Till the previous sloka we have seen that Lord Krishna explains that he is responsible for the moon and the sun to shine and how the earth is sustained through his power. He is present in all the life on earth, he nourishes the plants and he is present as the fire in the stomach of human beings. After explaining that he is the substratum of everything which exists on earth, he now explains how duality is being perceived in this world, even though he alone exists in the world. He explains the world consisting of two purushas.
15.16 – Dva imau purushau loke kshara akshara eva cha
Kshara sarvani bhutani kutastha akshara uchyathe
Meaning of words:
Dva Imau – these two groups
Purushau – persons , so called
Loke – in the world
Kshara – the mutable
Akshara – the immutable
Sarvani bhutani – all living beings
Kutashtha – the anvil
Uchyathe – called
Meaning of sloka
There are two purushas in the world, the kshara and the akshara .All living beings come under kshara purusha .The akshara purusha is like the anvil which creates all forms of iron, its nothing but pure conciousness.
The word purusha means that which exists in the town of the body. Puri means town or the body and purusha is one who stays in the town. So here lord Krishna is referring to the consciousness present in the jeeva. He says that there are kshara and akshara two groups or entities in the world. Kshara is one which is mutable ,that which undergoes changes. Akshara means that which is immutable, that which does not change. Another meaning of the word purusha at the macrocosm level is that which is full and perfect in everything.
Lord Krishna says that all living beings on the earth are mutable i.e kshara purusha . The jeeva can be considered as kshara. Jeeva undergoes various changes in life, both physical and mental changes. He said to undergo the 6 modifications, shad vikaras. As we have seen in the earlier sloka’s jeeva is the reflected consciousness being associated with the vasanas, the antah karana of mind, intellect ,memory and ego. Jeeva is the reflection of the original consciousness in the reflecting medium of intellect or buddhi. When the intellect changes , the deeds/thoughts/desires of the person would change. Thus jeeva is subjected to changes and hence is mutable.
Depending on the medium the reflection changes and depending upon number of mediums the reflections are many, hence many jeevas. The reflection in pure water is different from impure water. So based on the intellect the jeeva’s are different from one another.. Here there may be a question of how, many jeeva’s are illumined by one consciousness? Is it simultaneous process or not. Its answered thus --As the sun illumines both the eyes at the same time., so also all the jeeva’s in the world are illumined by the same Consciousness at the sametime.
The original consciousness is the immutable entity, akshara purusha according to Lord Krishna. As the anvil shapes the iron pieces, as the iron pieces are formed from the anvil but the anvil doesn’t undergo any change, so also jeeva is formed from Original consciousness or OC, which is immutable. As the sun shines and illumines the world and is not effected by the activities in the world, so also the OC is unaffected and is immutable. It bears the witness to the activities undertaken under its presence, like the sun bears the witness to the activities undertaken under its illumination. Just as the thread ties or holds all the beads in a necklace, so also the immutable OC which is saakshi bhoota (or witness) exists in all jeevas and illumines them.
This can be also interpreted in this way. There are two things in the world , the changing jeeva and the changeless Brahman. The changing things depend upon the changeless. All changing things need changeless substratum of Brahman. The jeeva changes takes various forms in various birth’s but the changless substratum of conciousness remains the same, which is carried over in various births. Hence for a person who identifies himself with the changless substratum of conciousness, he has no birth and death. Birth and death are only for the changing entity of body and antah karana. Such a person is realized. He always bears witness to the activities he does in this world and thus is ever established in brahman.