This doubt is from a shloka of Mahabharata. Is Kshetrajna same as Linga Sharira.?

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3 Answers 3


MBH. Shanti Parva Section 187. 22b-25a:

That Soul is the Creator Brahman who exists in all things. When the Soul becomes endued with vulgar attributes, it comes to be called Kshetrajna. When freed from those attributes, it comes to be called Paramatman or Supreme Soul. Know that Soul. He is inspired with universal benevolence. He resides in the body like a drop of water in a lotus. Know well that which is called Kshetrajna and which has universal benevolence. Darkness, Passion, and Goodness are the attributes of the living agent.

Well from the above verse only (which you also have given in your question as a picture), it's clear that Kshetrajna = Atman = Brahman. The only difference is that Kshetrajna is effected by prakriti gunas like sat, raj, tam and when it gets free from all these attributes it becomes Paramatma.

As given in the other answer nicely, B.G. 13.2 clearly states that our body is a field (Kshetra) and the atman is Kshetrajna, the knower of the field. And Brihadaranyaka upanishad 3.7.23 also states the same for atman. Ok That much is clear.

But, as mentioned above Kshetrajna is effected by Maya (Prakriti) but Paramatma is not.

Mundaka Upanishad.:

III-i-1: Two birds that are ever associated and have similar names, cling to the same tree. Of these, one eats the fruit of divergent tastes, and the other looks on without eating.

III-i-2: On the same tree, the individual soul (Jiiva) remains drowned (i.e. stuck), as it were; and so it moans, being worried by its impotence. When it sees thus the other, the adored Lord (Ishwara), and His glory, then it becomes liberated from sorrow.

Srimad Bhagwat Gita 13.23.:

Within the body also resides the Supreme Lord Maheśhvaraḥ. He is said to be the Witness, the Permitter, the Supporter, Transcendental Enjoyer, the ultimate Controller, and the Paramātmā (Supreme Soul).

Mundaka Upanishad.:

III-ii-9: Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed. In his line is not born anyone who does not know Brahman. He overcomes grief, and rises above aberrations; and becoming freed from the knots of the heart, he attains immortality.

So, in our body we have 2 atmas viz Paramatma (Supreme Soul) and Jivatma (Individual Soul). And when this Jivatma knows the Paramatma it becomes Paramatma itself. And plus, there is no difference between Jivatma and Paramatma except Jivatma is stuck in Maya and Paramatma is not.

Swetasvatara Upanishad 4:09.:

“The Lord of Maya (Māyin Maheshwara) projects the Vedas, sacrifices, spiritual practices, past and future, religious observances, all that the Vedas declare, and the whole world including ourselves. The lord of Maya, again, is bound by Maya in this [in the form of Jiva].”

Swetasvatara Upanishad 4:10.:

“Know then Prakriti (nature) is Mâyâ (art), and the Maheshwara the Mâyin (maker); the whole world is filled with what are his members (forms)”.

Svetaswatara Upanishad 1:09.:

“The Supreme Lord Maheshwara appears as Isvara, the omniscient and omnipotent and as the jiva, of limited knowledge and power, both unborn. But this does not deny the phenomenal universe; for there exists further the unborn prakriti, which creates the ideas of the enjoyer, enjoyment and the object. Atman is infinite and all-pervading and therefore devoid of agency. When the seeker knows all these three to be Brahman, he is freed from his fetters”.

Svetaswatara Upanishad 1:12.:

“The enjoyer (jiva), the objects of enjoyment (Maya/Prakriti) and the Ruler (Isvara)—the triad described by the knowers of Brahman—all this is nothing but Brahman. This Brahman alone, which abides eternally within the self, should be known. Beyond it, truly, there is nothing else to be known”.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..


Lord Krishna mentions this in Bhagavad Gita 13th chapter

śrī bhagavānuvāca

idaṅ śarīraṅ kauntēya kṣētramityabhidhīyatē. ētadyō vētti taṅ prāhuḥ kṣētrajña iti tadvidaḥ৷৷13.2৷৷

13.2 The Blessed Lord said - O son of Kunti, this body is referred to as the 'field' (Kshetra). Those who are versed in this call him who is conscious of it as the 'knower of the field' (Kshetrajna)

kṣētrajñaṅ cāpi māṅ viddhi sarvakṣētrēṣu bhārata. kṣētrakṣētrajñayōrjñānaṅ yattajjñānaṅ mataṅ mama৷৷13.3৷৷

13.3 And, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, under-stand Me to be the 'Knower of the field' (Kshetrajna) in all the fields (kshetras). In My opinion, that is Knowledge which is the knowlege of the field and the knower of the field.

Kshetra or field is the body.

Kshetra-jna is knower of the field.

The Lord Himself is the Kshetra-jna in all kshetra-s.

Now, the Lord also mentions this in the 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita -

ahamātmā guḍākēśa sarvabhūtāśayasthitaḥ. ahamādiśca madhyaṅ ca bhūtānāmanta ēva ca৷৷10.20৷৷

10.20 O Gudakesa (Arjuna), I am the Self (Atman) residing in the hearts of all beings, and I am the beginning and the middle as also the end of (all) beings.

The Lord Himself is the Atman.

The Atman/brahman itself is the knower, as also mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka upanishad 3.7.23

...nānyo'to'sti draṣṭā, nānyo'to'sti śrotā, nānyo'to'sti mantā, nānyo'to'sti vijñāta, eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmyamṛtaḥ...

...There is no other witness but Him, no other hearer but Him, no other thinker but Him, no other knower but Him. He is the Internal Ruler, your own immortal self (Atman)....

Thus, Kshetra-jna and Atman are both essentially the same. The word Kshetra-jna is used in relation with the body, as the knower. The word Atman is used to denote the Self. These are just different aspects of the same entity.

  • But Ego can also be knower or witness of body Apr 14 at 18:13
  • The antahkarana or internal organ just reflects the consciousness of the brahman, leading to individual consciousness. The real sAkshi or witness is brahman. @SophieClad
    – estimator
    Apr 14 at 18:32

There is only One consciousness which underlies the world of both animate and inanimate. It is the same consciousness within the multiplicity of different forms . This is the idea.To draw an analogy for the purpose of clarification, It is the same electricity that empowers different gadgets ,lest the gadgets should be insentient without expression/manifestation.Neverthless the change(expression,degrees of manifestation) is vested with the gadget , not in changeless electricity.

The classical illustration of red flower super imposing it's property of redness to the clear crystal due to proximity , explains linga sharira (body mind sense complex) to be a mere limiting factor, that is to say ,redness is an apparent appearance .so must not be mistaken that it is imbued in the crystal.

In another classical analogy Ayah-pindavat (Atma bodha, Drg Drsya ) ,a mutual superimposition (anyonya adhyasa),where the shapeless fire takes the shape of iron ball , and the non-hot iron ball takes the heat of the fire, creating the apparent appearance of sentiency propogating it to the sharira.

Kshetrajna is the light of awareness, the knower of all objects .The witness is not the individual embodied mind but the cosmic consciousness for which the whole cosmos is the object. It is calm eternal and does not need the use of senses and mind for its witnessing. Kshetrajna is the supreme Lord and not an object in the world He is in all fields(kshetra) differentiated by limiting conditions from Brahma to tuft of grass, though He Himself is devoid of all limitations and incapable of definition by categories Kshetrajna cannot be recognised as an object among other objects or as a substance.He can only be recognised as a subject in which is hidden the secret of existence, a complete universe in an individual form . He is not therefore a part of the world or of any other whole. As a subject He enters into infinity and infinity enters into him.

Dr S Radhakrishnan

the Atman — is by Its own nature pure. It is the same, the one Existence of the universe that is reflecting Itself from the lowest worm to the highest and most perfect being. The whole of this universe is one Unity, one Existence,

That which all ignorant people see as the universe does not really exist. What are you and I and all these things we see? Mere self-hypnotism; there is but one Existence, the Infinite, the Ever-blessed One. In that Existence we dream all these various dreams. It is the Atman, beyond all, the Infinite, beyond the known, beyond the knowable; in and through That we see the universe. It is the only Reality. It is this table; It is the audience before me; It is the wall; It is everything, minus the name and form. Take away the form of the table, take away the name; what remains is It.

Truth never dreams. The very question as to whence this illusion arose is absurd. Illusion arises from illusion alone. There will be no illusion as soon as the truth is seen. Illusion always rests upon illusion; it never rests upon the Truth, the Atman. You are never in illusion; it is illusion that is in you, before you

Swami Vivekananda

PS - If seen through the lens of Advaita vedanta

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