Śrīmad Bhāgavatam|Canto 11 Chapter 10
The Nature of Fruitive Activity
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; mayā — by Me; uditeṣu — spoken; avahitaḥ — with great care; sva-dharmeṣu — in the duties of devotional service to the Lord; mat-āśrayaḥ — one who accepts Me as shelter; varṇa-āśrama — the Vedic system of social and occupational divisions; kula — of the society; ācāram — conduct; akāma — devoid of material desires; ātmā — such a person; samācaret — should practice.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Taking full shelter in Me, with the mind carefully fixed in the devotional service of the Lord as spoken by Me, one should live without personal desire and practice the social and occupational system called varṇāśrama.
anvīkṣeta — one should see; viśuddha — purified; ātmā — soul; dehinām — of the embodied beings; viṣaya-ātmanām — of those who are dedicated to sense gratification; guṇeṣu — in the material objects of pleasure; tattva — as truth; dhyānena — by conceiving; sarva — of all; ārambha — endeavors; viparyayam — the inevitable failure.
A purified soul should see that because the conditioned souls who are dedicated to sense gratification have falsely accepted the objects of sense pleasure as truth, all of their endeavors are doomed to failure.
dhyāyato vā manorathaḥ
tathā bhedātma-dhīr guṇaiḥ
suptasya — of one who is sleeping; viṣaya — sense gratification; ālokaḥ — seeing; dhyāyataḥ — of one who is meditating; vā — or; manaḥ-rathaḥ — merely a creation of the mind; nānā — a large variety; ātmakatvāt — due to having the nature of; viphalaḥ — bereft of the real perfection; tathā — in that way; bheda-ātma — in that which is separately constituted; dhīḥ — intelligence; guṇaiḥ — by the material senses.
One who is sleeping may see many objects of sense gratification in a dream, but such pleasurable things are merely creations of the mind and are thus ultimately useless. Similarly, the living entity who is asleep to his spiritual identity also sees many sense objects, but these innumerable objects of temporary gratification are creations of the Lord’s illusory potency and have no permanent existence. One who meditates upon them, impelled by the senses, uselessly engages his intelligence.
nivṛttaṁ karma seveta
pravṛttaṁ mat-paras tyajet
nivṛttam — regulative duties; karma — such work; seveta — one should perform; pravṛttam — activities for sense gratification; mat-paraḥ — one who is dedicated to Me; tyajet — should give up; jijñāsāyām — in searching for spiritual truth; sampravṛttaḥ — being perfectly engaged; na — not; ādriyet — one should accept; karma — any material activity; codanām — injunctions governing.
One who has fixed Me within his mind as the goal of life should give up activities based on sense gratification and should instead execute work governed by the regulative principles for advancement. When, however, one is fully engaged in searching out the ultimate truth of the soul, one should not accept the scriptural injunctions governing fruitive activities.
yamān abhīkṣṇaṁ seveta
niyamān mat-paraḥ kvacit
mad-abhijñaṁ guruṁ śāntam
yamān — major regulative principles, such as not to kill; abhīkṣṇam — always; seveta — one should observe; niyamān — minor regulations, such as cleansing the body; mat-paraḥ — one who is devoted to Me; kvacit — as far as possible; mat-abhijñam — one who knows Me as I am in My personal form; gurum — the spiritual master; śāntam — peaceful; upāsīta — one should serve; mat-ātmakam — who is not different from Me.
One who has accepted Me as the supreme goal of life should strictly observe the scriptural injunctions forbidding sinful activities and, as far as possible, should execute the injunctions prescribing minor regulative duties such as cleanliness. Ultimately, however, one should approach a bona fide spiritual master who is full in knowledge of Me as I am, who is peaceful, and who by spiritual elevation is not different from Me.
amāny amatsaro dakṣo
amānī — without false ego; amatsaraḥ — not considering oneself to be the doer; dakṣaḥ — without laziness; nirmamaḥ — without any sense of proprietorship over one’s wife, children, home, society, etc; dṛḍha-sauhṛdaḥ — being fixed in the mood of loving friendship with the spiritual master, who is one’s worshipable deity; asatvaraḥ — without becoming bewildered due to material passion; artha-jijñāsuḥ — desiring knowledge of the Absolute Truth; anasūyuḥ — free from envy; amogha-vāk — completely free from useless conversation.
The servant or disciple of the spiritual master should be free from false prestige, never considering himself to be the doer. He should be active and never lazy and should give up all sense of proprietorship over the objects of the senses, including his wife, children, home and society. He should be endowed with feelings of loving friendship toward the spiritual master and should never become deviated or bewildered. The servant or disciple should always desire advancement in spiritual understanding, should not envy anyone and should always avoid useless conversation.
udāsīnaḥ samaṁ paśyan
sarveṣv artham ivātmanaḥ
jāyā — to wife; apatya — children; gṛha — home; kṣetra — land; svajana — relatives and friends; draviṇa — bank account; ādiṣu — and so on; udāsīnaḥ — remaining indifferent; samam — equally; paśyan — seeing; sarveṣu — in all of these; artham — purpose; iva — like; ātmanaḥ — of oneself.
One should see one’s real self-interest in life in all circumstances and should therefore remain detached from wife, children, home, land, relatives, friends, wealth and so on.
dehād ātmekṣitā sva-dṛk
yathāgnir dāruṇo dāhyād
dāhako ’nyaḥ prakāśakaḥ
vilakṣaṇaḥ — having different characteristics; sthūla — from the gross; sūkṣmāt — and the subtle; dehāt — from the body; ātmā — the spirit soul; īkṣitā — the seer; sva-dṛk — self-enlightened; yathā — just as; agniḥ — fire; dāruṇaḥ — from firewood; dāhyāt — from that which is to be burned; dāhakaḥ — that which burns; anyaḥ — other; prakāśakaḥ — that which illuminates.
Just as fire, which burns and illuminates, is different from firewood, which is to be burned to give illumination, similarly the seer within the body, the self-enlightened spirit soul, is different from the material body, which is to be illuminated by consciousness. Thus the spirit soul and the body possess different characteristics and are separate entities.
nānātvaṁ tat-kṛtān guṇān
antaḥ praviṣṭa ādhatta
evaṁ deha-guṇān paraḥ
nirodha — dormancy; utpatti — manifestation; aṇu — tiny; bṛhat — large; nānātvam — the variety of characteristics; tat-kṛtān — produced by that; guṇān — qualities; antaḥ — within; praviṣṭaḥ — having entered; ādhatte — accepts; evam — thus; deha — of the material body; guṇān — qualities; paraḥ — the transcendental entity.
Just as fire may appear differently as dormant, manifest, weak, brilliant and so on, according to the condition of the fuel, similarly, the spirit soul enters a material body and accepts particular bodily characteristics.
yo ’sau guṇair viracito
deho ’yaṁ puruṣasya hi
saṁsāras tan-nibandho ’yaṁ
puṁso vidyā cchid ātmanaḥ
yaḥ — which; asau — that(subtle body); guṇaiḥ — by the material modes; viracitaḥ — constructed; dehaḥ — the body; ayam — this (gross body); puruṣasya — of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; hi — certainly; saṁsāraḥ — material existence; tat-nibandhaḥ — tied to that; ayam — this; puṁsaḥ — of the living entity; vidyā — knowledge; chit — that which cuts apart; ātmanaḥ — of the soul.
The subtle and gross material bodies are created by the material modes of nature, which expand from the potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Material existence occurs when the living entity falsely accepts the qualities of the gross and subtle bodies as being his own factual nature. This illusory state, however, can be destroyed by real knowledge.
ātma-sthaṁ kevalaṁ param
saṅgamya nirased etad
tasmāt — therefore; jijñāsayā — by the cultivation of knowledge; ātmānam — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; ātma — within oneself; stham — situated; kevalam — pure; param — transcendental and supreme; saṅgamya — approaching by realized knowledge; niraset — one should give up; etat — this; vastu — within material objects; buddhim — concept of reality; yathā-kramam — gradually, step by step.
Therefore, by the cultivation of knowledge one should approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead situated within oneself. By understanding the Lord’s pure, transcendental existence, one should gradually give up the false vision of the material world as independent reality.
ācāryo ’raṇir ādyaḥ syād
ācāryaḥ — the spiritual master; araṇiḥ — sacred kindling wood used in the sacrificial fire; ādyaḥ — held beneath; syāt — is to be considered; ante-vāsī — the disciple; uttara — at the top; araṇiḥ — kindling wood; tat-sandhānam — the stick in the middle, which connects the upper and lower wood; pravacanam — instructions; vidyā — transcendental knowledge; sandhiḥ — like the fire, arising from the friction, that spreads throughout the firewood; sukha — happiness; āvahaḥ — bringing.
The spiritual master can be compared to the lower kindling stick, the disciple to the upper kindling stick, and the instruction given by the guru to the third stick placed in between. The transcendental knowledge communicated from guru to disciple is compared to the fire arising from the contact of these, which burns the darkness of ignorance to ashes, bringing great happiness both to guru and disciple.
dhunoti māyāṁ guṇa-samprasūtām
gunāṁś ca sandahya yad-ātmam etat
svayaṁ ca śāṁyaty asamid yathāgniḥ
vaiśāradī — available from the expert; sā — this; ati-viśuddha — most pure; buddhiḥ — intelligence or knowledge; dhunoti — repels; māyām — illusion; guṇa — from the modes of material nature; samprasūtām — produced; guṇān — the modes of nature themselves; ca — also; sandahya — completely burning up; yat — from which modes; ātmam — constituted; etat — this (material existence); svayam — itself; ca — also; śāṁyati — is pacified; asamit — without fuel; yathā — just as; agniḥ — fire.
By submissively hearing from an expert spiritual master, the expert disciple develops pure knowledge, which repels the onslaught of material illusion arising from the three modes of material nature. Finally this pure knowledge itself ceases, just as fire ceases when the stock of fuel has been consumed.
nānātvam atha nityatvaṁ
saṁsthā hy autpattikī yathā
jāyate bhidyate ca dhīḥ
evam apy aṅga sarveṣāṁ
bhāvā janmādayo ’sakṛt
atha — thus; eṣām — of those; karma — fruitive activities; kartṝṇām — of the performers; bhoktṝṇām — of the enjoyers; sukha-duḥkhayoḥ — of happiness and distress; nānātvam — variegatedness; atha — moreover; nityatvam — perpetual existence; loka — of the materialistic world; kāla — material time; āgama — Vedic literatures recommending fruitive activities; ātmanām — and the self; manyase — if you think; sarva — of all; bhāvānām — material objects; saṁsthā — the actual situation; hi — certainly; autpattikī — original; yathā — as; tat-tat — of all different objects; ākṛti — of their forms; bhedena — by the difference; jāyate — is born; bhidyate — and changes; ca — also; dhīḥ — intelligence or knowledge; evam — thus; api — even though; aṅga — O Uddhava; sarveṣām — of all; dehinām — embodied beings; deha-yogataḥ — by contact with a material body; kāla — of time; avayavataḥ — by the portions or limbs; santi — there are; bhāvāḥ — states of existence; janma — birth; ādayaḥ — and so on; asakṛt — constantly.
My dear Uddhava, I have thus explained to you perfect knowledge. There are philosophers, however, who challenge My conclusion. They state that the natural position of the living entity is to engage in fruitive activities, and they see him as the enjoyer of the happiness and unhappiness that accrue from his own work. According to this materialistic philosophy, the world, time, the revealed scriptures and the self are all variegated and eternal, existing as a perpetual flow of transformations. Knowledge, moreover, cannot be one or eternal, because it arises from the different and changing forms of objects; thus knowledge itself is always subject to change. Even if you accept such a philosophy, My dear Uddhava, there will still be perpetual birth, death, old age and disease, since all living entities must accept a material body subject to the influence of time.
tatrāpi karmaṇāṁ kartur
asvātantryaṁ ca lakṣyate
bhoktuś ca duḥkha-sukhayoḥ
ko nv artho vivaśaṁ bhajet
tatra — in the matter of one’s ability to obtain happiness; api — furthermore; karmaṇām — of fruitive activities; kartuḥ — of the performer; asvātantryam — the lack of independence; ca — also; lakṣyate — is clearly seen; bhoktuḥ — of the one who is trying to enjoy; ca — also; duḥkha-sukhayoḥ — happiness and unhappiness; kaḥ — what; nu — indeed; arthaḥ — value; vivaśam — for one who is not in control; bhajet — can be derived.
Although the performer of fruitive activities desires perpetual happiness, it is clearly observed that materialistic workers are often unhappy and only occasionally satisfied, thus proving that they are not independent or in control of their destiny. When a person is always under the superior control of another, how can he expect any valuable results from his own fruitive actions?
na dehināṁ sukhaṁ kiñcid
vidyate viduṣām api
tathā ca duḥkhaṁ mūḍhānāṁ
na — not; dehinām — of embodied beings; sukham — happiness; kiñcit — some; vidyate — there is; viduṣām — of those who are intelligent; api — even; tathā — similarly; ca — also; duḥkham — unhappiness; mūḍhānām — of the big fools; vṛthā — useless; ahaṅkaraṇam — false ego; param — only, or completely.
It is observed within the material world that sometimes even an intelligent person is not happy. Similarly, sometimes even a great fool is happy. The concept of becoming happy through expertly performing material activities is simply a useless exhibition of false egotism.
yadi prāptiṁ vighātaṁ ca
te ’py addhā na vidur yogaṁ
mṛtyur na prabhaved yathā
yadi — if; prāptim — achievement; vighātam — removal; ca — also; jānanti — they know; sukha — of happiness; duḥkhayoḥ — and of distress; te — they; api — still; addhā — directly; na — not; viduḥ — do know; yogam — the process; mṛtyuḥ — death; na — not; prabhavet — would exert its power; yathā — by which.
Even if people know how to achieve happiness and avoid unhappiness, they still do not know the process by which death will not be able to exert its power over them.
ko ’nv arthaḥ sukhayaty enaṁ
kāmo vā mṛtyur antike
vadhyasyeva na tuṣṭi-daḥ
kaḥ — what; nu — certainly; arthaḥ — material object; sukhayati — gives happiness; enam — to a person; kāmaḥ — sense gratification derived from material things; vā — or; mṛtyuḥ — death; antike — standing nearby; āghātam — to the place of execution; nīyamānasya — of one who is being led; vadhyasya — of one who is to be killed; iva — like; na — not at all; tuṣṭi-daḥ — gives satisfaction.
Death is not at all pleasing, and since everyone is exactly like a condemned man being led to the place of execution, what possible happiness can people derive from material objects or the gratification they provide?
śrutaṁ ca dṛṣṭa-vad duṣṭaṁ
kṛṣi-vac cāpi niṣphalam
śrutam — material happiness which is heard of; ca — also; dṛṣṭa-vat — just like that which we have already seen; duṣṭam — is contaminated; spardhā — by jealousy; asūyā — by envy; atyaya — by death; vyayaiḥ — and by decay; bahu — many; antarāya — obstacles; kāmatvāt — because of accepting happiness with such characteristics; kṛṣi-vat — like agriculture; ca — also; api — even; niṣphalam — fruitless.
That material happiness of which we hear, such as promotion to heavenly planets for celestial enjoyment, is just like that material happiness we have already experienced. Both are polluted by jealousy, envy, decay and death. Therefore, just as an attempt to raise crops becomes fruitless if there are many problems like crop disease, insect plague or drought, similarly, the attempt to attain material happiness, either on earth or on the heavenly planets, is always fruitless because of innumerable obstacles.
yadi dharmaḥ sv-anuṣṭhitaḥ
tenāpi nirjitaṁ sthānaṁ
yathā gacchati tac chṛṇu
antarāyaiḥ — by obstacles and discrepancies; avihitaḥ — not affected; yadi — if; dharmaḥ — one’s execution of regulated duties according to Vedic injunctions; sv-anuṣṭhitaḥ — excellently performed; tena — by that; api — even; nirjitam — accomplished; sthānam — status; yathā — the manner in which; gacchati — it perishes; tat — that; śṛṇu — please hear.
If one performs Vedic sacrifices and fruitive rituals without any mistake or contamination, one will achieve a heavenly situation in the next life. But even this result, which is only achieved by perfect performance of fruitive rituals, will be vanquished by time. Now hear of this.
iṣṭveha devatā yajñaiḥ
svar-lokaṁ yāti yājñikaḥ
bhuñjīta deva-vat tatra
bhogān divyān nijārjitān
iṣṭvā — having worshiped; iha — in this world; devatāḥ — the demigods; yajñaiḥ — with sacrifices; svaḥ-lokam — to the heavenly planets; yāti — goes; yājñikaḥ — the performer of sacrifice; bhuñjīta — he may enjoy; deva-vat — like a god; tatra — therein; bhogān — pleasures; divyān — celestial; nija — by himself; arjitān — achieved.
If on earth one performs sacrifices for the satisfaction of the demigods, he goes to the heavenly planets, where, just like a demigod, he enjoys all of the heavenly pleasures he has earned by his performances.
gandharvair viharan madhye
sva — his own; puṇya — by the pious activities; upacite — accumulated; śubhre — shining; vimāne — in an airplane; upagīyate — is glorified by songs; gandharvaiḥ — by the heavenly Gandharvas; viharan — enjoying life; madhye — in the middle; devīnām — of heavenly goddesses; hṛdya — charming; veṣa — clothes; dhṛk — wearing.
Having achieved the heavenly planets, the performer of ritualistic sacrifices travels in a glowing airplane, which he obtains as the result of his piety on earth. Being glorified by songs sung by the Gandharvas and dressed in wonderfully charming clothes, he enjoys life surrounded by heavenly goddesses.
krīḍan na vedātma-pātaṁ
strībhiḥ — with heavenly women; kāma-ga — going wherever one desires; yānena — with such an airplane; kiṅkiṇī-jāla-mālinā — decorated with circles of bells; krīḍan — having a good time; na — not; veda — does consider; ātma — his own; pātam — falldown; sura — of the demigods; ākrīḍeṣu — in the pleasure gardens; nirvṛtaḥ — being comfortable, relaxed and happy.
Accompanied by heavenly women, the enjoyer of the fruits of sacrifice goes on pleasure rides in a wonderful airplane, which is decorated with circles of tinkling bells and which flies wherever he desires. Being relaxed, comfortable and happy in the heavenly pleasure gardens, he does not consider that he is exhausting the fruits of his piety and will soon fall down to the mortal world.
tāvat sa modate svarge
yāvat puṇyaṁ samāpyate
kṣīṇa-puṇyaḥ pataty arvāg
tāvat — that long; saḥ — he; modate — enjoys life; svarge — in the heavenly planets; yāvat — until; puṇyam — his pious results; samāpyate — are used up; kṣīṇa — exhausted; puṇyaḥ — his piety; patati — he falls; arvāk — down from heaven; anicchan — not desiring to fall; kāla — by time; cālitaḥ — pushed down.
Until his pious results are used up, the performer of sacrifice enjoys life in the heavenly planets. When the pious results are exhausted, however, he falls down from the pleasure gardens of heaven, being moved against his desire by the force of eternal time.
yady adharma-rataḥ saṅgād
kāmātmā kṛpaṇo lubdhaḥ
narakān avaśo jantur
gatvā yāty ulbaṇaṁ tamaḥ
kurvan dehena taiḥ punaḥ
deham ābhajate tatra
kiṁ sukhaṁ martya-dharmiṇaḥ
yadi — if; adharma — in irreligion; rataḥ — he is engaged; saṅgāt — due to association; asatām — of materialistic people; vā — or; ajita — due to not conquering; indriyaḥ — the senses; kāma — material lusty desires; ātmā — living for; kṛpaṇaḥ — miserly; lubdhaḥ — greedy; straiṇaḥ — a woman-hunter; bhūta — against other living beings; vihiṁsakaḥ — committing violence; paśūn — animals; avidhinā — without the authority of Vedic injunctions; ālabhya — killing; preta-bhūta — ghosts and spirits; gaṇān — the groups of; yajan — worshiping; narakān — to hells; avaśaḥ — helplessly, being under the control of fruitive activities; jantuḥ — a living being; gatvā — having gone; yāti — approaches; ulbaṇam — extreme; tamaḥ — darkness; karmāṇi — activities; duḥkha — great unhappiness; udarkāṇi — bringing in the future; kurvan — performing; dehena — with such a body; taiḥ — by such activities; punaḥ — again; deham — a material body; ābhajate — accepts; tatra — therein; kim — what; sukham — happiness; martya — always leading to death; dharmiṇaḥ — of one sworn to activities.
If a human being is engaged in sinful, irreligious activities, either because of bad association or because of his failure to control his senses, then such a person will certainly develop a personality full of material desires. He thus becomes miserly toward others, greedy and always anxious to exploit the bodies of women. When the mind is so polluted one becomes violent and aggressive and without the authority of Vedic injunctions slaughters innocent animals for sense gratification. Worshiping ghosts and spirits, the bewildered person falls fully into the grip of unauthorized activities and thus goes to hell, where he receives a material body infected by the darkest modes of nature. In such a degraded body, he unfortunately continues to perform inauspicious activities that greatly increase his future unhappiness, and therefore he again accepts a similar material body. What possible happiness can there be for one who engages in activities inevitably terminating in death?
mad bhayaṁ kalpa-jīvinām
brahmaṇo ’pi bhayaṁ matto
lokānām — in all the planetary systems; loka-pālānām — and for all the planetary leaders, such as the demigods; mat — of Me; bhayam — there is fear; kalpa-jīvinām — for those who live for a kalpa, or a day of Brahmā; brahmaṇaḥ — of Lord Brahmā; api — even; bhayam — there is fear; mattaḥ — from Me; dvi-parārdha — two parārdhas, totalling 311,040,000,000,000 years; para — supreme; āyuṣaḥ — whose duration of life.
In all the planetary systems, from the heavenly to the hellish, and for all of the great demigods who live for one thousand yuga cycles, there is fear of Me in My form of time. Even Brahmā, who possesses the supreme life span of 311,040,000,000,000 years, is also afraid of Me.
guṇāḥ sṛjanti karmāṇi
guṇo ’nusṛjate guṇān
jīvas tu guṇa-saṁyukto
bhuṅkte karma-phalāny asau
guṇāḥ — the material senses; sṛjanti — create; karmāṇi — pious and impious material activities; guṇaḥ — the three modes of nature; anusṛjate — set into motion; guṇān — the material senses; jīvaḥ — the minute living entity; tu — indeed; guṇa — the material senses or the material modes of nature; saṁyuktaḥ — fully engaged in; bhuṅkte — experiences; karma — of activities; phalāni — the various results; asau — the spirit soul.
The material senses create material activities, either pious or sinful, and the modes of nature set the material senses into motion. The living entity, being fully engaged by the material senses and modes of nature, experiences the various results of fruitive work.
yāvat syād guṇa-vaiṣamyaṁ
tāvan nānātvam ātmanaḥ
nānātvam ātmano yāvat
pāratantryaṁ tadaiva hi
yāvat — as long as; syāt — there is; guṇa — of the modes of material nature; vaiṣamyam — separate existences; tāvat — then there will be; nānātvam — different states of existence; ātmanaḥ — of the soul; nānātvam — different states of existence; ātmanaḥ — of the soul; yāvat — as long as there are; pāratantryam — dependence; tadā — then there will be; eva — certainly; hi — indeed.
As long as the living entity thinks that the modes of material nature have separate existences, he will be obliged to take birth in many different forms and will experience varieties of material existence. Therefore, the living entity remains completely dependent on fruitive activities under the modes of nature.
tāvad īśvarato bhayam
ya etat samupāsīraṁs
te muhyanti śucārpitāḥ
yāvat — as long as; asya — of the living being; asvatantratvam — there is no freedom from dependence on the modes of nature; tāvat — then there will be; īśvarataḥ — from the supreme controller; bhayam — fear; ye — those who; etat — to this material concept of life; samupāsīran — devote themselves; te — they; muhyanti — are bewildered; śucā — in lamentation; arpitāḥ — always absorbed.
The conditioned soul who remains dependent on fruitive activities under the material modes of nature will continue to fear Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, since I impose the results of one’s fruitive activities. Those who accept the material concept of life, taking the variegatedness of the modes of nature to be factual, devote themselves to material enjoyment and are therefore always absorbed in lamentation and grief.
kāla ātmāgamo lokaḥ
svabhāvo dharma eva ca
iti māṁ bahudhā prāhur
kālaḥ — time; ātmā — the self; āgamaḥ — Vedic knowledge; lokaḥ — the universe; svabhāvaḥ — different natures of different living entities; dharmaḥ — religious principles; eva — certainly; ca — also; iti — thus; mām — Me; bahudhā — in many ways; prāhuḥ — they call; guṇa — of the modes of nature; vyatikare — agitation; sati — when there is.
When there is agitation and interaction of the material modes of nature, the living entities then describe Me in various ways such as all-powerful time, the Self, Vedic knowledge, the universe, one’s own nature, religious ceremonies and so on.
guṇeṣu vartamāno ’pi
guṇair na badhyate dehī
badhyate vā kathaṁ vibho
śrī-uddhavaḥ uvāca — Śrī Uddhava said; guṇeṣu — in the modes of material nature; vartamānaḥ — being situated; api — although; deha — from the material body; jeṣu — born; anapāvṛtaḥ — being uncovered; guṇaiḥ — by the modes of nature; na — not; badhyate — is bound; dehī — the living entity within the material body; badhyate — is bound; vā — or; katham — how does it happen; vibho — O my Lord.
Śrī Uddhava said: O my Lord, a living entity situated within the material body is surrounded by the modes of nature and the happiness and distress that are born of activities caused by these modes. How is it possible that he is not bound by this material encirclement? It may also be said that the living entity is ultimately transcendental and has nothing to do with the material world. Then how is he ever bound by material nature?
kathaṁ varteta viharet
kair vā jñāyeta lakṣaṇaiḥ
kiṁ bhuñjītota visṛjec
chayītāsīta yāti vā
etad acyuta me brūhi
praśnaṁ praśna-vidāṁ vara
eka eveti me bhramaḥ
katham — in what way; varteta — he is situated; viharet — he enjoys; kaiḥ — by which; vā — or; jñāyeta — would be known; lakṣaṇaiḥ — by symptoms; kim — what; bhuñjīta — he would eat; uta — and; visṛjet — would evacuate; śayīta — would lie down; āsīta — would sit; yāti — goes; vā — or; etat — this; acyuta — O Acyuta; me — to me; brūhi — explain; praśnam — the question; praśna-vidām — of all those who know how to answer questions; vara — O the best; nitya-baddhaḥ — eternally conditioned; nitya-muktaḥ — eternally liberated; ekaḥ — singular; eva — certainly; iti — thus; me — my; bhramaḥ — confusion.
O my Lord, Acyuta, the same living entity is sometimes described as eternally conditioned and at other times as eternally liberated. I am not able to understand, therefore, the actual situation of the living entity. You, my Lord, are the best of those who are expert in answering philosophical questions. Please explain to me the symptoms by which one can tell the difference between a living entity who is eternally liberated and one who is eternally conditioned. In what various ways would they remain situated, enjoy life, eat, evacuate, lie down, sit or move about?