(c) Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

by Padman Govindarajan

        Aspirants seeking knowledge of Truth should be interested in understanding the object of such knowledge.  Arjuna, as a seeker of Truth, inquires from Lord Krsna about prakriti (nature), purusha (enjoyer), ksetra (field), ksetra-jna (its knower) as also about knowledge and the object of knowledge in the first verse of Chapter XIII of Bhagawad-gita.    The human body is the field of activity for the conditioned soul.  The person who identifies himself with his body is called the ksetra-jna, the knower of the field.   The person who owns the body should know that the body is always changing over time from childhood to old age but the unchanging knower is different from the changing body.  Starting with the Thirteenth Chapter, the Lord explains how the living entity comes into contact with material nature and how the Supreme Lord delivers him through the different methods of activities, cultivation of knowledge and the discharge of devotional service.
      In verse 3 of Chapter XIII, the Lord defines knowledge by saying : “ O, scion of Bharatha, you understand that I am also the Knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge.  That is My opinion.”  Commenting on the purport of this all important verse on knowledge, Srila Prabhupada says : “ While discussing the subject of body and knower of body, the soul and the Super soul, we shall find three different topics of study: the Lord, the living entity and matter.  In every field of activities, in every body, there are two souls: the individual soul and the Super soul.”  The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna is the Super Knower and He is present in every body as the Paramatma or Super soul.  One who studies the field of activity and the knower of the field very minutely can attain to knowledge of Reality.
      The individual is the knower of his own body but the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is present as the Super soul in all bodies is omniscient and knows everything about all bodies of all species of life.  The Supreme Lord knows the bodies and the owners of the bodies as the Knower of all fields.  Perfect knowledge of the constitution of the body, the constitution of the individual soul and the constitution of the Supreme soul is known in terms of Vedic literature as Jnana or knowledge of the three Realities.  That is the opinion of Lord Krsna.  To understand both the soul and the Super soul as one yet distinct is the very essence of knowledge.  One has to understand the position of prakriti (nature), purusha (enjoyer of nature) and Iswara (the Knower who controls nature and the individual soul).  This material world, which is the playground of activities of living beings, is nature, the enjoyer of nature is the living entity and controlling both as Supreme Controller is the Personality of Godhead Krsna.  In the Vedic language, there are three Brahman conceptions namely prakriti is Brahman as the field of activities, jiva (individual soul) is also Brahman who controls only material nature and the Controller of both prakriti (nature) and purusha (enjoyer) is also Brahman, the Supreme Controller.
         Krsna is the Super soul present in each and every body apart from the individual soul.  The Super soul is the Controller of both the field of activities and the finite enjoyers.  In verses 11 and 12 of Chapter XIII, the Lord declares : “Constant and unalloyed devotion to Me, aspiring to live in a solitary place, detachment from general mass of people, accepting the importance of self-realization and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth ­ all these I declare to be knowledge and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.”   Explaining the purport of these verses, Srila Prabhupada says : “ Of all the description of the process of knowledge, the most important point is described in the first line of the eleventh verse  MAYI CANANYA YOGENA BHAKTIR AVYABHICARINI : the process of knowledge terminates in unalloyed devotional service to the Lord.  So if one does not approach, or is not able to approach the transcendental service of the Lord, then the other nineteen items (in earlier verses) are of no particular value.  But if one takes to devotional service in full Krsna consciousness, the other nineteen items automatically develop within him.  As stated in Srimad Bhagawatham (5.18.12) YASYASTI BHAKTIR BHAGAVATYAKINCANA SARVAIR GUNAIS TATRA SAMASATE SURAH.  All the good qualities of knowledge develop in one who has attained the stage of devotional service.”
        In verse 35 of Chapter IV, the Lord reveals the nature of this knowledge in these words:  “Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge, you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or in other words, that they are Mine.”   In his comments on the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ The result of receiving knowledge from a self-realized soul, or one who knows things as they are, is learning that all living beings are parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna.  The sense of existence separate from Krsna is called MAYA (MA-not, YA ­this).  The whole teaching of the Gita is targeted  towards this end: that a living being, as Krsna’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Krsna, and his sense of being an identity apart from Krsna is called MAYA.  The living entity, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulfil.  Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies as men, animals, demigods etc.  Such body differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord.”
       Perfect knowledge is that the Supreme soul Krsna, is the supreme shelter for all living entities.  Bhagawatham (2.10.6) says : MUKTIR HITVANYATHA - RUPAM SVARUPENA VYAVASTHITIHI i.e. liberation means to be situated in one’s constitutional position as an eternal servitor of Krsna.  In verse 36 of Chapter IV, the Lord praises the glory of knowledge in these words : “Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.”  In the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ Proper understanding of one’s constitutional position in relationship to Krsna is so nice that it can lift one from the struggle for existence which goes on in the ocean of nescience…..Perfect knowledge, received from the Personality of Godhead is the path to liberation.”
       In verse 16 of Chapter V, the Lord declares : “ When, however, one is enlightened with knowledge, by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.”   Explaining the purport of this important verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ Knowledge is always highly esteemed.  And what is that knowledge?  Perfect knowledge is achieved when one surrenders into Krsna, as is said in the Seventh Chapter, 19th verse : BAHUNAM JANMANAM ANTE JNANAVAN MAM PRAPADYATE.  After passing through many, many births, when one perfect in knowledge surrenders unto Krsna or when one attains Krsna Consciousness, then everything is revealed to him, as everything is revealed by the sun in the daytime.”  Only the light of knowledge can destroy the darkness of nescience and ignorance.
      Even though a person may be in full knowledge that he is not the body but is transcendent to the body, he still may not be able to discriminate between the soul and the Super soul.  One should know the Super soul and the soul’s close and inalienable relationship with the Super soul; one has to learn the distinction between God and the living entity.  Lord Sri Krsna, therefore, stated in the Second Chapter (2.12) that every living being is individual and that the Lord also is individual.  They were all individuals in the past, they are individuals at present and they will continue to be individuals in the future even after liberation.  Identity with individuality in spiritual life is real knowledge says Srila Prabhupada.
      The Lord, in verse 18 of Chapter V describes true knowledge in these words:          “ The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal knowledge a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and dog eater (outcaste).    In his comments on the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ A Krsna conscious person does not make any distinction between species or castes.  The brahmana and the outcaste may be different from the social point of view, or a dog, a cow and an elephant may be different from the point of view of species, but these differences of body are meaningless from the viewpoint of a learned transcendentalist.  This is due to their relationship, to the Supreme, for the Supreme Lord, by His plenary position as Paramatman, is present in everyone’s heart.  Such an understanding of the Supreme, is real knowledge.”
        The bodies are material products of different modes of material nature, but the soul and the Supreme Soul within the body are of the very same spiritual quality.  The individual soul is present only in a particular body whereas the Paramatman is present in each and every body.  The individual soul is conscious within the limited jurisdiction of its body whereas the Supreme Soul is conscious of all bodies without distinction.  A self realized person enjoys supreme bliss for he concentrates on the Supreme.  Elaborating the theme of equal vision in verses 29 to 32 of Chapter VI, the Lord says in verse 29 : “ A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me.  Indeed, the self realized person sees Me, the same Supreme Lord every where.”   Commenting on the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada writes: “ The Lord in his Paramatman feature is situated within both the heart of dog and that of Brahmana.  The perfect yogi knows that the Lord is eternally transcendent and is not materially affected by His presence in either a dog or a Brahmana…… A Krsna conscious person can see Krsna in the heart of both the believer and the non-believer.”
       In verse 30, the Lord says : “ For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.”  Explaining the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ Nothing can exist without Krsna, and Krsna is the Lord of everything ­ this is the basic principle of Krsna Consciousness… An intimate relationship between the Lord and the devotee then exists.  In that stage, the living entity can never be annihilated, nor is the Personality of Godhead ever out of sight of the devotee.  To merge in Krsna is spiritual annihilation.  A devotee takes no such risks…. At this stage, Lord Krsna never disappears from the sight of the devotee, nor does the devotee lose sight of the Lord.”  In verse 31, the Lord declares : “ Such a yogi who engages in worshipful service of the Supreme, knows that I and the Super soul are one, remains always in Me in all circumstances.”   Explaining the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says: “ Krsna in this form of Super soul is situated in everyone’s heart.  Furthermore, there is no difference between the innumerable Super souls present in the innumerable hearts of living entities.  Nor is there a difference between a Krsna conscious person always engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna and a perfect yogin engaged in meditation on the Super soul….Krsna Consciousness is the highest stage of trance in Yoga practice.  This very understanding that Krsna is present as Paramatma in everyone’s heart makes the yogi faultless.”
      In verse 32, the Lord declares : “ He is a perfect yogi who by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings in both their happiness and their disaster, O Arjuna.”  In the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada says : “ One who is Krsna conscious is  a perfect yogi; he is aware of everyone’s happiness and distress by dint of his own personal experience…. In other words,  a devotee of the Lord always looks to the welfare of all living entities, and in this way he is factually a friend everywhere.  He is the best yogi because he does not derive perfection in yoga for his personal benefit but tries for others also.  He does not envy his fellow living entities.  Here is a contrast between a pure devotee of the Lord and a yogi interested only in his personal elevation.”
          In verse 38 of Chapter IV, the Lord declares: “ In this world, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge.  Such knowledge is the mature fruit of all mysticism.  And one who has become accomplished in the practice of devotional service enjoys this knowledge within himself in due course of time.”  Commenting on the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada writes: “ When we speak of transcendental knowledge, we do so in terms of spiritual understanding.  As such, there is nothing so sublime and pure as transcendental knowledge.  Ignorance is the cause of our bondage and knowledge is the cause of liberation….. In other words, this knowledge and peace culminate in Krsna Consciousness.  That is the last word in the Bhagawad-gita.”  Jesus also says only Truth can set one free.    Upanishads distinguish between Apara Vidya or worldly knowledge acquired through senses of perception as also intellectual inference using reason and logic and Para Vidya or transcendental knowledge intuited through mystic extra sensory perception.  Only the pure in heart are blessed with spiritual understanding to see God.
         In verse 39 of Chapter IV, the Lord says: “ A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge and having achieved it, he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.”  Srila Prabhupada lucidly explains the purport of this very important verse in these words: “ One is called a faithful man who thinks that simply by acting in Krsna Consciousness, he can attain the highest perfection.  This faith is attained by the discharge of devotional service, and by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, which cleanses one’s heart of all material dirt.  Over and above this, one should control the senses.  A person who is faithful to Krsna and who controls the senses can easily attain perfection in the knowledge of Krsna Consciousness without delay.”   May all the devotees of Lord Sri Krsna be blessed with such transcendental knowledge, peace and bliss.

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