptured by and devoted to the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Now in this chapter Lord Krishna begins describing the discriminative knowledge of matter and spirit along with the process of assisting His devotees transcend the ocean of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth death. Lord Krishna declared in chapter 12 verse 7 that He quickly delivers His unalloyed devotees from samsara. Although He has previously spoken of the physical body as the inferior part and the atma or eternal soul as the superior part as given in chapter 8, verse 5, He now describes the combined nature of both with the words idam sariram meaning the material body, which is constituted of the five elements, five senses, mind and false ego and is the source of enjoying material delights for jivas or embodied beings, who being bewildered by illusion think of themselves as male or female or as old and young, etc. thinking themselves to be the physical body oblivious that the atma is distinctly different and separate from the physical body they inhabit. This physical body is known as the ksetra or field which is the source of enjoying the harvest of pleasures and pain as the reactions to good and evil actions by the doer. Just as a well planted field yields abundant results and a poorly planted field yields poor results. One who has realised that the atma is not the same and different from the ksetra is factually a ksetra-jna one who is a knower of truth. This is the conclusion of knowledgeable persons well versed in the spiritual truths of the Vedic scriptures. Although ordinary beings are under the misconception that they are the physical body, believing themselves to be male or female, young or old etc., and convinced that when their physical body feels happiness they are joyful and when their physical body feels unhappiness they are sad. The word sariram meaning the physical body denotes etymologically as that which decays. Still there are many in this world that are competent to discriminate between the two and this Lord Krishna emphasises with the words tat-vidah meaning persons endowed with knowledge of the absolute truth. So the conclusion is that although ordinary beings who are steeped in ignorance do not have the qualification to discriminate between the external physical body and the internal atma; the devotees of Lord Krishna have qualified themselves by hearing from the bonafide spiritual master and studying the Vedic scriptures are able to discriminate between the ksetra and the atma.
क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्वक्षेत्रेषु भारत |
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम ||१३- ३||
kShetrakShetraGYayorGYAnaM yattajGYAnaM mataM mama || 13-3 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.3
Anvaya: ksetra-jnam–the knower; ca–also; api–certainly; mam–Me; viddhi–know; sarva–all; ksetresu–in bodily fields; bharata–O son of Bharata; ksetra–field of activities (the body); ksetra-jnayoh–the knower of the field; jnanam–knowledge; yat–that which is taught; tat–that; jnanam–knowledge; matam–opinion; mama–that.
Translation: O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Thus the transmigratory nature of the jiva or embodied being has been stated by Lord Krishna. Now the non-transmigratory nature of the atma or eternal soul which is of the nature of ksetrajnam or consciousness within the physical body is being stated. This ksetrajnam is pervading the jiva and is verily the Supreme Lord Himself within all jivas as an infinitesimal fraction of His divine, immortal consciousness. As inferred in the Vedic scripture Chandogya Upanisad VI.VIII.VII with the aphorism: sa atma tattvamasi meaning Thou art that. Knowledge of the ksetra or the physical body and ksetrajnam the consciousness of the atma or eternal soul is being praised to emphasize its importance. The knowledge which differentiates the ksetra or physical body from the ksetrajnam is actual knowledge for it is relevant to existence and leads to moksa or liberation from material existence. Knowledge other than this is useless not being relevant to spiritual existence and keeps the jiva in the bondage of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Thus it has been said that real actions are only those that are relevant to spiritual development and true learning is only that which leads to moksa or liberation from material existence. Activities other than these keep one in bondage and are only useless exertions of no permanent value and knowledge being irelevant to spiritual development and only gives expertise in technical matters and excellence in mundane pursuits with no tangible results or contribution to spiritual life.
The word ksetra-jna means knower of the field of activity and denotes the material body. This refers exclusively to the resplendent Supreme Lord who is the knower of all material bodies individually and collectively and who is distinctly different from the manifest and the unmanifest being transcendentally established within and without all jivas or embodied beings simultaneously. He is present within the etheric heart of all jivas as paramatma the supreme soul and He is present within prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and He is even present within the senses although He is imperceptible to the senses being without physical sense organs. Verily He is present everywhere as the pure consciousness of the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. He exists within the total fabric of creation which was manifested by Him and He is present within even within the most minuscule part of the atom. Thus the Supreme Lord Krishna is the ultimate creator, the ultimate controller and the ultimate reality. There is nothing collectively or individually that is superior to Him. He is paramount to everything. Lord Krishna is described as being nirguna possessing no material attributes. His form is completely spiritual being sat-cid-ananda or eternal existence, unlimited consciousness and endless bliss. Since He is of all encompassing and eternal power, some aspects of His manifested potencies may appear to be contradictory but it should be clearly understood that they are never contradictory to each other.
The Bhagavat Purana states that the word ksetra-jna applies to the Supreme Lord, who being transcendentally pure and beyond any modifications is capable of creating perfectly by His will alone in the waking state, the dream state and the dreamless state. Anything contrary to Him is subject to modification and transitory and thus not eternal. Although in the previous verse the words etadyo vetti meaning those who know refers to the jiva this was used because there are some jivas who are experienced devotees of the Supreme Lord who have developed themselves spiritually and achieving atma- tattva or soul realisation possess marginal knowledge of the ksetra and thus in an individual sense they can in special instances be known as ksetra-jna as well. Otherwise to refer to Himself as the same ksetra-jna in this verse after referring to the jiva as ksetra-jna in the previous verse would be contrary. Lord Krishna is the ksetra-jna established within all ksetra-jna’s, His ksetra consists of the atmas or soul of every living entity in all of creation; whereas the ksetra of the jiva consists only of their individual physical body. So for all practical purposes both specific and general the Supreme Lord is known as ksetra-jna and in special circumstances extremely rare it is possible for this term to be applied to an exceptional living entity.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is explaining that He is in fact the ksetrajnam or cognizant consciousness abiding within all jivas or embodied souls in its capacity of vivifying all tenements in deva or demigods, human, animal, bird, fish etc. and all living entities who are mad-atmakam or ensouled by Him and in possession of a soul and not those artificially created or cloned who are without an atma or eternal soul. The adverb api meaning furthermore in the expression capi mam viddhi meaning know me also, infers that the ksetra is also under Lord Krishna’s complete control as well. The actual purport is that just as the ksetra or physical body is apprehended solely as the inseparable adjunct of the ksetra-jna which is designated as the atma; by the law of correlation of subject and predicate so are both the ksetra and the ksetra-jna of all sentient beings in creation to be understood as being inseparable adjuncts to the Supreme Lord Krishna. It will be pointed out subsequently that Parabrahman who is the actual source of the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and who is known as Vasudeva an expansion of Lord Krishna is a distinctly transcendental postulate of existence separate from even the ksetra-jna which is the atma and this is totally independent of the jiva in a state of moksa or baddha being liberation and bondage respectively which are also known by kshara or unliberated perishable souls and akshara or liberated imperishable souls. Later in chapter 15 verses 16, 17 and 18 Lord Krishna confirms that there are two kinds of atmas in this world the fallible and the infallible. The fallible refers to the kshara and is the sum total of all unliberated souls in existence the infallible refers to the akshara and is the eternal, infinite and sovereign param?tm? or the Supreme Soul which enters into all beings and sustains them. Since the Supreme Lord surpasses the kshara and even excels the akshara as well He is known as Purusottama the Supreme Personality.
The ksetra is the composite of the material elements of earth, water, air, fire and ether. The ksetra-jna comprises the spiritual bodies of all souls in existence which qualitatively constitute the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord Krishna who is the Supreme Soul of all. The following Vedic scripture confirms: The Brihad-aranyaka Upanisad V.VII.III beginning yah prithivyam tishthan meaning : Who is situated in the Earth, who is the interior of the Earth, whom the Earth knows not, to who the Earth is a body, who rules the Earth from within, such a one is He the atma, eternal, immortal and sovereign. Further in the same scripture V.VII.XXII beginning ya atmani tishthan meaning: Who is situated in the atma, who is the interior of the atma, whom the atma knows not, to whom the atma is a body, who rules the atma from within, such a one is He as paramatma the Supreme Soul eternal, immortal and sovereign.
Reference to the Supreme Lord in terms of ksetra-jnam etc. are justified in acccordance with the law of correlation of subject and predicate evidenced before with the predicate signifying the abidance of the Supreme Lord as the ksetrajnam within all ksetra-jna’s as the paramatma within all atma’s, internally monitoring and governing at all times all beings in existence everywhere throughout all creation. This law of correlation was evidence earlier in chapter ten verse 20 where Lord Krishna reveals that He is the atma situated within the etheric heart of all jivas or embodied beings. In verse 21 He proclaims that of the 12 Adityas, He is Vishnu. In verse 39 He declares that nothing in all creation which moves or is stationary can exist without Him and in verse 42 validates that He maintains and energizes the complete creation and total cosmic manifestation with but a mere fraction of His expansion. So with this clearly in mind one should comprehend that the Supreme Lord Krishna highly esteems as worth knowing the knowledge concerning the distinction between the ksetra and the ksetra- jna and the knowledge that Lord Krishna is the atma of all beings in existence.
Contrarily some scholars and pandits interpret this verse of knowing the ksetrajna to be the Supreme Lord as a means to establish unity by the rule of common reference. In this case having to expound upon a united existence they postulate that the Supreme Lord is seen as the ksetrajna by which through ignorance duality of the cognizant and the incognizant which is implied has to be acknowledged and that the inculcation of unity is to dispel this ignorance. The explanation given is that the ignorance arising from the dualistic conception of the ksetra-jna is dispelled by such instructors interpretations of the wisdom emanating from the mouth of the Supreme Lord Himself the same as the instructor who teaches that a rope touched in the darkness is not a snake and causes the imagined snake disappears. Such interpretations must be seriously questioned as to their veracity. 1) If the instructor who teaches the unequivocal wisdom emanating directly from the Supreme Lord Himself in any of His incarnations or expansions and fully understands them, then there is no question of ignorance arising from dualistic conceptions as they are dispelled at the root and atma tattva or soul realization is soon forthcoming. 2) If the instructor whose ignorance supposedly has been dispelled on the dawning of atma tattva to then imagine that which is purely spiritual and nirvesa or without material qualities and which is pure consciousness and postulate it to be a contrary reflection of dualistic antithesis is highly objectionable in the same way as considering rain and water as dualistic. 3) If the instructor adheres to the dualistic conception of the Supreme Lord does not perceive Him as the one absolute, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent reality perpetually manifest in all creation then it is obvious that atma tattva has not consummated and been achieve and therefore His ignorance has not been dispelled. Therefore those who are in ignorance themselves have no qualification to impart knowledge of the atma or eternal soul to others because they have not realized it either.
In chapter four, verse 34 Lord Krishna states: upadeksyanti te jnanam jnaninas tattva-darsinah meaning saintly souls endowed with the wisdom of divine revelation will impart spiritual knowledge. So in conclusion it should be succinctly comprehended that all polemics of this nature which are opposed to the siddhanta or conclusive truth of all the Vedic scriptures as well as logic and reason and which instead ostentatiously imposes a degraded and erroneous hypothesis upon the world deserves not to be further addressed.
The factual reality of existence is found in the evidence and proofs found in Vedic scriptures which confirm distinctive characteristics of : 1) the experienced which is inherent deep within the nature of acit or non- sentient matter 2) the experiencer which is inherent deep within the nature of cit or consciousness 3) paramesvaram or the supreme controller inherent within every particle of creation
The Vedic scriptures themselves declare this as reality as the following examples illustrate from the Svetasvatara Upanisad. In verse V.IX beginning asman mayi srijate visvam means that from matter the illusory nature constructs the creation. In verse V.X beginning mayantu prakritim vidyan mayinam tu maheshvaram means that the illusory energy to be verily matter which the Supreme Lord is far beyond. In verse I.X beginning ksharam pradhanam amritaksharam means that which is perishable is matter and that which is imperishable is the eternal soul and that which rules both is the Supreme Lord. In verse VI.II beginning sa kara jam karapadhipadhipo means the Supreme Lord is the cause, He is the Lord of matter, He is the Lord of the soul, there is no other god above Him, He is the supreme ruler of all matter and all souls. In verse I.VI beginning prithag atmanam preitaram and means the soul and the Supreme Lord are distinct and different whom by serving the soul achieves immortality. In verse I.IX beginning jnanajnau dvav-ajav-isanisau means the Supreme Lord is the omniscient one and the soul is not, both are eternal but only the Supreme Lord is the controller of all. In verse I.XII beginning bhokta bhogya preritaram means one must have knowledge of matter, the soul and the Supreme Lord. In verse VI.XIII beginning nityo nityanam means the Supreme Lord is the eternal Lord of all souls, the Supreme of the Supreme, who bequeaths desires. In Mundaka Upanisad III.I.I beginning tayor anyah pippalalm svadvatti means the individual soul reaps the results of actions while the Supreme Soul reaps not and illuminates everywhere. In the Taittiriya Upanisad X.V beginning ajam ekam lohita-sukla-krsnam means verily a unliberated jiva or embodied being embraces material existence in the form of matter and enjoys light and water and food and in answer to one’s wishes bestows manifold progeny while a liberated jiva discards material existence after tasting its delights. Also in the Tattiriya Upanisad XI.I beginning patim visvasy atmesvaram sasvatam means the Supreme Lord is the Lord of all creation, the Lord of all souls, eternal and everlasting. Again in the Svestasvatara Upanisad IV.VII beginning samane vrikshe purusho nimagno means dwelling in the same field of activity as paramatma the Supreme Soul, the atma or individual soul immersed in the machinations of material existence is suffering greatly oblivious; but when the atma perceives paramatma the worshipable Supreme Lord’s localized manifestation in all its glory within the etheric heart of all living entities. completely transcendental to material nature, above and beyond the machinations of material existence; then all suffering ceases.
The Supreme Lord is pradhana-ksetrajnam-patir gunesah meaning He is the lord of all attributes and qualities in all fields of activity. Many verses spoken by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita corroborate this. Such as in VII.IV beginning bhumir apo’nalo vayuh referring to His eight fold energies of the material energy. In VII. 5 beginning apareyam itas te anyam referring to the atma or soul and His superior spiritual energies. In IX.VII beginning sarva bhutani kaunteya explaining how all living entities are retracted back into His nature and later distinctly created and emitted again. In IX.VIII beginning prakrtim svam avastabhya He continues explaining how His agency of material nature manifests the jivas or embodied entities again and again millennium after millennium according to their karma or reactions to their actions. In IX.X beginning mayadhyaksena prakrtih he further explains how His sakti or feminine potency creates all things mutable and immutable and thus creation is manifest again and again. Then in XIII.IXX beginning prakrtim purusam He will confirm the eternality of the atma or soul and that material nature is without beginning and later in XIV.III beginning mama yonir mahad-brahma He explains that the complete material existence is the womb wherein He germinates all souls that exist from Brahma to the lowest one-celled living entity and impels their birth into being. The yoni or womb is the vast cosmic manifestation and prakriti is the supra-subtle material substratum pervading physical existence which is achit or unconscious and inanimate. Into this the Supreme Lord by His glance projects the infinitesimal embryonic seed which is chit or conscious and animate. Thereafter by His will they are united and by this compound alone all living beings created from matter are brought into existence from the highest demi-god to lower then a one-celled amoeba are al embodied in various corporeal and subtle bodies. The word brahma or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence denotes the primal root source of all elements and is evidenced in the Vedic scripture Mundaka Upanisad I.I.IX beginning tasmad etat brahma meaning by the Supreme Lords will the unmanifested cosmic creation and the manifested cosmic creation arise.
Similarly other Vedic scriptures solemnly declare that the animate and inanimate of chit and achit and all conditions existing in relation to the experience and the experiencer both constitute the transcendental spiritual body of the Supreme Lord and subject to His will relate to Him in an indissoluble dependent and subservient position eternally and that an infinitesimal portion of the Supreme Lord is present as the atma or immortal soul within all living entities. Thus the Supreme Lord is the root cause and underlying basis for everything in existence and all living entities in both spiritual and material.
References from other Vedic scriptures confirming this are given as follows. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad V.VII.III beginning yah prithviyam tisthan meaning: Who is seated in the Earth. Whom the Earth knows not. To whom the Earth is the body. Who from inside of the Earth rules. It is the Supreme Soul, the ruler of all, immortal. Commencing thus in the same Upanisad in verse V.VII.XXII beginning ya atmani tisthan meaning: Who seated in the soul. Whom the soul knows not. To whom the soul is the body. Who from inside of the soul rules. He is the Supreme Soul, the ruler of all, immortal. In chapter seven of the Subala Upanisad we find many examples beginning with: yah prithivim antare sancharan meaning: Who moving in the interior of the Earth. To whom Earth is the body. To whom the Earth knows not; and yo aksaram antare sancharam meaning: Who moving in the interior of the soul. Whom the soul is the body. Whom the soul knows not; and yo mrityum antare sancharan meaning: who moving in the material substratum. To whom the material substratum is the body. Whom the material substratum knows not; and esa sarva bhut antar atma meaning the Supreme Lord is the Supreme Soul of all beings, immortal, immaculate, divine. The term mrityu quoted above refers to the subtle state of the material substratum within inanimate objects and substances known by the appellation tamas or darkness. In chapter two of the Subala Upanisad beginning avaktyam aksara meaning the unmanifest merges into the imperishable and the manifest merges into tamas. In the Tattiriya Aranyaka III.X beginning antah pravishta sasta jananam meaning: Existing within all, the ruler of all creatures, the Supreme Soul pervades all.
Now will be given references from other Vedic scriptures as well which confirm and explicitly express the truth that the Supreme Lord alone is the subject, predicated by the compounded bodies of all sentient beings and insentient elements existing in every condition and that the Supreme Lord is solely existent as the potential and as the actual manifestation of all creation. In the Chandogya Upanisad V1.II.I beginning sad eva somya meaning: This sat or eternal existence of the Supreme Lord was in the beginning all there was; and in VI.II.III beginning tad aikshata bahu shyam meaning: The Supreme Lord willed that He become many and multiplied and manifested illumination; and in VI.VIII.VI beginning san mulas somy emas sarvam meaning: Eternal existence of the Supreme is the root source manifesting all creation and its support and maintenance; and in VI.VIII.VII beginning aitad atmyam idam sarvam meaning: All creation is ensouled by the eternal existence of the Supreme Lord. In the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VI.II beginning so kama yata bahusyam meaning: The Supreme Lord willed may I be manifold and meditating thus He expanded creation with unlimited beings also in II.VI.III of the aforementioned scripture beginning satyan chanritali ca meaning: Both the eternal soul as well as perishable matter emanate from the ultimate truth of the Supreme Lord. This confirms what has been described in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.III.II beginning hanta ham imas tisro devatas and means: The Supreme Lord as the Supreme Soul interpenetrates all existence and material principles being fire, earth, air, water and ether as well as manifesting names and forms. This clearly illustrates the distinct differences between cit being the atma or eternal soul, acit being perishable matter and Isvara being the Supreme Lord. The Taittiriya Upanisad II.VI.II beginning tat sristi tva declares: After creating the complete cosmic manifestation comprised of all things sentient and insentient and permeating all things sentient as the atma or eternal soul and all things insentient as their eternal subatomic essence. One being constant and immutable and the other being variable and mutable both being separate manifestations of the Supreme Lord.
With the consensus of the preceding Vedic references agreeing that the Supreme Lord is manifesting both the conscious imperishable soul and unconscious perishable matter with the embodiment of both as jivas or embodied beings; it can be ascertained that the principle being established throughout is the reality of immanent co-existence between the omnipresent atma and unlimited living entities. The manifestation of all the unlimited names and forms by the Supreme Lord is confirmed in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad III.IV.VII beginning taddhedam tarhi meaning: Before all was unmanifest and later it was subsequently manifested by the Supreme Lord into names and forms.
Thus it is established and clarified that the Supreme Lord alone is the originator of all whatever is chit or conscious and animate as well as whatever is achit or unconscious and inanimate. He alone is the principle of cause when both chit and achit are unmanifest in an imperceptible supra- subtle state and He alone is the principle of effect when they are manifest in a perceptible physical state. Therefore identifying the Supreme Lord as the sole source of everything and its ancillary causes and effects one can then comprehend that knowledge of Him is knowledge of both and that only knowledge of the Supreme Lord is complete knowledge. In the Chandogya Upanisad VI.III.II mentioned previously beginning hanta ham imas tisro devatas the word hanta refers to the life force of the Supreme Soul. The word devatas refers to the three states consisting of 1) everything in masse that is achit or unconscious in substance, 2) all jivas or embodied beings in whatever form they possess gross or subtle and 3) atma being the immortal soul is a direct infinitesimal spark of the Supreme Lord Himself. By understanding this it is evident that all names are sound symbols and have a direct relationship to the Supreme Lord activated by matter and spirit or body and soul. Hence the rule of identity of substance with its adjuncts finds its primary application in terms corrollating to the Supreme Lord as cause and such appellations give reference and signifies His mode as the source of effect as well. Since the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, being a direct manifestation of the Supreme Lord is the cause containing both the atmas and matter in their subtle state; as well as the effect containing both body and spirit in their physical manifestation; the brahman can be said to be the cause of the material manifestation of creation. Although the brahman may be considered the material cause, the brahman is not in any way material and there is no intermingling or sharing of the essences of the brahman with matter or the atma. An example is a piece of colored cloth, the material cause is the combination of multicolored threads yellow, blue and red running through it. Although the cloth is considered as a single substance constituted as a whole, the qualities of the different colored threads are confined to the area of the cloth where they occur. In the same manner when the compound of matter, the atma and the brahman is declared to be the material cause, the effect of this cause is the material creation. So their should be no confusion concerning the distinctive characteristics of the experiencer, the experieince, or the controller of all being three distinctive principles combining to manifest the entire cosmos and correlating to produce the effect of matter, soul and Supreme Lord. Yet there is a difference between the colored cloth because all of the threads are able to be separated; whereas matter and the soul in all ways and all conditions constitute the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord. It is a case where the indiscernible attributive character of matter and the imperceptible nature of the atma or eternal soul as essences are integral parts of the transcendental substantive qualities of the Supreme Lord as a compound unit. Thus the Supreme Lord alone is both the cause and effect of the conscious atma as well as insentient matter and it is He alone upon whom every verbal symbol and annotation ultimately connotes.
As for the differences in the components of the Supreme Lords manifestations and their non-interchangeable natures the analogy of the separate threads of colored cloth is applicable. When this is properly understood it is evident that the cause of all causes is the Supreme Lord Krishna and although as the source of all He enters His components into the effects there is no transformation of His essential essence and never any transmutation of His transcendental immutable nature. That He is the effect as well is understandable by He being the cause of the effect, for effect is actually the cause in a modified form. The contention that the Supreme Lord is nirguna-vada or devoid of qualities is only valid and justified when referring to material qualities. Another example is when the Supreme Lord is said to be immaculate or devoid of any sin. This does not preclude that the Supreme Lord is without transcendental attributes and divine qualities it is just that His attributes and qualities are purely spiritual. The Vedic scriptures confirm this. In the Chandogya Upanisad VIII.I-V beginning apa hata papana meaning: The Supreme Lord is destitute of sin, affliction, hunger, thirst, decrepitude and death. In the same passage beginning satya kamas satya sankalpah meaning: The Supreme Lord is without desires, self-sufficient, of infallible will and indomitable nature. So after expunging the lack of material deficiencies the virtues are expounded, affirmatively establishing the correct context of what is written in various Vedic scriptures about being devoid of qualities and that this factually means devoid of any material qualities.
Next the discrepancy that the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is not a conscious entity of the Supreme Lord who is completely omniscient and omnipotent and who is endowed with all superlative qualities and sublime attributes of goodness and is the antithesis to all that is negative and evil which is defined by the primary attribute of consciousness which exclusively categorises Him and His authorised incarnations as being Self-Illuminated. The Vedic scriptures confirm this such as: The Mundaka Upanisad II.II.VII beginning yas sarvajnas meaning: The Supreme Lord is omniscient and all knowing. The Svetasvatara Upanisad IV.VIII beginning para sya sakti meaning: The transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord is manifold and also are His divine attributes of wisdom, power and activities. The Brihadaranya Upanisad IV.IV.XIV beginning vijnataram are meaning By His transcendental qualities the Supreme Lord is to be known and proclaims Him as the most conscious of all beings. The Tattiriya Upanisad II.I.I beginning satyam jnanam meaning: The Supreme Lord is truth, wisdom and consciousness this is proclaimed by His being defined as the ultimate expression of truth and wisdom and the ultimate consciousness fully self-effulgent. In the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VI.II beginning sa kamayata meaning: The Supreme Lord willed that He become unlimitedly manifold. In the Chandogya Upanisad VI.II.III beginning tad aikshata meaning The Supreme Lord contemplated that He expand and become unlimitedly multitudinous. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad III:IV:VII beginning tanama rupa bhyam meaning: The Supreme Lord fashioned the manifold into names and forms. Again in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.V.VI beginning atmani khalv-are meaning: When the eternal soul within is perceived, experienced, witnessed, meditated upon and understood then all becomes known. Again in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.V.VII beginning sarvam tam paradat meaning: All that is witnessed is to be rejected except the witnessing of the eternal soul within. Again in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.V.XI beginning tasya ha meaning: What is the Rig Vedas except verily the breath of the Supreme Lord.
This reveals that the Supreme Lord alone is parabrahman the Ultimate consciousness permeating the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and by His self-will alone He is existent in all forms movable and immovable. Certainly it is impossible for any type of consciousness or existence singular or manifold to manifest without the brahman and the eternal soul. There is absolutely no variation or configuration of any sentient being that could exist without the atma or eternal soul and likewise nothing insentient can exist without the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. This is declared and confirmed in the Vedic scriptures that follow. In the Brihadaranayaka Upanisad IV.IV.XIX and also the Katha Upanisad IV.X:XI beginning mrityos sa mrityum meaning: Who perceives in the brahman the lack of diversity deserves to die and be bound in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Again in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.IV.XIX beginning neha nana asti meaning: Nowhere in the brahman is there limited diversity. Again in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad beginning yatra hi dvaitam meaning: Although in the brahman may appear to be duality. And finally in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad VI.V.XV beginning tad itana itaram meaning: All appears separate to one who does not see the soul but to one who sees the soul all is seen. Nor is the multitudinous of forms manifesting from the brahman alone as is confirmed in such Vedix scriptures as the Chandogya Upanisad VI.II.III beginning bahu syam prajayoga meaning: May I be multitudinous, may I procreate, which affirms the reality that the Supreme Lords by His own will manifests unlimited names and forms through His potency of the brahman.
So it can be comprehended that the Vedic scriptures have established that: 1) The essential difference between the Supreme Lord and brahman, chit, achit and atma. 2) The qualitative differences amongst them. 3) The law of cause and effect. 4) The relativity of cause and effect.
Thus it can be realized that a comprehensive harmony is existing amongst all the Vedic scriptures by the Vedic scriptures themselves and there is not the least contradiction to one who has received the knowledge of the Vedas from the bonafide spiritual master in one of the four authorised sampradaya’s revealed in Vedic scriptures. Nor is there any necessity to hypothecate contrary conclusions or erroneous suppositions such as brahman- ajana-vada or duality of the brahman due to ignorance which was Sankara’s false contention and aupadhior ka-brahma-bheda-vada meaning the brahman becomes dualistic because of limiting conditions which was Bhaskara’s false contention. So in conclusion let us take leave of such faulty tenets based on fallacy and which are opposed to the reality of the eternal Vedic scriptures.
Here the Supreme Lord Krishna explains the discrimination between the two knowers of the physical manifestation which is known as the field where activities are performed and the knowers of the field, one being Himself and the other being paramatma the Supreme Soul within all living entities which contains each and every individual atma or eternal soul. It was already explained in chapter eleven, verse fifteen that the total creation with all its myriad hosts of being was within Lord Krishna’s transcendental universal form; but a separate discourse on the knowers of the field of activity was not given at that time. Now Lord Krishna delineates this important understanding comprehensively. Previously in chapter seven, verse six Lord Krishna revealed that He is the origin of the entire creation and the cause of its dissolution as well. In chapter seven, verse seven Lord Krishna reveals that nothing is Superior to Him and that everything in existence is connected to Him as pearls are on a thread. In chapter nine, verse four Lord Krishna reveals that He pervades the entire creation with all living entities residing within Him. In chapter eleven, verse seven Lord Krishna reveals that the entire manifest creation with all its moving and non-moving beings is residing in just one portion of His transcendental universal form. Lord Krishna explains how it is impossible for creation to sustain itself and function without Him as His potency of brahman which is the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Yet He also spoke of His inconceivable power as being in completely separate from the creation whose beings are not within Him in chapter nine, verse five and later in chapter nine, verse ten Lord Krishna explains that by His direction His external energy prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence automatically manifests the entire creation perpetually.
Previously in chapter twelve, verse six Lord Krishna declared that He quickly rescues from samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death, all His loving devotees who exclusively strive to attain Him alone. It was explained that the knower of the field is the individual atma which is of an eternal nature and is the essential part of every jiva or embodied being. It should not be imagined that the atma is separate from the Supreme Lord in any way. That is why in this verse Lord Krishna confirms that He alone is the omniscient and omnipresent consciousness within the atma of all living entities such as demigods, humans, flora, fauna and so on of all jivas; yet He is completely different and separate from all of them. To further corroborate this we find in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.VIII.VII beginning: aitad atmayam idam sarvam meaning: This whole creation is ensouled by Him. That is reality. That is the atma. In the Mandukhya Upanisad II we find: Verily the atma is the brahman. In the Chandogya Upanisad III.XIV.XI we see: As the whole creation is verily the brahman one should tranquilly worship it as the place one manifested from and as that which one is breathing and also as the place where one will return to. Similarly although all are various manifestations of Lord Krishna’s variegated avatars or incarnations, in Vedic scriptures He is categorically declared to be separate and different from all of them. In the Katha Upanisad I1.II.X and IX it states: As the one wind has entered into this world and becomes correspondingly within the form of every form, so the atma or eternal soul of all living beings is correspondingly within each and every form and yet is transcendental to it. As the sun which is the eye of the world is never compromised by the external imperfections of one’s eyes, in the same way the atma is never compromised by the evil that may exist in the world being always transcendental to it.
The omnipotent, omniscient, all pervading and eternal Supreme Lord Krishna is now revealing the ultimate reality and truth: That true knowledge of Him as the complete cause and sole source of all creation is knowledge of the ksetra or field which is material existence and knowledge of the knower of the field being paramatma or the Supreme Lord in His localised aspect within the heart of all living entities. Any idea or conception contrary to this reality is illusion and ignorance.
There are those not being in authorised disciplic succession who speculate that ksetrajnam capi mam viddhi means that the Supreme Lord suggests that due to contact to His adjunct of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence, He, Himself invariably becomes finite as the individual transmigrating atma or soul from body to body at the time of death until it becomes free from nescience. But this hypothesis is totally false because it is contradictory to the conclusion of the Vedic scriptures. The particle api meaning also in this verse denotes that the Supreme Lord is totally differentiated in nature from both the ksetrajnam and the ksetra and it is not possible to prove that the identity of the atma is synonymous with paramatma based on such statements as He is the the constant among the inconstant, the intelligent among the unintelligent. Some examples of this are given as follows in the Vedic scriptures: The Katha Upanisad II.II.XIII states: There are two unborn ones, the knowledgeable and the unknowledgeable, the omnipotent and the impotent. The Svetasvatara Upanisad I.IX states: Two birds inextricably connected reside on the same tree, one eats of the sweet fruit while the other looks on without eating. The Mundaka Upanisad III.I.I states: The ruler of prakriti and the atma is the Supreme Lord. The Taittiriya Aranyaka III.XI.II states: That who is dwelling in the consciousness and yet is other than the consciousness, whom the consciousness does not know, within whose spiritual body the consciousness resides is the inner controller the monitor, the eternal soul. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad III:VII.XXII states: The cause of reincarnation and of liberation, of freedom and bondage. Again the Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.XVI states: The Supreme Lord is higher than the highest imperishable. The controller of all and the ruler of all. Only the omnipotent all pervading Supreme Lord Krishna should be propitiated and glorified for He alone is the source of everything and has entered into the hearts of all living beings as the eternal soul. The Vedanta Sutras I.I.II confirms: On account of the declaration of distinction between paramatma the Supreme soul and atma the individual soul. The Taittriya Upanisad II.VII states: The Supreme soul consisting of bliss is next to the individual soul. Vedanta Sutras I.I.VII again states: Contrarily the individual soul is not referred to here as the qualities mentioned are no appropriate for it. When mentioning the attainee it is the localised atma and the object of attainment is the all-pervading brahman which is of paramatma. Vedanta Sutras I.III.VIIL states: On account of statements in the Vedic scriptures of distinction between the brahman and the atma the former is something more than the latter. Vedanta Sutras II.I.XXII states: Senses, mind, intelligence, prowess, might, forebearance, the physical body, the jiva or embodied being and the atma are all constituted by the Supreme Lord. In the Vishnu Sahasra Nama or 1000 names of Vishnu verse 135 it states: The entire creation comprised of demigods, humans, demons, Gandharvas, Yaksas, Raksasas, etc. are all under control of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna declared in XII.V: That He has a superior eternal manifestation as well as a inferior temporary manifestation. His internal potency is eternal and superior to the external temporary manifestation. The soul is considered a marginal potency of the Supreme Lord because it is eternal and as transmigration from body to body is continuously transpiring incessantly and all species of life on Earth are gradually evolving up to the human species endowed with free will. Thus the fundamental questions of existence and the purpose and goal of life can be contemplated, comprehended and assimilated. There are two types of beings in creation. The perishable and the imperishable. All the innumerable bodies of jivas or embodied being are perishable but the atma within being eternal is imperishable. The sentient is the higher potency of the Supreme Lord whereas the insentient is the lesser potency. Each and every individual atma although being eternal are all part and parcel of paramatma the Supreme Soul which inconceivably comprises the transcendental spiritual body of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Other than their eternal nature and unfathomable relationship to the Supreme Lord; no other characteristic can be given regarding there bondage or liberation. The atma is of the higher potency and possesses only spiritual qualities with no material qualities whatsoever and thus being attributeless is never contaminated by material actions or influenced by their reactions; like the sun which remains pristine and pure whether shining on a soiled or clean space. The subtle and physical bodies are of the lesser potency and are connected to bondage and liberation being thus subjected to material nature and its reactions the subtle body is forced to accept samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death incessantly. The atma is the witness monitoring an individuals thoughts and actions and paramatma is the witness monitoring all the individual atmas within each and every sentient living being simultaneously; but it is imperceptible to the mind and senses.
Such being the position of the individual atma and paramatma of the Supreme Lord even if the difference is imperceptible due to both being beyond the purview of the mind and senses it can be logically understood that the difference is actual and eternal. For no jiva or embodied being can in any way possess the divine qualities and attributes declared in the Vedic scriptures such as: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, sovereignty, eternality, origin of all, controller of all, etc. Any contrary supposition to this difference can only be based upon the machinations of the mind or impressions of the senses based on contact with sense objects which are both illusory. The individual atma is eternal and localised within a singular being and is the same qualitatively but not quantitatively as it is infinitesimal compared to paramatma who is unlimited and is comprised of and embodies all atmas within each and every living entity throughout creation. It should never be put forth that the Supreme Lord has any limitations whatsoever for this hypothesis is false. It should also never be supposed that the Supreme Lord has any adjuncts connected to Him like voidness or nescience or absence of qualities. The Supreme Lord has unlimited qualities but His qualities are all spiritual, none are material. The Supreme Lord has no connection to nescience as it is a material quality and the Supreme Lord possess no material qualities. Factual knowledge about the Supreme Lord Krishna is automatically the absence of nescience and true knowledge about Him is freedom from illusion. How can the Supreme Lord Himself not know the real nature of nescience? Since it has previously been established that the omniscient and omnipotent Supreme Lord is the knower of even more than everything in existence then how could He ever get influenced by nescience which is the root cause of samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Contrarily if He did not know the real nature of nescience then He would not be absolute and could never be identified with paramatma and the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Another way to look at this is that nescience and its effects fall into the sphere of false knowledge which is illusion and unable to ever contaminate the spiritual sanctity of the Supreme Lord. The water of a mirage may appear sparkling but by no influence in the sand will mud be created and in the same way the Supreme Lord who is the ultimate knower of the field of activity is never influenced by nescience. If nescience was benign and harmless to the living entities then there would be no necessity to remove it. Also the Vedic scriptures comparing nescience to bondage and absence of nescience to liberation would prove meaningless.
The fact must be emphasised in no uncertain terms that there is not the slightest scope for contradiction of the Vedic scriptures and what would appear to be contradictory is only a result of insufficient knowledge of the Vedic scriptures learned systematically in the proper order from a Vaisnava preceptor in one of the four authorised channels of disciplic succession. Statements such as the brahman being one without a second are significant because they establish the unity of paramatma, the atma, and the brahman as being eternal manifestations of the Supreme Lord. This also includes everything sentient and insentient which are known by various terms like spirit and matter, the eternal and the temporal, the imperishable and the perishable, etc. Yet all are pervaded by and dependent upon the Supreme Lord in His aspect of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. When one has been properly educated in the proper order into the profound depths of the Vedic scriptures one has the indispensable foundation that allows them to categorically understand the various angles of vision the Vedic scriptures present and the essential understanding that comprehensively harmonises them all with the Supreme Lord Krishna or His authorised incarnations and expansions. Passages in the Vedic scriptures refer to His supreme position. The Taittiriya Aranyaka III.II.II states: The controller of all living entities has entered into the hearts of all as the eternal soul. The Maha Narayana Upanisad XI.VI states: The Supreme Lord pervades all that is seen and heard throughout all creation. Lord Krishna confirms X.XX that He resides as the soul within the heart of all living beings. The Vishnu Sahasra Nama CXXXVI beginning indriyani mano buddhih sattvam states: The senses, the mind, the intellect, vitality, splendour, strength and courage all have Lord Krishna as their soul, along with the body and the knower of the body. In the dialogue between the life breaths and the organs of the body found in the Chandogya Upanisad V.I.XV it is stated: Verily the Supreme Lord is not referred to as eyes, or ears, or minds, etc. but He is referred to as the life breath of all for the vital breath activates all the others. The universal understanding is that whatever object is dependent upon its existence and functioning upon something else it can be designated by that somethings name. Moreover the different names have propriety according to the primary meanings of the terms and various respective forms and manifestations such as the great variety found in the physical manifestation or in the unlimited forms that embodied beings manifest that within the individual soul resides.. Contrarily the synonymous names attributed to paramatma the supreme soul and the Supreme Lord have propriety with the highest self exclusively with no division, separation or independence from Him ever. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad I.IV.II confirms: Everything for the Supreme Lord is different who all other forms constitute His Self because there is nothing existing apart from Him. So the reality that there is not even an iota of contradiction between any statement from the Vedic scriptures with any other statement from another Vedic scripture. Hence the meanings and potencies regarding different names and synonymous names in no way sublate each other.
Keeping this understanding in mind the author of the Vedas, Vedanta Sutras, Srimad Bhagavatam and the Puranas, lila avatar Krishna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa has written in Vedanta Sutras II.III.XXXXIII: The soul is a part of the Supreme Lord due to the difference between the two and also by similarness to the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is the Supreme Lords manifestation. In Vedanta Sutras III.II.XXVII and XXVIII is stated: The difference and non-difference of the Supreme Lord and the soul as revealed in Vedic sciptures is like the relation of the sun and its rays, also on account of both being luminous. This was emphasised for two reasons. One was to validate the main theme of the Upanisads through the non-contradiction of Vedic statements which appear to differ due to variegated designations concerning the many manifestations of the one Supreme Lord Krishna. Two was to establish the causeless nature of the sentient and insentient manifestations of the Supreme Lord being naturally connected through the variable and invarible relationship. The Taittiriya Aranyaka III.XIV.I states: Although the Supreme Lord is one without a second, He manifests in unlimited places. Although He is the one indivisible Supreme Being, He has entered into the physical bodies of all living entities.
Other Vedic scriptures iterate the same such as in Manu Samhita: The brahman being absolute although one is diverse and although diverse it is one. Who can know it? In the Vishnu Purana it is stated by Prince Prahlad thus: Continuous obeisance to the Supreme Lord Krishna, whom without nothing would exist; yet He Himself is totally different from all creation. Obeisance to the Supreme Lord the atma within the manifestation of the sentient and the brahman within the manifestation of the insentient. The sole refuge beyond all manifestations. The indivisible one and the unlimited innumerable. The prime cause of Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha in the Caturvyuha which manifests the three Purusa avatars of Vishnu. Obeisance to the Supreme Lord who is the greatest of the greatest and the subtlest of the subtlest, in this way His glorious effulgence manifests. From the Supreme Lord comes all of creation, He has manifested all that there is and yet He is not any element of it for He is completely transcendental to all things material and beyond even the mundane cause of creation. Ghantakarna states in the Harivamsa: We are all continuously endeavouring and dedicating our lives to associate with the Supreme Lord amongst whose devotees study the Vedic scriptures and logically declare that He is one without a second although unlimitedly variegated, unborn and primordial. In the Bhagavat Purana I.V.XX Narada speaks to his disciple Vyasa stating: The whole creation is pervaded by the Supreme Lord and He alone is the source of its origin, sustenance and destruction. Also in L.VII.II of the same purana is stated: There is nothing else other than the Supreme Lord in that which is existent and also in that which is non- existent.
So the devotees of the Supreme Lord and the followers of sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness should follow this doctrine of natural difference from and non-difeerence of the sentient and insentient nature of the brahman, paramatma and the Supreme Lord which is harmonious and not contradictory to any statements of the Vedic scriptures including the Vedanta Sutras, Puranas, Upanisads, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. and is fully approved and sanctioned by Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva the original author of the Vedas. All other conceptions that deviate and complicate this fundamental understanding are to be known as erroneous totally based on illusion and should be pre-emptively rejected and ignored. Lord Krishna’s visvarupa or divine universal form constituted of elements like earth, fire, wind, water and ether is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord Himself, because it is He who is dwelling within these elements in a supra-subtle form. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad III.VII.III states: The Supreme Lord dwelling in the earth and yet is other than earth, whom the aerth does not know, whose body is the earth, who controls the earth from within is the eternal soul, the inner controller. Also in the same scripture III.VII.XXIII is stated: The Supreme Lord is dwelling with the individual soul, yet is other than the individual soul, whom the individual soul knows not, whose body comprises all souls, who controls the soul from within. He is paramatma the immortal all pervading Supreme soul.
Vedic scriptural statements like the Chandogya Upanisad VI.III.II where it states: I shall enter these three divinities with the eternal soul not separated from name and form and in the Taittriya Upanisad II.VI where it states: Having manifested creation the Supreme Lord entered into it and having entered into it, He became both the sentient and the insentient, the conscious and the unconscious, the actual and the casual, As the actual, He became all that has manifested in creation. Such statements categorically qualify the Supreme Lord’s paramount position and establish His eternal presence within all insentient names and forms as well as within the sentient atma everywhere throughout all creation. The primary meaning expressing cause and effect denotes the ultimate reality and is the Supreme Lord. Therefore concerning the doctrine of specific monism of Ramanujacarya, that the Supreme Lord’s manifestation as the brahman has devolved itself into subtle and gross as well as the sentient and insentient is completely tenable because the Supreme Lord is the both the cause and effect.
Some scholars by division try to omit the all comprehensive cohesiveness of the Supreme Lord by establishing that the sentient embodied soul is the enjoyer and the insentient world is the object of enjoyment with the brahman being the controller of both trying to exemplify that the form and nature of each is totally different. They quote the non-contradictory nature of the Vedic scriptures as well stating that a quantity of any substantive can be considered as being non-different from that substantive. At the same time they propose that the quantity and the substantive can also be different on the basis of not being of similar nature and form; but they fail to realise that both are nothing but different manifestations of the one Supreme Lord. They also propound that the brahman is both sentient and insentient but this is impossible as neither of them can ever be qualified quantities comparable to the brahman which is the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. By simple logic it can be seen that the quantity of any sentient substance automatically excludes it from being the same as the quantity of any insentient substance and vice versa so by definition it is clearly not possible. Once they realise the unity of difference and oneness their conceptions of separate and non-separate will be correctly comprehended according to the proper understanding of the Vedic scriptures. The Chandogya Upanisad VI.VIII.VII states: The Supreme Lord is one without a second which determines that the brahman as an absolute manifestation of the Supreme Lord is also one without a second and is one underlying energy throughout existence. Thus both the sentient and animate as well as the insentient and inanimate are included but have no influence upon the brahman in the same way as all unlimited objects that sun rays shine upon have absolutely no influence upon the sun.
In this way the doctrine of Ramanujacarya’s specific monism contains not a single contradiction to any of the Vedic scriptures. Neither has he written anything that needs to be excluded for when something is excluded it can never be established. In this case there is not a single thing excluding another just a comprehensive whole. So there is no question of ever excluding anything from Ramanujacarya’s writings and the only thing that may be excluded is the mundane scholars divisive interpretations of the Supreme Absolute truth.
There is also no evidence from any Vedic scripture suggesting that the sentient and insentient are wholistic qualified quantities respectively for logically each must always exclude the other. Therefore similar to the adherents of mayavada impersonalism or those who fallaciously deny that the Supreme Lord has qualities, attributes and personality and who try to impose the concept of nescience as being part of the brahman and the Supreme absolute truth fail to understand that such imposition is contrary to the Vedic scriptures and the direct perception of enlightened self- realised beings. In the same way the concept of specific and fluctuating monism is also fallacious and is hypothesised by those out of ignorance and foolish obstinacy who ignore the evidence established in the Vedic scriptures and who deny the proof of enlightened beings who perceived the same by direct perception.
तत्क्षेत्रं यच्च यादृक्च यद्विकारि यतश्च यत् |
स च यो यत्प्रभावश्च तत्समासेन मे शृणु ||१३- ४||
sa cha yo yatprabhAvashcha tatsamAsena me shR^iNu || 13-4 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.4
Anvaya: tat–that; ksetram–field of activities; yat–as; ca–also; yadrk–as it is; ca–also; yat–what is; vikari–changes; yatah–from which; ca–also; yat–which; sah–he; ca–also; yah–one; yat–which; prabhavah ca–influence also; tat–that; samasena–in summary; me–from Me; srnu–understand.
Translation: Now please hear My brief description of this field of activity and how it is constituted, what its changes are, whence it is produced, who that knower of the field of activities is, and what his influences are.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Here prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which has 24 categories consisting of the mind, ego, five organs of perception, the five senses, etc.is specifically meant by the word ksetra or the field of activity. Yet since the non-distinctiveness of matter as I and mine is evolved as such only in the physical body, in order to differentiate from it this body is called the ksetra. To clarify in further detail Lord Krishna proposes to explain what the ksetra referred to by Him is in itself such as inert, of the nature of its object, etc. What is it like such as possessed of qualities such as desire and aversion. What are its modifications such as which senses is it endowed with. How does it arise meaning how is it in conjunction with prakriti and the brahman. What is its form and how is it directed to be either sentient or insentient in just one of innumerably unlimited varieties of species. Also what is the ksetrajna or knower of the ksetra in reality and what power does it have by virtue of its transcendental and inconceivable majesty by the potency it is endowed with. All these things Lord Krishna will now explain in brief.
What the yad viktri of the ksetra means what are its transformations and by what modifications is it affected. Yatas ca yat means by Him the Supreme Lord the ksetra has originated and that it is He alone who energized it. The words sa ca ya specifies the Supreme Lord also and indicates His form.
Now begins the summation.
The words yatas ca yat indicates that solely by the energy of the Supreme Lord all creation is energized. He is the sole energizer. Prerana means having similarity in thoughts. Sometimes even dialogue is called samvad similar talk. Since Lord Krishna energizes all creation He also energizes the thoughts of all and sometimes such thoughts manifest which are similar to His own. This is natural. So He is known as anusarini or anusmanta the ordainer of thoughts which have divine origins in Him. The ksetrajna is the atma or eternal soul and is upadrishta or the witness with supra-natural connecting abilities for thoughts and things divine which emanate from the Supreme Lord and induces this in those who seek self-realisation of the atma and attainment of the ultimate consciousness. Lord Krishna infers that this can be known is by its effect.
Now Lord Krishna is more explicitly explaining details about the tat ksetram or field of activity. Its yadrik ca or its substantial nature regarding its use and function and its purpose. Also its yad vikari or transformations and modifications along with its yatas or from whence it came meaning its origin and how it was created and for whose use. Yat refers to its attributes and qualities. Also He is inferring that knowledge about the intrinsic nature of the ksetra-jna as the knower of the ksetra which is the atma or eternal soil will be revealed as well along with its inherent potencies which is confirmed by the word prabhavas ca meaning virtues, potency and powers. Lord Krishna will give a summary of all these things.
Now Lord Krishna explains in brief the true nature of the ksetra the field of activity and the ksetra-jna the knower of the field. The relationship the ksetra has with the ksetra-jna and the consciousness which is established in Him. Knowledge of the ksetra means what type entity is embodied and the qualities are what modifications restricts it and what is its means of evolving itself through the interrelationship of matter and spirit. And of the ksetra-jna exactly what is the atma or eternal soul, who is the knower of the ksetra and what is its powers and potencies.
ऋषिभिर्बहुधा गीतं छन्दोभिर्विविधैः पृथक् |
ब्रह्मसूत्रपदैश्चैव हेतुमद्भिर्विनिश्चितैः ||१३- ५||
brahmasUtrapadaishchaiva hetumadbhirvinishchitaiH || 13-5 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.5
Anvaya: rsibhih–by the wise sages; bahudha–in many ways; gitam–described; chandobhih–Vedic hymns; vividhaih–in various; prthak–variously; brahma-sutra–the Vedanta; padaih–aphorisms; ca–also; eva–certainly; hetu-madbhih–with cause and effect; viniscitaih–ascertain.
Translation: That knowledge of the field of activities and of the knower of activities is described by various sages in various Vedic writings–especially in the Vedanta-sutra–and is presented with all reasoning as to cause and effect.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The question may be raised as to whose elaborate teachings will Lord Krishna briefly summarise. Here it refers to rishis or holy sages such as Vasistha and Parasara etc. who have described it in various ways as objects of meditation and concentration of the cosmic mind and also what has been variously sung in propitiation to the Supreme Lord and the various yagnas or rites of propitiation offered to Him both daily and occasional is indicative of the brahman or spirirtual substratum pervading all existence. Upanisadic texts such as Taittriya Upanisad III.I state: That from which all these things are born. This indirectly describes the brahman. Whereas the Taittriya Upanisad II.I states: Existence, knowledge, infinity is the brahman. This defines the brahman and helps to attain it directly in its true essence. Other scriptures such as the Chandogya Upanisad VI.II.I and II state: This creation was only existence in the beginning. How can existence manifest from non-existence? Who would be able to inhale and live had not the joy of bliss existed in the ether of the heart? The Taittirya Upanisad II.VII states: It is this that verily bestows bliss. The words anyat and pranyat from the previous verse denote who would be able to perform the functions of apana or inhalation and exhalation resulting in vital force. Decisively establishing an indisputable explanation through a thesis of erudite and conclusive statements; whatever has been explained elaborately by sages and definitively in Vedic scriptures and is difficult of to summarise Lord Krishna will give the essence.
It is also possible to take the Brahma Sutra to mean the aphorism I.I.I which begins the scripture and states: Now therefore let us enquire into what is the brahman. What is descriptive of the brahman ascertains the nature of the brahman. Such aphorisms furnished with reasons embellish th understanding for example in Brahma Sutra I.I.V it states: On account of thinking the pradhana or material manifestation is not the primary cause as it is not based on the Vedic sriptures. Also the statement in Brahma Sutra I.I.XII stating: The atma or eternal soul consists of ananda or bliss. Though both emanating from the Supreme Lord the brahman is always put forth as being a separate potency from the atma on account that each has its exclusive function.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
The tattva or conclusive truth regarding the ksetra or field of activity being matter and the ksetrajna being the knower or witness within the field of activity have been variously described by the rsis or holy sages such as Parasara and Vasistha. In the Visnu Purana II.XIII. verse LIXX beginning aham tvancha we find: O king of the Earth we are all derived of the 24 elelments by which embodied being en masse take the bodily shape corresponding to their attraction to the three gunas or modes of material nature. In verse LXX beginning karma vasya guna we find: Verily O king the three gunas of sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance are dependent solely upon karma or reactions to one’s own actions which are all the consequence of avidya or the absence of knowledge which is part of all creatures at birth. Yet in verse LXXI beginning atma suddho we find revealed: That the immortal soul is purely spiritual, imperishable, sublime, devoid of material qualities and distinctly different from prakriti or the material substratum pervading all physical existence.
Similarly the Visnu Purana II.XIII.IXC beginning pindah prithag meaning: The physical body characterised by face, head, hands and body is different from the embodied being then to which of these can one refer to as I or me. Again in II.XII.CII beginning kim tvam etat chirah meaning: Art thou thy head, or thy chest, or thy stomach or thy foot and the like O king or are thou thine? And in II:XII.CIII beginning samast avayavebhyam meaning: Distinct art thou O king from all thy bodily parts and being clever determine who is the I. Both these examples postulate that matter the physical body and the spirit soul are distinctly different from each other. Vasudeva meaning the Supreme Lord Krishna is eulogised in innumerable Vedic scriptures In the Visnu Sahasra verse CXXXVII beginning indiyani mano meaning: The senses, the manas, buddhi, ego, health, strength and spirit are all ensouled by Vasudeva, both the ksetra and ksetrajna.
Distinctly by various mantras of the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda the distinctions between the bodily nature and the spiritual soul nature are sublimely sung. An example is found in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.I.II beginning tasmad eva etasmadatmana akasah sambhutah meaning: From the atma or eternal soul verily akasa or space has manifested , from space ether has manifested, from ether has come air, from air has come fire, from fire has come water, from water has come earth, from earth has come plants, from plants has come food, from food comes all embodied species headed by the human species. Thus the nature of the physical body has been stated. As well the subtle principle of pranas or life airs and the even subtler principle of manas or the mind and intellect have been stated in conclusion. More than the principle of the manas is the supra-subtle principle of the vijnana-maya or the conscious soul and the source of all of the above is the Supreme Lord in His localised form as paramatma the Supreme Soul within all sentient beings and even more supra-subtle than even this is His transcendental body as the composite form of all atmas in all living entities known as ananda- maya as given in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.V.II beginning: tasyaisha eva sharira atma which is the witness and monitor of living entities.
Categorically as well the distinct characteristics by which the ksetra and ksetrajna exist and their manifestation by the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is revealed in many places in the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda.
Also the Vedanta Sutra verses reveal in its sublimely concise aphorisms the nature of the brahman and its relationship with the Supreme Lord. It is also called the Sariraka Sutras because of its conclusive authoritative judgement on these esoteric topics. For example in Vedanta Sutra II.III.I beginning no viyadasruteh meaning: The akasha or space is eternal because there is no Vedic evidence contrary to this and thus all decisions regarding the nature of the ksetra are formulated also in this way. Another example is seen in II.III.XVIII beginning utcrantigatyagatinam meaning: The jiva or embodied soul is infinitesimal because the Vedic scriptures state that it goes out of an old body and returns to a new body. The atma or eternal soul is superlatively conscious and such a reality formulates decisions regarding the ksetrajna. But in verse II.III.XXXX beginning kritaprayatnapekshastu vihita pratisiddha meaning: The Supreme Lord impels all jivas to act in accordance with the nature and tendency of their own self enacted previous actions and effects. Everything is under the complete control and total dominion of the Supreme Lord but He does not interfere with the freewill of the jiva although He is certainly the supreme soul of living entities. So the evidence of the ksetra and ksetrajna have been copiously expounded in various Vedic scriptures in numerous ways but now Lord Krishna will describe the same in a lucid and concise manner.
It is fine that the reality concerning the ksetra will be described in brief but the need may arise for further evidence in detail. Anticipating such queries Lord Krishna confirms that it is also eulogised by rsibhih the sages such as Vasistha and Parasara and is revealed in the Vedic scriptures in various precise and concise ways. The Taittriya Upanisad II.I states: Verily is the Supreme Lord the essence of food. The person consisting of food is the physical body of the jiva or embodied being, then the next is the breath followed by the mind. Further in verse II.IV it states: Verily after that within of the mind which consists of intellect there exists the atma or eternal soul which consists of consciousness. This is the nature of the jiva. These facts have been stated explicitly by Vedavyasa in the Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas and and conclusively proven in Vedanta Sutras. All the conclusions from the Vedic scriptures are harmonious and clear to the Vaisnava devotees and the pandits or scholars in the Vedic culture as well. The Vedanta Sutras reveals the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and the ultimate truth in an abbreviated form yet it is more exact and profound. The Vedas reveal it in explicit detail and the Upanisads reveal its nature, attributes and glories very elaborately. An aphorism is defined as concise, precise, unequivocal, understandable, eternal and free from illusion. The Vedanta Sutras are aphorisms on the investigation and knowledge of the atma or eternal soul and the ultimate truth.
It should not be assumed that the Vedanta Sutras discuss only about the brahman because that is not the case, for in order to impart knowledge of the brahman the atma, the jiva and the Supreme Lord must also be discussed as well, along with the invariable attributes of omnipresence, sustenance, purity, maintenance, etc. These things could not be comprehended correctly without understanding their relationship to the Supreme Lord. Neither could they be propounded properly without defining their relationship with the atma which is fully controlled and dependent and mercifully graced by the Supreme Lord. So descriptions of the embodied soul and its origin, nature and function are very beneficial regarding knowledge of the brahman and there is no contradiction anywhere in the Vedic scriptures in any way. For example ether is known not to be created as it is not stated it is in the Vedic scriptures. This is confirmed in Vedanta Sutras II.III.I. Also the atma being eternal is not created because no Vedic scripture has stated thus. The individual atma is the knower and omniscient as confirmed in Vedanta Sutras II.III.XVII. So for both examples the effect is established by understanding the cause. So this topic has been well spoken of in detail both generally and specifically of ksetra and the ksetra-jna but now Lord Krishna will concisely explain it further.
महाभूतान्यहंकारो बुद्धिरव्यक्तमेव च |
इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः ||१३- ६||
इच्छा द्वेषः सुखं दुःखं संघातश्चेतना धृतिः |
एतत्क्षेत्रं समासेन सविकारमुदाहृतम् ||१३- ७||
indriyANi dashaika.n cha pa~ncha chendriyagocharAH || 13-6 ||
ichchhA dveShaH sukhaM duHkhaM sa.nghAtashchetanA dhR^itiH |
etatkShetra.n samAsena savikAramudAhR^itam.h || 13-7 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.6, 13.7
Anvaya: maha-bhutani–great elements; ahankarah–false ego; buddhih–intelligence; avyaktam–the unmanifested; eva–certainly; ca–also; indriyani–senses; dasa-ekam–eleven; ca–also; panca–five; ca–also; indriya-go-carah–objects of the senses; iccha–desire; dvesah–hatred; sukham–happiness; duhkham–distress; sanghatah–the aggregate; cetana–living symptoms; dhrtih–conviction; etat–all this; ksetram–the field of activities; samasena–in summary; sa-vikaram–interaction; udahrtam–exemplified.
Translation: The five great elements, false ego, intelligence, the unmanifested, the ten senses, the mind, the five sense objects, desire, hatred, happiness, distress, the aggregate, the life symptoms, and convictions–all these are considered, in summary, to be the field of activities and its interactions.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The characteristics and components of the ksetra are being elucidated by Lord Krishna beginning with the five fundamental elements which are earth, water, fire, air and ether. The false ego, the intellect, the unmanifest element of existence, the five perceptual senses being the eye, ear, nose, tongue and sense of touch. The five objects of the perceptual senses being sight, sound, smell, taste and form The five senses of activity being the voice, the hands, the legs, the genitals and the anus. The internal sense being the mind. Desire, aversion, happiness, unhappiness, the body, the intuition, patience and the six material modifications being birth, sustenance, growth, maturity, declination and destruction. Thus the Supreme Lord Krishna has enumerated the 24 categories which comprise the field of activity known as the ksetra.
The physical body is an aggregate of these 24 elements. Intelligence which is a cognitive function of the mind is imbued with patience and fortitude. Desire, aversion, etc. are merely effects of cognition and included as part of the ksetra as attributes solely of the mind and not of the atma or eternal soul. The qualities mentioned also include by implication other qualities of the mind as well such as reflection and introspection. Brihadaranyaka Upanisad I.V.III states: Desire, reflection, doubt, faith, lack of faith, patience, impatience, modesty, intelligence and fear are all products of the mind. In this way the qualities of the ksetra are introduced and enumerated by Lord Krishna. Thus the ksetra along with its modifications such as the perceptual senses, etc. has been described in brief and this concludes the topic regarding the ksetra.
Desire, repugnance, joy, misery, etc. are known as the modifications of the ksetra. The word cetana meaning awareness refers to the entire perceptual faculties of the mind. The word sanghata preceding it includes perception of the physical body and cetana refers to the total aggregate of mental facilities which includes modifications such as ego and patience.
The maha-bhutani which are the fundamental elements of creation being earth, water, fire, air and ether along with the ahankara or false ego, the buddhi or intellect and the avyaktam the primordial root which in essence is prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and from whom the fore mentioned emanate as the germinating foundations of the ksetra in different manifestations and modifications of an evolving process. The five perceptual senses being the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch corresponding respectively with their five objects being the visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactual; along with the five senses of activity being the vocal, the prehensible the hands, the locomotive the legs, procreative the generative organs and the excretory organ for evacuation. The one known as the internal sense is the mind. Desire, aversion, joy and affliction are considered modifications of the ksetra as they are solely products of the mind influenced by moods and affections. The words sanghatas cetana dhrtih means the perceptual faculties of the mind and includes the physical body. The words catana dritih denotes adritah inferring adharah which means the basis, the medium for fundamental ingredients. The word sanghata meaning the physical body is the aggregate expression of the collocated ingredients that are utilised.
The ultimate purpose is to utilise the physical body to interact harmoniously with the mind and intellect to realise the eternal principle inside the heart in the form of the atma or immortal soul and the path to the Supreme Lord. Otherwise one will misuse their precious human form of existence to procure material happiness on Earth while experiencing joy and grief in doing so and take another birth in usually a lower species of life; or to perform activities in an attempt to procure entrance into the heavenly planets to enjoy celestial delights as a demigod for an allotted time period but which may or may not guarantee success and one has to be born again; or to strive for moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death to achieve an impersonal beatitude but if failing in this is forced to take birth again in one of the 8,400,000 some species in the material existence as well.
This is what is available in the ksetra. All of its characteristics and attributes are manifested out of prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and is the foundation of the mind and all the senses. It is the compound which gives rise to the change of temperament such as desire and aversion, happiness and misery and the medium by which the jiva or embdied being experiences pleasure, pain, joy and grief, etc. This concludes Lord Krishna concise exposition on the ksetra with its variations and modifications.
Next the virtues and attributes that will enable one to obtain atma-tattva or knowledge of the immortal soul which is connected to the ksetrajna will be enumerated by Lord Krishna.
Now Lord Krishna speaks of the characteristics and nature of the ksetra or field of activity beginning with the words maha-bhutani meaning the five fundamental elements being earth, water, fire, air and ether. These are the elements comprising material existence and these are the elements that constitute the physical body. Ahankarah is the false ego, buddhi is the intellect, avyaktam is the unmanifest nature known as prakriti the material substratum pervading all physical existence. The five organs of perception for the senses being the five senses: eye, ears, nose, tongue and skin. The five objects of the senses being sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and the five organs of action being the hands, the legs, the voice, the genitals for procreation and the anus for evacuation. These 24 elements have already been iterated by Lord Krishna millenniums before in His lila avatar or pastime incarnation as Kapila deva; but here He also names the modifications such as desire and aversion as well. Desire is attachment to that which gives happiness and repugnance is aversion to that which gives misery. Both are mental tendencies formed from a conditioned perception of what is favourable and unfavourable relegated by the karma or reactions to one’s meritorious and unmeritorious actions and as they are caused by the actions of the physical body they are experienced by the jiva or embodied being through contact of the physical body as it is the receptacle of feeling for all jivas. The word cetana meaning awareness is apparent in all forms and species of life relative to their individual consciousness. This starts with being conscious of food only to being conscious of life with its six transformations of birth, infancy, youth, maturity, old age and death; to being conscious of the atma or the immortal soul, to being conscious of a Supreme Lord to being conscious of loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna. All these things have been explained in brief as being part of the ksetra along with the mind, the senses, the objects of the senses and the modifications of dsire and aversion which causes the sensations of pleasure and pain for the jivas.
अमानित्वमदम्भित्वमहिंसा क्षान्तिरार्जवम् |
आचार्योपासनं शौचं स्थैर्यमात्मविनिग्रहः ||१३- ८||
इन्द्रियार्थेषु वैराग्यमनहंकार एव च |
जन्ममृत्युजराव्याधिदुःखदोषानुदर्शनम् ||१३- ९||
असक्तिरनभिष्वङ्गः पुत्रदारगृहादिषु |
नित्यं च समचित्तत्वमिष्टानिष्टोपपत्तिषु ||१३- १०||
मयि चानन्ययोगेन भक्तिरव्यभिचारिणी |
विविक्तदेशसेवित्वमरतिर्जनसंसदि ||१३- ११||
अध्यात्मज्ञाननित्यत्वं तत्त्वज्ञानार्थदर्शनम् |
एतज्ज्ञानमिति प्रोक्तमज्ञानं यदतोऽन्यथा ||१३- १२||
AchAryopAsanaM shauchaM sthairyamAtmavinigrahaH || 13-8 ||
indriyArtheShu vairAgyamanaha.nkAra eva cha |
janmamR^ityujarAvyAdhiduHkhadoShAnudarshanam.h || 13-9 ||
asaktiranabhiShvaN^gaH putradAragR^ihAdiShu |
nitya.n cha samachittatvamiShTAniShTopapattiShu || 13-10 ||
mayi chAnanyayogena bhaktiravyabhichAriNI |
viviktadeshasevitvamaratirjanasa.nsadi || 13-11 ||
adhyAtmaGYAnanityatva.n tattvaGYAnArthadarshanam.h |
etajGYAnamiti proktamaGYAnaM yadato.anyathA || 13-12 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.8 to 13.12
Anvaya: amanitvam–humility; adambhitvam–pridelessness; ahimsa–nonviolence; ksantih–tolerance; arjavam–simplicity; acarya-upasanam–approaching a bona fide spiritual master; saucam–cleanliness; sthairyam–steadfastness; atma-vinigrahah–control; indriya-arthesu–in the matter of the senses; vairagyam–renunciation; anahankarah–being without false egoism; eva–certainly; ca–also; janma–birth; mrtyu–death; jara–old age; vyadhi–disease; duhkha–distress; dosa–fault; anudarsanam–observing; asaktih–without attachment; anabhisvangah–without association; putra–sons; dara–wife; grha-adisu–home, etc.; nityam–eternal; ca–also; sama-cittatvam–equilibrium; ista–desirable; anista–undesirable; upapattisu–having obtained; mayi–unto Me; ca–also; ananya-yogena–by devotional service; bhaktih–devotion; avyabhicarini–constant, unalloyed; vivikta–solitary; desa–place; sevitvam–aspiring; aratih–without attachment; jana–to people in general; samsadi–mass; adhyatma–pertaining to the self; jnana–knowledge; nityatvam–eternity; tattva-jnana–knowledge of the truth; artha–the object; darsanam–philosophy; etat–all this; jnanam–knowledge; iti–thus; proktam–declared; ajnanam–ignorance; yat–that which; atah–from this; anyatha–others.
Translation: Humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; nonattachment to children, wife, home and the rest, and even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, resorting to solitary places, detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization, and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth–all these I thus declare to be knowledge, and what is contrary to these is ignorance.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Now in order to elucidate at length the purely spiritual ksetra-jna as the object to be realised and its distinct difference from the previously described ksetra; Lord Krishna will enumerate in these five verses the means and path to realisation of the ksetra-jna beginning with the word amanitvam meaning humility not seeking recognition, adambhitvam means to be without pride, ahimsa is not causing pain to other living beings, ksanti is tolerance in the face of insults, arjava is uprightness and straightforwardness, acaryapasana means unreserved and unmotivated service to the Vaisnava spiritual master, sauca means purity both internal and external. In the Sandilya Upanisad beginning saucam ca dvividham prohitam refers to two types of purity. External purity is obtained by rubbing earth and water while internal purity is obtained by purification of the mind. The word sthairya means steadfastness on the path of righteousness by one who has accepted it, atma-vinigraha or control over the body and the senses which uncontrolled hinder realisation of the atma or immortal soul, vairagya indriyartha means renunciation of sense objects, ahankarah means relinquishing false ego and identification of the physical body as the self, dukha-dosa-anudarsanam means dispassion by pondering the misery of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death in material existence, asakti means equipoise and non-attachment to wife, sons and other loved ones, anabhisvanga means remaining even minded to s what life gives whether evil or excellence befalls one, sama-citta means to avoid both happiness or distress by temporary external circumstances. The compound words avyabhicarini bhakti means unwavering, unalloyed loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna and realising the atma in all living beings, vivekta- desa-sevitam is fondness for performing austerities in solitary places, aratir jana-samsadt means indifference to mundane topics and mundane association. The words adhyatma-jnana nityatvam means always interested in spiritual knowledge and self-realisation and atma-tattva or knowledge of the immortal soul within. Continuously reflecting, contemplating and engaging one’s total being in understanding the purpose and goal of human existence by comprehending the precise significance of various verses and conceptions in the Vedic scriptures to learn and realise the ultimate truth and upon achieving moksa or liberation from material existence to further attain the ultimate consciousness and eternal association with the Supreme Lord which is the highest apex of all existence. Thus these 20 virtues that have been described by Lord Krishna constitute the essence of knowledge for their attributes are the means which opens the way to this highest existence. Whatever is contrary to these 20 virtues of renowned excellence should always be rejected as it is understood to be ignorance and emphatically antagonistic to truth. This has been confirmed in by gone ages by great sages and seers such as Vyasa, Vasistha and Parasara.
In these five verses Lord Krishna defines the quintessential qualities and attributes to achieve the means to fulfil the highest purpose of human existence. Realisation of these 24 essential principles means knowledge through the experience of living them in conjunction with the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. The Supreme Lord Krishna is the object of attainment for these essential principles and is the ultimate goal to be attained. Realisation through experience equates to imbibing and living these 20 principles. That by which things become realised is known as knowledge. Thus knowledge is known to be a means of realisation. Emphasis on jnana or knowledge is herein given as the goal for self-realisation.
Amanitvam is absence of desire for honour due to reverence and humilty. Adambhitva is lack of pride due to simplicity and absence of duplicity. Ahimsa is non-violence to others by thought, word or action. Ksantih is tolerance, forbearance even when antagonised. Arjavam is sincerity and straightforwardness even to those duplicitous. Acaryopasana is unmotivated devotion to the guru who imparts spiritual knowledge. Saucam is purity in thought, word and action to enable to qualify for spiritual knowledge. Sthairya is unwavering faith in the spiritual masters teachings from the Vedic scriptures. Atma-vinigriha is self control by withdrawing the mind from pursuits other than spiritual. Vairagyam is renunciation of activities unrelated to the soul. Anahankara is absence of false ego or misidentification of the physical body as the self. Anudarsanam is reflecting on the evils of birth and inevitable old age, disease and death. Asakti is detachment from over attraction to wife, sons and family members. Anabhisvangah is neutrality in both happiness and distress. Sama-citta is equipoise of mind in both favourable and unfavourable circumstances. Bhaktih is rendering exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna. Vivikta-desa-sevitvam is fondness for solitary places out in nature for inhabiting. Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam is to be permanently established in knowledge of the soul. Tattva-jnana-darsana is contemplating the spiritual teachings of the Vedas to gain insight. Jnana refers to that knowledge where one can achieve atma tattva or realisation of the soul.
The aggregate of imbibing these 20 most excellent attributes facilitates atma tattva within the jiva or embodied being. Whatever is contrary and opposed to these 20 attributes is to be considered ignorance and detrimental to any real knowledge of the soul. Next the nature of the ksetra-jna or knower of the field will be delineated by Lord Krishna as was alluded to in chapter 10, verse 3 where He states: One who knows Me.
Having described the characteristics of the ksetra or field of activity, Lord Krishna enumerates the attributes that are required to qualify for knowledge of the nature of ksetra-jna or knower of the field of activity. The absence of desire for honour and the absence of pride imply both reverence for the Supreme Lord and absence of hypocrisy. Thus a person becomes righteous by only performing pious activities in accordance with the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. Such a person automatically follows ahimsa or non-violence to any living being by thought, word or deed and possesses tolerance towards others with an unperturbed mind even if they are antagonistic. Straightforwardness without duplicity is another quality found in such a person and of paramount importance is rendering unmotivated devotion to the spiritual master who illuminates the path and guides the disciple to transcendental knowledge. The Mundaka Upanisad I.II.XII beginning parikshya lokan karmachitan declares: Accept an acarya or spiritual preceptor who is learned and established in the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. A preceptor is only a spiritual master when his knowledge is established in the Vedic scriptures, when he is pureof heart, when he has received Vaisnava initiation in a bonafide parampara or discipliic succession from an acarya devotee of Lord Krishna or any of His avatars or authorised incarnations, when he has learned sacred rituals and holy mantras from such a preceptor, when he is devoted to chanting the Supreme Lord Krishna’s holy names and when he has full unwavering faith in the eternal truths of the Vedic scriptures as taught by his spiritual master and the knowledge of these truths is exemplified in his everyday life. Only such an exemplary person is qualified to be an acarya or spiritual master.
Purity both externally in the body by earth and water and internally in the mind by discrimination, removing the mental impurities which pollute the consciousness. This gives equipoise of mind in perturbing situations and obstacles on the path of moksa or liberation from material existence and also gives control over the body, mind and senses, keeping them from impetuously rushing down wrong paths prohibited by the Vedic injunctions. Acquiring a dispassion of disinterest in the sights and sounds of this world and even for the lure of delights in the heavenly planets. Absence identifying the body with soul and lack of false ego with concepts of I- ness and my-ness; or believing one is superior in some way arising from any transitory material conception such as believing one special because one comes from a noble and distinguished lineage. Without spiritual development these conceptions have no value. Reflecting continuously on the suffering and misery of material existence which is unavoidable because inherent in birth is the inevitable old age, disease and death and the perpetuity of this life after life. The Chandogya Upanisad VIII.XII.I beginning maghavanmartyam va idam states: Verily every jiva or embodied being is subject to pleasure and pain. Verily there is no exemption from pleasure and pain for any being while they are embodied. Verily when one is not incorporeal in a physical body pleasure and pain are not experienced. Avoidance of overly attachment to wife, sons and family members as well as wealth, home and property. Not agitated or unperturbed by lifes reversals, equipoise in favourable and unfavourable circumstances.
To have unwavering and unalloyed exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna and to worship His transcendental form both externally in the temple and internally within the heart. Fondness for living in secluded and holy places and avoidance of worldly minded people uninterested in spiritual matters with no attraction to the Supreme Lord. Because association with saintly persons is essential for spiritual development it is indispensable for one seeking to advance their spiritual life. There is an ancient dialogue between the sage Cyavana instructing King Nahusa where he tells him: One should associate with saintly persons. One should hear instructions from saintly persons. One should indulge in discussions with saintly persons and make friendships only with them; but never with the wicked who should be avoided completely. Association with saintly persons is the medicine to remove the disease of materialism but association with the wicked is just like poison.
Finally constant devotion to atma tattva or knowledge of the soul. That true knowledge regarding the soul that is entirely different from the physical body. Observing the Supreme Lord everywhere in everything as the means to surmount ignorance and gain endless bliss from liberation by His eternal communion. The 20 attributes declared in these verses are known to be knowledge and are the wisdom by which the Supreme Ultimate Truth can be realised. Whatever is contrary to these 20 attributes is known as ignorance and is destructive of wisdom leading to the Supreme Ultimate Truth and should by all means in every situation be avoided.
ज्ञेयं यत्तत्प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वामृतमश्नुते |
अनादिमत्परं ब्रह्म न सत्तन्नासदुच्यते ||१३- १३||
anAdimatparaM brahma na sattannAsaduchyate || 13-13 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.13
Anvaya: jneyam–knowable; yat–that; tat–which; pravaksyami–I shall now explain; yat–which; jnatva–knowing; amrtam–nectar; asnute–taste; anadi–beginningless; mat-param–subordinate to Me; brahma–spirit; na–neither; sat–cause; tat–that; na–nor; asat–effect; ucyate–is called.
Translation: I shall now explain the knowable, knowing which you will taste the eternal. This is beginningless, and it is subordinate to Me. It is called Brahman, the spirit, and it lies beyond the cause and effect of this material world.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
That which is to be known by imbibing the previous 20 virtues is being declared by Lord Krishna in this verse. The resultant consequence of embracing these virtues is being proclaimed now and emphasised in order to exemplify to the hearer that these 20 virtues truly constitute knowledge and are indispensable to realising the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Realising the brahman one achieves moksa or liberation from material existence. The brahman has no beginning, is unsurpassed, and eternal. Although the word anandi meaning without beginning and eternal would convey the same meaning alone by adding the suffix mat to it utilises it as a bahuvrihi compound which is a metrical ornament and so it is spoken anandimat which denotes subordination to param being the Supreme Lord. If it were spoken as anandi matparam it would mean Lord Krishna’s supreme, attributeless form but that would not validate the words na sat tan nasad which states it is beyond both the cause and the effect. That which is the object of activation is expressed as existing and that which has no activation is expressed as non-existing. But the brahman is beyond both because it is not subject to the material existence.
The brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is the brahma referred to here. This is given as a reminder of the dependence of the Supreme Lord Krishna by whose energy everything is transpiring. The word anadimat means without any origin and beginning and denotes that the Supreme Lord is without origin and beginning also. If only anadi was used a doubt might arise that there is an origin for Him and so how can He manifest something without beginning if He is not as well. So the word anadimat is used as a matter of clarification. Due to being complete in fullness with all transcendental attributes the Supreme Lord is called param brahman meaning the Supreme brahman and is both sat or eternal existence and asat or non existence possessing a transcendental spiritual form and formless being without a physical form. Yet since He can be discerned by outward elements such as earth, fire, water etc. and since He is emphatically eulogized in the Vedic scriptures. The resplendent Supreme Lord Krishna, the immutable one is especially known both as sat and asat.
Lord Krishna is declaring that which is most worthy to be known is that which is most worthy to strive for and be gained and that is realisation of the atma or immortal soul. This realisation is attained by imbibing the 20 attributes heretofore mentioned previously. Here the word amritam meaning nectar denotes the nectar of immortality and refers directly the immortal soul exempt from the pangs of birth, decrepitude and death. Anadi means that which has no beginning for as the atma has no birth it has no ending and is eternal. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning najayate mriyate va vipascit means that the atma is without birth and death. The compound mat- param clarifies that the atma is both a part of the Supreme Lord who is present within as paramatma the Supreme Soul and always subordinate to Him. The Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.IX beginning sakaranam karana dhipa dhipo means: The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes and the lord of the lord of the senses for Him there is no Lord or progenitor. Further in the same chapter VI.XVI beginning pradhana ksetrajna patir gunesah meaning: The Supreme Lord who is endowed with all auspicious qualities is the lord of the field of activities, the knower of the field of activities.
The brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is great because the atma which is a separate entity from the physical body is part of it. Brahman is derived from the root word brh which means becoming great. So it is included as part of ksetra-jna. The brahman is infinite and the atma is infinite as well. The Svetasvatara Upanisad V.IX states sachan anthyaya kalpate meaning: The atma is infinite. The atma’s seemingly limitation in a physical body is due to karma or reactions from past actions; but once a jiva or embodied being achieves moksa or liberation then the actual infinite and limitless nature of the atma is percieved. The brahman is neither sat existence or asat non-existence because it never undergoes any modifications or transformations due to its being beyond the influence of cause and effect. The term brahman can also be used to refer to the atma as will be seen later in chapter 14, verse 26 and chapter 18 verse 54. When the atma assumes names and forms sat becomes applicable and when the atma is bereft of names and forms it is asat. Thus it is factually beyond both. This is also revealed in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VII.IX and the Rig Veda VIII.VII.XVII which states: All was asat in the beginning and from it sat arose. So everything was first unmanifest and then was made manifest into names and forms through successive transformations of cause and effect and such modifications surrounding the atma are due to its karma of having to accept embodiment brought on by avidya or ignorance and is not inherent in the actual nature of the atma itself. Thus the nature of the atma is undefinable by any and all conceptions of sat and asat.
When the Vedic scriptures refer to asat as being in the beginning they are alluding to the unmanifest casual state before existence is activated and commences. In this state both cit conscious spirit as the ksetra-jna and acit inert matter as the ksetra are both present but in a dormant state and could be designated as asat. But the brahman and the atma being eternal and part of the ksetra-jna are transcendent to both sat and asat except by the accountability and allotment of karma to the jiva due to reactions from past activities.
After describing the 20 indispensable attributes that are required to achieve the Supreme Ultimate Truth now Lord Krishna explains at length the nature of the ksetra-jna or knower of the field of activity with reference to the individual atma or immortal soul which is well worth knowing and of great value. Understanding that the atma is eternal and completely different from the perishable physical body and is not subject to mundane modifications like birth, old age, disease and death one begins to taste supreme bliss. The atma is beyond all the qualities and potencies of material existence no matter how powerful they may be. The Prasna Upanisad V.V beginning yah punaretam trima trenomiti meaning: One beholds the Supreme Being residing within the etheric heart and is higher than the highest living reality. Then access to the realm of the Supreme Lord is achieved which is permeated by the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and is the prime cause of primordial matter, the jiva or embodied being and eternal time. The true nature of the brahman the innermost self as the atma is revealed and all nescience is completely removed. This is known to be neither sat or existence and neither asat or non-existence.
The use of the term innermost self to refer to the brahman does not create any contradiction because when the atma is realised its veil is removed and nescience is removed with it and the extensive and unlimited nature it is endowed with is revealed. The Mundaka Upanisad III.I.III beginning yada pashyah pashyate meaning: When moksa or liberation is achieved one cuts asunder the knots of worldly bondage and attains proximity to the Supreme Lord. Also one who has achieved moksa is known to be omnicient as is shown in the Chandogya Upanisad VII.XXVI.II beginning na pashyo myritam pashyati na means: The enlightened one realising the Supreme Lord has realised the atma and all else. The Supreme Reality is called sat eternal existence in its state of being because of its capacity to divide itself into names and forms. The Supreme Reality is also called asat or non-existence because of its incapacity to divide itself into names and forms. This is also given in the Taittiriya Upanisad II.VII beginning asadva idamagre asit meaning: Verily in the beginning this creation was non-existent. Also in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad I.IV.VII beginning taddedam tarhayavaya meaning: Verily before the demigod Brahma became the secondary, instrumental cause of creation, the whole creation was dormant in its unmanifested form under the sway of the primary efficient cause. So because the Supreme Reality of the atma is beyond both sat and asat it is known as being and non-being. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning na jayate mriyate va means: The soul is unborn, eternal unchangeable and never subject to death.
सर्वतः पाणिपादं तत्सर्वतोऽक्षिशिरोमुखम् |
सर्वतः श्रुतिमल्लोके सर्वमावृत्य तिष्ठति ||१३- १४||
sarvataH shrutimalloke sarvamAvR^itya tiShThati || 13-14 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.14
Anvaya: sarvatah–everywhere; pani–hands; padam–legs; tat–that; sarvatah–everywhere; aksi–eyes; sirah–head; mukham–face; sarvatah–everywhere; sruti-mat–hearing; loke–in the world; sarvam–everything; avrtya–covering; tisthati–exists.
Translation: Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The question may arise that if the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is neither existing or non-existing then there seems to be a contradiction with Vedic scriptures such as the Chandogya Upanisad III.XIV.I which state: Everything is nothing but the brahman and the Narasingha Upanisad VII.III which state: All this is nothing but the brahman. Apprehending such doubts the nature and qualities of the brahman are revealed by Lord Krishna as being omnipresent, with heads, faces, eyes, ears, hands and feet everywhere. This manifests through the inconceivable potency and incomprehensible power of the Supreme Lord as confirmed in the Svetavastara Upanisad VI.VIII which states: The Supreme Lords transcendental power is unlimited and manifold and His knowledge, strength and action are inherent within Himself. The Supreme Lord who manifesting in all jivas or embodied beings has head, faces, eyes, ears, hands and feet everywhere is pervading everything in creation and is the basis of all activity as these selfsame organs of perception and locomotion belong to all beings.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
Lord Krishna begins this verse with sarvatah pani-padam tat meaning the Supreme Lords has hands and feet everywhere. This denotes that by His potency the Supreme Lord is capable of doing everywhere what all hands and feet do in the embodied state. Similarly He speaks sarvatah srutimal loke meaning He hears everything in all directions internally and externally. This denotes that He is capable of performing the functions of the senses such as hearing and seeing without the need of any physical sense organ. The Supreme Lord known as Parabrahman although possessing not hands and feet is able to perform the activities of hands and feet. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.IXX beginning apani pado jivana grihita meaning: Footless and handless He moves and grasps; eyeless and earless He sees and hears. That the atma or immortal soul of every sentient being even situated as an infinitesimal particle of Parabrahman also has the capacity of performing functions without organs as well. This is confirmed in the Mundaka Upanisad III.I.VIII beginning tatha vidva punya-pape vidhuya niranjana param samyam upaiti means: The atma casting off the dross of merit and demerit becomes purified attaining qualitative sameness in transcendence as the brahman. So in conclusion the ksetra-jna abides throughout all creation encompassing everything. This means that the atma pervades all things in creation without exception for the atma has no limitations of time and space. The atma is qualitatively equated to Parabrahman but quantitatively it is minuscule similar to a ray of light from the sun.
Lord Krishna defines the qualities of Parabrahman the Supreme Lord as the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence beginning with sarvatah pani padam meaning with hands and feet everywhere. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.IX states: Without feet or hands He is swift and seizes. He sees without eyes and hears without the ears. Without material organs the Supreme Lord sees on all sides and hears all things within and without and grasps from all directions. The Supreme Lord being of transcendental nature endowed with supra-extraordinary potency is performing all actions of coming, going, grasping, seizing, hearing, seeing although without hands and eyes and ears and feet, etc. The jiva or embodied being who realises atma-tattva or the reality of their soul and achieves moksa or liberation from material existence, they will ultimately attain the association of the Supreme Lord and experience this state as well. The Mundaka Upanisad III.I.III states: When an aspirant perceives the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence as the brilliantly effulgent Supreme Lord, then realising the ultimate truth such a one becomes pristine and pure casting off all dualities such as what is good and what is evil and attains direct communion with the Ultimate Consciousness and the Supreme Lord. Hence all those liberated beings who have attained such communion to the Supreme Lord are also known to be performing actions like Him irrespective of whether or not they have the actual material organs. Through the auspices of the atma or immotal soul and the brahman the Parabrahman pervades with knowledge all objects of the ksetra-jna. When ignorance has been completely removed and nescience has been transcended the unlimited aspect of the atma becomes manifest and the quality of knowledge becomes unlimited and the soul becomes endowed with an all pervasive quality of omniscience including past and future. Only then is the atma spoken of as being equated to Parabrahman; otherwise it is not possible. The same is declared by Vedavyasa in his treatise Vedanta Sutras II.III.XXVIII beginning yavadatam bhavitva ca meaning: Proof that the atma is the consciousness factor is that cognition is only present as long as the atma is present; before self realisation it is obscured and after enlightenment it is perceived.
सर्वेन्द्रियगुणाभासं सर्वेन्द्रियविवर्जितम् |
असक्तं सर्वभृच्चैव निर्गुणं गुणभोक्तृ च ||१३- १५||
asakta.n sarvabhR^ichchaiva nirguNaM guNabhoktR^i cha || 13-15 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.15
Anvaya: sarva–all; indriya–senses; guna–qualities; abhasam–original source; sarva–all; indriya–senses; vivarjitam–being without; asaktam–without attachment; sarva-bhrt–maintainer of everyone; ca–also; eva–certainly; nirgunam–without material qualities; guna-bhoktr–simultaneously master of the gunas; ca–also.
Translation: The Supersoul is the original source of all senses, yet He is without senses. He is unattached, although He is the maintainer of all living beings. He transcends the modes of nature, and at the same time He is the master of all modes of material nature.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Lord Krishna is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence known as Parabrahma and is the illuminator of the functions of the senses and their objects in the form of colour, sound and scents, etc. maintaining all of the sense organs and their functions while still bereft of any material organ. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.IXX states: Without hands and feet Parabrahma the Supreme Being moves and grasps. Unattached and devoid of all desires yet the substratum of everything, maintaining and sustaining all. That Parabrahma transcendental to the three gunas of goodness, passion and ignorance and possess no material qualities or attributes; yet through out creation He is the preserver and protector of these qualities and attributes.
Since the Supreme Lord supports the attributes of all the senses, He is always conscious of the functions of all the sense organs; yet He, Himself possesses no material sense organs. This is what Lord Krishna is stating here.
The words sarvendriya-gunabhasam means that the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence known as Parabrahma or the Supreme Being who is capable of illuminating all the senses with consciousness along with their faculties such as sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, etc. But devoid of all material qualities Parabrahma is capable to perform all the activities of the senses without the need of physical sense organs. The same holds true for the atma or immortal soul which is capable of experiencing the activities of the senses without sense faculties and which by its own virtue has the capacity of omniscience like Parabrahma. The word asaktam means indifferent or unattached to the material and yet is sarva-bhrt ca or capable of assuming all physical bodies and is the maintainer of all physical bodies. The Chandogya Upanisad VII.XXV beginning sa eva dhastat meaning the Supreme Lord is everywhere in all directions. The Supreme Lord is nirgunam meaning transcendental to the three modes of material nature pervading material existence which are goodness, passion and ignorance and yet the Supreme Lord is the ultimate experiencer of these three modes.
The source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is the Supreme Lord known as Parabrahma, who perceives all sense objects and activities of the senses such as perception of sound, sight, smell, the perception of speech etc. of the external organs. Also He perceives thinking, reflecting, determining of the internal organs such as the mind and intellect and omniscience of the intuition. Although to experience these things in a material body a being requires the physical organs such as ears for sound, eyes for sight, nose for smell, etc. it is not the case for the Supreme Lord who is nirgunam or devoid of all material qualities; yet at the same time being the sustainer and nourisher of all living entities He is guna-bhoktr or the ultimate enjoyer of all spiritual qualities through the auspices of the atma or immortal soul within all sentient, living beings.
बहिरन्तश्च भूतानामचरं चरमेव च |
सूक्ष्मत्वात्तदविज्ञेयं दूरस्थं चान्तिके च तत् ||१३- १६||
sUkShmatvAttadaviGYeyaM dUrastha.n chAntike cha tat.h || 13-16 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.16
Anvaya: bahih–outside; antah–inside; ca–also; bhutanam–of all living entities; acaram–not moving; caram–moving; eva–also; ca–and; suksmatvat–on account of being subtle; tat–that; avijneyam–unknowable; durastham–far away; ca–also; antike–near; ca–and; tat–that.
Translation: The Supreme Truth exists both internally and externally, in the moving and nonmoving. He is beyond the power of the material senses to see or to know. Although far, far away, He is also near to all.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Furthermore Lord Krishna explains that His manifestation as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and is within and without all living entities both moving and stationary and all that is animate as well as inanimate. This is so even as gold is exists in a bracelet, a necklace and a ring equally or that water exists within unlimited waves and countless drops of rain. Parabrahma alone is the sole cause of everything, all effects in inumerable and variegated forms; yet so subtle that it has no material form or qualities. It is incomprehensible and inconceivable being incapable to be understood by the mind as well imperceptible to the senses. Therefore to the ignorant Parabrahma is very far as millions of miles away being transcendental and far beyond prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. Yet to the spiritually intelligent it very close and near as within one’s own heart in its manifestation as the atma or immortal soul. The Iso Upanisad V beginning tad ejati tan naijati tad dure tadvantike means: The Supreme Lord moves and moves not; He is far away and very near; He is within and without. Ejati means move, naijati means moves not. The words tadvantike should be divided as tat meaning He the Supreme Lord, v meaning also and antike meaning very near. Thus it is clearly confirmed that Supreme Lord is always present.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
The word bahih means outside, this refers to the atma or immortal soul which still exists even when it departs a physical body at death and abandons the subtle body along with the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether although it is present within them as well. As confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.VII.VII beginning sa ya esho animaitad means: The source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is Parabrahma the Supreme Lord Krishna who is eternally existing in everything by His transcendental potency. By nature it is acaram or stationary and unmoving but it is caram or moving in its embodied state. Due to being supra-subtle without material, mundane qualities it is avijneyam or incomprehensible. The atma or immortal soul possesses all powers and knowledge although it occupies and inhabits a bodily form. Because it is subatomic it can not be perceived by technological methods and remains a mystery. Therefore it is extremely difficult for worldly people of logic and reason to understand it being separate and distinct from the physical body. The words durastham cantike ca tat means that the atma although present within their own bodies is very far away from those who are arrogant, ostentatious, irreverent, etc. who do not possesses the 20 virtues of righteousness given in verses 8 to 12 such as humility, reverence and nonviolence. But contrarily it is extremely near to those dear ones who possess the 20 virtues. This is because these 20 virtues facilitate a living entities ability to perceive internally and realize the atma.
The Supreme Lord Krishna who is known as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is without and within the elements such as earth, water, fire, air, ether, etc.; yet He is outside of them and distinctly different and separate from them because He is their cause and they are His products. At the same time He is within all as well constituted as physical bodies constituted by the five elements in the inanimate immovable and the animate movable. In every aspect of creation He is existing in a subatomic manifestation in all jivas or embodied beings of every living entity as the atma or immortal soul. Because He exists in an extremely subtle subatomic state it is impossible to perceive Him by the senses or understand Him by the mind. So He is acutely incomprehensible and it is very difficult for transmigrating jivas to realise that He is different and separate from the physical body although He resides within the etheric heart of all jivas as the atma. For those jivas who are bereft of the 20 virtues given by Lord Krishna in verses 8 to 12 the atma is very far away indeed meaning the consciousness required for self-realisation in order to realise the atma is very far away. Those jivas who are endowed with these 20 virtues such as humility, non-violence, serving the Vaisnava spiritual master, etc.; the atma is very near indeed meaning that the consciousness required for self-realisation in order to to realise the atma is very near.
अविभक्तं च भूतेषु विभक्तमिव च स्थितम् |
भूतभर्तृ च तज्ज्ञेयं ग्रसिष्णु प्रभविष्णु च ||१३- १७||
bhUtabhartR^i cha tajGYeyaM grasiShNu prabhaviShNu cha || 13-17 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.17
Anvaya: avibhaktam–without division; ca–also; bhutesu–in every living being; vibhaktam–divided; iva–as if; ca–also; sthitam–situated; bhuta-bhartr–maintainer of all living entities; ca–also; tat–that; jneyam–to be understood; grasisnu–devours; prabhavisnu–develops; ca–also.
Translation: Although the Supersoul appears to be divided, He is never divided. He is situated as one. Although He is the maintainer of every living entity, it is to be understood that He devours and develops all.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Although the Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma, is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and appears to be divided in all beings and things animate and inanimate. He is actually avibhaktam or undivided by His being both the cause and the effect of all living entities and all creation although it gives the illusion of being manifold. He is the creator, sustainer and annihilator of all living entities in the entire cosmic manifestation and all of creation.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
By the Supreme Lord Krishna who is known as Parabrahma intrinsic potency as the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence it is devoid of all divisions abiding everywhere within all creatures, demigods, humans etc. But to the spiritually unaware there appears to be divisions and differences due to variegation of forms. What Lord Krishna has stated in verse two of this chapter that those who are knowledgeable of the ksetra-jna are spiritually enlightened about the atma or immortal soul existing equally within all living entities distinctly separate from the physical body although resideing within the etheric heart of all sentient beings. When textural quotes are read as I am a demigod, I am a man, etc. it is only referring to the body, the physical form shrouding the atma due to karma the resultant reactions from past life activities. To comprehend the atma as a distinct, separate immortal entity can be discerned by reflection and contemplation inasmuch as the atma provides the support for the aggregate combination of the five fundamental elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether which in varying degrees make up the physical body. So Parabrahma is known as bhuta-bhartr the maintainer of all beings as distinguished from the maintained. Since Parabrahma exists after the time of universal destruction He is known as grasisnu the annihilator of the material elements as distinguished from the annihilated. Because Parabrahma is the causer of transformations He is known as prabha-visnu the creator of universal manifestation as distinguished from the created. Inasmuch as no such properties are ever present in a dead body it can be correctly concluded that mere matter possessed ksetra or field of activity is never capable of being the maintainer, the annihilator or the creator whereas the ksetra-jna is capable.
Although appearing to be vibhaktam or divided it is factually avibhaktam undivided but very difficult to discern and be recognised. It is the sole object worthy of knowing and appears as unlimited forms as if it were divided. Yet for those who are spiritually enlightened and have realised atma-tattva knowledge of the immortal soul they can comprehend this mystery of Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma who is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and which is the sustainer and nourisher of all living beings and is known as the ksetra-jna the knower of all fields of activity. The Chandogya Upanisad VII.XXVI.II beginning tasta ha va etasyaivam pashyata states: One who perceives, comprehends and realises the ontology of the Supreme Lord Krishna knows very well the atma.
ज्योतिषामपि तज्ज्योतिस्तमसः परमुच्यते |
ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं ज्ञानगम्यं हृदि सर्वस्य विष्ठितम् ||१३- १८||
GYAnaM GYeyaM GYAnagamya.n hR^idi sarvasya viShThitam.h || 13-18 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.18
Anvaya: jyotisam–in all luminous objects; api–also; tat–that; jyotih–source of light; tamasah–of the darkness; param–beyond; ucyate–is said; jnanam–knowledge; jneyam–to be known; jnana-gamyam–to be approached by knowledge; hrdi–in the heart; sarvasya–of everyone; visthitam–situated.
Translation: He is the source of light in all luminous objects. He is beyond the darkness of matter and is unmanifested. He is knowledge, He is the object of knowledge, and He is the goal of knowledge. He is situated in everyone’s heart.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, is the light of all lights, the illuminator of even the sun and the stars. He is shining, resplendently effulgent all things shine from Him, by His light all creation is full of light. Therefore Parabrahma is intouched by darkness and beyond all nescience untouched by ignorance. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.VII. beginning veda hametam purusam meaning: The Supreme Lord shines more brilliantly then the sun and by realising Him only one attains moksa or liberation there is no other way to accomplish this. It is this knowledge that is to manifest in the functions of the intellect regarding the 20 superlative virtues given in verses 8 to 12. It is also knowable in the form of sound by OM the primordial sound frequency of the Supreme Lord. It is also accessible through spiritual practices and easily attainable by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord. The discovery of the atma or immortal soul within the etheric heart is being emphasised by acquiring knowledge and performing appropriately for self- realisation.
Since the Supreme Lord Krishna is achieved by experiencing spiritual knowledge, He is understood to be the goal of all knowledge. Know the atma or immortal soul by experiencing the atma. As the Supreme Lord is the bestower of the atma and the atma is only knowable through Him then He is the most worthy object of knowledge. If the Supreme Lord is knowable by other means then the words He spoke earlier in verse 13 jneyam yat tat meaning all that which is worth knowing would make this verse repetitive. Now He affirms here the means to achieve what He revealed as the goal in verse 13 negating any contradiction. The Supreme Lord knows Himself by His Self alone. His knowing is not dependent on any external source outside of Himself. In special cases He is able to be known by others as it is possible to know Him by His desire and also by realization of the atma. But only by His grace can this manifest and without His grace knowledge of Him can never manifest. The Supreme Lord is self illuminated, He is self contented and He is equal towards all. Therefore as He is the foremost of all, He is the object of attainment for all and all jivas or embodied beings should seek His grace for only by His grace can He be known.
Lights are those found in the sun, the stars, fire, gems, etc. The light of these lights denotes that which illuminates all these or that by which they are perceived denoting the light of consciousness by which all luminaries such as the sun and the stars are seen to shine. As for human made lights such as lamps, torches and the rest, they only dispel the darkness intervening between the sense of sight and its object and their illuminating power is limited to the sense perception of sight. But there is no limitation with the light and sight of the atma once it has been realised. The words tamasah param means beyond darkness referring to the darkness of tamas or ignorance designating the subtle but limited conditions of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence; but the atma or immortal soul being eternal is transcendental to any conditions or limitations. The words jnanam jneyam means knowledge worthy of being known comprehensible by the intellect and characterised by consciousness. The words jnana gamyam means wisdom accessible through knowledge or that wisdom gained from embodying and living the 20 virtues given in verses 8 through 12 beginning with amanitvam or reverence. These exalted virtues which constitute spiritual knowledge are the means to achieve the wisdom of the atma. As the atma is situated within the heart of all sentient beings, the Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma is hrdi sarvasy dhisthitam situated in the heart of all sentient beings.
The Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. It is solely His effulgence that illuminates all luminaries such as the sun, the stars, lightning, jewels, etc. with light. These luminaries only dispel the darkness hindering the vision between the eyes and their objects whereas the knowledge of a mere spark of the Supreme Lord being the atma or immortal soul illuminates all physical lights and without the atma knowledge of illumination is not possible. That is why the atma is said to be totally beyond the darkness of maya which is the deluding, external, illusory potency of the Supreme Lord. The illusory nature of maya is ever changing by nature whereas the atma is eternal and unchanging. The atma is itself knowledge as well as the goal of all knowledge and is most worthy of attaining by the acquisition of knowledge. The qualifications to obtain this knowledge is found in the 20 excellent virtues expounded earlier in verse 8 to 12 beginning with reverence, humility etc. which are in the hearts of all human beings albeit dormant or active. The words hrdi sarvasya dhisthitam emphasises that the Supreme Lord Krishna is specially situated in the etheric heart of all living entities.
इति क्षेत्रं तथा ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं चोक्तं समासतः |
मद्भक्त एतद्विज्ञाय मद्भावायोपपद्यते ||१३- १९||
madbhakta etadviGYAya madbhAvAyopapadyate || 13-19||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.19
Anvaya: iti–thus; ksetram–the field of activities (the body); tatha–also; jnanam–knowledge; jneyam–the knowable; ca–also; uktam–described; samasatah–in summary; mat-bhaktah–My devotee; etat–all this; vijnaya–after understanding; mat-bhavaya–My nature; upapadyate–attains.
Translation: Thus the field of activities [the body], knowledge and the knowable have been summarily described by Me. Only My devotees can understand this thoroughly and thus attain to My nature.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Thus the reality concerning the ksetra or field of activity and the ksetra- jna the knower of the field of activity has been explained in conjunction with the rewards of this knowledge and description of one qualified by this knowledge. What has been previously taught in detail by great sages like Vasistha and Parasara concerning the ksetra or field of activity was given in brief by Lord Krishna beginning in verses 6 and 7 with the maha-bhutany or the five fundamental elements. Continuing in verses 8 to 12 beginning with amanitvam or humility and ending with tattva-jnana-artha-darsanam or the goal of spiritual knowledge. Concluding in verses 13 to 17 of an explanation of Parabrahma and the examination of His nature. All these things have been precisely enumerated in a concise manner. Knowing well these things and practicing them incessantly a devotee of Lord Krishna as described in chapter 12 becomes qualified and worthy to attain His eternal association in this very life.
In verses 8 to 12 Lord Krishna has given the means of knowledge by imbibing the 20 super excellent spiritual endowments beginning with amanitvam or reverence and adamvitam or humility even before explaining the modifications of the ksetra or field of activity. This is because they hold the primary position and the many modifications of the ksetra hold a secondary position. Here Lord Krishna is not at all implying any merger or absorption into His nature by a qualified aspirant. The words mad- bhavayopapadyate means qualification for the Supreme Lords service. When a jiva or embodied being becomes a devotee of the Supreme Lord one becomes qualified to attain bhakti or exclusive loving devotional service unto Lord Krishna and subsequently when one achieves moksa or liberation from material existence at that time one attains the Supreme Lords association in the spiritual worlds.
Previously a concise description of what is to be known as constituting the ksetra or field of activity has been given by Lord Krishna beginning in verse six with maha-bhutani meaning the five fundamental elements of material nature and in verses 8 through 12 beginning with amanivitam or reverence the 20 excellent are enumerated as the means for acquiring the knowledge of atma-tattva or soul realisation up to perception of the eternal spiritual reality, knowing the Supreme Lord reside within the etheric heart of all living beings. Here Lord Krishna states mad bhakta meaning His devotees are knowledgeable of the reality regarding the ksetra, knowledgeable of the means by which to realise the atma or immortal soul which is of the nature of ksetra-jna or knower of the sphere of activity and distinctly different from the ksetra. Only His devotees are those situated in such knowledge and mad bhavayopapadyate meaning qualified to attain exclusive loving devotion to Him which is everlasting and eternal and which is different from samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Next Lord Krishna will explain the beginingless state of the two distinct natural verities of matter and soul conjoined together and the different functions each is engendered to perform as well as how these two verities came to be situated in this condition.
Lord Krishna is pointing out that His devotees are particularly qualified and reveals what they achieve by being devoted to Him. Beginning with the words iti ksetram tatha jnanam meaning knowledge of the field of activity He is referring to the ksetra of five fundamental elements, the senses, ego and mind, etc. described in verses 6 and 7. The words tatha jnanam refers to the 20 super excellent spiritual endowments given in verses 8 to 12 beginning amanitvam or reverence where concluding this theme He confirms that factual knowledge of atma tattva or soul realisation and the ksetra- jna or knower of the field of activity is actual knowledge and all knowledge that does not facilitate this realisation is nescience. From their to verse 18 is described in a nutshell how imbibing the 20 spiritual endowments lead to this realisation and concludes by revealing that He resides in the etheric heart of all living beings and that invariably it is His devotees by virtue of their possessing these spiritual endowments that are able to attain Him. This is denoted by the word vijnaya or knowing. Knowing the true nature of the ksetra or field of activity by virtue of the 20 spiritual endowments is the means to realise the ksetra-jna or the knower of the field of activity which is the atma the immortal soul and transcends samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The conclusion is that Lord Krishna’s devotees knowing the true nature of spiritual eternity and what is the ultimate reality qualify themselves faithfully and enthusiastically in His exclusive loving devotion.
प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि |
विकारांश्च गुणांश्चैव विद्धि प्रकृतिसम्भवान् ||१३- २०||
vikArA.nshcha guNA.nshchaiva viddhi prakR^itisambhavAn.h || 13-20 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.20
Anvaya: prakrtim–material nature; purusam–living entities; ca–also; eva–certainly; viddhi–must know; anadi–without beginning; ubhau–both; api–also; vikaran–transformations; ca–also; gunan–three modes of nature; ca–also; eva–certainly; viddhi–know; prakrti–material nature; sambhavan–produced of.
Translation: Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Thus the ksetra or field of activity along with its qualities and attributes has been concisely described up to this point. Now Lord Krishna by affirming the beginingless nature of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the Purusa or the Supreme Lord both are the cause of transmigratory existence. What are the ksetra’s modifications, from whence does it arise and what are its forms. Also what is the nature of the entity known as the ksetra-jna or knower of the field of activity and what are its powers and potencies. All these things are eruditely explained in this verse and the next four. If prakriti were to have a beginning then we would have to accept that there must be another prakriti as the cause and then another as that cause and another as that causes and on and on. Therefore Lord Krishna elucidates this point by declaring that both prakriti and the purusa are without beginning. Prakriti is a modification into the material of the Purusa which is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord. It should be understood that the evolution of the body, the senses, the gunas or modes of material nature of goodness, passion and ignorance and their modifications such as happiness, misery, delusion all arise from prakriti.
Before Lord Krishna explained in detail the questions posed in verse four concerning the characteristics and nature of the ksetra. Now He describes in brief the modifications of prakriti or the material substratum pervading material existence and purusa the supreme in the form of the atma or immortal soul. The modifications of prakriti are the three gunas or modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. At the time of universal dissolution whatever accumulation is remaining from prakriti a small part of that will be from these gunas. In the Madhuchanda section it has been mentioned that this small portion of accumulation will constitute action as well as inaction. As desires are modifications of the jiva or embodied being the gunas are modifications of prakriti. Even though prakriti is the source of the gunas it is uninfluenced by them as they are in seed form and ready to burst into sprout once they enter the material manifestation. They do not come into existence like transient desires but are potentially established in the act of dissolution. The entire material creation which cyclically manifests and dissolves has inherent within it traces of the potentiality of recreation programmed into its atomic substratum. Thus all phenomena in manifestation and dissolution is influenced by the gunas and reabsorbed by its potentiality back into the matrix of existence exactly the way it was previously.
Now begins the summation.
The separation of the words prakritim purusancaiva differentiates the animate and sentient purusa and its immortal soul from the inanimate and insentient prakriti. The modifications such as desire and attraction along with the attributes of goodness, passion and ignorance being different are mentioned separately although both arise solely from prakriti. The purusa which exemplifies the Supreme Lord is completely independent of prakriti and thus is exclusively referred to as the witness, the monitor, the ordainer, etc.
Here Lord Krishna explains that from the beginning of time purusa or the immortal soul and prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence have been existing united together. The word vikarams means modifications and transformations this denotes non-spiritual material attributes and passions. The word gunas or three modes of material nature being sattva or goodness with its virtues, rajas or passion with its desires and tamas or nescience with its ignorance are all by products of prakriti. Virtuous qualities such as reverence and humility are situated in sattva and effectuate moksa or liberation from material existence. The qualities of passion with their desires and attachments are situated in rajas and effectuates bondage to material existence. The qualities of ignorance with sense gratification as the goal of existence is situated in tamas and effectuates degeneration into less evolved species next life. Purusa uniting with prakriti has been perpetuating since the beginning of time and expresses itself as a ksetra or field of activity which is a physical body. The jiva or embodied being influenced by the modifications of rajas and tamas in the form of desire and attachment, attraction and aversion, shrouds the atma or immortal soul and keeps it in bondage. Contrarily the jiva being influenced by the modifications of sattva in the form of the 20 super excellent attributes of spiritual endowment given in verses 8 to 12 headed by reverence and humility constitutes the cause of the atma attaining moksa.
It can be seen that Lord Krishna’s two-fold potency consisting of the inferior external energy and the superior internal energy as described in chapter seven, verse five is non-different from the ksetra or filed of activity and the ksetra-jna the knower of the field of activity. Here Lord Krishna refers to matter as prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and purusa or the supreme eternal spirit of all as the atma or immortal soul are both beginingless and attached to each other from time immemorial. It should be understood that prakriti is the lower form of existence known as the ksetra which is insentient containing the three modes of material nature and is the cause of all modification and transformations on the physical plane of existence. The purusa is the higher potency of existence known as the ksetra-jna and is completely different in nature being sentient. Both are beginningless and have no cause due to the fact they are both potencies of the Supreme Lord and thus they themselves are their own cause. It is not possible for any other prime cause to exist other than the Supreme Lord and an endless succession of causes and effects makes such a hypothesis untenable. There is no need to discuss the position of the atma or immortal soul as it is eternal and unborn. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning na jayate mriyate va meaning: The atma is never born neither does it ever die. Nor is the atma ever subject to any modifications or transformations of prakriti such as attraction and aversion, desire and repulsion, etc. which are the cause of endless bondage to the jiva or embodied self. Also the 20 super excellent virtues given in verses 8 to 12 commencing with reverence and humility which become the cause of liberation through knowledge also arise from prakriti. The purport is that matter is constituted of beginningless actions while insentient by modification force the jiva to endlessly revolve in samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Yet this matter when possessing the super excellent virtues of spiritual endowment can liberate the jiva as well.
कार्यकारणकर्तृत्वे हेतुः प्रकृतिरुच्यते |
पुरुषः सुखदुःखानां भोक्तृत्वे हेतुरुच्यते ||१३- २१||
puruShaH sukhaduHkhAnAM bhoktR^itve heturuchyate || 13-21 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.21
Anvaya: karya–effect; karana–cause; kartrtve–in the matter of creation; hetuh–instrument; prakrtih–material nature; ucyate–is said to be; purusah–the living entity; sukha–of happiness; duhkhanam–and distress; bhoktrtve–in enjoyment; hetuh–the instrument; ucyate–is said to be.
Translation: Nature is said to be the cause of all material activities and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
After explaining how the evolution of all jivas or embodied beings along with their modifications and transformations all arise from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence, Lord Krishna elaborates how the Purusa or eternal manifestation of the Supreme Lord as the atma or immortal soul is hetuh or responsible for determining one’s transmigratory existence. The effect of this is the physical body, the cause is the means to experience the dualities such as joy and distress if the senses and their production is from the gunas or the actions of goodness, passion and ignorance producing karma or reactions from past actions making the subsequent modifications and transformations. Prakriti is the cause of the position of the physical body as confirmed by Kapila and Vedavyasa. The Purusa manifested as the atma is the cause of the happiness and misery experienced which are of its own making. Although the inert prakriti cannot by itself be considered the cause it is the source of the physical mnaifestation. Neither can the Purusa which is immortal and changeless experience anything; but inexplicably it happens to both and by agency of its auspices it is accomplished. The agency referred to here is that of adrishta or the cumulative results of karma which acts as a sentient principle upon even the insentient. The same as fire burns upwards, rivers flow downwards, the wind blows obliquely and milk from the cow spurts outwards. Therefore this agency of the insentient prakriti is said to be due to the influence of the Purusa by the experience of cognition in both joy and misery, happiness and distress and all such dualities. Whereas these being the qualities of only sentient beings the experience of the Purusa is said to be due to the proximity of prakriti.
The word karyam meaning effect verily signifies the physical body. The word karana meaning cause reinforces the reality that the physical body is the instrument of performing actions. The word bhoktrtve means experiencing. Lord Krishna as the purusa a manifestation of the Supreme Lord as unlimited consciousness is the cause witnessing and experiencing through all jivas or embodied beings. Prakriti or the material substratum pervading material existence is the effect of actions and the purusa being superior is the cause of action.
Now begins the summation.
It is prakriti in the form of maya or the external illusory energy that bewilders jivas into believing the physical body belongs to them and is acquired on ones own independently; due to being completely oblivious of the reality of Lord Krishna as the sole creator of everything in all times throughout all creation and it is He alone who awards the power of the jivas to experience the ksetra or field of activity within the physical body and within material existence. Lord Krishna is known as the Supreme Controller because everything in exsitence emanates originally from Him in the material worlds and Vaikuntha the spiritual worlds. Even though the Supreme Lord creates everything, to show that the privilege of experience has been granted to prakriti to a small degree, He uses the word ucyate or speaks in two places. The puport is to emphasize the purusa is the principle cause and prakriti is the secondary effect. Specifically prakriti is more an instrument of action then experiencing actions. The jiva to a lesser extent has been granted agency for experiencing and enjoyment but the actual experiencer and enjoyer is the Supreme Lord who is the controller of everything and who is known as the purusa and ordains through the medium of His localized aspect of paramatma the supreme soul present in the etheric heart of all living entities.
The word karya meaning effect refers to the physical body. The word karana means the instrument of action denoting the senses of perception, the organs of action and the mind. In the activation of both karya and karana to function the atma or immortal soul alone is the cause. This confirms that all manifest activity by which the jiva or embodied being experiences existence is dependent upon prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which is predicated by the impulses of the atma. The atma merely performs its natural function as monitor and director of the jiva in all respects. Affirmation of this is given in the following Vedic aphorism found in the Vedanta Sutra II:III.XXXX beginning krita prayatna apekesah meaning the Supreme Lord induces the atma to act according to the effects experienced by the jiva so that there is no contradiction in the prohibitions and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. The function of the atma is to witness the karma or reactions to one’s actions and govern the jiva effects of karma as they evolve and grow. The atma being embodied is the sole cause for a jiva to experience joy and grief through the medium of matter. Thus the difference in function in regard to both the atma and the physical body has been briefly elaborated seperately and in conjunction.
The process by which the inherently pure and spiritual atma which is most blessed comes to experience pleasures and pain derived from contact with products of matter is through the three gunas being modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which are effects of prakriti and figuratively symbolise all derivatives of matter as all matter is within the purvey of the three gunas. Here in this verse the word purusa is referring to His expansion as the atma within the heart of all living entities which by its own intrinsic nature is liberated and blissful but by the influence of karma and prakriti is entangled in the material existence undergoing experiences of enjoyment and suffering based on this relationship which manifest according to the dicitates and constraints of the adventitiously and contrary circumstances of past actions from which arise effects known as karma. The word bhoktrtve meaning the experience of happiness and distress confirms this.
Lord Krishna having explained the evolutionary cycle of material nature, He explains of the respective functions of matter and spirit as they exist conjointly. The words karya-karana-kartrtve mean the results of the combination of the evolution of the bodily organs and functions and the influence of the presiding demigods on the senses which when coming in contact with matter are the cause of the jiva or embodied soul to be in bondage experiencing the consequence of their karma or reactions to good and bad actions and obliged to accept happiness and misery. This is unavoidable as long as one remains infatuated and attracted to material existence.
पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थो हि भुङ्क्ते प्रकृतिजान्गुणान् |
कारणं गुणसङ्गोऽस्य सदसद्योनिजन्मसु ||१३- २२||
kAraNaM guNasaN^go.asya sadasadyonijanmasu || 13-22 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.22
Anvaya: purusah–the living entity; prakrti-sthah–being situated in the material energy; hi–certainly; bhunkte–enjoys; prakrti-jan–produced by the material nature; gunan–modes of nature; karanam–cause; guna-sangah–association with the modes of nature; asya–of the living entity; sat-asat–good and bad; yoni–species of life; janmasu–birth.
Translation: The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil amongst various species.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Even though this is such how is it possible for the immortal and changeless Purusa which is paramatma the supreme soul and is the localised manifestation of the Supreme Lord, experience anything? This is being answered here. For the Purusa residing within prakriti the effect being the physical body is identified with it and through the medium of this body the symptoms of joy and misery produced by the actions of the body are experienced. The cause of the Purusa’s entrapment within a jiva or embodied being in a higher source like that of a demigod or a lower source like that of an animal is merely due to attachments accepted by the mind and senses which induce the body to perform good and evil actions which facilitates karma or reactions to ones actions and activates samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.
Here the word Purusa should be understood to refer to the jiva or embodied living entities. In previous verses both the Supreme Lord and the jivas have been referred to as Purusa. Hence this clarification is required to understand this verse in the proper context. Thus the jiva enjoys the attributes of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. This statement by the Supreme Lord Krishna effectively eradicates the arguments of those whose conjecture is that the relationship of the physical body and its organs of the senses interacting with sense objects as instruments of action are illusory. The word hi meaning certainly is used to emphasise that the conjecture of illusion in this case is contrary to actual experience. It has never been observed by the greatest of minds that internal experiences knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and pain are the products of delusion. That these are illusory is unacceptable to both the spiritual mind and the rational mind. Only those minds which are preoccupied with the external concerns of the physical body are susceptible to illusion; but never those who are devoted to atma tattva or knowledge of the immortal soul and the divine internal spiritual experience. It should be pointed out that even external conceptions should only be considered illusory when discrimination is accurately used in verification. If it ever were established that the internal consciousness perfectly perceived by those who are self-realised as eternal are illusory then all that has been collaborated and confirmed by the imperishable Vedic scriptures would also have to be considered illusory and that is impossible as they are the only authorised and verifiable proof in all of creation and anything whatsoever contrary to the Vedic scriptures is absolutely illusory. It must be understood that illusion is only present in the empirical world of material existence. Thus any proof that could be given must also be empirical and thus determining whether anything is illusory in absence of any contrary evidence must be determined exclusively by the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures.
The atma or immortal soul is compelled to accept unlimited varieties of physical bodies from all levels of creation. Sometimes as a demigod, sometimes as a human, sometimes as an animal etc. These forms are neutrally awarded according to the gunas or three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which adhere in strict accordance to the karma or reactions from past actions in proportion to the degree of attachment and cravings one is predisposed to pursue in order to procure pleasure and enjoy sense gratification. Taking birth one launches into activities pursuing good and evil in order to satisfy and gratify ones desires and propensities. Hence is order to exhaust the karma one is incessantly creating by innumerable actions one is born into wombs of good and evil perpetually in material existence. That is why it is stated that attachment to the gunas is the cause of birth in good and evil wombs. Born one performs actions and from the reactions one is forced to take birth again and again without cessation. This circumvolution never ends until by the aggregation of sukriti or pious activities one seemingly by chance has the auspicious opportunity to attain the association of a Vaisnava devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna and being blessed by them alters the course of their destiny and upgrades their karma as Lord Krishna Himself confirms in chapter seven verse 19 beginning bahunam janmanam ante meaning after many births a knowledgeable living entity gets association of a mahatma or great soul.
The supposition that the atma or immortal soul is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasure and pain is erroneous and untenable because the atma is completely spiritual and the epitome of knowledge. Although the intrinsic nature of the atma is immutable and eternally blissful, Lord Krishna clarifies here that when the jiva or embodied being is engrossed in experiencing objects of material nature from the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance; then various modification arise due to the karma or reactions to the actions which are performed and is the definitive cause of the jiva being born in exalted or degraded wombs in any of the 8 million 400 thousand different species that exist throughout the material creation. The exalted wombs such as those born of the demi-gods are attuned in the mode of goodness. The degraded wombs such as those born of the demons are attuned to the qualities of ignorance. The mixed wombs of exalted and degraded such as those born of humans are attuned to the qualities of activity and passion. The higher being the Vaisnava’s and Brahmanas and the lower being the sudras the lower class and below them the degraded are the mleechas or the meateaters and the candalas or the uncleansed. The animals regardless of intelligence are attuned to the instincts of their species in the mode of nescience. The consequence of experiencing any of these wombs is due solely to the jiva continuously attempting to exploit and enjoy material nature and the subsequent karma derived from such activities. The most powerful cause is the mental attachment anticipating the pleasure of enjoying the sense objects of touch and taste and form etc. and the incessant manoeuvres for achieving such desires. Thus the atma residing within the jiva who is bewildered and beguiled by material nature is subjected to transmigration perpetually in the wombs of higher and lower species performing activities which accrues karma and is incessantly born and reborn indefinitely. The conclusion is that the atma experiences a demotion by the cycles of birth and death and until renunciation and detachment arises and the desire for material enjoyment is abandoned and the heart is made pure by bhakti or pure, exclusive devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of his Vedically authorised incarnations, the atma will not be able to be realised by the jiva and achieve freedom from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.
उपद्रष्टानुमन्ता च भर्ता भोक्ता महेश्वरः |
परमात्मेति चाप्युक्तो देहेऽस्मिन्पुरुषः परः ||१३- २३||
paramAtmeti chApyukto dehe.asminpuruShaH paraH || 13-23 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.23
Anvaya: upadrasta–overseer; anumanta–permitter; ca–also; bharta–master; bhokta–supreme enjoyer; maha-isvarah–the Supreme Lord; parama-atma–Supersoul; iti–also; ca–and; api uktah–is said; dehe–in this body; asmin–this; purusah–enjoyer; parah–transcendental.
Translation: Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The transmigratory existence of the Purusa or manifestation of the Supreme Lord as paramatma or the Supreme soul is not of itself but is due to lack of discrimination and knowledge by the jiva or embodied being regarding their relationship to prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. To illuminate this point Lord Krishna proceeds to describe the essential nature of the Purusa. The words purusah parah means the Supreme Lords localised expansion of paramatma the supreme immortal soul within the etheric heart of all living entities. Although residing in the physical body which is a part of prakriti; yet the Purusa is distinctly different and not associated with the attributes and qualities of prakriti being beyond physical existence and transcendental to the material manifestation. The reasons for this Lord Krishna gives by revealing that the Purusa is upadrsta the witness, anumanta the ordainer, bhartta the sustainer and bhokta the nourisher, all which confirm the Purusa as a distinctly independent entity. This Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.XI beginning eko devah sarvabhutesu states: The Supreme Lord free from all mundane and material qualities is the indwelling monitor of all living entities, it is He who ordains all actions for all living entities and it is He who is the ultimate ruler of all. The Supreme Lord Krishna is the ruler of even Brahma and Shiva and is revealed in the Vedic scriptures as Parabrahma the Supreme Being and Paramatma the Supreme Soul. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad IV.IV.XXII beginning sa va mahanaja atma means: The Supreme Lord is the supreme ruler of all beings, the Lord of all beings and the protector of all beings. He is the sole catalyst that keeps all creations, dimensions, universes and worlds calibrated and in synch with each other. Lord Krishna confirms this with the word mahesvarah meaning the supreme controller.
Here the Supreme Lord Krishna is revealing the predominant characteristics of the purusa. The word upadrasta the intimate witness, the monitor. The word anumanta means the ordainer, the one who impartially sanctions. For the jiva or embodied being to be subjected to birth in elevated and degraded wombs is only due to its attraction to associate with the attributes of elevated and degraded actions. But the independent cause is ultimately the Supreme Lord who as the monitor perceives all thoughts and actions and sanctions the jivas to exercise their minute independence. Because the Supreme Lord is within the heart of all living beings, the overseer of all living entities, the monitor of all actions, He is referred to as the witness. Although the jivas are minutely able to exercise their independence according to their own volition and development within the material existence. It is the Supreme Lord who empowers the consciousness and energises their minds to accomplish this and so He is referred to as the sanctioner. The Supreme Lord Krishna is the omnipotent ruler and controller of all creation. All of His authorised incarnations as verified in Vedic scriptures share these qualities with Him in various degrees. So the Supreme Lord declaring that He abides within all fields signifies that He abides within every living being, within all aspects, within all dimensions and within all manifestations of creation. This confirms that He and He alone is anumanta.
The purusah or the manifestation of the Supreme Lord Krishna transcends both the body and the mind dwelling within all sentient beings as paramatma the Supreme Soul and is upadrasta or the impartial witness who by means of the will directs the operations pertaining to the physical body and anumanta or sanctions the activities performed by all jivas or embodied beings that lead to joy and grief in pursuing activities in material existence. Thus by virtue of ruling, supporting and guiding the jivas the purusah is the Mahesvarah the Supreme controller of the physical body, the senses and the mind of all jivas. The conjunctive particle api meaning also refers to the epithet of great lord which denotes that as far as the body is concerned it applies to paramatma as well. The phrase purusah parah means that the Supreme Being as paramatma is to be differentiated and separate due to its unlimited omnipresence within all jivas, from the atma or individual soul which is localised within each jiva. Although both are immortal and possess the omniscient propensities of infinite cognizance and divine consciousness.
Now Lord Krishna reveals the distinct difference between paramatma the omnipresent and omniscient Supreme Soul which exists within the heart of all living beings next to the atma or localised, immortal soul located within each and every living entity. What then is paramatma’s real nature. He describes it by the word upadrasta or impartial witness and as the witness monitors the different stages and transformations of the mind and body. He describes it as well by the word anumanta meaning the sanctioner who approves and accepts the qualities of the mind and the functions of the body. He again describes it by the word bharta or the supporter because for a jiva to progress in material existence the mind and body must be sustained and protected. Although paramatma resides within the etheric heart of the physical body next to the atma, they are both purely spiritual being distinct from the physical body and transcendent to material existence. He describes it also as being mahesvarah bor the supreme controller because it also monitors, sanctions, supports and controls all the demigods who are responsible for universal maintenance throughout creation.
The essence is that the jiva or embodied being is the ksetra-jna or knower of the field of activity is referred to as the highest self because factually it the best part of the body, mind and senses and most important because it is connected to the atma the innermost self which can comprehend and realise all things. This is confirmed in the Taittiriya Upanisad II.IV.I beginning yato vacho nivartante which reveals: The Supreme Lord is the innermost witness residing in the etheric heart of every jiva.
य एवं वेत्ति पुरुषं प्रकृतिं च गुणैः सह |
सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि न स भूयोऽभिजायते ||१३- २४||
sarvathA vartamAno.api na sa bhUyo.abhijAyate || 13-24 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.24
Anvaya: yah–anyone; evam–thus; vetti–understands; purusam–the living entity; prakrtim–material nature; ca–and; gunaih–modes of material nature; saha–with; sarvatha–by all means; vartamanah–situated; api–in spite of; na–never; sah–he; bhuyah–again; abhijayate–takes his birth.
Translation: One who understands this philosophy concerning material nature, the living entity and the interaction of the modes of nature is sure to attain liberation. He will not take birth here again, regardless of his present position.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
One who comprehensively understands prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and realises the Purusa or the supreme being as an eternal manifestation of the Supreme Lord as paramatma or the Supreme soul and can discriminate the difference between the two is being praised by Lord Krishna. One who realises the liberating nature of the Purusa as a distinctly separate entity from the atma or immortal soul residing within the etheric heart of all living entities as the witness and monitor and can discriminate between it and the binding nature of interactions with prakriti along with the three gunas of goodness, passion and ignorance does not take birth in the material existence again. This means that regardless of their present physical manifestation in creation they are released from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and achieving moksa or liberation from material existence are no longer compelled to take physical birth in a womb again.
In verse 21 purusa referred to the jiva or the embodied being. In verse 23 purusa refers to the Supreme Lord. Thus purusa can refer both to the Supreme and to the jiva when indicating the atma or immortal soul within. In other situations such an important conclusion is a contradiction but here it has been succinctly clarified. In the Saukarayan scripture is stated: The immortal, greater than the greatest is the Supreme Lord Krishna. It is His greatness alone that all the Vedic scriptures are engaged in serving and glorifying. Even appearing otherwise this is always the truth. No contradiction can ever be assumed because His transcendental qualities being eternal are never subject to rationalisation. Nor is there in any Vedic scripture any evidence of any contradiction given by the liberated sages and saints ever being seen. So neither by rationalisation nor from personal experience is any contradiction concerning the Supreme Lord existing. Therefore logic, reason and rationalisation can never disprove what has been established by the Vedic scriptures. If by rationalisation one attempts to hypothesise a supposition unsupported by the Vedic scriptures then it is not wisdom but speculative nonsense and must be completely rejected. In the same way anything proclaimed that obscures the eternal truths of the Vedic scriptures must also be totally rejected.
There exists subsidiary summation in the Vedic scriptures. It has been quoted that when one speaks the truth, even that becomes subsidiary knowledge. The Supreme Lord Krishna being the source of all is greater then the greatest and that alone is the truth. Like the reference previously to His being of blackish colour. If rationalisation and imagination are contradictory to the Vedic scriptures then both rationalisation and imagination should be understood as capable of misleading and erroneous because one who is not knowledgeable will be unaware of the true meaning. Whereas there is no possibility of ever being misguided by the Vedic scriptures as they are perfect and eternal. The opportunity for being misled is possible because so many people are completely oblivious to the purpose of human existence and totally unaware of the truth. Therefore concocted theories that there must be things contradictory to the Supreme Lord in the Vedas but somehow they were lost is ludicrous. Brahma himself has stated that there are neither any contradictory statements nor non- contradictory rationalisation in the Vedic scriptures. Therefore any references to non-duality between the Supreme Lord and the jiva or embodied being is contradictory and invalid. The Vedanta Sutras II.III.IIL reveal: To state that the jiva and the Supreme Lord are the same is most erroneous. In the Moksa Dharma the sage Janamejaya stated: Unlimited are the jivas but the Supreme Lord is one. The sage Visampayana stated: No one doubts the Supreme Lord is one without a second. Unlimited jivas are born from wombs but the Supreme Lord is self born and eternally endowed with the greatest qualities. Thus they are both different in nature and not at all like the dream state. Vedavyasa has written in Vedanta Sutras II.II.XXIX beginning vaidharmayaccha na svapnadivat meaning: The conceptions of the dream state are not real whereas the experiences from the waking state are real. This world is not an idea imagined like objects seen in a dream. Vedanta Sutra II.II.XXVIII states beginning nabhava upalavadheh meaning: Our perceptions and consciousness are the testament that the world exists and is not a mere illusion. In the Ayasa section it states: Since the world is subject to modification and always changing it is said to be like a dream; not that it is unreal like a dream. An example of always changing is like the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter.
It should be understood that it is not an error to meditate on aham brahmasi meaning I am the Brahman as being part of the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Because the Supreme Lord is the actual goal of the jiva and by doing so it does not imply sameness or becoming identical to the Supreme Lord and also because that is the factual nature of the atma or immortal soul. But know that this is not a principle method even though it does not contradict the Vedic reference of the jiva being a refelection. This is confirmed in the Madhuchanda Scripture which states: The reason the enlightened recommend jivas to become united with the Supreme Lord is because the atma has a similarity in quality but not quantity and thus is as a reflection. In the Agniveshya section meditation on aham brahmasi insures the result of sarupya moksa which is liberation into a spiritual form similar to four armed Vishnu. So one who achieves perfection in meditating on aham brahmasi is most assuredly situated in realisation of the brahman. The Vamana Purana even states that aham brahmasi means I am surrendered to the brahman. Thus being so surrendered I am similar unto the Supreme but not as if one is the Supreme. An example is one might say a man has the courage of a lion but that does not make that man a lion. The devotees surrendered to the Supreme Lord understand that the atma is a minute reflection of the Supreme Lord and that the atma is a portion of Him. Therefore the Supreme Lord is the master and we are serving Him in various wonderful ways. This is what the devotee meditates on.
Now begins the summation.
Those who perceive the purusa as being distinctly different from the jiva and yet a part of the jiva and can see prakriti as being two fold as both sentient and insentient and knows the distinctive qualities and attributes of all of them. Such persons will be liberated from samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death in their present life time and promoted to the spiritual worlds not taking birth in material existence again.
The word evam means in this way refers to the manner previously described. One must intelligently comprehends the nature of the purusah or manifeatation of the Supreme Lord Krishna and prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and understand the three components of prakriti known as the gunas which are the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which are inclusive of everything in material existence. They will be fully elaborated on in the next chapter. The word sarvatha means in any way or condition and refers to whatever physical body one finds themselves forced to accept whether demigod, human, demon, etc due to the dictate of karma or reactions to actions. Na sa bhuya abhijayate means never takes birth again, never coerced to enter a womb again, never forced to take a material form again. This means that at the time the physical body ceases to exist the atma or immortal soul will be realized as the eternal essence of the jiva or embodied being and moksa or liberation from material existence will be achieved promoting one to the everlasting spiritual worlds never again subject to birth and death.
Now Lord Krishna extols the glory of one who understands the reality of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence, the difference between the material and the spiritual, the atma or the localised, individual, immortal soul and paramatma the omniscient and omnipresent Supreme Soul present within every jiva. Understanding prakriti means knowing that the three gunas of goodness, passion and ignorance are the modifications of material nature which cause pleasure and pain in all jivas or embodied beings whether demigod, human or animal. When one has achieved realisation of the atma one can realise the Supreme Lord as paramatma and with unveiled realisation all sins are destroyed and one automatically attains moksa or liberation from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The Chandogya Upanisad VIII.I confirms this beginning harih sum atha meaning : In the cavity of the etheric heart the atma and paramatma are residing next to each other; one should surely understand that they are what is paramount to be realised.
ध्यानेनात्मनि पश्यन्ति केचिदात्मानमात्मना |
अन्ये साङ्ख्येन योगेन कर्मयोगेन चापरे ||१३- २५||
anye sAN^khyena yogena karmayogena chApare || 13-25 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.25
Anvaya: dhyanena–by meditation; atmani–self; pasyanti–see; kecit–one; atmanam–Supersoul; atmana–by the mind; anye–others; sankhyena–by philosophical discussion; yogena–by the yoga system; karma-yogena–by activities without fruitive desire; ca–also; apare–others.
Translation: That Supersoul is perceived by some through meditation, by some through the cultivation of knowledge, and by others through working without fruitive desire.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
In regard to various kinds of discriminative knowledge concerning the perception of paramatma or the supreme soul, alternative angels of vision are being declared by Lord Krishna in this verse and the next beginning dhyanenatmani pasyanti which means personally perceiving the divine revelation of the supreme soul. He explains that some directly perceive paramatma within the atma by meditation. Some by a repetition of mental states see it within the heart. Still others perceive it by the knowledge of discriminating between prakriti or the material substratum pervading all existence and purusa the supreme being. Yet others discern it by yoga or the science of the individual conscioiusness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness as instructed in the yoga system by Pantajali with its eight steps. Others still see it by egoless, selfless actions. The word pasyanti meaning perceive or see is applicable in all the above cases. Meditation is the most perfect and time proven mode of achievement and thus the other methods referred to are to be considered as alternative for realisation of the atma.
Dhyanenatmani means meditation on the atma or the immortal soul. Sankhyena means philosophical discrimination predicated upon knowing the form of the Supreme Lord as elucidated in the Vedic scriptures. The compound word karma- yogena denotes activities of sravanam hearing about, kirtanan chanting the names of and smaranam reflecting on the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations authorised in Veduc scriptures. This is also considered meditation as confirmed in the Gaupavan scripture as follows: The performers of actions listen to the extraordinary, sublime pastimes of the Supreme Lord and relishing them, meditate upon them constantly and realise Him. One who listens can comprehend. One who comprehends meditates fully on Him. Only beings with spiritual wisdom can realise the Supreme Lord by exclusive meditation upon Him. Otherwise such realisation is not possible to achieve by anybody.
Lord Krishna expounds here that some humans having become perfect in yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness; perceive by the lucidness of their mind the atma or immortal soul within the physical body by means of dhyanena or devotional meditation. Others who are novice in yoga develop their minds by jnana or Vedic knowledge and sankhyena or subtle discrimination between spirit and matter and applying it diligently soon perceive the atma as well. Still others who are unfit for the regiment of jnana yoga and those who are fit but prefer an easier method and those whose duty it is to set an example for the common man; they all follow the path of karma yoga or the path of actions devoted to the Supreme Lord that embody devotion and training their minds to control the senses become established in yoga and eventually perceive the atma also.
Lord Krishna speaks in this verse of highly qualified persons who have directly witnessed paramatma or the Supreme Soul within the heart. Some have done this by sharp intellect and discrimination between the atma or the immortal soul and prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. Referring to those having learned the true nature of the atma from the spiritual master He uses the words yogena or the practice of the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness and they are established in meditation. Others achieve it by complete renunciation for results from their actions.
अन्ये त्वेवमजानन्तः श्रुत्वान्येभ्य उपासते |
तेऽपि चातितरन्त्येव मृत्युं श्रुतिपरायणाः ||१३- २६||
te.api chAtitarantyeva mR^ityu.n shrutiparAyaNAH || 13-26 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.26
Anvaya: anye–others; tu–but; evam–thus; ajanantah–without spiritual knowledge; srutva–by hearing; anyebhyah–from others; upasate–begin to worship; te–they; api–also; ca–and; atitaranti–transcend; eva–certainly; mrtyum–the path of death; sruti-parayanah–inclined to the process of hearing.
Translation: Again there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The means of deliverance for the less advanced is also given by Lord Krishna. Others not knowing in any way how to realise the atma or immortal soul which is the witness and the monitor within all living beings. Such persons can by hearing instructions from those who have heard from the spiritual master with firm faith and by putting those instructions into practice can also eventually, certainly go beyond birth and death in this constant transmigration of existence.
According to variegated differences of qualification, methods of perception for varying humans have been prescribed differently. For a devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna there is no alternative other than His mercy and His grace. It is only by the Supreme Lord’s desire that one attains Him and no other cause or reason. Some devotees know some things on their own and some things they have been taught by others and still other things they have learned from the Vedic scriptures. So in this way they know a little about the Supreme Lord. But to realise Him is by His will alone. Only if He sanctions one to attain Him such a one will attain Him. Such ones realise Him within their purified hearts and others like Pariksit saw Him within the womb and others like Narada see Him externally as well. Having by the grace of the Supreme Lord become perfected in meditation upon Him and consolidating knowledge of Him by diligent and uninterrupted efforts, they eventually perceive the Supreme Lord everywhere within and without. Those who have achieved the perception from meditation no longer need to meditate upon Him as He is always within them. These are the followers of Kapiladeva known as sankhyas situated in equanimity among whom the four faced Brahma is the topmost.
In special cases even the best of the ksatriya or royal warrior class who engaged Vaisnava Brahmins to perform Vedic yagnas or rituals to propitiate the Supreme Lord have achieved great devotion and have seen the Supreme Lord as in the case of Emperor Yudisthira Maharaj. Other kings from listening to the Vedic scripture have become enlightened as in the case of King Janaka who bequeathed his daughter Sita directly to Rama. Yet others still get the mood of devotion to see the Supreme Lord by hearing excitedly from others enthusiastically eulogising Him. Still others perceive the Supreme Lord by hearing about Him from others and by reflecting and meditating upon His divine pastimes. There is no other way to attain Him other then what has been elaborated on here. Beginning with sages and kings the power of illumination gradually increases up unto Brahma, the first progenitor whose illumination is the greatest in material existence. Manifested from the navel of Visnu he surrendered fully to Him and hearing the Vedas emanating from His pores began chanting them and acquired all knowledge for creating material existence. Since human beings are endowed with minimal illumination they should also be listeners of the Vedic scripture. In this way everyone will realise the Supreme Lord in due course of time depending upon their capability and competence.
While for all sravanam or hearing about the Supreme Lord is recommended for all it is especially essential for human beings who are less illuminated and generally incapable of having direct realisation in one lifetime. So because they have to take shelter in the Vedic scriptures they are called sruti-paryanah or incline to follow the Vedic scriptures. Whereas those due to past life activities have acquired self-realisation without having to exclusively listen to the Vedic scriptures are not contrary in any way for such human beings even though born from human wombs should be known to be veritable incarnations of the demigods.
Any male who can measure from the neck downwards nine times the length of ones face to the feet and any female who can measure from the neck downwards eight times the length of her face to the feet should be considered as demigods. As well as those male and females whose bodily length measures 96 finger widths along with those whose two palms placed vertically next to each other measure ten in number and those whose foot measurement equals seven in number should also be considered as demigods. The gradation from the Supreme Lord to the various humans gets reduced in decreasing order by a measure of five fingers and similarly the measure of the feet also gets reduced until it reaches one foot. Regarding the demigods the measure gets reduced by four fingers and in regard to the feet gets reduced to six feet as in the case of the gandarvas or celestial musicians and others. The above mentioned measurements are given for the gandarvas, kings and the higher evolved humans in the Vedic pantheon. Measurements of less then 87 finger widths puts one amongst the asuras or demons and the humans destined for hellish destinations. Measurements of 87 finger widths to 92 finger widths are for the higher order humans such as Yudisthira and Haihaya and the demigods. The measurements for incarnations like Parasurama and Prithu are 92 finger widths to 96 finger widths.
In accordance to the measure of devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna, by His desire every jiva or embodied being assumes qualities and attributes similar to Him. This order of gradation predicated upon the jivas capacity for devotion being eternal is indestructible. It should be clearly understood that this gradation has nothing to do with higher or lower births or caste. This gradation has to do with the samskara or the fundamental impression that the jiva was influenced by when it entered into material existence. One may be born into knowledge and breeding and exhibit the qualities of an asura. A perfect example of this is the demon Ravana whose intelligence and knowledge dharma or eternal righteousness was so great that Rama sent His younger brother Laksman to learn from him on his deathbed. Yet and still he showed he was tamasic or in the mode of ignorance by breaking dharma and kidnapping another mans wife. Another example of being tamasic is Duryodhana an asura born in a family of righteous kings and who knew what is for and against dharma still opted to perform sinful activities that went against dharma. Contrarily we find the great devotee Prahlad who possessed innate sattva or mode of goodness was born in a family of demons and his father was the tamasic king Hiranyakasipu who was so powerful he even defeated the demigods and ruled them. Prahlad was such a great devotee of the Supreme Lord that the Supreme Lord manifested Himself as Narasinghadeva the half man and half lion to save His devotee and promote him to Vaikuntha the eternal spiritual worlds. This is because Prahlad was in sattva the mode of goodness and no amount of tamasic demoniac influence could subvert or distort his innate samskara as a devotee of the Supreme Lord.
So in conclusion it can be understood that such gradations are in accordance to innate devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in the Vedic scriptures from the moment one entered into the plethora of material existence. This understanding should be reflected upon deeply and contemplated intensely so that proper comprehension is derived even if at first it appears incomprehensible.
Continuing further with this theme Lord Krishna reiterates that still others who are incompetent to follow the paths of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness which lead to atma tattva or realisation of the soul. They must hear from the Vaisnavas the devotees of the Supreme Lord and follow the teachings of the sages and munis who are established in truth and righteousness. Then they can begin to traverse the path of karma yoga or devotional activities and then onto jnana yoga the perfecting of Vedic knowledge, etc. and commence actual contemplation of the atma or immortal soul. Also those who cannot even do that but are able to have faith in what they learn from superiors, they get purged of their sins and absolved can gradually embark upon the path of karma yoga and thus eventually surpass samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The word api denotes the levels of competency that different gradations of human beings posess.
Next in order to discriminately comprehend the exact position of the atma residing within the jiva or embodied being perpetually within material existence it is emphasised that whatever comes into existence either movable or immovable is the product of the union of the sentient and the insentient known as chit and achit.
Here Lord Krishna refers to others less qualified with the words anye tu meaning yet others who have not listened to the spiritual master, who have not meditated, who have not discriminated between matter and spirit and who are attached to the rewards of their labours. If they hear the Vedic truths with humility from those who hearing from the spiritual master are practicing them and adhere to following these methods faithfully with conviction, eventually they will become firmly established in them as well and their minds becoming pure, they too will certainly surpass samsara, the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The word api meaning also denotes that such accomplished persons undoubtedly will achieve this goal in this very life.
यावत्सञ्जायते किञ्चित्सत्त्वं स्थावरजङ्गमम् |
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञसंयोगात्तद्विद्धि भरतर्षभ ||१३- २७||
kShetrakShetraGYasa.nyogAttadviddhi bharatarShabha || 13-27 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.27
Anvaya: yavat–whatever; sanjayate–takes place; kincit–anything; sattvam–existence; sthavara–not moving; jangamam–moving; ksetra–the body; ksetra-jna–knower of the body; samyogat–union between; tat viddhi–you must know it; bharata-rsabha–O chief of the Bharatas.
Translation: O chief of the Bharatas, whatever you see in existence, both moving and unmoving, is only the combination of the field of activities and the knower of the field.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Lord Krishna has instructed the path of selfless actions in chapters 3, 4 and 5 and path of meditation in chapters 6 and 8. As true meditation concerns the atma or immortal soul and that is ascertained exclusively by jnana or knowledge, therefore knowledge alone is being declared until the end of the chapter beginning with the words yavat kincit meaning whatsoever. Whatsoever is born or manifests in existence arises from the combination of the ksetrajna or spirit and the ksetra or matter placing their mutual superimposition upon it defining its identity.
Even after elaborating upon the applicable perennial principles applicable to all creation Lord Krishna again refers to the purusa or Supreme Being and prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. The word ksetrajna refers to the Supreme Being. The word ksetra also can refer to Sri-devi or Laxsmi-devi the spiritual shakti or feminine energy of the Supreme Being. Being superior to all jivas or embodied beings she is always identified by one word, Sri denoting majesty and opulence. How is this to be understood? Sri is the embodiment of pure consciousness and is eternally dear to the Supreme Lord. She never disintegrates and is thus the fertile field of inexhaustible potentiality for the Supreme Lord.
Energised by Sri the foremost of all jivas or embodied beings, the secondary creator known as Brahma combines the ingredients which manifests the material worlds. Having willed to create the jivas from Brahma are bestowed the aham-akar or ego from Shiva, the buddhi or intellect from Parvati from through the knowledge of the word is obtained. Then Indra, Skanda nad Aniruddha cause the mind to ascend. The moon causes the ear to hear. The sun causes the eye to see. The Maruts cause touch to be felt. Varuna causes the tongue to taste and the Aswins causes the nose to smell thongs pleasant and unpleasant. Agnis the firegod causes the Vak to speak. Hands should be known as the instruments of the sons of Vayu known as the Maruts. Feet are activated by the children of Shachi born of Vedic rituals. Yama is Payu or waste since he expels the things eaten. Shiva and Manu are being the progenitors are known as upastha the establishers. Since Vinayaka removes the obstacles from people he is known as akasha or space. Marichika the son of prana or primal breath is known as earthly wind. Prithivi is the goddess sustaining the Earth. Varuna the demigod in charge of water is the presiding deity of birth and death. Five sons of Shiva are the presiding deities of the Shabda or five sounds which they are associated with. Prana is known as happiness, Saraswati as vigour and energy, Sri as consciousness and will being associated with those attributes. Like Saraswati the wife of Vayu is also known by vigour and energy. According to circumstances Sri is also known by various names as well even though her principle qualities of majesty, opulence, consciousness and will are foremost. Kali presides over misery and hate. Dwapara over jealousy and envy. Among the demons Kali is more powerful. In this way the various deities and demons preside over their respective attributes.
Everything animate and inanimate in all of creation is to be known as the ksetra or field of activity because it where the Resplendent Supreme Lord abides omnipresent in subtle forms. Because He abides in all jivas as paramatma and permeates in a subatomic state of consciousness all existence as the brahman he is known as ksetra. Also He is known as ksetra because at the time of pralaya or universal dissolution like inhaling He modifies all animate and inanimate things back into Himself and at pralaya’s end when creation begins, like exhaling He modifies all animate and inanimate things back into their original forms and natures.
By modification of the ichha or will to be compatible with every element and dimension in creation He is known as ksetra as well. All these modifications are considered extraordinary because they establish the embellishments of the distinctive attributes. The action creates something extraordinary and is therefore a singular distinctive modification. The result manifested does not cause any modification or mutation to the original and therefore modifications such as will, ego and others become the presiding deities. Since all these are seen by the Supreme Lord who completely energises them all in perfect unison; He is known as ksetrajna as well, the knower of the field.
In some places in the Vedic scriptures it is stated that the atma or immortal soul is the body but this denotes the consciousness within the body. Manifested in a body as one born the jiva is said to have taken birth with the body but this is because it appears as such. The mode of goodness is known as satva which sometimes is referred to the Supreme Lord and sometimes even referred to the jivas but that is in regard to the atma or immortal soul which is the eternal part. The Shabda Nirnaya states that satva is the attribute of noble righteousness.
Lord Krishna states yavat kincit whatsoever meaning anything mobile or immobile regardless of how grandiose or infinitesimal that is existing in any dimension of creation is the mutual combination of matter and spirit. It is always a compound existence with interdependence upon each other and never independence from each other.
Thus Lord Krishna has explained that discriminatory knowledge of the atma or immortal soul and discriminative knowledge between the purusa the supreme being and prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence insures one surpassing samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. From this verse until the end of the chapter He deliberates on spirit and matter in elaboration of His previous statements. In this verse He clarifies that the combination of spirit and matter is the cause of all living entities taking birth throughout creation with the words yavat kincit meaning whatsoever and stavara-jangamam meaning stationary or mobile and sanjayate meaning are born. All absolutely arise from the combination of matter and spirit and not from just matter alone.
समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम् |
विनश्यत्स्वविनश्यन्तं यः पश्यति स पश्यति ||१३- २८||
vinashyatsvavinashyanta.n yaH pashyati sa pashyati || 13-28 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.28
Anvaya: samam–equally; sarvesu–in all; bhutesu–living entities; tisthan-tam–residing; parama-isvaram–the Supersoul; vinasyatsu–in the destructible; avinasyantam–not destroyed; yah–anyone; pasyati–sees; sah–he; pasyati–actually sees.
Translation: One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies, and who understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul is ever destroyed, actually sees.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Having previously declared that transmigratory existence arises due to lack of proper discrimination between spirit and matter. Lord Krishna now instructs the difference between the atma or immortal soul and prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence, which by knowing has the potency to terminate samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. He reveals that one who sees the Supreme Lord in His manifestation of paramatma the Supreme Soul existing equally within all jivas or embodied beings and everything inanimate as the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Such a person understands that no jiva actually perishes when the body perishes as every atma is eternal. Such an enlightened seeing equally perfectly perceives the actual truth of reality which others are incapable of recognising.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
Lord Krishna confirms with the words pasyati meaning perceives or discriminates that one who realises that paramatma or the Supreme Soul existing equally within all jivas or embodied beings is the ksetrajna or knower of the sphere of activity and that it is distinctly distinguished from prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence which manifests as unlimited forms such as demigod, human, animal, etc. In other words recognising the Supreme Lord as the same omnipresent eternal consciousness localised within each and every living entity and realising that it is singular. Also distinguishing the fact that while all physical bodies decay and perish; the atma or individual immortal soul does not ever decay or perish because it has an eternal, transcendental nature. This is confirmed in the Vishnu Purana: VI.VII.LVIII beginning pradhanadi viseshantam meaning: the undecaying within the decaying. One who correctly comprehends the atma in this manner properly perceives reality. But one who thinks that the atma is subject to birth and death and that it is modifiable and variable like the forms of living entities which are always changing; then such a person will always remained confined in samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death in material existence.
Having clarified the reality that all jivas or embodied beings entering into material existence is caused by the combination of spirit and matter. Now Lord Krishna confirms that one who sees the Supreme Lord as paramatma the Supreme Soul situated equally sarvesu bhutesu within all living entities within all species of life and who can perceive the Supreme Lord existing through the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, also in perishable matter. Such a person is one who actually perceives reality.
समं पश्यन्हि सर्वत्र समवस्थितमीश्वरम् |
न हिनस्त्यात्मनात्मानं ततो याति परां गतिम् ||१३- २९||
na hinastyAtmanAtmAnaM tato yAti parAM gatim.h || 13-29 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.29
Anvaya: samam–equally; pasyan–seeing; hi–certainly; sarvatra–everywhere; samavasthitam–equally situated; isvaram–Supersoul; na–does not; hinasti–degrade; atmana–by the mind; atmanam–the soul; tatah yati–then reaches; param–the transcendental; gatim–destination.
Translation: One who sees the Supersoul in every living being and equal everywhere does not degrade himself by his mind. Thus he approaches the transcendental destination.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Why is such an enlightened person said to see saman or equally? This is being explained by Lord Krishna. By seeing the resplendent Supreme Lord everywhere, within oneself, within all beings and within all things; one does not perform any activity that will degrade the atma or immortal soul of themselves nor degrade the atma of others. This means they have recognised the Supreme Being within all beings and does not deny through capriciousness or ignorance the presence of paramatma or the Supreme immortal soul whose very nature is sat or eternal existence, cit or unlimited consciouness and ananda never ending bliss. Such an enlightened being is qualified to achieve moksa or liberation from material existence and attain the eternal spiritual worlds which are param gati the supreme destination. But one who is unable to see equally in this manner erroneously looks upon their physical body as being the same as the atma thinking that when the physical body perishes the atma perishes with it and thus mistakenly sentence the to atma to be non-existent. The Isa Upanisad, verse III beginning asurya nama te loka andhena meaning: The demoniac and the demons degrade the atma, totally ignorant of its eternal divine nature and are forced to enter the dark, gloomy hellish worlds in their next life.
Lord Krishna is explaining that one who perceives and recognises the Supreme Being in every being is one who actually sees reality. The jiva or embodied being practically witnesses death and destruction in material existence everyday along with its associated misery. The Padma Purana states that as a form of misery the jiva sees itself; yet devoid of misery is the Supreme Lord residing within every jiva equally from Brahma the highest material being down to an ant. The Supreme Lord expansion as paramatma or the Supreme Soul within all jivas throughout all dimensions of creation does not diminish or degrade His transcendental position whatsoever, whether abiding in a demigod, human, animal etc. Perceiving the reality of the Supreme Lord in this way one is not subject to illusion.
The Supreme Lord Krishna is known as isvara is residing saman equally sarvatra within all beings. This includes demigods, humans, animals, etc. The word pasyati here meaning perceives denotes that the atma or immortal soul is recognised wherever it may abide. By thus comprehending the actual nature of the atma one never degrades themselves and na hinasti never causes harm to oneself. Contrarily if one insists on identifying the atma in the same way as the physical body in the differentiating light of unlimited bodily forms one injures and degrades their eternal self. This understanding saves one from acquiring karma or reactions to actions which is the main cause of confinement to samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. By gaining this basic realisation one achieves the goal of atma- tattva or soul realisation and then becomes eligible for param gatim the supreme destination and highest attainment.
Lord Krishna now presents the results of the afore stated realisations that of perceiving the Supreme Lord present within all bodies demigod, human, animal, etc. and His imperishable nature present everywhere. Such a jiva or embodied being na hinasti never degrades atmanam their immortal soul by being attached to material desire and prolonging their imprisonment in material existence. The essence is one who sees created beings separate from the Supreme Lord and separate from themselves will be compelled to revolve in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death in the material existence and continue to perform sinful and degraded activities that keeps them shackled permanently in the prison of material existence. This is corroborated by Sakuntala’s statement in Moksa Dharma that: Such a one who has not realised the atma or immortal soul inherent within all beings; what sinful activity did such a cheater of themselves deign not to commit? The Isa Upanisad, verse III reveals the resultant consequence due to the greatest ignorance for those that degrade their own atma and the soul of others living entities by engaging in evil activities of unrighteousness beginning: asurya nama te loka andhena meaning such sinful demons oblivious of their inherent divine nature enter the dark, gloomy hellish planets when their life has ended.
प्रकृत्यैव च कर्माणि क्रियमाणानि सर्वशः |
यः पश्यति तथात्मानमकर्तारं स पश्यति ||१३- ३०||
yaH pashyati tathAtmAnamakartAraM sa pashyati || 13-30 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.30
Anvaya: prakrtya–by material nature; eva–certainly; ca–also; karmani–activities; kriyamanani–engaged in performing; sarvasah–in all respects; yah–anyone who; pasyati–sees; tatha–also; atmanam–himself; akartaram–non-doer; sah–he; pasyati–sees perfectly.
Translation: One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
It may be postulated that substantial differences can be seen by different jivas or embodied beings in performing good and evil activities so how is it that the atma is equal within all? Anticipating such a query Lord Krishna states yah pasyati meaning one who sees. Sees what? One who sees understands that all activites in all respects are factually performed by prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. This is actualised by the transformations of prakriti being the three gunas or modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which direct and influences the mind, body and senses organs to actions. Such a one comprehends that the purely spiritual atma or immortal soul is the monitor and witness to these actions only. Any misconception arising contrary to this reality is due to the erroneous identification of the atma as being the physical body instead of understanding that the atma is imperishable and completely independent of the perishable physical body.
One who perceives that the atma or immortal soul is only the witness and performs no actions; such a person can realise the Supreme Lord Krishna. After enacting the effects of one’s karma or reactions to previous actions, the Supreme Lord causes the reactions to be experienced by the jivas or embodied beings. But for the Supreme Lord there exist no enactment of previous actions. Vedavyasa has confirmed that the Supreme Lord is transcendental to material nature, actions and time. The Skanda Purana states: From but a single desire of will the entire creation is manifested by the Supreme Lord. He is the creator of everything but nothing is the creator of Him. He himself has stated earlier that: I am the Lord of all creation. I am the progenitor of Brahma. Everything rests in Me. It is from me that everything has arisen. Know that all creation has manifested from Me alone. These proofs found in the Vedic scriptures and also the absence of any contradictions to this in the Vedic scriptures is corroborated by the words in this verse of prakrtyaiva ca meaning: the material substratum pervading physical existence in the unlimitedly modified forms of bodies with senses. The adjective ca specifically establishes all forms to be from the Supreme Lord alone. In the Shabda Nirnaya is stated that sometimes ca is used to show additional embellishments and other times to emphasise association and other times to show detriments.
Since for the inanimate there is no self-motivation as confirmed by Vedavyasa in Vedanta Sutras. It is clear that prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which is inanimate cannot be the primary cause of creation in any way and the creative impulse to animate from the inanimate is completely impossible and preposturous. Thus in this instance the adjective ca is applicable only to the Supreme Lord and not prakriti. in any way. What Lord Krishna has explained in earlier chapters about His being the original seed and everything is connected to Him like pearls on a string is what He is confirming here through association of the ksetra or sphere of activity and the ksetrajna or the knower of the sphere of activity; so there is absolutely no contradiction whatsoever in this regard. Contrarily, hypothesising that anything inanimate can be the cause of the animate is extremely contradictory and completely erroneous. The Paigni scripture states: Creation emanating from conscious will can alone be the main criteria. So in conclusion only supra-mundane actions which are not subject to any modification should be considered eternal and of the nature of the Supreme Lord.
Lord Krishna reveals that one who truly perceives understands that all actions proceed from the agency of prakriti or the material substratum that pervades physical existence. One perceives that for creating effects and instruments insentient prakriti is the cause. One perceives that the atma or immortal soul although sentient is not the doer. One perceives that tamas or ignorance in the shape of karma or reactions to actions is the reason for forced confinement in the material existence, the terms and conditions of the confinement and the experiences of pleasure and pain in correlation with the duration of the confinement. One who comprehends all these truly perceives reality.
Lord Krishna is making the point that when one does not comprehend that all actions are impelled by the body, mind and senses due to the influence of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and perceives different living entities and who assume that the performers of good and evil actions are separate from the Supreme Lord; then it is impossible to realise the atma or immortal soul within the etheric heart. All actions are due to prakriti which is transformed into the body and from which all physical activity depends upon to perform actions and fulfil desires through the medium of the senses. For the atma this does not apply having no material qualities or material attributes it is the witness monitoring all thought and activities of every jiva or embodied being.
यदा भूतपृथग्भावमेकस्थमनुपश्यति |
तत एव च विस्तारं ब्रह्म सम्पद्यते तदा ||१३- ३१||
tata eva cha vistAraM brahma sampadyate tadA || 13-31 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.31
Anvaya: yada–when; bhuta–living entities; prthak-bhavam–separated identities; eka-stham–situated in one; anupasyati–tries to see through authority; tatah eva–thereafter; ca–also; vistaram–expanded; brahma–the Absolute; sampadyate–attains; tada–at that time.
Translation: When a sensible man ceases to see different identities, which are due to different material bodies, he attains to the Brahman conception. Thus he sees that beings are expanded everywhere.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
Since all jivas or embodied beings emanate from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence there is no difference between them in substance at the root level. Therefore there is absolutely no difference between atmas as the atma precedes this root level. One who perceives this inherent non-difference between atmas regardless of diversity of form achieves the realisation of the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. This inherent non-difference applies to all things in creation animate and inanimate which manifest again after the pralaya or periodic universal dissolution as they were before and commence their emanation into prakriti once more. Realising this one realises the brahman.
The word eka-stham meaning situated in the single material nature. This is singular and denotes the Supreme Lord Krishna because He is all pervading throughout all creation. One who sees all jivas or embodied beings regardless of form or species as being part of prakkriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which is a modification of the Supreme Lord and can realise the difference and gradation between all three; such a person experiences direct realisation of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence.
Lord Krishna is stating that one must realizes that all the diversity of forms throughout creation is manifested by the medium of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which gives rise to unlimited bodies and their correlating senses. All jivas or embodied beings whether demigods, humans or animals are constituted of the dual natures of purusa the supreme spirit and prakriti. The compound word eka-stham meaning situated in one refers to the singularity of prakriti which the ksetra or sphere of activity exists within. The word vistaram meaning expansion refers to the variegated myriads of differentiated existences in successive form manifestations such as children, grandchildren, great grandchildren all uniquely emanating from the same principle of prakriti. Whosoever understands that all external appearing differences have their origin in prakriti and not in purusa or the supreme spirit nor paramatma the supreme soul; such a person attains the realization of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence.
Thus by irrefutably establishing the fact of the atma or immortal soul as existing equally within the etheric heart of each and every living entity and the reality that paramatma or the Supreme Soul is residing equally within the etheric heart of all living entities simultaneously; Lord Krishna categorically refuted any and all conceptions that different shapes and forms of the physical body was relevant to this. Now He confirms that prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence is the source of all variegated species and forms of the physical bodies of the jivas or embodied beings. When one can see and understand that all jivas in material existence are in possession of the atma whether they are demigods, human or animal, etc. and are all rooted in the same absolute reality and appear only as different manifestations of the same absolute nature expanded at the commencement of creation. At that very moment one achieves infinite knowledge and realisation of the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence.
शरीरस्थोऽपि कौन्तेय न करोति न लिप्यते ||१३- ३२||
sharIrastho.api kaunteya na karoti na lipyate || 13-32 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.32
Anvaya: anaditvat–due to eternity; nirgunatvat–due to transcendental; parama–beyond material nature; atma–spirit; ayam–this; avyayah–inexhaustible; sarira-sthah api–though dwelling in the body; kaunteya–O son of Kunti; na karoti–never does anything; na lipyate–nor is he entangled.
Translation: Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
It may be further postulated that differentiation of the atma or immortal soul is inevitable due to karma or reactions to actions arising from its connection to the physical body which results in happiness, misery, etc. as the jiva or embodied being transmigrates continuously in material existence; so how can there be equalness and sameness? Lord Krishna addresses this doubt by explaining that paramatma the Supreme Soul is without a beginning, without material attributes, transcendental, immutable, imperishable. Therefore paramatma although residing in a physical body which has a beginning and is perishable, possessive of attributes and subject to karma it paramatma is unaffected by the result of any action as it only monitors and never acts.
Lord Krishna explains that there is no annihilation for paramatma or the Supreme Soul as it is not material but completely spiritual and eternally existing. Normally material things are subject to disintegration and are subject to the decaying effects of time. But this is not applicable to paramatma which has no relationship to material nature and is never implicated or affected by the activities of the jiva or embodied being. The word nirgunatvat means the absence of qualities and attributes this denotes that paramatma has no material qualities and material attributes due to being completely spiritual.
Now begins the summation.
The jiva is established in the physical body. The Supreme Lord is His localised expansion as paramatma is causing the jivas to sleep at regulated intervals and is giving illumination to them. Yet the Supreme Lord remains without sleep and is full of illumination. The jivas established within the physical bodies identify themselves as their body. Yet the Supreme Lord even though dwelling within each and every physical body all over creation never identifies with the physical body. Experiencing pleasure and pain in the physical body makes one become attached to it. Due to the absence of the material and presence of the spiritual the Supreme Lord has no attachment to the physical body of any jiva.
Because the Supreme Lord is eternal, without any beginning and is devoid of any material attributes, qualities or accruements. The Supreme Lord is always distinctly exalted and superior to all jivas who are always subject to birth and the three fold miseries of old age, disease and death. Everything is created completely from the Supreme Lord alone, who is one without a second. Yet He is totally neutral and impartial to His creation. Even though residing within the physical body as paramatma of every jiva the Supreme Lord is witnessing all the activities performed. Yet no merits or demerits are attached to Him. This is the true purport of the ancient aphorism of neti neti meaning not this, not this.
So now the eternal, omniscient and all pervading nature of paramatma or the Supreme Soul is being revealed by Lord Krishna as being totally distinct from the physical body of the jiva or embodied being. Although residing within the exhaustible physical body which is perishable, paramatma is inexhaustible and imperishable due to it being anaditivat of eternality. It is infinite in time and infinite beyond time. It is nirgunatvat or possessing no material qualities or attributes and neither performs any actions nor is affected or implicated by any actions the physical body performs. Next it will be explained how the paramatma although having constant association within the physical body is not degraded by any of the bodily properties.
It may be comprehended that paramatma the all pervading Supreme Soul as well as the localised atma or the immortal individual soul are both distinctly different from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. It may also be understood that it is only by the medium of prakriti that bodies and senses manifest and cause the jiva or embodied being to engage in activities which gives karma or reactions to actions. But the question may be raised that if paramatma and the atma have such intimate contact with the physical body which is experiencing joy and grief as it performs unlimited activities; then how are they both not affected, implicated and contaminated by such enactments and remain only the witness and monitor. Anticipating such a query Lord Krishna answers that they are both anaditvan nirgunatvat meaning eternal without beginning and possessing no material qualities or attributes whatsoever. Imperishable the knower of the sphere of activity, supreme because they are transcendental to prakriti and everything material including the physical body, mind and intellect which is in specific illustrative examples sometimes referred to as the self. Whatever has manifested from prakriti possesses the three gunas or goodness, passion and nescience and are perishable. This comprises the scope of prakriti but paramtama and the atma are not implicated by the physical body or influenced by its modifications thereof and therefore are only monitoring all thoughts and actions as the witness.
यथा सर्वगतं सौक्ष्म्यादाकाशं नोपलिप्यते |
सर्वत्रावस्थितो देहे तथात्मा नोपलिप्यते ||१३- ३३||
sarvatrAvasthito dehe tathAtmA nopalipyate || 13-33 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.33
Anvaya: yatha–as; sarva-gatam–all-pervading; sauksmyat–due to being subtle; akasam–the sky; na–never; upalipyate–mixes; sarvatra–everywhere; avasthitah–situated; dehe–in the body; tatha–such; atma–the self; na–never; upalipyate–mixes.
Translation: The sky, due to its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, although it is all-pervading. Similarly, the soul, situated in Brahman vision, does not mix with the body, though situated in that body.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
An example is being given by Lord Krishna that just as the akasam or ether existing everywhere being supra-subtle is not contaminated by anything and unaffected; so is the atma or immortal soul although abiding in all jivas or embodied beings some superior like demigods and some inferior as animals it is unaffected and not implicated by the activities performed by any jiva and never subject to any reactions of merit or demerit.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
Lord Krishna uses the word akasam which means ether and denotes space. As space prevails everywhere and encompasses all objects, yet by its extremely subtle nature the properties of any object are not able to influence, taint or modify it. In the same way the atma or individual immortal soul being subatomic resides within the bodies of all jivas or embodied beings but the physical properties, attributes and qualities that pertain to such bodies be they demigods, human, animal, etc. are unable to influence, taint or modify it.
It may also be questioned how is it that paramatma or the all pervading Supreme Soul and the localised atma or individual immortal soul are not contaminated and infected by the material qualities associated with the physical body such as pleasure and pain, joy and distress. Lord Krishna replies to such with the analogy of ether which atomically is existing everywhere all through prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and as such is not contaminated or modified by any object. In the same way paramatma and the atma although abiding within the physical bodies of all jivas or embodied beings is not contaminated or modified by the merits or demerits associated with the actions of the physical body.
यथा प्रकाशयत्येकः कृत्स्नं लोकमिमं रविः |
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्नं प्रकाशयति भारत ||१३- ३४||
kShetra.n kShetrI tathA kR^itsnaM prakAshayati bhArata || 13-34 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.34
Anvaya: yatha–as; prakasayati–illuminates; ekah–one; krtsnam–the whole; lokam–universe; imam–this; ravih–the sun; ksetram–this body; ksetri–the soul; tatha–similarly; krtsnam–all; prakasayati–illuminates; bharata–O son of Bharata.
Translation: O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
By the example of ether in the previous verse the atma or immortal soul was shown to be impervious to situation of the physical body. Now Lord Krishna gives the analogy of the sun illuminating the whole universe as in the same way that paramatma the one Supreme Soul illuminates all individual souls and each individual atma illuminates with consciousness the entire physical body of the jiva or embodied being but is not affected by the properties or activities of the body.
There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.
Another analogy is utilized by Lord Krishna in how the sun is able to solely illuminate the entire universe. In the same way does paramatma or the Supreme Soul illuminate all the atmas or immortal souls in creation and then each individual atma illuminates with consciousness the tabernacle of the physical body of every jiva or embodied being in which it inhabits in that lifetime. This consciousness exists completely throughout the physical body surrounding it as well to some degree and definitively thinks that the physical body is its ksetra or field of activity. It should be understood that just as the sun in its capacity of illumination differs from the universe it illuminates. In the same way it should be understood that paramatma is supremely different from all individual atmas even though it illuminates them all with consciousness and in the same manner it should be understood that the localized atma is uniquely different from its ksetra of the body.
It may be even further postulated that paramatma the all pervading Supreme Soul may be existing equally in the atmas or individual immortal souls of all jivas or embodied beings as was previously alluded to regarding the ether. That can be accepted fully as both the atma and paramatma are eternally spiritual; but for the atma to be like ether throughout the physical body denotes its omnipresence and thus it is exposed to the pain and pleasure, joy and despair which the physical body experiences. Also by what criteria is an atma to be measured. Would the atma of a human be too big for an ant and if subsequently an ant would have to take birth as an elephant would its atma be too small? Yet again if it is to be accepted that the atma is sub-atomic in size how will it be possible to experience pleasure and pain as well as complete body luminosity because as the Vedic scriptures confirm it is residing in the etheric heart of all jivas?
To alleviate all these doubts and misconceptions, Lord Krishna the analogy that as a single sun is able to prakasyati or illuminate an entire universe; in the same way from within the etheric heart the atma is able to illuminate the entire physical body by the medium of consciousness. The atma is neither omnipresent nor modifiable in size not because of the questions previously posed but because of the verdict of the Vedic scriptures. The Mundaka Upanisad III.I.IX beginning eso anuratma cetasa veditavyo states: The soul is infinitesimal in size and is realised directly by the mind which has neutralised completely all effects and influences of the five senses which reveals the enlightenment of the soul. In the Svetasvatara Upanisad V.VIII beginning balagrashata bhagasya states: The atma is known to be as subtle as 100th part the size of the tip of a hair that again was divided into a 100th parts which equals 1/10,000 the tip of a hair. The Prashna Upanisad III.VI beginning hrdi hyesha atma states: The atma resides in the heart where there are 101 nadis or nerves and for each nadi there are 100 sub-nadis and each of these sub-nadis has 72,000 subordinate nadis. The Vedanta Sutra II.III.XXIV beginning gunadva lokavat states: The atma although residing in the heart by its quality of consciousness illuminates the physical body as a light illuminates a room. So from all these relevant examples given in the Vedic scriptures all discrepancies are dispelled.
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरेवमन्तरं ज्ञानचक्षुषा |
भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम् ||१३- ३५||
bhUtaprakR^itimokSha.n cha ye viduryAnti te param.h || 13-35 ||
Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 13.35
Anvaya: ksetra–body; ksetra-jnayoh–of the proprietor of the body; evam–that; antaram–difference; jnana-caksusa–by vision of knowledge; bhuta–living entity; prakrti–material nature; moksam–liberation; ca–also; ye–one who; viduh–knows; yanti–approaches; te–they; param–Supreme.
Translation: One who knowingly sees this difference between the body and the owner of the body and can understand the process of liberation from this bondage, also attains to the supreme goal.
Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas
The actual purport of this chapter is now being concluded. Those with the spiritual eye of discriminative knowledge can see the difference and distinction between the material ksetra or sphere of activity and the spiritual ksetrajna or knower of the sphere of activity. Who by reflection and meditation understand the path to moksa or freedom from material existence and its corollary of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Such persons attain param pure spiritual existence.
I bow down to the Supreme Lord Krishna who appeared as the son of Nanda Maharaj in Vrindavan at the end of Dvapara Yuga and who is of the nature of ananda or unending bliss. Who eloquently elaborated and concisely clarified what is generally misunderstood that is: The distinct difference between transitory prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and the eternal purusa the Supreme Being who manifests as paramatma the Supreme Soul in each and every jiva or embodied being everywhere in creation and is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence.
The path of deliverance from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and moksa or liberation from the material existence for the jivas is achieved by embracing the 20 virtues given in verses 8 to 12 of this chapter beginning with the word amanitvam meaning humilty, reverence.
Lord Krishna concludes this chapter by revealing that those who by the vision of knowledge realise the distinction existing between the ksetra or sphere of activity which is the physical body and the ksetrajna or knower of the sphere of activity which for the omnipresent paramatma the Supreme Soul includes each and every the atma or immortal soul and in the case of the atma is the physical body. Along with those who imbibe and realise the 20 virtues given in verses 8 to 12 of this chapter beginning with amanitvam or humility, reverence which are the way and means of effecting escape from the degradation of mandated corporeal existence in samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Such persons realising their atma achieve moksam or liberation from material existence and attain param the supreme transcendence.
Lord Krishna concludes this chapter with a brief synopsis of what He has elaborated upon distinguishing the ksetra or sphere of activity and the ksetrajna or the knower of the sphere of activity. The atma or the individual immortal soul and paramatma or the all pervading Supreme Soul and the difference of both from each other as well as from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. He proclaims that those by the vision of knowledge inferring that was acquired by the teachings of the spiritual master from the Vedic scriptures through who realise these things achieve perfection and attain the supreme destination.
I take complete refuge in the Supreme Lord Krishna, the omniscient and omnipotent Supreme Being, the controller of all. Who out of causeless compassion categorically instructed the discriminative knowledge of the ksetra and the ksetrajna.
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