Śrīmad Bhāgavatam|Canto 11 Chapter 22
Enumeration of the Elements of Material Creation
kati tattvāni viśveśa
saṅkhyātāny ṛṣibhiḥ prabho
navaikādaśa pañca trīṇy
āttha tvam iha śuśruma
kecit ṣaḍ-viṁśatiṁ prāhur
saptaike nava ṣaṭ kecic
kecit saptadaśa prāhuḥ
etāvattvaṁ hi saṅkhyānām
gāyanti pṛthag āyuṣmann
idaṁ no vaktum arhasi
śrī-uddhavaḥ uvāca — Śrī Uddhava said; kati — how many; tattvāni — basic elements of creation; viśva-īśa — O Lord of the universe; saṅkhyātāni — have been enumerated; ṛṣibhiḥ — by great authorities; prabho — O my master; nava — nine (God, the individual soul, the mahat-tattva, false ego and the five gross elements); ekādaśa — plus eleven (the ten knowledge-acquiring and working senses together with the mind); pañca — plus five (the subtle forms of the sense objects); trīṇi — plus three (the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, making altogether a total of twenty-eight); āttha — have stated; tvam — You; iha — during Your appearance in this world; śuśruma — so I have heard; kecit — some; ṣaṭ-viṁśatim — twenty-six; prāhuḥ — they say; apare — others; pañca-viṁśatim — twenty-five; sapta — seven; eke — some; nava — nine; ṣaṭ — six; kecit — some; catvāri — four; ekādaśa — eleven; apare — still others; kecit — some; saptadaśa — seventeen; prāhuḥ — say; ṣoḍaśa — sixteen; eke — some; trayodaśa — thirteen; etāvattvam — such calculations; hi — indeed; saṅkhyānām — of the different ways of counting the elements; ṛṣayaḥ — the sages; yat-vivakṣayā — with the intention of expressing what ideas; gāyanti — they have declared; pṛthak — in various manners; āyuḥ-man — O supreme eternal; idam — this; naḥ — to us; vaktum — to explain; arhasi — You should please.
Uddhava inquired: My dear Lord, O master of the universe, how many different elements of creation have been enumerated by the great sages? I have heard You personally describe a total of twenty-eight — God, the jīva soul, the mahat-tattva, false ego, the five gross elements, the ten senses, the mind, the five subtle objects of perception and the three modes of nature. But some authorities say that there are twenty-six elements, while others cite twenty-five or else seven, nine, six, four or eleven, and even others say that there are seventeen, sixteen or thirteen. What did each of these sages have in mind when he calculated the creative elements in such different ways? O supreme eternal, kindly explain this to me.
yuktaṁ ca santi sarvatra
bhāṣante brāhmaṇā yathā
māyāṁ madīyām udgṛhya
vadatāṁ kiṁ nu durghaṭam
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; yuktam — reasonably; ca — even; santi — they are present; sarvatra — everywhere; bhāṣante — they speak; brāhmaṇāḥ — brāhmaṇas; yathā — how; māyām — the mystic energy; madīyām — My; udgṛhya — resorting to; vadatām — of those who speak; kim — what; nu — after all; durghaṭam — will be impossible.
Lord Kṛṣṇa replied: Because all material elements are present everywhere, it is reasonable that different learned brāhmaṇas have analyzed them in different ways. All such philosophers spoke under the shelter of My mystic potency, and thus they could say anything without contradicting the truth.
naitad evaṁ yathāttha tvaṁ
yad ahaṁ vacmi tat tathā
evaṁ vivadatāṁ hetuṁ
śaktayo me duratyayāḥ
na — it is not; etat — this; evam — so; yathā — as; āttha — say; tvam — you; yat — which; aham — I; vacmi — am saying; tat — that; tathā — thus; evam — in this way; vivadatām — for those who argue; hetum — over logical reasons; śaktayaḥ — the energies (are impelling); me — My; duratyayāḥ — unsurpassable.
When philosophers argue, “I don’t choose to analyze this particular case in the same way that you have,” it is simply My own insurmountable energies that are motivating their analytic disagreements.
yāsāṁ vyatikarād āsīd
vikalpo vadatāṁ padam
prāpte śama-dame ’pyeti
vādas tam anu śāmyati
yāsām — of which (energies of Mine); vyatikarāt — by the interaction; āsīt — has arisen; vikalpaḥ — difference of opinion; vadatām — of those arguing; padam — the subject of discussion; prāpte — when one has achieved; śama — the ability to fix his intelligence on Me; dame — and control of his external senses; apyeti — disappears (that difference of opinion); vādaḥ — the argument itself; tam anu — consequently; śāmyati — subsides.
By interaction of My energies different opinions arise. But for those who have fixed their intelligence on Me and controlled their senses, differences of perception disappear, and consequently the very cause for argument is removed.
yathā vaktur vivakṣitam
paraspara — mutual; anupraveśāt — because of the entrance (as subtle causes within gross manifestations, and vice versa); tattvānām — of the various elements; puruṣa-ṛṣabha — O best among men (Uddhava); paurva — in terms of prior causes; aparya — or of resultant products; prasaṅkhyānam — enumeration; yathā — however; vaktuḥ — the speaker; vivakṣitam — wants to describe.
O best among men, because subtle and gross elements mutually enter into one another, philosophers may calculate the number of basic material elements in different ways, according to their personal desire.
ekasminn api dṛśyante
pūrvasmin vā parasmin vā
tattve tattvāni sarvaśaḥ
ekasmin — in one (element); api — even; dṛśyante — there are seen; praviṣṭāni — entered within; itarāṇi — others; ca — also; pūrvasmin — in a prior (subtle causal element, such as the dormant presence of ether within its cause, sound); vā — either; parasmin — or in a later (produced element, such as the subtle presence of sound within its further product, air); vā — or; tattve — in some element; tattvāni — other elements; sarvaśaḥ — in the cases of each of the different enumerations.
All subtle material elements are actually present within their gross effects; similarly, all gross elements are present within their subtle causes, since material creation takes place by progressive manifestation of elements from subtle to gross. Thus we can find all material elements within any single element.
paurvāparyam ato ’mīṣāṁ
yathā viviktaṁ yad-vaktraṁ
paurva — considering causal elements to include their manifest products; aparyam — or assuming elements to include their subtle causes; ataḥ — therefore; amīṣām — of these thinkers; prasaṅkhyānam — the counting; abhīpsatām — who are intending; yathā — how; viviktam — ascertained; yat-vaktram — from whose mouth; gṛhṇīmaḥ — We accept it; yukti — of reason; sambhavāt — because of the possibility.
Therefore, no matter which of these thinkers is speaking, and regardless of whether in their calculations they include material elements within their previous subtle causes or else within their subsequent manifest products, I accept their conclusions as authoritative, because a logical explanation can always be given for each of the different theories.
svato na sambhavād anyas
tattva-jño jñāna-do bhavet
anādi — without beginning; avidyā — with ignorance; yuktasya — who is joined; puruṣasya — of a person; ātma-vedanam — the process of self-realization; svataḥ — by his own ability; na sambhavāt — because it cannot occur; anyaḥ — another person; tattva-jñaḥ — the knower of transcendental reality; jñāna-daḥ — the bestower of real knowledge; bhavet — must be.
Because a person who has been covered by ignorance since time immemorial is not capable of effecting his own self-realization, there must be some other personality who is in factual knowledge of the Absolute Truth and can impart this knowledge to him.
na vailakṣaṇyam aṇv api
jñānaṁ ca prakṛter guṇaḥ
puruṣa — between the enjoyer; īśvarayoḥ — and the supreme controller; atra — herein; na — there is no; vailakṣaṇyam — dissimilarity; aṇu — minute; api — even; tat — of them; anya — as being completely different; kalpanā — the imagined idea; apārthā — useless; jñānam — knowledge; ca — and; prakṛteḥ — of material nature; guṇaḥ — a quality.
According to knowledge in the material mode of goodness, there is no qualitative difference between the living entity and the supreme controller. The imagination of qualitative difference between them is useless speculation.
prakṛtir guṇa-sāmyaṁ vai
prakṛter nātmano guṇāḥ
sattvaṁ rajas tama iti
prakṛtiḥ — material nature; guṇa — of the three modes; sāmyam — the original equilibrium; vai — indeed; prakṛteḥ — of nature; na ātmanaḥ — not of the spirit soul; guṇāḥ — these modes; sattvam — goodness; rajaḥ — passion; tamaḥ — ignorance; iti — thus called; sthiti — of the maintenance of universal creation; utpatti — its production; anta — and its annihilation; hetavaḥ — the causes.
Nature exists originally as the equilibrium of the three material modes, which pertain only to nature, not to the transcendental spirit soul. These modes — goodness, passion and ignorance — are the effective causes of the creation, maintenance and destruction of this universe.
sattvaṁ jñānaṁ rajaḥ karma
tamo ’jñānam ihocyate
svabhāvaḥ sūtram eva ca
sattvam — the mode of goodness; jñānam — knowledge; rajaḥ — the mode of passion; karma — fruitive work; tamaḥ — the mode of ignorance; ajñānam — foolishness; iha — in this world; ucyate — is called; guṇa — of the modes; vyatikaraḥ — the agitated transformation; kālaḥ — time; svabhāvaḥ — innate tendency, nature; sūtram — the mahat-tattva; eva — indeed; ca — also.
In this world the mode of goodness is recognized as knowledge, the mode of passion as fruitive work, and the mode of darkness as ignorance. Time is perceived as the agitated interaction of the material modes, and the totality of functional propensity is embodied by the primeval sūtra, or mahat-tattva.
puruṣaḥ prakṛtir vyaktam
ahaṅkāro nabho ’nilaḥ
jyotir āpaḥ kṣitir iti
tattvāny uktāni me nava
puruṣaḥ — the enjoyer; prakṛtiḥ — nature; vyaktam — the primeval manifestation of matter; ahaṅkāraḥ — false ego; nabhaḥ — ether; anilaḥ — air; jyotiḥ — fire; āpaḥ — water; kṣitiḥ — earth; iti — thus; tattvāni — the elements of creation; uktāni — have been described; me — by Me; nava — nine.
I have described the nine basic elements as the enjoying soul, nature, nature’s primeval manifestation of the mahat-tattva, false ego, ether, air, fire, water and earth.
śrotraṁ tvag darśanaṁ ghrāṇo
karmāṇy aṅgobhayaṁ manaḥ
śrotram — the sense of hearing; tvak — the sense of touch, experienced upon the skin; darśanam — sight; ghrāṇaḥ — smell; jihvā — the sense of taste, experienced upon the tongue; iti — thus; jñāna-śaktayaḥ — the knowledge-acquiring senses; vāk — speech; pāṇi — the hands; upastha — the genitals; pāyu — the anus; aṅghriḥ — and the legs; karmāṇi — the working senses; aṅga — My dear Uddhava; ubhayam — belonging to both these categories; manaḥ — the mind.
Hearing, touch, sight, smell and taste are the five knowledge-acquiring senses, My dear Uddhava, and speech, the hands, the genitals, the anus and the legs constitute the five working senses. The mind belongs to both these categories.
śabdaḥ sparśo raso gandho
rūpaṁ cety artha-jātayaḥ
śabdaḥ — sound; sparśaḥ — touch; rasaḥ — taste; gandhaḥ — fragrance; rūpam — form; ca — and; iti — thus; artha — of sense objects; jātayaḥ — the categories; gati — movement; ukti — speech; utsarga — excretion (by both the genitals and anus); śilpāni — and manufacture; karma-āyatana — by the above-mentioned working senses; siddhayaḥ — accomplished.
Sound, touch, taste, smell and form are the objects of the knowledge-acquiring senses, and movement, speech, excretion and manufacture are functions of the working senses.
sargādau prakṛtir hy asya
sattvādibhir guṇair dhatte
puruṣo ’vyakta īkṣate
sarga — of creation; ādau — in the beginning; prakṛtiḥ — the material nature; hi — indeed; asya — of this universe; kārya — the manifest products; kāraṇa — and subtle causes; rūpiṇī — embodying; sattva-ādibhiḥ — by means of goodness, passion and ignorance; guṇaiḥ — the modes; dhatte — assumes its position; puruṣaḥ — the Supreme Lord; avyaktaḥ — not involved in material manifestation; īkṣate — witnesses.
In the beginning of creation nature assumes, by the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, its form as the embodiment of all subtle causes and gross manifestations within the universe. The Supreme Personality of Godhead does not enter the interaction of material manifestation but merely glances upon nature.
labdha-vīryāḥ sṛjanty aṇḍaṁ
saṁhatāḥ prakṛter balāt
vyakta-ādayaḥ — the mahat-tattva and so on; vikurvāṇāḥ — undergoing transformation; dhātavaḥ — the elements; puruṣa — of the Lord; īkṣayā — by the glance; labdha — having attained; vīryāḥ — their potencies; sṛjanti — they create; aṇḍam — the egg of the universe; saṁhatāḥ — amalgamated; prakṛteḥ — of nature; balāt — by the power.
As the material elements, headed by the mahat-tattva, are transformed, they receive their specific potencies from the glance of the Supreme Lord, and being amalgamated by the power of nature, they create the universal egg.
saptaiva dhātava iti
tatrārthāḥ pañca khādayaḥ
sapta — seven; eva — indeed; dhātavaḥ — elements; iti — thus saying; tatra — therein; arthāḥ — the physical elements; pañca — five; kha-ādayaḥ — beginning with ether; jñānam — the spirit soul, who is the possessor of knowledge; ātmā — the Supreme Soul; ubhaya — of both (the seen nature and the jīva who is its seer); ādhāraḥ — the fundamental basis; tataḥ — from these; deha — the body; indriya — senses; asavaḥ — and vital airs.
According to some philosophers there are seven elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether, along with the conscious spirit soul and the Supreme Soul, who is the basis of both the material elements and the ordinary spirit soul. According to this theory, the body, senses, life air and all material phenomena are produced from these seven elements.
ṣaḍ ity atrāpi bhūtāni
pañca ṣaṣṭhaḥ paraḥ pumān
tair yukta ātma-sambhūtaiḥ
ṣaṭ — six; iti — thus; atra — in this theory; api — also; bhūtāni — the elements; pañca — five; ṣaṣṭhaḥ — the sixth; paraḥ — the transcendental; pumān — Supreme Personality; taiḥ — with those (five gross elements); yuktaḥ — conjoined; ātma — from Himself; sambhūtaiḥ — created; sṛṣṭvā — sending forth; idam — this creation; samupāviśat — He entered within it.
Other philosophers state that there are six elements — the five physical elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and the sixth element, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That Supreme Lord, endowed with the elements that He has brought forth from Himself, creates this universe and then personally enters within it.
catvāry eveti tatrāpi
teja āpo ’nnam ātmanaḥ
jātāni tair idaṁ jātaṁ
catvāri — four; eva — also; iti — thus; tatra — in that case; api — even; tejaḥ — fire; āpaḥ — water; annam — earth; ātmanaḥ — from the Self; jātāni — all arising; taiḥ — by them; idam — this cosmos; jātam — has come about; janma — the birth; avayavinaḥ — of the manifest product; khalu — indeed.
Some philosophers propose the existence of four basic elements, of which three — fire, water and earth — emanate from the fourth, the Self. Once existing, these elements produce the cosmic manifestation, in which all material creation takes place.
ātmā saptadaśaḥ smṛtaḥ
saṅkhyāne — in the enumeration; saptadaśake — in terms of seventeen elements; bhūta — the five gross elements; mātra — the five subtle perceptions pertaining to each; indriyāṇi — and the five corresponding senses; ca — also; pañca pañca — in groups of five; eka-manasā — along with the one mind; ātmā — the soul; saptadaśaḥ — as the seventeenth; smṛtaḥ — is so considered.
Some calculate the existence of seventeen basic elements, namely the five gross elements, the five objects of perception, the five sensory organs, the mind, and the soul as the seventeenth element.
ātmaiva mana ucyate
mana ātmā trayodaśa
tadvat — similarly; ṣoḍaśa-saṅkhyāne — in counting sixteen; ātmā — the soul; eva — indeed; manaḥ — as the mind; ucyate — is identified; bhūta — the five gross elements; indriyāṇi — the senses; pañca — five; eva — certainly; manaḥ — the mind; ātmā — the soul (both the individual soul and the Supersoul); trayodaśa — thirteen.
According to the calculation of sixteen elements, the only difference from the previous theory is that the soul is identified with the mind. If we think in terms of five physical elements, five senses, the mind, the individual soul and the Supreme Lord, there are thirteen elements.
aṣṭau prakṛtayaś caiva
puruṣaś ca navety atha
ekādaśatve — in the consideration of eleven; ātmā — the soul; asau — this; mahā-bhūta — the gross elements; indriyāṇi — the senses; ca — and; aṣṭau — eight; prakṛtayaḥ — natural elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego); ca — also; eva — certainly; puruṣaḥ — the Supreme Lord; ca — and; nava — nine; iti — thus; atha — furthermore.
Counting eleven, there are the soul, the gross elements and the senses. Eight gross and subtle elements plus the Supreme Lord would make nine.
tattvānām ṛṣibhiḥ kṛtam
sarvaṁ nyāyyaṁ yuktimattvād
viduṣāṁ kim aśobhanam
iti — in these ways; nānā — various; prasaṅkhyānam — enumeration; tattvānām — of the elements; ṛṣibhiḥ — by the sages; kṛtam — has been done; sarvam — all this; nyāyyam — logical; yukti-mattvāt — because of the presentation of rational arguments; viduṣām — of those who are learned; kim — what; aśobhanam — lack of brilliance.
Thus great philosophers have analyzed the material elements in many different ways. All of their proposals are reasonable, since they are all presented with ample logic. Indeed, such philosophical brilliance is expected of the truly learned.
prakṛtiḥ puruṣaś cobhau
yady apy ātma-vilakṣaṇau
dṛśyate na bhidā tayoḥ
prakṛtau lakṣyate hy ātmā
prakṛtiś ca tathātmani
śrī-uddhavaḥ uvāca — Śrī Uddhava said; prakṛtiḥ — nature; puruṣaḥ — the enjoyer, or living entity; ca — and; ubhau — both; yadi api — although; ātma — constitutionally; vilakṣaṇau — distinct; anyonya — mutual; apāśrayāt — because of shelter; kṛṣṇa — O Lord Kṛṣṇa; dṛśyate na — it does not appear; bhidā — any difference; tayoḥ — between them; prakṛtau — within nature; lakṣyate — is apparently seen; hi — indeed; ātmā — the soul; prakṛtiḥ — nature; ca — and; tathā — also; ātmani — in the soul.
Śrī Uddhava inquired: Although nature and the living entity are constitutionally distinct, O Lord Kṛṣṇa, there appears to be no difference between them, because they are found residing within one another. Thus the soul appears to be within nature and nature within the soul.
evaṁ me puṇḍarīkākṣa
mahāntaṁ saṁśayaṁ hṛdi
chettum arhasi sarva-jña
evam — thus; me — my; puṇḍarīka-akṣa — O lotus-eyed Lord; mahāntam — great; saṁśayam — doubt; hṛdi — within my heart; chettum — cut; arhasi — You should please; sarva-jña — O omniscient one; vacobhiḥ — with Your words; naya — in reasoning; naipuṇaiḥ — very expert.
O lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa, O omniscient Lord, kindly cut this great doubt out of my heart with Your own words, which exhibit Your great skill in reasoning.
tvatto jñānaṁ hi jīvānāṁ
pramoṣas te ’tra śaktitaḥ
tvam eva hy ātma-māyāyā
gatiṁ vettha na cāparaḥ
tvattaḥ — from You; jñānam — knowledge; hi — indeed; jīvānām — of the living beings; pramoṣaḥ — stealing away; te — Your; atra — in this knowledge; śaktitaḥ — by the potency; tvam — You; eva — alone; hi — indeed; ātma — Your own; māyāyāḥ — of the illusory potency; gatim — the real nature; vettha — You know; na — not; ca — and; aparaḥ — any other person.
From You alone the knowledge of the living beings arises, and by Your potency that knowledge is stolen away. Indeed, no one but Yourself can understand the real nature of Your illusory potency.
prakṛtiḥ puruṣaś ceti
eṣa vaikārikaḥ sargo
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; prakṛtiḥ — nature; puruṣaḥ — the enjoyer, living entity; ca — and; iti — thus; vikalpaḥ — complete distinction; puruṣa-ṛṣabha — O best among men; eṣaḥ — this; vaikārikaḥ — subject to transformation; sargaḥ — creation; guṇa — of the modes of nature; vyatikara — the agitation; ātmakaḥ — based upon.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O best among men, material nature and its enjoyer are clearly distinct. This manifest creation undergoes constant transformation, being founded upon the agitation of the modes of nature.
mamāṅga māyā guṇa-mayy anekadhā
vikalpa-buddhīś ca guṇair vidhatte
vaikārikas tri-vidho ’dhyātmam ekam
athādhidaivam adhibhūtam anyat
mama — My; aṅga — My dear Uddhava; māyā — material energy; guṇa-mayī — consisting of the three modes; anekadhā — manifold; vikalpa — different manifestations; buddhīḥ — and perceptions of these differences; ca — and; guṇaiḥ — by the modes; vidhatte — establishes; vaikārikaḥ — the full-blown manifestation of transformations; tri-vidhaḥ — having three aspects; adhyātmam — called adhyātma; ekam — one; atha — and; adhidaivam — adhidaiva; adhibhūtam — adhibhūta; anyat — another.
My dear Uddhava, My material energy, comprising three modes and acting through them, manifests the varieties of creation along with varieties of consciousness for perceiving them. The manifest result of material transformation is understood in three aspects: adhyātmic, adhidaivic and adhibhautic.
dṛg rūpam ārkaṁ vapur atra randhre
parasparaṁ sidhyati yaḥ svataḥ khe
ātmā yad eṣām aparo ya ādyaḥ
dṛk — the function of sight (as adhyātma); rūpam — visible form (as adhibhūta); ārkam — of the sun; vapuḥ — the partial image (as adhidaiva); atra — in this; randhre — aperture (of the eyeball); parasparam — mutually; sidhyati — cause the manifestation of each other; yaḥ — which; svataḥ — by its own power; khe — in the sky; ātmā — the Supersoul; yat — which; eṣām — of these (three features); aparaḥ — separate; yaḥ — who; ādyaḥ — the original cause; svayā — by His own; anubhūtyā — transcendental experience; akhila — of all; siddha — manifest phenomena; siddhiḥ — the source of manifestation.
Sight, visible form and the reflected image of the sun within the aperture of the eye all work together to reveal one another. But the original sun standing in the sky is self-manifested. Similarly, the Supreme Soul, the original cause of all entities, who is thus separate from all of them, acts by the illumination of His own transcendental experience as the ultimate source of manifestation of all mutually manifesting objects.
evaṁ tvag-ādi śravaṇādi cakṣur
jihvādi nāsādi ca citta-yuktam
evam — in the same way; tvak-ādi — the skin, the sensation of touch and the demigod of the wind, Vāyu; śravaṇa-ādi — the ears, the sensation of sound and the demigods of the directions; cakṣuḥ — the eyes (described in the previous verse); jihvā-adi — the tongue, the sensation of taste and the god of water, Varuṇa; nāsa-ādi — the nose, the sensation of smell and the Aśvinī-kumāras; ca — also; citta-yuktam — along with consciousness (implying not only conditioned consciousness together with the object of that consciousness and the presiding Deity Vāsudeva, but also the mind together with the object of thought and the moon-god Candra, intelligence with the object of intelligence and Lord Brahmā, and false ego together with the identification of false ego and Lord Rudra).
Similarly, the sense organs, namely the skin, ears, eyes, tongue and nose — as well as the functions of the subtle body, namely conditioned consciousness, mind, intelligence and false ego — can all be analyzed in terms of the threefold distinction of sense, object of perception and presiding deity.
yo ’sau guṇa-kṣobha-kṛto vikāraḥ
pradhāna-mūlān mahataḥ prasūtaḥ
ahaṁ tri-vṛn moha-vikalpa-hetur
vaikārikas tāmasa aindriyaś ca
yaḥ asau — this; guṇa — of the modes of nature; kṣobha — by the agitation; kṛtaḥ — caused; vikāraḥ — transformation; pradhāna-mūlāt — which is generated from the pradhāna, the unmanifest form of the total material nature; mahataḥ — from the mahat-tattva; prasūtaḥ — generated; aham — false ego; tri-vṛt — in three phases; moha — of bewilderment; vikalpa — and material variety; hetuḥ — the cause; vaikārikaḥ — in the mode of goodness; tāmasaḥ — in the mode of ignorance; aindriyaḥ — in the mode of passion; ca — and.
When the three modes of nature are agitated, the resultant transformation appears as the element false ego in three phases — goodness, passion and ignorance. Generated from the mahat-tattva, which is itself produced from the unmanifest pradhāna, this false ego becomes the cause of all material illusion and duality.
hy astīti nāstīti bhidārtha-niṣṭhaḥ
vyartho ’pi naivoparameta puṁsāṁ
mattaḥ parāvṛtta-dhiyāṁ sva-lokāt
ātma — of the Supreme Soul; aparijñāna-mayaḥ — based on lack of full knowledge; vivādaḥ — speculative argument; hi — indeed; asti — (this world) is real; iti — thus saying; na asti — it is not real; iti — thus saying; bhidā — material differences; artha-niṣṭhaḥ — having as its focus of discussion; vyarthaḥ — worthless; api — although; na — does not; eva — certainly; uparameta — cease; puṁsām — for persons; mattaḥ — from Me; parāvṛtta — who have turned; dhiyām — their attention; sva-lokāt — who am nondifferent from them.
The speculative argument of philosophers — “This world is real,” “No, it is not real” — is based upon incomplete knowledge of the Supreme Soul and is simply aimed at understanding material dualities. Although such argument is useless, persons who have turned their attention away from Me, their own true Self, are unable to give it up.
sva-kṛtaiḥ karmabhiḥ prabho
uccāvacān yathā dehān
gṛhṇanti visṛjanti ca
tan mamākhyāhi govinda
na hy etat prāyaśo loke
vidvāṁsaḥ santi vañcitāḥ
śrī-uddhavaḥ uvāca — Śrī Uddhava said; tvattaḥ — from You; parāvṛtta — diverted; dhiyaḥ — whose minds; sva-kṛtaiḥ — done by them; karmabhiḥ — by the fruitive activities; prabho — O supreme master; ucca-avacān — higher and lower; yathā — in which way; dehān — material bodies; gṛhṇanti — they accept; visṛjanti — give up; ca — and; tat — that; mama — to me; ākhyāhi — please explain; govinda — O Govinda; durvibhāvyam — impossible to understand; anātmabhiḥ — by those who are not intelligent; na — not; hi — indeed; etat — about this; prāyaśaḥ — for the most part; loke — in this world; vidvāṁsaḥ — knowledgeable; santi — they are; vañcitāḥ — who are cheated (by material illusion).
Śrī Uddhava said: O supreme master, the intelligence of those dedicated to fruitive activities is certainly deviated from You. Please explain to me how such persons accept superior and inferior bodies by their materialistic activities and then give up such bodies. O Govinda, this topic is very difficult for foolish persons to understand. Being cheated by illusion in this world, they generally do not become aware of these facts.
manaḥ karma-mayaṁ ṇṝṇām
indriyaiḥ pañcabhir yutam
lokāl lokaṁ prayāty anya
ātmā tad anuvartate
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; manaḥ — the mind; karma-mayam — shaped by fruitive work; nṝṇām — of persons; indriyaiḥ — along with the senses; pañcabhiḥ — five; yutam — conjoined; lokāt — from one world; lokam — to another world; prayāti — travels; anyaḥ — separate; ātmā — the soul; tat — that mind; anuvartate — follows.
Lord Kṛṣṇa said: The material mind of men is shaped by the reactions of fruitive work. Along with the five senses, it travels from one material body to another. The spirit soul, although different from this mind, follows it.
dhyāyan mano ’nu viṣayān
dṛṣṭān vānuśrutān atha
udyat sīdat karma-tantraṁ
smṛtis tad anu śāmyati
dhyāyat — meditating; manaḥ — the mind; anu — regularly; viṣayān — on the sense objects; dṛṣṭān — seen; vā — or; anuśrutān — heard from Vedic authority; atha — subsequently; udyat — rising; sīdat — dissolving; karma-tantram — bound to the reactions of fruitive work; smṛtiḥ — remembrance; tat anu — after that; śāmyati — is destroyed.
The mind, bound to the reactions of fruitive work, always meditates on the objects of the senses, both those that are seen in this world and those that are heard about from Vedic authority. Consequently, the mind appears to come into being and to suffer annihilation along with its objects of perception, and thus its ability to distinguish past and future is lost.
nātmānaṁ yat smaret punaḥ
jantor vai kasyacid dhetor
viṣaya — in (new) objects of perception; abhiniveśena — because of absorption; na — not; ātmānam — his previous self; yat — the situation in which; smaret — remembers; punaḥ — any more; jantoḥ — of the living entity; vai — indeed; kasyacit hetoḥ — for any reason or other; mṛtyuḥ — known as death; atyanta — total; vismṛtiḥ — forgetfulness.
When the living entity passes from the present body to the next body, which is created by his own karma, he becomes absorbed in the pleasurable and painful sensations of the new body and completely forgets the experience of the previous body. This total forgetfulness of one’s previous material identity, which comes about for one reason or another, is called death.
janma tv ātmatayā puṁsaḥ
janma — birth; tu — and; ātmatayā — by identification with oneself; puṁsaḥ — of a person; sarva-bhāvena — completely; bhūri-da — O most charitable Uddhava; viṣaya — of the body; svī-kṛtim — the acceptance; prāhuḥ — is called; yathā — just as; svapna — a dream; manaḥ-rathaḥ — or a mental fantasy.
O most charitable Uddhava, what is called birth is simply a person’s total identification with a new body. One accepts the new body just as one completely accepts the experience of a dream or a fantasy as reality.
svapnaṁ manorathaṁ cetthaṁ
prāktanaṁ na smaraty asau
tatra pūrvam ivātmānam
svapnam — a dream; manaḥ-ratham — a daydream; ca — and; ittham — thus; prāktanam — previous; na smarati — does not remember; asau — he; tatra — in that (present body); pūrvam — the previous; iva — as if; ātmānam — himself; apūrvam — having no past; ca — and; anupaśyati — he views.
Just as a person experiencing a dream or daydream does not remember his previous dreams or daydreams, a person situated in his present body, although having existed prior to it, thinks that he has only recently come into being.
trai-vidhyaṁ bhāti vastuni
jano ’saj-jana-kṛd yathā
indriya-ayana — by the resting place of the senses (the mind); sṛṣṭyā — because of the creation (of identification with a new body); idam — this; trai-vidhyam — threefold variety (of high, middle and low class); bhāti — appears; vastuni — in the reality (the soul); bahiḥ — external; antaḥ — and internal; bhidā — of the differences; hetuḥ — the cause; janaḥ — a person; asat-jana — of a bad person; kṛt — the progenitor; yathā — as.
Because the mind, which is the resting place of the senses, has created the identification with a new body, the threefold material variety of high, middle and low class appears as if present within the reality of the soul. Thus the self creates external and internal duality, just as a man might give birth to a bad son.
nityadā hy aṅga bhūtāni
bhavanti na bhavanti ca
sūkṣmatvāt tan na dṛśyate
nityadā — constantly; hi — indeed; aṅga — My dear Uddhava; bhūtāni — created bodies; bhavanti — come into being; na bhavanti — go out of being; ca — and; kālena — by time; alakṣya — imperceptible; vegena — whose speed; sūkṣmatvāt — because of being very subtle; tat — that; na dṛśyate — is not seen.
My dear Uddhava, material bodies are constantly undergoing creation and destruction by the force of time, whose swiftness is imperceptible. But because of the subtle nature of time, no one sees this.
yathārciṣāṁ srotasāṁ ca
phalānāṁ vā vanaspateḥ
yathā — as; arciṣām — of the flames of a candle; srotasām — of the currents of a river; ca — and; phalānām — of fruits; vā — or; vanaspateḥ — of a tree; tathā — thus; eva — certainly; sarva-bhūtānām — of all material bodies; vayaḥ — of different ages; avasthā — situations; ādayaḥ — and so on; kṛtāḥ — are created.
The different stages of transformation of all material bodies occur just like those of the flame of a candle, the current of a river, or the fruits of a tree.
so ’yaṁ dīpo ’rciṣāṁ yadvat
srotasāṁ tad idaṁ jalam
so ’yaṁ pumān iti nṛṇāṁ
mṛṣā gīr dhīr mṛṣāyuṣām
saḥ — this; ayam — the same; dīpaḥ — light; arciṣām — of the radiation of a lamp; yadvat — just as; srotasām — of the currents flowing in a river; tat — that; idam — the same; jalam — water; saḥ — this; ayam — the same; pumān — person; iti — thus; nṛṇām — of men; mṛṣā — false; gīḥ — statement; dhīḥ — thought; mṛṣā-āyuṣām — of those who are wasting their life.
Although the illumination of a lamp consists of innumerable rays of light undergoing constant creation, transformation and destruction, a person with illusory intelligence who sees the light for a moment will speak falsely, saying, “This is the light of the lamp.” As one observes a flowing river, ever-new water passes by and goes far away, yet a foolish person, observing one point in the river, falsely states, “This is the water of the river.” Similarly, although the material body of a human being is constantly undergoing transformation, those who are simply wasting their lives falsely think and say that each particular stage of the body is the person’s real identity.
mā svasya karma-bījena
jāyate so ’py ayaṁ pumān
mriyate vāmaro bhrāntyā
mā — does not; svasya — of the self; karma-bījena — by the seed of his activities; jāyate — take birth; saḥ — he; api — indeed; ayam — this; pumān — personality; mriyate — dies; vā — or; amaraḥ — immortal; bhrāntyā — because of illusion; yathā — as; agniḥ — fire; dāru — with wood; saṁyutaḥ — joined.
A person does not actually take birth out of the seed of past activities, nor, being immortal, does he die. By illusion the living being appears to be born and to die, just as fire in connection with firewood appears to begin and then cease to exist.
vayo-madhyaṁ jarā mṛtyur
ity avasthās tanor nava
niṣeka — impregnation; garbha — gestation; janmāni — and birth; bālya — infancy; kaumāra — childhood; yauvanam — and youth; vayaḥ-madhyam — middle age; jarā — old age; mṛtyuḥ — death; iti — thus; avasthāḥ — ages; tanoḥ — of the body; nava — nine.
Impregnation, gestation, birth, infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, old age and death are the nine ages of the body.
kvacit kaścij jahāti ca
etāḥ — these; manaḥ-rathaḥ-mayīḥ — achieved by meditation of the mind; ha — certainly; anyasya — of the body (who is separate from the self); ucca — greater; avacāḥ — and lesser; tanūḥ — bodily conditions; guṇa-saṅgāt — because of associating with the modes of nature; upādatte — he accepts; kvacit — sometimes; kaścit — someone; jahāti — gives up; ca — and.
Although the material body is different from the self, because of the ignorance due to material association one falsely identifies oneself with the superior and inferior bodily conditions. Sometimes a fortunate person is able to give up such mental concoction.
ātmanaḥ — one’s own; pitṛ — from the father or ancestors; putrābhyām — and the son; anumeyau — can be surmised; bhava — birth; apyayau — and death; na — is no longer; bhava-apyaya-vastūnām — of all that is subject to generation and destruction; abhijñaḥ — one who is in proper knowledge; dvaya — by these dualities; lakṣaṇaḥ — characterized.
By the death of one’s father or grandfather one can surmise one’s own death, and by the birth of one’s son one can understand the condition of one’s own birth. A person who thus realistically understands the creation and destruction of material bodies is no longer subject to these dualities.
yo vidvāñ janma-saṁyamau
taror vilakṣaṇo draṣṭā
evaṁ draṣṭā tanoḥ pṛthak
taroḥ — of a tree; bīja — (birth from) its seed; vipākābhyām — (destruction subsequent to) maturity; yaḥ — one who; vidvān — in knowledge; janma — of birth; saṁyamau — and death; taroḥ — from the tree; vilakṣaṇaḥ — distinct; draṣṭā — the witness; evam — in the same way; draṣṭā — the witness; tanoḥ — of the material body; pṛthak — is separate.
One who observes the birth of a tree from its seed and the ultimate death of the tree after maturity certainly remains a distinct observer separate from the tree. In the same way, the witness of the birth and death of the material body remains separate from it.
prakṛter evam ātmānam
prakṛteḥ — from material nature; evam — in this way; ātmānam — the self; avivicya — failing to distinguish; abudhaḥ — the unintelligent; pumān — person; tattvena — because of thinking (material things) to be real; sparśa — by material contact; sammūḍhaḥ — completely bewildered; saṁsāram — the cycle of material existence; pratipadyate — attains.
An unintelligent man, failing to distinguish himself from material nature, thinks nature to be real. By contact with it he becomes completely bewildered and enters into the cycle of material existence.
sattva-saṅgād ṛṣīn devān
bhrāmito yāti karmabhiḥ
sattva-saṅgāt — by association with the mode of goodness; ṛṣīn — to the sages; devān — to the demigods; rajasā — by the mode of passion; asura — to the demons; mānuṣān — and to human beings; tamasā — by the mode of ignorance; bhūta — to the ghostly spirits; tiryaktvam — or the animal kingdom; bhrāmitaḥ — made to wander; yāti — he goes; karmabhiḥ — because of his fruitive activities.
Made to wander because of his fruitive work, the conditioned soul, by contact with the mode of goodness, takes birth among the sages or demigods. By contact with the mode of passion he becomes a demon or human being, and by association with the mode of ignorance he takes birth as a ghost or in the animal kingdom.
nṛtyato gāyataḥ paśyan
evaṁ buddhi-guṇān paśyann
anīho ’py anukāryate
nṛtyataḥ — persons who are dancing; gāyataḥ — and singing; paśyan — observing; yathā — just as; eva — indeed; anukaroti — imitates; tān — them; evam — thus; buddhi — of the material intelligence; guṇān — the acquired qualities; paśyan — seeing; anīhaḥ — although not himself engaged in activity; api — nevertheless; anukāryate — is made to imitate.
Just as one may imitate persons whom one sees dancing and singing, similarly the soul, although never the doer of material activities, becomes captivated by material intelligence and is thus forced to imitate its qualities.
taravo ’pi calā iva
dṛśyate bhramatīva bhūḥ
svapna-dṛṣṭāś ca dāśārha
tathā saṁsāra ātmanaḥ
yathā — as; ambhasā — by water; pracalatā — moving, agitated; taravaḥ — trees; api — indeed; calāḥ — moving; iva — as if; cakṣuṣā — by the eyes; bhrāmyamāṇena — which are being turned about; dṛśyate — appears; bhramatī — moving; iva — as if; bhūḥ — the earth; yathā — as; manaḥ-ratha — of a mental fantasy; dhiyaḥ — the ideas; viṣaya — of sense gratification; anubhavaḥ — the experience; mṛṣā — false; svapna-dṛṣṭāḥ — things seen in a dream; ca — and; dāśārha — O descendant of Daśārha; tathā — thus; saṁsāraḥ — the material life; ātmanaḥ — of the soul.
The soul’s material life, his experience of sense gratification, is actually false, O descendant of Daśārha, just like trees’ appearance of quivering when the trees are reflected in agitated water, or like the earth’s appearance of spinning due to one’s spinning his eyes around, or like the world of a fantasy or dream.
arthe hy avidyamāne ’pi
saṁsṛtir na nivartate
dhyāyato viṣayān asya
svapne ’narthāgamo yathā
arthe — in truth; hi — certainly; avidyamāne — not existing; api — even though; saṁsṛtiḥ — material existence; na nivartate — does not stop; dhyāyataḥ — who is meditating; viṣayān — on the objects of sense gratification; asya — for him; svapne — in a dream; anartha — of unwanted things; āgamaḥ — the coming; yathā — just as.
For one who is meditating on sense gratification, material life, although lacking factual existence, does not go away, just as the unpleasant experiences of a dream do not.
tasmād uddhava mā bhuṅkṣva
paśya vaikalpikaṁ bhramam
tasmāt — therefore; uddhava — My dear Uddhava; mā bhuṅkṣva — do not enjoy; viṣayān — the objects of sense gratification; asat — impure; indriyaiḥ — with senses; ātma — of the self; agrahaṇa — inability to realize; nirbhātam — in which is manifest; paśya — see it; vaikalpikam — based on material duality; bhramam — the illusion.
Therefore, O Uddhava, do not try to enjoy sense gratification with the material senses. See how illusion based on material dualities prevents one from realizing the self.
kṣipto ’vamānito ’sadbhiḥ
pralabdho ’sūyito ’tha vā
tāḍitaḥ sanniruddho vā
vṛttyā vā parihāpitaḥ
niṣṭhyuto mūtrito vājñair
kṣiptaḥ — insulted; avamānitaḥ — neglected; asadbhiḥ — by bad men; pralabdhaḥ — ridiculed; asūyitaḥ — envied; atha vā — or else; tāḍitaḥ — chastised; sanniruddhaḥ — tied up; vā — or; vṛttyā — of his means of livelihood; vā — or; parihāpitaḥ — deprived; niṣṭhyutaḥ — spat upon; mūtritaḥ — polluted with urine; vā — or; ajñaiḥ — by foolish men; bahudhā — repeatedly; evam — thus; prakampitaḥ — agitated; śreyaḥ-kāmaḥ — one who desires the highest goal in life; kṛcchra-gataḥ — experiencing difficulty; ātmanā — by his intelligence; ātmānam — himself; uddharet — should save.
Even though neglected, insulted, ridiculed or envied by bad men, or even though repeatedly agitated by being beaten, tied up or deprived of one’s occupation, spat upon or polluted with urine by ignorant people, one who desires the highest goal in life should in spite of all these difficulties use his intelligence to keep himself safe on the spiritual platform.
vada no vadatāṁ vara
śrī-uddhavaḥ uvāca — Śrī Uddhava said; yathā — how; evam — thus; anubudhyeyam — I may properly understand; vada — please speak; naḥ — to us; vadatām — of all speakers; vara — O You who are the best.
Śrī Uddhava said: O best of all speakers, please explain to me how I may properly understand this.
su-duḥsaham imaṁ manya
viduṣām api viśvātman
prakṛtir hi balīyasī
śāntāṁs te caraṇālayān
su-duḥsaham — most difficult to tolerate; imam — this; manye — I consider; ātmani — upon oneself; asat — by ignorant people; atikramam — the attacks; viduṣām — for those who are learned; api — even; viśva-ātman — O soul of the universe; prakṛtiḥ — one’s conditioned personality; hi — certainly; balīyasī — very strong; ṛte — except for; tvat-dharma — in Your devotional service; niratān — those who are fixed; śāntān — peaceful; te — Your; caraṇa-ālayān — who reside at the lotus feet.
O soul of the universe, the conditioning of one’s personality in material life is very strong, and therefore it is very difficult even for learned men to tolerate the offenses committed against them by ignorant people. Only Your devotees, who are fixed in Your loving service and who have achieved peace by residing at Your lotus feet, are able to tolerate such offenses.