The Path – October 1890



There are nowadays many professors of occultism, just as years ago there was a numerous brood of those who pretended to know about the philosopher's stone. Both, however, were and are learned chiefly in repeating what they have heard of as occultism, with no substance or reality underneath all the profession. Now as then the mere incidentals of the true occultist's practice are thought of, spoken about, and pursued. Phenomena or the power to produce them constitute the end and aim of these searchers' efforts. But seek as we may, we will not find among them real knowledge, real experience, true initiation. Being on the wrong path, deluded by false light, they cannot do aught but mystify, annoy, and deceive those who put their trust in them. During the days of Rosicrucian fame there was some excuse for the mass of seekers, but since the old Hindu works have become gradually known to everyone, that exculpation is at an end; for on every hand the note of warning is sounded, and everywhere are signs that show in what direction lies the true path. Particularly is this so in that wonderful book, the Bhagavad-Gita. In it, however void of phenomena, however unattractive in respect to bait for psychic emotion, it points out the way, declares the mystic science, true devotion, right action. We therefore print an important chapter entire.



Krishna. This perishable body, O son of Kunti, is known as Kshetra; those who are acquainted with the true nature of things call the soul who knows (2) it, the Kshetrajna. Know also that I am the knower in every mortal body, O son of Bharata; that knowledge which through the soul is a realization of both the known and the knower is alone esteemed by me as wisdom. What that Kshetra or body is, what it resembleth, what it produceth, and what is its origin, and also who he is who, dwelling within, knoweth it, as well as what is his power, learn all in brief from me. It has been manifoldly sung by the Rishees with discrimination and with arguments in the various Vedic hymns which treat of Brahma.

This body, then, is made up of the great elements, Ahankara — egotism, Buddhi — intellect or judgment, the unmanifest, invisible spirit; the ten centres of action, the mind, and the five objects of sense; desire, aversion, pleasure and pain, persistency of life, and firmness, the power of cohesion. Thus I have made known unto thee what the Kshetra or body is with its component parts.

True wisdom of a spiritual kind is freedom from self esteem, hypocrisy, and injury to others; it is patience, sincerity, respect for spiritual instructors, purity, firmness, self-restraint, dispassion for objects of sense, freedom from pride, and a meditation upon birth, death, decay, sickness, and error; it is an exemption from self-identifying attachment for children, wife, and household, and a constant unwavering steadiness of heart upon the arrival of every event whether favorable or unfavorable; it is a never-ceasing love for me alone, the self being effaced, and worship paid in a solitary spot, and a want of pleasure in congregations of men; it is a resolute continuance in the study of Adhyatma, the superior spirit, and a meditation upon the end of the acquirement of a knowledge of truth; — this is called wisdom or spiritual knowledge, its opposite is ignorance.

I will now tell thee what is the object of wisdom, from knowing which a man enjoys immortality; it is that which has no beginning, even the supreme Brahma, and of which it cannot be said that it is either Being or Non-Being. It has hands and feet in all directions; eyes, heads, mouths, and ears in every direction; it is immanent in the world, possessing the vast whole. Itself without organs, it is reflected by all the senses and faculties; unattached, yet supporting all; without qualities, yet the witness of them all. It is within and without all creatures animate and inanimate; it is inconceivable because of its subtlety, and although near it is afar off. Although undivided it appeareth as divided among creatures; and while it sustains existing things, it is also to be known as their destroyer and creator. It is the light of all lights, and is declared to be beyond all darkness; and it is wisdom itself, the object of wisdom, and that which is to be obtained by wisdom; in the hearts of all it ever presideth. Thus hath been briefly declared what is the perishable body, and wisdom itself, together with the object of wisdom; he, my devotee, who thus in truth conceiveth me, obtaineth my state.

Know that Prakriti or nature, and Purusha the spirit, are without beginning. And know that the passions and the three qualities are sprung from Nature.

Nature or prakriti is said to be that which operates in producing cause and effect in actions (3); individual spirit or Purusha is said to be the cause of experiencing pain and pleasure. (4) For spirit when invested with matter or prakriti experienceth the qualities which proceed from prakriti; its connection with these qualities is the cause of its rebirth in good and evil wombs. (5) The spirit in the body is called Maheswara, the Great Lord, the spectator, the admonisher, the sustainer, the enjoyer, and also the Paramatma, the highest soul.

He who thus knoweth the spirit and nature, together with the qualities, whatever mode of life he may lead, is not born again on this earth.

Some men by meditation, using contemplation upon the self, behold the spirit within, others attain to that end by philosophical study with its realization, and others by means of the religion of works. Others, again, who are not acquainted with it in this manner, but have heard it from others, cleave unto and respect it; and even these, if assiduous only upon tradition and attentive to hearing the scriptures, pass beyond the gulf of death. (6)

Know, O chief of the Bharatas, that whenever anything, whether animate or inanimate, is produced, it is due to the union of the Kshetra and the Kshetrajna — body and the soul. He who seeth the Supreme Being existing alike imperishable in all perishable things, sees indeed. Perceiving the same lord present in everything and everywhere, he does not by the lower self destroy his own soul, but goeth to the supreme end. He who seeth that all his actions are performed by nature only, and that the self within is not the actor, sees indeed. And when he realizes perfectly that all things whatsoever in nature are comprehended in the ONE, he attains to the Supreme Spirit. This Supreme Spirit, O Son of Kunti, even when it is in the body, neither acteth nor is it affected by action, because, being without beginning and devoid of attributes, it is changeless. As the all moving Akasa by reason of its subtlety passeth everywhere unaffected, so the Spirit, though present in every kind of body, is not attached to action nor affected. As a single sun illuminateth the whole world, even so doth the one spirit illumine every body, O Son of Bharata. Those who with the eye of wisdom thus perceive what is the difference between the body and Spirit and the destruction of the illusion of objects, (7) go to the Supreme.

Thus in the Upanishads stands the thirteenth chapter, by name — Devotion by means of the discrimination of the Kshetra from Kshetrajna.


1. This rendering of Chap. 13 is from the advance sheets of the new PATH edition of the Bhagavad-Gita, of which a notice will be found on another page. (return to text)

2. That is, the true Ego, the real witness and spectator. (return to text)

3. Prakriti, matter or nature, is the cause of all action throughout the Universe, as it is the basis by which action may take place; and herein are included all actions, whether of men, of gods, powers, or what not. (return to text)

4. Purusha is the aspect of the individual spirit in every human breast; it is the cause of our experiencing pain and pleasure through the connection with nature found in the body. (return to text)

5. Here purusha is the persisting individual who connects all reincarnations, as if it were the thread, and has hence been called the "thread Soul". (return to text)

6. This last sentence means that they thus lay such a foundation as that in subsequent lives they will reach the other states and then to immortality. (return to text)

7. This refers to what has previously been said about the great illusion produced by nature in causing us to see objects as different from spirit, and it agrees with Patanjali, who says that, although the perfectly illuminated being has destroyed the illusion, it still has a hold upon those who are not illuminated — they will have to go through repeated rebirths until their time of deliverance also comes. (return to text)

The Path