Posted by: adbhutam | September 17, 2021

A marvellous evolution of Advaitic thought in the BG 13th Chapter

In the 13th chapter of the Bh.Gita, which is easily the core Vedanta chapter, verily a miniature of the Adhyasa bhashya, we discern a systematic evolution of the Advaitic thought spread over a few verses.
The chapter begins by declaring that the objectified body, kshetram, is the known and the knower thereof, the kshetrajna, is the subject.  Here the known-knower idea is taught.
श्री भगवानुवाच
इदं शरीरं कौन्तेय क्षेत्रमित्यभिधीयते।
एतद्यो वेत्ति तं प्राहुः क्षेत्रज्ञ इति तद्विदः।।13.1।।
The Blessed Lord said O son of Kunti, this body is referred to as the ‘field’. Those who are versed in this call him who is conscious of it as the ‘knower of the field’.

In the very next verse the knower-consciousness in every body is taught as non-different from Brahman.
क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्वक्षेत्रेषु भारत।
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम।।13.2।।

And, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, understand Me to be the ‘Knower of the field’ in all the fields. In My opinion, that is Knowledge which is the knowlege of th field and the knower of the field.

Further down, the chapter specifies the entire world of the body-mind complex and the outside world of objects as the kshetram – a shift from the first verse where only the body was stated to be the kshetram. This shift is to make the definition of the kshetram all-inclusive.
महाभूतान्यहङ्कारो बुद्धिरव्यक्तमेव च।
इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः।।13.5।।
The great elements, egoism, intellect and the Unmanifest itself; the ten organs and the one, and the five objects of the senses;

इच्छा द्वेषः सुखं दुःखं सङ्घातश्चेतनाधृतिः।
एतत्क्षेत्रं समासेन सविकारमुदाहृतम्।।13.6।।
Desire, repulsion, happiness, sorrow, the aggregate (of body and organs), sentience, fortitude – this field, together with its modifications, has been spoken of briefly.

Then the means to know the Knower, kshetrajna are specified. Later the Kshetrajna, Brahman-Consciousness, is explained.  The cause of bondage, ignorance, is stated. 
Towards the end, the ‘knowing’ taught in the first verse, undergoes a phenomenal shift: it is actually illuminating that is knowing:
यथा प्रकाशयत्येकः कृत्स्नं लोकमिमं रविः।
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्नं प्रकाशयति भारत।।13.333।।
As the single sun illumines this whole world, similarly, O descendant of the Bharata dynasty, the Knower of the field illumines the whole field.

This is by no means an ordinary shift; it changes the very perspective of one’s conception of the Atman: it is not knowing the objective world but it is actually illuminating the entire knower-knowing-known triad that is actually what the Kshetrjna is for. This shift is necessitated by the fact that even the knowing process, which includes the knowing instruments and the knowing act and the object known and the knowledge arising thereof – all this duality is to be further encapsulated as just a known – kshetram, the illumined, and the illuminer-consciousness, the kshetrajna.
Even this duality needs to be transcended to get at the Advaitic Tattva. This is accomplished in the very last verse of the chapter:क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोरेवमन्तरं ज्ञानचक्षुषा।
भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम्।।13.34।।
Those who know thus through the eye of wisdom the distinction between the field and the Knower of the field, and the annihilation of the Matrix of beings – they reach the Supreme.
The grand climax is this culmination of the evolution of the Advaitic thought: There is just the Consciousness and nothing that It is conscious of: the whole of kshetram is ‘annihilated’, annulled, as mithya.  Now the Kshetrajna-Cosnciousness remains as the non-dual Truth.  
Thus the evolution is well articulated: From knowing > illuminating>just being. The kshetram too undergoes this evolutionary process: From the ‘known’ object > the illumined object > the annihilated, non-existent, object. 

Ekam eva advitiyam satyam.  This idea is demonstrated in the Upadeshasahasri by Bhagavatpada in the following three verses.  The commentary of Sri Rama Tirtha is also appended:


Swami Jagadananda’s English translation:


Om Tat Sat



    Some Advaita References in Vishnu Purana

    • Thanks for the excellent reference: The statement about all-pervading Atman, in verse 24 is very telling, in the same lines as ‘नित्यः सर्वगतः स्थाणुः अचलोऽयं सनातनः’ of the Bh.Gita 2nd Ch.

    • नमश्शिवाय। 🙏🏼 dīpaka mahodaya

      Thanks for the beautiful references & also an excellent online resource, I have forwarded the software’s link to few of my WhatsApp groups.

      Thanks again

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