Translated fron the Original Gujarati by : Valji Govindji Desai

Discourses on The Gita


Table of Contents

About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
Translated fron the Original Gujarati by : Valji Govindji Desai
First Edition : 510,000 copies, April 1960
ISBN : 81-7229-066-7
Printed and Published by : Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1960


Chapter XIII

The Lord said: 'Kshetra (the Field) is another name for the human body and Kshetrajna means one who knows the Field. Understand Me as the Knower of the Field in all bodies. Real knowledge means discrimination between the Field and the knower of the Field. The five great elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether, individuality (ahamkara), intellect, the unmanifest, the ten senses,* mind, the five sense objects, desire and hatred, pleasure and pain, sanghata (the power of combination inherent in the constituents of the body), consciousness and cohesion, - these constitute the Field with its modifications. Knowledge of these is essential, as they have to be renounced. Wisdom is the foundation on which such renunciation can be based. Wisdom here means and includes humility, unpretentiousness, non-violence, forgiveness, rectitude, service of the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-restraint, indifference to sense objects, absence of egoism, insight into the evil of birth, death, old age, disease and pain, detachment from wife and children, hearth and home, friends and relations, equimindedness to good and bad fortune, whole-hearted devotion to God, love of solitude, dislike for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures in company with others, thirst for knowledge of the soul, and at last the beatific vision. And the reverse of this is ignorance. Now let me tell you something about that which has to be known with a view to salvation. That is beginningless supreme Brahma. Brahma is beginningless because it is unborn and was there when there was nothing. It is neither sat (existent) nor asat (non-existent) but beyond them both. But from another standpoint it can be called sat, because it is eternal. Human beings cannot recognize it as such; therefore it is said to be beyond even sat. It pervades the whole universe. It may be said to have a thousand hands and feet, and though it seems to have hands and feet, it is devoid of the organs of sense for it does not need these organs. Sense organs are transitory while Brahma is eternal. And although being all-pervasive and all-sustaining, it may be said to be enjoying the qualities (gunas), it is free from them. Where there are gunas, there is change (vikara), but Brahma is changeless. It may be said to be outside all beings, because it is out for those who do not know it. And it is within all beings as it is all-pervading. Similarly it is both moving and unmoving. It is subtle and hence imperceptible. It is distant as well as near. It is undivided in the sense that it is imperishable though name (nama) and form (rupa) perish, but it also seems to be divided as we say that it is within all creatures. It creates, preserves and destroys. It is the light of lights beyond darkness, and the end of all knowledge. Brahma which is planted in every heart is jneya, the one thing worth knowing. All knowledge is a means to the end of being united with it.
'God and His maya (nature) are both without beginning. Modifications (vikaras) are born of maya and these give rise to various kinds of action {karma). On account of maya, the soul experiences pleasure and pain and the fruit of merit {punya) and demerit {papa). He who, having realized this, does his duty in a spirit of detachment is not born again in spite of his activity, for he beholds the face of God in all faces, and seeing that not a leaf moves but by the divine will he is free from egotism, understands that he is separate from the body and that the soul, though living in the body, remains by means of knowledge unaffected like the omnipresent ether.'

* The five organs of perception, viz. hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell, and the five organs of action, viz., tongue, feet, hands and the organs of evacuation and reproduction.