Ancient India
Knowing the Kshetra

Krishna

   This body, O son of Kunti, is called Kshetra, and the learned call him who knows it the Kshetrajña, or the "knower of the field." 1 And know me also, O descendant of Bharata, to be the Kshetrajña in all Kshetras.

   The knowledge of Kshetra and Kshetrajña is deemed by me to be real knowledge. Now hear from me in brief what that Kshetra is, what it is like, what changes, and from where it comes, and what the knower of the Kshetra is, and what his powers are, all which are sung in various ways by sages in numerous hymns, distinctly, and in well-settled texts full of arguments, giving indications or full instruction about the Brahman.

   The great elements, individuality, the understanding, the unperceived also, the ten senses, and the one, and the five objects of sense, 2 desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, body, consciousness, courage, thus in brief has been declared the Kshetra with its changes. 3

   Absence of vanity, absence of ostentatiousness, absence of hurtfulness, along with the presence of forgiveness, straightforwardness, devotion to a preceptor, purity, steadiness, self-restraint, indifference towards objects of sense, and also absence of individuality, perception of the misery and evil of birth, death, old age, and disease, absence of attachment, absence of selfish regard for son, wife, home, and so forth, and constant equanimity on the approach of both what is agreeable and what is disagreeable, unswerving devotion to me without meditation on any one else, resorting to clean places, distaste for assemblies of men, constancy in knowledge of the relation ofthe individual self to the supreme, perception of the object of knowledge of the truth, this is called knowledge; that is ignorance which is opposed to this. 4

   I will declare that which is the object of knowledge, knowing which, one reaches immortality; the highest Brahman, having no beginning nor end, which cannot be said to be existent or non-existent. 5

   It has hands and feet on all sides, it has eyes, heads, and faces on all sides, it has ears on all sides, it stands pervading everything in the world. Possessed of the qualities of all the senses, but devoid of all senses, unattached, it supports all, is devoid of qualities, and the enjoyer of qualities. 6

   It is within all things and without them; it is movable and also immovable; it is unknowable through its subtlety; it stands both far off and near.

   Not different in different things, but standing as though different, it should be known to be the supporter of all things, and that which absorbs and creates them.

   It is the radiance even of the radiant bodies; it is said to be beyond darkness.

   It is knowledge, the object of knowledge, that which is to be attained to by knowledge, and placed in the heart of all.

   Thus in brief have Kshetra, knowledge, and the object of knowledge been declared. My devotee, knowing this, becomes fit for assimilation with me.

   Know nature and spirit both to be without beginning, and know all developments and qualities to be produced from nature. 7 Nature is said to be the origin of the capacity of working and consciousness is said to be the origin of the capacity of enjoying pleasures and pains. 8 For spirit with nature joined enjoys the qualities born of nature. And the cause of its birth in good or evil wombs is the mxture with the qualities. The supreme spirit in this body is called supervisor, adviser, supporter, enjoyer, the great lord, and the supreme self also. He who thus knows nature and spirit, together with the qualities, is not born again, however he may have lived. Some by concentration see the self in the self by the self; others by the Sankhya-yoga; and others still by the Karma-yoga; 9 others yet, not knowing this, practice concentration, after hearing from others. They, too, being devoted to hearing instruction cross beyond death.

   Whatever thing movable or immovable comes into existence, know that to be from the connection of Kshetra and Kshetrajña, O chief of the descendants of Bharata!

   He sees (truly) who sees the supreme lord abiding alike in all entities, and not destroyed though they are destroyed. For he who sees the lord abiding every where alike, does not destroy himself by himself, and then reaches the highest goal.

   He sees truly, who sees all actions to be in every way done by nature alone, and likewise the self to be not the doer. 10

   When a man sees all the variety of entities as existing in one, and all as emanating from that, then he becomes one with the Brahman. This inexhaustible supreme self, being without beginning and without qualities, does not act, and is not tainted, O son of Kunti, though stationed in the body.

   As by reason of its subtlety the all-pervading space is not tainted, so the self stationed in every body is not tainted.

   As the sun singly lights up all this world, so the Kshetrajña, O descendant of Bharata, lights up the whole Kshetra. Those who, with the eye of knowledge, thus understand the difference between Kshetra and Kshetrajña, and the destruction of the nature of all entities, go to the supreme.

Translated by Kashinath Trimbak Telano, 1882
Edited and annotated by Richard Hooker



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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 10-19-97