by Swami Krishnananda
Maha-bhutany ahankaro buddhir avyaktam eva cha, indriyani dasaikam cha pancha chendriya-gocharah (13.5).
Iccha dveshah sukham duhkham sanghatas chetana dhrtih, etat kshetram samasena sa-vikaram udahrtam (13.6).
It was mentioned that this body is kshetra, and the knower of this body is kshetrajna. Also, because of the fact that this kshetrajna is the knower not only of any particular body but of all bodies, it is proper for us to conclude that the whole universe is the field, or the kshetra, and the Supreme Purusha, God Almighty, is the kshetrajna. Kshetrajnam chapi mam viddhi sarva-kshetreshu bharata (13.2): “I am the kshetrajna in sarva kshetra – in all the kshetras. All living beings constitute physical embodiment; and in every such physical embodiment, I am present as the knower thereof.”
Hence, in an individual sense, we may consider kshetra as a material manifestation in the form of this body, and kshetrajna as the inner Atman; or in a cosmical sense, we may say the entire universe is kshetra, the field of action of the one purusha, the one Consciousness, which is kshetrajna in the cosmic sense. What are the inner constituents of this cosmic kshetra and also of the individual kshetra?
This field, which is basically material in nature, objective in character, is constituted of certain substances. What is this world made of in its physical form, and what is the individual made of in his individual form, personal kshetra? The cosmic kshetra rises from the lowest material realm of earth up to Isvara. The whole thing is the realm of kshetra and kshetrajna. Mahabhuta is the name given to the five gross elements – earth, water, fire, air, and sky or ether – known in Sanskrit as prthvi, ap, tejo, vayu, akasa. These are the things visible to our eyes because they are physically manifest as broad objects of sense; but there are internal realities transcending the five elements, the inner kshetrajna, which cannot be seen with the eyes.
Kshetrajna cannot be known or seen, because kshetrajna is the knower of the field. Therefore, the knower cannot be known. The various functions – in a series of ascents and descents – of this kshetrajna in a cosmical sense are mentioned here as ahankara, buddhi and avyakta. Maha-bhutany ahankaro buddhir avyaktam eva cha refers to the well known Sankhya categories of prakriti, mahat, ahankara and the five elements. The ahamkara, buddhi and avyakta mentioned here as internal to the five elements correspond exactly to the Sankhya principle of ahankara, mahat tattva and avyakta prakriti; or in another style, we may say that ahankara corresponds to Virat, buddhi corresponds to Hiranyagarbha, and avyakta corresponds to Isvara. Isvara, Hiranyagarbha, Virat, the five elements, and the tanmatras – known as sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, gandha – constitute the entire cosmos.
What are the constituents of the individual? That is now mentioned. Indriyani dasaikam cha pancha chendriya-gocharah: There are five organs of perception, and five organs of action. Srotram chaksuh sparsanam cha rasanam ghranam eva cha (15.9) is told to us later on. The ear and other sense organs of knowledge, plus the organs of action – vak, pani, pada, payu and upastha – constitute ten: five sensations producing knowledge or perception, and five organs that perform action. These are ten in number. If we also add mind as the chief perceiving faculty, it becomes eleven. Hence, dasa ekam – indriyani dasaikam cha: – dasa and eka becomes ekadasa, eleven. Thus, there are eleven cognitive and perceptive faculties in the individual. The mind being the chief of them, it rules over all the senses including the ten mentioned.
In addition to that, we have the five objects of perception: sound is the object of the ear or organ of hearing, touch is the object of the tactile sense, colour is the object of the sense of seeing, taste is the object of the sense of the tongue, and smell is the object of the sense of the nose. Pancha chendriya gocharah: Five objects of sensory cognition, together with the mind and the ten sense organs, constitute the substance of the individual microcosm. The macrocosm was mentioned earlier as consisting of the five elements, plus ahankara, buddhi and avyakta. Now the microcosm is mentioned as pindanda and the macrocosm is brahmanda. This pindanda, or the individual constitution, is made up of these things only: the five objects of perception, the ten sense organs, and the mind.
This classification of the kshetra and the kshetrajna into two categories – macrocosmic and microcosmic – requires an elucidation of the means of contact of the microcosmic with the macrocosmic. How does the individual kshetra, with its own individual kshetrajna, come in contact with the external macrocosmic field and the knower of the field? In other words, how do we come in contact with anything at all? How do we know any object in the world, and how are we affected by the perception of objects?
Iccha dveshah sukham duhkham sanghataschetana dhrtih (13.6). This process of the individual contacting the external and getting affected by it takes place in the following manner: by desire – iccha ; by hatred – dvesha; by a longing for pleasure – sukha; by the desire to avoid pain – duhkha; and by the desire further to maintain this conglomeration of the physical body – sanghata. Sanghata is a composite structure made up of various elements, which we study in anatomy and physiology, and they have to be maintained in a proper order so that they may not get dismembered. Suppose the bone moves in one direction and the flesh moves in another direction – we will not be human beings. They have to be put together by a cement of cohesion. That cohering, compact presentation of the otherwise-individual ingredients is called sanghata, this physical body. This physical body is not one indivisible unit. It is made up of little units – which may be called cells, or whatever name we give them – and they get dismembered, they decay. When the prana is withdrawn from the body, it decomposes; then the inner components of the body reduce themselves to their original form and become one with the five elements.
Consciousness is the individual capacity to know the objects of the world through the body; that is called chetana here. Dhrti is the determination of the individual to maintain itself through the ahankara tattva or the ego.
So, how many things are mentioned in the individual’s case? We have a determination to maintain ourselves as a physical personality. We move earth and heaven to see that we are not destroyed or endangered in any way whatsoever. We protect ourselves, and for that purpose we decide to take certain steps, and we apply the faculty of determination – “I shall maintain myself in this physical body only” – and we do every blessed thing, whatever is possible, for that purpose. The consciousness that is at the back of even this determining faculty is the chetana. Sanghata, as explained, is nothing but this composite structure of different elements that make up the body, and it is simultaneously associated with a longing for pleasure and a hatred for pain. Iccha, dvesha – love and hatred – go together with the asking for pleasure and avoidance of pain.
These are the inner components of the individual kshetra, the microcosm; and the chetana mentioned here may be identified with the individual kshetrajna. One who knows the individual body and identifies with the individual body is kshetrajna in the individualised sense. But the other one that is mentioned corresponds to the cosmic kshetrajna, who is represented in these different degrees of His own manifestation – known as prakriti, mahat and ahankara, or Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat. So, in these two verses, in two verses only, the entire cosmic structure and the individual structure is summed up. Maha-bhutany ahankaro buddhir avyaktam eva cha, indriyani dasaikam cha pancha chendriya-gocharah. Iccha dveshah sukham duhkham sanghatas chetana dhrtih, etatkshetram, This is kshetra in brief – samasena sa-vikaram udahrtam. Briefly I have mentioned what the kshetra is, both from the universal point of view and from the individual point of view, with all the modifications thereof.
This is the knowledge which is briefly mentioned in two verses, but so hard to comprehend. Our minds cannot always remember that we are individuals coming in contact with the universal structure of the kshetra and kshetrajna through iccha, dvesha, sukha, duhkha, etc. We are not aware of this kind of happening in our daily life. We are so ego-ridden that we just take for granted everything as it is, as it appears on the surface to the sense organs. We think that we are here, totally independent, and the world is there, totally independent, and that we have practically no connection with the world. We do not know that a connection is established every minute by the consciousness of perception.
How do we maintain this awareness of our relatedness to the world through the consciousness of cognition through the sense organs and the mind? For that a discipline – a series of disciplines – is stated in the coming verses. These are very famous verses, which are worth committing to memory. We have already seen sthitaprajna lakshana in the Second Chapter, bhagavad bhakta lakshana in the Twelfth Chapter, and gunatita lakshana in the Thirteenth Chapter; and now here we have the lakshana of a seeker. Who is a good seeker?
Amanitvam adambhitvam ahimsa kshantir arjavam, acharyopasanam saucham sthairyam atma-vinigrahah (13.7).
Indriyartheshu vairagyamanahankara eva cha, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-doshanudarsanam (13.8).
Asaktir anabhishvangah putra-dara-grhadishu, nityam cha sama-chittatvam ishtanishtopapattishu (13.9).
Mayi chananya yogena bhaktir avyabhicharini, vivikta-desa-sevitvam aratir jana-samsadi (13.10).
Adhyatma-jnana-nityatvam tattva-jnanartha-darsanam, etaj jnanam iti proktam ajnanam yad-ato’nyatha (13.11).
All these things mentioned here in these verses are called knowledge. Etaj jnanam iti proktam: “I consider these virtues I have mentioned as real knowledge.” Ajnanam yad-ato’nyatha: “Whatever is the opposite of what I have said here, is ignorance.”
A student of yoga, a spiritual seeker, is humble. He does not expect respect from anybody, but offers respect to everyone. Trnad api sunicena taror iva sahisnuna amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih: Only he can take the name of God, Hari, who wants not respect from anybody, but respects everyone, and is humbler than a blade of grass. If grass is trampled on, it simply bends; it doesn’t resist. We should consider being humbler than a blade of grass – trnadapi sunichena. If we chop off the branches of a tree, it does not curse us. Even if we cut off large part of the tree, it again shoots up tendrils and leaves. It is very tolerant. Thus, the devotee should be as tolerant as a tree and as humble as a blade of grass, giving respect to everybody and wanting respect from nobody – amanitvam.
Adambhitvam: There is no show on the part of a spiritual seeker. He never demonstrates himself as a seeker of God, a lover of God, a spiritual seeker. He looks like anybody else in the world. There is nothing special or anything particular that we can cognise in that person. He hides his knowledge and his sadhana. It is said the sadhana that we perform, the mantra that we chant, and the Guru whom we worship should not be revealed to anyone. We should not boast about who our Guru is. It should be known only to us, and to the Guru. We should not announce to the public who our Guru is; we should not tell people what mantra japa we are doing, and our sadhana technique also should not be revealed to other people. If we have an experience in our sadhana, that also should not be told to anybody except our Guru. Adambhitvam means there is no demonstration of ahankara. “I have attained samadhi; I was there in that state for three hours.” We should not go on saying these things.