Chapter 13: Nature, the Enjoyer, and Consciousness
rsibhir bahudha gitam
chandobhir vividhaih prthak
ṛṣibhiḥ—by the wise sages; bahudhā—in many ways; gītām—described; chandobhiḥ—Vedic hymns; vividhaiḥ—in various; pṛthak—variously; brahma-sūtra—the Vedānta; padaiḥ—aphorism; ca—also; eva—certainly; hetumadbhiḥ—with cause and effect; viniścitaiḥ—ascertain.
That knowledge of the field of activities and of the knower of activities is described by various sages in various Vedic writings-especially in the Vedānta-sūtra-and is presented with all reasoning as to cause and effect.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is the highest authority in explaining this knowledge. Still, as a matter of course, learned scholars and standard authorities always give evidence from previous authorities. Kṛṣṇa is explaining this most controversial point regarding the duality and non-duality of the soul and the Supersoul by referring to Scriptures, the Vedānta, which are accepted as authority. First, He says, this is according to different sages. As far as the sages are concerned, besides Himself, Vyāsadeva, the author of the Vedānta-sūtra, is a great sage, and in the Vedānta-sūtra duality is perfectly explained. And Vyāsadeva's father, Parāśara, was also a great sage, and he writes in his books of religiosity: "aham tvaṁ ca athānye..." "We-you, I and various other living entities-are all transcendental, although in material bodies. Now we are fallen into the ways of the three modes of material nature according to our different karma. As such, some are on higher levels, and some are in the lower nature. The higher and lower natures exist due to ignorance and are being manifested in an infinite number of living entities. But the Supersoul, which is infallible, is uncontaminated by the three qualities of nature and is transcendental." Similarly, in the original Vedas, a distinction between the soul, the Supersoul and the body is made, especially in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad.
There is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord's energy known as annamaya by which one depends simply upon food for existence. This is a materialistic realization of the Supreme. Then there is prāṇamaya; this means that after realizing the Supreme Absolute Truth in foodstuff, one can realize the Absolute Truth in the living symptoms, or life forms. In jñānamaya the living symptom develops to the point of thinking, feeling, and willing. Then there is Brahman realization and the realization called vijñānamaya by which the living entity's mind and life symptoms are distinguished from the living entity himself. The next and supreme stage is ānandamaya, realization of the all-blissful nature. Thus there are five stages of Brahman realization, which is called brahma puccham. Out of these the first three-annamaya, prāṇamaya, and jñānamaya-involve the fields of activities of the living entities. Transcendental to all these fields of activities is the Supreme Lord, who is called ānandamaya. In the Vedānta-sūtra also the Supreme is called ānandamayo 'bhyāsāt. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is by nature full of joy, and to enjoy His transcendental bliss, He expands into vijñānamaya, prāṇamaya, jñānamaya, and annamaya. In this field of activities the living entity is considered to be the enjoyer, and different from him is the ānandamaya. That means that if the living entity decides to enjoy, in dovetailing himself with the ānandamaya, then he becomes perfect. This is the real picture of the Supreme Lord, as supreme knower of the field, the living entity, as subordinate knower, and the nature of the field of activities.