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Bhagavad Gita As It Is 
By A C BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI SRILA PRABHUPADA
FIVE BASIC TRUTHS EXPLAINED IN BHAGAVAD-GITA 
The subject of the Bhagavad-Gita entails the 
comprehension of five basic truths. 
1. Isvara (the Supreme Lord) 
2. Jiva (the living entity) 
3. Prakrti (nature) 
4. Kala (eternal time) 
5. Karma (activity)
ISHWAR - THE SUPREME LORD
 "God is everywhere yet localized, all-pervading yet aloof. He 
walks yet doesn’t walk. He is far away yet very near as well.” 
Such contradictory statements are not whimsical. Rather, they 
indicate God’s inconceivable power. 
 The Absolute Truth, Krishna, can be realized in three phases: 
Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. These aspects of the 
Absolute Truth are comparable to the sunshine (brahman), 
the sun’s surface (paramatma), and the sun planet 
(bhagavan)—three different features of the same reality. 
 The Brahman aspect of God is the beginning less, impersonal 
form of the Lord, the effulgence of Krishna’s transcendental 
body. Just as the root of a tree maintains the whole tree, 
Krishna, the root of all things, maintains everything by His 
energies: He is the heat in the fire, the taste of water, the light 
of the sun and the moon—the active principle of everything. 
Although Krishna spreads Himself throughout His creation, 
He retains his own personality.
 Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, “unintelligent men, who 
do not know Me perfectly, think that I was impersonal before 
and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small 
knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is 
imperishable and supreme.” (Bg. 7.24) Although 
impersonalists may eventually attain the Supreme, their path 
is fraught with difficulties, for it is unnatural for the embodied 
soul to conceive of the unembodied, which is only a partial 
aspect of the Absolute Truth. 
 Realization of God as Paramatma, the Super soul in the heart 
of every embodied soul, is compared to knowing the sun disc 
in the sky. The Paramatma is the Supreme Proprietor, Witness, 
and the Permitter, and He accompanies the wandering soul 
through the soul’s 8,400,000 embodiments. Acting as the 
soul’s friend, He remains the soul’s constant companion 
during the sojourn in the material world, no matter what type 
of body the soul inhabits – pig, mosquito, philosopher and 
demigod. The Super soul helps him fulfill his desires by 
supplying knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness.
o Although the Super soul appears to be divided among all 
beings, He is never divided. Rather, he is situated as one – like 
the sun reflected in the millions of buckets of water. The Super 
soul can be perceived through meditation, by cultivation of 
knowledge or by working without fruitive desires. A person in 
full knowledge of the Super soul understands that the Super 
soul is the localized aspect of the Supreme Personality of 
Godhead within this material world and that the next step is to 
worship Him as Bhagavan. 
o Although the Super soul appears to be divided among all 
beings, He is never divided. Rather, he is situated as one – like 
the sun reflected in the millions of buckets of water. The Super 
soul can be perceived through meditation, by cultivation of 
knowledge or by working without fruitive desires. A person in 
full knowledge of the Super soul understands that the Super 
soul is the localized aspect of the Supreme Personality of 
Godhead within this material world and that the next step is to 
worship Him as Bhagavan.
JIVA/SOUL
 Who am I? The face I see every morning in the mirror? The eyes that 
scrutinize it? The heartbeats within my chest? Or the thoughts that 
race through my brain while I wonder about all this? 
 According to the ancient Vedic Scriptures, I am none of these things. I am an 
eternal soul – a jiva – stuck within a city of nine gates (two eyes, two ears, two 
nostrils, the mouth, rectum, and genitals). 
 “when the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again 
each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is 
the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” This statement from the 
Svetasvatara Upanishad explains why scientists have not been able to see the 
soul through their microscopes. 
 Minute in size, the soul is nonetheless so powerful that it animates the entire 
body with consciousness. It is situated within the heart, and when it leaves the 
body the red corpuscles that carry the oxygen from the lungs can no longer 
gather energy from the soul. As a result the activity of the blood ceases, the 
heart stops beating, and the entire body disintegrates.
What happens to the soul then? 
 “for the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time,” 
the Bhagavad-gita explains. “he is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, 
and primeval. He is not slain when the body is 
slain.” (bg. 2.20) “as the embodied soul continuously 
passes, in this body from childhood to youth to old age, the 
soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober 
person is not bewildered by such a change.” (bg. 2.13) “as 
a person puts on new garments, the soul similarly accepts 
material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.”(bg. 
2.22)
 The atomic soul (jiva) is part and parcel of the Supreme Whole, and equal 
to God in quality. Both are eternal, full of bliss and knowledge, but they are 
not quantitatively equal. Whether embodied or in the pure spiritual state, 
the jiva remains atomic in size, just as the sunshine molecules remain 
atomic particles of sunshine. The sunshine is simultaneously one with and 
different from the sun globe: it is one in quality of heat and light, but not in 
quantity. Similarly, the jiva always remains a part of the Supreme Whole, 
qualitatively one yet quantitatively different. 
 Throughout the Vedas, the Supreme Whole is known as Krishna. Being the 
Supreme Energetic source of everything, Krishna has innumerable 
energies, which are categorized in three main divisions: internal, external, 
and marginal. The internal or superior energy manifests the spiritual 
variegatedness of the kingdom of God; the external or inferior energy 
manifests the cosmic creation; and the marginal energy comprises the 
countless particles of consciousness known as jivas.
 Just as the limbs of the body are meant to serve the whole body, the jivas are 
meant to serve the Supreme Being. But their infinitesimal size makes them prone 
to become influenced by the Lord’s external energy. Under such influence, some 
jivas choose to misidentify themselves as independent enjoyers. In other words, 
they become God’s competitors. Although it is an impossible dream, Krishna, “who 
has been fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial” (isopanisad - 8), fulfills 
their desire by creating this world of matter. This material world is a perverted 
reflection of the Spiritual World. Here the rebellious jivas are free to enact 
fantasies in one of 8,400,000 types of bodies created by the external, illusory 
energy. 
 When the jivas enter the material energy, they are subjected to past, present, and 
future. Under time’s influence, and overpowered by fear, they suffer greatly. The 
only remedy is to resume service to the Lord. The jivas, however, cannot reach 
this conclusion by their own efforts, because they have forgotten their real identity 
as sprit souls. They consider themselves products of the material energy. 
 As the Supreme Father of all jivas, Krishna is most kind and compassionate. 
Therefore He personally comes to speak Bhagavad-gita, and He sends His 
confidential servants to act as spiritual masters. As the Super soul within 
everyone’s heart, He gives us discrimination, with which we can accept the Vedas 
and a Spiritual Master. 
 Through the study of Bhagavad-gita, the jiva comes to understand his true position 
as Krishna’s servant. Then under the direction of the expert Spiritual Master, he 
engages his senses, mind, and intelligence in the service of Krishna. Such 
practice gradually raises him to the platform of transcendental loving service and 
culminates in the attainment of a blissful, intimate relationship with Krishna – the 
perfection of life.
Prakriti - Material 
Nature
 In the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (7.6), Krishna says that all created 
beings have their origin in two natures – the material and the spiritual – and 
that He is the sources of both natures. 
 Prakriti, nature, is actually threefold. Nature consists of a superior energy 
(para), an inferior energy (apara), and a marginal energy. The superior 
energy manifests the spiritual realm. The inferior energy (known as “nature” 
by scientists) manifests the material world. And the marginal energy, also 
spiritual by constitution, comprises the infinitesimal sparks of consciousness 
known as jivas – that is, all living beings. When the jivas choose to associate 
with matter and identify with the inferior energy, they manipulate it for sense 
enjoyment, and thus the entire world functions. 
 Everything that exists here is a product of matter and spirit, but spirit is the 
basic field of creation. Spirit is not created at a certain stage of material 
development. Matter grows around spirit. For example, a baby’s body grows 
to childhood and youth and then maturity because the spirit soul is present 
within the body. Similarly, the entire cosmic manifestation develops because 
of the presence of the Supreme Soul. 
 Krishna is the Seed-giving Father of all living entities, and material nature is 
the womb, or mother. Krishna says, “this material nature is working under My 
direction, producing all moving and non-moving beings. Under its rule this 
manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (bg. 9.10) Krishna 
injects living entities into the womb of material nature simply by glancing, 
and they manifest in different forms and species, depending upon their 
previous desires and activities.
 Material nature consists of eight elements: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, 
intelligence, and false ego. These are known as Krishna’s “separated material 
energies” (bg. 7.4). Another classification describes the elements of the material 
world as twenty-four. First the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, and 
space). Then the three subtle elements (mind, intelligence, and false ego). Then 
the ten senses—five for working (the hands, legs, stomach, rectum, and the 
genitals) and five for acquiring knowledge (the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin). 
Then there are the five sense objects (form, taste, smell, sound, and touch), and 
finally consciousness. These twenty-four elements constitute the field of activities 
for the living entity. 
 The material body of the jiva is also called the field of activity. It is a miniature 
universe formed of the twenty-four universal elements. Though covered by gross 
and subtle material elements, the soul retains in a dormant state its individuality as 
an eternal servitor of the Lord. The pure soul in the material world desires to exploit 
material nature and the false ego is the identification of the self as separate from 
Krishna. 
 Material nature is endowed with three qualities or modes (gunas): goodness, 
passion, and ignorance. When these three qualities combine and permutate, they 
create many varieties of consciousness, just as the combinations of the primary 
colors red, yellow, and blue create many colors. Conditioned by the three modes, 
the living entity adheres to a particular type of faith, prefers certain kinds of food, 
and enjoys his own type of understanding, determination, happiness, and 
knowledge. Bhagavad- gita (4.13) says that one’s tendency towards a particular 
type of work is determined by the three modes of material nature. Generally the 
mode of goodness conditions one to happiness; passion to fruitive action; and 
ignorance to madness. All three modes bind one to the cycle of repeated birth and 
death. “this divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, 
is difficult to overcome, “krishna says. Nonetheless: “those who have surrendered 
unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg. 7.14)
KALA – ETERNAL TIME
 Time controls and subdues all embodied beings. Anyone can easily see that material bodies 
undergo six changes: birth, growth, maintenance, reproduction, decay, and death. Whether we 
like it or not, every rising and setting of the sun brings us closer to inevitable death. The rise and 
fall of civilizations follow the same pattern, and their Taj Mahals, Parthenons, Chateau de 
Versailles and pyramids stand as pathetic reminders that time and tide wait for no man. 
 According to the Vedic version, Brahma, the four-headed cosmic engineer of this universe, lives in 
a body that is subtle, because it is made primarily of intelligence, and he lives for the duration of 
this universe, the equivalent of 311 trillion of our years, which seem to him only one hundred of 
his years. From our viewpoint, 311 trillion years is an eternity, but from the point of view of Visnu, 
the original cause of the material creation, that’s the time it takes him to exhale one breath. 
When Visnu exhales all the universes come out of the pores of his skin in seed like forms, then 
they develop, and when he inhales, all the universes merge within Him. 
 The purpose of the cosmic creation is to accommodate those souls wishing to assume Krishna’s 
position as the Supreme Enjoyer and Proprietor. Since the constitutional position of everyone is 
subordination to God, it is impossible to compete with Him. So Krishna makes the impossible a 
possibility, by creating a temporary illusion called the material world, where we may forget Him 
and enjoy being illusory controllers for some time. 
 “time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds,” the Lord declares in Bhagavad-gita (11.32). Under 
the influence of eternal time the cosmic manifestation is created, maintained, and annihilated at 
regular intervals. 
 Time passes differently according to one’s situation in the cosmos. Brahma lives for one hundred 
years, but for us his one hundred years seem like trillions. His twelve hours consist of one 
thousand cycles of four ages (yugas): Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. A single cycle of Kali, the 
shortest yuga, corresponds to 4,320,000 solar years.
 The four ages are fully under the corrupting influence of time. Whereas Satya-yuga 
is marked by virtue, wisdom, and religion, these qualities deteriorate with 
the passing of time, and when Kali-yuga rolls around, we experience mostly 
strife, vice, ignorance, and irreligion, true virtue being practically nonexistent. 
 To correct the imbalance created by the degrading influence of time, the Lord 
advents Himself “millennium after millennium.” He first spoke Bhagavad-gita 
to Vivasvan, the sun-god, millions of years ago. “I instructed this imperishable 
science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it ti Manu, 
the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.” (Bg. 4.1) This 
is confirmed in the Mahabharata: “In the beginning of the millennium known as 
Treta-yuga this science of the relationship with the Supreme was delivered by 
Vivasvan to Manu. Manu, being the father of mankind, gave it to his son 
Maharaja Iksvaku, the king of this earth planet and forefather of the Raghu 
dynasty, in which Lord Ramacandra appeared. “ Bhagavad-gita has therefore 
existed in human society from the time if Maharaja Iksvaku. 
 Speaking to Arjuna, Lord Krishna further said, “This supreme science was 
thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings 
understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, 
and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Bg. 4.2) The Lord then 
explained that same science again to Arjuna five thousand years ago, and it 
has been brought to us through an unbroken chain of self-realized spiritual 
masters, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the 
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
 When Krishna said He had spoken millions of years ago to Vivasvan, 
Arjuna raised a doubt: How could Krishna have done this? Lord 
Krishna replied: “Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can 
remember all of them, but you cannot.”(Bg. 4.5) Krishna remembered 
acts He had performed millions of years before, but Arjuna could not 
remember anything, despite the fact that both Krishna and Arjuna are 
eternal. This is so because whenever the Lord appears He appears in 
His original transcendental form, which never deteriorates. Any 
ordinary person, however, transmigrates from one body to another. 
And from one life to the next, one forgets his former identity. But 
Krishna, the very principle of subduing time, is never under the control 
of time, and thus He remembers everything at all times. “O Arjuna, as 
the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has 
happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all 
things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no 
one knows. “(Bg. 7.26) 
 The Srimad Bhagavatam compares time to the deadly sharp blade of a 
Razor. Because time imperceptibly devours the duration of life of 
everyone, one must carefully use one’s life properly. Since time 
represents Krishna, using time to search for the Absolute Truth is the 
best practical use of time. The Narada Pancaratra advises: “By 
concentrating one’s attention on the transcendental form of Krishna, 
who is all- pervading and beyond time and space, one becomes 
absorbed in thinking of Krishna and then attains the happy state of 
transcendental association with Him.”
KARMA – MATERIAL ACTIVITIES
 The Bhagavad-gita discusses five topics: isvara, the Supreme Controller; jiva, the living 
entity; prakriti, material nature; kala, time; and karma, activities. The living entity, material 
nature, and time are eternal energies of the Lord, the Supreme Controller. Karma however, is 
not eternal. “karma” means work and its results, or action and reaction. “ action pertaining to 
the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma," says Bhagavad-gita 
(8.3). 
 From one life to the next, and from one cosmic creation to the next, the living entity makes a 
determination to act in a certain way, and then he is entangled in the reaction to his work. 
After giving up one body, he enters another and usually he forgets everything about his 
previous life. The Super soul in everyone’s heart witnesses one’s past desires and gives one 
facility and directions by which to fulfill them. In this way, the soul reaps the results of his 
actions. 
 But karma is not eternal. Although we are reaping the results of our activities from time 
immemorial, we can change our karma. Change is possible when we become situated in the 
mode of goodness, in sanity, and understand what sort of activities we should adopt. If we do 
that, then all the actions and reactions connected to our past activities can be changed. 
 Action has three components - the sense, the work, and the doer - and three motivating 
factors: knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower. Action can be of three kinds: 
karma, akarma and vikarma. 
 The soul within the body acts to bring about the results of activity and is therefore known as 
the doer. Its instruments of action are the senses, and for every action there is a different 
endeavor. But all of one’s activities depend on the will of the Super soul, seated within the 
heart as a friend. Not a blade of grass moves without the Lord’s sanction. “whatever right or 
wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors, the 
Bhagavad-gita says (18.15). 
 Actions performed in accordance with scriptural injunctions are considered right and are 
technically called karma. They lead the performer to the heavenly planets for prolonged 
sensual enjoyment. But, when a person’s pious credits are exhausted, he must return to 
earth, just as a person returns from a holiday and resumes his work.
 The soul within the body acts to bring about the results of activity and is 
therefore known as the doer. Its instruments of action are the senses, and for 
every action there is a different endeavor. But all of one’s activities depend on 
the will of the Super soul, seated within the heart as a friend. Not a blade of 
grass moves without the Lord’s sanction. “whatever right or wrong action a 
man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors, the 
Bhagavad-gita says (18.15). 
 Actions performed in accordance with scriptural injunctions are considered 
right and are technically called karma. They lead the performer to the 
heavenly planets for prolonged sensual enjoyment. But, when a person’s 
pious credits are exhausted, he must return to earth, just as a person returns 
from a holiday and resumes his work. 
 Actions performed in defiance of the scriptures are called vikarma and lead to 
hellish planets or to lower species of life. Then one has to work one’s way up 
the evolutionary ladder to regain a human form of life. There are 8,400,000 
species of life, but only 400,000 are human, so vikarma is risky. 
 Actions performed under the direct guidance of the Supreme Lord or His 
representatives are called akarma. This type of activity produces neither good 
nor bad reactions. A soldier may kill under the command of his superior officer 
and not be held responsible for murder, though if he kills on his own accord 
he is liable for punishment. Similarly, a Krishna Conscious person acts under 
the Lord’s direction and not for his own sake. “one is understood to be in full 
knowledge whose every endeavor is devoid of the desire for sense 
gratification,” says the Bhagavad-gita. “he is said by the sages to be a worker 
for whom the reactions of work have been burned up by the fire of perfect 
knowledge.” (bg. 4.19)
 Until one is liberated from material nature, one has to perform 
his duty according to religious principles and in this way 
gradually rise to the platform of real knowledge. Krishna says 
(bg. 4.13). “according to the three modes of material nature 
and the work associated with them, the four divisions of 
human society are created by Me,” The four divisions are the 
brahmanas, the intelligent class, situated in the mode of 
goodness; the ksatriyas, the military and administrative class, 
in the mode of passion; vaisyas, the mercantile class, in mixed 
passion and ignorance; and sudras, the working class, in the 
mode of ignorance. Every civilized human fits into one of 
these categories, but not according to birth; it depends on 
one’s personal qualities and work. 
 “by following his qualities of work, every man can become 
perfect,” Krishna says (bg. 18.45). “one who performs his duty 
without attachment, surrendering the results unto the 
Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf 
is untouched by water.” (bg. 5.10) By work directed towards 
the highest perfection of self-realization – understanding one’s 
constitutional position as Krishna’s eternal servitor – one’s 
karma ceases to exist.

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Five Basic Truth of Bhagavad Gita

  • 1. Bhagavad Gita As It Is By A C BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI SRILA PRABHUPADA
  • 2. FIVE BASIC TRUTHS EXPLAINED IN BHAGAVAD-GITA The subject of the Bhagavad-Gita entails the comprehension of five basic truths. 1. Isvara (the Supreme Lord) 2. Jiva (the living entity) 3. Prakrti (nature) 4. Kala (eternal time) 5. Karma (activity)
  • 3. ISHWAR - THE SUPREME LORD
  • 4.  "God is everywhere yet localized, all-pervading yet aloof. He walks yet doesn’t walk. He is far away yet very near as well.” Such contradictory statements are not whimsical. Rather, they indicate God’s inconceivable power.  The Absolute Truth, Krishna, can be realized in three phases: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. These aspects of the Absolute Truth are comparable to the sunshine (brahman), the sun’s surface (paramatma), and the sun planet (bhagavan)—three different features of the same reality.  The Brahman aspect of God is the beginning less, impersonal form of the Lord, the effulgence of Krishna’s transcendental body. Just as the root of a tree maintains the whole tree, Krishna, the root of all things, maintains everything by His energies: He is the heat in the fire, the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon—the active principle of everything. Although Krishna spreads Himself throughout His creation, He retains his own personality.
  • 5.  Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, “unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.” (Bg. 7.24) Although impersonalists may eventually attain the Supreme, their path is fraught with difficulties, for it is unnatural for the embodied soul to conceive of the unembodied, which is only a partial aspect of the Absolute Truth.  Realization of God as Paramatma, the Super soul in the heart of every embodied soul, is compared to knowing the sun disc in the sky. The Paramatma is the Supreme Proprietor, Witness, and the Permitter, and He accompanies the wandering soul through the soul’s 8,400,000 embodiments. Acting as the soul’s friend, He remains the soul’s constant companion during the sojourn in the material world, no matter what type of body the soul inhabits – pig, mosquito, philosopher and demigod. The Super soul helps him fulfill his desires by supplying knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness.
  • 6. o Although the Super soul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. Rather, he is situated as one – like the sun reflected in the millions of buckets of water. The Super soul can be perceived through meditation, by cultivation of knowledge or by working without fruitive desires. A person in full knowledge of the Super soul understands that the Super soul is the localized aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within this material world and that the next step is to worship Him as Bhagavan. o Although the Super soul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. Rather, he is situated as one – like the sun reflected in the millions of buckets of water. The Super soul can be perceived through meditation, by cultivation of knowledge or by working without fruitive desires. A person in full knowledge of the Super soul understands that the Super soul is the localized aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within this material world and that the next step is to worship Him as Bhagavan.
  • 8.  Who am I? The face I see every morning in the mirror? The eyes that scrutinize it? The heartbeats within my chest? Or the thoughts that race through my brain while I wonder about all this?  According to the ancient Vedic Scriptures, I am none of these things. I am an eternal soul – a jiva – stuck within a city of nine gates (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, the mouth, rectum, and genitals).  “when the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” This statement from the Svetasvatara Upanishad explains why scientists have not been able to see the soul through their microscopes.  Minute in size, the soul is nonetheless so powerful that it animates the entire body with consciousness. It is situated within the heart, and when it leaves the body the red corpuscles that carry the oxygen from the lungs can no longer gather energy from the soul. As a result the activity of the blood ceases, the heart stops beating, and the entire body disintegrates.
  • 9. What happens to the soul then?  “for the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time,” the Bhagavad-gita explains. “he is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (bg. 2.20) “as the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” (bg. 2.13) “as a person puts on new garments, the soul similarly accepts material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.”(bg. 2.22)
  • 10.  The atomic soul (jiva) is part and parcel of the Supreme Whole, and equal to God in quality. Both are eternal, full of bliss and knowledge, but they are not quantitatively equal. Whether embodied or in the pure spiritual state, the jiva remains atomic in size, just as the sunshine molecules remain atomic particles of sunshine. The sunshine is simultaneously one with and different from the sun globe: it is one in quality of heat and light, but not in quantity. Similarly, the jiva always remains a part of the Supreme Whole, qualitatively one yet quantitatively different.  Throughout the Vedas, the Supreme Whole is known as Krishna. Being the Supreme Energetic source of everything, Krishna has innumerable energies, which are categorized in three main divisions: internal, external, and marginal. The internal or superior energy manifests the spiritual variegatedness of the kingdom of God; the external or inferior energy manifests the cosmic creation; and the marginal energy comprises the countless particles of consciousness known as jivas.
  • 11.  Just as the limbs of the body are meant to serve the whole body, the jivas are meant to serve the Supreme Being. But their infinitesimal size makes them prone to become influenced by the Lord’s external energy. Under such influence, some jivas choose to misidentify themselves as independent enjoyers. In other words, they become God’s competitors. Although it is an impossible dream, Krishna, “who has been fulfilling everyone’s desire since time immemorial” (isopanisad - 8), fulfills their desire by creating this world of matter. This material world is a perverted reflection of the Spiritual World. Here the rebellious jivas are free to enact fantasies in one of 8,400,000 types of bodies created by the external, illusory energy.  When the jivas enter the material energy, they are subjected to past, present, and future. Under time’s influence, and overpowered by fear, they suffer greatly. The only remedy is to resume service to the Lord. The jivas, however, cannot reach this conclusion by their own efforts, because they have forgotten their real identity as sprit souls. They consider themselves products of the material energy.  As the Supreme Father of all jivas, Krishna is most kind and compassionate. Therefore He personally comes to speak Bhagavad-gita, and He sends His confidential servants to act as spiritual masters. As the Super soul within everyone’s heart, He gives us discrimination, with which we can accept the Vedas and a Spiritual Master.  Through the study of Bhagavad-gita, the jiva comes to understand his true position as Krishna’s servant. Then under the direction of the expert Spiritual Master, he engages his senses, mind, and intelligence in the service of Krishna. Such practice gradually raises him to the platform of transcendental loving service and culminates in the attainment of a blissful, intimate relationship with Krishna – the perfection of life.
  • 13.  In the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (7.6), Krishna says that all created beings have their origin in two natures – the material and the spiritual – and that He is the sources of both natures.  Prakriti, nature, is actually threefold. Nature consists of a superior energy (para), an inferior energy (apara), and a marginal energy. The superior energy manifests the spiritual realm. The inferior energy (known as “nature” by scientists) manifests the material world. And the marginal energy, also spiritual by constitution, comprises the infinitesimal sparks of consciousness known as jivas – that is, all living beings. When the jivas choose to associate with matter and identify with the inferior energy, they manipulate it for sense enjoyment, and thus the entire world functions.  Everything that exists here is a product of matter and spirit, but spirit is the basic field of creation. Spirit is not created at a certain stage of material development. Matter grows around spirit. For example, a baby’s body grows to childhood and youth and then maturity because the spirit soul is present within the body. Similarly, the entire cosmic manifestation develops because of the presence of the Supreme Soul.  Krishna is the Seed-giving Father of all living entities, and material nature is the womb, or mother. Krishna says, “this material nature is working under My direction, producing all moving and non-moving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (bg. 9.10) Krishna injects living entities into the womb of material nature simply by glancing, and they manifest in different forms and species, depending upon their previous desires and activities.
  • 14.  Material nature consists of eight elements: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intelligence, and false ego. These are known as Krishna’s “separated material energies” (bg. 7.4). Another classification describes the elements of the material world as twenty-four. First the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space). Then the three subtle elements (mind, intelligence, and false ego). Then the ten senses—five for working (the hands, legs, stomach, rectum, and the genitals) and five for acquiring knowledge (the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin). Then there are the five sense objects (form, taste, smell, sound, and touch), and finally consciousness. These twenty-four elements constitute the field of activities for the living entity.  The material body of the jiva is also called the field of activity. It is a miniature universe formed of the twenty-four universal elements. Though covered by gross and subtle material elements, the soul retains in a dormant state its individuality as an eternal servitor of the Lord. The pure soul in the material world desires to exploit material nature and the false ego is the identification of the self as separate from Krishna.  Material nature is endowed with three qualities or modes (gunas): goodness, passion, and ignorance. When these three qualities combine and permutate, they create many varieties of consciousness, just as the combinations of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue create many colors. Conditioned by the three modes, the living entity adheres to a particular type of faith, prefers certain kinds of food, and enjoys his own type of understanding, determination, happiness, and knowledge. Bhagavad- gita (4.13) says that one’s tendency towards a particular type of work is determined by the three modes of material nature. Generally the mode of goodness conditions one to happiness; passion to fruitive action; and ignorance to madness. All three modes bind one to the cycle of repeated birth and death. “this divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome, “krishna says. Nonetheless: “those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg. 7.14)
  • 16.  Time controls and subdues all embodied beings. Anyone can easily see that material bodies undergo six changes: birth, growth, maintenance, reproduction, decay, and death. Whether we like it or not, every rising and setting of the sun brings us closer to inevitable death. The rise and fall of civilizations follow the same pattern, and their Taj Mahals, Parthenons, Chateau de Versailles and pyramids stand as pathetic reminders that time and tide wait for no man.  According to the Vedic version, Brahma, the four-headed cosmic engineer of this universe, lives in a body that is subtle, because it is made primarily of intelligence, and he lives for the duration of this universe, the equivalent of 311 trillion of our years, which seem to him only one hundred of his years. From our viewpoint, 311 trillion years is an eternity, but from the point of view of Visnu, the original cause of the material creation, that’s the time it takes him to exhale one breath. When Visnu exhales all the universes come out of the pores of his skin in seed like forms, then they develop, and when he inhales, all the universes merge within Him.  The purpose of the cosmic creation is to accommodate those souls wishing to assume Krishna’s position as the Supreme Enjoyer and Proprietor. Since the constitutional position of everyone is subordination to God, it is impossible to compete with Him. So Krishna makes the impossible a possibility, by creating a temporary illusion called the material world, where we may forget Him and enjoy being illusory controllers for some time.  “time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds,” the Lord declares in Bhagavad-gita (11.32). Under the influence of eternal time the cosmic manifestation is created, maintained, and annihilated at regular intervals.  Time passes differently according to one’s situation in the cosmos. Brahma lives for one hundred years, but for us his one hundred years seem like trillions. His twelve hours consist of one thousand cycles of four ages (yugas): Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. A single cycle of Kali, the shortest yuga, corresponds to 4,320,000 solar years.
  • 17.  The four ages are fully under the corrupting influence of time. Whereas Satya-yuga is marked by virtue, wisdom, and religion, these qualities deteriorate with the passing of time, and when Kali-yuga rolls around, we experience mostly strife, vice, ignorance, and irreligion, true virtue being practically nonexistent.  To correct the imbalance created by the degrading influence of time, the Lord advents Himself “millennium after millennium.” He first spoke Bhagavad-gita to Vivasvan, the sun-god, millions of years ago. “I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it ti Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Iksvaku.” (Bg. 4.1) This is confirmed in the Mahabharata: “In the beginning of the millennium known as Treta-yuga this science of the relationship with the Supreme was delivered by Vivasvan to Manu. Manu, being the father of mankind, gave it to his son Maharaja Iksvaku, the king of this earth planet and forefather of the Raghu dynasty, in which Lord Ramacandra appeared. “ Bhagavad-gita has therefore existed in human society from the time if Maharaja Iksvaku.  Speaking to Arjuna, Lord Krishna further said, “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Bg. 4.2) The Lord then explained that same science again to Arjuna five thousand years ago, and it has been brought to us through an unbroken chain of self-realized spiritual masters, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
  • 18.  When Krishna said He had spoken millions of years ago to Vivasvan, Arjuna raised a doubt: How could Krishna have done this? Lord Krishna replied: “Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot.”(Bg. 4.5) Krishna remembered acts He had performed millions of years before, but Arjuna could not remember anything, despite the fact that both Krishna and Arjuna are eternal. This is so because whenever the Lord appears He appears in His original transcendental form, which never deteriorates. Any ordinary person, however, transmigrates from one body to another. And from one life to the next, one forgets his former identity. But Krishna, the very principle of subduing time, is never under the control of time, and thus He remembers everything at all times. “O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows. “(Bg. 7.26)  The Srimad Bhagavatam compares time to the deadly sharp blade of a Razor. Because time imperceptibly devours the duration of life of everyone, one must carefully use one’s life properly. Since time represents Krishna, using time to search for the Absolute Truth is the best practical use of time. The Narada Pancaratra advises: “By concentrating one’s attention on the transcendental form of Krishna, who is all- pervading and beyond time and space, one becomes absorbed in thinking of Krishna and then attains the happy state of transcendental association with Him.”
  • 19. KARMA – MATERIAL ACTIVITIES
  • 20.  The Bhagavad-gita discusses five topics: isvara, the Supreme Controller; jiva, the living entity; prakriti, material nature; kala, time; and karma, activities. The living entity, material nature, and time are eternal energies of the Lord, the Supreme Controller. Karma however, is not eternal. “karma” means work and its results, or action and reaction. “ action pertaining to the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma," says Bhagavad-gita (8.3).  From one life to the next, and from one cosmic creation to the next, the living entity makes a determination to act in a certain way, and then he is entangled in the reaction to his work. After giving up one body, he enters another and usually he forgets everything about his previous life. The Super soul in everyone’s heart witnesses one’s past desires and gives one facility and directions by which to fulfill them. In this way, the soul reaps the results of his actions.  But karma is not eternal. Although we are reaping the results of our activities from time immemorial, we can change our karma. Change is possible when we become situated in the mode of goodness, in sanity, and understand what sort of activities we should adopt. If we do that, then all the actions and reactions connected to our past activities can be changed.  Action has three components - the sense, the work, and the doer - and three motivating factors: knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower. Action can be of three kinds: karma, akarma and vikarma.  The soul within the body acts to bring about the results of activity and is therefore known as the doer. Its instruments of action are the senses, and for every action there is a different endeavor. But all of one’s activities depend on the will of the Super soul, seated within the heart as a friend. Not a blade of grass moves without the Lord’s sanction. “whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors, the Bhagavad-gita says (18.15).  Actions performed in accordance with scriptural injunctions are considered right and are technically called karma. They lead the performer to the heavenly planets for prolonged sensual enjoyment. But, when a person’s pious credits are exhausted, he must return to earth, just as a person returns from a holiday and resumes his work.
  • 21.  The soul within the body acts to bring about the results of activity and is therefore known as the doer. Its instruments of action are the senses, and for every action there is a different endeavor. But all of one’s activities depend on the will of the Super soul, seated within the heart as a friend. Not a blade of grass moves without the Lord’s sanction. “whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors, the Bhagavad-gita says (18.15).  Actions performed in accordance with scriptural injunctions are considered right and are technically called karma. They lead the performer to the heavenly planets for prolonged sensual enjoyment. But, when a person’s pious credits are exhausted, he must return to earth, just as a person returns from a holiday and resumes his work.  Actions performed in defiance of the scriptures are called vikarma and lead to hellish planets or to lower species of life. Then one has to work one’s way up the evolutionary ladder to regain a human form of life. There are 8,400,000 species of life, but only 400,000 are human, so vikarma is risky.  Actions performed under the direct guidance of the Supreme Lord or His representatives are called akarma. This type of activity produces neither good nor bad reactions. A soldier may kill under the command of his superior officer and not be held responsible for murder, though if he kills on his own accord he is liable for punishment. Similarly, a Krishna Conscious person acts under the Lord’s direction and not for his own sake. “one is understood to be in full knowledge whose every endeavor is devoid of the desire for sense gratification,” says the Bhagavad-gita. “he is said by the sages to be a worker for whom the reactions of work have been burned up by the fire of perfect knowledge.” (bg. 4.19)
  • 22.  Until one is liberated from material nature, one has to perform his duty according to religious principles and in this way gradually rise to the platform of real knowledge. Krishna says (bg. 4.13). “according to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me,” The four divisions are the brahmanas, the intelligent class, situated in the mode of goodness; the ksatriyas, the military and administrative class, in the mode of passion; vaisyas, the mercantile class, in mixed passion and ignorance; and sudras, the working class, in the mode of ignorance. Every civilized human fits into one of these categories, but not according to birth; it depends on one’s personal qualities and work.  “by following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect,” Krishna says (bg. 18.45). “one who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.” (bg. 5.10) By work directed towards the highest perfection of self-realization – understanding one’s constitutional position as Krishna’s eternal servitor – one’s karma ceases to exist.