Gita Series – 130: Chapter - XIII. Verse 4 – 6

The concept of kṣetra and kṣetrajña has been explained differently by sages. This has also been explained by different Vedic verses. Brahmasūtra-s have conclusive proved this with logical reasoning. The five elements, the ego, the intellect, Unmanifest, organs of perception, organs of action, the mind and the five underlying subtle elements (tanmātra-s), desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, the gross body, consciousness, tenaciousness....”

Kṛṣṇa says that sages have explained about kṣetra and kṣetrajña in different ways. The fundamental principles of these two however do not change. Gabriel Pradīpaka has explained this as “Kṣetrajña literally means “knower (jña) of the field (kṣetra)”, i.e. the individual soul. It is not wisdom except in a symbolic way.” This has also been explained through Veda-s and their denotations, the Upaniṣad-s. In fact, the entire Upaniṣad-s are nothing but the compendium of teachings of knowing the Brahman. Upaniṣad-s are the source of acquiring the pure knowledge to pursue the spiritual path with confidence. Though different Upaniṣad-s advocate different paths, ultimately, they all explain the formless nature of the Brahman. Bhagavad Gita unravels the Brahman, through different paths and hence Gita is also considered as an Upaniṣad. What Kṛṣṇa says is that understanding of kṣetra and kṣetrajña are absolutely essential for realising the Self and hence, these have been praised by the sages and saints through Vedic hymns and elucidated through Upaniṣad-s.

Kṛṣṇa, apart from referring to Veda-s and Upaniṣad-s, also refers to Brahmasūtra-s. There are three texts available to the students of Vedānta. They are Upaniṣad-s, Bhagavad Gīta and Brahmasūtra-s. The last one, the Brahmasūtra-s was scripted by Bādranārayaṇa in 555 aphorisms. This ancient scripture explains in detail about the Brahman and the means to realise Him. This is one of the authentic texts with exhaustive analysis about Self-realization.

Now Kṛṣṇa proceeds to explain about the Brahman through the next few verses. The five elements are ākaś (ether), air, fire, water and earth. Kṛṣṇa calls them as the great elements. Kṛṣṇa begins with these five elements as they form the basis of creation. These five elements and their modifications, both gross and subtle along with internal tools cause a creation. The five basic elements give rise to organs of perception (jñānendriya-s: ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose), organs of action (karmendirya-s: mouth, feet, hands, organ of excretion and organ of procreation), cognitive faculties (tanmātra-s: sound, touch, sight, taste and smell) and action faculties (speech, movement, holding, evacuation and reproduction). Thus, twenty principles arise out of the five great elements or basic elements. These twenty principles along with mind, intellect, consciousness and ego give rise twenty four principles that are generally discussed in creation, particularly in Sāṃkhya philosophy (discussed in chapter II of Bhagavad Gita). Kṛṣṇa chooses to refer to these twenty four principles while expounding creation.

Ego is the worst enemy to Self-realization. Ego is primarily responsible for functioning of gross body and mind. Ego is the cause “I” ness. Ego is the deterrent factor to accept the Lord as the creator and the sustainer. An egoistic mind thinks only about the self and self alone. Ego is to be surrendered to the Lord for knowing the Self. With egoistic mind, the Lord can never be realised. As already discussed in the previous chapters, there should not be any secondary thought process in the mind to realise the Brahman and the ego is the deterrent factor to achieve this goal.

Intellect is the result of one’s knowledge and ability. Without intellect one cannot differentiate between the real and unreal. It is the cause for discrimination. Intellect is a vital component in realizing the Self within. Only intellect is capable of informing the mind about the Self and enables the mind to pursue the spiritual path to its logical conclusion. In this context, intellect refers to the capacity to discriminate between the perishable and the Imperishable.

Unmanifest is also known as avyakta. Prakṛti in its unmanifested form is avyakta, where, all the three guṇa-s lie in equal proportion. It is the first stage of the Brahman that cannot be explained. Brahmasūtra (III.ii.23) explains this by saying, “that Brahman is unmanifest.”

Kṛṣṇa then proceeds to discuss on desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, the gross body, consciousness and tenaciousness through verses. Desire is the root cause of all the pains as one continues to remain unsatisfied, as desire is an addiction and longs for more and more. Behind every movement, there is desire. Desire causes lasting impressions in the mind and prevents the mind from exploring the Self within. These impressions become so powerful over a period of time and enter the subconscious mind. When the subconscious mind is affected with impressions, it is staggeringly difficult to come out of its clutches and the man begins to sink like a ship in the deep sea, without recourse to endurance. Desire, beyond one’s capacity is all the more dangerous, which induces a person to satiate his desire even by foul means. This is where the crimes originate.

Like and dislike is another factor that affects the mind and cause significant impact in life. It leads to hatred and antagonism that affect the mental peace. Pleasure and pain is primarily responsible for subversion of otherwise a peaceful mind. When there is pleasure, there is bound to be pain and this alternates in one’s life. Pleasure leads to addiction and pain leads to frustration. Addiction and frustration cannot keep the mind in equanimity. Without a calm mind, spiritual pursuit is impossible.

The gross body arises out of conjugation of soul with nature, also known as prakṛti. Consciousness is the essential factor of creation. Consciousness with its infinite potency manifests as matter. According to Dr. David R. Hawkins, “the important statement about the infinite field of consciousness is that it represents the Absolute by which all else can be calibrated as to degrees of being relative to it. The Self, indicative of the presence of the Divine as immanent, is sometimes referred to in classical literature, as Universal Mind. By transcendence, the ego-self is replaced by the non-ego Self. This phenomenon has been traditionally termed Enlightenment.”

Tenaciousness is explained further in later chapters. Tenaciousness is another modification of the mind depending upon the evolution and predominance of a particular type of guṇa in a person. Kṛṣṇa continues to explain Creation in the next few verses.