The two prakritis of the Lord, the higher and the lower, were discussed in the Seventh Chapter. It has been said that all created beings are born of them. (7.6). This topic dealing with Prakrti, matter and Purusha, spirit are elaborated in this section. Matter functions with several modifications and qualities while spirit functioning through them all is but one and the same. The union of spirit with matter produces a living being. The supreme Self, being the same, expresses differently in different individuals.
The path to Self-realization begins with action, passing through knowledge, it ends in meditation. Those who cannot pursue the path all by themselves can still reach the Self by surrendering to and following a spiritual master.
Spiritual growth is marked by recognizing the homogeneous principle in the heterogeneous variety of beings. Perceiving the Imperishable in the perishable world, the seeker realizes Brahman as the substratum in the diversified existence of all beings. He becomes one with Brahman.
The supreme Self within does not act; nor is It tainted by the actions of beings. It remains ever immaculate like space which is never polluted by the different objects occupying it. He who recognizes the supreme Self in the manifold beings is endowed with jnanachakshu, the Eye of Wisdom, with which he perceives the Supreme.
NATURE AND SPIRIT
prakritim purusham chaiva viddhyanaadee ubhaavapi
vikaaraamshcha gunaamshchaiva viddhi prakritisambhavaan // 13.20 //
Know you that Prakriti and Purusha are both without beginning and know you also that all forms and gunas are born of Prakriti.
In Chapter 7 Sri Krishna said that His Prakriti falls under two categories viz. the Higher and the Lower. In this Chapter both these are explained as the Knower of the Field (Kshetrajna, Purusha) and the Field (Kshetra, prakriti). It was also stated earlier that both the Higher and Lower Matter together constitute the source of creation. The same thought is repeated here as the Field and the Knower of the Field together form the origin of all beings.
Prakriti, Matter or nature is inert. Matter is that out of which all forms (from intelligence down to the gross body) and gunas (qualities such as sattva, rajas and tamas, which manifest themselves in the form of pleasure, pain delusion so on,) come into existence. All changes or modifications are related to Matter. Prakriti is maya, the sakti or power of the Lord. It is the cause of the manifestation of the relative universe.
Since Prakriti or maya is the eternal source of all forms and gunas, Brahman (Purusha) remains ever changeless and immutable. Purusha, Self, Soul, Spirit, is the changeless substratum in the presence of which all changes take place.
Matter (Prakriti) and Spirit (Purusha) are both beginningless. They are the two aspects of Iswara, the Lord. As the Lord is eternal so also is His two aspects Matter and Spirit. The play of Matter and Spirit causes the origin, preservation and dissolution of the Universe.
FUNCTIONS OF PRAKRITI AND PURUSHA
kaaryakaaranakartrutwe hetuh prakritiruchyate
purushah sukhaduhkhaanaam bhoktritwe heturuchyate // 13.21 //
Prakriti is said to be the cause of the generation of the body and the organs and Purusha is said to be the cause of the experience of pleasure and pain.
Prakriti (nature) is the material from which the body and the sense organs are produced. The five elements out of which the body is made and the five sense-objects are included under the term ‘body’ or ‘karya’ used in the Verse. The sense organs are thirteen namely five organs of perception, five organs of action, the mind, intellect (buddhi), and I-consciousness (ahamkara). Pleasure, pain, delusion and the rest, which are born of three gunas of prakriti, are included under the term organs or ‘karana’ since they cannot exist independently of the sense-organs.
Purusha and Prakriti are stated to be the cause of samsara or phenomenal existence. Prakriti transforms itself into body and senses, as also into pleasure, pain and so on and Purusha experiences pleasure and pain. This union between Purusha and Prakriti makes relative life possible. Even though the Purusha, the Soul, identifies Himself with the body and appears to experience pleasure and pain, yet in reality He remains unchanging. It is this apparent experience which constitutes His illusory world or samsara and which makes Him a samsari or phenomenal being.
It should be clearly understood that although the term Purusha used here is synonymous with jiva, the individualized soul, or Kshetrajna, the Knower of the Field, or bhokta, the enjoyer, it should not be confused with the Paramatman or Brahman or the Highest Self. The term Purusha is used here merely as an intelligent principle and a conditioned being. Again, this should not be construed that there are two separate purushas; the same one purusha is seen from two different angles. In the Gita, no distinction is made between the knower of the Field and the Supreme Lord, Paramatman, Brahman.
This should be kept in view when we study Chapter 15.