Bagawat Gita, Class 179: Chapter 13, Verses 30 to 34


Shloka 13. 30: When one realizes that the state of diversity of living things is rooted in the One, and that their manifestation is also from That, then one becomes identified with Brahman.

Continuing his teachings Swamiji said up to the 24th shloka of this chapter, Sri Krishna dealt with the six topics that Arjuna wanted to know and from shloka No.25 up to the end, now, Sri Krishna winds up the present discourse by talking about Gyana sadhanani and Gyana phalam. In three shlokas, 25, 26 and 27, the sadhanas were talked about in the form of karma yoga, upasana, vedanta vichara, etc.

And now from the 28th shloka onwards, the Gyana phalam is being talked about. Of that, we have seen up to shloka No.30 the first phalam that was mentioned by Sri Krishna was sarvatra sama darshanam. Even though superficially, the sense organs continue to see the differences, the eye of wisdom sees the inherent non-duality. The inherent oneness behind this superficial duality, the Gyani sees and this very sama darshanam, saves him from strong raga dvesha. Powerful raga dvesha alone is the cause of samsara. Raga dvesha gets weakened because of the sama darshanam. This is benefit No.1.

Then the second benefit mentioned was amrtatva prapthi. When a person sees plurality and limitation, finitude and mortality are inevitable. When I see the variety of waves, certainly I will see the birth and death of the wave, mortality is my vision; but when I see the water behind the waves, from the standpoint of the water, there is neither birth nor death and therefore, ekatva darshanam or sama darshanam leads to amrtatva prapthi that is the second phalam mentioned.

And the third phalam mentioned in the 30th shloka is akartrtva darshanam. This is recognition of the fact that all the actions belong to the Prakrti, the matter principle only and I the Purusha who is the sakshi behind the Prakrti, who is the kshetragnya behind the Kshetram that I do not perform any action. In my presence actions take place but I, myself, am akarta. This akartrtva prapthi, freedom from the notion of doership is the third phalam. So Sama darshanam, amrtatva prapthithi, akartrtva prapthi are all benefits.

And then the fourth phalam, which I introduced in the last class, in shloka No.30 is brahmathva prapthi. I recognize I am Brahman, the jagat karanam; The jagat adhishtanam. And to assimilate this idea, in the scriptures, self-knowledge is compared to waking up from a dream. Imagine I am transacting in dream, when I am in dream identified with the dream body; I feel I am a small creature, located within dream-time and dream space. And within the dream itself I see varieties of things and beings who are all capable of frightening me, giving me Raga, dvesha, and even I run away from some of the dream objects. And I run towards some of the other dream objects; pravtti, nivtti, all of them are there. Therefore, when I am in dream, I feel that I am located within the dream world. I am a creature in the dream-world. But the moment I wake up, I discover I am not a member within the dream-world; on the other hand, the whole dream-world, including the Dreamtime; dream-space, dream-objects; dream-mountains, stars, my pravrtti, my nivrtti, everything is existing within me, the waker. As a dreamer, I am a creature within the dream, whereas as a waker, I am the creator of the dream.

A big reversal, the creature becomes the creator. And this conversion did not require any change at all; it only required waking up, which is nothing but dis-identifying with the dream body and claiming my waker nature. And therefore this reversal is not an impossible thing. What reversal? Reversal from creature to creator; or reversal from creature within the dream, to a creator of the dream. Not only I am the creator of the dream, I am the one who sustains the dream. Not only srshti karanam, sthithi karanam and at the time of waking up, the whole dream world resolves within my own mind. Not only dream world, even dreamtime and space are followed. I am not within the dreamtime; On the other hand, dreamtime is within me. I am not within the dream space; but the dream- space is within me. I am not a product within the dream world; the dream world itself is a product of my mind.

What does Vedanta say: This universe is also another channel of the dream and just as I convert myself from dream-creature to dream-creator, I can convert myself from the waking-world-creature to waking-world-creator and this conversion is accomplished by dis-identification from the body. Dis-identification from the dream body made me waker No.1. Dis-identification from this body will make me a higher waker. And as a higher waker, what do I claim? I am the consciousness principle from whom, this world, this time, this space, including this body is born. Just as I create a special dream-body for myself for transacting in the dream world, this body is also created by me who am the original waker, who is called the consciousness principle and therefore, I create this world along with time and space. I sustain this world along with time and space; and ultimately I resolve this world into Myself. This is revealed in the well-known Kaivalya upanishad mantra: that says, that everything is born out of Me. The waker is able to make this statement with regard to the dream creation. Gyani is able to make this same statement with regard to this creation. What is this creation? Everything is born out of me; the Me being the creator, the conscious principle.

And the day I am able to claim this glory that I am not a creature, but the creator himself; that I am not a karyam, but I am karanam; then Sri Krishna says, then and then alone, you can claim aham brahma asmi.

These are all wonderful verses giving you the essence of the Upanishads. The shloka says, the wise person sees this following fact and how does he recognize this fact. Who helps him wake up, just as for waking up from this dream, some parent mother or father has to wake him up? Similarly, the guru and the shastram shake me.

So, supported by the teaching of Guru and shastra, this wise person sees the existence of this manifold universe in one atma, which is himself. So when the wiseperson recognizes the fact that this pluralistic universe of things and beings is resting in me, the non-dual self. So in me alone the world rests, from me alone the world emerges; just as we can say that the dream world rests in me, and the entire dream world emerges out of me. But the tragedy is that the dream that comes out of me; the very same dream, which I create, becomes a nightmarish experience for myself. So it also becomes in real life as well. Thus, I am srshti karanam as well.I am also, thus, the Laya karanam. When Ican make this statement, not merely verbally, but I can make this statement from my own inner heart only then can I claim Aham brahma asmi. Sri Krishna says then and then alone,  Gyani has become one with his higher nature, justas the dreamer on waking up, has become one with his own higher waker nature. Thus, I have become one with Brahman, my own higher waker nature. After waking up, dream is not a problem. It is in dream that dream is a problem. So, the fourth benefit is Brahmathva prapthi.

Shloka 13:31:

Being without beginning and without alities, O son of Kunti, this immutable, supreme Self does not act. nor is It affected [Also translated as tainted.-Tr.], although existing in the body.

I said that self-knowledge could be compared to waking up from dream. Even though there are many similarities between self-knowledge and waking up from dream,there is one major dissimilarity that we have to remember. So whenever we give an example, the example and the original will have many similarities; but we should remember the example and original will have dissimilarities as well. If there is no dissimilarity at all, it will not be an example it will be an original. So Gyanam is comparable to waking, but there is a small difference. What is the difference?When I wake up from dream, the dream totally disappears from my experience. When I wake up from dream, the dream-world physically disappears. But in the case of Self-knowledge, I do wake up from this dream; but even after waking up, for some time, this world continues to appear in front of me. In this respect, there is a difference between waking from the dream and waking up from ignorance. And therefore Gyani knows I am the karanam and the world is my projection alone but the world continues to appear and this state is called jivan-mukthi; if you can imagine, it is like a person who wakes up from dream and continues to have the dream.We only say, imagine. Imagine the dream world continues.  What will happen? You will enjoy the glory of the dream, but you will not be frightened; because of the dream-ness of the dream is known to you.Similarly, the Gyani continues to live in the world, continues to be in the body as well, but he has the knowledge that the body is like dream and I am like the waker.  So, gain or loss in this world will not make any difference for me, who am the waker, who has the higher nature.

And therefore, Sri Krishna says here, ayam paramatma avyayaha. I the atma, my own higher nature of consciousness, is avyayaha, is not subject to anychange. Atma is Nirvikaraha. Just as the waker is not wet by the dream rain; not burned by the dream fire, not wounded by the dream tiger biting; whatever happens in the dream world, the waker is not affected; similarly, I, the paramatma, avyayaha. And what is the reason, because the atma is without a beginning or Janma rahitatvat. And you should remember what Tatva Bodha says; Janma is one of the six modifications; asthi, jayathe, vardhathe, viparinamathe, apakshiyathe, vinashyathe.Birth is one of the six modifications. If birth modification is not there, all the other modifications are also not there. And therefore, atma is avyaya or nirvikara. It also means it is attribute less or without any modifications. Now, modifications are of two types. When milk becomes curd, the modification is known as substance modification; substantial modification, the milk substance itself has undergone a change. So this is called substantial change.

When you are making ornaments out of gold, when gold becomes a bangle, there is no change in the substance. So when gold becomes ornaments, the change is only in the superficial form or an attribute.Thus change is two-fold; substantial and attribute change.  Atma does not have both changes. Being birthless, it does not have substantial change; being attributeless, it does not have attribute-change. Therefore, it is absolutely changeless. Thus, even after up waking up and knowing that I am the atma, I continue to be in the body, however,the atma remains akarta; free from actions and continues to be abhokta, without the phalam. The Shariram and mind alone have action and results, but atma does not have karma or phalam. And therefore, the next benefit of atma Gyanam is that it is an abhokta. Thus, I have akartrtvam and abhoktrtvam.

And remember, samsara is defined as akartrtva and bhoktrtvam only; thus doership and enjoyership belong to samsara alone; atma is free from both.

Shloka 13.32:

As the all-pervading space is not defiled, because of its subtlety, similarly the Self, present everywhere in the body [The singular number is used to denote a class, i.e. all bodies. See S.-Tr.], is not defiled.

 In the previous shloka Sri Krishna said, atma is associated with everything; but not affected by anything. This is also called immanence and transcendence. Immanence means it is associated with everything and transcendence means it is not affected by anything. Just as the screen of the movie is associated with every object in the movies; thus on screen it is intimately associated with fire, but it is not burned. Similarly, in the movie Titanic, water is all over; screen is intimately associated with the water, but it not wet by water. This pervasion is called immanence but remaining untainted is called transcendence. Similarly, atma is associated with all but not affected by any; in this context Sri Krishna wants to give two examples that he borrows from the Upanishads, one example is akasha, another example is prakasha.  Akasha means space and remember space is not emptiness, but it is the subtlest form of matter. Space is not nothingness or emptiness; it is the subtlest form of matter. Space is one example, and prakasha, the light, is another example.

Space and atma have got several common features. That is why it is an ideal example. What are some of the common features?

Ekathvam. Both are only one.  

Sarva vyapakathvyam.  Atma is all-pervading.

Achalatvam – Being all pervading, atma cannot move from one place to another, akasha cannot also move. Your body can go. You cannot go. akasha remains the same. It does not get older or younger. it does not get out of shape; akasha is Nirvikara (changeless) atma is also nirvikara. Akhandathvam. atma is part-less. Khanda means part. akasha also does not have part.

Akashah is indivisible and akasha and atma are asangaha. This is the main thing Sri Krishna is going to talk about. akasha is associated with everything but it is not polluted; is not tainted by either the good qualities or the bad qualities; it does not become turbid. it does not become fragrant or foul smelling, asangatvam.

And finally akashaha is sarva adharatvam. It accommodates, supports everything. The whole cosmos is located in it, therefore akasha is vishvadharam, and atma is also vishvadharam.

And therefore, atma is like akashaah; but Atma is not akasha. Aksha is jadam, achetana tatvam; whereas atma is chetana tatvam; therefore it is only comparable to akasham.

And one more quality is , Sukshmatvam. Akasha cannot be easily comprehended, intellectually. That is why scientists had confusion in determining the nature of akasha. Sometime they thought that it is emptiness; for some time, they thought that it is ether; I do not know whether Scientists clearly know what space is: Therefore it is not easily comprehensible, you cannot see; you cannot hear it; you cannot touch it, see it, but somehow you conceive of akashaha.

Therefore Sukshmatvam is another common feature between akashaha and atma And therefore Sri Krishna gives this example that All pervading space is not affected by anything.

Because of its extremely subtle nature; Fine nature; minute nature, it is not affected by anything. Similarly, the atman also is not tainted or polluted by anything, Even though it is associated with everybody. Body may be fat; but atma is not fat; you need not slim the atma.  atma is not lean; mind may have raga dvesha kama krodha, but atma does not have these qualities. So thus atma is comparable to akashaha. Then the next example.

Shloka # 13.33:

As the single sun illumines this whole world, similarly, O descendant of the Bharata dynasty, the Knower of the field illumines the whole field.

The second example is surya prakashaha. We are not talking about the source of the light; but we are talking about the sunlight, the formless light, which pervades the entire earth during daytime. And atma is comparable to the sunlight. And here also you can find several common features, many of them similar to the akasha example. So here also Ekathvam, Sunlight is only One, because there is only one Sun. and here also Sarvagatatvam; the sunlight pervades the entire earth, at least relatively, and achalatvam; sunlight does not move because it is already everywhere; Nirvikaratvam, the light does not undergo any change at all when I move the hand; light is not moving or changing. And similarly, asangatvam, the light does not get polluted, even when it falls on my hand. Light falls on my hand but light does not get dirty.

Similarly, akhandavtham, light is partless; it cannot be cut; and finally, the light illumines everything and like the light atma also illumines. Illumines means makes everything known, because of consciousness alone, things are known or illumined; without consciousness, if matter alone is there; in the universe, there will be nobody to know anything. Imagine, without us being present, things like, light fan, etc. are there, Who is conscious of whom?

There is no subject object relationship at all. Subject can come only when consciousness comes and therefore consciousness is the illuminator of everything like the Sun.

And therefore Sri Krishna says one sun or sunlight, illumines this entire universe but without getting polluted by it.

And similarly sukshmathvam, the light also cannot be touched by me; light is here; I cannot touch it; you cannot taste it; light cannot be smelled; you cannot hear the light; in fact you cannot even see the light here. I have often told you when the light is there; without a reflecting medium, the light by itself is incomprehensible. So therefore light is sookshmam. Similarly, atma also cannot be touched, cannot be smelled; cannot be heard; cannot be seen; Therefore you cannot say that it is not there; since I cannot touch the atma, therefore atma is not there; one cannot tell that way; since I cannot touch the light, you cannot say that light is not there; you cannot say that: light is there; even though intangibly.

This is the definition of atma given by Kathopanishad. Where atma is compared to akashaha and prakashaha.

And that atma I am. I am like akashaha and I am like prakashaha. So two brilliant examples were given by Sri Krishna. They are not original examples but borrowed one’s from the Upanishads.

Shloka # 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.

So the final benefit of this knowledge is given here in the form of moksha itself. The one who has got the discrimination between Kshetra and Kshetragna or to put in another language, the difference between Purusha and Prakrti; Or, to put in English, the difference between consciousness and matter; How do they see the difference; with Gyana chakshu; with the penetrating discerning eye of wisdom. So the sense organs cannot differentiate. Just as I cannot differentiate the electricity and fan by this eye, but the differentiation is in terms of my understanding. The light and hand are not physically separated, but intellectually you know the difference between the light and hand. Similarly, brain and consciousness; they are not one and the same; brain is matter; consciousness is a separate principle. The one who knows the difference and what are the differences?

We saw four differences:

One is chetanam, another is achetanam; sentient; and insentient; one is nirgunam another is sagunam; one is attributeless; the other is attributed. Consciousness is attributeless; matter is attributed. Nirvikaram-Savikaram, Conciousness is changeless; matter is ever changing.

And Sri Krishna wants to emphasize the fourth difference in this sloka, which is the most important and technical difference. Do you remember the fourth difference?

It is Sathyam and mithya. Consciousness alone exists independently; matter cannot exist independently. So consciousness has got intrinsic existence; matter has got only borrowed existence. Just as the screen exists independent of the movie; but movie characters cannot exist, independent of the screen. If Screen goes, movie characters cannot be there; but if movie characters go, screen will still be there.

Similarly I the consciousness exist independently; the whole world is like a movie running in me and just as movie cannot taint the screen, the mithya prapancha cannot affect I, the sathya Purusha.

So here moksham refers to mithyathvam. Very careful. Here moksha means the absence of real existence.  That means it has got only borrowed existence; like the dream or movie. So mithyathvam of what? Purusha or Prakrti?

The mithyathvam here is of Prakrti as well as the other inert things, and beings. The mithyathvam of matter, indirectly also includes the satyathvam of consciousness.

So, those who recognize aham sathyam jagan mithya and therefore world cannot touch me; they alone attain freedom from the fear of the world. That is called jivan mukthi that they attain.

This is the final benefit of self-knowledge.

With this Sri Krishna concludes Gyana phalam topic as well.

Thus ends the thirteenth chapter called kshetra kshetragnya vibhaga yoga or Prakrti Purusha yoga.

Take away:

Powerful raga dvesha alone is the cause of samsara. Raga dvesha gets weakened because of the Sama darshanam.

As a dreamer, I am a creature within the dream, whereas as a waker, I am the creator of the dream.

I am not within the dream time; On the other hand, dream time is within me. I am not within the dream space; but the dream- space is within me. I am not a product within the dream world; the dream world itself is a product of my mind.

Just as I convert myself from dream-creature to dream-creator, I can convert myself from the waking-world-creature to waking-world-creator and this conversion is accomplished by dis-identification from the body.

Even after waking up, for some time, this world continues to appear in front of me. In this respect, there is a difference between waking from the dream and waking up from ignorance.

Similarly I the consciousness exists independently; the whole world is like a movie running in me and just as movie cannot taint the screen, the methya prapancha cannot affect I, the sathya Purusha.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy