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

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”.

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 he following- prakrti, purusa, kṣetraṁ, kṣētrajña, jñānam, and jñeyam.


  • 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.

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. (There is a conscious principle) which knows this (body). 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)
              • Hearing: śrota
              • Seeing: cakṣu
              • Sense of touch: tvak
              • Sense of taste: rasanā
              • Sense of smell: grāhṇa
            • 5 instruments of transaction for sake of engaging with the perceived world. (karma indriyas)
              • Organ of speech: vāk
              • Hands: pāṇi
              • Feet: pāda
              • Organ of excretion: pāyu
              • Organ of reproduction: upastha
        • Energy 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.
          • Prāṇa has 5 functions:
            • 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
            • Apāna: Expulsion. Evacuates wastes from body. Sweat, urine, stool.
            • Samāna: Digestion.
            • Vyāna: Circulation of blood.
            • Udāna: Vomiting, burping. Also expels mind from body upon death.


Keywords: prakrti, apana, jneyam, kshetram, kshetranja, paranamaya kosha, prana, prarabdha karma, purusha, purushartha, samana, udana, vyana


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

Recorded 6 April, 2021


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