THE BHAGAVAD GITA Chapter 13
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Spirit & Cosmic Nature
The blessed Lord replied:
O Offspring of Kunti (Arjuna), by the knowers of truth, this body is called kshetra [* the known] ("the field" where good and evil karma is sown and reaped); likewise, that which cognizes the field they call kshetrajna [* the knower] (the soul). [—Commentary]
O Descendant of Bharata (Arjuna), also know Me to be the Kshetrajna (Perceiver) [* Witness - the Universal Spirit & the individualized soul] in all kshetras (the bodies evolved out of the cosmic creative principle and Nature). The understanding of kshetra [* the known] and kshetrajna [ *the knower]—that is deemed by Me as constituting true wisdom. [—Commentary]
*Simplified alternative translation of XIII:1-2
The Blessed Lord said:
The body is called a field, Arjuna; he who knows it is called the Knower of the field. This is the knowledge of those who know.
2 (version 1) I am the Knower of the field in everyone, Arjuna. Knowledge of the field and its Knower is true knowledge.
2 (version 2) “Arjuna! May you know Me as the knower of the body in all the bodies” (13:2)
Hear from Me briefly about the kshetra, its attributes, its cause-and-effect principle, and its distorting influences; and also who He (the Kshetrajna) is, and the nature of His powers—truths that have been distinctly celebrated by the rishis in many ways: in various chants in the Vedas and in the definitive reasoned analyses of aphorisms about Brahman.
Succinctly described, the kshetra and its modifications are composed of the Unmanifested (Mula-Prakriti, undifferentiated Nature), the five cosmic elements, the ten senses and the one sense mind, intelligence (discrimination), egoism, the five objects of the senses; desire, hate, pleasure, pain, aggregation (the body, a combination of diverse forces), consciousness, and persistence.
Characteristics Of Wisdom
(The sage is marked by) humility, lack of hypocrisy, harmlessness, forgivingness, uprightness, service to the guru, purity of mind and body, steadfastness, self-control; (7)
Indifference to sense objects, absence of egotism, understanding of the pain and evils (inherent in mortal life): birth, illness, old age, and death; (8)
Nonattachment, nonidentification of the Self with such as one's children, wife, and home; constant equal-mindedness in desirable and undesirable circumstances; (9)
Unswerving devotion to Me by the yoga of nonseparativeness, resort to solitary places, avoidance of the company of worldly men; (10)
Perseverance in Self-knowledge; and meditative perception of the object of all learning—the true essence or meaning there-in. All these qualities constitute wisdom; qualities opposed to them constitute ignorance. (11) [—Commentary]
I will tell you of That which is to be known, because such knowledge bestows immortality. Hear about the beginningless Supreme Spirit—He who is spoken of as neither existent (sat) nor nonexistent (asat).
He dwells in the world, enveloping all— everywhere, His hands and feet; present on all sides, His eyes and ears, His mouths and heads;
Shining in all the sense faculties, yet transcending the senses; unattached to creation, yet the Mainstay of all; free from the gunas (modes of Nature), yet the Enjoyer of them.
He is within and without all that exists, the animate and the inanimate; near He is, and far; imperceptible because of His subtlety.
He, the Indivisible One, appears as countless beings; He maintains and destroys those forms, then creates them anew.
The Light of All Lights, beyond darkness; Knowledge itself, That which is to be known, the Goal of all learning, He is seated in the hearts of all.
I have briefly described the Field, the nature of wisdom, and the Object of wisdom. Understanding these, My devotee enters My being. [—Commentary]
Know that both Purusha and Prakriti are beginningless; and know also that all modifications and qualities (gunas) are born of Prakriti.
In the creation of the effect (the body) and the instrument (the senses), Prakriti is spoken of as the cause; in the experience of joy and sorrow, Purusha is said to be the cause. [—Commentary]
To behold the Self in the self (purified ego) by the self (illuminated mind), some men follow the path of meditation, some the path of knowledge, and some path of selfless action.
He sees truly who perceive the Supreme Lord present equally in all creatures, the Imperishable amidst the perishing.
He who is conscious of the omnipresence of God does not injure the Self by the self. That man reaches the Supreme Goal.
He who sees that all actions are performed in their entirety by Prakriti alone, and not by the Self, is indeed a beholder of truth.
When a man beholds all separate beings as existent in the One that has expanded Itself into the many, he then merges with Brahman. [—Commentary]
O Bharata (Arjuna), as the one sun illumines the entire world, so does the Lord of the Field (God and His reflection as the soul) illumine the whole field (Nature and the bodily "little nature").
They enter the Supreme who perceive with the eye of wisdom the distinction between the Kshetra and the Kshetrajna and who also perceive the method of liberation of beings from Prakriti.*
*Alternative translation of XIII:34
They who, by the eye of knowledge, perceive the distinction between the field and its knower and also the liberation from the Nature of being, go to the Supreme.