Chapter 13The Individual Consciousness and The Ultimate ConsciousnessVerse 21


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

After explaining how the evolution of all jivas or embodied beings along with their modifications and transformations all arise from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence, Lord Krishna elaborates how the Purusa or eternal manifestation of the Supreme Lord as the atma or immortal soul is hetuh or responsible for determining one's transmigratory existence. The effect of this is the physical body, the cause is the means to experience the dualities such as joy and distress if the senses and their production is from the gunas or the actions of goodness, passion and ignorance producing karma or reactions from past actions making the subsequent modifications and transformations. Prakriti is the cause of the position of the physical body as confirmed by Kapila and Vedavyasa. The Purusa manifested as the atma is the cause of the happiness and misery experienced which are of its own making. Although the inert prakriti cannot by itself be considered the cause it is the source of the physical mnaifestation. Neither can the Purusa which is immortal and changeless experience anything; but inexplicably it happens to both and by agency of its auspices it is accomplished. The agency referred to here is that of adrishta or the cumulative results of karma which acts as a sentient principle upon even the insentient. The same as fire burns upwards, rivers flow downwards, the wind blows obliquely and milk from the cow spurts outwards. Therefore this agency of the insentient prakriti is said to be due to the influence of the Purusa by the experience of cognition in both joy and misery, happiness and distress and all such dualities. Whereas these being the qualities of only sentient beings the experience of the Purusa is said to be due to the proximity of prakriti.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The word karyam meaning effect verily signifies the physical body. The word karana meaning cause reinforces the reality that the physical body is the instrument of performing actions. The word bhoktrtve means experiencing. Lord Krishna as the purusa a manifestation of the Supreme Lord as unlimited consciousness is the cause witnessing and experiencing through all jivas or embodied beings. Prakriti or the material substratum pervading material existence is the effect of actions and the purusa being superior is the cause of action.

Now begins the summation.

It is prakriti in the form of maya or the external illusory energy that bewilders jivas into believing the physical body belongs to them and is acquired on ones own independently; due to being completely oblivious of the reality of Lord Krishna as the sole creator of everything in all times throughout all creation and it is He alone who awards the power of the jivas to experience the ksetra or field of activity within the physical body and within material existence. Lord Krishna is known as the Supreme Controller because everything in exsitence emanates originally from Him in the material worlds and Vaikuntha the spiritual worlds. Even though the Supreme Lord creates everything, to show that the privilege of experience has been granted to prakriti to a small degree, He uses the word ucyate or speaks in two places. The puport is to emphasize the purusa is the principle cause and prakriti is the secondary effect. Specifically prakriti is more an instrument of action then experiencing actions. The jiva to a lesser extent has been granted agency for experiencing and enjoyment but the actual experiencer and enjoyer is the Supreme Lord who is the controller of everything and who is known as the purusa and ordains through the medium of His localized aspect of paramatma the supreme soul present in the etheric heart of all living entities.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The word karya meaning effect refers to the physical body. The word karana means the instrument of action denoting the senses of perception, the organs of action and the mind. In the activation of both karya and karana to function the atma or immortal soul alone is the cause. This confirms that all manifest activity by which the jiva or embodied being experiences existence is dependent upon prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which is predicated by the impulses of the atma. The atma merely performs its natural function as monitor and director of the jiva in all respects. Affirmation of this is given in the following Vedic aphorism found in the Vedanta Sutra II:III.XXXX beginning krita prayatna apekesah meaning the Supreme Lord induces the atma to act according to the effects experienced by the jiva so that there is no contradiction in the prohibitions and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. The function of the atma is to witness the karma or reactions to one's actions and govern the jiva effects of karma as they evolve and grow. The atma being embodied is the sole cause for a jiva to experience joy and grief through the medium of matter. Thus the difference in function in regard to both the atma and the physical body has been briefly elaborated seperately and in conjunction.

The process by which the inherently pure and spiritual atma which is most blessed comes to experience pleasures and pain derived from contact with products of matter is through the three gunas being modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which are effects of prakriti and figuratively symbolise all derivatives of matter as all matter is within the purvey of the three gunas. Here in this verse the word purusa is referring to His expansion as the atma within the heart of all living entities which by its own intrinsic nature is liberated and blissful but by the influence of karma and prakriti is entangled in the material existence undergoing experiences of enjoyment and suffering based on this relationship which manifest according to the dicitates and constraints of the adventitiously and contrary circumstances of past actions from which arise effects known as karma. The word bhoktrtve meaning the experience of happiness and distress confirms this.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna having explained the evolutionary cycle of material nature, He explains of the respective functions of matter and spirit as they exist conjointly. The words karya-karana-kartrtve mean the results of the combination of the evolution of the bodily organs and functions and the influence of the presiding demigods on the senses which when coming in contact with matter are the cause of the jiva or embodied soul to be in bondage experiencing the consequence of their karma or reactions to good and bad actions and obliged to accept happiness and misery. This is unavoidable as long as one remains infatuated and attracted to material existence.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 13, verse 21 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 21

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