A Song of Fortune
- A Classical Gîtâ -




The knower, the known
and the knowledge of the âtmatattva

(1) Arjuna said: 'I'd like to know everything about the object of knowledge and the knowledge itself, about the material world and the person, about the field of knowledge and the knower of the field, oh man of harmony.'

The fortunate one said: 'Oh son of Kuntî, by the ones who know reality this physical body that we have is called the field and the witness within this body is called the knower of the field. (3) Oh descendant of Bharata, you are correct if you consider me the knower of the field in all the fields; the way I see it, spiritual knowledge is that knowledge which is concerned with the field as well as with the knower of the field. (4) Let me now explain in short to you what that field of action actually is, what forms it assumed and where they belong to, as also about the knower within and what his dignity is.

By the seers it is described in many ways in the scriptures, in the various hymns and in the form of comments put in verses that are explicit about the matter of cause and effect. (6-7) There are the external fields of 1 - one's material business, 2 - one's private interest of intelligence, 3 - one's club-interest of association to the so-called non-apparent, and 4 - the social interest of the identified ego or I-awareness19. Furthermore there are the internal fields, which are the departments of the brain, of 1 - the active and receptive functions of the senses, 2 - the cognition of the cortical versus the emotions one has with the objects of the senses of like and dislike, happiness and distress, and 3 - the combination of the lateral functions of a - the awareness of space and the active force thereof, and b - the linear function of planning things in time with one's determination and language20. Thus the states, or forms the original nature changed into, are summed up. (8-12) The dignity of a human being in relation to these fields in the sense of being humble, modest and nonviolent; peaceful, simple and faithful to the teacher of example; clean, steadfast, and self-controlled; detached and unidentified with the sensory in being aware of the defects and miseries of birth, death, old age and disease; not fostering any prejudice and the not being entangled with a child, a wife and a home, as also one's being constant and equal-minded in the realization of what and when something is wanted and not wanted; being of an unalloyed, unbroken devotion unto me, the integrity of all the fields, as also of retreat in secluded places without being attached to people in general; to be of self-knowledge and stability in the realization of the truth for the sake of finding association to the divine - is all declared to be of the âtmatattva4, of true knowledge, or, as belonging to the internal as also the external fields; and that what deviates from this is nescience.

Let me tell you about the knowable over which I hold sway: it is the beginningless supreme Brahman of the Absolute Truth21 which tastes like nectar and which is neither a thing happening, nor a thing not existing. (14) Existing with hands, legs, eyes, heads, faces and ears extending everywhere, it encompasses everything in the world. (15) As reflected with all the senses and their qualities it is yet without all those senses the unattached maintainer of all; being itself independent of the qualities it is also the ruler of the qualities. (16) It is inside as well as outside of the living entities that move or not move; it is the reality known which is not known because of being so subtle; it is far away and yet as near as that. (17) Undivided within all living beings it seems to be divided, and in the position of the maintainer of all the Absolute of God is also understood as evolving and devouring all. (18) As the light in all luminous objects it is the source of light as well, and as the knowledge beyond the darkness it is just as well the âtmatattva, the love of knowledge, in the heart of everyone. (19) And thus the field, the âtmatattva as also the known itself have been described by me; it is my devotee who, attaining my nature, understands all this. (20) The combination of the person and material nature22 you must know as being sourceless, and also you should know the three modes23, together with their transformations, as being the time-bound effect that was produced by that material nature. (21) Material nature is mentioned as the reason of why we have cause and effect in the sense of having a doer or causer - in the form of time, the natural force or the modes24 -, while the person is said to be the cause of having experiences of happiness and distress. (22) The person situated in a material position enjoys the three qualities produced by material nature, and as a consequence the person, who is attached that way, is of either a good or a bad channel of rebirth.

One speaks of yet another, transcendental person situated within this body who is the supervisor and permitter, the master and Supersoul, the Supreme Lord and enjoyer25. (24) He who, in this twofold sense, understands how material nature, the three qualities and the person are related, will, regardless the situation, never have to start a new life again. (25) Some see that Supersoul of the qualities within themselves by means of meditation, others see it by weighing things in yogic analysis, and still others arrive at the insight by means of uniting consciousness in selfless service. (26) Other people not that proficient in spirituality, try to be of worship by simply listening to what others say; they also, devoted to the hearing process, transcend the notion of death. (27) Oh leader of the Kuru dynasty, whatever comes into being you must see, whether it exists animate or inanimate, as a result of the marriage between the field and the knower of the field. (28) He who truly sees, is the one who sees the imperishable Lord in the beyond of all the perishable living entities. (29) He, sure to see the Lord as equally situated everywhere, will, with the soul, never lose his self-respect and will consequently reach the goal of transcendence. (30) Anyone realizing that all that is done, in every way is the result of being conditioned by material nature, and that one, as the soul, is not the doer at all, sees it perfectly. (31) When one next sees that life, the way it expanded everywhere into different identities, rests in oneness, one attains that very moment the Absolute of the Spirit. (32) This inexhaustible self, even though dwelling in the body, never does anything nor gets entangled ever, oh son of Kuntî, because it is eternal and transcendentally positioned on top of the modes of nature. (33) The way the all-pervading ether26 never mixes with anything, also this embodied soul never mixes. (34) Like the one sun that illuminates all the world, this one soul within this body illumines all and everything, oh descendant of Bharata. (35) Those who, gifted with the âtmatattva vision, thus know of the difference between the field and the knower of the field, and know about the possibility for the living being to find liberation from the material world, are the ones who reach the supreme.'

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