International Forum for NeoVedantins

Gita for the Beginners: Part 14
Chapter XIII

This chapter contains 34 verses. It tries to highlight the fact that individual soul contained in human body (Jiva) is in fact limited expression of Universal Soul. We can interchange word 'consciousness' and 'soul' without harming the meaning in the least. In this chapter the Lord defines what is true knowledge and what is ignorance.

True knower in all beings is one unitary Consciousness and rest all is matter; in fact matter including the mind and thoughts appear sentient because they are illumined by the Spirit. This knowledge of Purusha (Atman) and Prakriti (Nature) is true knowledge. It is not enough to theoretically agree with what is written in the Gita, it is mandatory that we practice spiritual disciplines to actually experience the Truth therein. We must be able to perceive the unity of all beings, as expressing the same unitary consciousness, and then we can say, "I know".

This universal solidarity as experienced in deep samadhi/meditation is real Yoga. The process is called sadhana, the performer is sadhaka, and the object of realization (God) is sadhya. The sadhya here is Lord Krishna, it can however, assume any divine form according to one's station in life as regards place and time. One may also realize the Formless Truth. The net result is the same; the sadhaka, sadhana, and the sadhya all become one. Then the person is said to have established in knowledge.

Unity of Atman and Paramatman is what Vedanta considers to be the true knowledge. In Vedas, Upanishads and Brahma Sutras this point is emphasized and elaborated. The individual self is ordinarily bound, for it considers itself formed of matter in the form of body-mind complex. The five subtle elements Akash, Vayu, Agni, Jal, and Prithvi), the ego, the ten organs and the mind, and five sense organs of actions all combine to form the individual self. It is full of desires, aversion, pleasure, pain, and the body consciousness. This all is categorized as 'the field' of Jiva.

Then the Lord goes on to elaborate the process of evolution that leads the Jiva to the realization of his true nature, Atman, distinct from the body and the mind. Verses 7 to 11 are important from this point of view. The Lord says, "Absence of pride, freedom form hypocrisy, non-violence, forgiveness, straightforwardness, service of the preceptor, purity of mind and the body, steadfastness, self-control (7); dispassion towards the sense objects, absence of egoism, withdrawing the mind from the thoughts of pain and evil, birth and death, age and disease, (8); absence of attachment, absence of self-identification with son, wife, home, etc., balance of mind in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances (9); and fixity in self-knowledge, observing everywhere object of true knowledge (God), all this leads to true knowledge. What is contrary to this is called ignorance" (11).

All beings animate or inanimate are born or proceed from the unity of matter and spirit. Then, who by the eye of wisdom perceive the difference between the matter and the Knower of the matter, and negate matter as evolving nature, reach the Supreme Person.
Continued Next Part 15 ...

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