apareyamitastvanyaam prakritim viddhi me paraam |
jeevabhootam mahaabaaho yayedam dhaaryate jagat || 5 ||

But, know this lower (nature as) different than my life-giving higher nature, O mighty-armed, by which this universe is upheld.
aparaa : lower
iyam : this
itaha : than
tu : but
anyaam : different
prakritim : nature
viddhi : know
me : my
paraam : higher
jeevabhootam : life-giving
mahaabaaho : O mighty-armed
yayaa : by which
idam : this
dhaaryate : upheld
jagat : universe
In the previous shloka, Shri Krishna described his nature that was made up of 8 factors: 5 physical elements and 3 subtle elements. Now, he says that those 8 factors comprise the lower, or inferior, type of nature. It is different than the higher or superior nature, that is the life force of the universe. It functions as a force that holds the universe together.
A house is built out of bricks, wood, iron rods and so on. But the building blocks by themselves do not make a house. There has to be an integrating or unifying principle in the form of cement that holds the house together. Shri Krishna says that his higher nature is the cohesive force that upholds the universe. By using the word “jeeva-bhootam”, he is saying that he becomes the universal jeeva or being that makes the universe as a single entity rather than a disjointed chaotic mess.
Furthermore, it is this higher nature that becomes the experiencer of the entire universe as a subject. What does the word “subject” mean? Whenever we see something, two things are required: the subject (one who sees) and the object (that which is seen by the subject). If I see a sofa, then I am the subject, and the sofa is the object. The sofa can never become the subject because it is an inert object. Only conscious entities can become subjects. There is a spark in us, a conscious principle, that enables us to see, hear, touch, taste and smell, in other words, to become a subject.
Throughout our life, we seek knowledge about the world though several sources. But those studies only cover the world of objects, which is indicated here by the term “lower nature”. Only spirituality provides us knowledge about the subject, which is nothing but our own self.
So then, why are we talking about subject and object here? It is because Shri Krishna’s lower nature creates the world of objects, and his higher nature creates the world of subjects. When the universe originated, it split, as it were, into two aspects: the lower and the higher nature. The lower nature or prakriti is what we generally describe as the universe that we can see with our eyes and with our telescopes, in both its visible and invisible aspects.
That was the lower nature. The higher nature further split itself into subsets. Each subset became a jeeva, which is the conscious principle operating within each of us. That jeeva principle within us makes us a subject, an experiencer.
Therefore, with these two shlokas, Shri Krishna has covered everything in the world – subject and object, inert and conscious, experiencer and experienced, building blocks and unifying force. But what is common between them? This is taken up next.