Chapter 13



Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, this physical body, the miniature universe, may be called the field or creation. One who knows the creation is called the creator (or the Spirit, Atma) by the seers of truth. (13.01)

Whatever is here in the body is also there in the cosmos; whatever is there, the same is here (KaU 4.10). The human body, the microcosm, is a replica of the universe, the macrocosm. The body is called the field of activities for the soul. The body or creation is different from the soul or the creator. To experience this difference is the metaphysical knowledge explained in this chapter.

O Arjuna, know Me to be the creator of all the creation. I consider the true under­standing of both the creator and the creation to be transcendental knowledge. (13.02)

The body (or creation) and Spirit (or the creator) are dis­tinct from one another. Yet, the ignorant are not able to distinguish between them. That knowledge is the true knowledge by which one is able to make a clear distinction between body and Spirit. Body is called the field (or the medium) of activities for the Spirit. The human body is the medium by which the individual soul enjoys the material world, gets entangled, and in the end attains liberation. The soul inside the body knows all the activities of its own body; it is, therefore, called the knower of the field of activities. The Supersoul knows all the bodies, whereas the individual soul knows only his own body. When one clearly understands the difference between the body, the individual soul inside the body, and the Supersoul, one is said to have real knowledge.

What creation is, what it is like, what its transformations are, where the source of creation is, who that creator is, and what His powers are – hear all these from Me in brief. (13.03)

The seers have separately described the creation and the creator in different ways in the Vedic hymns and also in the conclusive and convincing verses of other scriptures. (13.04)

The Gita also expounds on the truths of other scrip­tures. All scriptures, as well as saints and sages of all religions, draw the water of truth from the same ocean of Spirit. Their accent var­ies with the need of the individual and the society at the time.

The primary material Nature, the cosmic intellect, “I” consciousness or ego, five basic elements, ten organs, mind, five sense objects, and desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the physical body, consciousness, and resolve – thus the entire field has been briefly described with its transformations. (See also 7.04) (13.05-06)

According to Sankhya doctrine (BP 3.26.10-18, 11.22.10-16), Spirit undergoes twenty-five basic transformations in the following order: Spiritual Being and the following twenty-four transformations of Total Energy: Mind, intellect, thought waves, and the conception of individuality; the five basic elements, or raw ingredients, in subtle and gross form (ether or subtle substance, air, fire, water, and earth); the five sense objects (sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell); the five sense organs (ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose); and the five organs of action (mouth, hand, leg, anus, and urethra).

The Supreme Intellect is known by various names, based on functions performed in the body. It is called mind when it feels and thinks, intellect when it reasons, thought waves when it does the act of remembering and wandering from one thought to another, and ego when it has the feeling of doership and individuality. The subtle senses consist of all four — mind, intellect, thought waves, and ego. It is the Karmic footprints that actually make the final decision with the help of mind and intellect. When the cosmic power does the functions in the body, it is called the bioimpulse (Vital life forces, Prana). The Supreme Spirit or Consciousness manifests Itself as both energy and matter. Matter and energy are nothing but condensed forms of Consciousness. According to Einstein, mind and matter are both energies (Prana). Ramana Maharshi said: The mind is a form of energy. It manifests itself as the world.


Humility, modesty, nonviolence, forgiveness, honesty, service to guru, purity of thought, word, and deed, steadfastness, self-control, aversion for sense objects, absence of ego, constant reflection on the pain and suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death; (13.07-08)

Verse 13.08 of the Gita formed the foundation of Buddhism. The constant contemplation and understanding of agony and suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death are called the understanding of the Fourfold Noble Truth in Buddhism. A clear understanding of this truth is necessary before starting the spiritual journey. A disgust and discontent for the meaninglessness and unreal­ity of the world and its objects become a necessary prelude to the spiritual journey. As birds seek the shelter of a tree when tired, simi­larly, human beings seek the divine shelter after discovering the frus­trations and joylessness of material existence.

Detachment with family members, home, etc.; unfailing equanimity upon attainment of the desirable and the undesirable and unswerving devotion to Me through single-minded contemplation, taste for soli­tude, distaste for social gatherings and gossips, steadfastness in acquiring the knowledge of the Self, and seeing the omnipresent Supreme Being everywhere – this is said to be knowledge. That which is contrary to this is ignorance. (13.09-11)

Cultivating the virtues described in verses 13.07-11 will enable one to perceive the body as different from the Self. Thus, one will attain Self-knowledge. Therefore, these virtues are called knowledge. Those who do not possess these virtues cannot get the true knowledge of the Self and will remain in the darkness of body-consciousness or ignorance.

When one becomes firmly convinced that God alone is everything – father, mother, brother, friend, enemy, sustainer, destroyer, and refuge – and there is nothing higher than Him to attain, and one has no thought of any other object, one is said to have developed unswerving devotion to the Lord through single-minded contemplation. In this state of mind the seeker and the sought-after become qualitatively one and the same.


I shall fully describe the Supreme Being – the object of knowledge. By knowing this one at­tains immortality. The beginningless Supreme Being is said to be neither eternal nor temporal. (See also 9.19, 11.37, and 15.18) (13.12)

In the beginning there was neither Eternal Being nor Temporal Beings – no sky, no air, neither day nor night. There was nothing whatsoever other than the Absolute Supreme Being (RV 10.129.01, AiU 1.01). The Absolute is beyond both Temporal Beings (celestial controllers, Devas) and the Eternal Being (Spirit) (Verse 15.18). Therefore, He is neither temporal nor eternal. The Supreme Being or the Absolute is also both temporal and eternal (Verse 9.19) and beyond temporal and eternal (Verses 11.37, 15.18) because He is everywhere, in everything, and also beyond everything. Therefore, the Absolute is all three – neither temporal nor eternal, beyond both temporal and eternal, as well as both temporal and eternal – at the same time.

The Supreme Being has His hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth, and ears eve­rywhere because He is all-pervading and omnipresent. (13.13)

He is the perceiver of all sense objects without the physical sense organs; unattached, and yet the sustainer of all; devoid of the three modes of material Nature, and yet the enjoyer of the modes of material Nature by becoming the living entity. (13.14)

Self walks without legs, hears without ears, performs many actions without hands, smells without a nose, sees without eyes, speaks without a mouth, and enjoys all tastes without a tongue. All His actions are so marvelous that one finds His greatness utterly beyond description (TR 1.117.03-04). The Supreme Being may be de­scribed only by parables and paradoxes and in no other way. (See also ShU 3.19). Self expands Himself as the living entity to enjoy three modes of material Nature.

God does not possess a body like an ordinary being. All His senses are transcendental, or out of this world. His potencies are multifarious. Any one of His senses can perform the action of any other sense. All His deeds are automatically performed as a natural consequence.

He is inside as well as outside all beings, animate and inanimate. He is incomprehensible because of His subtlety. And because of His omnipresence, He is very near – residing in one’s inner psyche – as well as far away in the Supreme Abode. (13.15)

He is undivided, yet appears to exist as if divided in beings. He is the ob­ject of knowledge and appears as the creator (Brahmaa), sustainer (Vishnu), and destroyer (Shiva) of all be­ings. (See also 11.13, and 18.20) (13.16)

One planet earth appears divided into so many countries; one country appears divided into several states; one state appears divided into counties, and so on, similarly, one Reality ap­pears as many. These are apparent divisions because they have the same order of reality. The term God is used for the Generator, Operator, and Destroyer aspects of Self.

The Supreme Being is the source of all lights. He is said to be beyond darkness of ignorance. He is Self-knowledge, the object of Self-knowledge, and seated in the inner psyche as consciousness (See verse 18.61) of all beings, He is to be realized by Self-knowledge. (13.17)

I am the light of knowledge of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in the dark­ness of ignorance (John 8.12). One who knows the Almighty as much more radiant than the sun and beyond the darkness of material real­ity, transcends death. There is no other way (YV 31.18, SV 3.08). The Supreme is beyond the reach of senses and mind. It cannot be described or defined by words. Different means of attaining the Supreme continue below:

Thus, I have briefly described creation, as well as knowledge and the object of knowl­edge. Understanding this, My devotee at­tains My Supreme Abode. (13.18)


Know that both the material Nature and the Spiritual Being are beginningless. All manifestations and three dispositions of mind and matter, called modes or Gunas, are born of material Nature. Material Nature is said to be the cause of production of the physical body and organs of perception and action. Spirit (or Consciousness) is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasure and pain. (13.19-20)

Spiritual Being enjoys three modes of material Nature by associating with the material Nature. Attachment to the three modes of material Nature (due to ignorance caused by previous Karma) is the cause of birth of the living entity in good and evil wombs. (13.21)

Spirit is unaffected by material Nature as the sun’s reflection in water is unaffected by the properties of water. Spirit, because of His nature, associates with the six sensory faculties and ego of material Nature and becomes attached, forgets His real nature, performs good and evil deeds, loses independence, and transmigrates as a living entity (individual soul, Jiva) (BP 3.27.01-03). The living entity does not know the divine illusory energy (Maya), as well as the supreme controller and its own real nature. The individual soul is a reflection of the moon of Spirit in the water pot of human body.

The Spirit in the body is the witness, the guide, the supporter, the enjoyer, and the controller of all events. (13.22)

Two birds – living entity and the divine Controller – live in the inner psyche of the body tree. The living entity, being captivated by the fruits of the tree, becomes attached to material Nature, enjoys pains and pleasures of sense gratification, and becomes subject to bondage and liberation, whereas the divine Controller, being unattached to material Nature, remains free as a witness and a guide (BP 11.11.06, See also RV 1.164.20, AV 9.09.20, MuU 3.01.01, ShU 4.06). The Divine Controller remains unaffected and unattached to the modes of material Nature just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by water.

Spirit is sentient, and material Nature is insentient. Material Nature, with the help of Spirit, produces five bioimpulses (Life forces, Prana) and the three modes. Spirit, residing as the divine Controller in the physical body that is a house with nine gates and made of twenty-four elements of material Nature, enjoys sense objects by associating with the modes of material Nature. Spirit forgets its real nature under the influence of divine illusory energy (Maya), feels pain and pleasure, does good and evil deeds, incurs the bondage of works done by free will due to ignorance, and seeks salvation. When the living entity renounces sense objects and rises above the modes of material Nature, it attains salvation.

The mind, endowed with infinite power, creates a body to reside in and fulfill its latent desires. The living entity becomes willingly entangled – and suffers like a silkworm entangled in its own cocoon – and it cannot get out. The living entity becomes bound by its own Karma and transmigrates. All actions, good or bad, produce bondage if performed with ego. Good actions are the golden shackles, and bad ones are the iron shackles. Both are fetters. The golden shackle is not a bracelet.

The living entity is like a farmer who has been given a plot of land that is the body. The farmer should take the weeds of lust, an­ger, and greed out of the land, cultivate it with the plow of intense desire for the love of God, and fertilize it with the firm faith in the power and omnipresence of God. Depending on the intensity of the desire and the degree of faith, the seedling of devotion will come out in due course of time. This seedling must be consistently and continually ir­rigated with the water of meditation on the chosen form of one’s personal God. The forgetfulness of living entity’s real nature disappears with the blooming of the flowers of Self-knowledge and detachment. The flowers bear the fruits of Self-realization and vision of God, leading to free­dom from transmigration.

They who truly understand Spirit and material Nature with its three modes (as described above) are also not born again, regardless of their way of life. (13.23)

Some perceive the Supersoul in their inner psyche through mind and intellect that have been purified either by meditation or by metaphysical knowledge or by selfless service. (13.24)


Others, however, do not know the yogas of meditation, knowledge, and selfless service; but they perform deity worship, with firm faith and loving devotion, as mentioned in the scriptures by the saints and sages. They also transcend death by virtue of their firm faith in what they have heard. (13.25)

Blessed are they that have not understood, yet have believed (John 20.29). If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for (Matthew 21.22). It is not necessary to completely under­stand God to obtain His grace, to love Him, and to attain Him. Any spiritual practice done without faith is an exercise in futility. Intellect stands on the way as an obstruction to faith.

Whatever is born – animate or inanimate – know them to be born from the union of Spirit and matter, O Arjuna. (See also 7.06) (13.26)

One who sees the same eternal Supreme Lord dwelling as Spirit equally within all mortal beings, truly sees. (13.27)

When one beholds one and the same Self existing equally in every being, one does not harm anybody because one considers everything as one’s own Self. And thereupon attains the Supreme Abode. (13.28)

One who perceives that all works are done by the powers of material Nature, truly understands and does not consider oneself as the doer. (See also 3.27, 5.09, and 14.19) (13.29)

The moment one discovers the diverse variety of beings and their different ideas abiding in One and coming out from “That” alone, one attains the Supreme Being. (13.30)


Because of being beginningless and unaffectable by the three modes of material Nature, the eternal Supersoul – even though dwelling in the body as a living entity – neither does anything nor becomes tainted by Karma, O Arjuna. (13.31)

The eternal Supersoul is called attributeless because He does not have the three attributes of material Nature. The word ‘attributeless’ has been commonly misunderstood as formless. Attributeless refers only to the absence of material form and attribute known to human mind. The Lord has an incomparable personality and transcendental qualities.

Just as the all-pervading space is not tainted because of its subtlety, simi­larly, the Spirit abiding in all bodies is not tainted. (13.32)

Spirit is present everywhere. It is present inside the body, outside the body, as well as all over the body. Actually, Spirit is inside and outside of everything that exists in creation.

Just as one sun illuminates the entire world, similarly, Spirit gives life to the entire creation, O Arjuna. (13.33)

According to Shankara, one sees creation but not the creator behind the creation due to ignorance, just as a person in the darkness of night sees the snake and not the rope that sustains the false notion of a snake. If any object other than Spirit appears to exist, it is unreal like a mirage, a dream, or the existence of a snake in the rope. The absolute monism that negates all manifestation as a dream world is not the whole truth. According to the Vedas, God is both transcendent and immanent in one. The illustration of the world as a dream is a metaphor meant only to illustrate certain points and should not be stretched too far or taken literally. If the world is a dream, it is a very beautiful dream, indeed, of the cosmic dreamer who must also be extraordinarily beautiful.

They attain the Supreme, who perceive — with the eye of Self-knowledge — the difference be­tween creation (or the body) and the creator (or the Spirit), as well as know the techniques of liberation (See verses 13.24-13.25) of the living entity from the trap of divine illusory energy (Maya, Prakriti). (13.34)

Spirit emits its power (Maya) as the sun emits light, fire emits heat, and the moon gives cooling rays (DB 7.32.05). Maya is the inexplicable divine power of Spirit that does not exist apart from Spirit, the possessor of power. Maya has the power of creation. Maya also deludes the living entity by making it identify with a body, enjoy three modes of material Nature, and forget its real nature as Spirit, the basis of the entire visible and invisible universe. Creation is just a partial revelation of the power of Spirit and is called unreal like a dream world because it is subject to change and destruction. The clay is real, but the pot is unreal because the clay exists before the pot is created, while the pot exists, and after the pot is destroyed.

Creation is a natural effortless projection of the powers of Spirit and is therefore purposeless (MuU 1.01.07). The creative activ­ity of the Lord is a mere pastime of the divine power (Maya) without any purpose or motive (BS 2.01.33). It is nothing but an apparent natural modifica­tion of His infinite limitless energy (E) into matter (m) and vice versa (E=mc2 of Einstein) done as a mere pastime. Creation, an effect, is related to the creator, the cause, as a piece of cloth is related to cotton. In the case of the cloth, however, the weaver is not sitting in every thread of the cloth, but in creation the efficient and material causes are one and the same, a divine mystery indeed! Everything in the universe is con­nected with everything else. Creation is not a mechanical or engineer­ing construction. It is the supreme, spiritual phenomena revealing di­vine splendor. Creation is made by the Lord, of the Lord, and for the Lord.