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(The Philosophical Part)







Shri Krishna said, "Arjuna, this body is called the Field and one who knows this is called the Knower of the field.  And understand properly that it is I who am the Knower of the Fields and the one who sustains all the Fields.  I consider Knowledge as that which makes one understand properly the Field and the Knower of the Fields.  Now I shall tell you why the name Field has been given to the body. (13:7-10)

Why it should be called Field, where and how it is created, which processes make it grow, whether it is exactly three and half cubits long or not and whether it is a wasteland or a fertile land and to whom does it belong and all its qualities are the matters which will be fully told now.  Listen to them carefully. (13:11-13)


Vedas: Vedas continue to talk about this Field and even science of logic began to talk about it endlessly.  The six Darshanas became tired discussing it and they have not come to any conclusion.  Because of it the relations between the various Shastras have broken and debate is going on throughout the world for their coming to an agreement.  So far nobody has been able to say whom this Field belongs.  But the power of ego is such that the matter is being debated and discussed everywhere. (13:14-18).

Atheists:  Seeing that Vedas have tried to elaborate on it in order to face the Atheists, the hypocrites started arguing differently.  They tell the Vedas that their arguments are false and without base.  Some of the hypocrites shed their clothes and move around naked while some shave their heads but the arguments they offer do not carry any weight. (13:19-21).

Yogis: Yogis opted for secluded life and practised Yama and Niyama (control of behaviour and tendencies, see notes) because this body or Field will be wasted by death.  Because the ego associated with this Field comes in the way of yoga, Lord Shiva gave up the kingdom and went to live on the cremation ground.  With strong resolve he remained unencumbered by clothes and burnt Kama the god of Love to ashes, because he lures people with pleasure of sex.  Brahmadeo acquired four mouths to gain additional strength but even he could not understand anything about it. (13:22-26).

Karmayogi:  Some (people who follow the path of action) say that the field completely belongs to the Individual Soul and Prana, the life force is its tenant.  In this house of Prana his four brothers (Apana, Vyana, Samana and Udana, see 6:200) toil and Mind is their supervisor.  Mind is the owner of bullock pairs in the form of the ten organs (five sense organs and five action organs) and he labours day and night in the farm of sense pleasures.  Avoiding the bed of righteous duties, planting the seeds of injustice and using the fertiliser of sinful deeds he gets accordingly the harvest of sins because of which he is reborn millions of times and undergoes suffering.  On the other hand, if he uses the bed of righteous duties and plants the seeds of righteous deeds then he enjoys happiness for hundreds of rebirths. (13:27-32)

Sankhyas:  On this the followers of the Sankyha philosophy say that this Field does not belong to the Individual soul.  He is only a wayfarer in this Field whose residence is temporary. Prana is an entitled labourer who guards it day and night.  The Field is leased to the beginningless Prakriti described by the Sankhyas.  Since she has domestic labourers it is she who carries out the farming.  The three attributes which farm the Field have been born of her.  Of these three the Raja attribute sows, the Sattva attributes sustains it and the Tama attribute harvests it.  Then Prakriti prepares the trampling enclosure out of the Mahat principle and gets the harvest trampled by the bull, which is the Time, to separate the grains.  Then the evening of the Unmanifestable (Brahman) approaches. (13:33-39)

The intellectuals:  The intellectuals did not like these arguments of the Sankhyas.  They said, “Prakriti stands nowhere in comparison with the Supreme Brahman.  The Will was sleeping in the bedroom of the Formless Brahman on the mattress of dissolution.  He suddenly woke up and being always of active disposition he discovered the treasure of the three worlds as per his wish.  Then the three worlds, which had dissolved, took form again in the garden of the formless Brahman.  Then he brought together the barren plots of the five principles (Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Sky) and built 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.  Then he created the material world by taking fractions of each of the five principles.  Then using the rubble of actions and non-actions he built walls on two sides and converted the barren land in their middle into forests.  In order to sustain the comings and goings in the forest, he created the two tunnels of birth and death arranging by means of the Divine will that the tunnels will extend from the material world to the Brahman.  Then the Divine will in collaboration with the ego and with the intellect as intermediary, arranged to cultivate the living and nonliving world throughout life.  Thus the Divine will which branched out of the Brahman is therefore the root of the world. ” (13:40-50)

Naturalists: When the intellectuals said this, the Naturalists (Swabhavavadi) asked, "If one has to imagine the bedroom of the Divine will in the village of the Brahman then what is wrong with believing in the Prakriti aspect of the Brahman as propounded by the Sankhyas? But forget about these things and listen to the real facts.  Who filled the sky with the clouds? Who supports the stars in space? Who stretched the ceiling of the sky and when? Who decided that wind should always flow? Who planted the hair? Who filled the oceans? Who makes the rain pour? Just as these things occur because they are natural the Field is also natural.  No particular person has proprietary right over it.  Whoever carries its burden and works gets its benefits; it is not fruitful to anybody else. " (13:51-57)

Fatalists: On this the Fatalists said, “If this were true then how does Death always rule over the body? The tentacles of Death extend even beyond the time of the great Kalpa (Time at which world is destroyed by deluge) when it devours even Satyaloka, the Brahmadeo's region.  He kills the eight ever-renewed Guardians and the keepers of the eight directions and the residents of heaven.  And other weaker lives die and fall in the ravine of birth-death just by the breath of Death. (Note: this part was a free translation. ) Just look at the jaws of death which are big enough to swallow the entire universe.  Therefore we hypothesise that it is the Death which rules the Field. (13:58-65)

Debate by Rishis: Thus there are various opinions about this Field.  The Rishis in the Naimisha Forest debated on it extensively which are recorded in the Puranas.  In Vedas, the Brihatsama Sutra is very holy from the point of view of Knowledge.  But it has also not been able to fathom it.  Many great poets also have used their intelligence to analyse this question of the Field.  But this Field is of such a nature and so extensive that nobody has ever found out whom exactly it belongs.  Now I shall explain to you completely the nature of this Field. (13:66-71)


This Field is made up of thirty-six principles which are: the five principles (or elements), the ego, intellect, the Unmanifestable, the ten organs (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 (Sanghat) of all these, the consciousness and fortitude.  Now I shall tell you about which the five principles are, which the sense objects are, what the nature of the organs etc.  is, one by one.   (13:72-75).

The Five elements and ego: The five elements are the earth, water, fire, air and sky. (13:76).  The ego is hidden and is latent within the Prakriti.  When the five elements come together to form the body it is this ego which makes this body dance around. (13:79, 81).  The surprising thing about this ego is that it does not affect the ignorant persons but gets its hold on the learned ones putting them into all sorts of difficulties. (13: 82).

Intellect:  Now listen to the characteristics of intellect.  When desire (lust) becomes strong the sense-organs, if they are favourable, help to bring in their objects and expose the individual to a variety of pleasures and pains.  The intellect decides how much is the pleasure and how much is the pain.  It decides where the pleasure lies and where pain occurs; which is a meritorious deed and which is sinful; which is pure and which is impure.  The quality by which an individual is able to tell good and bad, small and big etc.  and judge the sense-objects, that which is the basic means of gaining knowledge and due to which the Sattva  attribute in a person grows and which is the meeting place of the individual and the Soul is to be recognised as the intellect. (13:83-89)

Unmanifestable: Now I shall tell you the characteristics of the Unmanifestable.  The Prakriti  of the Sankhya philosophy is the Unmanifestable.  I had described two different aspects of Prakriti, A-Para and Para, when I explained the Sankhya philosophy to you earlier (Seventh chapter).  Out of those two the second one that is Para which is the Life (or life-force) is also called Unmanifestable. (13:90-92).  Just as after death of the material body all the impressions of actions throughout the lifetime merge with the Karmas associated with the subtle body of desires, (13:94) the five principles and the creatures created by them shed their gross qualities and the place where they merge should be called Unmanifestable. (13:96-97).

The Ten Organs: Now listen to the different types of organs.  Ears, nose, eyes, skin and tongue are the five sense organs.  Once these five senses come to an accord then the intellect starts thinking about pleasures and pains.  The organs of speech, hands, feet, anus and the sex organs are the five organs of action through which the power of action which accompanies life and is present in a living being, makes its body perform actions. (13:98-102).

Mind:  Now I shall explain to you what mind is.    Now I shall explain to you what mind is.  That which lies at the joining place of the organs and the intellect, playing around by its fickle nature and with the help of the Raja attribute, which gives deceptive appearances like the blue colour of the sky or like the waves in a mirage, is mind.  When the body takes shape out of the five principles (elements) through the union of the semen and the ovum the air principle gets divided into ten parts with ten different aspects which get themselves established in ten different parts according to the individual properties and functions of each.  Due to its purely fickle nature it gains its strength from the Raja attribute and implants itself firmly outside the intellect and above the ego i. e.  in between them.  It has been named as "mind" for no particular reason but actually it is only a concept.  Because of it the Soul gets to be associated with the body.  It is the root cause of 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 pushes the organs into sense-pleasures.  It creates a conceptual world and immediately destroys it 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. (13:103-116).

Sense-objects: Now listen to the various types of sense-objects and their names.  Touch, sound, form, taste and smell are the objects of the five sense organs through which knowledge reaches out. (13:117-118).

Action-objects:  The pronunciation of vowels and consonants, the action of taking or throwing, walking, passing of fecus and urine are the objects of the five organs of action through which the body functions.  These are then the ten objects present in the body. (13:119-120).

Desire: Now I shall describe desire.  That which excites the emotions after remembering or hearing about past events, that which generates craving when the senses encounter sense objects, causes the mind to run helter-skelter and the organs to step in where they should not go, that which makes the intellect crazy and that which has a liking for the sense objects is called desire. (13:121-125).

Hatred:  The feeling in the mind when the organs do not get the desired pleasures of sense objects is called hatred. (13:126)

Bliss: Now, bliss or happiness is to be understood as that due to which an individual, because activities of the body and mind have ceased, forgets all other things including one's body.  The state of mind which causes the life force to be inactivated but makes goodness grow, which causes the tendencies of the sense organs to be lulled into sleep and in which the individual meets the soul, that state is called bliss.  And the state of mind where these things are not gained is called sorrow.  One does not gain happiness when desires and ambitions are present but it comes automatically they are absent.  Therefore presence or absence of desire and ambitions are the causes of sorrow and happiness respectively. (13:127-133).

Chetana:  The aloof and unattached power of the consciousness is called the vital power or life-principle (Chetana).  It functions throughout the body right from the the toe-nail to the hair on the head and remains unchanged throughout during the three states of the body viz.  wakefulness, dream and sleep.  It brings freshness to the mind, intellect etc.  and keeps the Nature lovely and cheerful.  It is present in some measure or other in all the animate and inanimate objects. (13:134-137).  By association with the Soul this vital power or life-principle puts life into the inanimate body. (13: 141).

Fortitude: Now listen to the description of fortitude or courage.  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. (13:142-148).

Sanghat  And the assembly of all these thirty-six principles including life principle is called the aggregate or Sanghat. (13:149).

Thus I have explained to you the characteristics of the thirty-six principles which 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 also call it the body and is also known by many other names.  But whatever is created and is destroyed, between the material up to this side of the Brahman, is all Field. (13:150, 155-158).

Attributes influences birth  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 later (Chapter fourteen).  Thus I have told you all the characteristics and attributes of the Field. (13:159-161).


Now I shall tell you about the generous Knowledge.  For the sake of this Knowledge yogis adopt the difficult path of yoga avoiding the attractions of a place in heaven and of the Siddhis.  People perform difficult penance, yajnas and other worship rituals or jump wholeheartedly into devotion or follow the path of Kundalini yoga and in the hope of attaining this Knowledge some day, spend hundreds of lifetimes in the service of their Guru.  This Knowledge which destroys the ignorance and unifies the individual with the Brahman, closes the doors of the senses, cripples the tendency for materialistic actions and removes the unhappiness from the mind.  Because of it the duality becomes scarce and the sense of equality prevails.  It removes arrogance and destroys delusion and does not permit the language of "I" and "others".  It uproots the worldly attitude and cleans the mire of desire and embraces the difficult-to-know ultimate principle of Brahman with ease.  When it manifests itself the vital force which drives the world loses its power.  Intellect opens its eyes by its light and the individual rolls in bliss.  The pure and holy Knowledge purifies the mind laden with all sorts of impure notions.  By attaining it the disease of I-am-the-body feeling with which an individual is afflicted is cured.  I am explaining that Knowledge though really it is not explainable.  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. (13:162-179)


Just as the presence of underground water discovered by the deep roots becomes apparent through the foliage, in the same way the presence of this Knowledge in the heart of a person is indicated through certain characteristic signs on that person's body which I shall now tell you. (13:180-184)

Humility: Because he lacks pride a man of Knowledge does not like to be equated with anybody and he feels awkward if burdened with greatness and honour.  He feels nervous by praise or honour or if one openly applauds his worthiness.  He does not let greatness to be showered upon him.  He feels distressed even from obeisance by others.  Lest his greatness increase in public eyes he pretends to be a simpleton, hiding his wisdom.  Ignoring his greatness he deliberately goes around as if he is a mad person. (13:185-192).

Being prideless avoids attention: He detests fame and does not like discussing Shastras.  He prefers to sit quietly and he strongly wishes that people should ignore him and relatives should not worry about him.  His actions are generally such that they will instil humility in him and appearance of being insignificant.  He prefers to live in such a way that people ignore his existence.  He moves around in such a light-footed manner that people wonder whether he is really walking or is being carried around by wind.  He prays that his existence should be ignored, nobody should remember his name or looks and everybody should go away from him frightened.  He always prefers to live in solitude and feels happy in deserted places.  He is in sympathy with the wind, converses with the sky and is friendly with the trees.  He who has these characteristics of pridelessness may be considered as having attained Knowledge. (13:193-202).

Unpretentiousness: Now listen to the characteristic of unpretentiousness (inostensibility) and how to identify it. (13:202).  An unpretentious person does not speak about his meritorious actions. (13:204).  He keeps his charitable and benevolent deeds secret.  He does not talk about the favours he has done to others.  He does not boast about his learning and does not sell his knowledge for public applause.  He behaves like a miser when it comes to expenditure on his own person but he spends generously on religious work.  At home he may be wanting in everything but when it comes to charity he competes with the wishing tree.  In short, he is wise in the religious duties, generous in charity and clever in spiritual discussions but behaves like a simpleton in other matters.  Though he knows perfectly well the path to liberation he is inept in the worldly matters. (13:207-212). Therefore Arjuna, he who has these characteristics may be considered to be having Knowledge in his grasp. (13:216).

Non-violence: Now I shall tell you about the characteristics of non-violence.  Many people have defined non-violence in different ways according to their own school of thought. (13:217-218).

Nonviolence according to Purvamimansa  It has been told rather oddly in Purvamimansa that some types violence, such as cutting the branches of a tree to fence its trunk or satisfying one's hunger by cutting one's hand, cooking and eating it are not violence but non-violence.  People perform Yajnas for preventing drought.  The very base of the Yajnas is the killing of Animals.  Under this situation how can one achieve non-violence? Where only violence is sown how can one harvest non-violence? But the greed of the performers of the Yajnas is strange. (13:219-224).

Non-violence according to Ayurveda   In Ayurveda also the same approach, i. e.  that of taking a life to save another has been recommended.  For preparing the medicines the Ayurveda experts dig the roots of the trees, some trees are uprooted with the roots and leaves, some are cut in the middle, the bark of some is peeled away and the cores of some are boiled.  They bleed the trees dry, trees who have no enmity with anyone at all, by making cuts all over them to extract their essence.  Diseased people are thus cured by killing the trees.  They cut the stomach of live animals to remove the biles in order to save sick people. (13:225-230).  It is like looting the poor to distribute free food in charity or like burning one's blanket to warm oneself.  One does not know whether one should laugh or cry. (13:231-234).

Non-violence according Jain Religion  In one religion (Jain) they drink water after filtering it.  But because of the filtering many living organisms die.  Some people, afraid of committing violence, eat the grains raw without cooking.  But this indigestible food causes agony to the person and brings him on the verge of death which is nothing but violence. (13:235-236).

Non-violence according to Shri Krishna  Thus, understand that according to the ritualistic approach, permitted violence is equivalent to non-violence.  When I first mentioned non-violence, I did not want to omit mentioning these opinions.  I therefore mentioned them first so that you also would know about them.  When one puts forth one's opinions other opinions also should be considered and that is the reason I discussed them so far. (13:237-240).

Now listen to the characteristics of non-violence according to my opinion.  If these characteristics are found in any person then it will be found that he has attained Knowledge.  Whether non-violence is ingrained in a person or not may be found from his behaviour.  Similarly, the impression of non-violence on mind after one attains Knowledge is as follows (13:241-245).

Characteristics of non-violence   Such person treads very carefully due to compassion for the minute living beings which he knows are present even in atoms.  His path is filled with friendly feelings and he is extremely careful about treading on the insects and other living beings under his feet.  His sense of non-violence cannot be expressed in words. (13:249-251).  He treads on the ground so delicately that if by mistake his feet touch any living thing then it actually gets comfort from it. (13:254).  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.  With these thoughts he returns without treading on any creature. (13:257-258).

You will notice kindness even in his speech.  When he speaks, love oozes from his mouth first and then the words follow.  As far as possible he does not speak to anybody and if an occasion for speaking arises then fearing that his words may hurt somebody he observes silence.  If perhaps someone requests, then he speaks with love and he appears like his parents to the listener. (13:263-268).  His talk, true 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. (13:270-272).

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 therefore generally does not look at anybody and if at all he looks out of the inner kindness then the creature at whom he looks feels a sense of satisfaction. (13:273-276).

Just as his eyes are kind to the living creatures so are his hands.  Yogis are not left with any desires because of their fulfilment.  In the same way his hands are inactive because nothing more remains to be done.  He does not like to take even a staff or stick in his hand then why talk of a weapon? He does not stroke his body lest the hair on his body get disturbed.  And he feels that cutting his nails is like committing violence, therefore he grows them.  He feels shy even while raising his hands in reassurance or giving a supporting hand to a falling person or gently stroking a suffering person.  But even moon's rays do not have that love with which he helps to remove the suffering by his touch.  The movements of his hands have the character and nature of a good person. (13:277-292).

Now regarding his mind, understand that the behaviour of the organs I told so far are not different from the behaviour of the mind. (13:293).  Mind expresses itself through the organs. (13:296).  If there is no place for non-violence in the mind itself then how can it be seen outside? Anything is created in the mind first and is then expressed through speech, looks or hands.  How can anything be expressed in words if it is not there in the mind? When the mind-ness of mind vanishes then the organs stop functioning. (13:297-301).  Mind is the root of actions of the organs and it functions through the organs.  The desires in the mind are manifested through the organs.  If non-violence is well ingrained in the mind then the organs function on its strength.  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. (13:303-313).

Tolerance and Forbearance: Now that your outlook has become clear, I shall introduce you properly to Knowledge.  Knowledge is present where there is forbearance (forgiveness) without regret. (13:339-340).  Forbearance gets nurtured within a man of Knowledge.  I shall now tell you the signs by which one may judge this. (13:342).

He is tolerant to all good and bad situations.  He does not feel perturbed bany of the three kinds of difficulties - personal, external and elemental.  He gets the same sense of contentment with the expected gains as with the unexpected losses.  He accepts honour and insult, pleasure and pain with the same calmness.  Praise and slander do not disturb his balance.  He does not feel uneasy by the heat of the sun nor does he shiver by cold and he does not feel frightened in any situation. (13:343-347).  There is nothing which he cannot tolerate and he is not even aware that he is tolerating.  He considers that all the sufferings and enjoyments his body has to go through are himself, therefore he does not feel that he is doing something out of ordinary.  He who possesses such forbearance without regret imparts greatness to Knowledge.  Such persons are really the essence of Knowledge. (13:351-353).

Uprightness:  Now I shall tell you about the nature of uprightness.  An upright person is impartial to everybody like the vital force (Prana) which supports both good and bad people with equal favour. (13:354-355).   His mental attitude and behaviour does not change from person to person.  He knows the nature of the world thoroughly and behaves as if he has known it since old times and therefore he does not know the meaning of "mine" and "yours".  He can mix with anybody and he does not have prejudice against anybody.  His nature is straightforward.  There are no desires or doubts in his mind.  He does not hesitate to express his mind before people.  He cannot hide anything in the corners of his mind.  His mind being pure his actions are also pure.  Since he is fully satisfied due to Self- realisation, he does not spend his time in thoughts.  He neither reins his mind nor does he let it go adrift.  He does not have deceit in his mind nor vagueness in his words and he never behaves with ill will with anybody.  All his actions are straightforward, without deceit and pure and his five vital airs (Pranas) also are always free.  A person having these qualities is to be understood as uprightness personified and Knowledge resides in him. (13:357-368).

Devotion to Guru:   Now I shall tell you about the method of devotion to one's Guru.  This service of the Guru is the birthplace of all fortunes and makes an individual attain Brahman even when in sorrowful state.  Listen with complete attention. (13:369- 371).

He who has dedicated his mind and body to the Guru-tradition is the storehouse of Guru-devotion.  His thoughts are about the place of abode of his Guru.  He rushes to welcome even the wind blowing from that region and requests it to visit his home.  Out of the mad love he has for his Guru he likes to talk only about the direction in which his Guru lives.  He considers Guru's home as his own but being bound by Guru's orders he has to live in his own place.  Then he longs for the release from Guru's orders and an opportunity to meet him and in this mood a moment feels like a thousand years to him.  If somebody arrives from Guru's village or Guru himself sends someone then he feels like person revived from death. (13:374-380).  He feels elated even by the name of his Guru's tradition.  If you find anybody with this kind of love for the Guru tradition then understand that Knowledge is always at his service. (13:382-383).

Then with great love in his heart he meditates on the form of his Guru.  By installing that form in his pure heart he himself becomes the articles of worship or he installs his Guru like Shivalinga in the temple of bliss situated in the premises of Knowledge and bathes it with the nectar of meditation.  Then when the sun of Self-realisation rises he fills the basket of intellect with flowers of pure feelings and offers them to the Guru as Lord Shiva.  He considers all the three times i. e. morning, noon and evening as auspicious for this worship and burns the myrrh of ego and ever waves Arti with the lamp of knowledge.  He offers his Guru the food of non-duality, and taking him to be Shivalinga serves as its priest. (13:385-390).

Sometimes his intellect imagines his Guru to be the husband lying on the bed of life and experiences his loving admiration.  Sometimes there is such strong waves of love in his mind that he calls the love as Kshirasagara, the ocean of milk where the limitless bliss of meditation is the bed formed by Shesha the Great Serpent on which his Guru is relaxing in the form of Lord Vishnu; and he himself becomes His consort Laxmi serving Him.  He stands before Him becoming Garuda as well and becomes Brahmadeo too created from His navel and with the love for his Guru he experiences the bliss of meditation within his mind. (13:391-395).
Sometimes on the strength of devotion he fancies his Guru as his mother and lying on her lap enjoys the breast milk.  Or imagining his Guru to be a cow under the tree of Knowledge becomes its calf.  Sometimes an idea that he is a fish in the waters of his Guru's benevolence flashes in his mind.  He imagines the Guru's benevolence to be a shower of nectar watering the plant of attitude of service. (13:396-399).

See how limitless his love is!  Sometimes he considers himself to be just a hatched chick without eyes or wings of his Guru and imagining him to be the mother bird, gets fed by her beak.  Thus, just as waves arise one after other at high tide, he goes from one state of meditation to the next, overcome by the love for his Guru. (13:400-402).
Now I shall tell you how he serves the Guru externally.  He resolves, "I will serve my Guru in the best possible way and Guru will become pleased by it and tell me affectionately to ask for something.  Once my master is pleased with my service I shall pray to him thus: ‘Oh Master, Let me be your entire entourage.  I shall be all the articles you need.   And you will see the wonder of my service.  Guru is a mother to many but he will be mother to me alone and I shall make him say so on oath. (13:403-410).  I shall arrange such that the Guru will be obsessed with me and will be dedicated only to me and will shower his love only on me.   (13: 411)

Thus runs his mind in fanciful thoughts.  He says, “I shall be the place of abode of my Guru and serve him by becoming his servant.  I shall be the threshold which my Guru crosses and I shall also be the doors of the house as well as the doorkeeper.  I shall be his sandals and I myself shall make him wear them.  I shall be his umbrella too and I myself shall hold it over him.  I shall be his vanguard and warn him of the ups and downs of the ground before him.  I shall be the fly sweep (a brush like device to drive away flies), the valet, the server of water-jug for washing hands and mouth and I shall be the clean basin to receive the mouthwash.  I shall be the server of the betel leaf and also the residue which is spitted out.  And I shall be the one to serve him in giving bath. (13:412-420).

I shall be the seat, ornaments, clothes, applications like sandal paste etc.  of my Guru.  I shall become the cook and serve him food and wave the lamp round him in worship (Arati, a ritual of worship in which a lamp is  waved around the object of worship).  When the Guru sits for his meals I shall sit with him and later I shall come forward to offer him the betel leaf.  I shall remove his dish, spread his bed and massage his legs.  I shall be his throne and the Guru will sit on it.  Thus I shall fulfil my vow to serve him. (13:421-425).

There will be a miracle by which I shall be whatever Guru's mind turns to.  I shall be the countless words that enter Guru's ears and I shall become everything that touches his body too.  I shall be the forms which my Guru's affectionate eyes see.  I shall be the eatables which his tongue will savour and shall serve the nose by becoming a fragrance. ” (13:426-429).

Thus he feels that he should pervade all things to serve his Guru from outside as long as he lives.  But he feels that even after death he should serve his Guru.  Listen to how he thinks. (13:430-431).

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 waving around the Guru and those lighted in his temple.  I shall merge the Air principle into the fly-swap and the fan of my Guru and be the breeze that comforts his body.  Whichever space my Guru goes with his entourage I shall introduce the part of my Sky (space) principle in it.  But on no account I shall allow the service of my Guru be interrupted whether during my life or after death and neither shall I let other people to serve my Guru.  Aeons will pass while I serve my Guru thus. ” (13:432-437).

He who holds such courage and serves his Guru with limitless devotion does not keep count of days or nights nor of the extent of burden, on the other hand he feels happier if Guru asks him to do more.  Even if the tasks Guru tells him to do are bigger than the sky he carries them out single-handed.  In this respect his body competes with his mind and completes the task.  Sometimes he stakes even his life in order to fulfil Guru's commands even made in jest.  He strains his body in Guru's service, gets strength from Guru's love and becomes the mainstay of Guru's orders.  He derives respectability from his Guru's tradition and is polite to his brother disciples and is addicted to Guru's service.  He considers the rules of his Guru's tradition as the prescribed duties for his caste 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 other than Guru's service.  Guru's door is his everything and he has brotherly love for all who serve his Guru.  He always has the Mantra given by his Guru on his tongue and he does not touch any Shastras except for his Guru's words.  To him the water which his Gurus feet have touched are superior to all other holy waters from the three worlds.  If by chance he gets leftover food from his Guru he prefers it to the bliss of Samadhi.  Even a particle of dust raised when his Guru walks is like the bliss from liberation to him.  There is no end to how much one can talk about his devotion to his Guru. (13:438-452).

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj 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 and because of him, Knowledge itself gets respectability and becomes his devotee considering him to be God.  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 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." (13:453-460)

Purity :  Shri Krishna continued, “Like camphor which is clean from outside as well as inside purity is seen in that sage both externally and internally. (13:462).  From outside he has become pure by his actions and from inside by his Knowledge. (13:464).  Arjuna, to keep the body clean without the internal purity is nothing but mockery. (13:468).  If there is Knowledge in the mind then one automatically attains external purity.  How otherwise can pure Knowledge and pure action be found together? Therefore Arjuna, he who has cleaned himself from outside by actions and inside by Knowledge is pure both from inside and outside.  What more! Only purity remains in such a person.  Pure feelings in the mind are reflected in the body. Passions do not touch him even if he comes in contact with sense-objects through the sense-organs. (13:473-479).  When heart is pure, desires and doubts do not survive but one knows what is proper and improper.  The mind of such a person does not get affected by doubts.  Arjuna, this is called Purity and in whomsoever you see it know for sure that Knowledge also occurs in him. (13:482-484).

Steadfastness: A person in whom steadfastness occurs is the life-force (Prana) of Knowledge.  Even though the natural actions of his body go on externally his mind remains undisturbed internally. (13:485-486).  His mind does not get discouraged by calamities.  He is not tortured by poverty or pain nor does he tremble from fear and sorrow.  And he is not frightened even by the approach of death.  His straightforward mind does not waver even under pressure from hope or pain or by the rumblings of various diseases. (13:492- 494).  His mind does not waver when he has to face slander, insult, punishment, desire, greed. (13:495-496). Arjuna, this state is what is called steadfastness and whosoever has it ingrained in him is the treasure cove of Knowledge. (13:501).

Self-restraint:  That sage takes care of his mind and does not allow it to go near the sense-objects. (13:504).  He keeps a stern watch on the tendencies of his mind and deliberately controls his organs by self-restraint.  Then by steadying himself in the three Bandhas, he fixes his consciousness in the central nerve Sushumna and 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. (13:508-512).

Dispassion: And he is ever dispassionate in his mind regarding the sense-pleasures. (13:513).  He does not even like the topic of sense-pleasures mentioned and does not permit the senses to come in contact with the sense-pleasures.  His mind is apathetic to sense-pleasures and his body also becomes lean.  Even then he likes Shama (control of the mind) and Dama (restraint of the senses).  He constantly performs penance and austerities and to live among people is like a calamity to him.  He likes to practice yoga and live in isolation, and he cannot stand crowds. (13:517-520).

He finds worldly pleasures and heavenly enjoyment distasteful.  This kind of detachment from the sense-pleasures is a sign of Self-realisation.  Understand that Knowledge resides in a person who has developed such dislike for worldly and heavenly pleasures.

Absence of pride:  Like a man of desires, he performs yajnas, builds lakes, prepares gardens etc.  for public but he does not carry the sense of pride of having done these things. (13:521-525).

He spares no efforts in performing his daily and incidental duties appropriate to his caste.  But ego about having done them or the feeling that the action was successful because he did it, does not touch his mind. (13:526-527).  This characteristic of his mind is called egoless-ness.  There is no doubt that Knowledge occurs where this is fully evident. (13:534-535).

Awareness about evil of birth, death etc.:  He observes caution even when birth, death, old age, pain, disease and sin are far away (13:536) and is careful to ensure that he is not reborn because he does not forget the pains of the previous births.  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 which will cause him to be reborn. (13:539-541).  The sense of shame of having been born does not leave his mind.  Even if death is very far away in future he is alert about it right from birth. (13:544-545).  He lives with a dejected mind thinking of death.  Having received the warning of the old age while in youth itself he listens to 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. (13:576-581).  He who remembers that he is going to become old some day and takes steps by doing righteous actions while in youth itself before getting disabled by old age is to be considered as having Knowledge. (13:587).

Detachment:   Now I shall tell you about one more strange characteristic of a man of Knowledge.  He is very detached towards his body.  He does not have any affinity for his home and feels detachment towards his wealth.  He lives in the world respecting the precepts of Vedas.  Such a person who does not keep desire towards wife, son and property is where Knowledge takes shelter.  His mind does not waver by pain or pleasure and his sense of balance does not change.  Understand that Knowledge actually exists in such a person. (13:594-603).

Devotion to God:  He is resolved in his mind that there is nothing good in this world except Me.  He has decided that there is no goal in this world other than Me and he has developed so much love for Me that we both have become one.  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: He who likes to live at places of pilgrimage, holy river banks, excellent forests and caves, he who prefers to live in a cave in the mountains or on the shores of a lake and does not like living in cities, he who likes seclusion and dislikes living in villages is Knowledge in the guise of a person.  I shall tell some more characteristics of Knowledge to explain its nature further. (13:604-615).

Certain that Knowledge leads to Self-realisation:  He has decided with certainty that except for the Knowledge by which the entity called Supreme Soul may be experienced, all other types through which one gains knowledge of the worldly life and heaven etc. only  are all ignorance.  He gives up the desire to gain a place in heaven, ignores the worldly matters and keeping his attention in Self-realisation becomes engrossed in it.  He directs his mind and intellect only towards Self-realisation.  His intellect becomes steady with the definite understanding that Knowledge of the Self alone is real and knowledge of any other kind only leads to delusion.  There is no doubt at all that Knowledge occurs in such a person.  And once the Knowledge thus gets completely ingrained in his mind then he becomes one with Me.  But just as a person who has just sat down cannot be said to have been sitting around similarly unless Knowledge becomes fixed in a person, he cannot be called a person of Knowledge.  Then he steadies his sights on the Brahman, the Object-to-be-known 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. (13:616- 626).

Dedication to Knowledge:  If the intellect cannot reach the Supreme Brahman in the light of Knowledge then it must be considered as blind.  Therefore he gets the right desire for gaining that Knowledge by which he can see the Supreme Brahman wherever he casts his eyes and he finally gains that Knowledge.  His intellect has developed as much as his Knowledge therefore no words are needed to tell that he is the Knowledge personified.  Therefore one need not wonder at my saying that he whose intellect has met the Supreme Brahman in the light of Knowledge has become Knowledge. (13:627-633).

Thus Shri Krishna explained the eighteen characteristics of a person of Knowledge.  He then said, "Now I shall also reveal to you what is known as ignorance along with its characteristics. (13:653).


Understand that what is not Knowledge automatically becomes ignorance.  I shall tell you some of its main signs.  An ignorant person lives for status.  He eagerly awaits honour and is pleased by felicitations.  He who is stiff with pride and does not bend should be considered as the abode of ignorance.  He brags about his religious actions and makes a big noise about his learning.  He makes public announcements of his good deeds and all his actions are for getting prominence and greatness.  He deceives his followers by external appearances by applying ash, sandal-paste etc.  to the body.  Understand that such a person is a mine of ignorance. (13:656-661).
Cruelty:  He whose actions make the whole world suffer, even casual words from whom prick like a spear and whose all plans are more dangerous than poison may be considered as possessing a lot of ignorance.  His life is the home of violence. (13:662-664).

Slave to emotions: He becomes elated by meeting his loved ones and depressed when they depart.  He feels pleased by hearing his own praise and if he hears even slight criticism he becomes unhappy.  He who cannot bear the onslaughts of mental emotions may be considered as completely ignorant. (13:665-668).
Secretive: His talk appears to be frank outwardly but actually he is very secretive.  He shows friendship towards one but helps another.  He somehow or other maintains good relations with straightforward type of persons and wins the minds of good people with an ultimate aim of harming them.  It is a fact such a person has ignorance. (13:669-672).

Disrespect for Guru:  He is ashamed of his Guru tradition and he does not like to serve his Guru.  He learns from his Guru but is disrespectful to him.  To even utter the name of such a person is like using the tongue to eat food from a Shudra (prohibited food) but I had to do it while telling you the characteristics of ignorance.  Such a sin can be atoned by uttering the name of a Guru's devotee. (13:673-676).

Doubts and Greed:  An ignorant person who neglects his duties, has his mind full of doubts, is impure from inside and outside.  Due to greed of wealth he does not care about whether it belongs to him or others.  He is very loose regarding women.  He does not feel shame if he misses the usual time for performing his prescribed actions or his incidental duties.  He has no shame in doing sinful deeds and no liking for righteous deeds.  His mind is always full of doubts and he always has his eyes on money.  Understand that such a person is like a statue of ignorance. (13:678-684).

Fickle-minded:  He deviates from his resolves for the sake of personal gains.  He gets shaken by frightful situations.  He gets engrossed in flights of imagination.  His mind gets totally lost by unpleasant news.  He cannot remain steady in one place unless he falls down otherwise he goes on wandering.  Such a person is full of ignorance.  He is as fickle-minded as a monkey and he does not have the strength of determination in him.  He is not afraid of doing prohibited actions.  He abandons penance halfway. kicks away righteousness and does not bother about the rules of the rituals.  He does not shun sinful actions and does not have liking for righteous actions.  He tramples on the bindings of shame.  He does not bother about family traditions and about what is proper or improper.  His mind  wanders unrestrained in thoughts of sense-pleasures. (13: 685-699).  Such a person is rich in ignorance. (13:702).

Passion-lover: He does not give up the desire for sense pleasures not only while he lives but even after death and while he lives  he makes preparations in order to attain heaven after death for the sake of pleasures there.  He struggles incessantly for bodily pleasures.  He prefers actions where he can fulfil his desire of enjoying the fruits thereof.  He thinks it is inauspicious to meet a dispassionate person and takes bath to clean himself.  The sense pleasures may get tired of him but he does not get tired of them. (13:703-705).  For their sake he will even jump in fire and he goes around exhibiting this nature like an ornament. From birth until his death he incessantly toils for the pleasures and not minding the troubles they give him, he likes them more and more. (13:707- 709).

Infatuation with family: He is infatuated with parents during childhood.  When that is over he gets attracted to female body during his youth and while he is busy enjoying the marital life old age approaches when he directs that same love towards his children.  Like a congenital blind person he spends all his time with his children but he never gets tired of the sense-pleasures until his death.  There is no limit to ignorance in such a person.  Now listen to some more characteristics of ignorance. (13:710-713).

False pride and jealousy: He performs his duties sticking to the I-am-the-body impression and feels disturbed if there are any shortcomings in his performance.  Proud of his youth and learning he goes around with stiff posture and says, "I alone am great and rich.  Who else is there with as good a behaviour as mine?"  He becomes stiff with the ego that there is none as great as himself, that he knows everything and that he is popular. (13:714-717).

He is jealous of virtuous persons, proud of his own learning and of the strength he has gained from penance and of his knowledge.  You will see him swollen by pride.  He does not bend nor does he feel kindness.  Even virtuous persons cannot bring him to his senses.  I definitely tell you that ignorance of such a person is on the increase. (13:724-727).

Forgets birth-death cycles:  Arjuna, he bothers about his household, body and wealth but not about his past and future births. (13:728).  Even when the body is infected and the nine apertures of the body leak he does not regret the reasons due to which he has reached that state.  He was simmering in filth for nine months in the cavern of mother's womb but he neither remembers that discomfort nor the pains during the birth.  He does not feel nauseated by seeing babies wallowing in faeces and urine and neither does he think about the fact that he has just finished his last lifetime and the next lifetime is approaching.  Not only that he does not worry about death while the life progresses rapidly.  He is so sure that he will continue to live that he refuses to accept the possible existence of death. (13:732-738).

While he is engrossed in sense-pleasures, he does not realise that as he continues to remain alive death is approaching.  He considers only the growth of his body and the sense-pleasures as real. But the poor fellow does not realise that when a prostitute offers one everything, therein lies his destruction. (13:743-745).  Engrossed in eating and sleeping he does not realise that his destruction lies in those very same things.  As time passes the body grows, so does the indulgence in sense-pleasures and the shadow of death falls increasingly on life but he does not see it approaching.  He who cannot see the approaching death because of his getting engrossed in sense-pleasures is the king of the land of ignorance. (13:747-753).

Intoxicated by life he remains without care about the approaching old age.  During youth he does not understand what would be his condition when he would become old. (13:754).  Such a person is really ignorant.  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.  And even when he attains old age, which is the sign of the approaching death, delusion about his own youth does not leave him.  Understand that such a person is undoubtedly an abode of ignorance. (13:760-763).
He who remains carefree when the enemy sleeps thinking that the enmity is now over perishes along with his family.  In the same way he does not bother about falling ill in future as long as his appetite and sleep are good and he is not ill at present.  And in the company of his wife and children and growing affluence which intoxicates him, he does not see that he is going to be separated one day from his sons etc.  and his wealth.  He who cannot see this future sorrow is ignorant. (13:767-770).

Indulgence:  And he who lets the sense-organs go astray unrestrained is also ignorant.  In the prime of his youth, supported by wealth, he indulges in all sorts of pleasures whether proper or improper. He does what should not be done, longs for the impossible, and thinks about things he should not think of.  He enters where he should not, asks for what he should not take, touches things which he should not touch and does all the things one should not even think about.  He goes to places where he should not go, sees what he should not see, eats what he should not eat and instead feels satisfied in it.  He keeps company of those he should not, maintains relations with those he should not and behaves in a manner he should not behave.  He listens to what he should not and blabbers about things about which he should not speak, but does not realise that he will get the blame for it.  He does things which please the body and the mind without thinking about their propriety.  But the thought that it will result in his committing sin or he will have to suffer in hell does not enter his mind.  Association with such a person leads to the spread of ignorance in the world to such an extent that even sages get affected. (13:771-780).

Attachment to wife at the cost of parents: Now listen to some more characteristics of an ignorant person.  His attachment is totally towards his home and his wife and he cannot get his mind away from them. (13:781-783).

He loves his home as parents love an only child born in old age and he does not know anything other than his wife whose body he worships without any thought about, "Who am I?" or "What should I do?"  Just as the mind of a great sage gets totally engrossed in Brahman resulting in stoppage of the worldly actions, an ignorant person surrenders himself completely to his wife and does not care for his losses, public shame or slander.  He keeps himself in her good books and dances to her tunes.  Like a greedy person toils for money even by hurting his friends and relatives, he gives little to charity and does not do many righteous deeds.  He cheats persons from his family and clan but gives his wife plenty fulfilling all her wants.  He somehow manages to perform worship of his family deity and bluffs to his Guru.  He tells his parents excuses that there is not enough money to give to them but brings for his wife various articles of pleasure and the best things he comes across.  He serves his wife with unstinted dedication like a devotee lovingly devoted to his family deity.  He gives the best and costly articles to his wife but for other persons in the family he does not give enough even for their bare survival.  If somebody gives improper looks to his wife or behaves with her improperly he feels as if the end of the world has come.  He satisfies her every command.  His wife is everything to him and he feels special love for children born of her.  Whatever things she possesses and her wealth are more valuable to him than his own life.  Such a person is the root of ignorance and it gains strength from him.  He is ignorance personified. (13:788-804).

Slave to pleasure and sorrows:  He reaches the height of happiness when he gets the thing he likes and he sinks due to sorrow when he gets what he does not like. However highly intelligent one may be, if he worries because of favourable and unfavourable circumstances, then in reality he is an ignorant person. (13:805-806).  He may be devoted to Me but that devotion is with a material objective in mind.  He makes a show of My devotion but keeps his sights on pleasures.  If he does not get them after being devoted to Me, then he gives up the devotion saying that the talk of God etc.  is all lies.  Like an ignorant peasant he sets up different deities and after failing with one he goes to the next.  He joins that Guru tradition where there is a great pomp and show, receives Guru-mantra from him and considers others as ordinary.  He behaves cruelly with living creatures but showers special love on a stone idol.  But his love is not steady in one single place.  He makes my idol and installs it in one corner of the house and he himself goes on pilgrimage to places of other deities.  He offers devotion towards his family deity and on auspicious occasions he worships other deities.  After installing me in the house he makes vows to other deities.  On the day of Shraddha he belongs to the forefathers.  He worships cobras on Nagpanchami day as much as he worships me 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 only you." He leaves the daily rituals and incidental actions during Navaratri and sits for the reading of Navachandi and on Sunday gives an offering of Khichadi to the deity Bahiroba.  Then on Monday he rushes to Shivalinga for offering Bel leaves and thus he somehow manages the perform the worship ritual of all deities.  That devotee performs the worship ritual of all deities without taking rest for a moment 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 different deities is ignorance reincarnated. (13:810-823).

Dislikes quiet and holy places:  And he also is ignorant who feels disgusted at the sight of quiet forests meant for penance, and places of pilgrimage.  He who feels happy living in the town, likes to sit in a crowd and likes to gossip is nothing but ignorant. (13:824- 825).

Prefers black arts to holy knowledge:  Such a person, who has only book-knowledge, ridicules at the real knowledge which leads to Self-realisation.  He does not look at Upanishads.  He does not like the science of yoga and his mind does not turn towards spiritual science. Breaking the interest created by the intellect towards thoughts of the Soul, his mind wanders here and there like wayward cattle.  He is clever in the ritualistic techniques, knows the Puranas by heart and is such an expert astrologer that whatever he predicts does happen.  He is skilled in sculpture and in architecture, an expert in culinary art.  And he knows the mantras from Atharvaveda (Black magic, charm, voodoo etc.). There is nothing more left for him to learn in the science of love.  He gives discourses on Mahabharata and other branches of knowledge stand attentively before him in person.  He is skilled in medicine and there is none who is more well-versed than him.  He discusses Smritis.  He knows the secret of snake-charming and he has mastery on the vocabulary of Vedas.  He is expert in grammar and learned in the science of justice.  But it is only regarding the knowledge of the Self that he is a congenital blind.  He may be considered as an authority on the principles of every branch of knowledge. But like a child born at an inauspicious time (unlucky for his father) that is all in vain.  Ignore him. (13:826-835).

Except for the spiritual science, all other branches of knowledge are meaningless.  Therefore Arjuna, remember that a person with only book-knowledge is a fool who has not realised the Self.  His body has grown out of the seed of ignorance and his learning is a creeper of this ignorance.  Whatever he speaks is the flower of ignorance and whatever righteous path he practices is the fruit of the ignorance too.  Is there any need to tell that one who does not believe in Knowledge of the Self has not understood its meaning?. (13:839-843).  How can a person who is not acquainted with Knowledge of the Self can find its subject matter that is the Soul? One need not work out complicated arithmetic to tell that such a person does not understand the principles of Knowledge. (13:846-847).
Turn your back to ignorance  The characteristics of ignorance are contained in the eighteen characteristics of knowledge which I had explained to you earlier. The characteristics of Knowledge when applied in reverse become the characteristics of ignorance. (13:849-851).

Arjuna, turn your back to the characteristics of ignorance which I have just told you and make a good and firm resolve regarding Knowledge.  By means of that pure Knowledge you will realise its objective namely the Brahman. (13:862-863).


Now I shall tell you about the object of Knowledge.  Brahman is called the object of Knowledge because it cannot be achieved by any means other than Knowledge and after it is attained there is nothing left for the sage to do further because the Knowledge unifies him with itself.  After its attainment the seeker gives up worldly matters and remains immersed in the bliss of the Brahman.  That Object is such that it has no beginning and naturally it is called Supreme Brahman.  If one goes to deny its existence then one can see it in the form of the universe; and if one goes to say that universe itself is the Supreme Brahman then it is illusion (Maya) because it does not have form, colour or shape.  Also it is not visible nor can it see.  Then how can anyone say that it exists? And if its existence is denied then where from have the principles like Mahat etc. sprung?  Speech becomes dumb because one cannot at all affirm or deny its existence and even the thought about it cannot proceed further.  Just as earth is seen in the form of a pot similarly Brahman has taken the form of the universe and has pervaded it throughout. (13:865-873).

It fills all places all the time and is not different from place and time.  The very actions performed by gross and subtle things are its hands.  Therefore Brahman has been called Vishwa-Bahu or hands of the universe because it inspires actions everywhere, all the time and in all ways.  And it is present everywhere at the same time therefore it is called Vishwataspat (or Vishwandhri) i.e. having feet everywhere.  Like the sun it observes all forms by its light therefore even if it does not have eyes, Vedas have cleverly called it Vishwachakshu or eyes of the universe.  It is present always and everywhere on everyone's head therefore it is called Vishwamurdha or intellect of the universe.  The form of fire is its mouth because it accepts all things through the (yajna) fire therefore Vedas have called Brahman as Vishwatomukh or mouth of the universe.  And its ears engulf all sounds just as space engulfs all objects and it is because of this that we call Brahman as "one which listens everywhere".  It is because of its all-pervasiveness that this simile has been used otherwise how can one speak in terms of hands, feet, eyes etc. about something which is the essence of void or nothing?.  How can there be the sense of pervader and pervaded in the Brahman which is everywhere? But this differentiation had to be made in order to explain what the Brahman is.  Just as for indicating zero or nothing one writes a small dot similarly to explain monism one has to use 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. (13:874-890).


Now listen to how Brahman pervades objects which are visible to the eyes. That Brahman appears to be in all objects in various forms (like for example the water or liquid principle which occurs in water or brightness resides in a lamp in the form of a lamp, or odour resides in camphor on the form of camphor or action in the form of the body). (13: 891-895).  Because of the shape of the pot the sky appears to be round or because a hut is rectangular, the sky also looks rectangular but the sky does not have any shape, round or rectangular.  Similarly though objects have attributes, the Brahman which pervades them does not have attributes.  That Brahman appears to be like mind and other organs or like the three attributes but just as sweetness of jaggery (raw sugar lump made from sugarcane juice) does not lie in the shape of its block, the mind and attributes are not real Brahman. (13:898-901).  In plain words it is different from the mind and the attributes.  The relations between name and form, and the differences in duties for different castes are applicable to the form and not to the Brahman.  Brahman is not the same as attributes and it is not related to attributes but there is an illusion of their appearing in it. (13:904-907).  Therefore the ignorant think that the attributes belong to the Brahman.  The attributeless Brahman holds the attributes without any relation with them but that is only an illusion and not real.  Therefore one should not mention attributes in relation to the Brahman. (13:910-912).

Same Brahman pervades all   Though Brahman exists in all moving and non-moving objects it is the same entity.  That which is indestructible and pervades the entire universe is the Object-to-be-known.  That which is inside the body as well as outside, is near as well as far and is unique without duality, pervades everything totally. (13:913-915).  Its pervasion is as a single entity without break in all four types of beings namely, born through sex, eggs, sweat and seeds.  It is also the cause of the creation of the universe. (13:917,920).  Therefore just as the waves are supported by the sea, so is the universe supported by the Brahman.  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 agreed upon by the Upanishads. (13:921-926).

Brahman - the basic principle in all principles   That Brahman is the igniting principle in the fire, the nectar of life that the moon provides the plants and the power of sight by which the sun oversees the affairs of the world.  The galaxies of stars brighten by its light and by its brightness light from the sun easily spreads in the universe.  It is the root of the origin, growing of the growth, intelligence of the intellect and life-force of life.  It is mental power of the mind, vision of the eyes, hearing of the ears, power of speech of the tongue, vitality of life-force, feet of the motion, activity of the action.  Formation, growth and destruction occur by its power.  The five principles: earth, water, air, fire and space derive their characteristics from it.  In short, all objects appear in the universe because of it and actually everything is Brahman and no duality exists.  Once it 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. (13:927-939)

Thus I have first made clear to you what Field is.  Then I also explained to you what Knowledge is.  Then I discussed the characteristics of ignorance and now I have explained to you what Object-to-be-known is by analytical reasoning. (13:940-943).

Easiest method to attain me   Arjuna, after thinking about all these things my devotees come to me longing to attain Me.  By giving up the attachment to the body they concentrate their mind and feelings on me.  These devotees, after they know Me, take me in exchange for their ego and thus become one with Me.  I have thus planned the easiest method for being one with Me. (13:944-947).


Arjuna, if I had merely told you that Soul is everywhere then you would not have believed it.  Therefore considering that you are dull-witted I explained to you the same Brahman in four parts.  Considering your ability to concentrate I divided the Brahman into four parts namely the Field, Knowledge, Object-to-be-known and Ignorance.  If even after this you have not understood my explanation then I shall explain the same thing to you in another way.  Instead of dividing into four parts I shall divide into only two parts namely Soul and Non-soul (Purusha and Prakriti).  Listen to it. (13:949-955).

I shall tell you about the two parts: Prakriti and Purusha.  Yogis call this path "Sankhya".   To explain it I have incarnated as Kapil (See notes).  Listen to the pros and cons of it. (13:957- 959).  Purusha is without beginning and so is Prakriti and they are both stuck to each other like day and night or like a shadow to a form.  What I explained to you as Field must be understood here as Prakriti and the Knower of the Field is the same as Purusha.  Even if the names are different the principles to which they refer are the same. (13:960-964).  Purusha is the power and Prakriti is the one which causes all actions to take place.  Intellect, organs and mind etc. which are responsible for feelings and passions, the three attributes Sattva, Raja and Tama, all arise from Prakriti and are the cause of creation of Karma. (13:966-968).

Creation of Ego    Desire and intellect first create ego in Prakriti and make the individual involved in some cause.  The procedures 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 and that is what is called the effect of the Prakriti.  Therefore Prakriti is the root of the action, cause and effect.  When the 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 Raja attribute is a medium or mixed type of action and that which takes place due to Tama attribute is a prohibited and unrighteous action.  The good and bad actions thus occur due to Prakriti and gives rise to pleasure and pain respectively.  The Purusha experiences this pleasure and pain.  As long as this pleasure and pain appear real the Prakriti remains busy creating them and the Purusha in experiencing them.  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. (13:969-980).

Actionless Purusha and Gunamayi Prakriti   He who is without form (body) and actionless (cripple), without attributes (wealth), unique and older than the oldest of the objects is called Purusha.  Nothing can be said about whether he is female or a neuter.  He does not have eyes, ears, hands, feet, form, colour and name.  He has no organs.  Such is the husband of Prakriti who has to experience pain and pleasure.  Though he is actionless, unattached and non-indulgent, the Prakriti makes him experience the pain and pleasure.  This Prakriti uses her form and attributes to create a strange drama therefore the Prakriti is called Gunamayi or one having 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 (cannot create anything?), to wander in the three worlds.  Such is her capability. (13:981-990).

Play of Prakriti: This Prakriti which is like a big island of illusion and which extends everywhere, creates emotions.  Passions are fostered with her support.  Delusion blooms because of her.  She is known as divine Maya. (13:991-992).

She makes the language grow, creates this material world, and ceaselessly invades it with materialistic way of life.  All arts, skills are born of her.  Desires, knowledge and actions are created from her.  All the tunes and sounds are minted out by her.  She is the home of miracles.  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. (13:993-996).

She is the mate of the lonely Purusha, companion of the unattached (Brahman) and she resides in the void.  Her capability is so high that she keeps the uncontrollable Purusha under control.  Actually the Purusha is not attached to anything but this Prakriti becomes everything for him.  She becomes the creation of the self-born, form of the formless Purusha and his very existence and base. (13:997-1000).

Illusion of attributes Thus, by her strength Prakriti creates passions in that dispassionate Purusha and his effulgence wanes like that of the moon on the new moon day. (13:1005-1008).  Once the Purusha surrenders to the Prakriti its brightness vanishes and he has to experience the effect of the attributes.  By association with her he has to suffer the impact of birth and death.  When moonlight is reflected in moving water, people see many reflections and feel that there are many moons.  Similarly by association with attributes it appears as if the birthless Purusha takes birth but that is not true.  Just as a Sanyasi sees in his dream that he is born in a Shudra caste (see notes) similarly the Purusha feels that he has taken birth in a low or high caste but that is not true and therefore the Purusha does not have to experience the effects of Karmas.  It only appears to him so because of the association with the attributes. (13:1014-1021).

Purusha is beyond PrakritiPrakriti has the support of the Purusha but there is a vast difference between the two.  This Purusha is on the bank of the river that is Prakriti and though his reflection is in the river it is not carried away by the current.  Prakriti is created and is dissolved but Purusha is eternal.  Therefore he controls everything right from Brahmadeo downwards.  Prakriti exists because of him and by his power alone she creates the world, therefore he is the Lord of Prakriti.  The world, which has been going on since endless past, dissolves in him at the end of the aeon.  He is the Lord of the realm of Mahat that is the Prakriti.  He controls the whole universe and envelops it entirely by his expanse.  Really speaking he is the Supreme Soul, which is said to exist in the body. (13:1022-1029).

One who understands that this Purusha is one and the only one and all the actions and attributes belong to the Prakriti, that Purusha and Prakriti are like the form and the shadow or like water and mirage, may be considered as having understood the difference between Purusha and Prakriti.  Even if he performs actions by virtue of possessing a body, does not get tainted by them.  He does not feel attachment to his body while he lives and when he dies is not reborn.  In this unworldly way the understanding of the difference between Purusha and Prakriti  becomes favourable to him.  There are many ways by which this understanding will arise in your heart.  Listen. (13:1030-1036).


Some people purify gold that is the Soul (which is tainted by attributes) in the fire of thought by coating it with layers of listening, pondering and longing for it, and burning away the impurity of the worldly attributes.  By burning the thirty-six impure principles they separate away the pure Soul and see it within themselves by the eyes of meditation.  Some meditate on it using the principles of Sankhya philosophy or by the philosophy of action and attain liberation. (13:1037-1040).

Looking up to Guru  Thus people adopt different ways to get safely out of this whirlpool of life and death.  But there are others who, by ridding themselves of pride, keep faith in Guru's words.  They listen attentively and respectfully to whatever the Guru says and offer themselves and all their possessions to him.  Guru cares about what is good and 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 their life for him.  Such people also finally cross the ocean of the birth-death cycles.  Thus in this world of mortals there are many ways to experience the Supreme Soul.  I shall present you with the cream of the philosophy of these methods. (13:1041-1050).


The entire world is created from the mutual interaction of the "Field" and the "Knower of the Field" both of which I explained to you. (13:1051-1052).  All the movable and immovable things and the entity which we call "Jiva" or "life" is created out of the union of these two.  Therefore materials or persons are not different from Purusha. (13:1055-1056).

Even though cloth is not 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 i. e.  the Prakriti.  You should experience the fact that 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 different outwardly but if by these considerations you sustain in your mind the idea that they are all different then you will not escape from this birth and death cycles in a million years.  Individuals may have crooked shapes but the Soul is straight.  Even though there are piles of lives the soul inside all of them is same.  The physical appearance of individuals is illusive and destructible but the souls inside all of them is indestructible.  Thus, he who understands that soul is not different from the individual but does not possess the attributes of the individual is the man of vision among all men of Knowledge and the most fortunate of men. (13:1057-1068).


This body made up of the five principles and full of wind, biles and phlegm (Vata, Pitta and Kapha see notes) is like a horrible bag full of the three attributes and the organs.  It is plainly a scorpion with five sting-tails.  It is burning in five types of fire. The lion that is the individual Self is entrapped in this snare of this body.  Who would not free himself from this impermanent body by stabbing it with the knife of eternality?  Arjuna, only a man of Knowledge does not harm himself even though he lives in the body and ultimately he reaches the state of the Brahman.  To attain that state, yogis by the power of their knowledge of yoga, cross millions of births and leave their body resolving that they will not be reborn.  The Supreme Brahman, which is beyond the name and form and is in the realm of vibrations (sound), is the final resting-place of all destinations including that of liberation.  He who does not permit ideas of differences between individuals due to their external differences in appearance experiences the bliss of the Brahman while he is still alive in his body.  Just as the same light emanates from different lamps the Soul pervades everything right from the beginning.  Arjuna, he who has this outlook of equality is not caught in the throes of birth-death cycles.  He is very fortunate and I sing his praises often because he looks at everything with eyes of equality. (13:1069-1079).

And he fully knows that it is Prakriti  which causes actions through the mind, the intellect, the five sense-organs and the five organs of action. (13:1080).  That 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 has decided that this is so has realised the Soul. (13:1082-1083).

Even otherwise, Arjuna, he who sees unity in the diverse shapes of living beings, consider him as having attained Brahman. (13:1084).  When one is certain in his mind that all creatures are created from the same Soul, then it can be said that he has found the boat that is the wealth of the Brahman (for crossing the ocean of birth and death cycles).  Everywhere he casts his eyes he sees all is full of the Brahman.  He attains endless bliss.  Thus you should completely know by experience the arrangement of Prakriti and Purusha.  The benefit you have gained is similar to an opportunity to gargle with nectar. (13:1087-1090).  Now I am going to tell you one or two more profound ideas. (13:1092)


What is known by the name Supreme Soul always remains in its pure state, even though it exists in the body. (13:1094).  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 and says it is his face.  It is totally meaningless to say that soul is related to the body. (13:1096- 1098).  Body is strung in the thread of the five principles and it rotates in the wheel of birth and death.  This body is like a ball of butter inserted in the mouth of the fire that is Time.  It vanishes in the short span of time that a fly takes to flutter its wings.  If he falls in fire it turns to ashes and if it falls prey to a dog then it turns to faecal matter.  If it escapes these two then a bunch of worms is created in it.  Thus the body comes to a disgusting end.  Though the body reaches this fate the soul is eternal, self-illuminating, self-sufficient and beginningless. (13:1103-1107).

Soul is neither this nor that   Because it is without attributes it is neither without phases nor can it be said that it has phases.  It is neither active nor without action, neither fat nor thin, 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.  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 it 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.  It is unbroken therefore it neither takes the form of the body nor rejects it but remains as it was.  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 its characteristics.  I am telling you again and again to take into consideration the characteristic of the Soul that the Knower of the Field is different from the Field. (13:1108-1119, 1121-1122).

A magnet by its proximity moves iron but iron is not the same as magnet.  The same principle is applicable to the Soul and the body.  There is fire hidden inside wood but wood is not fire, and Soul has to be viewed in the same way.  Just as the sun is alone in the sky but illuminates the whole world, the Soul illuminates in the same way all the living bodies. (13:1123-1128)

Intellect with real sight The intellect which 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 the words.  It is for understanding the difference between the Field and the Knower of the field that the wise persons frequent the abodes of sages.  It is for that alone that the intellectuals acquire the valuable peace and study Shastras.  It is for that knowledge that men practice yoga with high aspirations.  And some people, by taking the body and other worldly matters to be insignificant respectfully serve the saints.  Thus they shed their worries by following different paths of knowledge.  I surrender my knowledge to the knowledge of those who understand the difference between the Field and Knower of the Field. (13:1129-1135)

And they know the real nature of this Prakriti or Maya, which is spread everywhere in different forms and manifestations like the five principles. (13:1136).  Those who are convinced in their heart that Prakriti is different from the Purusha have attained Brahman. (13:1140).  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. (13:1140- 1143).


Darshanas, Shastras (13:14-18).  The six darshanas are Nyaya, Vaisheshic, Sankhya, Patanjal.  Purvamimansa and Uttarmimansa.  These are the theories about the structure of the universe.
Atheists: (13:19-21) This seems to be directed at Jains and  Buddhists who do not believe in the Vedas.
Naimisha Forest, (13:66-71) A forest in Uttar Pradesh region traditionally a place for Rishis to meditate or gather for mass rituals like discussions, Yajna etc.
Brihatsama Sutra (13:66-71)  A poetical composition from Samaveda
Yama and Niyama  (13:22-26) 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.   Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Bramacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (Non-receiving or non-accumulation of property).  Niyama: Shoucha (internal and external purification), Santosha (contentment), Tapa (austerity), Swadhyaya (study), Ishwarpranidhana (Worship of God).
Kshirasagara, Shesha, Laxmi, Garuda (13:391-395)  According to the Puranas  Lord Vishnu lives with his consort Laxmi in Kshirasagara,  the sea of milk  where he relaxes on the bed of Shesha the king of snakes.  Garuda is the divine eagle and vehicle of Lord Vishnu.  It is supposed that Shesha supports the earth on is head.
Three Bandhas  (13:508-512) Mula Bandha, Jalandhar Bandha and  Odhiyana Bandha are the postures of body in Kundalini Yoga (See Chapt 6).
Shraddha, Nagpanchami, Ekadashi, Chaturthi, Chaturdashi day he avers, "Oh Mother Durga Navaratri Navachandi Khichadi Bahiroba. Shivalinga, Bel (13:810-823).   In the Hindu religious calendar, each day of the week and each tithi has a significance with respect to various deities. Shraddha is an annual ritual performed to propitiate the dead forefathers. For immediate relatives who have died, like father, mother etc. it is performed on the death anniversary while for all the forefathers as a group it is performed during the dark fortnight of the lunar month Bhadrapada.  Nagpanchami is the day cobras are worshipped. It falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month Shravana..  Chaturthi or Ganesha Chaturthi is observed as the birthday of Ganapati or Lord Ganesha; it falls on the fourth of the bright fortnight of the lunar month Bhadrapada.  Chaturdashi is the fourteenth day of a fortnight by lunar calendar when some devotees worship Mother Durga. Similarly Ekadashi is the eleventh day when some devotees observe fast. Navaratri (nine nights) is the first nine nights in the bright fortnight of the lunar month Ashwin observed all over India in honour of Mother Durga.  Navachandi is a religious text in her praise. Bahiroba is a corrupted form of Bhairava, a member of the entourage of Lord Shiva. Of the weekdays Monday is known as Lord Shiva’s day. Linga is His symbol which is worshipped by offering of Bel leaves and white flowers. Bel is a tree which has three pronged leaves.
Atharvaveda (13:826-835).  Atharvaveda  contains  mantras on black magic, charm, voodoo etc.).
Kapil (13:957- 959).  Kapil is considered as the founder of Sankhya philosophy. He is considered as Lord Vishnu incarnated (Avatar) to propound the Sankhya philosophy, so much was the influence of the Sankhyas on people.
Just as a Sanyasi sees in his dream etc. (13:1014-1021).  A Sanyasi does not have any caste.  Before a person adopts sanyas he has to undergo rituals of a death ceremony and he has to give up his past as well as worldly attachments. He even gives up his old name adopts a new one.  Shudra caste is the lowest of the four castes.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha  (13:1069-1079) These terms are commonly used to mean wind or gas, biles and phlegm respectively.  However, according to the Ayurvedic system of medicine used traditionally in India, these terms refer to the three aspects of body functions: Vata involves energy and movement; Pitta involves the principle of digestion or metabolism, the transformation of matter (food) into energy; Kapha involves the energy of structure and lubrication. Body is supposed to be made up from the five principle space (or ether) , air, water, earth and fire.  Ether and air constitute vata, fire and water constitute pitta and water and earth make kapha. For good health these three principles must be in mutual balance. Any unbalance between them causes health problems. Changes in seasons, in lifestyles, emotions etc cause an unbalance in the three aspects of body functions, which then cause a disease.  For example, aggravation of kapha leads in some individuals to cold, congestion, sneezing and allergic manifestations as well as attachment greed and possessiveness. Aggravation of pitta may lead to acid indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, dysentery, hives rash or acne; vata imbalance may manifest as constipation, abdominal distension, sciatica, arthritis, insomnia etc along with psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety, and insecurity. Healing is achieved by restoring the balance of the three aspects by means of proper diet and medicines and also by means of toning exercises such as yoga. (Source: Complete book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad, Harmony Books, NY USA, 1998)


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