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TEACHINGS OF DNYANESHWARI
CHAPTER 13 - THE FIELD AND THE KNOWER OF THE FIELD
So far, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj covered practical aspects about how to follow the four prescribed paths. Qualities and characteristics of a person who has successfully followed the paths were also enumerated. Now Dnyaneshwari enters into more theoretical aspects of the relation between an individual, his body, universe and God. In this thirteenth chapter, Shri Krishna defines and explains the terms Field, Knower of the field, Prakriti. Knowledge and Ignorance. He also explains the inter-relations between these entities.
Shri Krishna explains:
This body is called the Field (Kshetra)and one who knows it is the Knower of the Field (Kshetrajna). Actually, it is God (here, same as Shri Krishna in the role of Bhagwan) who is the Knower of the Field. He is also the sustainer of all the Fields. [Note: The definition of the Field has been extended later to mean the Prakriti].
Shri Krishna now begins to explain the following aspects of the Field.
IGNORANCE ABOUT THE FIELD
- Why the body is named as Field.
- Where and how it is created.
- Which processes make it grow.
- Whether it is exactly three and half cubits long or not.
- Whether it is a wasteland or a fertile land.
- To whom does it belong and
- All its qualities.
What this Field (i.e. the body) is has been discussed by many branches of philosophy without coming to a definite conclusion about it. What different philosophers say about it is as follows:
- The Vedas do not say anything specific about it.
- The six Darshanas (Theories about the structure of the living and non-living universe; these are: Nyaya, Vaisheshic, Sankhya, Yoga, Purvamimansa and Uttarmimansa or Vedanta) have also not come to any conclusion.
- Atheists do not believe in the Vedas; They indulge in the affairs of the body (taking it to be the individual).
[NOTE: Practitioners of yoga are enjoined to practice control of their behaviour and tendencies in order to purify the mind and the body. These require certain restrictions which are called Yama and Niyama, each having five types of restrictions as follows:
- Yogis practice yoga to save the body from death. For this they lead a life in seclusion practising Yama and Niyama.
- Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (Non-receiving or non-accumulation of property).
- Niyama: Shoucha (internal and external purification), Santosha (contentment), Tapa (austerity), Swadhyaya (study) and Ishwarpranidhana (Worship of God)].
- Karmayogis consider that the Field (i.e. the body) belongs to the Individual Soul. Prana (the life force) occupies the body and keeps it alive and active with the help of its four aspects viz. Apana, Vyana, Samana and Udana under the supervision of the Mind. Mind also controls the sense and action organs and indulges in sense pleasures. If the individual’s actions are unjust and not righteous then the accumulated sinful Karmas cause him to be reborn millions of times. But if he performs righteous duties then he enjoys happiness for hundreds of rebirths.
- The Sankyhas do not consider the body (Field) as belonging to the Individual soul. He occupies it only temporarily. Prana takes care of the body day and night. It is the Prakriti (described by the Sankhyas) that temporarily owns the Field. The body or the field is basically born from the three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama which themselves are born from Prakriti. The three attributes qualify the actions by the individual and those actions (Karmas) accumulate with time.
- The intellectuals do not agree with the Sankhyas. They say that it is the Supreme Brahman and not the Prakriti that is responsible for everything. After dissolution of the universe the Divine Will remains dormant. On its reawakening, the three worlds (heaven, earth and the nether i.e. Patala), which had vanished by the dissolution, take form again. Then the Will brings together the five principles (Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Sky) and builds the four kinds of life, i.e. those who are born from sweat, those born from eggs, those through mating and those born from seeds. The Will also creates two barriers on either side of life viz. that of action and that of non-action. The Divine will arranges the individual lives using ego and intellect. The living individuals are confined between these two barriers but routes are provided to go beyond them. Actions (Karmas) lead to rebirth after death and non-actions enable the crossing over to the Brahman. Thus the Divine Will, which branches out of the Brahman, is the root of the universe.
- Naturalists (Swabhavavadi) believe that just as events like rain and wind are natural, the Field is also natural. No particular person has any proprietary right over it. Whoever does actions gets its benefits, not anybody else.
Thus there are various opinions about this Field. The Rishis have debated on it extensively but this Field is of such a nature and so extensive that nobody has ever found out whom exactly it belongs.
- The Fatalists say that it is the Death, which rules the Field.
Shri Krishna now begins to explain the nature of this Field.
CONSTITUTION OF THE FIELD
This Field is made up of thirty-six principles, which are:
These are explained below.
- the five elements (or principles),
- the ego,
- the intellect,
- the Unmanifestable (Prakriti),
- the ten organs (five sense organs and five organs of action),
- the mind which is the eleventh organ,
- the ten objects of the senses and actions,
- bliss or happiness
- the aggregate (Sanghat) of all the above,
- the life-principle (Chetana) and
The Five elements and the ego
The five elements are the earth, water, fire, air and sky. The ego is hidden within the Prakriti. When the five elements come together to form the body, it is this ego that makes this body play around. The surprising thing about this ego is that it does not affect ignorant persons but gets its hold on the learned ones, putting them into all sorts of difficulties.
Desire exposes the individual through the sense organs to a variety of pleasures and pains. The intellect decides about which is pleasure and which is pain and where they come from. It also decides about which deed is meritorious, which is sinful, which is pure and which is impure. Intellect is the basic means of gaining knowledge. It enables an individual to differentiate between various qualities like good and bad, small and big etc. It is due to this intellect that the Sattva attribute in a person grows (through discrimination). Thus, it the meeting place of the individual with the Soul. (This is why only human beings can reach Self-realisation because only they, among all creatures possess intellect).
The Unmanifestable is the same as the Prakriti of the Sankhya philosophy. In the seventh chapter, during the discussion of the Sankhya philosophy, A-Para and Para, were described as the two different aspects of Prakriti. Out of these two, the Unmanifestable is the Para which is the Life (or life-force). When an individual dies, the soul is separated from the five principles that constituted the body. The five principles, after shedding the gross qualities, merge into the Unmanifestable. However, all the impressions of actions throughout the lifetime get associated as karmas with the subtle body (Sukshma Deha or Linga Deha) of desires. This subtle body continues to exist even after death.
The Ten Organs
Ears, nose, eyes, skin and tongue are the five sense organs. Once the information from all the senses is pooled together, then the intellect decides about whether they give pleasures or pains.
The organs of speech, hands, feet, anus and the sex organs are the five organs of action. The body has the power to perform actions through these organs while it is alive.
It is difficult to explain what exactly mind is. It links the sense organs to the intellect. It gets its support from the Raja attribute. It can create deceptive impressions (like e.g. the blue colour of the sky or like the waves in a mirage).
When the body takes shape out of the five principles (elements) after the union of man’s semen and woman’s ovum, the air principle (Prana) gets split into ten parts with ten different aspects. They get themselves established in ten different parts of the body according to the properties and functions of each.
[NOTE: There are ten classes of Prana (vital breath), five main and five secondary. The main types are called Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana and Udana. The secondary Pranas are Naga, Kurma, Krikala, Devadatta and Dhananjaya].
The fickleness of the air principle implants itself firmly between the intellect and the ego with the help from Raja attribute. It is this fickleness that has been named “mind”. Actually it is only a concept. It is because of the mind that the Soul gets to be associated with the body. It induces the inclination for action.
It strengthens the lust and always incites the ego. It increases the desire, strengthens the hope and nurtures fear. Because of it the duality (disunity) is created, ignorance prevails and it provokes the organs into sense-pleasures.
It creates conceptual worlds and immediately destroys them too. It assembles stacks of ambitions and disassembles them. It is a storehouse of delusion and is the inner core of the air principle. It has closed the doors of the intellect. This then without doubt is the mind.
Objects of sense and action organs
1. Sense-objectsTouch, sound, form, taste and smell are the objects of the five sense organs through which knowledge is gained.2. Action-objectsThe pronunciation of vowels and consonants, the action of taking or throwing, walking, passing of faeces and urine are the objects of the five organs of action through which the body functions.[NOTE: Functions of sex organs does not seem to have been included in this list].
Desire is that which
- excites the emotions after remembering or hearing about the past events,
- generates craving when the senses encounter sense objects,
- makes the mind wander and the organs to step in where they should not go,
- makes the intellect crazy and
Aversion or hatred
- has a liking for the sense objects.
It is the feeling in the mind (about something) when the organs do not get the desired sense pleasures (from it).
Bliss or happiness
The bliss or happiness is that which makes an individual forget everything including one's body, when the activities of the body and mind have ceased. This is the state of the mind in which the life force is inactivated, goodness in the nature grows, the tendencies of the sense organs get lulled and the individual meets the soul.
[NOTE: This happiness is obviously different from the pleasure rooted in sense organs].
On the other hand, the state of mind where these things do not happen is called sorrow. One does not gain happiness when desires and ambitions are present but it comes automatically when they are absent. Therefore, the presence and the absence of desire and ambitions are the causes of sorrow and happiness respectively.
Chetana is the unattached, uninvolved power of consciousness over the body. It is the vital power or life-principle. It functions throughout the body right from the toenail to the hair on the head and remains unchanged throughout the three states of the body viz. wakefulness, dream and sleep. It brings freshness to the mind, intellect etc. and keeps the world active and cheerful. It is present in some measure or other in all animate and the inanimate objects. It puts life into an inanimate body when associated with the Soul.
[NOTE: There is no exact equivalent word for Chetana in English. It is translated also as intelligence or awareness].
The five principles are natural enemies of each other. Water destroys the earth and is itself dried away by fire. Wind fights with fire and is itself devoured by the sky (space). These five principles come together in the body; and abandoning the mutual conflict they help each other through their individual characteristics. The quality, which causes this rare unity to occur and sustains it, is called the fortitude or courage.
Sanghat is the assembly of all the above thirty-five principles including the life principle.
These are then the characteristics of the thirty-six principles that constitute the Field. When these thirty-six principles come together that aggregate is called the Field. Figuratively also it is called the Field because the crop of meritorious and sinful deeds is harvested in this aggregate. Some call it the body and some others by other names. It should be remembered that whatever is created and is destroyed, between the material world up to this side of the Brahman, is all Field.
[NOTE: The above constituents are enumerated in Gita in Shlokas 5 and 6. Of these the Shloka 5 enumerates twenty-four, namely the five elements (or principles), the ego, the intellect, the Unmanifestable (Prakriti), the ten organs (five sense organs and five organs of action), the mind, the five objects of the senses. These are the twenty-four principles of the Sankhya philosophy constituting the body. Shloka 6 mentions the following seven which are the mental traits of an individual: desire, aversion, bliss, sorrow, Sanghat, Chetana and fortitude. These mental traits are also part of the Field.
Note that though Dnyaneshwari gives thirty-six constituents of the field, Gita enumerates only thirty-one. This is because Gita does not mention the five objects of action. These seem to have been added by Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj].
Effects of Attributes and Karma
Living creatures are born in various species such as deities, humans, reptiles etc. They are born so according to the influence of the three attributes (Sattva, Raja and Tama) and the Karma. The details about these attributes will be discussed in Chapter fourteen.
Shri Krishna now discusses the importance of Knowledge
People perform difficult penance, yajnas and other worship rituals in the hope that they would attain this Knowledge some day, in some birth. Some ardently follow the path of devotion. Some others follow the path of Kundalini yoga and spend hundreds of lifetimes in the service of their Guru in the hope of attaining this Knowledge some day. Yogis prefer to practise the difficult path of yoga in order to attain Knowledge rather than heaven and Siddhis.
This Knowledge induces indifference to the senses, numbs the tendency for materialistic actions and removes the unhappiness from the mind. It destroys the ignorance and unifies the individual with the Brahman.
Knowledge causes the duality to go and makes sense of equality to prevail. There is no language of "I" and "others" any more. It removes arrogance and destroys delusion.
With Knowledge, the materialistic attitude goes and desirelessness sets in. One can then experience with ease the difficult-to-know ultimate principle of Brahman. The impure mind becomes pure with the holy, pure knowledge. I-am-the-body feeling goes after attaining it. One then becomes indifferent to the body and bodily affairs. In the light of the Knowledge, the intellect is able to understand what it could not do so before and the individual rolls in bliss.
Really speaking, this Knowledge cannot be explained. It has to be heard and understood through intellect because it is not visible to the eyes. But once it is understood by intellect it becomes visible to the eyes through the actions of the organs.
[NOTE: It has been mentioned later in Ch 14 that all organs of a man of Knowledge are able to sense and see].
BODY SIGNS ON A MAN OF KNOWLEDGE
The presence of this Knowledge in a person is indicated through certain characteristic signs on his body (and his behaviour). There are eighteen such characteristics These are: 1. humility or lack of pride, 2. unpretentiousness, 3. non-violence, 4. tolerance and forbearance, 5. uprightness, 6. devotion to Guru, 7. purity, 8. steadfastness, 9. self-restarint 10. dispassion, 11. absence of ego, 12.awareness about evilness of birth and death cycles, 13. detachment, 14. equability towards pleasure and pain, 15. devotion to God, 16. liking for seclusion, 17. Certain that Knowledge leads to Self-realisation and 18. dedication to knowledge. These are explained below:
A man of Knowledge does not have pride. He does not like to be praised or honoured and greatness conferred on him. To avoid them he hides his wisdom and pretends to be a simpleton, sometimes deliberately goings around like a mad person. He does not like to discuss Shastras because that might make him famous. He prefers to sit quietly wishing strongly that people should ignore him. He prefers to live in solitude and feels happy in deserted places. He likes to be one with nature. He who has these characteristics of pridelessness may be considered as having attained Knowledge.
A man of Knowledge does not make a show of his achievements. He does not speak about his meritorious actions. He keeps his charitable and benevolent deeds or the favours he has done to others a secret. He does not boast about his learning and does not sell his knowledge for public applause. He will not spend anything on himself but he is very generous when it comes to spending for others, especially for charity or religious work. He is wise in the religious duties, generous in charity and clever in spiritual discussions but behaves like a simpleton in other matters. A person who has these characteristics may be considered to be having Knowledge in his grasp.
Non-violence - (some misconceptions)
People from different schools of thought define non-violence in different ways. For example, according to Purvamimansa, certain acts of violence performed for general benefits, (e.g. cutting the branches of a tree to fence its trunk or performing yajnas to prevent drought. Drought does kill animals but in a yajna too animals are killed). Under this situation how can one achieve non-violence? It is like looting the poor to distribute free food in charity or like burning one's blanket to warm oneself.
In one religion (Jain) they drink water after filtering it, but the filtering kills many living organisms. Some others, afraid of committing violence, eat the raw uncooked grains. But this indigestible food causes pain and brings them on the verge of death. This is nothing but violence. Thus, in all the above cases, permitted violence is considered as non-violence.
Non-violence - (Real)
Now Shri Krishna gives his opinion about what the real characteristics of non-violence are. A person with these characteristics is a person who has attained Knowledge. Whether non-violence is ingrained in a person or not may be found from his behaviour. Similarly, the non-violent behaviour of a man of Knowledge is as follows:
He radiates friendly feelings. His compassion makes him tread the ground very carefully to avoid hurting even the minutest living beings that he knows are present around. He treads on the ground so delicately that if his feet touch by mistake any living being then it actually gets comfort from it. He feels that if he were to walk stamping his feet, then the sleep of the all-pervading Lord would get disturbed and His health would get affected.
His kindness is apparent even in his speech. His talk, truthful but soft, limited but straightforward is like the flow of nectar. Contradiction, arguments, irritating harsh words, ridicule, torture, maliciousness, obstruction, irritation, nastiness, showing false hope, doubt, falsehood are completely absent in his talk.
Also, his gaze is such that his eyebrows are never raised. The reason is that he believes every living creature has a soul and is afraid that his gaze might hurt it. He generally does not therefore look at anybody and if at all he looks, it is out of the inner kindness. And the creature at whom he looks feels a sense of satisfaction.
Nothing more remains to be done for him, his hands are therefore inactive. He does not like to hold even a staff or stick in his hand, then why talk of a weapon? He does not stroke his body lest it disturbs the hair on his body. And he grows his nails because he feels that cutting them is like committing violence. He may feel shy to raise his hands in reassurance or give a supporting hand to a falling person or gently stroke a suffering person but his loving touch helps to remove the suffering of others.
The mind expresses itself through the organs. Any action or thought is created in the mind first and is then expressed through speech, looks or hands. If there is no place for violence in the mind itself then how can it be seen in actions? The mind imparts the kindness in it to the limbs and makes them behave with non-violence. Thus, he who has abandoned all violence from his mind, body and speech is the beautiful temple of Knowledge. Not only that, he is the Knowledge personified. If you wish to see non-violence, the greatness of which we hear and read about, then you see that person and your wish will be fulfilled.
Tolerance and Forbearance
Where there is forbearance (forgiveness) without regret there is Knowledge present. Forbearance gets nurtured within a man of Knowledge. Such a man is tolerant to good as well as bad situations. He does not feel perturbed by personal, external or elemental difficulties. He continues to feel contented whether he gains or suffers unexpected losses. He accepts honour and insult, pleasure and pain, praise and slander with the same calmness without losing his balance. He does not feel uneasy by the heat of the sun nor does he shiver by cold. He does not feel frightened in any situation. There is nothing that he cannot tolerate and he is not even aware that he is tolerating. He considers that all the sufferings and enjoyments that his body goes through are he himself; therefore he does not feel that he is doing something out of the ordinary. Persons who possess such forbearance without regret are really the essence of Knowledge.
An upright person is an impartial person. His mental attitude and behaviour does not change from person to person. He is able to mix with anybody and does not have prejudice against anybody. His mind being pure his actions are pure too.
He knows the nature of the world thoroughly and behaves as if he has known it since ages. He does not therefore know the meaning of "mine" and "yours".
He has complete control on his mind. He neither reins it nor lets it go adrift. There are no desires or doubts in his mind. Since he is fully satisfied due to Self-realisation, he does not spend his time in thoughts.
He has a straightforward nature. All his actions are straightforward, pure and without deceit. His five vital airs (Pranas) also are always free.
He cannot hide anything in the corners of his mind. He does not hesitate to express his mind before people. He does not have deceit in his mind or vagueness in his words and he never behaves with ill will towards anybody.
Knowledge resides in a person having these qualities of uprightness
Devotion to Guru
[Dnyaneshwar Maharaj was extremely devoted to his Guru Nivruttinath (who was also his brother elder by mere two years). He has expressed this devotion at several places in the Dnyaneshwari, though it is not included here. In the following he gives one more expression in great detail to this devotion through the medium of Shri Krishna who now tells in great detail about how a devoted disciple expresses his devotion to his Guru. What is presented below is only a summary.
Shri Krishna tells that:
Service to the Guru leads to fortunes of all kinds. By the power of this service, an individual can attain Brahman even when he is in a sorrowful state.
Total devotion to one’s Guru is essential part of Guru-tradition that should be followed with complete dedication. A truly devoted disciple yearns to be in the company of his Guru and to serve him in all respects.
He imagines his Guru to be his mother nurturing him on the breast milk of Knowledge. Another time he imagines his Guru to be the husband and he the wife and experiences his loving admiration. He may be staying far away from his Guru because he was instructed so. But even if he is not bodily near his Guru, his mind is always there. Knowledge is always at the service a person with this kind of love for the Guru tradition.
He meditates on his Guru’s image and imagines various fancy relations with him. For him the Guru is sometimes the idol in the temple of his heart, he himself being the temple priest. And he performs the worship using articles of worship (like sandal paste, kumkum i.e. vermilion and flowers) which he imagines are all himself. In this worship he burns his ego as Dhup (myrrh) and performs arati with the lamp of Knowledge. He offers non-duality as naivadya in this worship. [Arati: Singing of a praise cum prayer song while waving a lamp clockwise before an idol or revered person. Naivadya: Offering of food. This os then distributed among those present as grace from the worshipped entity].
He resolves to serve his Guru in the best possible ways, including in the daily activities of his Guru like taking bath, eating and strolling. He desires to thus gain his Guru’s admiration and affection. And if the Guru wishes to give him a boon, he wants that boon to be that he should be able to serve his Guru in all possible ways. He wishes that his Guru would shower his love on him and on him alone.
His desire to serve his Guru is not confined to this lifetime. He feels that even when he is dead and his body has reunited with the five principles, he should be able to serve his Guru. He thinks, “Wherever the feet of my Guru touch, I shall mix the Earth principle of my body into that earth and where he will touch water I shall mix the Water principle of my body into it. I shall mingle the Fire principle from my body into the light of the lamps used for Guru’s arati and also into those lighted in the temple. I shall merge the Air principle into my Guru’s fly-swap and fan and be the breeze that comforts his body. Wherever my Guru goes with his entourage I shall introduce the part of my Sky (space) principle in that space. But on no account shall I let the service to my Guru be interrupted, whether during my lifetime or after death and neither shall I let other people serve my Guru. Aeons will pass while I thus serve my Guru. ”
He who holds such courage and serves his Guru with limitless devotion does not bother about time or about the magnitude of the task. On the other hand, he feels happier if his Guru asks him to do more. He strives hard, using all the faculties, to fulfil his commands --- even those made in jest. He considers the rules of his Guru's tradition as the prescribed duties (Dharma) and devotional service to his Guru as his daily duty.
To him, Guru is the place of pilgrimage, Guru is the deity, mother and father and there is nothing beyond Guru's service. He considers the water touched by his Gurus feet to be holier than all other holy waters from the three worlds.
He has brotherly love for all those who serve his Guru. He always has on his tongue, the Mantra given by his Guru whose words are the only ones he listens to or studies in preference to the Shastras. He prefers the leftover food from his Guru to the bliss of Samadhi. To him, even a particle of dust raised when his Guru walks is like the bliss of liberation. There is no end to how much one can talk about his devotion to one’s Guru.
The comments Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj makes about the Guru devotion discussed above indicates clearly his immense love for his Guru. He says,
“I am saying all this because I am overcome by the feelings of devotion towards my Guru. One who likes this feeling of devotion does not find anything sweeter than to be of service to the Guru. Such a person is the abode of Self-realisation. Knowledge itself gets respectability because of him. In such a person lies Knowledge sufficient for the whole world and to spare. I am extremely anxious about service to the Guru and therefore I have described it extensively but I am handicapped in all respects in this regard. However, the extreme love I have in my heart for my Guru compelled me to expand on this topic. I am praying to him to accept it and give me an opportunity to serve him so that I shall be able to explain this book further in a better way."
Now to continue Shri Krishna’s elaboration on the qualities of a man of Knowledge.
Purity can be seen in a sage both externally and internally. He has become pure on the outside by his actions and from the inside by his Knowledge. Keeping the body clean without the internal purity is nothing but mockery. With internal purity one automatically attains external purity too, otherwise pure Knowledge and pure action could not have been found together.
Pure feelings in the mind are reflected in the body. Passions do not touch him even if he comes in contact with sense-objects. There are no more desires and doubts when the heart is pure, and one is very clear about what is proper and what is improper. Knowledge surely occurs in whomsoever purity is evident.
A steadfast person is the life-force (Prana) of Knowledge. His mind remains undisturbed internally even while his body performs external actions. Calamities do not discourage him. He is neither afraid of poverty or pain nor affected by fear and sorrow. Approach of death does not frighten him nor does his mind waver under the pressure of the rumblings of various diseases, nor does it waver in the face of slander, insult, punishment, desire and greed. This is what steadfastness is. Whosoever has it ingrained in him is the treasure cove of Knowledge.
Such a sage is dispassionate and desireless by practising self-restraint. He does not permit thoughts of sense pleasures enter his mind.. Through yogic practices he steadies his state of meditation into Samadhi. His consciousness then unifies with the Divine energy and merges in it. This is what is called controlled state of the mind. Knowledge is manifested where it occurs. He whose commands are respected by the mind is the Knowledge personified.
He is ever apathetic to sense-pleasures and does not like them to be even mentioned in his presence. His body becomes lean by staying away from them. He likes Shama (control of the mind) and Dama (restraint of the senses). He likes to live in isolation and practise yoga. He performs penance and austerities constantly. He finds worldly pleasures and heavenly enjoyment distasteful. This kind of detachment from the sense-pleasures is a sign of Self-realisation and such a person should be considered as one who has attained Knowledge.
Absence of ego
He may carry out daily duties as well as works of public benevolence but they are done without a sense of pride. This characteristic of his mind is called egoless-ness. There is no doubt that Knowledge occurs where this is fully evident.
Awareness about evil of birth, death etc.
A man of Knowledge, even if he is reborn for some reason, is ashamed at having had to take birth. At an early age itself, when old age, pain, disease and death are far away, he is careful to behave in a way that he would not be reborn by his actions in this birth. Even when he is in his youth he listens to good things worth hearing, visits places of pilgrimage, commits good quotations to memory and gives away wealth in charity before the organs become weak and useless. Because the mind may not remain pure after reaching such a situation, he ponders in detail on Self-realisation. He who remembers that he is going to become old some day and takes steps, before getting disabled by old age, of doing righteous actions in youth itself, is to be considered as having Knowledge.
(NOTE: Dnyaneshwar Maharaj makes the following statement in this paragraph: He says to himself, "Alas! I am born through the mixing of semen with impure blood and came out through the urinary channel. Then I licked the sweat on the breast of my mother.” Feeling disgusted about this he resolves not to do anything that will cause him to be reborn.
Modern readers should note that some older literature considers the body as dirty, represents women in bad light as the cause for sin etc. Many kirtankars or even popular saints also speak on these lines. They do not realise that they are denigrating their own mother and sisters; also, as has been said elsewhere in Dnyaneshwari, that this human body is a gift of God gained after millions of births in lower species and it is only while one occupies the human body that spiritual practice can be done to achieve liberation. Some older literature misrepresents the process of conception and rebirth as something very filthy and painful to the unborn baby; it says that the foetus has to spend time in blood, urine and faeces inside the womb. This totally incorrect idea seems to have arisen because in older days knowledge about growth of the baby inside the womb and the birth process was not common as it is today.
Modern reader knows that the unborn baby is well cushioned and protected inside the womb by the uterine fluid inside the womb and that fluid is not urine. The baby does not float in blood but is well nurtured through mother’s blood via the umbilical cord until it is born and that the birth does not occur through the urinary channel at all. Therefore such remarks should not be taken very seriously or literally).
A man of Knowledge is very detached towards his body. He does not have any affinity for his home, his wealth or his family. His mind does not waver by pain or pleasure and his sense of balance does not change. Knowledge resides in such a person. [Recall the text under Tolerance and Forbearance above].
Equability to pleasure and pain
A man of Knowledge has equable attitude towards pleasure. He is composed and his mind does not waver by pain or pleasure. Knowledge actually exists in such a person.
Devotion to God
A man of Knowledge has only one goal and that is Me. For him nothing else is better than Me. He has developed so much love for Me that we both have become one. And even after becoming one with Me he keeps on worshipping Me with devotion in all sorts of ways. He who becomes one with Me with dedication and worships Me is Knowledge personified.
Liking for seclusion
A man of Knowledge is certain that there is no goal in this world other than Me. The extent of his love for Me (i.e. God) is such that we both have become one. And even after becoming one with Me he keeps on worshipping Me with devotion in all sorts of ways. Such a person does not like living in cities but likes instead to live at places of pilgrimage, near holy riverbanks, in forests and caves in seclusion.
Certain that Knowledge leads to Self-realisation
He is certain that the real Knowledge is only that which leads to the experience of Supreme Soul and the knowledge of the worldly life and heaven etc. are all ignorance that leads to delusion. He directs his mind and intellect only towards Self-realisation, ignoring worldly matters and the desire to go to heaven. He becomes one with Me once the Knowledge gets completely ingrained in his mind. But unless Knowledge becomes fixed in a person, he cannot be called a person of Knowledge. He has to steady his sights on the Brahman, which is the fruit of gaining pure knowledge. If after gaining Knowledge one does not experience the Brahman then it is as good as not gaining the Knowledge.
(NOTE: Thus, according to this statement, Self-realisation, i.e. realisation that “I am not the body but the soul” is merely the first step and not quite the end of the spiritual path. The second step is to experience the Brahman. Last is to be one with the Brahman).
Dedication to knowledge
If the intellect cannot reach the Supreme Brahman in the light of Knowledge then it must be considered as blind. With the desire for the right kind of Knowledge however, he finally gains it and that leads him to experiencing the Supreme Brahman. His intellect has developed as much as his Knowledge therefore he becomes the Knowledge personified.
Thus, Shri Krishna explained the eighteen characteristics of a person of Knowledge. Next, he proceeds to explain what ignorance is and its characteristics.
[NOTE: So far, the characteristics and qualities of a perfect person, a man of knowledge were enumerated a number of times but not those of an ignorant person. An ignorant person was defined as one who does not realise he is really the soul but thinks he is only his body. Bhagvadgita does not give the details about the characteristics of an ignorant person. It merely says that the characteristics of Ignoranceare opposite to those of Knowledge. Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has however gone into great details about the characteristics of an ignorant person. Many readers may find, on introspection, some of these characteristics within themselves and their acquaintances. Paragraphs with the following sub-headings should be interesting: False pride, Infatuation with family, Slave to pleasure and sorrows, Dislikes quiet and holy places, Prefers black arts to holy knowledge and Attachment to wife at the cost of parents.
Note that the text refers mainly to men and not women because until recently the society was male dominated. With the age of emancipation of women the text today applies to women too].
Shri Krishna explains ignorance and its characteristics as follows.
What is not Knowledge automatically becomes Ignorance. Main signs of an ignorant person are:
An ignorant person has one or more of the following characteristics:
- An ignorant person lives for status.
- He eagerly awaits honour and is pleased by felicitations.
- He remains stiff with pride and unbending.
- He brags about his religious actions.
- He makes a big noise about his learning.
- He makes public announcements of his good deeds though all of them are done in order to get prominence and greatness.
- He deceives his followers by external appearances (e.g. he poses as a religious person by applying ash, sandal-paste etc. to the body).
A person of violence, whose actions make the whole world suffer and whose words, even casual ones, hurt people is an ignorant person. He thinks of doing only malevolent deeds.
Slave to emotions
He becomes elated when he meets his loved ones and depressed when they depart. He feels elated by praise and dejected by even the slightest criticism.
He may outwardly appear to be frank but actually he is very secretive. He shows friendship towards one but helps another. He maintains good relations with straightforward type of persons and wins the minds of good people but with an ultimate aim of harming them.
Disrespect for Guru
He is ashamed of his Guru tradition and does not like to serve his Guru. He is disrespectful to his Guru even after acquiring knowledge from him. It is a sin to even utter the name of such a person but this can be atoned for by uttering the name of the Guru's devotee.
Impure mind and Greed
An ignorant person neglects his duties; his mind is full of impure thoughts and therefore he is impure from inside and outside. He is very loose regarding women. He is greedy, always with his eyes on money and does not hesitate to swallow wealth of others. He has no liking for righteous deeds and no shame in doing sinful deeds. He does not feel shame if he misses the usual time for performing his routine prescribed actions or his incidental duties. His mind is always full of doubts. He does not bother about the rules of the rituals, family traditions and about what is proper or improper. Such a person is like a statue of ignorance.
An ignorant person is fickle-minded. He does not have the strength of determination. He does not stick to his resolutions and does not mind changing his ideas for the sake of personal gains. He cannot remain steady in one location therefore he wanders from place to place. He gets engrossed in flights of imagination. Frightful situations and unpleasant news shake his morale. If he has to do penance, he abandons it halfway. His mind wanders unrestrained in thoughts of sense-pleasures.
He does not give up the desire for sense pleasures. He thinks it is inauspicious to meet a dispassionate person and if perchance he meets one he takes bath to clean himself. He struggles incessantly for sense pleasures throughout his life. He never gets tired of sense-pleasures and remains unsatisfied until his death. Not only that, in order to enjoy pleasures even after death he makes preparations to attain heaven for the sake of pleasures there.
Infatuation with family
From birth to death an ignorant person is infatuated with his family. In his childhood he is infatuated with his parents. In youth he gets attracted to female body. While he is busy enjoying the marital life and begets children he directs his love towards his children. In the company of his wife and children and with growing affluence that intoxicates him, he does not see that he is going to be separated from his sons etc. and his wealth one day. Slowly and steadily, old age and death approach but he ignores them and spends all his time with his children.
He performs his duties no doubt, but because of the I-am-the-body attitude he carries the ego that it is he who does them. The same ego makes him feel unhappy if he has not been able to perform his actions well.
During his prime, he is swollen with pride about his youth and learning. He goes around stiffly and says, "I alone am great, I alone am wealthy. Who else is there with a behaviour as good as mine?" He is jealous of virtuous persons. He is proud of his own learning and knowledge and of the strength gained from penance. He thinks there is none as great as himself, that he knows everything and that he is popular. Swollen by pride, he refuses to bend. He does not feel kindness. Even virtuous persons cannot bring him to his senses. In such a person, ignorance only increases with time.
Forgets birth-death cycles
An ignorant person bothers a lot about his household, body and wealth in this lifetime but never about his past and future births. Even when his body is infected with disease, he does not regret the indulgence in sense pleasures that was the real reason for reaching that state. He may see babies wallowing in faeces and urine but the thought that he also once did it does not touch his mind. His life progressively approaches the end but he does not worry about death or the next lifetime after rebirth. Feeling very sure that he will continue to live, he refuses to accept the possible existence of death. Such a person is the king of the land of ignorance.
Engrossed in eating and sleeping he does not realise that his destruction lies in those very same things. As long as his appetite and sleep are good and he continues to keep good health, he does not bother about the possibility that he may fall ill in future. As time passes and the body grows older, his indulgence in sense-pleasures also grows. The shadow of death falls increasingly on his life but he does not see it approaching. During youth he does not understand what would be his condition when he would become old. And even when he attains old age, which is the sign of the approaching death, delusion about his own youth does not leave him. When he sees a lame or a bent person he mocks him but he does not think that he too is going to reach the same condition. Understand that such a person is undoubtedly an abode of ignorance.
A person who does not restrain the sense organs letting them go astray is also ignorant. In the prime of his youth, he indulges in all sorts of pleasures without bothering about whether they are proper or improper. He thinks about things he should not think about and does things he should not do. He behaves in a manner he should not behave. He blabbers about things about which he should not utter a word without realising that he will get the blame for it. In short, he does things that please the body and the mind without bothering about their propriety. It does not enter his mind that such actions may lead to his committing sin for which he will have to suffer in hell.
Association with such a person leads to the spread of ignorance to such an extent that even sages get affected.
Attachment to wife at the cost of parents
An ignorant person is totally attached towards his home and his wife. He cannot get his mind away from them. His interest is confined to his his wife whose body he adores without any thought about his own welfare. While a sage gets totally engrossed in Brahman resulting in stoppage of the worldly actions, an ignorant person surrenders himself completely to his wife. He dances to her tunes and does not care for his losses, public shame or slander. He gives little to charity and does not do many righteous deeds. He fulfils all the desires and needs of his wife even if he has to cheat his family and clan. He has little time to worship even his family deity or serve his Guru but instead he serves his wife with unstinted dedication. He tells his parents excuses that there is not enough money to give to them but brings various articles of pleasure for his wife. He gives her the best and costly articles but for other persons in the family he does not give enough even for their bare survival.
He feels doomed if anybody gives improper looks to his wife or behaves improperly with her. He satisfies her every command. His wife is everything to him and he feels special love for the children born of her. Whatever things she possesses and her wealth are more valuable to him than his own life. Such a person is ignorance personified.
Slave to pleasure and sorrows
An ignorant person is a puppet of pleasure and pain. He feels happy when he gets what he wants and extremely sorry if he doesn’t. Such a person who is deeply affected by favourable and unfavourable circumstances is really an ignorant person however highly intelligent he may be.
He may be devoted to God and may make a great exhibition of it but all that devotion is for material gains and pleasures only. If his desires are not fulfilled then he stops being devoted, saying that the talk of God etc. is all lies. He worships one deity for some gains and if he fails to get them then he worships another deity.
He joins that Guru tradition where there is a great pomp and show, receives Guru-mantra and considers other people as ordinary.
He showers special love on a stone idol of a deity but is cruel to living creatures. But even that love is not steady. He installs the idol for worship in a corner of the house but goes on pilgrimage to places of other deities. He may worship his family deity but on auspicious occasions he worships other deities as well and makes vows to them for his gains.
On the day of Shraddha he belongs to the forefathers. He worships cobras on Nagpanchami day and Vishnu on Ekadashi day. On Chaturthi day he becomes a devotee of Ganapati and on Chaturdashi day he avers, "Oh Mother Durga, I am a devotee of you only." He leaves the daily rituals and incidental actions during Navaratri and sits for the reading of Navachandi. On Sunday he gives an offering of Khichadi to the deity Bahiroba. Then on Monday he rushes for offering Bel leaves to Shivalinga. In this maner, he somehow manages to perform the worship ritual of all deities. His performing the worship ritual of all deities without taking rest even for a moment is just like a prostitute who demonstrates her love for all the people in the town. Such a devotee who rushes every now and then to a different deity is ignorance reincarnated.
(NOTE: Panchami, Ekadashi, Chaturthi etc. are the dates by lunar calendar.)
Dislikes quiet and holy places
A person who feels disgusted at the sight of quiet forests meant for penance and of places of pilgrimage and instead feels happy living in the town, likes to sit in a crowd and spend time in gossip is also ignorant.
Prefers black arts to holy knowledge
A person with mere book-knowledge ridicules the real knowledge i.e. the knowledge that leads to Self-realisation. Such a person does not study works like the Upanishads nor does he like the science of yoga. He may be intelligent enough to have curiosity about Soul etc., but his mind wanders astray and does not turn towards spiritual science.
Also, a person may be an expert in ritualistic techniques, know the Puranas by heart. He may be an expert astrologer with ability to predict the future correctly. He may be skilled in sculpture or in architecture or be an expert in culinary art. He may know the mantras from Atharvaveda (Black magic, charm, voodoo etc.), the secret of snake charming or be a master in the science of love. He may be skilled and well versed in medicine. He may be able to give discourses on Mahabharata and be an authority in other branches of knowledge. He may know Smritis well and have a mastery of the Vedas. He may be an expert in grammar and be learned in the science of justice. But all that is useless if he does not have the knowledge of the Self. One should ignore such a person.
Except for the spiritual science, all other branches of knowledge are meaningless. Therefore a person with only book-knowledge is a fool who has not realised the Self. Everything he does has the stamp of ignorance on it. He does not understand the principles of Knowledge.
Turn your back to ignorance
The characteristics of ignorance discussed above are contained in the eighteen characteristics of knowledge explained earlier. The characteristics of Knowledge when applied in reverse become the characteristics of ignorance. One should turn away from them and make a good, firm resolve regarding Knowledge. By means of that pure Knowledge its objective namely the Brahman will be realised.
[NOTE: Above discussion on the characteristics of ignorance is a great gift from Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj to the beginners on the spiritual path. Ritualistic path demands that the worshipper, his clothes as well as the place of worship be clean. Spiritual path on the other hand lays stress on cleansing of the mind rather than that of the body. Hardly any seeker would have a clean mind to start with. The mind must be trained to be clean by getting rid of certain habits and attitudes pointed out above by Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj as indicative of ignorance. Curing the mind of the ignorance is like curing the body of a disease. The disease must first be identified in order to cure it. The seeker must first identify his own shortcomings by honest introspection and decide which of the characteristics enumerated above pertain to him. Next step is to make a conscious effort to get rid of those shortcomings. Unless this is done spiritual progress will face obstacles. It is generally accepted that many shortcomings get cured in the company of saints.
Readers should note, as explained in the next chapter, that Ignorance is not really lack of Knowledge or opposite of Knowledge but a doubt about real truth. As defined in Ch 7, “To think that worldly knowledge is the true knowledge is Ignorance].
OBJECT OF KNOWLEDGE
Brahman is the Object of Knowledge. It cannot be attained by any means other than Knowledge. After a seeker attains it there is nothing more left for him to do because the Knowledge unifies him with itself. Seeker then gives up worldly matters and remains immersed in the bliss of the Brahman. That Object has no beginning and naturally it is called the Supreme Brahman (Para Brahman).
One cannot deny the existence of Brahman because one can see it in its manifestation as the visible universe. But that universe is not the Supreme Brahman but an illusion (Maya) because the Supreme Brahman by itself does not have form, colour or shape and is not visible.
This aspect raises some questions. For example, how can anyone say that it exists, that it is invisible, without form etc.? On the other hand, if its existence is denied then where have the principles like Mahat etc. (that create the universe) sprung from? The fact is, just as earth takes the form of a pot similarly Brahman has taken the form of the universe and has pervaded it throughout space and time.
This Brahman acts through Prakriti. It has been symbolically called by various names styled after various organs of a person, though of course being formless it has no such organs.
- It has been called Vishwa-Bahu or arms of the universe because it inspires actions everywhere, all the time and in all ways.
- Vishwandhri because it remains present everywhere at the same time.
- It is called Vishwachakshu or eyes of the universe by the Vedas because like the sun it observes all forms by its own light.
- It is called Vishwamurdha or intellect of the universe because it is present always and everywhere in everyone's head.
- It is called Vishwatomukh or mouth of the universe by the Vedas because it accepts all things through the (yajna) fire.
Really speaking, one cannot speak in terms of hands, feet, eyes etc. about something which is the essence of void (i.e. nothing), but certain similes have been used to explain its all-pervasiveness. Otherwise, how can there be the sense of the pervader and the pervaded in the Brahman that is everywhere? It is necessary to make this differentiation in order to explain what Brahman is. Just as for indicating zero or nothing one writes a small dot, similarly one has to use dualism to explain non-dualism. If this is not done then all dialogue between Guru and disciple will stop. It is for this reason that it has been customary to explain non-dualism using the language of dualism.
- It is called "that which listens everywhere" because its ears engulf all sounds just as space engulfs all objects
HOW BRAHMAN PERVADES OBJECTS
Now Shri Krishna explains how Brahman pervades objects which are visible to the eyes.
Brahman shows its presence in all objects in various forms or aspects. For example, the water or liquid principle that is present in water; brightness aspect of a lamp that occurs in the form of a lamp, odour aspect that is present in the form of camphor or action that occurs in the form of the body, are all manifestations of its presence. But these aspects become the attributes of the objects and not of the Brahman that is without attributes.
Brahman appears to be like mind and other organs or like the three attributes. But just as sweetness of jaggery does not lie in the shape of its block, Brahman is different from the mind and the attributes. The relations between name and form are applicable to the form and not to the Brahman. Attributes appearing in the Brahman are an illusion because of which the ignorant think that the attributes belong to the Brahman. Therefore one should not mention attributes in relation to the Brahman.
Same Brahman pervades all
Though there are diverse moving and non-moving objects in this universe, the Object of Knowledge i.e. the indestructible Brahman that pervades them is the same entity. Its pervades as a single entity without break in all the four types of beings namely, born through sex, eggs, sweat and seeds. It is present inside the body as well as outside, is near as well as far and is unique without duality, pervades everything totally. It is also the cause of the creation of the universe and is supported by it.
At the time of creation we call it Brahmadeo, during sustenance we properly call it Vishnu and when the universe dissolves we call it Rudra. And when all the three attributes vanish we call it cipher (zero). And that which swallows the nothingness of space and destroys the three attributes is this great cipher as explained in the Upanishads.
Brahman - the basic principle in all principles
Brahman is the ultimate origin of the universe and the basic principle in every aspect of it. Actually, one may call it the root of the origin, growing of the growth, intelligence of the intellect and life-force of life, the mental power of the mind, vision of the eyes, hearing of the ears, power of speech of the tongue, vitality of the life-force, feet of the motion, activity of the action. Creation, growth and destruction occur by its power. The five principles viz. earth, water, air, fire and sky (or space) derive their characteristics from it. In short, it is because of it that all objects appear in the universe and actually everything is Brahman and no duality exists.
Once Brahman is experienced, the seer and the seen, the means and the end become one and the difference between Knowledge, the object of the Knowledge and the Knower vanishes. One cannot speak of duality in the context of that which exists in the heart of all.
Shri Krishna thus concludes his explanation of Field, Knowledge, the characteristics of ignorance and the Object-to-be-known i.e. the Brahman. He advises Arjuna that taking into consideration the subjects discussed above, his devotees long to attain Him. By giving up the attachment to the body they concentrate their mind and feelings on Him. These devotees, after they know Him, take Him in exchange for their ego and thus become one with Him. This is the easiest scheme for being one with Him.
PURUSHA AND PRAKRITI (SANKHYA)
For easier understanding of the Brahman, Shri Krishna had arranged the discussion in four parts on four aspects viz. the Field, Knowledge, Object-to-be-known and Ignorance. But he is still doubtful whether Arjuna has really understood this discussion. Now he tries to make Arjuna understand Brahman in another way. Instead of dividing into four parts he divides it into only two parts namely the Soul and Non-soul (Purusha and Prakriti). This is based on the Sankhya philosophy propounded by Kapil Rishi. (Kapil Rishi is considered as an avatar of Vishnu).
Prakriti is same as the Field explained earlier, while Purusha is the Knower of the Field. Both Purusha and Prakriti are without beginning. They are an inseparable couple, always associated with each other like e.g. a shadow to a form. Purusha is the power and Prakriti is the one causing all actions (with that power).
Intellect, organs and mind etc. that are responsible for emotions and passions, the three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama, all arise from Prakriti. They are the cause of actions (Karmas).
Actions rooted in desire and ego
In this framework, Prakriti first generates desire in the intellect. That creates the ego demanding the fulfilment of that desire. The need for fulfilment gives cause for action. The procedure used for achieving a desired object is called action. When desire becomes strong it activates the mind and makes it get the tasks done through the organs. This is what is called the effect of the Prakriti.
Therefore, Prakriti is the root of the action, its cause and effect. When this trio comes together the Prakriti becomes active but the nature of its actions is governed by the three attributes.
- The action in which the Sattva attribute predominates is a good righteous action.
- That which takes place due to the Raja attribute is a medium or mixed type of action and
Actionless Purusha and Gunamayi Prakriti
- that which takes place due to the Tama attribute is a prohibited and unrighteous action.
Thus, it is the Prakriti that is responsible for actions. The actions cause pleasure or pain according to whether they were good or bad respectively and it is the Purusha and not the Prakriti that experiences this pleasure and pain.
The affairs of this couple Prakriti and Purusha are strange. Whatever the wife earns the husband enjoys without himself making any efforts. This couple does not come together and yet Prakriti the wife gives birth to this universe.
Purusha is actionless, without form, without attributes, unique and older than the oldest of the objects. He is Purusha (male) only in name; actually no one can say whether he is male, female or a neuter. He does not have eyes, ears, hands, feet or any other organs, nor shape, colour and name. Such is this husband of Prakriti whom she makes experience pain and pleasure in spite of his being actionless, unattached and non-indulgent. Prakriti uses her (manifested) form and attributes to create a strange drama; therefore Prakriti is called Gunamayi (made of attributes). She ever takes a new form every moment and her vitality makes even the passive objects active. Names are assigned, love is felt and sense organs are able to sense because of her. She makes the mind, even though it is neuter (incapable of creation), to wander in the three worlds. Such is her capability.
[NOTE: It is mentioned above and elsewhere too that it is the Purusha or soul that experiences the pleasure or pain, for the creation of which Prakriti is responsible. On the other hand it has also been mentioned that the soul, Brahman ot Purusha is without attributes, formless, actionless etc. and is merely a witness to all actions. How can then Purusha experience pleasure and pain? The explanation is, it is only when the Purusha or soul is in the body and is bound by the I-am-the body attitude, that it suffers pleasure and pain through the body. Once he is freed from this attitude there is no pleasure or pain. Thus the statement is applicable only to the bound phase of the soul. It is explained later that the Soul resides in the body not in its original form but only as a projection. Thus the entity that sufferts plasure or pain is not the Soul but its projection, the original Soul remaining only as a unattached witness to all these happenings].
Play of Prakriti
This Prakriti, also known as the divine Maya, is the creator of illusion. She occupies everything, pervades everything. She creates this material world and ceaselessly invades it with materialistic way of life. She generates emotions, fosters passions and creates temptations.
She nurtures language and makes it grow. All arts and skills are born of her. Desires, knowledge and actions are created from her. All the tunes and sounds are born of her. In fact, everything that happens in the world is her play. The creation of the world and its dissolution are her morning and evening respectively. She is thus the wonderful illusionist.
She is the mate of the lonely Purusha and companion of the unattached (Brahman). She resides in the void. Her capability is so high that she keeps the uncontrollable Purusha under control. Actually, Purusha is not attached to anything but this Prakriti becomes everything for him. She becomes the creation of the self-born (Purusha), form of the formless (Purusha) and his very existence and base.
Illusion of attributes
Thus, Prakriti, by her power, creates passions in that dispassionate Purusha shadowing his effulgence. Once Purusha surrenders to Prakriti his brightness vanishes and he gets affected by the attributes. He has to suffer the impact of birth and death by association with her. Different combinations of the three attributes make it appear as if the birthless Purusha takes births in a low or high caste. But all that is only an illusion and therefore the Purusha does not experience the effects of Karmas.
Purusha is beyond Prakriti
Prakriti has the support of Purusha but there is a vast difference between the two. Prakriti is created and is dissolved but Purusha is eternal. Prakriti exists because of him and it is by his power alone that she creates the world, therefore he is the Lord of Prakriti. It is really Purusha that controls everything right from Brahmadeo downwards. The world, which has been going on in cycles since the endless past, dissolves in him at the end of the aeon. He is the Lord of the Mahatbrahma (i.e. Prakriti). He controls the whole universe and envelops it entirely by his expanse. Really speaking, he is the Supreme Soul said to exist in the body.
One who understands
- that this Purusha is one and the only one and all the actions and attributes belong to Prakriti,
may be considered as having understood the difference between Purusha and Prakriti. Even if he performs actions by virtue of possessing a body, he does not get tainted by them. He does not feel attachment to his body even while he lives and is not reborn when he dies. The realisation of the difference between Purusha and Prakriti becomes favourable to him in this unworldly way.
- that Purusha and Prakriti are like the form and the shadow or like water and mirage,
OTHER WAYS OF ATTAINING SELF-REALISATION
There are many other ways also by which one can get this realisation..
- Some contemplate on the Soul and on everything that taints it to give the I-am-the-body attitude(e.g. attributes, ego, desires etc.). After deeply pondering on these aspects they are able to burn away the impurity of the worldly attributes and reach Self-realisation.
- Some others identify the thirty-six principles (discussed earlier in this chapter (viz. the five principlesor elements, the ego, intellect, the Unmanifestable, the five sense organs and five organs of action, the mind which is the eleventh organ, the ten objects of the senses, pleasure, pain, desire, aversion and the aggregate or Sanghat of all these, the consciousness and fortitude), as separate from the soul and thus realise the Self.
- Some follow the principles of the Sankhya philosophy and attain liberation.
- Some others follow the path of action (Karmayoga) and attain liberation.
Thus, there are many ways to experience the Supreme Soul in this world of mortals.
- There are also others who get rid of pride, keep faith in Guru's words to which they listen attentively, offering themselves to him respectfully with all they have. Once Guru accepts them, he cares about what is good or bad for them, feels for their miseries and mitigates them, makes them feel relaxed and happy by inquiring after them. They keep aside all their work in order to be able to hear his words and are prepared to sacrifice even their life for him. These people also finally attain liberation from the birth-death cycles.
Shri Krishna now tells Arjuna what he calls the cream of the philosophy of these methods.
INTERACTION OF THE FIELD AND THE KNOWER
The entire world is created from the mutual interaction of the Field (Prakriti) and the "Knower of the Field" [The Soul, Brahman or Purusha) explained earlier.
[NOTE: Though the Field was earlier defined as the body, it is now used with a broader meaning to imply Prakriti. In the next chapter too, Field refers to Prakriti].
All the movable and immovable things and the entity that we call Jiva (life) is created out of the union of these two. Therefore materials or persons are not different from Purusha.
Even though cloth is not the same as thread, it is made of it. In the same way one should see by insight the sameness between Purusha and the material world. All creatures are different forms of the same entity and they are basically the same. Their names are different, their behaviour also is different and they appear outwardly different. But it is essential to realise that they are not really different. Unless this realisation comes there cannot be any escape from this birth and death cycles even in a million years.
Even though there are innumerable lives, the soul inside all of them is the same. The physical appearances of individuals are illusive and destructible but the soul inside all of them is real and indestructible. Thus, Soul is not different from the individual; but while the individual possesses attributes, the Soul inside him is not tainted by them. He who understands this is the man of vision among all men of Knowledge and the most fortunate of men.
[NOTE: This idea was presented earlier in this chapter. See the paragraph with sub-heading “Same Brahman pervades all” ].
MAN OF KNOWLEDGE IS LIBERATED WHILE IN BODY
This body is made up of the five principles. It is full of wind, biles and phlegm (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and is like a horrible bag filled with the three attributes and the organs. It is a snare in which the individual Self is entrapped and is subjected to pleasure, pain and rebirths. The soul desires to be freed from the snare of the impermanent body and become again the eternal Self. Only a man of Knowledge becomes unaffected by the snare of the body and ultimately reaches the state of the Brahman. This is the state to attain which yogis practice yoga and thereby skip across millions of births. When they leave their body they are not reborn. The formless Supreme Brahman, which is in the realm of vibrations (sound), is the final resting place of all destinations including that of liberation.
An equable person
An equable person looks at everything with eyes of equality. He considers that individuals, though differing in external appearances, are not really different but are the same soul. Such a person experiences the bliss of the Brahman while he is still living. He is not caught in the throes of birth-death cycles. And he fully knows that it is Prakriti that causes actions through the agency of the mind, the intellect, the five sense organs and the five organs of action. Prakriti aided by the three attributes sets up different kinds of acts in the light of the Soul but the Soul itself remains steady and unaffected by it. He who understands this has realised the Soul. Wherever he may cast his eyes he sees that all is full of Brahman. He attains endless bliss. One should completely know this arrangement of Prakriti and Purusha by experience.
Shri Krishna now tells couple of more ideas of profound nature.
SOUL LIVES IN BODY AS A PROJECTION
What is known by the name Supreme Soul always remains in its pure state, even though it exists in the body.
Actually it is not correct to say that Soul resides in the body. The soul is said to be in the body in the same way as when one looks at one's face in the mirror he says it is his face. It is totally meaningless to say that soul is related to the body.
Body is strung in the thread of the five principles and it rotates in the wheel of birth and death. With time it faces annihilation by fire or by rotting. On the other hand, the soul is eternal, self-illuminating, self-sufficient and beginningless.
[NOTE: Thus, what experiences pleasure and pain is the projection and not the real Soul the latter being only a neutral witness].
Soul is neither this nor that
The Soul cannot be described or qualified in definite terms.
- Because it is without attributes it cannot be said that it has phases nor can it be said that it is without phases; it is neither active nor inactive, neither fat nor thin.
- Because it is without form, it is neither visible nor invisible, neither bright nor dull, neither less nor much.
- Because it is a void it is neither full nor empty; it is in no way without company nor it has company; it is neither shapeless nor does it have shape. Since it has the form of the Self it has neither bliss nor sorrow; it is neither one nor many; it is neither free nor bound.
- Since it has the form of the Self it has neither bliss nor sorrow. It is without characteristics, it is neither this much nor that much, neither ready-made nor prepared, neither able to speak nor dumb.
- It is not born along with the creation of the universe and does not get destroyed when the universe gets destroyed. It is the place of dissolution of being and not being. It is dimensionless therefore it cannot be measured or described. It does not grow nor does it diminish, fade or get exhausted. Such is the nature of the Soul.
Just as days and nights occur in the sky, so are bodies acquired and given up by this Soul. Therefore he does not do anything in the body nor cause it to be done nor does it get involved in any of the affairs of the body. But nothing happens to its nature. Not only that, even though it is in the body it is unattached to it. Though Soul is in all bodies it does not get tainted by their characteristics. One should firmly impress on one’s mind the characteristic of the Soul that the
- It is unbroken therefore it neither takes the form of the body nor rejects it but remains as it always was.
Knower of the Field is different from the Field.
Soul resides inside the body but it is not the body. It is the power behind the functioning of the body. It illuminates all the living bodies.
Intellect with real sight
The intellect that understands the difference between the Field and the Knower of the Field is the intellect with real sight. It alone can assimilate the essence of the meaning of words. People try various ways to know that difference. Wise persons frequent the abodes of sages; intellectuals acquire the priceless peace and study Shastras, while some practice yoga while others serve saints respectfully ignoring worldly matters. Knowledge of those who understand the difference between the Field and Knower of the Field is something that should be highly respected. .
Such people know the real nature of Prakriti or Maya, which is spread everywhere in different forms and in manifestations like the five principles. Those who are convinced in their heart that Prakriti is different from the Purusha have attained Brahman. The Brahman is more extensive than sky; it is the outer border of Prakriti and after attaining it the feelings of similarity or dissimilarity vanish. Shape, feeling of being alive and duality vanish in It and It remains as one and only one Supreme Principle. This Supreme Principle is attained by those who understand that the Purusha and Prakriti are different.
CH: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18
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Dr V. V. shirvaikar, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A-23 Yashodhan Soc.
Pune 411037, INDIA
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