Chapter 13The Individual Consciousness and The Ultimate ConsciousnessVerse 13


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

That which is to be known by imbibing the previous 20 virtues is being declared by Lord Krishna in this verse. The resultant consequence of embracing these virtues is being proclaimed now and emphasised in order to exemplify to the hearer that these 20 virtues truly constitute knowledge and are indispensable to realising the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Realising the brahman one achieves moksa or liberation from material existence. The brahman has no beginning, is unsurpassed, and eternal. Although the word anandi meaning without beginning and eternal would convey the same meaning alone by adding the suffix mat to it utilises it as a bahuvrihi compound which is a metrical ornament and so it is spoken anandimat which denotes subordination to param being the Supreme Lord. If it were spoken as anandi matparam it would mean Lord Krishna's supreme, attributeless form but that would not validate the words na sat tan nasad which states it is beyond both the cause and the effect. That which is the object of activation is expressed as existing and that which has no activation is expressed as non-existing. But the brahman is beyond both because it is not subject to the material existence.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is the brahma referred to here. This is given as a reminder of the dependence of the Supreme Lord Krishna by whose energy everything is transpiring. The word anadimat means without any origin and beginning and denotes that the Supreme Lord is without origin and beginning also. If only anadi was used a doubt might arise that there is an origin for Him and so how can He manifest something without beginning if He is not as well. So the word anadimat is used as a matter of clarification. Due to being complete in fullness with all transcendental attributes the Supreme Lord is called param brahman meaning the Supreme brahman and is both sat or eternal existence and asat or non existence possessing a transcendental spiritual form and formless being without a physical form. Yet since He can be discerned by outward elements such as earth, fire, water etc. and since He is emphatically eulogized in the Vedic scriptures. The resplendent Supreme Lord Krishna, the immutable one is especially known both as sat and asat.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Lord Krishna is declaring that which is most worthy to be known is that which is most worthy to strive for and be gained and that is realisation of the atma or immortal soul. This realisation is attained by imbibing the 20 attributes heretofore mentioned previously. Here the word amritam meaning nectar denotes the nectar of immortality and refers directly the immortal soul exempt from the pangs of birth, decrepitude and death. Anadi means that which has no beginning for as the atma has no birth it has no ending and is eternal. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning najayate mriyate va vipascit means that the atma is without birth and death. The compound mat- param clarifies that the atma is both a part of the Supreme Lord who is present within as paramatma the Supreme Soul and always subordinate to Him. The Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.IX beginning sakaranam karana dhipa dhipo means: The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes and the lord of the lord of the senses for Him there is no Lord or progenitor. Further in the same chapter VI.XVI beginning pradhana ksetrajna patir gunesah meaning: The Supreme Lord who is endowed with all auspicious qualities is the lord of the field of activities, the knower of the field of activities.

The brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is great because the atma which is a separate entity from the physical body is part of it. Brahman is derived from the root word brh which means becoming great. So it is included as part of ksetra-jna. The brahman is infinite and the atma is infinite as well. The Svetasvatara Upanisad V.IX states sachan anthyaya kalpate meaning: The atma is infinite. The atma's seemingly limitation in a physical body is due to karma or reactions from past actions; but once a jiva or embodied being achieves moksa or liberation then the actual infinite and limitless nature of the atma is percieved. The brahman is neither sat existence or asat non-existence because it never undergoes any modifications or transformations due to its being beyond the influence of cause and effect. The term brahman can also be used to refer to the atma as will be seen later in chapter 14, verse 26 and chapter 18 verse 54. When the atma assumes names and forms sat becomes applicable and when the atma is bereft of names and forms it is asat. Thus it is factually beyond both. This is also revealed in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VII.IX and the Rig Veda VIII.VII.XVII which states: All was asat in the beginning and from it sat arose. So everything was first unmanifest and then was made manifest into names and forms through successive transformations of cause and effect and such modifications surrounding the atma are due to its karma of having to accept embodiment brought on by avidya or ignorance and is not inherent in the actual nature of the atma itself. Thus the nature of the atma is undefinable by any and all conceptions of sat and asat.

When the Vedic scriptures refer to asat as being in the beginning they are alluding to the unmanifest casual state before existence is activated and commences. In this state both cit conscious spirit as the ksetra-jna and acit inert matter as the ksetra are both present but in a dormant state and could be designated as asat. But the brahman and the atma being eternal and part of the ksetra-jna are transcendent to both sat and asat except by the accountability and allotment of karma to the jiva due to reactions from past activities.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

After describing the 20 indispensable attributes that are required to achieve the Supreme Ultimate Truth now Lord Krishna explains at length the nature of the ksetra-jna or knower of the field of activity with reference to the individual atma or immortal soul which is well worth knowing and of great value. Understanding that the atma is eternal and completely different from the perishable physical body and is not subject to mundane modifications like birth, old age, disease and death one begins to taste supreme bliss. The atma is beyond all the qualities and potencies of material existence no matter how powerful they may be. The Prasna Upanisad V.V beginning yah punaretam trima trenomiti meaning: One beholds the Supreme Being residing within the etheric heart and is higher than the highest living reality. Then access to the realm of the Supreme Lord is achieved which is permeated by the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and is the prime cause of primordial matter, the jiva or embodied being and eternal time. The true nature of the brahman the innermost self as the atma is revealed and all nescience is completely removed. This is known to be neither sat or existence and neither asat or non-existence.

The use of the term innermost self to refer to the brahman does not create any contradiction because when the atma is realised its veil is removed and nescience is removed with it and the extensive and unlimited nature it is endowed with is revealed. The Mundaka Upanisad III.I.III beginning yada pashyah pashyate meaning: When moksa or liberation is achieved one cuts asunder the knots of worldly bondage and attains proximity to the Supreme Lord. Also one who has achieved moksa is known to be omnicient as is shown in the Chandogya Upanisad VII.XXVI.II beginning na pashyo myritam pashyati na means: The enlightened one realising the Supreme Lord has realised the atma and all else. The Supreme Reality is called sat eternal existence in its state of being because of its capacity to divide itself into names and forms. The Supreme Reality is also called asat or non-existence because of its incapacity to divide itself into names and forms. This is also given in the Taittiriya Upanisad II.VII beginning asadva idamagre asit meaning: Verily in the beginning this creation was non-existent. Also in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad I.IV.VII beginning taddedam tarhayavaya meaning: Verily before the demigod Brahma became the secondary, instrumental cause of creation, the whole creation was dormant in its unmanifested form under the sway of the primary efficient cause. So because the Supreme Reality of the atma is beyond both sat and asat it is known as being and non-being. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning na jayate mriyate va means: The soul is unborn, eternal unchangeable and never subject to death.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 13, verse 13 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 13

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