The Field and Its Knower (Chapter XIII)

Publisher’s Note: The translation of the Gita presented here was compiled mainly from Sri Aurobindo’s“Essays on the Gita”. It first appeared in “The Message of the Gita”, edited by Anilbaran Roy, in 1938. Sri Aurobindo approved this book for publication; however, he made it clear in one of his letters that the translations in the Essays were “more explanatory than textually precise or cast in a literary style”. Many of them are paraphrases rather than strict translations.

Sri Aurobindo also wrote that he did not wish extracts from the Essays “to go out as my translation of the Gita”. This should be borne in mind by the reader as he makes use of this translation, which has been provided as a bridge between the Gita and Sri Aurobindo’s Essays.

1. Arjuna said: Prakriti and Purusha, the Field and the Knower of the Field. Knowledge and the object of Knowledge, these I fain would learn, O Keshava.

2. The Blessed Lord said: This body, O son of Kunti, is called the Field; that which takes cognisance of the Field is called the Knower of the Field by the sages.

3. Understand Me as the Knower of the Field in all Fields, O Bharata; it is the knowledge at once of the Field and its Knower which is the real illumination and only wisdom.

4. What that Field is and what are its character, nature, source, deformations, and what He is and what His Powers, hear that now briefly from Me.

5. It has been sung by the Rishis in manifold ways in various inspired verses; and also by the Brahma Sutras which give us the rational and philosophic analysis.

6. The indiscriminate unmanifest Energy; the five elemental states of matter; the ten senses and the one (mind), intelligence and ego; the five objects of the senses. (This is the constitution of the kshetra.)

7. Liking and disliking, pleasure and pain (these are the principal deformations of the kshetra): consciousness, collocation, persistence; these, briefly described, constitute the Field and its deformations.

8. A total absence of worldly pride and arrogance, harmlessness, a candid soul, a tolerant, long-suffering and benignant heart, purity of mind and body, tranquil firmness and steadfastness, self-control and a masterful government of the lower nature and the heart’s worship given to the Teacher.

9-10. A firm removal of the natural being’s attraction to the objects of the senses, a radical freedom from egoism. absence of clinging to the attachment and absorption of family and home, a keen perception of the defective nature of the ordinary life of physical man with its aimless and painful subjection to birth and death and disease and age, a constant equalness to all pleasant or unpleasant happenings.

11-12. A meditative mind turned towards solitude and away from the vain noise of crowds and the assemblies of men, a philosophic perception of the true sense and large principles of existence, a tranquil continuity of inner spiritual knowledge and light, the Yoga of an unswerving devotion, love of God, the heart’s deep and constant adoration of the universal and eternal Presence; that is declared to be the knowledge; all against it is ignorance.

13. I will declare the one object to which the mind of spiritual knowledge must be turned, by fixity in which the soul clouded here recovers and enjoys its nature and original consciousness of immortality, the eternal supreme Brahman called neither Sat (existence) nor Asat (non-existence).
14. His hands and feet are on every side of us, his heads and eyes and faces are those innumerable visages which we see wherever we turn, his ear is everywhere, he immeasurably fills and surrounds all this world with himself, he is the universal Being in whose embrace we live.

15. All the senses and their qualities reflect him but he is without any senses; he is unattached, yet all-supporting; he is enjoyer of the gunas, though not limited by them.

16. That which is in us is he and all that we experience outside ourselves is he. The inward and the outward, the far and the near, the moving and the unmoving, all this he is at once. He is the subtlety of the subtle which is beyond our knowledge.

17. He is indivisible and the One, but seems to divide himself in forms and creatures and appears as all the separate existences. All things are eternally born from him, upborne in his eternity, taken eternally back into his oneness.

18. He is the light of all lights and luminous beyond all the darkness of our ignorance. He is knowledge and the object of knowledge. He is seated in the hearts of all.

19. Thus the Field, Knowledge and the Object of Knowledge, have been briefly told. My devotee, thus knowing, attains to My bhava (the divine being and divine nature).

20. Know thou that Purusha (the Soul) and Prakriti (Nature) are both without origin and eternal; but the modes of Nature and the lower forms she assumes to our conscious experience have an origin in Prakriti (in the transactions of these two entities).

21. The chain of cause and effect and the state of being the doer are created by Prakriti; Purusha enjoys pleasure and pain.

22. Purusha involved in Prakriti enjoys the qualities born of Prakriti; attachment to the qualities is the cause of his birth in good and evil wombs.

23. Witness, source of the consent, upholder of the work of Nature, her enjoyer, almighty Lord and supreme Self is the Supreme Soul seated in this body.

24. He who thus knows Purusha and Prakriti with her qualities, howsoever he lives and acts, he shall not be born again.

25. This knowledge comes by an inner meditation through which the eternal Self becomes apparent to us in our self-existence. Or it comes by the Yoga of the Sankhyas (the separation of the soul from nature). Or it comes by the Yoga of works.

26. Others, who are ignorant of these paths of Yoga, may hear of the truth from others and mould the mind into the sense of that to which it listens with faith and concentration. But however arrived at, it carries us beyond death to immortality.

27. Whatever being, moving or unmoving, is born, know thou, O best of the Bharatas, that it is from the union between the Field and the Knower of the Field.

28. Seated equally in all beings, the supreme Lord, unperishing within the perishing – he who thus sees, he sees.

29. Perceiving the equal Lord as the spiritual inhabitant in all forces, in all things and in all beings, he does not injure himself (by casting his being into the hands of desire and passions), and thus he attains to the supreme status.

30. He who sees that all action is verily done by Prakriti, and that the Self is the inactive witness, he sees.

31. When he perceives the diversified existence of beings abiding in the one eternal Being, and spreading forth from it, then he attains to Brahman.

32. Because it is without origin and eternal, not limited by the qualities, the imperishable supreme Self, though seated in the body, O Kaunteya, does not act, nor is affected.

33. As the all-pervading ether is not affected by reason of its subtlety, so seated everywhere in the body, the Self is not affected.

34. As the one sun illumines the entire earth, so the Lord of the Field illumines the entire Field, O Bharata.

35. They who with the eye of knowledge perceive this difference between the Field and the Knower of the Field and the liberation of beings from Prakriti, they attain to the Supreme.

as translated by
Sri Aurobindo

in: SABCL, volume 13 “Essays on the Gita, with Sanskrit Text and Translation of the Gita”
pages 706- 715
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry