यदविद्या च विद्या च पुरुषस्तूभयाश्रय: ॥ २१ ॥
yad avidyā ca vidyā ca
sṛtī — the destination of the living entities; vicakrame — exists comprehensively; viśvaṅ — the all-pervading Personality of Godhead; sāśana — activities of lording it over; anaśane — activities in devotional service; ubhe — both; yat — what is; avidyā — nescience; ca — as well as; vidyā — factual knowledge; ca — and; puruṣaḥ — the Supreme Person; tu — but; ubhaya — for both of them; āśrayaḥ — the master.
By His energies, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead is thus comprehensively the master in the activities of controlling and in devotional service. He is the ultimate master of both nescience and factual knowledge of all situations.
The word viśvaṅ is significant in this verse. One who travels perfectly in every field of activity is called the puruṣa or kṣetrajña. These two terms, kṣetrajña and puruṣa, are equally applicable to both the individual self and the Supreme Self, the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gītā (13.3) the matter is explained as follows:
yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama
Kṣetra means the place, and one who knows the place is called the kṣetrajña. The individual self knows about his limited field of activities, but the Supreme Self, the Lord, knows about the unlimited field of activities. The individual soul knows about his own thinking, feeling and willing activities, but the Supersoul, or the Paramātmā, the supreme controller, being present everywhere, knows everyone’s thinking, feeling and willing activities, and as such, the individual living entity is the minute master of his personal affairs whereas the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the master of everyone’s affairs, past, present and future (vedāhaṁ samatītāni, etc.). Only the ignorant person does not know this difference between the Lord and the living entities. The living entities, as distinguished from incognizant matter, may be qualitatively equal to the Lord in cognizance, but the living entity can never be equal to the Lord in full knowledge of past, present and future.
And because the living entity is partially cognizant, he is therefore sometimes forgetful of his own identity. This forgetfulness is specifically manifested in the field of the ekapād-vibhūti of the Lord, or in the material world, but in the tripād-vibhūti field of actions, or in the spiritual world, there is no forgetfulness by the living entities, who are free from all kinds of contaminations resulting from the forgetful state of existence. The material body is the symbol of the gross and subtle form of forgetfulness. Therefore the whole atmosphere of the material world is called avidyā, or nescience, whereas the whole atmosphere of the spiritual world is called vidyā, or full of knowledge. There are different stages of avidyā, and they are called dharma, artha and mokṣa. The idea of mokṣa, or liberation, held by the monist in the matter of oneness of the living entity and the Lord by ultimate merging in one, is also the last stage of materialism or forgetfulness. Knowledge of the qualitative oneness of the self and Superself is partial knowledge and ignorance also because there is no knowledge of quantitative difference, as explained above. The individual self can never be equal to the Lord in cognizance; otherwise he could not be placed in the state of forgetfulness. So, because there is a stage of forgetfulness of the individual selves, or the living entities, there is always a gulf of difference between the Lord and the living entity, as between the part and the whole. The part is never equal to the whole. So the conception of one-hundred-percent equality of the living being with the Lord is also nescience.
In the field of nescience, activities are directed toward lording it over the creation. In the material world, therefore, everyone is engaged in acquiring material opulence to lord it over the material world. Therefore there is always clash and frustration, which are the symptoms of nescience. But in the field of knowledge, there is devotional service to the Lord (bhakti). Therefore there is no chance of being contaminated by the influence of nescience or forgetfulness (avidyā) in the liberated stage of devotional activities. The Lord is thus the proprietor of the fields both of nescience and of cognition, and it remains the choice of the living entity to exist in either of the above regions.