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Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13 Verse 13

भगवद् गीता अध्याय 13 श्लोक 13

ज्ञेयं यत्तत्प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वाऽमृतमश्नुते।
अनादिमत्परं ब्रह्म न सत्तन्नासदुच्यते।।13.13।।

English Translation - Swami Gambirananda

13.13 I shall speak of that which is to be known, by realizing which one attains Immortality. The supreme Brahman is without any beginning. That is called neither being nor non-being.

English Translation - Swami Sivananda

13.13 I will declare that which has to be known, knowing which one attains to immortality, the beginningless supreme Brahman, called neither being nor non-being.

English Translation - Dr. S. Sankaranarayan

13.13. I shall describe that which is to be known, by knowing which one attains freedom from death : beginningless is the Supreme Brahman; It is said to be neither existent nor non-existent.

English Commentary - Swami Sivananda

13.13 ज्ञेयम् has to be known? यत् which? तत् that? प्रवक्ष्यामि (I) will declare? यत् which? ज्ञात्वा knowing? अमृतम् immortality? अश्नुते (one) attains to? अनादिमत् the beginningless? परम् supreme? ब्रह्म Brahman? न not? सत् being? तत् that? न not? असत् nonbeing? उच्यते is called.Commentary The Lord praises that which ought to be known (Para Brahman) in order to create in Arjuna (or any hearer) an intense desire to know It.Brahman cannot be expressed in words like being or nonbeing? because Brahman does not belong to any class or genus like a Brahmana? cow or horse. It has no ality like whiteness? blackness? etc. It has no relation or connection with anything else? because It is one without a second. It is no object of any sense. It is beyond the reach of the mind and the senses. It is actionless. It is the great transcendental and unmanifested Absolute. It is always the witnessing subject in all objects.The Vedas emphatically declare that Brahman is without attributes? activity? attachment or parts.In chapter IX. 19 it was stated that He is the being and also the nonbeing. It is now stated that He is neither being nor nonbeing. This would seem to the readers to be a contradiction in terms but it is not so. Though the manifest (perishable) and the unmanifest (imperishable) universe are both forms of Brahman? He is beyond both these. (Cf.VII.2XV.16?17and18)

English Translation of Sanskrit Commentary By Sri Shankaracharya's

13.13 Pravaksyami, I shall speak of, fully describe just as it is; tat, that; yat, which; is jenyam, to be known. In order to interest the hearer through inducement, the Lord speaks of what its result is: Jnatva, by realizing; yat, which Knowable; asnute, one attains; amrtam, Immortality, i.e.; he does not die again. Anadimat, without beginning-one having a beginning (adi) is adimat; one not having a beginning is anadimat. What is that? The param, supreme, unsurpassable; brahma, Brahman, which is under discussion as the Knowable. Here, some split up the phrase anadimatparam as anadi and matparam because, if the word anadimat is taken as a Bahuvrihi compound, [That which has no (a), beginning (adi) is anadi. Matup is used to denote possession. Since the idea of possession is a already implied in anadi, therefore matup, if added after it, becomes redundant.] then the suffix mat (matup) becomes redundant, which is undesirable. And they show a distintive meaning: (Brahman is anadi, beginningless, and is) matparam, that of which I am the supreme (para) power called Vasudeva. Trully, the redundance could be avoided in this way if that meanig were possible. But that meaning is not possible, because what is intended is to make Brahman known only through a negation of all attributes by saying, It is called neither being nor non-being. It is contradictory to show a possession of a distinctive power and to negate attributes. Therefore, although matup and a bahuvrihi compound convey the same meaning of possession, its (matups) use is for completing the verse. [The Commentator accepts anadimat as a nan-tatpurusa compund. If, however, the Bahuvrihi is insisted on, then the mat after anadi should be taken as completing the number of syllables needed for versification. So, nat need not be compounded with param.] Having aroused an interest through inducement by saying, The Knowable which has Immortality as its result is beeing spoken of by Me, the Lord says: Tat, that Knowable; ucyate, is called; na sat, neither being; nor is it called asat, non-being. Objection: After strongly girding up the loins and declaring with a loud voice, I shall speak of the Knowable, is it not incongruous to say, That is called neither being nor non-being? Reply: No. What has been said is surely consistent. Objection: How? Reply: For in all the Upanisads, the Knowable, i.e. Brahman, has been indicated only by negation of all attributes-Not this, not this (Br. 4.4.22), Not gross, not subtle (op. cit. 3.3.8), etc.; but not as That is this, for It is beyond speech. Objection: Is it not that a thing which cannot be expressed by the word being does not exist? Like-wise, if the Knowable cannot be expressed by the word being, It does not exist. And it is contradictory to say, It is the Knowable, and It cannot be expressed by the word being. Counter-objection: As to that, no that It does not exist, because It is not the object of the idea, It is non-being. Objection: Do not all cognitions verily involve the idea of being or non-being? This being so, the Knowable should either be an object of a cognition involving the idea of existence, or it should be an object of a cognition involving the idea of non-existence. Reply: No, because, by virtue of Its being super-sensuous, It is not an object of cognition involving either, of the two ideas. Indeed, any object perceivable by the senses, such as pot etc., can be either an object of cognition involving the idea of existence, or it can be an object of cognition involving the idea of non-existence. But this Knowable, being supersensuous and known from the scriptures, which are the sole means of (Its) knowledge, is not, like pot etc., an object of cognition involving either of the two ideas. Therefore It is called neither being nor non-being. As for your objection that it is contradictory to say, It is the Knowable, but it is neither called being nor non-being,-it is not contradictory; for the Upanisad says, That (Brahman) is surely different from the known and, again, It is above the unknown (Ke. 1.4). Objection: May it not be that even the Upanisad is contradictory in its meaning? May it not be (contradictory) as it is when, after beginning with the topic of a shed for a sacrifice, [Cf. Pracinavamsam karoti, he constructs (i.e. shall construct) (the sacrificial shed) with its supporting beam turned east-ward (Tai, Sam.; also see Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Monier Williams).-Tr.] it is said, Who indeed knows whether there exists anything in the other world or not! (Tai. Sam. 6.1.1)? Reply: No, since the Upanisad speaking of something that is different from the known and the unknown is meant for establishing an entity that must be realized. [The Upanisadic text is not to be rejected on the ground that it is paradoxical, for it is meant to present Brahman as indentical with ones own inmost Self.] But, ৷৷.whether there exists anything in the other world, etc. is merely an arthavada [See note on p. 40. Here, the passage, ৷৷.whether there exists৷৷., etc. is to be interpreted as an arthavada emphasizing, the need of raising a shed, irrespective of any other consideration.-Tr.] connected with an injunction. From reason who it follows that Brahman cannot be expressed by such words as being, non-being, etc. For, every word used for expressing an object, when heard by listeners, makes them understand its meaning through the comprehension of its significance with the help of genus, action, ality and relation; not in any other way, because that is not a matter of experience. To illustrate this: a cow, or a horse, etc. (is comprehended) through genus; cooking or reading, through action; white or black, through ality; a rich person or an owner of cows, through relation. But Brahman does not belong to any genus. Hence it is not expressible by words like being etc.; neither is It possessed of any alitity with the help of which It could be expressed through alifying words, for It is free from alities; nor can It be expressed by a word implying action, It being free from actions-which accords with the Upanisadic text, Partless, actionless, calm (Sv. 6.19). Nor has It any relation, since It is one, non-dual, not an object of the senses, and It is the Self. Therefore it is logical that It cannot be expressed by any word. And this follows from such Upanisadic texts as, From which, words trun back (Tai. 2.4.1), etc. Therefore it is logical that It cannot be expressed by any word. And this follows from such Upanisadic texts as, From which, words turn back (Tai. 2.4.1), etc. Since the Knowable (Brahman) is not an object of the word or thought of being, there arises the apprehension of Its nonexistence. Hence, for dispelling that apprehension by establishing Its existence with the help of the adjuncts in the form of the organs of all creatures, the Lord says:

English Translation of Commentary - Dr. S. Sankaranarayan

13.13 See Comment under 13.18

English Translation of Ramanuja's Sanskrit Commentary

13.13 I shall declare that nature of the individual self (brahman) which is the object to be known, namely, what is to be gained by means of virtues like modesty etc., by knowing which one attains to the self which is immortal, birthless, free from old age, death and such other material alities. [The expression is split up as - Anadi = beginningless; Mat-param = having Me as the Highest.] Anadi means that which is beginningless. Indeed, there is no origination for this individual self (brahman) and for the same reason, It is endless. The Sruti also declares: The wise one is not born, nor dies (Ka. U., 2.18). Matpara means having Me for the Highest. Verily, it has been told: Know that which is other than this (lower nature), which is the life-principle, to be the highest Prakrti of Mine (7.5). By virtue of being the body of the Lord, the nature of the self finds joy in being completely subsidiary to Him. So the Sruti declares: He who, dwelling in the self, is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is and who controls the self from within ৷৷. (Br. U. Madh., 5.7.22). Similarly do the texts declare: He is the cause, Lord of Lords and of sense organs. He has no progenitor, nor lord (Sve. U., 6.9); and He is the Lord of the Pradhana and of the individual selves, and the Lord of alities (Ibid., 6.16). That which is conjoined with the ality of infinite dimension or extensiveness can be designated as brahman. It is different from, and not circumscribable by, the body etc. The meaning is, It is the principle which apprehends the Ksetra. Sruti also declares: He (i.e., the individual self) partakes of infinity (Sve. U., 5.9). By its Karma It is circumscribed. It assumes Its infinite nature only when It is freed from the bonds of Karma. The term brahman is applied to designate the individual self as in: He, crossing beyond the Gunas, becomes fit for the sake of brahman (14.26), I am the ground of the brahman, who is immutable and immortal (14.27), and Having attained to the state of brahman, tranil, he neither grieves nor craves; regarding all beings alike, he attains supreme devotion to Me (18.54). It (brahman) is said to be neither being nor non-being. The terms being and non-being cannot signify the nature of the self because It is neither effect nor cause. For It is called being (Sat) in the condition of effect when It has the form of gods etc. As It cannot possess names and forms in the condition of cause, It is said to be non-being or Asat. So the Sruti texts declare: In the beginning, verily, this (brahman) was non-existence; therefrom the being was born (Tai. U., 2.7.1) and Verily, this (brahman) was then undifferntiated. It became differentiated by names and forms (Br. U., 1.4.7). The selfs conditions as effect and cause have arisen on account of veiling by Avidya or ignorant in the form of Karma. It is not an expression of Its real nature. So, the terms being and non-being do not signify the nature of the self, If it is argued that, in the passage In the beginning, verily, this (Brahman) was non-existence (Tai. U., 2.7.1), it is the Supreme Brahman in the state of cause that is described - even then it can be pointed out that the Supreme Brahman in causal condition has, for His body, the conscient and non-conscient entities in a subtle state, incapable of being differentiated by names and forms. Such a description is therefore valid. On the same principle the nature of Ksetra (body) and Ksetrajna (individual self) in the state of cause can also be indicated by the term non-being. But this condition of the individual self has arisen due to Karma and such descriptions as being and non-being are applicable to the self only in the state of bondage. Its pure form cannot be signified by the terms being and non-being.

Commentary - Chakravarthi Ji

Thus, by the methods mentioned above, one should know the jiva and paramatma. The paramatma however is present in all beings and is known as brahman. That brahman is worshiped by the devotees as personal, with qualities, and by the jnanis as impersonal, with no qualities. As the object of meditation with four hands situated within the body, brahman is known as paramatma. This verse speaks of that brahman first. That form has no beginning (anadi). That means that since it is his svarupa, it is eternal. Mat param means “of which I alone am the supreme shelter.” What is it? It is called brahman of which I alone am the supreme shelter, which is beyond cause and effect (na sad na asad). The Lord will later say brahmano hi pratistham: I am the basis of brahman.

Rudra Vaishnava Sampradaya - Commentary

That which is to be known by imbibing the previous 20 virtues is being declared by Lord Krishna in this verse. The resultant consequence of embracing these virtues is being proclaimed now and emphasised in order to exemplify to the hearer that these 20 virtues truly constitute knowledge and are indispensable to realising the brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. Realising the brahman one achieves moksa or liberation from material existence. The brahman has no beginning, is unsurpassed, and eternal. Although the word anandi meaning without beginning and eternal would convey the same meaning alone by adding the suffix mat to it utilises it as a bahuvrihi compound which is a metrical ornament and so it is spoken anandimat which denotes subordination to param being the Supreme Lord. If it were spoken as anandi matparam it would mean Lord Krishnas supreme, attributeless form but that would not validate the words na sat tan nasad which states it is beyond both the cause and the effect. That which is the object of activation is expressed as existing and that which has no activation is expressed as non-existing. But the brahman is beyond both because it is not subject to the material existence.

Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya - Commentary

The brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence is the brahma referred to here. This is given as a reminder of the dependence of the Supreme Lord Krishna by whose energy everything is transpiring. The word anadimat means without any origin and beginning and denotes that the Supreme Lord is without origin and beginning also. If only anadi was used a doubt might arise that there is an origin for Him and so how can He manifest something without beginning if He is not as well. So the word anadimat is used as a matter of clarification. Due to being complete in fullness with all transcendental attributes the Supreme Lord is called param brahman meaning the Supreme brahman and is both sat or eternal existence and asat or non existence possessing a transcendental spiritual form and formless being without a physical form. Yet since He can be discerned by outward elements such as earth, fire, water etc. and since He is emphatically eulogized in the Vedic scriptures. The resplendent Supreme Lord Krishna, the immutable one is especially known both as sat and asat.

Shri Vaishnava Sampradaya - Commentary

Lord Krishna is declaring that which is most worthy to be known is that which is most worthy to strive for and be gained and that is realisation of the atma or immortal soul. This realisation is attained by imbibing the 20 attributes heretofore mentioned previously. Here the word amritam meaning nectar denotes the nectar of immortality and refers directly the immortal soul exempt from the pangs of birth, decrepitude and death. Anadi means that which has no beginning for as the atma has no birth it has no ending and is eternal. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning najayate mriyate va vipascit means that the atma is without birth and death. The compound mat- param clarifies that the atma is both a part of the Supreme Lord who is present within as paramatma the Supreme Soul and always subordinate to Him. The Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.IX beginning sakaranam karana dhipa dhipo means: The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes and the lord of the lord of the senses for Him there is no Lord or progenitor. Further in the same chapter VI.XVI beginning pradhana ksetrajna patir gunesah meaning: The Supreme Lord who is endowed with all auspicious qualities is the lord of the field of activities, the knower of the field of activities. The brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is great because the atma which is a separate entity from the physical body is part of it. Brahman is derived from the root word brh which means becoming great. So it is included as part of ksetra-jna. The brahman is infinite and the atma is infinite as well. The Svetasvatara Upanisad V.IX states sachan anthyaya kalpate meaning: The atma is infinite. The atmas seemingly limitation in a physical body is due to karma or reactions from past actions; but once a jiva or embodied being achieves moksa or liberation then the actual infinite and limitless nature of the atma is percieved. The brahman is neither sat existence or asat non-existence because it never undergoes any modifications or transformations due to its being beyond the influence of cause and effect. The term brahman can also be used to refer to the atma as will be seen later in chapter 14, verse 26 and chapter 18 verse 54. When the atma assumes names and forms sat becomes applicable and when the atma is bereft of names and forms it is asat. Thus it is factually beyond both. This is also revealed in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VII.IX and the Rig Veda VIII.VII.XVII which states: All was asat in the beginning and from it sat arose. So everything was first unmanifest and then was made manifest into names and forms through successive transformations of cause and effect and such modifications surrounding the atma are due to its karma of having to accept embodiment brought on by avidya or ignorance and is not inherent in the actual nature of the atma itself. Thus the nature of the atma is undefinable by any and all conceptions of sat and asat. When the Vedic scriptures refer to asat as being in the beginning they are alluding to the unmanifest casual state before existence is activated and commences. In this state both cit conscious spirit as the ksetra-jna and acit inert matter as the ksetra are both present but in a dormant state and could be designated as asat. But the brahman and the atma being eternal and part of the ksetra-jna are transcendent to both sat and asat except by the accountability and allotment of karma to the jiva due to reactions from past activities.

Kumara Vaishnava Sampradaya - Commentary

Lord Krishna is declaring that which is most worthy to be known is that which is most worthy to strive for and be gained and that is realisation of the atma or immortal soul. This realisation is attained by imbibing the 20 attributes heretofore mentioned previously. Here the word amritam meaning nectar denotes the nectar of immortality and refers directly the immortal soul exempt from the pangs of birth, decrepitude and death. Anadi means that which has no beginning for as the atma has no birth it has no ending and is eternal. The Katha Upanisad I.II.XVIII beginning najayate mriyate va vipascit means that the atma is without birth and death. The compound mat- param clarifies that the atma is both a part of the Supreme Lord who is present within as paramatma the Supreme Soul and always subordinate to Him. The Svetasvatara Upanisad VI.IX beginning sakaranam karana dhipa dhipo means: The Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes and the lord of the lord of the senses for Him there is no Lord or progenitor. Further in the same chapter VI.XVI beginning pradhana ksetrajna patir gunesah meaning: The Supreme Lord who is endowed with all auspicious qualities is the lord of the field of activities, the knower of the field of activities. The brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is great because the atma which is a separate entity from the physical body is part of it. Brahman is derived from the root word brh which means becoming great. So it is included as part of ksetra-jna. The brahman is infinite and the atma is infinite as well. The Svetasvatara Upanisad V.IX states sachan anthyaya kalpate meaning: The atma is infinite. The atmas seemingly limitation in a physical body is due to karma or reactions from past actions; but once a jiva or embodied being achieves moksa or liberation then the actual infinite and limitless nature of the atma is percieved. The brahman is neither sat existence or asat non-existence because it never undergoes any modifications or transformations due to its being beyond the influence of cause and effect. The term brahman can also be used to refer to the atma as will be seen later in chapter 14, verse 26 and chapter 18 verse 54. When the atma assumes names and forms sat becomes applicable and when the atma is bereft of names and forms it is asat. Thus it is factually beyond both. This is also revealed in the Tattiriya Upanisad II.VII.IX and the Rig Veda VIII.VII.XVII which states: All was asat in the beginning and from it sat arose. So everything was first unmanifest and then was made manifest into names and forms through successive transformations of cause and effect and such modifications surrounding the atma are due to its karma of having to accept embodiment brought on by avidya or ignorance and is not inherent in the actual nature of the atma itself. Thus the nature of the atma is undefinable by any and all conceptions of sat and asat. When the Vedic scriptures refer to asat as being in the beginning they are alluding to the unmanifest casual state before existence is activated and commences. In this state both cit conscious spirit as the ksetra-jna and acit inert matter as the ksetra are both present but in a dormant state and could be designated as asat. But the brahman and the atma being eternal and part of the ksetra-jna are transcendent to both sat and asat except by the accountability and allotment of karma to the jiva due to reactions from past activities.

Transliteration Bhagavad Gita 13.13

Jneyam yattat pravakshyaami yajjnaatwaa’mritamashnute; Anaadimatparam brahma na sattannaasaduchyate.

Word Meanings Bhagavad Gita 13.13

jñeyam—ought to be known; yat—which; tat—that; pravakṣhyāmi—I shall now reveal; yat—which; jñātvā—knowing; amṛitam—immortality; aśhnute—one achieves; anādi—beginningless; mat-param—subordinate to Me; brahma—Brahman; na—not; sat—existent; tat—that; na—not; asat—non-existent; uchyate—is called