Chapter 13 – Kṣhetra Kṣhetrajña Vibhāga Yoga

This chapter revolves around creating an awareness about our existence. Rather than categorising as humans, animals, mountains, planets, stars and so on, the Lord describes the existence by taking YOU (self) as centre point and everything else in relation to it. This is about knowing how to differentiate YOU (self), from all other material existence, including the body in which you exist.

All this is explained using concepts of Kṣhetra, Kṣhetrajña, Jńanam, Jńeyam, Prakriti and Purusha.

The chapter begins with Arjuna asking what these terms mean. The lord explains. Let’s look at the first four:
Kṣhetram – Place (of action/experience)
Kṣhetrajña – Experiencer (one who is experiencing/acting)
Jńanam – Knowledge (awareness of situation and your role)
Jńeyam – Subject of Knowledge – what is to be known

These may seem overwhelming, but the Lord assures in the later part of chapter, that there are different ways one can gain full understanding of these concepts. He states, these can be understood and experienced either by meditation, or by critical thinking, or by performing your actions well (as prescribed in Karma Yoga). He goes a step ahead and also states, simply by listening about these concepts with positive conviction, we quickly start evolving towards understanding these. So set aside any inhibitions about how complicated these terms may sound, and read on! May the lord guide us all!

An example – Masala Dosa

Let’s first take an example and try to relate these concepts. Let’s imagine you have a desire to prepare and eat Masala Dosa. So you’ll go into the kitchen, gather all ingredients required to prepare the dosa batter, masala, prepare the batter and masala, cook the dosa, and eat it! Feels good savouring the taste of it, and you’re happy. Now, let’s look at the concepts:

Kṣhetram – The kitchen, the utensils, the ingredients, your mind (which knows how to prepare, and feel happy about the outcome), your body (to see what to use, smell and judge if masala has right flavours, etc). Your desire (to have dosa) is also part of it. Your sense of ‘I’, that wants to experience it. All these make up the place of the overall experience. Hence, Kṣhetram.
Kṣhetrajña – Who did this – the cook in you. The concept of cook in you, is functional, whether you are ill or well, young or old – it is unaffected by the body.
Jńanam – the knowledge of what to use and how to do it. What ingredients to use, what utensils to use, how much to grind, how much to cook.
Jńeyam – The Masala Dosa!! We all know what Masala Dosa is – but the experience of eating it, smelling the flavours of masala, savouring the crispy dosa, can only be experienced.

Note, this example is only just that – an example, not fully representative of the depth of these terms. In fact, it may not bode well with certain subtleties of the concepts, so don’t take it literally!
At the same time, these concepts can be applied to any situation – every situation has a place where it occurs, a being involved in the situation, the knowledge associated with that situation and the experience of the situation itself. Learning to apply these appropriately in our daily life, helps us remain thoroughly objective! Think of it – it’s pretty powerful approach!

Now, let’s look at it from a spiritual point of view – the question about existence itself. Wait a minute – why should I care? Why should I find an answer?

What is this divine truth all about?

Let’s take another example. If you go to market during mango season, by looking at the mango – its variety, its shape, its size, you already have a good sense of how it will taste. You don’t need to taste each mango to know this. How? Because you know well the inner truth of the mango! Like, what variety it belongs to, and how juicy/pulpy that variety typically is, etc. Truth from one mango, represents all mangoes!

Your accuracy of truth can get better, if you know what tree was it, kind of soil it grew in, what kind of climate prevailed when the tree blossomed – in other words – all external factors that can influence the taste of mango. And where does that come from – the inner essence of the tree that gave birth, and ripened the mango. So you’re now going another step inward, in seeking the ‘truth’ of mango!

Thus, as you understand the subtlety of the truth of the tree, and the ecosystem itself, you naturally know all about the mangoes, the trees, the changes around it – ALL.

So, if you want to know all about the mangoes of your life, learn all about the inner workings of the tree in you! If that doesn’t interest you, that’s just fine – enjoy eating your mangoes!
On the other hand if you’d like to explore further about divine truth, the workings of the tree in you, read on..

Coming back to the question of divine truth – about this existence itself, then how will these terms translate? Lord explains thus:

Kṣhetram – Literally the term means a place. From a spiritual quest point of view, the place where the quest occurs is the body itself. Surroundings where body exists, also is taken into account, as it cumulatively forms the ‘Field of experience’. So what all makes up this body – let’s see how the Lord explains:
Body provides us an interface to the external world – through eyes we see, through ears we hear, through skin will touch/feel, through tongue we taste, through nose we smell. These are 5 sense organs, and 5 experiences that sense organs perceive. Then there are also objects that are perceived – which are nothing but varied compositions of 5 mahabhutas (Ether, air, fire, water and earth).
Body also comprises of 5 organs of actions – that helps manage the functions of body (organs related speech, grasping, moving, excretion, procreation).
The mind, intellect, ego (sense of association), emotional impulses (likes/dislikes, pleasure/pain, fortitude, etc).
All these together comprises Kṣhetram – the place of experience.

Kṣhetrajña – The divine energy within you, that makes the body function, that illumines the mind to perceive, that sparks the thoughts/intelligence in you. This divine energy within all of us, is also representative of the supreme being, the Lord himself. Recall the lord explained all about his all pervasive nature in earlier chapters.

Jńanam – Awareness about Kṣhetram and Kṣhetrajña – knowing the difference is Jńanam. This is essentially the qualities and principles one has to adapt, to be able to experience the divine truth. We rely primarily on sense organs and intellect to learn and experience about any material object in this world. But to experience that divine energy, these instruments falls short, as it is beyond the ability of sense organs and intellect to comprehend.
Hence, apart from the normal qualities required for gaining knowledge – like humility, determination, unwavering focus, etc,  to revel in exploring the divine truth, there are additional qualities and awareness required.
These are non-violence, forgiveness, conviction in your Guru, purity of body and mind, being indifferent to the tastes of sense organs, absence of pride/ego, and so on. Think why so – having the opposite qualities simply reflects agitations of mind, gyrating towards external world. To experience the inner self, one must learn to reduce our actions/affiliations to the external world, and turn the mind inwards.
Moreover, it is essential to know that birth, death, illness, old age – are simply a part of life of any thing or being. Every object or being goes through these cycle, in varying time frames – thus there is nothing to be happy or sad about these. Similarly, affection towards our own – like spouse, children etc. To look at these objectively, they’re all just a part of the ecosystem, fellow beings that are subject to the same churn – hence it is important to learn to live dispassionately. Note, we are not talking about disowning – but only reducing the excessive attachment, down to zero (not negative either).
One also needs to have a positive conviction on the Lord, the divine truth itself – the object of knowledge. In other words, unflinching Bhakti. A constant urge to seek the divine, for the sake of experiencing that divinity first hand.

These all qualities and awareness, is true knowledge. Anything that goes contrary to these principles, the lord states as ignorance.

Jńeyam – This, in a way is extension of Kṣhetrajña concept. The experience of the self, the divine within us. While that divine energy is situated in an individual, it is also situated in all individuals, all beings, all things. It is beginning less. It is referred also as Brahman! While being within you, it enables you to perceive all sense impulses, it in itself is beyond these. It is both within every being, also all pervading in the external world. This divine energy is what sustains this existence, while also annihilating and creating the existence.

Prakriti and Purusha

Now the lord moves on to elaborate about these concepts. These are similar, but extensions of Kṣhetram and Kṣhetrajña.
Prakriti is the collective representation of all things and beings in this existence – in other words all material manifestations.
Purusha is the divine energy that is within each body, and at the source of these material existence. Purusha is explained to be in two realms – the lower individual body level, that manifests in different bodies over time; and the higher spiritual level – THE divine all pervasive level.
Both of these concepts – energy and its manifestation, neither have a beginning or end (Anādi, Ananta). All the transformations of all beings and things and the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas – we’ll explore this in detail in next chapter), are produced by Prakriti.

Prakriti creates the urge for action, and the result of it, while Purusha (at lower realm), experiences the pleasure/pain of the result. This Purusha at lower body realm, by repeated experiences from external Prakriti, retains the desire to experience even more – resulting in the repeated cycles of birth and death. Within the same individual also resides the spark of Supreme energy, which is the ultimate controller, the witness, the sustainer of all. He is called ‘Paramāthma’.
One who thus understands Prakriti, Purusha, and the interplay of Gunas – he’s destined to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Rather – these cycles will seem irrelevant to him, thus imprinting on the lower purusha an experience that is beyond these. He will ever revel in the eternal divine energy, irrespective of what body he is enclosed!

DISCLAIMER: This our sincere attempt to summarise the Gitōpadesha, via a series of short blogs. This is NOT the whole translation, or commentary of the divine book. We seek forgiveness of reader and the lord, for omissions which is inevitable to keep the blog short. The write-ups include both, writer’s personal opinion and summarised version of many shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita. Intent of blog was never to be a commentary of Bhagavad Gita, but simply inspire the reader to read Bhagavad Gita in it’s entirety. The writer is neither a scholar, nor a bummer, somewhere in between, with a firm belief that the lord gets him to do all the things he does. Being human, he still keeps erring. Forgive him for all such mistakes.

Sarvam Krishnarpanamasthu!