Now we will proceed to the First sloka of Chapter 13. Sri Krishna and Arjuna are conversing. Sri Krishna starts to say. As told in the last lecture, He is going to tell about atman, body, their relationship, means to attain atman, research into atman, bondage of atman in the body and how atman and body have to be differentiated. These were listed as:
- Deha atma swaroopam,
- atma attainment,
- atman research,
- bondage and
- vivekam of atman and body are different.
idam sariram kaunteya
kshetram ity abhidhiyate
etad yo vetti tam prahuh
kshetra-jna iti tad-vidah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: This body, O son of Kunti, is called the field, and one who knows this body is called the knower of the field."
Kaunteya =Arjuna, idam = this, sariram = body, ity abhidhiyate = is recogonized as, kshetram = cultivable land. Etad = such, vetti = understanding [as cultivable land], yo = by him, tad-vida = such understood person, iti = is, kshetra-jna = having the knowledge about Kshetram. So atman is Kshetragya and body is Kshetram. Atman cultivates in this cultivable land. This is how great scholars realize atman and body. Swami Ramanuja has commented elaborately on the words idam sariram. By saying our body, we have to realize we [atman] are different from body. But we seem to be confused and use the word we [or my] to denote body also. Where do we commit such mistakes? Swami Ramanuja says in the context of jathi [birth], guna [character] and karma [activities]. In the context of jathi, we say we are humans or animals, etc. Animals are different from human who are different from birds, etc. But the human or animal nature is not of the soul; but of the body. There is nothing like an atman being a lion or man or woman or deva, etc. All atman are same and there is no difference as we see in bodies. When we say we are devas, the word 'we' denotes the atman, while devas refer to the bodies of devas; but we are confused and this has become common usage in our speech. Next, we confuse in the context of gunas. We are blacks, we are short, etc., refer to the charachteristic of the body. Atman is never black or white; it is neither short nor tall. But we seem to be confused and attribute the charachteristic of body on soul, when we say 'I am tall, or I am fair complexioned'. 'I' always denotes atman. Finally, we confuse while talking about actions. We say that we are going or we are climbing or we are laughing. These activities are of the body. Atman does not have legs to walk; nor mouth to speak; nor eyes to shed tears. But we use such phrases commonly. Thus by these three categories we are confused and denote body by atman. This has to be properly understood. Then how are we to introduce ourselves? When we say we are the children of so and so, though atman has no children as such, at least people could recognize. Now with this new knowledge how are we to introduce anybody? We have to introduce our atman as embodiment of bliss, embodiment of knowledge and servant of the Lord. But this introduction is common to all atman residing in any body, be it man or woman or deva or animal. Will it not result in confusion? No, our confusion and disputes arise because of the differences we see in the body and attribute them to soul. If everybody has the same introduction, that he is servant of God, full of happiness and Knowledge, then no disputes will arise. Thus Kshetragya sees body [Kshetram] as different from him. Swami Ramanuja raises a pertinent doubt and clarifies. We are to understand that it is our body. Here, who is that 'our'? 'Our' denotes atman and it alone has knowledge. So, atman knows by its knowledge that that body belonged to him. To know this, atman has to put in some efforts. To do that atman needs a body. Atman in a body realizes that the body belonged to him. So atman has to understand that the atman in a human body, realized that the body belonged to him to eliminate his karma and to cultivate good habits. By cultivating such good habits, this atman should nurture Bhakti in the Lord and try to reach Him. Thus we have to clearly understand that atman is not body; but atman resides in a body to use that body as a cultivable land so as to cultivate good habits and perform Bhakti. This is the substance of this sloka and a person understanding this clearly, is called Kshetragya.