arjuna uvāca –
prakṛtiṁ puruṣam caiva kṣetraṁ kṣetrajñameva ca
etad veditum icchāmi jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ ca keśava
Arjuna said – O Keśava, I desire to understand the truth about prakṛti (material nature), puruṣa (the individual enjoyer), kṣetra (the field of activity), kṣetrajña (the knower of the field), jñāna (knowledge) and jñeya (the object of knowledge).
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
idaṁ śarīraṁ kaunteya kṣetram ity-abhidhīyate
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ kṣetrajña iti tad-vidaḥ
O Arjuna! In order for you to clearly understand the nature of bhakti-tattva, which is a great mystery, I first explained the nature of the ātmā and all the actions of the bound jīva. I also spoke about the nature of bhakti. By this, the deliberation upon the three types of processes, jñāna, karma and bhakti, is complete. Now, I will specifically explain jñāna (knowledge) and vairāgya (renunciation) by deliberating on vijñāna (realisation). By hearing that, you will become steadier in that bhakti-tattva which is free from any material designations.
jñānaṁ parama-guhyaṁ me yad vijñāna-samanvitam
sa rahasyaṁ tad-aṅgaṁ ca gṛhāṇa gaditaṁ mayā
“Knowledge about Me is a supreme secret, and realisation of that is in conjunction with bhakti. Try to execute the process which is explained by Me.” (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.9.31)
When I spoke the foundational catuḥ-ślokas of the Bhāgavata–śāstra to Brahmā, then through this statement I gave instructions on these four things – jñāna, vijñāna, rahasya (confidential truth concerning the prayojana), and tad-aṅga (the abhidheya of sādhana–bhakti). If one does not understand these four things properly, then the rahasya will not appear. Thus, while teaching you the realisation of this, I am awarding you with the intelligence for this rahasya. When pure bhakti manifests, causeless jñāna and vairāgya naturally appear. While practicing bhakti, you will experience these two ancillary results. O Kaunteya! This body is called the kṣetra (the field of activities). One who is aware of this field is the kṣetrajña (knower of the field).
kṣetrajñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata
kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama
Contemplating upon the field and the knower of the field, three tattvas are perceived. These three tattvas are called īśvara (the Supreme), jīva (the living entity) and jaḍa (matter). Just as in each body there is one knower of the field in the form of the jīvātmā, similarly you should know that the primary knower of the field within the entire material universe is īśvara. Through My īśī-śakti (predominating potency), I am the knower of all fields in the form of Paramātmā. In this way, one who deliberates upon the field and the knower of the field understands these three tattvas and his knowledge is realised knowledge.
tat kṣetraṁ yac ca yādṛk ca yad vikāri yataś ca yat
sa ca yo yat prabhāvaś ca tat samāsena me śṛṇu
What is that field? What types are there? What are its transformations? Where did it come from, and what is it’s influence? Listen as I explain this in brief.
ṛṣibhir bahudhā gītaṁ chandobhir vividhaiḥ pṛthak
brahma-sūtra-padaiś caiva hetumadbhir viniścitaiḥ
The principle of that field has been described in various ways by the ṛṣis in the smṛti-śāstra. It has been expressed and revealed in different terms through the statements of the Veda. Furthermore, with logic and surety, it has been defined in the conclusive words of the Brahma–sūtra (i.e. the Vedānta–sūtra).
mahā-bhūtāny-ahaṅkāro buddhir avyaktam eva ca
indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ ca pañca cendriya-gocarāḥ
icchā dveṣaḥ sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ saṅghātaś cetanā dhṛtiḥ
etat kṣetraṁ samāsena sa-vikāram udāhṛtam
It is gathered from all the statements of the ṛṣis, the Veda, and the Vedānta-sūtra that altogether, the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, as well as false ego, the Mahat-tattva and its cause, prakṛti, and the eyes, ears, nose etc. of the ten external senses, and the internal senses such as the mind, and also the five sense-objects of form, taste, smell, touch and sound – these twenty-four tattvas make up the field. By analysing these twenty-four tattvas, one understands what the field is and what are its types.
Desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the aggregate, in other words, the activities of the body which are a result of the five gross elements, consciousness, i.e. mental impressions which are a semblance of true consciousness, and conviction etc. – these are the transformations of the field. Thus they are also the field.
amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam
ācāryopāsanaṁ śaucaṁ sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ
indriyārtheṣu vairāgyam anahaṅkāra eva ca
asaktir anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ putra-dāra-gṛhādiṣu
nityaṁ ca sama-cittatvam iṣṭāniṣṭopapattiṣu
mayi cānanya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī
vivikta-deśa-sevitvam aratir jana-saṁsadi
etaj jñānam iti proktam ajñānaṁ yad ato’nyathā
Desirelessness, humility, non-violence, tolerance, simplicity, service to the guru, purity, steadiness, self-control, detachment from the sense-objects, absence of false ego, perception of the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease, detachment, freedom from attachment to wife, children and household life, perpetual equanimity in both happy and distressful circumstances, constant and firm bhakti unto Me, dwelling in a solitary place, free from the desire to socialise with people, constant determination in achieving self-realisation and always searching for that knowledge of the Absolute which ultimately grants liberation – ignorant persons claim that these twenty activities are transformations of the field. In reality, they are the form of direct knowledge. By taking shelter of them, one achieves divine truth. They are not transformations of the field, but they are of the nature of medicine that removes the transformations of the field. Amongst these twenty activities, constant and firm bhakti unto Me alone must be followed. The other nineteen activities lead to purity of the field as a result of bhakti, and ultimately they destroy the jīva’s impure field and his eternally perfected field arises. These nineteen activities, which constitute the throne of Bhakti Devī, are jñāna. In other words, it should be understood to be jñāna along with vijñāna. Everything else is ignorance.
jñeyaṁ yat tat pravakṣyāmi yaj jñātvā’mṛtam aśnute
anādimat paraṁ brahma na sat tan nāsad ucyate
O Arjuna! I have explained to you that tattva of the field and the knower of the field. In other words, when we say ‘field’ it refers to the body. I explained the nature, transformations and the process to remove the transformations. I spoke about the jīvātmā and the Paramātmā, the knowers of the field. I also spoke about knowledge of this field and the knower of the field which is called vijñāna. Now listen as I explain what is to be known by that vijñāna. The object to be known is without beginning and it is subordinate to Me – in other words, that tattva takes shelter of Me. That is Brahman, which is beyond cause and effect. If one understands this, he experiences immortality in the form of bhakti to Me.
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat sarvato’kṣi-śiro-mukham
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
Just as sun-rays take shelter of the sun and manifest their effulgence, similarly Brahman achieves the limits of greatness under My intrinsic influence. Brahman is the inherent refuge of unlimited jīvas from Brahmā down to the ant, pervading all things with infinite arms, feet, eyes, mouths, noses etc.
asaktaṁ sarva-bhṛc caiva nirguṇaṁ guṇa-bhoktṛ ca
That great Reality manifests all the senses, but is devoid of physical senses Himself. He is without attachment, maintains all creatures in the form of Śrī Viṣṇu, and is nirguṇa, i.e. He Himself is devoid of mundane senses. However, He relishes those six attributes indicated by the word bhaga, which transcends the three modes of nature.
bahir antaś ca bhūtānām acaraṁ carameva ca
sūkṣmatvāt tad avijñeyaṁ dūrasthaṁ cāntike ca tat
That tattva is present inside and outside all living beings. All animate and inanimate creatures come from Him. He is unknowable due to being extremely subtle. Simultaneously, He is far and near.
avibhaktaṁ ca bhūteṣu vibhaktam iva ca sthitam
bhūta-bhartṛ ca taj jñeyaṁ grasiṣṇu prabhaviṣṇu ca
He is understood to be divided amongst living beings, yet He is indivisible. Even though He is situated within every jīvātmā as the vyaṣṭi–puruṣa (the individual form of the Supreme), He is the one undivided Supreme Controller who pervades the universe. He is the maintainer of all creatures, their destroyer and the predominating tattva.
jyotiṣām api taj jyotis tamasaḥ paramucyate
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ jñāna-gamyaṁ hṛdi sarvasya viṣṭhitam
He is the supreme effulgence amongst all effulgence – in other words, He is the revealer. His unmanifest form transcends darkness. He is knowledge. He is attained through knowledge, and He resides in the hearts of all.
iti kṣetraṁ tathā jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ coktaṁ samāsataḥ
mad-bhakta etad vijñāya mad-bhāvāyopapadyate
O Arjuna! I have briefly told you about the threefold tattva concerning the field, jñāna and the object of knowledge. This ins known as jñāna with vijñāna. Achieving this knowledge, devotees of Bhagavān attain My pure prema-bhakti, free from material designations. Those who are not devotees, who take refuge in the abhedavāda (the philosophy of non-difference) found only in useless communities, are cheated of proper knowledge. Knowledge is nothing but the throne of Bhakti Devī. It is a shelter for bhakti and purifies the jīvātmā’s existence. This will be further clarified in the discussion on puruṣottama-tattva.
prakṛtiṁ puruṣaṁ caiva viddhyanādī ubhāv api
vikārāṁś ca guṇānś caiva viddhi prakṛti-sambhavān
I will explain what is the result of knowledge concerning the field and the knower of the field. Three tattvas are observed by in the position of a jīva bound by matter, namely prakṛti (material nature), puruṣa (the enjoyer) and Paramātmā. All fields are material nature. The jīva is the puruṣa. My Paramātmā appears within both. Prakṛti and puruṣa are both without beginning. They have been there prior to material time. They are not born within the material time factor. They have arisen from My potency within spiritual time (cinmaya-kāla), from the nature of My supreme existence. Material nature merges into Me, and at the time of activity it takes refuge in material time and becomes manifest. The jīva is also an eternal tattva emanating from My potency. Due to his aversion to Me, he enters within material nature. The jīva is actually a tattva comprised of pure consciousness and a marginal nature is accorded to it by My superior energy which is also utilised by material nature. It cannot determined through limited logic and knowledge how spiritual consciousness was bound by matter, because My acintya-śakti is not subservient to your knowledge. It is only necessary for you to know that all the transformations and qualities of the bound jīvas originate from material nature. They are not the inherent nature of the jīva.
kārya-kāraṇa-kartṛtve hetuḥ prakṛtir ucyate
puruṣaḥ sukha-duḥkhānāṁ bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate
The qualities of material nature are kārya (the doer, i.e. the physical body), kāraṇa (the cause, i.e. the senses) and kartṛtva (the act of performing an action). Therefore their cause is material nature. Due to identification with matter stemming from his intrinsic marginal nature, the puruṣa (jīva) becomes the experiencer of happiness and distress when they arise. The pure jīva is not the experiencer. However, in his bound condition, the ātmā is influenced by his identification with gross matter. The jīva accepts the position of an experiencer through his natural marginal nature.
puruṣaḥ prakṛtistho hi bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo’sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu
Due to its marginal nature, the pure jīva rejects the purity of Vaikuṇṭha and, becoming situated in prakṛti, experiences all the mundane modes that are born from material nature. Influenced by the modes of material nature, he takes birth in various wombs.
upadraṣṭānumantā ca bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy-ukto dehe’smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ
The jīva is My friend. When his marginal nature is situated in a transcendental way, then he achieves a favourable mood towards Me. His marginal nature is his independence. If he attains pure prema through that, his nature as a jīva achieves success. When the jīva misuses that nature and enters the field of prakṛti, I am also his companion in the form of Paramātmā. Thus, within the jīva’s body, I am always known as the Supreme Person who witnesses all his activities, the permitter, the master, the enjoyer and the Supreme Controller known as Paramātmā. I award the results of all actions executed by the jīva bound by matter.
ya evaṁ vetti puruṣaṁ prakṛtiṁ ca guṇaiḥ saha
sarvathā vartamāno’pi na sa bhūyo’bhijāyate
One who understands this process of nirguṇa-puruṣa-tattva (the principle of the jīva who is untouched by the modes of nature) and saguṇa-prakṛti-tattva (the principle of material nature and it’s modes) does not take birth again and again, even though he is present in the material world. That is to say, taking refuge in his direct nature, he attains a favourable disposition to Me, and by My mercy, he achieves My supreme abode.
dhyānenātmani paśyanti kecid ātmānam ātmanā
anye sāṅkhyena yogena karma-yogena cāpare
O Arjuna! In relation to the supreme goal of life, the bound jīva is divided into two categories, namely bahirmukha (averse) and antarmukha (favourable). The atheist, materialist, sceptic and extreme moralist – these kinds of people are all averse to the supreme goal of life. The Sāṅkhya-yogī and those who are devoted to the philosophy of complete monism are counted amongst those who are averse. The man who is inquisitive and after some time possesses faith, the karma-yogī and the devotee are favourable. The devotee is superior because he meditates upon the Paramātmā, taking refuge in ātma–tattva which is beyond material nature. The Sāṅkhya-yogīs who seek the Supreme are all second class. They deliberate upon the twenty-four elements of material nature, knowing that the twenty-fifth element is the jīva whose nature is pure consciousness. By accepting Bhagavān as the twenty-sixth element they eventually engage in bhakti-yoga. The karma-yogīs are all in an inferior position to them. They achieve the benefit of perceiving Bhagavān through niṣkāma-karma-yoga.
anye tv-evam ajānantaḥ śrutvānyebhya upāsate
te’pi cātitaranty eva mṛtyuṁ śruti-parāyaṇāḥ
Those who are inferior to them are the men who are inquisitive. They later attain some faith and gather some truth from here and there. They will also eventually achieve bhakti through sādhu–saṅga and constant discussions (on spiritual topics).
yāvat saṁjāyate kiñcit sattvaṁ sthāvara-jaṅgamam
kṣetra-kṣetrajña-saṁyogāt tad viddhi bharatarṣabha
Know that everything that exists, animate or inanimate, originates due to a combination of the field and the knower of the field.
samaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu tiṣṭhantaṁ parameśvaram
vinaśyatsv-avinaśyantaṁ yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati
Even though the Supreme Being is equally situated in all creatures in the form of Paramātmā, He does not accept the temporary nature of destructible objects. One can knows Paramātmā in this way can know Him in truth.
samaṁ paśyan hi sarvatra samavasthitam īśvaram
na hinasty-ātmanātmānaṁ tato yāti parāṁ gatim
The bound jīvas attain all kinds of various conditions by accepting the qualities of material nature. Amongst them, one who knows through discrimination that I am equal to all entities in governing them in all circumstances, does not degrade his existence as a jīva by mentally pursuing an evil path.
prakṛtyaiva ca karmāṇi kriyamāṇāni sarvaśaḥ
yaḥ paśyati tathātmānam akartāraṁ sa paśyati
One who sees that material nature, which transforms into the body, senses etc., performs all activities, yet I as the pure ātmā, does nothing, percieves himself as the non-doer in all activities.
yadā bhūta-pṛthag-bhāvam eka-stham anupaśyati
tata eva ca vistāraṁ brahma sampadyate tadā
At that time, when a man of discrimination sees that all animate and inanimate entities possessing various forms are only situated in one material nature at the time of universal annihilation, and at the time of creation all entities manifest again within that same material nature, then he ceases to consider any difference in material nature. Then, being fixed in pure spiritual truth, he attains a spiritual form and achieves union with the Supreme. Gaining this understanding of non-difference, the jīva sees the Paramātmā as the seer. I will explain this later.
anāditvān nirguṇatvāt paramātmāyam avyayaḥ
śarīra-stho’pi kaunteya na karoti na lipyate
Then, having attained the Supreme, the jīva realises that the Paramātmā is imperishable, without beginning and beyond the modes of nature. Even though he remains in the body along with the jīvātmā, he is not corrupted by the qualities of the field like the bound jīva is. Therefore, having taken refuge in such knowledge, the jīva who has attained the Supreme is not contaminated. Listen to how a jīva, although not corrupted, acts within the field.
yathā sarva-gataṁ saukṣmyād ākāśaṁ nopalipyate
sarvatrāvasthito dehe tathātmā nopalipyate
Endowed with a subtle nature, the sky is situated everywhere, and is not contaminated by any other object. Similarly, a discriminating jīva who has attained the Supreme, follows the nature of the Paramātmā who is situated in all bodies, but does not become contaminated by the qualities of those bodies.
yathā prakāśayaty-ekaḥ kṛtsnaṁ lokam imaṁ raviḥ
kṣetraṁ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṁ prakāśayati bhārata
O Bhārata! Just as one sun illuminates the entire world, the ātmā, the knower of the field, illuminates the whole field.
kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor evam antaraṁ jñāna-cakṣuṣā
bhūta-prakṛti-mokṣaṁ ca ye vidur yānti te param
All activities of material nature are the field. The Paramātmā and the ātmā are the two knowers of the field. Through the eye of knowledge, one who knows the difference between the field and the knower of the field according to the process written in this chapter, as well as about the liberation of all living entities from the tendency of being attached to matter, easily understands Bhagavān, who is the supreme reality amongst the field and the knowers of the field.
Thus ends Chapter Thirteen entitled Prakṛti-Puruṣa Viveka Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the Thirteenth Chapter.