|Chapter 13||The Individual Consciousness and The Ultimate Consciousness||Verse 1, 2|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
In verse seven of the previous chapter Lord Krishna declares sammuddharta mrtyu-samsara sagarat meaning saves them from the perpetual cycle of birth and the death which is like an ocean because in a day of Brahma every human being has approximately 43,000 separate births and life cycles. So the figure is astronomical if one calculates how many human lifetimes transpire in a only year of Brahma's lifetime. So in this present chapter the truth about redemption from this transmigration from the cycle of birth and death is being revealed for this fulfilment. As it is not even remotely possible to achieve the fulfilment of redemption without atma-tattva or realisation of the eternal soul within. So in order to inoculate this knowledge of truth this chapter will delineate the relationship between prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the Pususa or the Supreme Consciousness pervading spiritual existence that is the source of all existence. It is the lack of discrimination and discernment between the prakriti and Purusa which causes delusion and binds the atma or eternal soul which is an infinitesimal spark of the Purusa within the etheric heart of the jiva or embodied being, keeping them in bondage locked by samsara or the perpetual cycle of transmigratory existence birth after birth, life after life. It is by the power of first Purusa and then prakriti that the Supreme Lord Krishna manifests all creation and they are distinctly different from each other. Prakriti is related to the ksetra or the field and the Purusa is related to ksetrajnam or knower of the field. The ksetra is the material body which is the basis for all physical enjoyment and the sprouting ground for endless transmigration. The ksetrajnam is that which is conscious of itself and thinks in terms of I and mine and is called the jiva by those who have factual discriminative knowledge of both. This is because the jiva is the beneficiary of the results of the actions performed by the body like the farmer who reaps the harvest of his field.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Hari OM! In this chapter whatever has been previously stated about knowledge, the object of knowledge, prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the Purusa or the Supreme eternal consciousness is herein being categorically collated and elucidated by Lord Krishna. The means of developing spiritual intelligence through karma or activities was given by Lord Krishna in the first six chapters known as the Karma Yoga section and the means of achieving bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to Lord Krishna was revealed in the subsequent six chapters known as the Bhakti Yoga section along with the different manifestations of the Supreme Lord have all been arranged here together in summation.
The jiva or embodied being is by itself eternal because it possesses an atma or eternal soul bestowed by the Lord Krishna which is an infinitesimal spark from Him; but the physical body although energized by the Supreme Lord is not eternal and disintegrates with time. Therefore the physical body is called sharira because it appears to die and since the Supreme Lord resides within all jivas as the atma He is known as ksetrajna or the consciousness within the ksetra or field of activity. This consciousness envelopes the physical body and is the source of the material senses which display their perceptions of duality in the ksetra of the physical body with emotions of like and dislike, happiness and misery, pleasant and unpleasant, love and hate etc.
Now begins the summation.
One who is freed from the modulations of desires and the bewilderment of attractions is able to unite with pure thoughts of spiritual consciousness. Such a jiva or embodied being is considered to have achieved moksa or liberation from material existence. The Narayana Scripture states that there are two manifestations of moksa. The superior form of moksa is known as suddha or pure liberation and its consciousness is always attuned and in harmony with dharma or eternal righteousness and the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorized avatars or incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. This consciousness has an all comprehensive knowledge about the atma or eternal soul and following the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures is always engaged in performing different levels of bhakti or devotion to the Supreme Lord which eventually results in direct communion with the Supreme Lord eternal association with Him.
The inferior form of moksa is known as asuric or demoniac liberation and its consciousness is antagonistic to dharma or eternal righteousness, it is addicted to perverse pleasures of the physical body, it has a distorted conceptions of the atma and is always desiring to perform degraded and prohibited activities. Its mentality is adverse to engaging in any service of the Supreme Lord and eventually without fail end up in the most fallen of species in the lowest hellish realms due to offenses made against the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The first division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Karma Yoga section comprises the first six chapters describing two paths: the path of spiritual actions and the path of spiritual knowledge by which an aspirant may achieve atma tattva or realisation of the eternal soul. It has also been explained that the achievement of atma tattva is essential for attaining moksa or liberation from material existence.
The middle division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Bhakti Yoga section comprises the second six chapters which reveals that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion which is preceded by factual spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna as revealed in the Vedic scriptures is the paramount attainment. Such spiritual knowledge about Lord Krishna is prerequisite and essential to bhakti and subsequent attainment of communion with the Supreme Lord and eternal association which is the ultimate goal and most exalted destination. It is also elucidated herein that bhakti constitutes the means by which those aspirants ambitious of acquiring opulence and those aspirants ambitious for atma-tattva or soul realisation can both have their respective desires fulfilled as well.
Now in the final division of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Jnana Yoga section comprising the last six chapters, the topics propounded in the first 12 chapters will be further illuminated by Lord Krishna. Two categories will be examined: prakriti or the spiritual substratum pervading physical existence and Purusa or the Supreme eternal consciousness. Their combined union constitutes the complete cosmic creation. The nature of Isvara or the Supreme Lord, the means of salvation, the paths of karma or spiritual activities for the Supreme Lord, jnana or spiritual knowledge of the Supreme Lord and bhakti or loving devotion to the Supreme Lord will be further delineated along with instructions on how to practice and perform each path.
Beginning this Jnana Yoga section, this chapter explains the nature of matter and the soul, the way to realise the soul as distinctly different from matter, the reason why the atma is associated with matter and the way the atma may be meditated upon.
Lord Krishna explains that while in a physical body the jiva or embodied being believes they are that body, thinking I am a man, I am a demigod, I am a female, I am famous, I am powerful, etc. all of which are distinctly different form the atma or eternal soul. The physical body is that which the spiritually intelligent assert as the ksetra or field of enjoyment. One who has the realisation of the jiva being part of an aggregate whole composed of divisible parts being the physical body, the subtle body and the atma. One who has the understanding that I know this body and instead of the mentality that I am this body. One who is cognisant of these things and realises what the atma actually is factually asserted as being ksetrajna or the knower of the field. It can be said that when cognition of objects external to the physical body arises the conception of I am my human body who sees for example this house before me, implying that the one who sees thinks the atma is inseparable from the physical body and not that the atma is totally independent of the physical and subtle bodies. Subsequently when one has achieved atma tattva or realisation of the soul and experienced its spiritual existence then one will be cognisant of their physical body merely as a house within which the atma inhabits. To perceive a house as external from the physical body is the same as perceiving the atma as external from the physical body for one who is realised. One who is cognisant of this reality sees the atma as a distinct entity separate from the physical and subtle bodies.
To assert the indisputably modifiable and perishable physical body and its qualitative characteristics to the immortal atma in accordance with the law of coexistence of subject and attribute is as unreasonable as asserting that the milk of cattle is an inseparable attribute of every type of cow, bull or heifer falling under that generic term.
Due to the fact that the phenomenally unique and sublime nature of the atma precludes any perceptibility by the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell to experience it and is only perceptible by the consciousness of a clarified mind purified by introspection amd meditation derived from the process of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness perfecting communion with the ultimate consciousness. The spiritually deficient are beguiled and bewildered by the mere propensity of matter and deluded misconstrue the perishable physical body and the eternal, immortal atma. This will be further clarified in chapter 15, verses 10 and 11 where Lord Krishna explains that those bereft of wisdom with impure thoughts cannot perceive the atma.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
In the first six chapters of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita known as the Karma Yoga section, Lord Krishna described the true nature of the atma or eternal soul, which is the sole objective of realisation and the means to perceive it by either jnana yoga or the path of spiritual knowledge or karma yoga the path of spiritual activities. In the second six chapters known as the Bhakti Yoga section, Lord Krishna explains the true nature of the Supreme Lord, who is the ultimate goal of attainment along with precise knowledge of His glory, majesty and supremacy revealing in conclusion that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion is the most superior of processes for attaining the Supreme Lord as it is the most profound means as well as the topmost goal of human existence. Now in the final six chapters known as the Jnana Yoga section, Lord Krishna expands on the topics of penance, detachment, the three types of sacrifice, etc. that were not fully delineated in the previous 12 chapters. The true nature of god-realisation achieved by the those qualified by bhakti possessing godly endowments of spiritual attributes as well as knowledge and renunciation are exclusively enraptured by and devoted to the Supreme Lord Krishna.
Now in this chapter Lord Krishna begins describing the discriminative knowledge of matter and spirit along with the process of assisting His devotees transcend the ocean of samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth death. Lord Krishna declared in chapter 12 verse 7 that He quickly delivers His unalloyed devotees from samsara. Although He has previously spoken of the physical body as the inferior part and the atma or eternal soul as the superior part as given in chapter 8, verse 5, He now describes the combined nature of both with the words idam sariram meaning the material body, which is constituted of the five elements, five senses, mind and false ego and is the source of enjoying material delights for jivas or embodied beings, who being bewildered by illusion think of themselves as male or female or as old and young, etc. thinking themselves to be the physical body oblivious that the atma is distinctly different and separate from the physical body they inhabit. This physical body is known as the ksetra or field which is the source of enjoying the harvest of pleasures and pain as the reactions to good and evil actions by the doer. Just as a well planted field yields abundant results and a poorly planted field yields poor results. One who has realised that the atma is not the same and different from the ksetra is factually a ksetra-jna one who is a knower of truth. This is the conclusion of knowledgeable persons well versed in the spiritual truths of the Vedic scriptures. Although ordinary beings are under the misconception that they are the physical body, believing themselves to be male or female, young or old etc., and convinced that when their physical body feels happiness they are joyful and when their physical body feels unhappiness they are sad. The word sariram meaning the physical body denotes etymologically as that which decays. Still there are many in this world that are competent to discriminate between the two and this Lord Krishna emphasises with the words tat-vidah meaning persons endowed with knowledge of the absolute truth. So the conclusion is that although ordinary beings who are steeped in ignorance do not have the qualification to discriminate between the external physical body and the internal atma; the devotees of Lord Krishna have qualified themselves by hearing from the bonafide spiritual master and studying the Vedic scriptures are able to discriminate between the ksetra and the atma.