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#Gita Chapter 13 (English translation)

November 18, 2017

Introduction, Acknowledgements, Translation notes

Chapter 13





Arjuna speaks:

I wish to know about matter and Spirit? What is the field and who is the knower of the field? What is knowledge and what should be known, Keshava (Sri Krishna)? II13.1II

(Note: Many versions of Bhagavad Gita do not contain this shloka, including the commentary of Adi Shankaracharya. With this shloka, there are 701 verses in the Gita.)


Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

This body is called 'kshetra'  (the field) and he who knows it is called 'kshetrajna' (the Knower of the field) by those who know them (kshetra and kshetrajna), i.e. by the sages. II13.2II

(Closely verbatim to Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Geeta)


Know me as the Knower of the field in all fields (bodies, matter), Bhaaratha (Arjuna). In My opinion, this knowledge of the field and Knower of the field is THE knowledge. II13.3II


What that field (matter) is, its nature and its modifications, and what effects arise from what causes, what the Self is and what Its powers, I will tell you, in brief. II13.4II


Rishis have sung about this in various songs and chants and have also indicated Brahman in rational and convincing sentences. II13.5II


The five great elements (earth, water, fire, air, space), the ego, the intellect, the Unmanifest, the ten senses–five sense organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose) and the five organs of action (hands, feet, tongue, anus, and genitalia), the one (the mind), and the five sense objects (sound, touch, form, taste, and smell) … II13.6II

(Note: The field is made up of these 24 items–the 24 principles of the Saankhya philosophy)


… desire, hatred, pleasure, and pain, and the combination of body and organs, the awareness of the body and its steadfastness are all modifications of that field. II13.7II


(Verses 8 to 12 enumerate twenty qualities which in their totality indicate the prerequisites for the seeker who wants to be the Knower of the field.)

Humility, unpretentiousness, non-injury, peacefulness, uprightness, service to the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control … II13.8II

(Verbatim from Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Geeta)


… dispassion towards sense objects and even absence of ego, a proper understanding of the miseries of birth and death, old age, sickness and in pain … II13.9II


… non-attachment, non-identification with children, spouse, home, etc., and constant equanimity towards that which is desirable and undesirable … II13.10II


… with unwavering devotion to Me, with single-minded concentration, with an inclination for solitary places free from impurities, with no delight in crowds …  II13.11II


… steadfastness in the knowledge of the Self, contemplating the lessons of the Truth, this is wisdom. All else is ignorance. II13.12II


I will now tell you that which is to be known, by knowing which one attains freedom (from the cycle of birth and death)–that which is without beginning, Brahman, which is called neither being nor non-being. II13.13II


That (Knowable), which has hands and feet everywhere, which has eyes, heads and mouths everywhere, which has ears everywhere, exists in creatures by pervading them all. II13.14II

(Verbatim from Swami Gambhirananda)


(That is) reflected through the senses (when manifest) yet free from the senses, unattached yet serving as the substratum that supports all, devoid of the temperaments (sattva, rajas, tamas), yet the one that experiences the temperaments. II13.15II


(That Brahman) is outside and inside all beings that are non-moving and moving. It is too subtle to be comprehended; too distant, yet always near. II13.16II


Though Indivisible, it appears to be existing as divided in all beings. It is the supporter of all beings and also that which devours and generates. II13.17II


It is the Light of the lights and beyond darkness. It is Knowledge, the Knowable and the Known, seated in the hearts of all. II13.18II


Thus, the field and Knowledge of the Knowable have been spoken of briefly. Knowing this, my devotee enters My being. II13.19II


Know that both matter and the individual soul (–the sources of mundane existence “through which God becomes the cause of creation, continuance and dissolution of the universe”) are both without beginning. All modifications and the temperaments (thereof) are born of matter. II13.20II

(Quotes from Swami Gambhirananda’s translation of Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s Sankara Bhashya)


Prakriti (material cause) is the instrument of cause and effect. Purusha (the individual soul) is that which perceives joy and sorrow. II13.21II


The individual soul embodied in matter experiences the temperaments born of matter. Experiencing these temperaments is the cause of the individual soul’s birth in good and evil wombs. II13.22II


It is the Supreme Being that witnesses, permits, upholds, and enjoys in this body of man. II13.23II


He who knows thus, the individual soul, the material cause, and the temperaments arising from matter, whatever his conduct, he is not born again. II13.24II


Some realize the Supreme by meditation on the Self within, some by Yoga of Knowledge and some by the Yoga of Action. II13.25II


Others who do not know this accept the knowledge of others as authoritative, and imbued with faith, they certainly overcome death. II13.26II


Whatever is being is born, non-moving or moving, is born of the union of the field (matter) and the Knower of the field (Spirit). II13.27II


He who sees the Supreme in all beings–that Imperishable in the perishable–he really sees. II13.28II


He who sees the Lord dwelling equally in everything does not destroy the Self by his self. So he goes to the highest Goal. II13.29II


He sees who sees that all actions are performed by Nature alone and that the Self is actionless. II13.30II

(Verbatim from Swami Sivananda)


When he sees the all beings resting in the One and spreading forth from That, he becomes Brahman. II13.31II


Being without beginning and without temperaments, son of Kaunteya (Arjuna), even though It dwells in this body, It does not act nor is It tainted by action. II13.32II


Just as all-pervading space is not tainted because of its subtlety, in the same way, the Self abiding in the body and everywhere is not tainted. II13.33II


Just as a single sun illumines the whole world, in the same way the Knower of the field illumines the entire field, Bhaarata (Arjuna). II13.34II


Those who, through the eye of wisdom, know the distinction between the field and the Knower of the field and understand “the annihilation of the matrix of beings,” they reach the Supreme Goal. II13.35II

(Quotes from Swami Gambhirananda’s translation of Adi Shankaracharya’s Sankara Bhashya)


Concluding verse:

Om! Such is the Truth in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. This is the knowledge of Supreme Consciousness. It is a scripture of union; a dialogue between Sri Krishna (the teacher) and Arjuna (the student). The thirteenth discourse ends, titled “Yoga of the Field and the Knower of the Field–Kshetra-Kshetragjna Yoga”.

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