Chapter Thirteen: Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness
prakṛtiṁ puruṣaṁ caiva
kṣetraṁ kṣetra-jñam eva ca
etad veditum icchāmi
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ ca keśava
idaṁ śarīraṁ kaunteya
kṣetram ity abhidhīyate
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ
kṣetra-jña iti tad-vidaḥ
Arjuna was inquisitive about prakṛti (nature), puruṣa (the enjoyer), kṣetra (the ﬁeld), kṣetra-jña (its knower), and knowledge and the object of knowledge. When he inquired about all these, Kṛṣṇa said that this body is called the ﬁeld and that one who knows this body is called the knower of the ﬁeld. This body is the ﬁeld of activity for the conditioned soul. The conditioned soul is entrapped in material existence, and he attempts to lord it over material nature. And so, according to his capacity to dominate material nature, he gets a ﬁeld of activity. That ﬁeld of activity is the body. And what is the body? The body is made of senses. The conditioned soul wants to enjoy sense gratiﬁcation, and, according to his capacity to enjoy sense gratiﬁcation, he is offered a body, or ﬁeld of activity. Therefore the body is called kṣetra, or the ﬁeld of activity for the conditioned soul. Now, the person, who should not identify himself with the body, is called kṣetra-jña, the knower of the ﬁeld. It is not very difﬁcult to understand the difference between the ﬁeld and its knower, the body and the knower of the body. Any person can consider that from childhood to old age he undergoes so many changes of body and yet is still one person, remaining. Thus there is a difference between the knower of the ﬁeld of activities and the actual ﬁeld of activities. A living conditioned soul can thus understand that he is different from the body. It is described in the beginning – dehino ’smin – that the living entity is within the body and that the body is changing from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth and from youth to old age, and the person who owns the body knows that the body is changing. The owner is distinctly kṣetra-jña. Sometimes we think, “I am happy,” “I am a man,” “I am a woman,” “I am a dog,” “I am a cat.” These are the bodily designations of the knower. But the knower is different from the body. Although we may use many articles – our clothes, etc. – we know that we are different from the things used. Similarly, we also understand by a little contemplation that we are different from the body. I or you or anyone else who owns the body is called kṣetra-jña, the knower of the ﬁeld of activities, and the body is called kṣetra, the ﬁeld of activities itself.
In the ﬁrst six chapters of Bhagavad-gītā the knower of the body (the living entity) and the position by which he can understand the Supreme Lord are described. In the middle six chapters of the Bhagavad-gītā the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the relationship between the individual soul and the Supersoul in regard to devotional service are described. The superior position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the subordinate position of the individual soul are deﬁnitely deﬁned in these chapters. The living entities are subordinate under all circumstances, but in their forgetfulness they are suffering. When enlightened by pious activities, they approach the Supreme Lord in different capacities – as the distressed, those in want of money, the inquisitive, and those in search of knowledge. That is also described. Now, starting with the Thirteenth Chapter, how the living entity comes into contact with material nature and how he is delivered by the Supreme Lord through the different methods of fruitive activities, cultivation of knowledge, and the discharge of devotional service are explained. Although the living entity is completely different from the material body, he somehow becomes related. This also is explained.
yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama
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, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa 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 Paramātmā, 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-gītā, 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 Hṛṣīkeśa, 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:
kṣetrāṇi hi śarīrāṇi
bījaṁ cāpi śubhāśubhe
tāni vetti sa yogātmā
tataḥ kṣetra-jña ucyate
This body is called the kṣetra, 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 jñāna. That is the opinion of Kṛṣṇa. 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 prakṛti (nature), puruṣa (the enjoyer of nature) and īśvara (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 Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.12), bhoktā bhogyaṁ preritāraṁ ca matvā/ sarvaṁ proktaṁ tri-vidhaṁ brahmam etat. There are three Brahman conceptions: prakṛti is Brahman as the ﬁeld of activities, and the jīva (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 Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the Supersoul present in each and every body apart from the individual soul. And Kṛṣṇa explicitly says here that real knowledge is to know that the Supersoul is the controller of both the ﬁeld of activities and the ﬁnite enjoyer.
yad-vikāri yataś ca yat
sa ca yo yat-prabhāvaś ca
tat samāsena me śṛṇu
The Lord is describing the ﬁeld of activities and the knower of the ﬁeld of activities in their constitutional positions. One has to know how this body is constituted, the materials of which this body is made, under whose control this body is working, how the changes are taking place, wherefrom the changes are coming, what the causes are, what the reasons are, what the ultimate goal of the individual soul is, and what the actual form of the individual soul is. One should also know the distinction between the individual living soul and the Supersoul, their different inﬂuences, their potentials, etc. One just has to understand this Bhagavad-gītā directly from the description given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all this will be clariﬁed. But one should be careful not to consider the Supreme Personality of Godhead in every body to be one with the individual soul, the jīva. This is something like equating the potent and the impotent.
chandobhir vividhaiḥ pṛthak
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the highest authority in explaining this knowledge. Still, as a matter of course, learned scholars and standard authorities always give evidence from previous authorities. Kṛṣṇa is explaining this most controversial point regarding the duality and nonduality of the soul and the Supersoul by referring to a scripture, the Vedānta, which is accepted as authority. First He says, “This is according to different sages.” As far as the sages are concerned, besides Himself, Vyāsadeva (the author of the Vedānta-sūtra) is a great sage, and in the Vedānta-sūtra duality is perfectly explained. And Vyāsadeva’s father, Parāśara, is also a great sage, and he writes in his books of religiosity, aham tvaṁ ca tathānye.… “we – you, I and the various other living entities – are all transcendental, although in material bodies. Now we are fallen into the ways of the three modes of material nature according to our different karma. As such, some are on higher levels, and some are in the lower nature. The higher and lower natures exist due to ignorance and are being manifested in an inﬁnite number of living entities. But the Supersoul, which is infallible, is uncontaminated by the three qualities of nature and is transcendental.” Similarly, in the original Vedas, a distinction between the soul, the Supersoul and the body is made, especially in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad. There are many great sages who have explained this, and Parāśara is considered principal among them.
The word chandobhiḥ refers to the various Vedic literatures. The Taittirīya Upaniṣad, for example, which is a branch of the Yajur Veda, describes nature, the living entity and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
As stated before, kṣetra is the ﬁeld of activities, and there are two kinds of kṣetra-jña: the individual living entity and the supreme living entity. As stated in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad (2.5), brahma pucchaṁ pratiṣṭhā. There is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s energy known as anna-maya, dependence upon food for existence. This is a materialistic realization of the Supreme. Then, in prāṇa-maya, after realizing the Supreme Absolute Truth in food, one can realize the Absolute Truth in the living symptoms or life forms. In jñāna-maya, realization extends beyond the living symptoms to the point of thinking, feeling and willing. Then there is Brahman realization, called vijñāna-maya, in which the living entity’s mind and life symptoms are distinguished from the living entity himself. The next and supreme stage is ānanda-maya, realization of the all-blissful nature. Thus there are ﬁve stages of Brahman realization, which are called brahma puccham. Out of these, the ﬁrst three – anna-maya, prāṇa-maya and jñāna-maya – involve the ﬁelds of activities of the living entities. Transcendental to all these ﬁelds of activities is the Supreme Lord, who is called ānanda-maya. The Vedānta-sūtra also describes the Supreme by saying, ānanda-mayo ’bhyāsāt: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is by nature full of joy. To enjoy His transcendental bliss, He expands into vijñāna-maya, prāṇa-maya, jñāna-maya and anna-maya. In the ﬁeld of activities the living entity is considered to be the enjoyer, and different from him is the ānanda-maya. That means that if the living entity decides to enjoy in dovetailing himself with the ānanda-maya, then he becomes perfect. This is the real picture of the Supreme Lord as the supreme knower of the ﬁeld, the living entity as the subordinate knower, and the nature of the ﬁeld of activities. One has to search for this truth in the Vedānta-sūtra, or Brahma-sūtra.
It is mentioned here that the codes of the Brahma-sūtra are very nicely arranged according to cause and effect. Some of the sūtras, or aphorisms, are na viyad aśruteḥ (2.3.2), nātmā śruteḥ (2.3.18), and parāt tu tac-chruteḥ (2.3.40). The ﬁrst aphorism indicates the ﬁeld of activities, the second indicates the living entity, and the third indicates the Supreme Lord, the summum bonum among all the manifestations of various entities.
buddhir avyaktam eva ca
indriyāṇi daśaikaṁ ca
saṅghātaś cetanā dhṛtiḥ
etat kṣetraṁ samāsena
From all the authoritative statements of the great sages, the Vedic hymns and the aphorisms of the Vedānta-sūtra, the components of this world can be understood as follows. First there are earth, water, ﬁre, air and ether. These are the ﬁve great elements (mahā-bhūta). Then there are false ego, intelligence and the unmanifested stage of the three modes of nature. Then there are ﬁve senses for acquiring knowledge: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. Then ﬁve working senses: voice, legs, hands, anus and genitals. Then, above the senses, there is the mind, which is within and which can be called the sense within. Therefore, including the mind, there are eleven senses altogether. Then there are the ﬁve objects of the senses: smell, taste, form, touch and sound. Now the aggregate of these twenty-four elements is called the ﬁeld of activity. If one makes an analytical study of these twenty-four subjects, then he can very well understand the ﬁeld of activity. Then there are desire, hatred, happiness and distress, which are interactions, representations of the ﬁve great elements in the gross body. The living symptoms, represented by consciousness, and convictions are the manifestation of the subtle body – mind, ego and intelligence. These subtle elements are included within the ﬁeld of activities.
The ﬁve great elements are a gross representation of the false ego, which in turn represents the primal stage of false ego technically called the materialistic conception, or tāmasa-buddhi, intelligence in ignorance. This, further, represents the unmanifested stage of the three modes of material nature. The unmanifested modes of material nature are called pradhāna.
One who desires to know the twenty-four elements in detail along with their interactions should study the philosophy in more detail. In Bhagavad-gītā, a summary only is given.
The body is the representation of all these factors, and there are changes of the body, which are six in number: the body is born, it grows, it stays, it produces by-products, then it begins to decay, and at the last stage it vanishes. Therefore the ﬁeld is a nonpermanent material thing. However, the kṣetra-jña, the knower of the ﬁeld, its proprietor, is different.
ahiṁsā kṣāntir ārjavam
anahaṅkāra eva ca
nityaṁ ca sama-cittatvam
etaj jñānam iti proktam
ajñānaṁ yad ato ’nyathā
This process of knowledge is sometimes misunderstood by less intelligent men as being the interaction of the ﬁeld of activity. But actually this is the real process of knowledge. If one accepts this process, then the possibility of approaching the Absolute Truth exists. This is not the interaction of the twenty-four elements, as described before. This is actually the means to get out of the entanglement of those elements. The embodied soul is entrapped by the body, which is a casing made of the twenty-four elements, and the process of knowledge as described here is the means to get out of it. Of all the descriptions of the process of knowledge, the most important point is described in the ﬁrst line of the eleventh verse. Mayi cānanya-yogena bhaktir avyabhicāriṇī: the process of knowledge terminates in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord. So if one does not approach, or is not able to approach, the transcendental service of the Lord, then the other nineteen items are of no particular value. But if one takes to devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the other nineteen items automatically develop within him. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.18.12), yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ. All the good qualities of knowledge develop in one who has attained the stage of devotional service. The principle of accepting a spiritual master, as mentioned in the eighth verse, is essential. Even for one who takes to devotional service, it is most important. Transcendental life begins when one accepts a bona ﬁde spiritual master. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, clearly states here that this process of knowledge is the actual path. Anything speculated beyond this is nonsense.
As for the knowledge outlined here, the items may be analyzed as follows. Humility means that one should not be anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored by others. The material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others, but from the point of view of a man in perfect knowledge – who knows that he is not this body – anything, honor or dishonor, pertaining to this body is useless. One should not be hankering after this material deception. People are very anxious to be famous for their religion, and consequently sometimes it is found that without understanding the principles of religion one enters into some group which is not actually following religious principles and then wants to advertise himself as a religious mentor. As for actual advancement in spiritual science, one should have a test to see how far he is progressing. He can judge by these items.
Nonviolence is generally taken to mean not killing or destroying the body, but actually nonviolence means not to put others into distress. People in general are trapped by ignorance in the material concept of life, and they perpetually suffer material pains. So unless one elevates people to spiritual knowledge, one is practicing violence. One should try his best to distribute real knowledge to the people, so that they may become enlightened and leave this material entanglement. That is nonviolence.
Tolerance means that one should be practiced to bear insult and dishonor from others. If one is engaged in the advancement of spiritual knowledge, there will be so many insults and much dishonor from others. This is expected because material nature is so constituted. Even a boy like Prahlāda, who, only ﬁve years old, was engaged in the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, was endangered when his father became antagonistic to his devotion. The father tried to kill him in so many ways, but Prahlāda tolerated him. So there may be many impediments to making advancement in spiritual knowledge, but we should be tolerant and continue our progress with determination.
Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy. As for acceptance of the spiritual master, that is essential, because without the instruction of a bona ﬁde spiritual master one cannot progress in the spiritual science. One should approach the spiritual master with all humility and offer him all services so that he will be pleased to bestow his blessings upon the disciple. Because a bona ﬁde spiritual master is a representative of Kṛṣṇa, if he bestows any blessings upon his disciple, that will make the disciple immediately advanced without the disciple’s following the regulative principles. Or, the regulative principles will be easier for one who has served the spiritual master without reservation.
Cleanliness is essential for making advancement in spiritual life. There are two kinds of cleanliness: external and internal. External cleanliness means taking a bath, but for internal cleanliness one has to think of Kṛṣṇa always and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. This process cleans the accumulated dust of past karma from the mind.
Steadiness means that one should be very determined to make progress in spiritual life. Without such determination, one cannot make tangible progress. And self-control means that one should not accept anything which is detrimental to the path of spiritual progress. One should become accustomed to this and reject anything which is against the path of spiritual progress. This is real renunciation. The senses are so strong that they are always anxious to have sense gratiﬁcation. One should not cater to these demands, which are not necessary. The senses should only be gratiﬁed to keep the body ﬁt so that one can discharge his duty in advancing in spiritual life. The most important and uncontrollable sense is the tongue. If one can control the tongue, then there is every possibility of controlling the other senses. The function of the tongue is to taste and to vibrate. Therefore, by systematic regulation, the tongue should always be engaged in tasting the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. As far as the eyes are concerned, they should not be allowed to see anything but the beautiful form of Kṛṣṇa. That will control the eyes. Similarly, the ears should be engaged in hearing about Kṛṣṇa and the nose in smelling the ﬂowers offered to Kṛṣṇa. This is the process of devotional service, and it is understood here that Bhagavad-gītā is simply expounding the science of devotional service. Devotional service is the main and sole objective. Unintelligent commentators on the Bhagavad-gītā try to divert the mind of the reader to other subjects, but there is no other subject in Bhagavad-gītā than devotional service.
False ego means accepting this body as oneself. When one understands that he is not his body and is spirit soul, he comes to his real ego. Ego is there. False ego is condemned, but not real ego. In the Vedic literature (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.10) it is said, ahaṁ brahmāsmi: I am Brahman, I am spirit. This “I am,” the sense of self, also exists in the liberated stage of self-realization. This sense of “I am” is ego, but when the sense of “I am” is applied to this false body it is false ego. When the sense of self is applied to reality, that is real ego. There are some philosophers who say we should give up our ego, but we cannot give up our ego, because ego means identity. We ought, of course, to give up the false identiﬁcation with the body.
One should try to understand the distress of accepting birth, death, old age and disease. There are descriptions in various Vedic literatures of birth. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the world of the unborn, the child’s stay in the womb of the mother, its suffering, etc., are all very graphically described. It should be thoroughly understood that birth is distressful. Because we forget how much distress we have suffered within the womb of the mother, we do not make any solution to the repetition of birth and death. Similarly at the time of death there are all kinds of sufferings, and they are also mentioned in the authoritative scriptures. These should be discussed. And as far as disease and old age are concerned, everyone gets practical experience. No one wants to be diseased, and no one wants to become old, but there is no avoiding these. Unless we have a pessimistic view of this material life, considering the distresses of birth, death, old age and disease, there is no impetus for our making advancement in spiritual life.
As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection. But when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one is in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can make his home very happy, because this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life. But if it is not congenial, not favorable for spiritual advancement, then family life should be abandoned. One must sacriﬁce everything to realize or serve Kṛṣṇa, just as Arjuna did. Arjuna did not want to kill his family members, but when he understood that these family members were impediments to his Kṛṣṇa realization, he accepted the instruction of Kṛṣṇa and fought and killed them. In all cases, one should be detached from the happiness and distress of family life, because in this world one can never be fully happy or fully miserable.
Happiness and distress are concomitant factors of material life. One should learn to tolerate, as advised in Bhagavad-gītā. One can never restrict the coming and going of happiness and distress, so one should be detached from the materialistic way of life and be automatically equipoised in both cases. Generally, when we get something desirable we are very happy, and when we get something undesirable we are distressed. But if we are actually in the spiritual position these things will not agitate us. To reach that stage, we have to practice unbreakable devotional service. Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa without deviation means engaging oneself in the nine processes of devotional service – chanting, hearing, worshiping, offering respect, etc. – as described in the last verse of the Ninth Chapter. That process should be followed.
Naturally, when one is adapted to the spiritual way of life, he will not want to mix with materialistic men. That would go against his grain. One may test himself by seeing how far he is inclined to live in a solitary place, without unwanted association. Naturally a devotee has no taste for unnecessary sporting or cinema-going or enjoying some social function, because he understands that these are simply a waste of time. There are many research scholars and philosophers who study sex life or some other subject, but according to Bhagavad-gītā such research work and philosophical speculation have no value. That is more or less nonsensical. According to Bhagavad-gītā, one should make research, by philosophical discretion, into the nature of the soul. One should make research to understand the self. That is recommended here.
As far as self-realization is concerned, it is clearly stated here that bhakti-yoga is especially practical. As soon as there is a question of devotion, one must consider the relationship between the Supersoul and the individual soul. The individual soul and the Supersoul cannot be one, at least not in the bhakti conception, the devotional conception of life. This service of the individual soul to the Supreme Soul is eternal, nityam, as it is clearly stated. So bhakti, or devotional service, is eternal. One should be established in that philosophical conviction.
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.11) this is explained. Vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam. “Those who are actually knowers of the Absolute Truth know that the Self is realized in three different phases, as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān.” Bhagavān is the last word in the realization of the Absolute Truth; therefore one should reach up to that platform of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus engage in the devotional service of the Lord. That is the perfection of knowledge.
Beginning from practicing humility up to the point of realization of the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Personality of Godhead, this process is just like a staircase beginning from the ground ﬂoor and going up to the top ﬂoor. Now on this staircase there are so many people who have reached the ﬁrst ﬂoor, the second or the third ﬂoor, etc., but unless one reaches the top ﬂoor, which is the understanding of Kṛṣṇa, he is at a lower stage of knowledge. If anyone wants to compete with God and at the same time make advancement in spiritual knowledge, he will be frustrated. It is clearly stated that without humility, understanding is not truly possible. To think oneself God is most puffed up. Although the living entity is always being kicked by the stringent laws of material nature, he still thinks, “I am God” because of ignorance. The beginning of knowledge, therefore, is amānitva, humility. One should be humble and know that he is subordinate to the Supreme Lord. Due to rebellion against the Supreme Lord, one becomes subordinate to material nature. One must know and be convinced of this truth.
yaj jñātvāmṛtam aśnute
anādi mat-paraṁ brahma
na sat tan nāsad ucyate
The Lord has explained the ﬁeld of activities and the knower of the ﬁeld. He has also explained the process of knowing the knower of the ﬁeld of activities. Now He begins to explain the knowable, ﬁrst the soul and then the Supersoul. By knowledge of the knower, both the soul and the Supersoul, one can relish the nectar of life. As explained in the Second Chapter, the living entity is eternal. This is also conﬁrmed here. There is no speciﬁc date at which the jīva was born. Nor can anyone trace out the history of the jīvātmā’s manifestation from the Supreme Lord. Therefore it is beginningless. The Vedic literature conﬁrms this: na jāyate mriyate vā vipaścit (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.18). The knower of the body is never born and never dies, and he is full of knowledge.
The Supreme Lord as the Supersoul is also stated in the Vedic literature (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.16) to be pradhāna-kṣetrajña-patir guṇeśaḥ, the chief knower of the body and the master of the three modes of material nature. In the smṛti it is said, dāsa-bhūto harer eva nānyasvaiva kadācana. The living entities are eternally in the service of the Supreme Lord. This is also conﬁrmed by Lord Caitanya in His teachings. Therefore the description of Brahman mentioned in this verse is in relation to the individual soul, and when the word Brahman is applied to the living entity, it is to be understood that he is vijñāna-brahma as opposed to ānanda-brahma. Ānanda-brahma is the Supreme Brahman Personality of Godhead.
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
As the sun exists diffusing its unlimited rays, so does the Supersoul, or Supreme Personality of Godhead. He exists in His all-pervading form, and in Him exist all the individual living entities, beginning from the ﬁrst great teacher, Brahmā, down to the small ants. There are unlimited heads, legs, hands and eyes, and unlimited living entities. All are existing in and on the Supersoul. Therefore the Supersoul is all-pervading. The individual soul, however, cannot say that he has his hands, legs and eyes everywhere. That is not possible. If he thinks that under ignorance he is not conscious that his hands and legs are diffused all over but when he attains to proper knowledge he will come to that stage, his thinking is contradictory. This means that the individual soul, having become conditioned by material nature, is not supreme. The Supreme is different from the individual soul. The Supreme Lord can extend His hand without limit; the individual soul cannot. In Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says that if anyone offers Him a ﬂower, or a fruit, or a little water, He accepts it. If the Lord is a far distance away, how can He accept things? This is the omnipotence of the Lord: even though He is situated in His own abode, far, far away from earth, He can extend His hand to accept what anyone offers. That is His potency. In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37) it is stated, goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ: although He is always engaged in pastimes in His transcendental planet, He is all-pervading. The individual soul cannot claim that he is all-pervading. Therefore this verse describes the Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead, not the individual soul.
asaktaṁ sarva-bhṛc caiva
nirguṇaṁ guṇa-bhoktṛ ca
The Supreme Lord, although the source of all the senses of the living entities, doesn’t have material senses like they have. Actually, the individual souls have spiritual senses, but in conditioned life they are covered with the material elements, and therefore the sense activities are exhibited through matter. The Supreme Lord’s senses are not so covered. His senses are transcendental and are therefore called nirguṇa. Guṇa means the material modes, but His senses are without material covering. It should be understood that His senses are not exactly like ours. Although He is the source of all our sensory activities, He has His transcendental senses, which are uncontaminated. This is very nicely explained in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (3.19) in the verse apāṇi-pādo javano grahītā. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has no hands which are materially contaminated, but He has His hands and accepts whatever sacriﬁce is offered to Him. That is the distinction between the conditioned soul and the Supersoul. He has no material eyes, but He has eyes – otherwise how could He see? He sees everything – past, present and future. He lives within the heart of the living being, and He knows what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what is awaiting us in the future. This is also conﬁrmed in Bhagavad-gītā: He knows everything, but no one knows Him. It is said that the Supreme Lord has no legs like us, but He can travel throughout space because He has spiritual legs. In other words, the Lord is not impersonal; He has His eyes, legs, hands and everything else, and because we are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord we also have these things. But His hands, legs, eyes and senses are not contaminated by material nature.
Bhagavad-gītā also conﬁrms that when the Lord appears He appears as He is by His internal potency. He is not contaminated by the material energy, because He is the Lord of material energy. In the Vedic literature we ﬁnd that His whole embodiment is spiritual. He has His eternal form, called sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha. He is full of all opulence. He is the proprietor of all wealth and the owner of all energy. He is the most intelligent and is full of knowledge. These are some of the symptoms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the maintainer of all living entities and the witness of all activity. As far as we can understand from Vedic literature, the Supreme Lord is always transcendental. Although we do not see His head, face, hands or legs, He has them, and when we are elevated to the transcendental situation we can see the Lord’s form. Due to materially contaminated senses, we cannot see His form. Therefore the impersonalists, who are still materially affected, cannot understand the Personality of Godhead.
acaraṁ caram eva ca
sūkṣmatvāt tad avijñeyaṁ
dūra-sthaṁ cāntike ca tat
In Vedic literature we understand that Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Person, is residing both outside and inside of every living entity. He is present in both the spiritual and material worlds. Although He is far, far away, still He is near to us. These are the statements of Vedic literature. Āsīno dūraṁ vrajati śayāno yāti sarvataḥ (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.21). And because He is always engaged in transcendental bliss, we cannot understand how He is enjoying His full opulence. We cannot see or understand with these material senses. Therefore in the Vedic language it is said that to understand Him our material mind and senses cannot act. But one who has puriﬁed his mind and senses by practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness in devotional service can see Him constantly. It is conﬁrmed in Brahma-saṁhitā that the devotee who has developed love for the Supreme God can see Him always, without cessation. And it is conﬁrmed in Bhagavad-gītā (11.54) that He can be seen and understood only by devotional service. Bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakyaḥ.
vibhaktam iva ca sthitam
bhūta-bhartṛ ca taj jñeyaṁ
grasiṣṇu prabhaviṣṇu ca
The Lord is situated in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. Does this mean that He has become divided? No. Actually, He is one. The example is given of the sun: The sun, at the meridian, is situated in its place. But if one goes for ﬁve thousand miles in all directions and asks, “Where is the sun?” everyone will say that it is shining on his head. In the Vedic literature this example is given to show that although He is undivided, He is situated as if divided. Also it is said in Vedic literature that one Viṣṇu is present everywhere by His omnipotence, just as the sun appears in many places to many persons. And the Supreme Lord, although the maintainer of every living entity, devours everything at the time of annihilation. This was conﬁrmed in the Eleventh Chapter when the Lord said that He had come to devour all the warriors assembled at Kurukṣetra. He also mentioned that in the form of time He devours also. He is the annihilator, the killer of all. When there is creation, He develops all from their original state, and at the time of annihilation He devours them. The Vedic hymns conﬁrm the fact that He is the origin of all living entities and the rest of all. After creation, everything rests in His omnipotence, and after annihilation everything again returns to rest in Him. These are the conﬁrmations of Vedic hymns. Yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante yena jātāni jīvanti yat prayanty abhisaṁ viśanti tad brahma tad vijijñāsasva (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.1).
tamasaḥ param ucyate
jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ jñāna-gamyaṁ
hṛdi sarvasya viṣṭhitam
The Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the source of light in all luminous objects like the sun, moon and stars. In the Vedic literature we ﬁnd that in the spiritual kingdom there is no need of sun or moon, because the effulgence of the Supreme Lord is there. In the material world that brahma-jyotir, the Lord’s spiritual effulgence, is covered by the mahat-tattva, the material elements; therefore in this material world we require the assistance of sun, moon, electricity, etc., for light. But in the spiritual world there is no need of such things. It is clearly stated in the Vedic literature that because of His luminous effulgence, everything is illuminated. It is clear, therefore, that His situation is not in the material world. He is situated in the spiritual world, which is far, far away in the spiritual sky. That is also conﬁrmed in the Vedic literature. Āditya-varṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.8). He is just like the sun, eternally luminous, but He is far, far beyond the darkness of this material world.
His knowledge is transcendental. The Vedic literature conﬁrms that Brahman is concentrated transcendental knowledge. To one who is anxious to be transferred to that spiritual world, knowledge is given by the Supreme Lord, who is situated in everyone’s heart. One Vedic mantra (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.18) says, taṁ ha devam ātma-buddhi-prakāśaṁ mumukṣur vai śaraṇam ahaṁ prapadye. One must surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead if he at all wants liberation. As far as the goal of ultimate knowledge is concerned, it is also conﬁrmed in Vedic literature: tam eva viditvāti mṛtyum eti. “Only by knowing Him can one surpass the boundary of birth and death.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.8)
He is situated in everyone’s heart as the supreme controller. The Supreme has legs and hands distributed everywhere, and this cannot be said of the individual soul. Therefore that there are two knowers of the ﬁeld of activity – the individual soul and the Supersoul – must be admitted. One’s hands and legs are distributed locally, but Kṛṣṇa’s hands and legs are distributed everywhere. This is conﬁrmed in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (3.17): sarvasya prabhum īśānaṁ sarvasya śaraṇaṁ bṛhat. That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Supersoul, is the prabhu, or master, of all living entities; therefore He is the ultimate shelter of all living entities. So there is no denying the fact that the Supreme Supersoul and the individual soul are always different.
jñeyaṁ coktaṁ samāsataḥ
mad-bhakta etad vijñāya
The Lord has described in summary the body, knowledge and the knowable. This knowledge is of three things: the knower, the knowable and the process of knowing. Combined, these are called vijñāna, or the science of knowledge. Perfect knowledge can be understood by the unalloyed devotees of the Lord directly. Others are unable to understand. The monists say that at the ultimate stage these three items become one, but the devotees do not accept this. Knowledge and development of knowledge mean understanding oneself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We are being led by material consciousness, but as soon as we transfer all consciousness to Kṛṣṇa’s activities and realize that Kṛṣṇa is everything, then we attain real knowledge. In other words, knowledge is nothing but the preliminary stage of understanding devotional service perfectly. In the Fifteenth Chapter this will be very clearly explained.
Now, to summarize, one may understand that verses 6 and 7, beginning from mahā-bhūtāni and continuing through cetanā dhṛtiḥ, analyze the material elements and certain manifestations of the symptoms of life. These combine to form the body, or the ﬁeld of activities. And verses 8 through 12, from amānitvam through tattva-jñānārtha-darśanam, describe the process of knowledge for understanding both types of knower of the ﬁeld of activities, namely the soul and the Supersoul. Then verses 13 through 18, beginning from anādi mat-param and continuing through hṛdi sarvasya viṣṭhitam, describe the soul and the Supreme Lord, or the Supersoul.
Thus three items have been described: the ﬁeld of activity (the body), the process of understanding, and both the soul and the Supersoul. It is especially described here that only the unalloyed devotees of the Lord can understand these three items clearly. So for these devotees Bhagavad-gītā is fully useful; it is they who can attain the supreme goal, the nature of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. In other words, only devotees, and not others, can understand Bhagavad-gītā and derive the desired result.
viddhy anādī ubhāv api
vikārāṁś ca guṇāṁś caiva
By the knowledge given in this chapter, one can understand the body (the ﬁeld of activities) and the knowers of the body (both the individual soul and the Supersoul). The body is the ﬁeld of activity and is composed of material nature. The individual soul that is embodied and enjoying the activities of the body is the puruṣa, or the living entity. He is one knower, and the other is the Supersoul. Of course, it is to be understood that both the Supersoul and the individual entity are different manifestations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The living entity is in the category of His energy, and the Supersoul is in the category of His personal expansion.
Both material nature and the living entity are eternal. That is to say that they existed before the creation. The material manifestation is from the energy of the Supreme Lord, and so also are the living entities, but the living entities are of the superior energy. Both the living entities and material nature existed before this cosmos was manifested. Material nature was absorbed in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mahā-viṣṇu, and when it was required, it was manifested by the agency of the mahat-tattva. Similarly, the living entities are also in Him, and because they are conditioned, they are averse to serving the Supreme Lord. Thus they are not allowed to enter into the spiritual sky. But with the coming forth of material nature these living entities are again given a chance to act in the material world and prepare themselves to enter into the spiritual world. That is the mystery of this material creation. Actually the living entity is originally the spiritual part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but due to his rebellious nature, he is conditioned within material nature. It really does not matter how these living entities or superior entities of the Supreme Lord have come in contact with material nature. The Supreme Personality of Godhead knows, however, how and why this actually took place. In the scriptures the Lord says that those attracted by this material nature are undergoing a hard struggle for existence. But we should know it with certainty from the descriptions of these few verses that all transformations and inﬂuences of material nature by the three modes are also productions of material nature. All transformations and variety in respect to living entities are due to the body. As far as spirit is concerned, living entities are all the same.
hetuḥ prakṛtir ucyate
bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate
The different manifestations of body and senses among the living entities are due to material nature. There are 8,400,000 different species of life, and these varieties are creations of the material nature. They arise from the different sensual pleasures of the living entity, who thus desires to live in this body or that. When he is put into different bodies, he enjoys different kinds of happiness and distress. His material happiness and distress are due to his body, and not to himself as he is. In his original state there is no doubt of enjoyment; therefore that is his real state. Because of the desire to lord it over material nature, he is in the material world. In the spiritual world there is no such thing. The spiritual world is pure, but in the material world everyone is struggling hard to acquire different kinds of pleasures for the body. It might be more clear to state that this body is the effect of the senses. The senses are instruments for gratifying desire. Now, the sum total – body and instrument senses – is offered by material nature, and as will be clear in the next verse, the living entity is blessed or damned with circumstances according to his past desire and activity. According to one’s desires and activities, material nature places one in various residential quarters. The being himself is the cause of his attaining such residential quarters and his attendant enjoyment or suffering. Once placed in some particular kind of body, he comes under the control of nature because the body, being matter, acts according to the laws of nature. At that time, the living entity has no power to change that law. Suppose an entity is put into the body of a dog. As soon as he is put into the body of a dog, he must act like a dog. He cannot act otherwise. And if the living entity is put into the body of a hog, then he is forced to eat stool and act like a hog. Similarly, if the living entity is put into the body of a demigod, he must act according to his body. This is the law of nature. But in all circumstances, the Supersoul is with the individual soul. That is explained in the Vedas (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.1.1) as follows: dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyaḥ. The Supreme Lord is so kind upon the living entity that He always accompanies the individual soul and in all circumstances is present as the Supersoul, or Paramātmā.
bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya
This verse is very important for an understanding of how the living entities transmigrate from one body to another. It is explained in the Second Chapter that the living entity is transmigrating from one body to another just as one changes dress. This change of dress is due to his attachment to material existence. As long as he is captivated by this false manifestation, he has to continue transmigrating from one body to another. Due to his desire to lord it over material nature, he is put into such undesirable circumstances. Under the inﬂuence of material desire, the entity is born sometimes as a demigod, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a beast, as a bird, as a worm, as an aquatic, as a saintly man, as a bug. This is going on. And in all cases the living entity thinks himself to be the master of his circumstances, yet he is under the inﬂuence of material nature.
How he is put into such different bodies is explained here. It is due to association with the different modes of nature. One has to rise, therefore, above the three material modes and become situated in the transcendental position. That is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Unless one is situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his material consciousness will oblige him to transfer from one body to another because he has material desires since time immemorial. But he has to change that conception. That change can be effected only by hearing from authoritative sources. The best example is here: Arjuna is hearing the science of God from Kṛṣṇa. The living entity, if he submits to this hearing process, will lose his long-cherished desire to dominate material nature, and gradually and proportionately, as he reduces his long desire to dominate, he comes to enjoy spiritual happiness. In a Vedic mantra it is said that as he becomes learned in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he proportionately relishes his eternal blissful life.
bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy ukto
dehe ’smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ
It is stated here that the Supersoul, who is always with the individual soul, is the representation of the Supreme Lord. He is not an ordinary living entity. Because the monist philosophers take the knower of the body to be one, they think that there is no difference between the Supersoul and the individual soul. To clarify this, the Lord says that He is represented as the Paramātmā in every body. He is different from the individual soul; He is para, transcendental. The individual soul enjoys the activities of a particular ﬁeld, but the Supersoul is present not as ﬁnite enjoyer nor as one taking part in bodily activities, but as the witness, overseer, permitter and supreme enjoyer. His name is Paramātmā, not ātmā, and He is transcendental. It is distinctly clear that the ātmā and Paramātmā are different. The Supersoul, the Paramātmā, has legs and hands everywhere, but the individual soul does not. And because the Paramātmā is the Supreme Lord, He is present within to sanction the individual soul’s desiring material enjoyment. Without the sanction of the Supreme Soul, the individual soul cannot do anything. The individual is bhukta, or the sustained, and the Lord is bhoktā, or the maintainer. There are innumerable living entities, and He is staying in them as a friend.
The fact is that every individual living entity is eternally part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and both of them are very intimately related as friends. But the living entity has the tendency to reject the sanction of the Supreme Lord and act independently in an attempt to dominate nature, and because he has this tendency he is called the marginal energy of the Supreme Lord. The living entity can be situated either in the material energy or in the spiritual energy. As long as he is conditioned by the material energy, the Supreme Lord, as his friend, the Supersoul, stays with him just to get him to return to the spiritual energy. The Lord is always eager to take him back to the spiritual energy, but due to his minute independence the individual entity is continually rejecting the association of spiritual light. This misuse of independence is the cause of his material strife in the conditioned nature. The Lord, therefore, is always giving instruction from within and from without. From without He gives instructions as stated in Bhagavad-gītā, and from within He tries to convince the living entity that his activities in the material ﬁeld are not conducive to real happiness. “Just give it up and turn your faith toward Me. Then you will be happy,” He says. Thus the intelligent person who places his faith in the Paramātmā or the Supreme Personality of Godhead begins to advance toward a blissful eternal life of knowledge.
prakṛtiṁ ca guṇaiḥ saha
sarvathā vartamāno ’pi
na sa bhūyo ’bhijāyate
Clear understanding of material nature, the Supersoul, the individual soul and their interrelation makes one eligible to become liberated and turn to the spiritual atmosphere without being forced to return to this material nature. This is the result of knowledge. The purpose of knowledge is to understand distinctly that the living entity has by chance fallen into this material existence. By his personal endeavor in association with authorities, saintly persons and a spiritual master, he has to understand his position and then revert to spiritual consciousness or Kṛṣṇa consciousness by understanding Bhagavad-gītā as it is explained by the Personality of Godhead. Then it is certain that he will never come again into this material existence; he will be transferred into the spiritual world for a blissful eternal life of knowledge.
kecid ātmānam ātmanā
anye sāṅkhyena yogena
The Lord informs Arjuna that the conditioned souls can be divided into two classes as far as man’s search for self-realization is concerned. Those who are atheists, agnostics and skeptics are beyond the sense of spiritual understanding. But there are others, who are faithful in their understanding of spiritual life, and they are called introspective devotees, philosophers, and workers who have renounced fruitive results. Those who always try to establish the doctrine of monism are also counted among the atheists and agnostics. In other words, only the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are best situated in spiritual understanding, because they understand that beyond this material nature are the spiritual world and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is expanded as the Paramātmā, the Supersoul in everyone, the all-pervading Godhead. Of course there are those who try to understand the Supreme Absolute Truth by cultivation of knowledge, and they can be counted in the class of the faithful. The Sāṅkhya philosophers analyze this material world into twenty-four elements, and they place the individual soul as the twenty-ﬁfth item. When they are able to understand the nature of the individual soul to be transcendental to the material elements, they are able to understand also that above the individual soul there is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the twenty-sixth element. Thus gradually they also come to the standard of devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Those who work without fruitive results are also perfect in their attitude. They are given a chance to advance to the platform of devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Here it is stated that there are some people who are pure in consciousness and who try to ﬁnd out the Supersoul by meditation, and when they discover the Supersoul within themselves, they become transcendentally situated. Similarly, there are others who also try to understand the Supreme Soul by cultivation of knowledge, and there are others who cultivate the haṭha-yoga system and who try to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by childish activities.
te ’pi cātitaranty eva
This verse is particularly applicable to modern society because in modern society there is practically no education in spiritual matters. Some of the people may appear to be atheistic or agnostic or philosophical, but actually there is no knowledge of philosophy. As for the common man, if he is a good soul, then there is a chance for advancement by hearing. This hearing process is very important. Lord Caitanya, who preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the modern world, gave great stress to hearing because if the common man simply hears from authoritative sources he can progress, especially, according to Lord Caitanya, if he hears the transcendental vibration Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. It is stated, therefore, that all men should take advantage of hearing from realized souls and gradually become able to understand everything. The worship of the Supreme Lord will then undoubtedly take place. Lord Caitanya has said that in this age no one needs to change his position, but one should give up the endeavor to understand the Absolute Truth by speculative reasoning. One should learn to become the servant of those who are in knowledge of the Supreme Lord. If one is fortunate enough to take shelter of a pure devotee, hear from him about self-realization and follow in his footsteps, one will be gradually elevated to the position of a pure devotee. In this verse particularly, the process of hearing is strongly recommended, and this is very appropriate. Although the common man is often not as capable as so-called philosophers, faithful hearing from an authoritative person will help one transcend this material existence and go back to Godhead, back to home.
tad viddhi bharatarṣabha
Both material nature and the living entity, which were existing before the creation of the cosmos, are explained in this verse. Whatever is created is but a combination of the living entity and material nature. There are many manifestations like trees, mountains and hills which are not moving, and there are many existences which are moving, and all of them are but combinations of material nature and the superior nature, the living entity. Without the touch of the superior nature, the living entity, nothing can grow. The relationship between material nature and spiritual nature is eternally going on, and this combination is effected by the Supreme Lord; therefore He is the controller of both the superior and inferior natures. The material nature is created by Him, and the superior nature is placed in this material nature, and thus all these activities and manifestations take place.
yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati
Anyone who by good association can see three things combined together – the body, the proprietor of the body, or individual soul, and the friend of the individual soul – is actually in knowledge. Unless one has the association of a real knower of spiritual subjects, one cannot see these three things. Those who do not have such association are ignorant; they simply see the body, and they think that when the body is destroyed everything is ﬁnished. But actually it is not so. After the destruction of the body, both the soul and the Supersoul exist, and they go on eternally in many various moving and nonmoving forms. The Sanskrit word parameśvara is sometimes translated as “the individual soul” because the soul is the master of the body and after the destruction of the body he transfers to another form. In that way he is master. But there are others who interpret this parameśvara to be the Supersoul. In either case, both the Supersoul and the individual soul continue. They are not destroyed. One who can see in this way can actually see what is happening.
na hinasty ātmanātmānaṁ
tato yāti parāṁ gatim
The living entity, by accepting his material existence, has become situated differently than in his spiritual existence. But if one understands that the Supreme is situated in His Paramātmā manifestation everywhere, that is, if one can see the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in every living thing, he does not degrade himself by a destructive mentality, and he therefore gradually advances to the spiritual world. The mind is generally addicted to sense gratifying processes; but when the mind turns to the Supersoul, one becomes advanced in spiritual understanding.
yaḥ paśyati tathātmānam
akartāraṁ sa paśyati
This body is made by material nature under the direction of the Supersoul, and whatever activities are going on in respect to one’s body are not his doing. Whatever one is supposed to do, either for happiness or for distress, one is forced to do because of the bodily constitution. The self, however, is outside all these bodily activities. This body is given according to one’s past desires. To fulﬁll desires, one is given the body, with which he acts accordingly. Practically speaking, the body is a machine, designed by the Supreme Lord, to fulﬁll desires. Because of desires, one is put into difﬁcult circumstances to suffer or to enjoy. This transcendental vision of the living entity, when developed, makes one separate from bodily activities. One who has such a vision is an actual seer.
tata eva ca vistāraṁ
brahma sampadyate tadā
When one can see that the various bodies of living entities arise due to the different desires of the individual soul and do not actually belong to the soul itself, one actually sees. In the material conception of life, we ﬁnd someone a demigod, someone a human being, a dog, a cat, etc. This is material vision, not actual vision. This material differentiation is due to a material conception of life. After the destruction of the material body, the spirit soul is one. The spirit soul, due to contact with material nature, gets different types of bodies. When one can see this, he attains spiritual vision; thus being freed from differentiations like man, animal, big, low, etc., one becomes puriﬁed in his consciousness and able to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness in his spiritual identity. How he then sees things will be explained in the next verse.
śarīra-stho ’pi kaunteya
na karoti na lipyate
A living entity appears to be born because of the birth of the material body, but actually the living entity is eternal; he is not born, and in spite of his being situated in a material body, he is transcendental and eternal. Thus he cannot be destroyed. By nature he is full of bliss. He does not engage himself in any material activities; therefore the activities performed due to his contact with material bodies do not entangle him.
The air enters into water, mud, stool and whatever else is there; still it does not mix with anything. Similarly, the living entity, even though situated in varieties of bodies, is aloof from them due to his subtle nature. Therefore it is impossible to see with the material eyes how the living entity is in contact with this body and how he is out of it after the destruction of the body. No one in science can ascertain this.
kṛtsnaṁ lokam imaṁ raviḥ
kṣetraṁ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṁ
There are various theories regarding consciousness. Here in Bhagavad-gītā the example of the sun and the sunshine is given. As the sun is situated in one place but is illuminating the whole universe, so a small particle of spirit soul, although situated in the heart of this body, is illuminating the whole body by consciousness. Thus consciousness is the proof of the presence of the soul, as sunshine or light is the proof of the presence of the sun. When the soul is present in the body, there is consciousness all over the body, and as soon as the soul has passed from the body there is no more consciousness. This can be easily understood by any intelligent man. Therefore consciousness is not a product of the combinations of matter. It is the symptom of the living entity. The consciousness of the living entity, although qualitatively one with the supreme consciousness, is not supreme, because the consciousness of one particular body does not share that of another body. But the Supersoul, which is situated in all bodies as the friend of the individual soul, is conscious of all bodies. That is the difference between supreme consciousness and individual consciousness.
ye vidur yānti te param
The purport of this Thirteenth Chapter is that one should know the distinction between the body, the owner of the body, and the Supersoul. One should recognize the process of liberation, as described in verses 8 through 12. Then one can go on to the supreme destination.
A faithful person should at ﬁrst have some good association to hear of God and thus gradually become enlightened. If one accepts a spiritual master, one can learn to distinguish between matter and spirit, and that becomes the stepping-stone for further spiritual realization. A spiritual master, by various instructions, teaches his students to get free from the material concept of life. For instance, in Bhagavad-gītā we ﬁnd Kṛṣṇa instructing Arjuna to free him from materialistic considerations.
One can understand that this body is matter; it can be analyzed with its twenty-four elements. The body is the gross manifestation. And the subtle manifestation is the mind and psychological effects. And the symptoms of life are the interaction of these features. But over and above this, there is the soul, and there is also the Supersoul. The soul and the Supersoul are two. This material world is working by the conjunction of the soul and the twenty-four material elements. One who can see the constitution of the whole material manifestation as this combination of the soul and material elements and can also see the situation of the Supreme Soul becomes eligible for transfer to the spiritual world. These things are meant for contemplation and for realization, and one should have a complete understanding of this chapter with the help of the spiritual master.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Thirteenth Chapter of the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā in the matter of Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness.