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With current progress in science and technology it's a known fact that there are more than 10^22 stars in the visible universe. Many of them are much bigger, brighter than our Sun and exist even before. Our Sun is just medium sized and one of the many stars.

Since Shri Krishna himself is a form of supreme god, he must know that our Sun alone cannot lighten the whole universe. But in Chapter-13, Verse-34 he still says so:

yathā prakāśayaty ekaḥ kṛtsnaṁ lokam imaṁ raviḥ
kṣetraṁ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṁ prakāśayati bhārata

Translation:

O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

I see the similar translation everywhere. But god cannot make such mistake irrespective of the era of scientific knowledge.

Does that mean that the word lokam refers to the earth alone?

  • "Ravi" here means the presiding deity of the material sun. Even though the material sun is just an average sized star, its presiding deity ravi/sUrya, is the cause of illumination of the whole universe. Presiding deity is a lot more than the material over which it presides. – user16581 Feb 17 '19 at 23:19
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It's just a case of translation

Let's see what other commentaries contain

Sri Ramanuja's commentary of the same verse:

As the ‘one sun’ illumines ‘all this world’ by his radiance, so the ‘knower of the body’ illumines the entire Ksetra, i.e., the body, by Its own knowledge, within and without and from head to toe, by conceiving ‘This my body is of this nature.’ This self of the said nature is totally different from the body, because It is the knower of the body. The body is the object of Its knowledge and is therefore different from It, even as the illuminating sun is totally different from the illumined world.

Sri Shankaracharya's commentary of the gita:

Yatha, as; ekam, the one; ravih, sun; prakasayati, illumines; imam, this; krtsnam, whole; lokam, world tatha, similarly;-who?-ksetri, the Knower of the field, i.e. the supreme Self, though one; prakasayati, illumines; krtsnam, the whole; ksetram, field, from the ‘great elements’ to ‘fortitude’ (cf. 5-6). Here the illustration of the sun serves to highlight two aspects of the Self, viz that, like the sun, the Self is one in all the fields, and that It remains unaffected. This verse is meant for summarizing the idea of the whole of this chapter:

Bhagavad Gita as it is:

O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

So basically loka means 'world' in sanskrit. However the word 'world' does not have any one specific meaning. World could mean planet which in this case is Earth, it could mean this Universe, or it could mean anything.

Here is the list of possible meanings of the word 'world' [reference: wiki]

  1. the earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.
  2. all of the people, societies, and institutions on the earth.
  3. the material universe or all that exists; everything.
  4. group of living things.
  5. the people, places, and activities to do with a particular thing.

Now you tell me, what did Sri Krishna mean when He said 'world'? Since you already know that the Sun illumines the Earth, and not the Universe, and as you rightly said, Sri Krishna knows everything, so here are the two possible answers:

  1. The word 'loka' does not refer to Universe in this specific context. or
  2. The Sun referred to here is not the Physical sun, but rather the more general Sun-concept (for example, we say each solar system has its own Sun, but actually each solar system has its own 'Star'. It is only the star in our system that is called the 'Sun' but still we use it interchangeably).

All the best!!

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    First of all, you mean Ramanujacharya's and Adi Shankaracharya's commentaries, not translations; they were writing in Sanskrit so weren't translating. As far as loka goes, I don't think the Sanskrit word loka is ever used to refer to just the Earth. Your second idea is more plausible though; rather than referring to our Sun, it could be referring to light in general. Or illuminate could mean "shine light upon" rather than "make bright". Or the verse may mean "everything in the Universe which is illuminated to us is illuminated by the Sun", rather than everything being illuminated full stop. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 13 '15 at 21:13
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Where did I say Earth? I said loka means 'world'. :) If you are referring to 'Since you know that the Sun illumines the Earth, and not the Universe' quote of mine, then my point there is that it may not refer to the whole Physical Universe as we refer to it and I did not mean to say that Sri Krishna is referring to the Earth. You have put the focus wrongly :) Will add clarification :) – Sai Feb 13 '15 at 21:16
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    @KeshavSrinivasan yes but loka can have the meaning of planet. So Sri Krishna could be saying that just as the Sun illumines the planet (which in our case is Earth), the Soul illumines the body (or something similar). I just gave all the possible meanings of the word 'world' in that sentence. – Sai Feb 13 '15 at 21:20
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    A better translation of the verse is "...as the one sun illumines the whole world...". Regardless, if there is no sun, the other stars in the universe are so distant that life on earth would cease to be. Brahma is said to dwell in the sun. One interpretation is that if there are other worlds with life, they have their own Brahmas. Our Brahmic cycle being tied to our sun. – Swami Vishwananda Feb 14 '15 at 10:08
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    @Sai The scriptures are not clear on this. There is room for several different interpretations. Remember it is all an explanation from within maya, the only absolute being Brahman. Some commentators say that Brahma is for this solar system; if that is so and if there are worlds with other life forms, then they would have their own Brahmas. Remember that Brahma is a title given to an individual jiva. Neither interpretation affects the truth of Brahman. Neither affects whether you attain Liberation. – Swami Vishwananda Feb 17 '15 at 14:13
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In our scriptures , there are three (Swarga-Martya-Patala) or Seven(bhur-bhubah-swar-maha-jana-tapah-satya) lokas. "Imam" means 'This'(Dvitiya bhibhakti, eka-vachana).

So Imam Lokam means 'to this earth'.

Sun really is the source of light to this prithvi-loka and So Sri Krushna as expected is absolutely correct.

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O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

what's wrong?

Sun alone Gives Light to earth, we know Moon doesn't have own light, it's also gift from sun and stars must be big, some others pole star etc.

But the light of star doesn't reach the earth! carefully Look at the sky New Moon Nights! & there are so many stars in the sky but earth in deep Darkness!! so, where are Light of those stars?

Only sunlight & moonlight reach earth.

So read carefully & think deeply, GITA Is hidden Treasure.

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  • Sun alone gives illuminates earth not to entire universe . So, do you see the wrong now? Read carefully & think deeply. – Sarvabhouma Jun 6 '17 at 15:58
  • @Narasimham What are you trying to say? Can you be more specific? – Sarvabhouma Jun 7 '17 at 16:48
  • @SreeCharan deleting my comments reg earlier review. – Narasimham Jun 8 '17 at 5:27

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