ज्ञेयं यत्तत्प्रवक्ष्यामि यज्ज्ञात्वामृतमश्नुते |
अनादिमत्परं ब्रह्म न सत्तन्नासदुच्यते ||१३-१३||


jñeyaṃ yattatpravakṣyāmi yajjñātvāmṛtamaśnute .
anādi matparaṃ brahma na sattannāsaducyate ||13-13||



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.

Shri Purohit Swami

13.13 I will speak to thee now of that great Truth which man ought to know, since by its means he will win immortal bliss - that which is without beginning, the Eternal Spirit which dwells in Me, neither with form, nor yet without it.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

13.13 See Comment under 13.18

Sri Ramanuja

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 self’s 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’.

Sri Shankaracharya

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 (matup’s) 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 one’s 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:

Swami Adidevananda

13.13 I shall declare that which is to be known, knowing which one attains the immortal self. It is beginningless brahman having Me for the Highest (Anadi matparam); it is said to be neither being nor-being.

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.

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.


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)