Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Bhagavad Gita - Song of God - Chapter 13: 1

September 13, 2017

arjuna uvāca
prakṛtim puruṣaṁ caiva kṣetraṁ kṣetrajñam eva ca
etad veditum icchāmi jñānaṁ jñeyaṁ ca keśava
śrībhagavān uvāca
idaṁ śarīraṁ kaunteya kṣetram ity abhīdhiyate
etad yo vetti taṁ prāhuḥ kṣetrajña iti tadvidaḥ  (XIII-1)

(Arjuna said: I wish to learn about nature and
the spirit,vthe field and the knower of the field, which ought
to be known.)

XIII/1 The blessed Lord said: This body, O Arjuna, is
called the field; he who knows it is called the knower
of the field, by those who know of them, i.e. by the sages.

Swamiji's Commentary




     If this chapter is regarded as a necessary follow-up to the eleventh chapter to amplify certain truths mentioned in it, and if, as many have done, we omit from our study Arjuna’s question, then Krishna’s statement that this body is called the field may be taken to refer to the cosmic body. “You were wonderstruck by merely witnessing my cosmic body; even that is only the field, the material playground in which I carry out my divine play.” ‘This body’ may also mean the individual body.

     In fact, Indian philosophy insists on equating the microcosm with the macrocosm; the former is but the miniature of the latter. There is a world within an atom; and the world itself may be an atom in something of greater magnitude!

     Within this body, the field, as its all-pervading soul, resides the knower of the body – the soul. It is an extremely subtle and powerful intelligence. Thus, the field is a phenomenon which can be observed. (This could be part of the personality.) The entity which understands this, the observing intelligence, is the knower of the field. Correct understanding of the field and its knower constitute wisdom. Without this, our whole life becomes a complete mess because we confuse the observed phenomenon with the observing intelligence. With this confusion arises ignorance, fear, attachment and wrong action.

     The field (body) is like a sports-field or swimming pool in which the soul exercises itself to grow stronger, purer and to attain perfection. One must not run away from it or sink, but swim. Without the body, the soul cannot evolve; and by getting attached to it, the soul cannot evolve either! Hence, a knowledge of both the body and the soul is essential.

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