Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Kshetram, Kshetrajna & Jnanam

Gita essays – 21

Eighteen chapters of Gita are divided into three shatkams of six chapters each.  As per Swami Paramarthananda each shatkam focuses on three important topics. Prayatna, Karma yoga and Jiva svarupa jnanam are the three important topics in the first shatkam; Prasada, Upasana yoga and Isvara svarupa Jnanam in the second shatkam and Sadgunas, Jnana yoga and Aikya jnanam in the third shatkam.  Of the the three important topics of the third shatkam which starts from Chapter 13, Aikya jnanam is the main topic, Jnana Yoga is sadhana for this Jnanam, and Sadgunas, the essential qualification to absorb this Jnanam.

Chapter 13, the first chapter of the third shatkam, opens with a question of Arjuna seeking clarification regarding six technical terms used in Vedanta.  The six terms are; Prakrithi, Purusha, Kshertam, Kshetrajna, Jnanam and Jneyam.  Lord Krishna first takes up the words Kshetram and Kshetrajna.  Kshetram is defined as the body, which implies the body-mind complex, for Kshetram means that which decays i.e. kṣiyathe iti kṣetraṁ.  Body-mind complex being made of pancha bhuthas is subject to change and decay and is insentient.  It is only the unchanging Athma that makes the body-mind complex sentient.  Lord Krishna by defining Kshetrajna as the knower of the body implies that Athma is Kshetrajna in the body.  From this it follows that Kshetram, the body-mind complex, is anathma.  To prevent the misunderstanding that there is separate Athma for each body, Lord clarifies that Kshetrajna is one only in all bodies and that is Lord Himself i.e. ParamathmaAthma in individual body is called Jivathma.  So this means that Jivathma is none other than Paramathma, which is termed as Jivathma Paramathma Ikyam.   He further explains that this knowledge about Kshetram and Kshetrajna is the real knowledge called Jnanam.  From what we have seen, we can now call Knowledge about Kshetram and Kshetrajna either as Aikyaa Jnanam or as Athma jnanam as both the terms are synonymous and here Lord calls it the real Jnanam.

After this introduction Lord goes on to describe Kshetram in detail in verses 6 and 7.
“The five subtle elements, Ahankara, Intellect and also unmanifested Nature (Mula Prakrithi), ten sense organs, Mind, and the five objects of senses, desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the body-mind complex, intelligence, fortitude --- all this, enumerated above briefly, is Kshetram together with its modifications.” (verses 6 & 7)
Five subtle elements (space, air, fire, water and earth), Ahamkara (Cosmic ego), Intellect (Mahat, cosmic intellect), the Unmanifested (Avyaktha), Ten sense organs (five sense organs of perception plus five sense organs of action), Mind together with the five objects of senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch) constitute 24 factors which are the same as the 24 principles (tattvas) of the Sankhyan Philosophy. To these is added their modifications such as desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the assemblage of body, mind and intellect, intelligence and fortitude in Lord’s definition of Kshetram.  In short the entire objective universe including body, mind, sensory system, mental, emotional, intellectual ideas that are knowable excepting the Consciousness which is the Subject constitute Kshetram or Field and they are all matter only. The Consciousness, the Subject and the Knowing Principle, is the only sentient principle, and that will come under Kshetrajna, the knower of the Field, which Lord will discuss in detail under Jneyam and Purusha, which also refer to Consciousness only. When discussing Purusha, Kshetram as Prakrithi will also be discussed further.

Lord takes up next Jnanam for discussion and under this head elaborates on the moral qualities and virtues, referred to earlier as Sadgunas, which cultivates the mind for assimilating Athma Jnanam.  In verses, from 8 to 12, He discusses 20 Sadgunas. They are
1)    Amanitvam – Humility, absence of vanity and self-conceit
2)    Adambitvam – Unpretentiousness, not trumpeting one’s own glory
3)    Ahimsa – Non-violence, not harming other living beings intentionally
4)    Ksanti – Forbearance, patiently bearing with all persons and situations without getting stressed
5)    Arjavam – Uprightness, straightforwardness in behaviour
6)    Achryopasanam – Service to the teacher with reverence and sraddha.
7)    Saucham – purity, external and internal involving purity of thoughts and emotions.
8)    Sthairyam – Steadfastness, concentration of all efforts to achieve the spiritual goal
9)    Athma vinigrahaha – Self-control, Restraint of Self in dealing with others
10) Indriyartheshu vairagyam – Dispassion or absence of attachment for sense objects
11) Anahankara – Absence of egoism
12)  Janma mrityu jara vyadhi dukha dosha anudarsanam – Thorough understanding of the changes every physical body undergoes i.e. birth, death, old age and sickness with all its accompanying sorrows and troubles.  This awareness of pain and sorrow steels one in his spiritual efforts.
13)  Asakthih – Non-attachment, without mamakara, feeling of mineness
14) Anabhisvangah putra dara grhadishu – Absence of excessive love (without intense attachment) towards child, wife, home and the like
15)  Nityam cha sama chittatvam ishta-nishtopa pathishu – Even-mindedness in all circumstances, desirable and undesirable.
16)  Mayi cha ananya yogena bhakthiravyabhicharini – Unflinching devotion to Me (the Lord) by ananya yoga
17)  Viviktha desa sevitvam – Resort to solitary places
18)  Aratir jana samsadhi – Distaste for crowds and crowded social life
19)  Adhyathma Jnana nityatvam – Constant pursuit of Self-knowledge with the practice of moral values.
20)  Tatva Jnanartha darsanam – Realisation of the purpose of True knowledge.

These Sadgunas described from Verse 8 to Verse 12 are declared to be the true `knowledge' by the Lord because when they are fully acquired, then the mind is ripe to absorb the true knowledge of the Self.  Lord also declares that the contrary qualities such as pride, hypocrisy, cruelty, impatience, insincerity and the like are only ignorance as they lead to perpetuation of Samsara. 

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