Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter XIII

Recall the teachings of Chapter X.  

  • Verse 3, Chapter X – There is no Beginning to Me, There is no End to Me.
  • Verse 8, Chapter X – I am the Origin of everything and All things are arise from Me.
  • Verse 39, Chapter X – I am the Origin of all creation. There is no creation that exists without that of Me. 
Then the final statement in Verse 40:  

  • Verse 40, Chapter X – Know that by just one part of me, I have occupied this Universe.
In Chapter XI, Shree Krishna demonstrates this by revealing to Arjun one of his divine & Universal representations.

In Chapter XIII, Shree Krishna provides a metaphysical basis for the teachings of Chapter X by linking his teachings with the ancient Samkhya approach.  In this context, Shree Krishna describes himself as क्षेत्रज्ञ or Kshetradnya.

  • Verse 2Arjun, Know Me as the क्षेत्रज्ञ (Kshetradnya) of all Kshetra (क्षेत्र). The understanding of Kshetra-Kshetradnya duality is the true understanding.
The easiest way to understand the concept of क्षेत्र (Kshetra) is a literal one. The word means physical space or existence. In the context of Chapter XIII, the word Kshetra means the physical entities. This is what the Samkhya School calls प्रकृति or Prakruti

The concept of क्षेत्रज्ञ or literally one who understands & controls क्षेत्र is linked later in this Chapter to परम-आत्मन (Param-Atman) or the Universal Soul and the Samkhya concept of Purush (पुरुष).

The various Upa-Nisad were composed by different Rushi or Sages at different times. In these Upa-Nisad, the authors laid out philosophical concepts as they saw them. It was Sage व्यास (Vyaas) or बादरायण (Baadaraayan) who created a composite path among the various Upa-Nisad with his great treatise called Brahma-Sutra (ब्रह्म-सूत्र) or Vedanta-Sutra (वेदांत-सूत्र) or simply Baadaraayan-Sutra

In Verse 4 of Chapter XIII, Shree Krishna specifically refers to Brahma-Sutra as the clarifying entity of the various Upa-Nisad written by various Rushi.

From Verses 5 onwards, Shree Krishna lists the principles of Prakruti as specified by the Samkhya School – the Aham-Kaar, the five great substances (पंच महाभूत) , the five Indriya etc. As He explains these properties, He discusses the concept of Dnyaan or the understanding of the duality between the physical properties vs. the Nir-Gun, Eternal Atman. 

In Verses 24-25, Shree Krishna explains that all the Three Paths to Liberation enable people to break the cycle of life & death.

  • Verse 24With Meditation, some people see the Atman within themselves; some with Samkhya approach, somw with Karma-Yog.
  • Verse 25Others who do not have the Dnyaan themselves, listen to Others and then worship with devotion. And they too transcend death. 
In other words, you can transcend death with Samkhya Dnyaan, with Karma-Yog or with Devotion or Bhakti.

The other Verses summarize the teachings in simpler declarative verses:

  • Verse 27Param-Ishwar (परमेश्वरम) is equally (समं) resident in all created entities (सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्टतम). When the created entities perish, the Param-Ishwar does not perish. He who understands this (यः पश्यति) , he understands (सः पश्यति)
  • Verse 29All Actions are performed in every way by Prakruti only. He who understands (यः पश्यति) the Atman as Non-Doer (तथा आत्मानं अ-कर्तारं)  he understands (सः पश्यति).
  • Verse 30When (यदा) the differences between various created entities (भूत-पृथक-भावं) are seen (अनु-पश्यति) as part of one whole (एकस्थ्यं) and as extending from that one whole (तत एव च विस्तारम), then (तदा) Brahma is obtained (ब्रह्म संपद्यते).
This the synthesis of the Samkhya and Vedant-UpaNisad approaches. This is a more elaborate exposition of the statement of: 

  • Line 2, Verse 5 of Chapter 5  – Samnyaas and Yog are One (एकं सांख्यं च योगम च); He who understands, He understands (यः पश्यति स पश्यति). 
Before discussing the next verse, allow us to take you back to Chapter IV and the concept of Non-Attachment of Actions to the Doer. We discussed this at some length in our article Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter IV, Secion II . Specifically recall: 

  • Verse 14, Chapter IVActions neither attach to me (न माम कर्माणि लिपन्ति) nor am I touched by fruit of Action (न मे कर्मफले स्पृहा); he who understands me so( इति मां यः अभि-जानाति), himself will not be bound by Action(कर्मभिः  न स बध्यते).
In this Verse 14 of Chapter 4, the “I” is Shree Krishna. Now read Verse 31 of Chapter XIII. 

  • Verse 31 – Due to its pre-beginning (अनादि-त्वात) and Nir-Gun (निर्गुण-त्वात) (nature), the eternal (अ-व्ययः)  Param-Atma (परम-आत्मा), despite residing in a body (शरीरस्थः), does no Perform (Action) (न करोति), Nor does (Action) attach to It (न लिप्यते) .
In this Verse, Shree Krishna uses the term Param-Atman instead of the “I” term he used in Verse 14 of Chapter IV.  This is the meaning of his exhortation to Arjun in Verse 2 to understand that He, Shree Krishna is the क्षेत्रज्ञ, the Param-Atman of all क्षेत्र or created entities. 

The above discussion shows that this Chapter is aptly named as क्षेत्र- क्षेत्रज्ञ-विभाग-योग or Kshetra-Kshetradnya-Duality-Yog. 

Thus Endeth Chapter XIII named Kshetra-Kshetradnya-Duality-Yog (क्षेत्र- क्षेत्रज्ञ-विभाग-योग  of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad
(उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.

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