Chapter 13The Individual Consciousness and The Ultimate ConsciousnessVerse 18


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

The Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, is the light of all lights, the illuminator of even the sun and the stars. He is shining, resplendently effulgent all things shine from Him, by His light all creation is full of light. Therefore Parabrahma is intouched by darkness and beyond all nescience untouched by ignorance. The Svetasvatara Upanisad III.VII. beginning veda hametam purusam meaning: The Supreme Lord shines more brilliantly then the sun and by realising Him only one attains moksa or liberation there is no other way to accomplish this. It is this knowledge that is to manifest in the functions of the intellect regarding the 20 superlative virtues given in verses 8 to 12. It is also knowable in the form of sound by OM the primordial sound frequency of the Supreme Lord. It is also accessible through spiritual practices and easily attainable by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord. The discovery of the atma or immortal soul within the etheric heart is being emphasised by acquiring knowledge and performing appropriately for self- realisation.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Since the Supreme Lord Krishna is achieved by experiencing spiritual knowledge, He is understood to be the goal of all knowledge. Know the atma or immortal soul by experiencing the atma. As the Supreme Lord is the bestower of the atma and the atma is only knowable through Him then He is the most worthy object of knowledge. If the Supreme Lord is knowable by other means then the words He spoke earlier in verse 13 jneyam yat tat meaning all that which is worth knowing would make this verse repetitive. Now He affirms here the means to achieve what He revealed as the goal in verse 13 negating any contradiction. The Supreme Lord knows Himself by His Self alone. His knowing is not dependent on any external source outside of Himself. In special cases He is able to be known by others as it is possible to know Him by His desire and also by realization of the atma. But only by His grace can this manifest and without His grace knowledge of Him can never manifest. The Supreme Lord is self illuminated, He is self contented and He is equal towards all. Therefore as He is the foremost of all, He is the object of attainment for all and all jivas or embodied beings should seek His grace for only by His grace can He be known.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Lights are those found in the sun, the stars, fire, gems, etc. The light of these lights denotes that which illuminates all these or that by which they are perceived denoting the light of consciousness by which all luminaries such as the sun and the stars are seen to shine. As for human made lights such as lamps, torches and the rest, they only dispel the darkness intervening between the sense of sight and its object and their illuminating power is limited to the sense perception of sight. But there is no limitation with the light and sight of the atma once it has been realised. The words tamasah param means beyond darkness referring to the darkness of tamas or ignorance designating the subtle but limited conditions of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence; but the atma or immortal soul being eternal is transcendental to any conditions or limitations. The words jnanam jneyam means knowledge worthy of being known comprehensible by the intellect and characterised by consciousness. The words jnana gamyam means wisdom accessible through knowledge or that wisdom gained from embodying and living the 20 virtues given in verses 8 through 12 beginning with amanitvam or reverence. These exalted virtues which constitute spiritual knowledge are the means to achieve the wisdom of the atma. As the atma is situated within the heart of all sentient beings, the Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma is hrdi sarvasy dhisthitam situated in the heart of all sentient beings.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

The Supreme Lord Krishna known as Parabrahma is the source of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. It is solely His effulgence that illuminates all luminaries such as the sun, the stars, lightning, jewels, etc. with light. These luminaries only dispel the darkness hindering the vision between the eyes and their objects whereas the knowledge of a mere spark of the Supreme Lord being the atma or immortal soul illuminates all physical lights and without the atma knowledge of illumination is not possible. That is why the atma is said to be totally beyond the darkness of maya which is the deluding, external, illusory potency of the Supreme Lord. The illusory nature of maya is ever changing by nature whereas the atma is eternal and unchanging. The atma is itself knowledge as well as the goal of all knowledge and is most worthy of attaining by the acquisition of knowledge. The qualifications to obtain this knowledge is found in the 20 excellent virtues expounded earlier in verse 8 to 12 beginning with reverence, humility etc. which are in the hearts of all human beings albeit dormant or active. The words hrdi sarvasya dhisthitam emphasises that the Supreme Lord Krishna is specially situated in the etheric heart of all living entities.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 13, verse 18 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 18

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