Chapter 13The Individual Consciousness and The Ultimate ConsciousnessVerse 22


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

Even though this is such how is it possible for the immortal and changeless Purusa which is paramatma the supreme soul and is the localised manifestation of the Supreme Lord, experience anything? This is being answered here. For the Purusa residing within prakriti the effect being the physical body is identified with it and through the medium of this body the symptoms of joy and misery produced by the actions of the body are experienced. The cause of the Purusa's entrapment within a jiva or embodied being in a higher source like that of a demigod or a lower source like that of an animal is merely due to attachments accepted by the mind and senses which induce the body to perform good and evil actions which facilitates karma or reactions to ones actions and activates samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Here the word Purusa should be understood to refer to the jiva or embodied living entities. In previous verses both the Supreme Lord and the jivas have been referred to as Purusa. Hence this clarification is required to understand this verse in the proper context. Thus the jiva enjoys the attributes of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. This statement by the Supreme Lord Krishna effectively eradicates the arguments of those whose conjecture is that the relationship of the physical body and its organs of the senses interacting with sense objects as instruments of action are illusory. The word hi meaning certainly is used to emphasise that the conjecture of illusion in this case is contrary to actual experience. It has never been observed by the greatest of minds that internal experiences knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and pain are the products of delusion. That these are illusory is unacceptable to both the spiritual mind and the rational mind. Only those minds which are preoccupied with the external concerns of the physical body are susceptible to illusion; but never those who are devoted to atma tattva or knowledge of the immortal soul and the divine internal spiritual experience. It should be pointed out that even external conceptions should only be considered illusory when discrimination is accurately used in verification. If it ever were established that the internal consciousness perfectly perceived by those who are self-realised as eternal are illusory then all that has been collaborated and confirmed by the imperishable Vedic scriptures would also have to be considered illusory and that is impossible as they are the only authorised and verifiable proof in all of creation and anything whatsoever contrary to the Vedic scriptures is absolutely illusory. It must be understood that illusion is only present in the empirical world of material existence. Thus any proof that could be given must also be empirical and thus determining whether anything is illusory in absence of any contrary evidence must be determined exclusively by the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The atma or immortal soul is compelled to accept unlimited varieties of physical bodies from all levels of creation. Sometimes as a demigod, sometimes as a human, sometimes as an animal etc. These forms are neutrally awarded according to the gunas or three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which adhere in strict accordance to the karma or reactions from past actions in proportion to the degree of attachment and cravings one is predisposed to pursue in order to procure pleasure and enjoy sense gratification. Taking birth one launches into activities pursuing good and evil in order to satisfy and gratify ones desires and propensities. Hence is order to exhaust the karma one is incessantly creating by innumerable actions one is born into wombs of good and evil perpetually in material existence. That is why it is stated that attachment to the gunas is the cause of birth in good and evil wombs. Born one performs actions and from the reactions one is forced to take birth again and again without cessation. This circumvolution never ends until by the aggregation of sukriti or pious activities one seemingly by chance has the auspicious opportunity to attain the association of a Vaisnava devotee of the Supreme Lord Krishna and being blessed by them alters the course of their destiny and upgrades their karma as Lord Krishna Himself confirms in chapter seven verse 19 beginning bahunam janmanam ante meaning after many births a knowledgeable living entity gets association of a mahatma or great soul.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

The supposition that the atma or immortal soul is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasure and pain is erroneous and untenable because the atma is completely spiritual and the epitome of knowledge. Although the intrinsic nature of the atma is immutable and eternally blissful, Lord Krishna clarifies here that when the jiva or embodied being is engrossed in experiencing objects of material nature from the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance; then various modification arise due to the karma or reactions to the actions which are performed and is the definitive cause of the jiva being born in exalted or degraded wombs in any of the 8 million 400 thousand different species that exist throughout the material creation. The exalted wombs such as those born of the demi-gods are attuned in the mode of goodness. The degraded wombs such as those born of the demons are attuned to the qualities of ignorance. The mixed wombs of exalted and degraded such as those born of humans are attuned to the qualities of activity and passion. The higher being the Vaisnava's and Brahmanas and the lower being the sudras the lower class and below them the degraded are the mleechas or the meateaters and the candalas or the uncleansed. The animals regardless of intelligence are attuned to the instincts of their species in the mode of nescience. The consequence of experiencing any of these wombs is due solely to the jiva continuously attempting to exploit and enjoy material nature and the subsequent karma derived from such activities. The most powerful cause is the mental attachment anticipating the pleasure of enjoying the sense objects of touch and taste and form etc. and the incessant manoeuvres for achieving such desires. Thus the atma residing within the jiva who is bewildered and beguiled by material nature is subjected to transmigration perpetually in the wombs of higher and lower species performing activities which accrues karma and is incessantly born and reborn indefinitely. The conclusion is that the atma experiences a demotion by the cycles of birth and death and until renunciation and detachment arises and the desire for material enjoyment is abandoned and the heart is made pure by bhakti or pure, exclusive devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of his Vedically authorised incarnations, the atma will not be able to be realised by the jiva and achieve freedom from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 13, verse 22 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 22

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