The Fundamental Nature and Characteristics of the Field of Action

The Gita does not try to recapitulate the detailed, extensive descriptions of the creation of the universe and the forces that are operative within it. These descriptions, set forth at great length in various Vedic and Upanishadic texts, are worthy of review in and of themselves, but the information they contain is not immediately pertinent to Sri Krishna’s teaching within the context of Arjuna’s crisis on the battlefield! Rather, the Gita provides a quick summary of the essential points in order to provide a basis for the active understanding required by Arjuna to implement the teaching.

Sri Aurobindo describes the Gita’s view of the constitution of the field of action, which is grounded in the Sankhya philosophical statement: “First there comes the indiscriminate unmanifest Energy; out of that has come the objective evolution of the five elemental states of matter; as also the subjective evolution of the senses, intelligence and ego; there are too five objects of the senses, or rather five different ways of sense cognizance of the world, powers evolved by the universal energy in order to deal with all the forms of things she has created from the five elemental states assumed by her original objective substance,–organic relations by which the ego endowed with intelligence and sense acts on the formations of the cosmos….”

The powers operative in the field of action are as follows: “…a general consciousness that first informs and then illumines the Energy in its works; there is a faculty of that consciousness by which the Energy holds together the relations of objects; there is too a continuity, a persistence of the subjective and objective relations of our consciousness with its objects….all these are common and universal powers at once of the mental, vital and physical Nature.”

The dualities arise as what are called “deformations” of the original Energy. “From the Vedantic point of view we may say that pleasure and pain are the vital or sensational deformations given by the lower energy to the spontaneous Ananda or delight of the spirit when brought into contact with her workings. And we may say from the same viewpoint that liking and disliking are the corresponding mental deformations given by her to the reactive Will of the spirit that determines its response to her contacts. These dualities are the positive and negative terms in which the ego-soul of the lower nature enjoys the universe.” The dualities, both positive and negative are limiting factors that restrict the free flow and enjoyment of that original Energy and are “…at the best insufficient and in character inferior to those of the true spiritual experience.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 13, The Field and Its Knower, pp. 398-399

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