Knower & Known – Intro to Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13 (119)


Lesson 119 shows the structure of BG and main topics of previous chapters. About doer-enjoyer. 2-fold-Cause nature of Universe. Ksetram (material universe).

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Intro, Verse 1


  • B.Gita is divided into 3 parts:
  • PART 1: CH1-6

    • Speaks of “tat TVAM asi”.
    • CH1:
      • Arjuna (jīva) is confronted with a life crisis. Sees no way out. Either way is a loss.
      • He has a choice. (a) Put things under the carpet with distraction/escape to Rishikesh (b) Address the crisis while it’s fresh. He choose #b.
      • Next step is to seek guidance. If you could figure it out, would’ve done it long time ago.
      • When you are desperately seeking guidance, door of your mind is open. Only then Īśvara’s grace can walk in. In this case, in form of Krishna.
    • Then to solve Arjuna’s despair, CH2-6 is divided into 3 main topics…
    • Topic 1:
      • CH2: Resolves the apparent difference between the individual-puruṣa and Total-puruṣa.
        • How can “I” (the limited, form-bound individual) be equated to the Cause of the universe, which is formless and limitless?
      • CH4/5: Shows that doer & experiencer mechanism belongs to body-mind.
        • What is the doer?
          • Doer refers to the body-mind reacting to stimuli. It reacts by the help of orders like: psychological, biological, physiological. EG:
            • STEP 1: Car heading body’s direction > triggers response (through help of orders) > body moves out of trajectory.
            • STEP 2: What comes next? Sense of emotional alleviation (enjoyment).
            • STEP 3: To whom does this doership/experience belong? To the body-mind instrument.
              • Just like anything that happens to the computer hardware/software belongs to the hardware/software. It can’t touch electricity.
                • Because they are 2 orders of the one same matter-reality.
                • Similarly, body-mind instrument and Consciousness are 2 orders of the one same Consciousness-reality (Brahman).
        • Less philosophical level: Why are you not the doer?
          • If you were the doer then you would have total control over dreams/sleep. But they come at their own time.
          • If you were the doer/enjoyer then you would never feel unfulfilled. Because who wants to feel dissatisfied. And yet dissatisfaction comes even if doesn’t intend it.
    • Topic 2:
      • Karma-yoga sādhana used to gradually introvert the extroverted mind that’s habituated to look outward by default.
    • Topic 3:
      • Role of individual effort.
      • Meaning jīva is endowed with:
        1. Saṃskāras (method of thinking) from previous life, set the theme of your present life. The theme is referred to as destiny/fate (prārabdha-karma).
        2. Free will (puruṣārtha).
          • Free will can be used to reinforce destructive saṃskāras OR reduce their load so you can focus on creating better ones.
      • Purpose of Vedic horoscope like “Nādi astrology in Tamil Nadu” is to figure out prārabdha. Doesn’t take into account free will from the moment the client walks out.
  • PART 2: CH7-12

    • 3 Topics.
    • Speaks of “TAT tvam asi”.
    • Topic 1: Nature of Cause of Universe:
      • Nature of the Cause of the Universe from which everything comes, by which is sustained, into which it dissolves.
        • Names given to Cause: Īśvara, Bhagavān, Paramātma, Parameśvaraḥ, God/Lord.
    • Topic 2: Upāsana-Yoga:
      • L1: Meditation upon iṣṭa-deva (personal version of the Highest). Ashtanga-Yoga 8 steps.
      • L2: Coming to see that every object in universe is made out of the same material and intelligence that put that material together into a form.
    • Topic 3: Īśvara anugrahaḥ / kṛpā:
      • Involves acknowledging: (1) limits of your free will, (2) unknown variables.
        • Both are out of range of individual’s self-effort.
      • Thus convert this helplessness into form of prayer, pujā to help lessen unknown obstacles.
  • PART 3: CH13-18

    • 3 Topics.
    • Speaks of “tat tvam ASI”.
    • Topic 1:
      • REVEALING the non-difference between you (the individual; jīva) and the Cause of Universe (Īśvara).
      • EG: There’s an apparent difference between toe and tongue. But they are both born of and sustained by the one same entity, whose intelligence makes the limbs operate.
        • Furthermore, entity is made sentient because of prāṇa. Meaning same prāṇa is in all the individual-limbs that make up the WHOLE entity.
        • Similarly, same Consciousness pervades the jīva (individual entity) and Īśvara (WHOLE entity).
    • Topic 2:
      • COLLAPSING the apparent difference between you (the individual) and the Cause of Universe (Īśvara).
      • How is this done?
        • Through an equation/mahāvakyatat tvam ASI”.
        • When 2 sides (tat & tvam) are seemingly different, but actually the same, we need to figure out HOW they are the same.
          • Is 10 = 1 an equation? No.
          • Is 5 = 5 an equation? No.
          • Is (2+3) = (1+4) and equation? Yes. Both are of 5-nature.
          • In same way, differences between “tat” and “tvam” are apparent. But upon solving, they add up to the same Consciousness-nature.
        • The adding up on both sides is a process given by jñāna-yoga.
    • Topic 3: Universal values/virtues.
      • If give grade-10-math-equation to a grade-3-mind, it won’t figure out. It’s unqualified.
        • No matter how proficient teaching/teacher is, the seeds of knowledge need fertile soil to grow.
          • If soil too hard (mind is rigid), then seed of knowledge can’t spread it’s roots.
      • Thus, universal values qualify the mind for equation “tat tvam asi”.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Intro Verse:

arjunaḥ uvāca
prakṛtim puruṣam ca eva kṣetram kṣetrajñam eva ca ।
etat veditum icchāmi jñānam jñeyam ca keśava ॥ 13-0॥
Arjuna asked: Oh Lord! I desire to know the following; prakrti, purusa, kṣetram (the field), kṣetrajña (knower of the field), jñānam (means of knowledge; values), and jñeyam (what is to be known).


  • Arjuna asks about 6 technical words: prakṛti, puruṣa, kṣetram, kṣetranjña, jñānam, jñeyam. We’ll divide into 3 categories.
  • CATEGORY 1: Prakṛti & kṣetram: (near synonyms with fine distinctions taught later)
    • Material universe.
    • Also includes energy like: heat energy, gravitational force.
      • EG: E = mc2 means: Matter can be converted into energy and vice versa.
    • Also includes thoughts (subtle matter).
      • EG: Mind is influenced by biochemistry/hormones/medicine. Shows that Mind subtle-matter is in same order of reality as gross-chemistry matter.
    • Includes both manifest and unmanifest objects.
      • EG: Where is the thought that’ll popup in 1 min from now? Dormant state. Unmanifest.
    • In CH7, called: aparā-prakṛti: Means 3 guṇas (powers) from which everything is made.
      • Why 3? Because to make anything you need:
        • Knowledge of that which is to be made. Sattvaḥ.
        • Material from which to make it. Tamaḥ.
        • Power which assembles the material according to the blueprint knowledge. Rajaḥ.
    • Anything that is an object of experience/perception.
  • CATEGORY 2: Puruṣaḥ, kṣetrajña, jñeyam: (near synonyms with fine distinctions taught later)
    • All are referring to the final reality, Consciousness (Brahman).
    • In CH7, called: parā-prakṛti. The one reality without a second. Advaitam.
  • What constitutes the Cause of the Universe (called Īśvara)?
    • Mixture of Category 1 & 2. Meaning neither one, is the Cause. But the Cause is of 2-fold nature.
      • EG: Indian symbology: Vishnu & Lakshmi /  Shiva & Parvati.
      • METAPHOR:
        • The Cause of a dream-universe is 2-fold: Conscious being (puruṣa) and mind (prakṛti).
        • When the 2-fold-Cause swallows the entire dream-Universe, it’s called: Brahman.
        • When the 2-fold-Cause manifests as TOTAL dream-Universe, it’s called Īśvara.
        • When the 2-fold-Cause manifests as individual body-mind, it’s called jīva.
        • Who am “I”? This very 2-fold-Cause. In fact, everything is also this 2-fold-Cause. So there’s nothing special about knowing your real identity.
    • Cause (Īśvara) is looked from 3 standpoints: Manifestation (Brahmā), Sustenance (Viṣṇu), Unmanifestation (Śiva).
  • CATEGORY 3: Jñānam:
    • 2 Meanings:
      • Parokṣa-jñānam: Knowledge arising in the mind from anything cognized (internal thoughts, external objects).
      • Aparokṣa-jñānam: Direct knowledge of oneself arising from successful removal of incorrect notions, in reference to the subject.
        • EG: Seeing a oasis-water mirage over the desert. To the perceiver, the mirage appears real. This elicits corresponding emotions/thoughts.
          • The perceiver needs pramāṇa (means of knowledge) to remove erroneous notions which convince the perceiver that mirage is real. When in fact it’s relatively real.
      • In CH13, jñānam means: 20 values/virtues which qualify the mind to aparokṣa-jñānam.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 1:

śrībhagavān uvāca
idam śarīram kaunteya kṣetram iti abhidhīyate ।
etat yaḥ vetti tam prāhuḥ kṣetrajñaḥ iti tat-vidaḥ ॥ 13-1
Lord Krsna said – Oh Arjuna! This body is known as kṣetraṁ (the field). (There is a conscious principle) which knows this (field). Wise men declare that (knower principle) to be ksetrajñā.


    • Kṣetram refers to the body you’re experiencing intimately right now.
    • To know this body, we need to know 2 meanings of word “kṣetram”:
    • MEANING 1:
      • Root √kṣi: that which wanes, disintegrates, perishes, decreases.
        • In short: what undergoes state of modification.
      • QUESTION: What specifically modifies about the body? 5-kośa model:
        • Food layer: (annamaya kośa; physical body)
          • Made entirely of food. Consists of muscles, bones, tissue, organs, cells, blood.
          • It is endowed with:
            • 5 instruments of perception for sake of perceiving the world. (jñāna indiryas)
              1. Hearing: śrotra
              2. Seeing: cakṣu
              3. Sense of touch: tvak
              4. Sense of taste: rasanā
              5. Sense of smell: ghrāṇa
            • 5 instruments of transaction for sake of engaging with the perceived world. (karma indriyas)
              1. Organ of speech: vāk
              2. Hands: pāṇi
              3. Feet: pāda
              4. Organ of excretion: pāyu
              5. Organ of reproduction: upastha
        • Physiological Functions layer: (Prāṇamaya kośa)
          • How to understand prāṇa? Think of fan. Fan is annamaya-kośa. While the unseen electricity that powers it = prāṇamaya kośa.
          • We experience this layer when feeling: energized, sleepy, sexually passionate, hungry/thirsty. It's physiological functions of the body that keep physical organs doing their function (EG: Kidney eliminating waste, stomach producing digestive enzymes, genitals producing egg/sperm, etc).
          • Prāṇa has 5 functions:
            1. Prāṇa: Respiration which automates inhalation/exhalation. That’s why even if patient is brain-dead, he still breaths. Thus breathing is not a brain function, but prāṇa
            2. Apāna: Expulsion. Evacuates wastes from body. Sweat, urine, stool.
            3. Samāna: Digestion.
            4. Vyāna: Circulation of blood.
            5. Udāna: Vomiting, burping. Also expels mind from body upon death.

Resources: Verse-by-Verse Essence

Keywords: prakrti, apana, jneyam, kshetram, kshetranja, paranamaya kosha, prana, prarabdha karma, purusha, purushartha, samana, udana, vyana, vak, pani, pada, payu, upastha, shrotra, srotra, caksu, cakshu, tvak, rasana, ghrana


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 6 April, 2021



  1. Hi Andre.
    In step 3. You say that doership/ experience belongs to the body mind instrument.
    You then make some points to show why “you are not the doer”.
    Eg. Don’t control our dreams, experience dissatisfaction.
    I have a confusion here.
    My understanding is that “I” atma am not the doer, but”I” the body mind complex is.
    Is it not the body mind complex that dreams and experiences dissatisfaction?
    I am clearly not understanding this apparent contradiction.

    Is it correct that “ I” the body mind complex is both the doer and the dreamer and the one that experiences dissatisfaction?

    1. =====
      Is it correct that “ I” the body mind complex is both the doer and the dreamer and the one that experiences dissatisfaction?

      Yes, that’s what the video is saying exactly. All experience belongs to instrument of body-mind that’s capable of producing complex range of emotions on bases of how lubricated or lack-of, is the instrument.

      In other words, the body-mind does/enjoys by the help of orders that are making it do so. What is doing the digestion? Biological order. Individual doesn’t digest one’s own food by “thinking it”. It’s automatically done. What makes person feel joyful? Chemical order. Serotonin/dopamine is released automatically.

      In other words, the entire field of Intelligence is the doer.


      Nothing above has anything to do with Ātmā.

  2. How can free Will (unconditioned) be a causal link in a conditioned universe?
    It seems fine to speak of everything as unconditioned or conditioned and to equate the two ultimately but to mix them seems absurd.
    E.g. I have the illusion that I am choosing to write this email but really I am being driven by the interplay of my volitional tendencies with the projected objective world. I just can’t see behind the volitions projecting my deeds so I assume I am making a free choice.
    Is that correct?
    Thanks Andre

    1. One can’t disagree that our choices are influenced by our past tendencies. But never totally. Otherwise self-growth wouldn’t be possible. It’ll be an infinite 1:1 repetition of what we’ve done yesterday.

      Same grams of spices. Same seat facing the same direction at the same time. Unlikely!

      Yet we constantly adjust according to the needs of the environment (projected objective world).

      How do we adjust?

      1) According to how we’ve adjusted before (IE: vasana/samskara).

      2) According to whether the adjustment is logically compatible or appropriate with the PRESENT need of the environment.

      Furthermore, if your free will was an illusion, then your life is scripted. But that brings up a logical fallacy. Who is scripting your life? If it’s God, then that means God has his own likes/dislikes, thus animates all per his wishes.

      And how did God’s likes/dislikes originate? Through participating in a field of experience. Which means God is living inside someone elses world, which caused him to develop likes/dislikes which He is now using to script Rebecca’s life.

      Further elucidation on this topic was written here:

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