kṣetra-jñaḿ cāpi māḿ viddhi
yat taj jñānaḿ mataḿ mama
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.3
O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge. That is My opinion.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
While discussing the subject of the body and the knower of the body, the soul and the Supersoul, we shall find three different topics of study: the Lord, the living entity, and matter. In every field of activities, in every body, there are two souls: the individual soul and the Supersoul. Because the Supersoul is the plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, Krishna says, “I am also the knower, but I am not the individual knower of the body. I am the superknower. I am present in every body as the Paramatma, or Supersoul.”
One who studies the subject matter of the field of activity and the knower of the field very minutely, in terms of this Bhagavad-gita, can attain to knowledge.
The Lord says, “I am the knower of the field of activities in every individual body.” The individual may be the knower of his own body, but he is not in knowledge of other bodies. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present as the Supersoul in all bodies, knows everything about all bodies. He knows all the different bodies of all the various species of life. A citizen may know everything about his patch of land, but the king knows not only his palace but all the properties possessed by the individual citizens. Similarly, one may be the proprietor of the body individually, but the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of all bodies. The king is the original proprietor of the kingdom, and the citizen is the secondary proprietor. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is the supreme proprietor of all bodies.
The body consists of the senses. The Supreme Lord is Hrishikesha, Which means “the controller of the senses.” He is the original controller of the senses, just as the king is the original controller of all the activities of the state; the citizens are secondary controllers. The Lord says, “I am also the knower.” This means that He is the superknower; the individual soul knows only his particular body. In the Vedic literature, it is stated as follows:
kshetrani hi sarirani
bijam capi subhasubhe
tani vetti sa yogatma
tatah kshetra-jna ucyate
This body is called the kshetra, and within it dwells the owner of the body and the Supreme Lord, who knows both the body and the owner of the body. Therefore He is called the knower of all fields. The distinction between the field of activities, the knower of activities, and the supreme knower of activities is described as follows.
Perfect knowledge of the constitution of the body, the constitution of the individual soul, and the constitution of the Supersoul is known in terms of Vedic literature as jnana. That is the opinion of Krishna. To understand both the soul and the Supersoul as one yet distinct is knowledge. One who does not understand the field of activity and the knower of activity is not in perfect knowledge. One has to understand the position of prakriti (nature), purusha (the enjoyer of nature) and ishvara (the knower who dominates or controls nature and the individual soul). One should not confuse the three in their different capacities. One should not confuse the painter, the painting and the easel. This material world, which is the field of activities, is nature, and the enjoyer of nature is the living entity, and above them both is the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead. It is stated in the Vedic language (in the Shvetasvatara Upanishad 1.12), bhokta bhogyam preritaram ca matva/ sarvam proktam tri vidham-brahmam etat. There are three Brahman conceptions: prakriti is Brahman as the field of activities, and the jiva (individual soul) is also Brahman and is trying to control material nature, and the controller of both of them is also Brahman, but He is the factual controller.
In this chapter it will also be explained that out of the two knowers, one is fallible and the other is infallible. One is superior and the other is subordinate. One who understands the two knowers of the field to be one and the same contradicts the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who states here very clearly, “I am also the knower of the field of activity.” One who misunderstands a rope to be a serpent is not in knowledge. There are different kinds of bodies, and there are different owners of the bodies. Because each individual soul has his individual capacity for lording it over material nature, there are different bodies. But the Supreme also is present in them as the controller. The word ca is significant, for it indicates the total number of bodies. That is the opinion of Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana. Krishna is the Supersoul present in each and every body apart from the individual soul. And Krishna explicitly says here that the Supersoul is the controller of both the field of activities and the finite enjoyer.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
It has been said that the jiva is the knower of the field because of his knowledge of his body. But the paramatma also is the knower of the field because he knows all bodies completely. Know that I, the paramatma situated as the monitor in all the bodies, am the knower of the field. Each jiva has knowledge of his particular body, but not of all bodies. But I, though one person, have knowledge of all bodies completely. This distinction should be understood.
What is knowledge? Knowledge of the jiva and paramatma, both knowers of the field, along with knowledge of the field, is called knowledge according to me. Explaining this verse in a different way, saying that there is only one jiva in existence, one knower of the field, cannot be accepted, since that opinion is contradicted by the later statement uttamah purusas tv anyah paramdtmety udahrtah: but there is another supreme person called the paramatma. (15.17)
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.3 Know as Myself the Field-knower also who is the only form of the Knower in all the bodies like divinities, men etc., i.e., know them as ensouled by Me. By the expression ‘also’ (Api) in, ‘Know Me also (Api) as the Field-Knower,’ it is inferable that ‘Know Me as the Field-Knower in all Fields’ has also been taught by implication. Just as the body, on account of its being the attribute of the knower, cannot exist separately, and is consequently denoted by way of co-ordinate predication (Samanadhikarnya) with it, in the same manner both the Field and the Field-Knower, on account of their being My attributes, cannot exist as entities separate from Me, and hence can be denoted as ‘one with Me’ by way of co-ordinate predication. Both the Ksetra (Field) which is an aggregate of earth etc., and the Ksetrajna (the Jiva) have the Lord for their Self, because of their being of the nature of the body of the Lord. Such is the teaching of the Sruti passages beginning from ‘He who dwelling in the earth, is within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body is the earth, who controls the earth from within — He is your inner Controller and immortal Self’ (Br. U., 3.7.3), and ending with ‘He who, dwelling in the individual self as the self within, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, who controls the self from within — He is your inner Controller and immortal Self’ (Br. U. Madh., 3.7.22). It is the dwelling in of the Lord as the Self of all the knowers of the bodies (Field-Knowers or the Jivas) on account of His being the inner Controller, that is the justification for describing Him as in co-ordinate predication (Samanadhikaranya) with them. In the beginning and later on, it was taught to the effect, ‘I am the self, O Arjuna, dwelling in the hearts of all beings’ (10.20), and ‘Nothing that moves or does not move exists without Me’ (10.39) and ‘I, with a single aspect of Myself, am sustaining the whole universe’ (10.42). In the middle He describes Himself by way of co-ordinate predication as, ‘Of Adityas, I am Visnu’ etc. In the teachings concerning the difference between the body and its knower and concerning both of them as having Me for their Self — this knowledge of unity by co-ordinate predication alone is taught as ‘My view.’ Some (the followers of Advaita and Bhedabheda) say: The sentence ‘And know Me as the Knower’ should be understood as co-ordinate predication expressing identity between the individual self and the Supreme Self. Thus according to their view, the Lord (Isvara), who is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute must be admitted to have become the individual self, as it were, through nescience (Ajnana). According to their docrine the teaching of identity given here in the Text seeks to sublate that nescience. Just as teaching by a reliable person to the effect, ‘This is a rope, and not a snake,’ sublates the erroneous notion of a snake, the teaching of the Lord, who is most reliable, sublates the erroneous notion of the individual self (Ksetrjna) being different from Him. Such interpreters are to be questioned thus: Is this Teacher, Bhagavan Vasudeva, the Supreme Ruler, one whose nescience has been sublated by the exact knowledge of the Self or not? If His nescience has been sublated, then the perception of duality like Arjuna as the taught, and of actions like teaching, becomes impossible, because of the impossibility of superimposing a flase form on the Self which is in reality mere undifferentiated Consciousness. If, however, His nescience has not been sublated on account of His not having realised the Self, then, because of His ignorance, it is utterly impossible for Him to teach the knowledge of the Self. Elsewhere it has been stated: ‘The wise, who have realised the truth, will instruct you in knowledge’ (4.34). Thus, the polemics of this nature are to be ignored as having been set forth to misguide the world by these ignorant debaters whose arguments are contradicted by all Vedas, Smrtis, Itihasas, the Puranas, logic and their own words. The truth is this: Some of the Sruti texts declare that non-conscient matter, the conscient entity (the individual self) and the Supreme Brahman are different in nature from one another in the relation of object of enjoyment, the enjoyer (subject) and the Supreme Ruler as follows: ‘From Prakrti, the Possessor of Maya projects this world, in which another (i.e. the individual self) is confined by Maya (Sve. U., 4.9); ‘Know then Maya to be the Prakrti and the Possessor of Maya to be the Great Lord’ (Sve. U., 4.10); ‘The perishable is Prakrti; the immortal and imperishable is Hara (the individual self); and the Lord alone rules over both the perishable Prakrti and the imperishable individual self’ (Sve. U., 1.10). Here, the expression, ‘The immortal and the imperishable is Hara,’ points out the enjoyer (i.e., individual self); It is called Hara because the individual self siezes matter as an object of It own experience. Again, ‘He is the cause, the Lord of the lord of senses’ (Ibid., 6.9); ‘He has no progenitor and no Lord’ (Ibid., 6.9); ‘He is the ruler of Prakrti, of the individual self, and the Lord of qualities’ (Ibid., 6.16); ‘He is the Lord of the Universe, the Ruler of individual selves, the eternal, the auspicious and the unchanging’ (Ma. Na., 13.3); ‘The two unborn — the knowing Lord and the unknowing individual self, the omnipotent and the impotent’ (Sve. U.,1.9); ‘The Constant among inconstants, the Intelligent among the intelligents, the one who grants the desires of the many’ (Ibid., 6.13. & Ka. U., 5.13); ‘When one knows the enjoyer, the object of enjoyment and Actuater …’ (Sve. U., 1.12); ‘Regarding the individual self and the Actuater to be different, and blessed by Him, It attains immortality’ (Ibid., 1.6), and ‘Ot these two, the one eats the sweet Pippala fruit, the other shines in his splendour without eating’ (Ibid., 4.6 and Mun. U., 3.1.1). Further, ‘There is one unborn female, red, white and black, who produces many creatures like herself; there is another unborn being who loves her and is close to her; there is yet another male unborn who after having enjoyed here, gives her up’ (Ibid., 4.5); ‘The cow (i.e. Prakrti) that has no beginning or end, is the mother and source of all beings’ (Cha. U., 4.5) and ‘On the self-same tree, the individual self sits sunken in grief, and being ignorant and impotent, It grieves. When It sees the other, the gracious Lord and His glory, It attains freedom from grief (Sve. U., 4.7). The following passages of the Gita are alos to the point: ‘This Prakrti, thus divided eightfold, composed of Ahankara etc., is Mine.’ ‘This is My lower Prakrti. Know My higher Prakrti to be distinct from this — the Life Principle, by which the universe is sustained (7.4-5); ‘All beings, O Arjuna, enter into My Nature at the end of a cycle. These I send forth again at the beginning of a cycle. Resorting to Prakrti, which is My own, I send forth again and again all this multitude of beings, helpless under the sway of Prakrti’ (9.7-8); ‘Under my control, Prakrti gives birth to all that moves, and that which does not move. And because of this, O Arjuna, does the world spin’ (9.10); ‘Know that Prakrti and the individual self are without beginning’ (13.19) ‘The great Brahman (or Prakrti) is My womb; in that I lay the germ; from it, O Arjuna, is the birth of all beings’ (14.3). The great Brahman of Mine, which is the womb of this world, called Prakti, non-conscient matter, consisting of elements in a subtle state — in it I lay the germ called conscient entity. From that, namely, from the compound between conscient and unconscient entities, which is willed by Me, are born all these beings beginning with the gods and ending with the immobile things mixed up with the unconscient matter. Such is the meaning. In the Sruti also, the subtle original state of material elements is signified as Brahman: ‘From Him are produced Brahman as also the world of matter and soul (Anna) having name and form’ (Mun. U., 1.1.9). Likewise, Sruti Texts declare that the Supreme Person constitutes the Self of all, and the conscient and non-conscient entities are inseparable from Him; for, those conscient and unconscient entities, which abide in the form of the experiencer and the experienced abiding in all states, form the body of the Supreme Person; consequently they are under His control. These Texts are as follows: ‘He who, dwelling in the earth, is within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, who is the Inner Ruler of the earth’ and ending with, ‘He who, dwelling in the self, is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is and who is the Inner Controller of the self’ (Br. U. Madh., 3.7.3-22). Likewise another passage declares: ‘He who is moving withing the earth, to whom the earth is the body, whom the earth does not know … he who is moving within the Mrtyu (Nature), to whom Mrtyu is the body, whom Mrtyu does not know … He is the Inner Self of all beings, sinless; He is the divine Lord, He is of the one Narayana’ (Sub. U., 7). Here the term Mrtyu denotes the subtle state of non-conscient entity which is expressed by the term Tamas, because in the same Upanisad, it is declared, ‘The unmanifest (Avyakta) merges into Aksara (the imperishable), and the Aksara merges into Tamas (Ibid., 2). Elsewhere it is stated thus: ‘Entering within, is the Ruler of all creatures, the self of all (Tai. A., 3.21). Therefore, the Supreme Person, who posseses conscient and non-conscient entities abiding in all states as His body, is in the form of the world, whether in the state of cause or of effect. So, with the purpose of making this explicit, some Srutis declare that the world in its states as cause and effect, is He Himself. They begin with, ‘This Existence (Sat) alone was in the beginning, one only without a second … It thought, “May I become many, may I multiply”. It creates Tejas’ (Cha. U., 126.96.36.199), and ends with ‘All creatures here, my dear, have their root in the Sat (Being), have their home in the Sat, have Sat as their support. All this has Sat for its self. That is Existence. He is the Self. That you are, O Svetaketu’ (Cha. U., 188.8.131.52-7). Elsewhere is the following text beginning with, ‘He desired, “May I become many”; He performed austerity; having performed austerity, He created all this,’ and concluding with, ‘He became both the Satya (individual self) and Anrta (matter), He has remained true to His nature’ (Tai. U., 2.6.1). The difference in nature between conscient and unconscient entities and the Supreme Person, established in the other Sruti passages, is asserted here also: ‘Lo! Entering into these three divinities (i.e. the Tejas, water and earth) in the form of living self (individual self), which is Myself, I distinguish name and form? (Cha. U., 6.3.2) and also in the text, ‘Having created it, He entered into it. Having entered it, He became Sat and Tyat … He became both conscious and unconscious, both the Satya (individual self) and Anrta (matter). He has remained true to His own nature’ (Tai. U., 2.6.1). It is in this way that all the distinctions of names and forms are brought about: The Sruti also declares, ‘Then, this was undifferentiated. Now, it has been differentiated by names and forms’ (Br. U., 1.4.7). Therefore, He who exists in the states of effect and cause, and who has the conscient and unconscient entities in their gross and subtle states as His body, is the Supreme Person. Because the effect is not other than the cause, the effect becomes known when the cause is known, when the One becomes known, everything is known — thus what is posited by the Srutis stands explained. In the text, ‘Entering into these three divinities by way of living self (individual self) which is My self, I distinguish name and form’ (Cha. U., 6.3.2) — all the non-conscient entities are pointed out by the expression, ‘the three divinities’, and then the distinguishing of names and forms arises on account of the individual selves having Him for Their Self, entering into those entities. Thus all expressive terms signify the Supreme Self who is qualified by the individual selves and non-conscient matter. Therefore, co-ordinate predication (Samanadhikaranya) of a term denoting an effect with a term denoting the Supreme Self as cause, is quite appropriate. Thus the Supreme Brahman, who has conscient and non-conscient entities in their gross and subtle conditions as His modes, is Himself the effect and the cause; so Brahman is the material cause of the world. Brahman Himself constitutes the material cause of the world, because Brahman, who has the conscient and unconscient entities in their subtle state as His body, forms the cause of all. Still as that material cause is a composite entity (i.e., of individual selves, Prakrti aand Isvara), there is no mixing up of the natures of Brahman, conscient entities and non-conscient entities. This is perfectly tenable. Thus, for example, although the material cause of a multi-coloured cloth is a combination of white, black and red threads, the connection of whiteness etc., with the cloth is to be found only in the place where a particular kind of thread is woven in it; in the state of effect also, there is no mixing up of the colours everywhere. Similarly, although the world has for its material cause a combination of the Lord, conscient and non-conscient entities, still in its condition as an effect also, there is no mixing up of the respective qualities of experiencer (subject), the experienced (object) and the Controller (God). Though these threads can exist separately they are brought together at a time by man’s will and acquire the character and effect as a consequence. But in the case of the world manifestation, there is a uniqueness. It consists in that the intelligent and insentient entities in both causal and effect conditions derive their existential nature only from, and as, modes of the Supreme Person, by forming His body. Thus the Supreme Person having those entities as His body, is always signified by all these terms indicating them. As for the differences in nature, their respective speciality of character holds good here (i.e., in the production of world as of the coloured cloth). Such being the case, though the Supreme Brahman enters the effect, owing to absence of transformation of His nature, the unchangeability is well established. To signify Brahman as effect is also very appropriate, because He is the Self sustaining the conscient and non-conscient entities from within their gross condition when they are differentiated by name and form: What is called effect is nothing other than the cause passing into another state of existence. The various scriptural statements that the Supreme Brahman is without attributes are also tenable in the sense that He is not associated with evil attributes, as the Sruti text, ‘He is free from evil, ageless, deathless, sorrowless, hungerless, thirstless’ eliminates all evil attributes, and then says that He is full of auspicious attributes: ‘Whose desire is real, whose will is real’ (Cha. U., 8.7.1). This Sruti text itself settles here what was generally declared elsewhere that negation of attributes (Guna-nisedha) pertains to evil attributes in Brahman. The doctrine that Brahman is of the nature of knowledge is also quite appropriate, because it amounts to saying that the true nature of Brahman, who is omniscient and omnipotent, who is antagonistic to all that is evil, and who is the mine of all auspicious attributes, can be adequately defined only as Knowledge, as one whose nature is Knowledge, since He possesses self-luminosity. The following texts teach that Brahman is the Knower: ‘He who is all-knowing, all wise’ (Mun. U., 1.1.9); ‘His high power is revealed, indeed, as various and natural, as consisting of knowledge, strength and activity’ (Sve.U., 6.8); ‘My dear, by what means has one to understand the Knower?’ (Br. U., 2.4.14); and the text, ‘Brahman is Existence, Knowledge and Infinity’ (Tai. U., 2.1.1). All these teach that Brahman is of the nature of Knowledge in as much as He can be defined only as Knowledge, and because also He is self-luminous. In the texts ‘He desired, “May I become many” ‘ (Tai. U., 2.6.1), ‘It thought, “May I become many” ‘ (Cha. U., 6.2.3), ‘It became differentiated by names and forms’ — it is affirmed that Brahman thus exists of His own Will in a wonderful plurality of modes on account of His having the immovable and movable entities as His body. Consequently it is false to affirm the opposite view that the manifold entities do not have Brahman as their self in a real sense. Thus, it is the unreality of manifold existence (i.e., of entities without Brahman for the Self) that is denied in the following texts: ‘He obtains death after death who sees difference here’ (Ka. U., 2.4.10), ‘There is nothing here that is manifold’ (Ka. U., 2.4.11), ‘But where there is duality, as it were, there one sees another … but where everything has become the self … there, by what can one see what … who shall know which by what?’ (Br. U., 4.5.15). There is also no denial of the manifoldness of modes of the Brahman resulting from His assumption of various names and forms by His will. This is established in Sruti texts such as, ‘May I become manifold’ (Tai. U., 2.6.1 and Cha. U., 6.2.3) etc. This manifold modality is proved to be existent in the commencement of even that passage which negates multiplicity by asserting. ‘But where everything has become the self’ (Br. U., 4.5.15). ‘Everything deserts Him who knows everything to be apart from Him’ (Br. U., 4.5.7), and ‘Lo, verily, from this great Being has been breathed forth that which is Rg veda’ (Ibid., 2.4.10). Thus there is no contradiction whatsoever among the Srutis which assert difference in essence and in nature between the conscient self, non-conscient matter and the Lord, whose body the former entities are. There is no contradiction also in the scriptural statement that they are identical. The relation of the body and the self exists at all times between the Lord and the conscient and non-conscient entities. The Sruti texts themselves establish that those entities, which constitute the body (of the Lord), acquire in causal condition, a subtle state, in which they cannot be differentiated. In the effect condition they are in a gross state with names and forms, and are capable of differentiation into a multiplicity of entities as modes of the Supreme. Thus there is no room whatsoever for entertaining such doctrines which ascribe nescience to Brahman (as in Advaita), for describing the differences in Brahman as due to limiting adjuncts (as in Bhedabheda) and other tenets (Yadavaprakasa’s). All these proceed from unsound logic and are in viloation of all Srutis. Let this over-long polemic be terminated here. The object of this long polemical passage is to refute the Advaitic interpretation of the statement Know the Field-Knower in all bodies as Myself’ as one of absolute identity between the Jiva and Isvara. The thesis of the author of the commentary is that the relation is not oneof absolute identity but only one of identity of reference of several inseparable entities to a comon substratum known technically as Samandadhikaranya or co-ordinate predication, also translated sometimes as grammatical co-ordination. The literal meaning of the expression is ‘the relation of abiding in a common substratum.’ The relation of the Jiva and Prakrti to Isvara is as of body and soul or as a mode (Prakara) and its substratum (Prakari). The relation between the body and soul of an ordinary being is, however, separable at death. But it is inseparable in the case of Isvara and this Jiva-cum-Prakrti body. In this sense Isvara is the Field-knower (Ksetrajna) of the Field (Ksetra) constituted of all individual entities conscient and inconscient, just as in each individual personality the Jiva and the body are the field-knower and the field respectively. [Being in co-ordinate predication (Samanadhikaranya), Brahman is an inseparable but mutually distinct complex of Prakrti, Jiva and Isvara. The cosmic mode of body constituted of Prakrti and Purusa is at intervals in alternate states of latency and patency (Pralaya and Srsti or dissolution and manifestation). As the soul of a complex whole, He can be denoed by any of the terms entering into it — Isvara, Prakrti or Jiva. Brahan is sometimes mentioned in the Srutis as Asat when everything is in latency in Pralaya, and as Sat when all entities are in manifestations (Srsti). All these expressions denote Him only. He is described in some texts as attributeless. It means only that He is without any undesriable evil qualities. He is on the other hand endowed with countless auspicious attributes. All these contentions are supported by numerous Vedic passages, which are quoted in the commentary.]
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
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.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
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.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
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.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.3 Ca api, and; viddhi, understand; mam, Me, the supreme God who is transcendental; to be the ksetrajnam, ‘Knower of the field’ with the characterisitics noted above; sarva-ksetresu, in all the fields. The idea is this: Know the ‘Knower of the field’- who has become diversified by limiting adjuncts in the form of numerous ‘fields’ ranging from Brahma to a clump of grass-as free from differentiations resulting from all the limiting adjuncts, and as beyond the range of such words and ideas as existece, nonexistence, etc. O scion of the Bharata dynasty, since there remains nothing to be known apart from the true nature of the field, the knower of the field and God, therefore; tat, that; is jnanam, Knowledge, right knowledge; yat, which; is the jnanam, knowledge; ksetra-ksetrajnayoh, of the field and the knower of the field-which are the two knowables-, and by which Knowledge the field and the knower of the field are made objects of knowledge. This is mama, My, God Vishu’s; matam, opinion. Objection: Well, if it be that in all the field there exists God alone, and none else other than Him, as the enjoyer, then God will become a mundane being; or, due to the absence of any mundane creature other than God, there will arise the contingency of the negation of mundance existence. And both these are undesirable, since the scriptures dealing with bondage, Liberation and their causes will become useless, and also becuase they contradict such valid means of knowledge as direct perception. In the first place, mundane existence which is characterized by happiness, sorrow and their cause is apprehended through direct perception. Besides, from the perception of variety in the world it can be inferred that mundane existence results from virtue and vice. All this becomes illogical if God and the individual soul be one. Reply: No, because this becomes justifiable owing to the difference between Knowledge and ignorance. ‘These two, viz that which is know as Knowledge and that which is known as ignorance are widely contradictory, and they follow divergent courses’ (Ka. 1.2.4.); and similarly, the different results, viz Liberation and enjoyment, belonging (respectively) to those Knowledge and ignorance, have also been pointed out to be contrary by saying that Liberation is the goal of Knowledge, and enjoyment is the result of ignorance (see Ka. 1.2.2). Vyasa, also has said so: ‘Now, there are these two paths’ (Mbh Sa. 241.6) etc. and, ‘There are only these two paths,’ etc. Here (in the Gita) also, two kinds of steadfastness have been stated. And it is understood from the Vedas, the Smrtis and reason that ignorance together with its effects has to be destroyed by Knowledge. As for the Vedic texts, they are: ‘If one has realized here, then there is truth; if he has not realized here, then there is great destruction’ (Ke. 2.5); ‘Knowing Him in this way, one becomes Immortal here’ (Nr. Pu. 6); ‘There is no other path to go by’ (Sv. 3.8); ‘The enlightened man is not afraid of anything’ (Tai. 2.9.1). On the other hand, (the texts) with regard to the unenlightened person are: ‘Then, he is smitten with fear’ (Tai. 2.7.1); ‘Living in the midst of ognorance’ (Ka. 1.2.5); One who knows Brahman becomes Brahman indeed. In his line is not born anyone who does not know Brahman’ (Mu. 3.2.9); ‘(While he who worships another god thinking,) “He is one, and I am another,” does not know. He is like an animal to the gods’ (Br. 1.4.10). He who is a knower of the Self, ‘He becomes all this (Universe)’ (Br. 1.4.10); ‘When men will fold up space like (folding) leather, (then) there will be cessation of sorrow, without knowing the Deity’ (Sv. 6.9). There are thousands of texts like these. And the Smrti texts (from the Gita) are: ‘Knowledge remains covered by ignorance. Thereby the creatures become deluded’ (5.15); ‘Here itself is rebirth conquered by them whose minds are established on sameness’ (5.19); ‘Since by seeing equally the God who is present alike everywhere (he does not injure the Self by the Self, therefore he attains the supreme Goal)’ (13.28), etc. And as for reason, there is the text, ‘Men avoid snakes, tips of kusa-grass as also well when they are aware of them. Some fall into them owing to ignorance. Thus, see the special result arising from knowledge’ (Mbh. Sa. 201.17). Similarly, it is known that an unelightened person, who identifies himself with the body etc. and who practises righteousness and unrighteousness under the impulsion of attachment and aversion, takes birth and dies. It cannot be reasonably denied by anyone that, those who see the Self as different from the body etc. become liberated as a result of the cessation of righteous and unrighteous conduct, which depends on the destruction of attachment and aversion. The being so, the Knower of the field, who is reality is God Himself, appears to have become a mundane soul owing to the various adjuncts which are products of ignorance; as for instance the individual soul becomes identified with the body etc. For it is a well-known fact in the case of all creatures that their self-identify with the body etc. which are not-Self is definitely caused by ignorance. Just as, when a stump, of a tree is firmly regarded as a man, the qualities of a man do not thereby come to exist in the stump, nor do the qualities of the stump come to the person, similarly the property ofconsciousness does not come to the body, nor those of the body to consciousness. It is not proper that the Self should be identified with happiness, sorrow, delusion, etc., since they, like decrepitude and death, are equally the products of ignorance. Objection: May it not be said that this is not so, becuase of dissimilarity? The stump and the man, which are verily objects of perception, are superimposed on each other through ignorance by their perceiver. On the other hand, in the case of the body and the Self,, the mutual superimposition occurs verily between a knower and an object of perception. Thus, the illustration is not equally applicable. Therefore, may it not be that the properties of the body, though objects of knowledge, belong to the Self which is the knower? Reply: No, since there arises the contingency of (the Self) becoming devoid of consciousness! If qualities such as happiness, sorrow, delusion, desire, etc. of the body etc., which are the field and are objects of knowledge, indeed belong to the knower, then it will be necessary to explain the particular reason why some of the qualities of the object of knowledge-the field-superimposed through ignorance belong to the Self, while decrepitude, death, etc. do not. (On the contrary) it is possible to infer that they (happiness etc.) do not pertain to the Self, since, like decrepitude etc., they are superimposed on the Self through ignorance, and because they are either avoidable or acceptable. This being so, the mundane state, consisting of agentship and enjoyership pertaining to the objects of knowledge, is superimposed on the knower through ignorance. Hence, nothing of the knower is affected thereby-in the same way as nothing of the sky is affected by the superimposition of surface, diret, etc. (on it) by fools. Such being the case, not the least touch of the mundane state is to be apprehended with regard to the almighty [see footnote on p.5, and p.168.] God, the Knower of the field, even though He exists in all the fields. For it is nowhere seen in the world that anybody is benefitted or harmed by a quality attributed to him through ignorance. As for the statement that the illustration is not equally applicable-that is wrong. Objection: How? Reply: Because what is intended as common between the illustration and the thing illustrated is merely the superimposition through ignorance. There is no disagreement as to that. However, as for your contention that the illustration fails with regard to the Knower, that too has been shown to be inapt by citing the example of decrepitude etc. [If it be held that objects of experience may be superimposed on one another, but they cannot be superimposed on the experiencer, the answer is that this cannot be a universal proposition. For decrepitude and death, which are matters of experience, are superimposed on the Self, the experiencer.] Objection: May it not be that the Knower of the field becomes a mundane being owing to his having ignorance? Reply: No, because ignorance is of the nature of tamas. Since ignorance has the nature of covering, it is indeed a notion born of tamas; it makes one perceive contrarily, or it arouses doubt, or it leads to non-perception. For it disappears with the dawn of discrimination. And the three kind of ignorance, viz non-perception etc. [Etc: false perception and doubt.], are experienced when there are such defects as blindness etc. which are forms of tamas and have the nature of veiling. [It is known through the process of agreement and difference that false perception etc. arise from some defects,and they are not the qualities of the Self.] Objection: Here it is asserted that if this be the case, then ignorance is a quality of the knower? Reply: No, for the defects such as blindness are seen to belong to the eye which is an organ. As for your notion that ‘ignorance is a quality of the experiencer, and the very fact of being possessed of the quality of ignorance is what constitutes the mundane state of the Knower of the field; the assertion which was made (by the Vedantin) in that connection, “that the Knower of th field is God Himself and not a mundane being, ” is improper,’-this is not so. As for example: Since such defects as false perception etc. are seen to belong to the organ eye, therefore false perception etc. or their causes, viz defects like blindness etc., do not belong to the perceiver. Just as blindness of the eyes does not pertain to the perceiver since on being curved through treatment it is not seen in the perceiver, similarly notions like non-perception, false perception, doubt, and their causes should, in all cases, pertain to some organ; not to the perceiver, the Knower of the field. And since they are objects of perception, they are not qualities of the Knower in the same way that light is of a lamp. Just because they are objects of perception, they are cognized as different from one’s own Self. Besides, it is denied by all schools of thought that in Liberation, when all the organs depart, there is any association with such defects as ignorance etc. If they (the defects) be the qualities of the Self Itself, the Knower of the field, as heat is of fire, then there can never be a dissociation from them. Again, since there can be no association with or dissociation from anything for the immutable, formless Self which is all-pervading like space, therefore it is established that the Knower of the field is ever identical with God. This follows alos from the utternance of the Lord, ‘Being without beginning and without qualities’ (31), etc. Objection: Well, if this be so, then, owing to the nonexistence of the world and the mundane creatures, there will arise the defect of the uselessness of the scriptures, etc. Reply: No, since this (defect) is admitted by all. A defect that is admitted by all who believe in the Self is not to be explained by one alone! Objection: How has this been admitted by all? Reply: People of all schools of thought who believe in the Self admit that there is no worldly behaviour or the behaviour of a worldling in the liberated ones. Yet, in their case (i.e. in those various schools), it is not admitted that there is any possibility of such a defect as the scriptures becoming useless, etc. Similarly, in our case let the scriptures be useless when the knowers of the field become identified with God; and purposeful within the sphere of ignorance. This is just as in the case of all the dualists, where it is admitted that the scriptures etc. become useful in the state of bondage, not in the state of Liberation. Objection: Well, for us all dualists, bondage and Liberation of the Self are real in the truest sense. So, when things to be renounced or accepted as also the means thereto are real, the scriptures etc. become meaningful. On the other hand, may it not be that for the non-dualists, since duality deos not exist in truest sense, it being the creation of ignorance, therefore the state of bondage of the Self is not ultimately real, and hence the scriptures etc. become purposeless as they remain shorn of a subject-matter? Reply: No, since it is not logical that the Self should have different states. If this were possible at all, then the states of bondage and freedom of the Self should be simultaneous, or successive. As to that, they cannot occur simultaneously, since they are contradictory-like rest and motion in the same object. Should they occur successively and without being caused, then there will arise the contingency of there being no Liberation; if they occur through some cause, then, since they do not exist inherently, there arises the contingency of their being ultimately unreal. In this case also the assumption becomes falsified. Moreover, when ascertaining the precedence and succession of the states of bondage and Liberation, the state of bondage will have to be considered as being the earlier and having no beginning, but an end. And that is contrary to valid means of knowledge. Similarly it will have to be admitted that the state of Liberation has a beginning, but no end- which is certainly opposed to valid means of knowledge. And it is not possible to established eternality for something that has states nd undergoes a change from one state to another. On the other hand, if for avoiding the defect of non-eternality the different states of bondage and Liberation be not assumed, then, even for the dualists such defects as the purposelessness of the scriptures become certainly unavoidable. Thus, the situation being similar (for both), it is not for the Advaitin (alone) to refute the objection. Nor do the scriptures become purposeless, because the scriptures are applicable to the commonly known unenlightened person. It is indeed in the case of the ignorant person-not in the case of the enlightened one-that there occurs the perception of identity of the Self with the effect (i.e. enjoyership) and the cause (i.e. agentship) which are not-Self. For, in the case of the enlightened persons, it is impossible that, after the dawn of the realization of non-identity of the Self with effect and cause, they can have Self identification with these as ‘I’. Surely, not even a downright fool, or a lunatic and such others, see water and fire or shade and light as identical; what to speak of a discriminating person! Therefore, such being the case, the scriptures dealing with injunction and prohibition do not concern a person who sees the distinction of the Self from effect and cause. For, when Devadatta is ordered to do som work with the words, ‘You do this,’ Visnumitra who happens to be there does not, even on hearing the command, conclude, ‘I have been ordered.’ But this conclusion is reasonable when the person for whom the order is meant is not understood. So also with regard to cause and effect. Objection: Can it not be that, even after having realized the Self as different from effect and cuase, it is quite reasonable from the standpoint of natural relationship, [Natural relationship-Self-identification with the body through ignorance.] that with regard to the scriptures one should have the understanding, ‘I am enjoined to adotp the means that yields a desired result, and am porhibited from adopting the means that leads to an undesirable result’? As for instance, in the case of a father and son, or between others, even though there exists the awareness of the distinction between each other, still there is the comprehension of the implication of the injunctions and prohibitions meant for one as being also meant for the other. [In the (Br. (1.5.17) we read, ‘Now therefore the entrusting: When a man thinks he will die, he says to his son, “You are Brahman, you are the sacrifice, and you are the world,”‘ etc. It has been enjoined here in this manner that the son should accept as his own all the duties thus entrusted to him by the father. Similarly, it is understood that when a son in unable to perform his own duties, the father has to accept them. So also in the case of brothers and others. Thus, in the case of the enlightened person also, though there is a comprehension of his own distinction from effect and cause, still, owing to his earlier relationship with ignorance, body, etc., there is no contradiction in his understanding that the injunctions and prohibitions are meant for him.] Reply: No, since identification of the Self with effect and cause is possible only before attaining the knowledge of the Self as distinct (from them). It is only after one has followed (or eschewed) what is enjoined or prohibited by the scriptures that he comprehends his own distinction from the effect and cause; not before. [In B.S. (3.4.26-7) it is said that the merit earned by the performance of scriptural duties helps to generate knowledge of Brahman. Therefore these duties are not meant for the enlightened. (By following what is enjoined, and avoiding what is prohibited, one’s mind becomes purified, and then only one understands he is different from cause and effect-agentship and enjoyership.-Tr.)] Therefore it is established that the scriptures dealing with injunctions and prohibitions are meant for the ignorant. Objection: Well, if (injunctions and prohibitions) such as, ‘One who desires heaven shall perform sacrifices’, ‘One should not eat poisoned meat,’ etc. be not observed by those who have realized the Self as distinct and by those who view only the body as the Self, then, from the absence of any observer of those (injunctions etc.) there would follow the uselessness of the scriptures. Reply: No, because engagement in or abstention from actions follows from what is ordained by the scriptures. As for one who has realized the identity of the Lord and the knower of the field, one who has realized Brahman-he does not engage in action. Similarly, even the person who does not believe in the Self does not engage in action, under the idea that the other world does not exist. However, one who has inferred the existence of the Self on the ground of the wellknown fact that study of the scriptures dealing with injunctions and prohibitions becomes otherwise purposeless, who has no knowledge of the essential nature of the Self, and in whom has arisen hankering for the results of actions-he faithfully engages in action. This is a matter of direct perception to all to us. Hence, the scriptures are not purposeless. Objection: May it not be that the scriptures will become meaningless when, by noticing abstention from action in the case of men with discrimination, their followers too will abstain? Reply: No, because discrimination arises in some rare person only. For, as at present, some rare one among many people comes to possess discrimination. Besides, fools do not follow one who has discrimination, because (their) engagement in action is impelled by defects such as attachment etc. And they are seen to get engaged in such acts as black magic. Moreover, engagement in action is natural. Verily has it been said (by the Lord), ‘But it is Nature that acts’ (5.14). Therefore, the mundane state consists of nothing but ignorance, and is an object of perception (to the ignorant man who sees it) just as it appears to him. Ignorance and its effects do not belong to the Knower of the feild, the Absolute. Moreover, false knowledge cannot taint the supreme Reality. For, water in a mirage cannot taint the supreme Reality. For, water in a mirage cannot make a desert muddy with its moisture. Similarly, ignorance cannot act in any way on the Knower of the field. Hence has this been said, ‘And understand Me to be knower of the field,’ as also, ‘Knowledge remains covered by ignorance’ (5.15). Objection: Then, what is this that even the learned say like the worldly people, ‘Thus [Possessed of aristorcracy etc.] am I,’ ‘This [Body, wife, etc.] verily belongs to Me’? Reply: Listen. This is that learnedness which consists in seeing the field as the Self! On the contrary, should they realize the unchanging Knower of the field, then they will not crave for enjoyment or action with the idea, ‘May this be mine.’ Enjoyment and action are mere perversions. This being so, the ignorant man engages in action owing to his desire for results. On the other hand, in the case of an enlightened person who has realized the changeless Self, engagement in aciton in impossible because of the absence of desire for results. Hence, when the activities of the aggregate of body and organs cease, his withdrawal from action is spoken of in a figurative sense. Some may have this other kind of learnedness: ‘The Knower of the field is God Himself; and the field is something different and an object of knowledge to the Knower of the field. But I am a mundane being, happy and sorrowful. And it is my duty to bring about the cessation of worldly existence through the knowledge of the field and the Knower of the field, and by continuing to dwell in His true nature after directly perceiving through meditation God, the Knower of the field,’ and he who, understands thus, and he who teaches that ‘he (the taught) is not the Knower of the field,’ and he who, being under such an idea, thinks, ‘I shall render meaningful the scriptures dealing with the worldly state and Liberation’-is the meanest among the learned. That Self-immolator, being devoid of any link with the traditional interpreters of the purport of the scriptures, misinterprets what is enjoined in the scriptures and imagines what is not spoken there, and thereby himself becoming deluded, befools others too. Hence, one who is not a knower of the traditional interpretation is to be ignored like a fool, though he may be versed in all the scriptures. As for the objection that, if God be one with the knower of the field, He will then become a mundane being, and that, if the knowers of the fields are one with God, then from the nonexistence of mundane beings will follow the absence of the mundane state, -these two objections have been refuted by admitting Knowledge and ignorance as having different characteristics. Objection: How? Reply: By saying that any defect imagined through ignorance does not affect the supreme Reality which is the substratum of that (imagination). In accordance with this an illustration was cited that a desert is not made muddy by water in a mirage. Even the defect of the possibility of nonexistence of the mundange state, consequent on the nonexistence of individual souls, stands refuted by the explanation that the mundane state and the individual souls are imagined through ignorance. Objection: The defect of mundane existence in the knower of the field consists in his being possessed of ignorance. And sorrowfulness etc. which are its products are matters of direct experience. Reply: No, since whatever is known is an attribute of the field, therefore the knower-the knower of the field-cannot reasonably be tainted by the defects arising from it. Whatsoever blemish-not existing in the knower of the field-you attribute to It is logically an object of experience, and hence it is verily a quality of the field; not the quality of the knower of the field. Nor does the knower of the field become tainted thereby, because of knower cannot possibly have any conjunction with an object of knowledge. Should there be a conjunction, then there will be no possibility at all of its (the latter’s) becoming a knowable. Oh! Sir, if being ignorant, sorrowful, etc. be qualities of the Self, how is it that they are directly perceived? Or how can they be qualities of the Knower of the field? If the conclusion be that all that is known consititutes the field, and that the one who knows is verily the knower of the field, then, to say that being ignorant, sorrowful, etc.are the qualities of the knower of the field and that they are directly perceived is a contradictory statement having only ignorance as its basis. Here, (the opponent) asks: To whom does ignorance belong? (The answer is that) it belongs verily to him by whom it is experienced! Objection: In whom is it perceived? Reply: Here the answer is: It is pointless to ask, ‘In whom is ignorance experienced?’ Objection: How? Reply: If ignorance be perceived (by you), then you perceive its possessor as well. Moreover, when that possessor of ignorance is perceived it is not reasonable to ask, ‘In whom is it perceived?’ For, when an owner of cattle is seen, the question, ‘To whom do the cattle belong’, does not become meaningful. Objection: Well, is not the illustration dissimilar? Since, the cattle and their owner are directly perceived, their relation also is directly perceived. Hence the question is meaningless. Ignorance and its possessor are not directly perceived in that manner, in which case the question would have been meaningless. Reply: What will it matter to you if you know the relation of ignorance with a person who is not directly perceived as possessed of ignorance? Opponent: Since ignorance is a source of evil, therefore it should be got rid of. Reply: He to whom ignorance belongs will get rid of it! Opponent: Indeed, ignorance belongs to myself. Reply: In that case, you know ignorance as also yourself who possess it? Opponent: I know, but not through direct perception. Reply: If you know through inference, then how is the connection (between yourself and ignorance) known? Surely it is not possible for you the knower to have at that time [‘When you are knowing your own ignorance.’] the knowledge of the relation (of the Self) with ignorance which is an object of knowledge; [‘After having perceived ignorance as an object of your knowledge, how can you who continue to be the knower cognize yourself as the knower of that ignorance? For this would lead to the contradiction of the same person becoming the subject and the object of cognition.’] because the cognizer is then engaged in cognizing ignorance as an object. Besides, there cannot be someone who is a (separate) cognizer of the relation between the knower and ignorance, and a separate cognition of that (relation), for this would lead to infinite regress. If the knower and the relation between the knower and the thing known be cognizable, then a separate cognizer has to be imagined. Of him, again, another knower has to be imagined; of him again a separate cognizer would have to be imagined! Thus, an infinite regress be comes unavoidable. Again, whether the knowable be ignorance or anything else, a knowable is verily a knowable; similarly, even a knower is surely a knower; he does not become a knowable. And when this is so, [Since the knower cannot be known, therefore his relation with ignorance also cannot be known by himself or by anybody else] nothing of the cognizer-the knower of the field-is tainted by such defects as ignorance, sorrowfulness, etc. Objection: May it not be said that the (Self’s) defect is surely this, that the field, which is full of defects, is cognized (by It)? Reply: No, because it is the Immutable, which is consciousness, by nature, that is figuratively spoken of as the cognizer. It is just like figuratively attributing the act of heating to fire merely because of its (natural) heat. Just as it has been shown here by the Lord Himself that identification with action, cause and effect are absent in the Self, and that action, cause, etc. are figuratively attributed to the Self owing to their having been superimposed (on It) through ignorance, so has it been shown by Him in various places: ‘He who thinks of this One as the killer…’ (2.19), ‘While actions are being done in ever way by the gunas of Nature’ (3.27), ‘The Omnipresent neither accepts anybody’s sin…’ (5.15), etc. It has been explained by us, too, in that very way, and in the following contexts also we shall explain accordingly. Objection: Well, in that case, if identification with action, cause and effect be naturally absent in the Self, and it they be superimpositions through ignorance, then it amounts to this that actions are meant for being undertaken only by the ignorant, not by the enlightened. Reply: It is true that is comes to this. This very fact we shall explain under the verse, ‘Since it is not possible for one who holds on to a body…’ (18.11). And, in the context dealing with the conclusion of the purport of the whole Scripture, we shall explain this elaborately under the verse, ‘…in brief indeed, O son of Kunti,…which is the supreme consummation of Knowledge’ (ibid. 50) It is needless here to expatiate further, Hence we conclude. The next verse, ‘(Hear about)…what that field is,’ etc., summarizing the purport of the chapter dealing with the ‘field’ taught in the verses begining from ‘This body…’etc., is being presented. For it is proper to introduce briefly the subject-matter that is sought to be explained.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
13.2-3 Somewhere in the scriputures it is heard that ‘The Field-sensitizer must be worshipped’. Is He the same as the Soul, or the Lord or an altogether different third entity ? On a doubt regarding this problem – The Bhagavat instructs-Idam etc. Ksetrajnam etc. For persons of wordly life their body is the Ksetra ‘Field’ where the seeds of action grow. That is why their personal Soul covered with incoming (or foreign, not-natural) dirt, is called Field-sensitizer. In the case of the enlightened persons, the self-same body is [again] the Ksetra, But there is difference in etimological meaning viz : It decays the fetters of the result of action by means of consuming [it]; and it protects [them] from the fear of birth-and-death [cycle]. With reference to these persons, the Supreme Soul, Vasudeva is the Field-sensitizer. He who sensitizes this Field : He who causes it to know. Here the root vid includes within itself, the meaning of the causal suffix ni. Therefore [the meaning is :] He, on account of Whose grace this insentient [body] attains the status of being sentient, He alone, an no one else, is the Field-sensitizer. But, the [only] difference is this : Taking into consideration th aspect of limited pervaisveness, He is taken to be Soul; and on account of [His] unlimited pervasiveness in all the Fields, [He is called] the Supreme Soul, the Bhagavat Vasudeva. Of Me : the Sixth Case here is in the objective sense. Hence the idea is : I may be known by means of this knowledge.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ksetra-jñam capi mam viddhi
yat taj jñanam matam mama
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
kṣetra-jñam — the knower of the ﬁeld; ca — also; api — certainly; mām — Me; viddhi — know; sarva — all; kṣetreṣu — in bodily ﬁelds; bhārata — O son of Bharata; kṣetra — the ﬁeld of activities (the body); kṣetra-jñayoḥ — and the knower of the ﬁeld; jñānam — knowledge of; yat — that which; tat — that; jñānam — knowledge; matam — opinion; mama — My.