You are on page 1of 11

Five Basic Truths Explained in Bhagavad-Gita

The subject of the Bhagavad-gita entails the comprehension of

five basic truths.

Ishwar - The Supreme Lord

"God is everywh er e y et loc aliz ed, all-p ervading y et aloof . He walk s yet does nt
walk . He is far aw ay y et very near as well. Suc h c ontradic tory s tatem ents are not
whims ic al. Rath er, they indic at e G ods inc onc eiv able p ower.
Th e Abs olut e Truth, Kris hna, c an be realiz ed in three ph as es : Brahman,
Par am atm a, and Bh ag av an. Thes e as pec ts of the Abs olute Truth are c ompar able
to the s uns hine (brahman), the s uns s urfac e (param atm a), and the s un plan et
(bhag av an) three differ ent features of the s ame reality.
Th e Brahm an as pec t of God is the beg inning les s, impers on al form of the Lord,
the effulg enc e of Kris hnas tr ans c endental b od y. J ust as the root of a tree
maintains the whole tree, Kris hna, the root of all things , maintains ev erything by His energies : He is the
heat in the fire, the tas te of water, the light of the s un and the moonth e ac tive princ iple of ev erything.
Althou gh Kris hna s preads Hims elf through out His creation, He ret ains his own pers on ality.
Kris hna s ays in the Bh ag av ad-gita, unintellig ent men, who d o n ot k now Me perfec tly, think that I was
imp ers on al b efor e and h av e n ow as s umed this pers on ality. Due to their s mall k nowledg e, they do n ot k now
My high er nature, whic h is imperis hable and s uprem e. (Bg. 7.24) Although imp ers on alis ts may ev entu ally
attain the Suprem e, their path is fraught with diffic ulties , for it is unnatural for the em b odied s oul to
c onc eiv e of the un emb od ied, whic h is only a p artial as p ec t of the Abs olut e Truth.
Realiz ation of God as Param atm a, the Super s oul in the heart of ev ery emb odied s ou l, is c omp ar ed to
k nowing the s un dis c in the sk y. The Par am atm a is the Suprem e Propriet or, W itnes s, and the Permitter,
an d He ac c omp anies the wand ering s oul through the s ouls 8,400,000 embodim ents . Acting as the s ouls
friend, He rem ains the s ouls c ons tant c omp anion during the s oj ourn in the material w orld, no matter what
type of b ody the s oul inh abits pig, mos quito, philos oph er and d emig od. The Sup er s oul h elps him fulfill
his des ires by s upplying k nowledg e, remem branc e, and forgetfuln es s .
Althou gh the Sup er s oul app ears to be divid ed am ong all beings , He is nev er divid ed. Rath er, he is s ituated
as on e lik e the s un reflec ted in the millions of buck ets of wat er. The Super s oul c an be p erc eiv ed through
med itation, by c ultivation of k nowled g e or by work ing without fruitive des ires . A pers on in full k nowledg e of
the Sup er s oul unders tands that t he Sup er s oul is the loc aliz ed as p ec t of the Suprem e P ers on ality of
God h ead within this material world and that the next s tep is to wors hip Him as Bhag av an.
Althou gh the Sup er s oul app ears to be divid ed am ong all beings , He is nev er divid ed. Rath er, he is s ituated
as on e lik e the s un reflec ted in the millions of buck ets of wat er. The Super s oul c an be p erc eiv ed through
med itation, by c ultivation of k nowled g e or by work ing without fruitive des ires . A pers on in full k nowledg e of
the Sup er s oul unders tands t hat the Sup er s oul is the loc aliz ed as p ec t of the Suprem e P ers on ality of
God h ead within this material world and that the next s tep is to wors hip Him as Bhag av an.

Although I am unb orn and My trans c end ent al b ody n ev er det eriorat es , Kris hna tells Arjuna in the
Bh ag av ad-git a, I still app ear in ev ery millennium in My origin al trans c end ental form. Kris hna app ears in
this world to deliv er the pious , annih ilat e the mis creants , and rees tab lis h the princ iples of relig ion.
W hen He app ears , He does not c hang e His body lik e a comm on livin g entity, born on e after an other. Rather
He app ears in His origin al, et ern al form, with two hands , hold ing a flute. He s eems to be b orn lik e an
ordin ary c hild an d grow to boy h ood and y outh but He nev er ag es bey ond youth. At the t ime of the Battle
of Kuruks etra, He was more than on e hundr ed y ears old by material c alc ulation, but he look ed lik e a y oung
man. He is the old es t pers on, but neith er His body nor His intellig enc e ev er det erior ates or c hang es .
To k now Kris hna as Bhag av an is a privileg e res erv ed for bhak ti-yogis . I am nev er man ifes t to the foolis h
an d unintellig ent, Kris hna explains (Bg. 7.25). for them I am c over ed by My internal p otenc y, and
theref ore they do n ot k now that I am unborn and inf allib le.
on e c an und ers tand me as I am, as the Supreme P ers onality of God h ead, on ly by dev otion al s ervic e. And
when, by s uc h dev otion, on e is fully c onsc ious of Me, on e c an enter the k ingdom of God. (Bg. 18.55)
Th e Ved ic s criptures dec lar e that Bhag av an Sri Kris hna is the s ourc e of both the Super s oul and Brahm an
an d the origin of all av at ar as . Avataras are s c heduled in c arnations who d es c end from the s piritual w orld to
exec ut e the Lords miss ion of protec ting the dev ot ees and ann ihilating the mis creants . Their des c ent is
foret old in the s criptures s o that unscrupulous people c an be c hec k ed from c laim ing to b e av at ar as . In this
ag e, j ust over five hundr ed y ears ago, the Lord d es c end ed as Sri Caitany a M ah apr abh u to s pread the
c ongreg ation al c hantin g of the Har e Kris hna mah a-m antra for the peac eful d eliv eranc e of both d ev ot ees
an d mis creants.
A c ommon mis c onc eption of uninform ed s tudents of the Bh ag av ad-git a is that Kris hnas univers al form
(des cribed in the elev enth c hapter) is the las t word in God realiz ation. The univ ers al form is mos t
impres s ive and s pec tac ular: if hundreds of thous an ds of s uns were to ris e at onc e into the s k y, their
radianc e might res emble the effulgenc e of the Suprem e Pers on in that univ ers al form. Arj una c ould s e e in
that univ ers al form of the Lord the unlim ited exp ans ions of the univ ers e s ituated in on e plac e alth oug h
divid ed into m any, many thous ands . (bg. 11.13) Yet the univers al form is only a s ub ordin ate feature of the
origin al, humanlik e form of the P ers on ality of Godh ead.
Th e univ ers al form frighten ed Arj una an d bew ild er ed his mind, es pec ially wh en the L ord rev ealed Hims elf
as k ala-rupa, the form of time, dev ouring all the c omb atants on the battlefield. Arj una therefor e requ es ted
Kris hna to withdraw His terrifying univers al form and s how His four -armed Vis nu form. Kris hna agr eed.
Th en, reverting to the two - armed form Arj una was ac c us tomed to s ee, the Lord dec lar ed, this form of
Min e you ar e now s eeing is very diffic ult to beh old. It c ann ot be und ers tood s imply by studying the V ed as ,
nor by und ergoing s eri ous pen anc es , nor by c harity, nor by wors hip. Only by undivid ed d ev otion al s ervic e
c an I be und ers tood as I am, s tanding b efor e y ou, and c an thus be s een direc tly. (bg. 11.53 -4)
Th e k ingdom of God is c alled Vaik untha, the plac e without an xiety, and it lies far bey on d this world of
matter. It is eternal, and ev ery on e of its atoms is fully cons c ious and blis s ful. It is full of c ou ntles s s piritual
plan ets where Kris hnas Vis nu exp ans ions res ide. In the midst of Vaik untha s tands Golok a Vrind av an, a
plan et s hap ed lik e a lotus flow er, where ev ery word is a s ong and ev ery s tep is a danc e, wher e trees fulfill
all d es ires , palac es are m ad e of touc hston e, and trans cen d ent al c ows s upply unlimit ed milk . The orig in al

Kris hna enj oys life as a c owh erd b oy with His lov ing d ev ot ees . Thos e wh o reac h that Suprem e ab od e n ev er
return to the mat erial world.

Jiva - The Living Entity

W ho am I? The fac e I s ee ev ery mornin g in the mirror? Th e ey es that scrutinize

it? The heartb eats within my c hes t? Or the thoughts that rac e through my brain
while I wond er ab out all this ?
Ac c ording to the anc ient Vedic Scriptures, I am non e of thes e things . I am an
et ernal s oul a j iva stuc k within a c ity of nine gat es (two ey es , two ears , two
nos trils , the mouth, rec tum, and g enit als ).
when the upp er point of a hair is divid ed into on e hundr ed p arts and ag ain eac h
of s uc h parts is further divided int o on e hundred parts, eac h s uc h part is the
meas urem ent of the dimens ion of the s pirit s oul. This stat em ent from the
Sv etas v atar a Upanis h ad explains why s c ientis ts hav e n ot been ab le to s ee the
s oul through their mic rosc op es .
Minute in s ize, the s oul is non eth eles s s o pow erful that it anim ates the entire b ody with c ons c ious nes s . It is
s ituated within the h eart, and wh en it leav es the bod y the red c orpus c les that c arry the oxyg en from the
lungs c an no long er gath er en ergy from the s oul. As a res ult the ac tivity of the blood c eas es , the heart
s tops beating, and the entire b od y dis integrat es .
What happ e ns to the soul the n?
for the s oul there is neith er birth nor death at any time, the Bhag av ad-git a explains . he is unborn,
et ernal, ev er -exis ting, and primev al. He is not s lain when the body is s lain. (bg. 2.20) as the emb odied
s oul c ontinu ous ly p as s es , in this body from c hildh ood to youth to old ag e, the s oul s imilarly pas s es into
an oth er body at death. A s ob er pers on is not bewild ered by s uc h a c hang e. (bg. 2.13) as a pers on puts on
new g arm ents , the s oul s imilarly ac c epts material b odies , giving up the old and us eles s on es .(bg. 2 .22)
Th e at omic s oul (j iva) is part and parc el of the Suprem e W hole, and equ al to God in qu ality. Both ar e
et ernal, full of bliss and k nowledg e, but they are n ot quantitativ ely equ al. W hether emb odied or in the pure
s piritual state, the j iva rem ains atomic in s ize, j ust as the s uns hine m olec ules rem ain atom ic partic les of
s uns hine. The s uns hine is s imultan eous ly on e with an d different from the s un glob e: it is one in qu ality of
heat and light, but not in quantity. Similarly, the j iva alw ays rem ains a p art of the Suprem e W hole,
qu alit ativ ely on e y et quantitativ ely different.
Through out the Ved as , the Suprem e W hole is k nown as Kris hna. Being the Supr em e En ergetic s ourc e of
ev erything, Kris hna has innum er able en ergies , whic h are c ateg oriz ed in three main divis ions : internal,
ext ern al, and m argin al. Th e intern al or s uperior en ergy man ifes ts the s piritual v arieg atedn es s of th e
k ingdom of God; the ext ernal or inferior en ergy man ifes ts the c os mic c reation; and the m argin al en ergy
c ompris es the c ountles s partic les of c ons c ious n es s k nown as j ivas .
J ust as the limbs of the body are m eant to s erve the wh ole body, the j ivas are m eant to s erve the Suprem e
Being. But their infinites im al s ize m ak es them pron e to bec om e influ enc ed by the Lords ext ernal en ergy.
Und er s uc h influenc e, s ome j ivas c hoos e to mis id entify thems elv es as ind ep en d ent enj oy ers . In other
words , they bec om e Gods c ompetit ors. Although it is an impos s ible dream, Kris hna, who has been
fulfilling ev ery on es des ire s inc e time immem orial (is opan is ad - 8), fulfills their des ire by creatin g this
world of matter. This material world is a perv erted reflec tion of the Spiritual W orld. Here t he reb ellious j ivas
ar e free to en ac t fantas ies in on e of 8,400,000 types of bodies created by the extern al, illus ory en ergy.

W hen the j ivas ent er the mat erial en ergy, they are s ubj ec ted to pas t, pres ent, and future. Under tim es
influ enc e, an d ov erp ow er ed by fear, they s uffer greatly. Th e on ly rem edy is to res ume s ervic e to the Lord.
Th e j ivas , how ev er, c ann ot reac h this c onc lus ion by their own efforts , bec aus e they hav e forgotten t heir
real id entity as s prit s ouls . They c ons id er thems elv es prod uc ts of the material en ergy.
As the Suprem e F ather of all j ivas , Kris hna is mos t k ind an d c omp as s ion at e. Theref ore H e p ers on ally
c om es to s peak Bhag av ad-gita, and H e s ends His c onfidential s ervants to ac t as s piritual mas ters. As the
Sup er s oul within ev ery on es hear t, He giv es us discrimination, with whic h we c an ac c ept the Ved as and a
Spiritual M as ter.
Through the s tudy of Bhag av ad-gita, the j iva c om es to und erstand his true pos ition as Kris hnas s ervant.
Th en und er the direc tion of the exp ert Spiritual Mas ter, he eng ag es his s ens es , mind, and intellig enc e in
the s ervic e of Kris hna. Suc h practic e gradu ally rais es him to the platform of trans c end ental lovin g s ervic e
an d c ulminat es in the attainm ent of a blis sful, intimate relations hip with Kris hna the perfec tion of life.

Prakriti - Material Nature

In the Sev enth Chapt er of Bhag av ad-gita (7.6), Kris hna s ays that all c reated
beings hav e th eir origin in two n atures the mat erial an d the s piritual an d that
He is the s ourc es of both natures .
Prak riti, natur e, is ac tually threef old. Nature c ons is ts of a s uperior en ergy (par a),
an inf erior en ergy (ap ara), and a m argin al en ergy. The s up erior en ergy m anif es ts
the s piritual realm. The inf erior en ergy (k nown as nature by sc ientis ts)
man ifes ts the material w orld. And the margin al en ergy, als o s piritual by
c ons titution, c ompris es the infinites im al s parks of c onsc ious n es s k nown as j ivas
that is, all livin g beings . W hen the j ivas c hoos e to as s oc iate with matter and
id entify with the inferior en ergy, they manipulat e it for sens e enj oyment, and thus
the entir e world func tions .
Ev erything that exis ts here is a produc t of matter and s pirit, but s pirit is the b as ic field of creation. Spirit is
not c reated at a c ertain s tag e of mat erial d ev elopm ent. Matter grows around s pirit. For example, a b abys
body grows to c hildh ood and y outh and then maturity bec aus e the s pirit s oul is pres ent within the body.
Similarly, the entir e c os mic manif es tation dev elops bec aus e of the pres enc e of the Suprem e S oul.
Kris hna is the Seed-giving F ath er of all liv ing entities , and material nature is the womb, or moth er. Kris hna
s ays , this material n ature is work ing under My direc tion, produc ing all m oving and n on -m oving beings .
Und er its rule this manif es tation is created and ann ihilat ed ag ain and ag ain. (bg. 9.10) Kris hna inj ec ts
living entities into the wom b of material nature s imply by glanc ing, an d they manifes t in different forms and
s pec ies , dep end ing up on their previous des ires and ac tivities .
Mat erial n ature c ons is ts of eight elem ents : ear th, water, fire, air, s pac e, mind, intellig enc e, and fals e eg o.
Th es e ar e k nown as Kris hnas s ep arat ed m aterial en ergies (bg. 7.4). Another c las s ific ation d es c rib es the
elem ents of the mat erial w orld as twenty-four. First the fiv e gros s elem ents (earth, water, fire, air, and
s pac e). Then the three s ubtle elem ents (mind, intellig en c e, and fals e eg o). Then the ten s ens es fiv e for
work ing (the h ands , legs , stomac h, rec tum, and the g enitals ) and five for ac quiring k nowledg e (the ey es ,
ears , nos e, tongu e, an d sk in). Then there are the fiv e s ens e obj ec ts (form, tas te, s mell, s ound, and touc h),
an d finally c ons c ious n es s. Thes e twenty-four elem ents cons titute the field of ac tivities for the living entity.
Th e mat erial b ody of the j iva is als o c alled the field of ac tivity. It is a miniature univ ers e formed of the
twenty-four univers al elem ents . Though c ov er ed by gros s and s ubtle mat erial elem ents , the s oul retains in
a d ormant s tate its individu ality as an etern al s ervitor of the Lord. The pure s oul in the mat erial w orld
des ires to exp loit mat erial n ature an d the fals e eg o is the id entific ation of the s elf as s ep arat e f rom
Kris hna.
Mat erial n ature is end ow ed with three qu alities or mod es (gunas ): goodn es s , pas s ion, and ign or anc e. W hen
thes e three qu alities c ombin e and p ermutate, they c reate m any v arieties of c ons c ious nes s , j us t as the
c ombin ations of the primary c olors red, yellow, an d blu e creat e man y c olors . Condition ed by the three
mod es , the living entity adh er es to a partic ular type of faith, prefers c ertain k inds of food, and enj oys his
own typ e of und ers tanding, determin ation, happin es s , and k nowledg e. Bh ag av ad - gita (4.13) s ays that
on es tend enc y towards a partic ular type of work is determined by the three mod es of mat erial n ature.
Gen er ally the m od e of goodn es s c onditions on e to h ap pines s ; pas s ion to fruitive ac tion; an d ign oranc e to
mad n es s . All three m od es bind on e to th e c yc le of repeated birth and death. this divin e en ergy of M ine,

c ons is ting of the three mod es of material n ature, is difficult to ov erc om e, kris hna s ays . Non etheles s :
thos e who h av e s urrender ed unto M e c an eas ily c ross bey ond it. (Bg. 7.14)

Kala Eternal Time

Tim e c ontrols and s ubdues all em b odied b eings . Anyon e c an eas ily s ee that
mat erial b odies und ergo s ix c hang es : birth, growth, mainten anc e, reproduc tion,
dec ay, and d eath. W hether we lik e it or not, ev ery ris ing and s etting of the s un
brings us c los er to inev itab le d eath. The ris e and fall of c iviliz ations follow th e
s am e pattern, and their Taj Mah als , Parthen ons , Chateau de V ers ailles an d
pyramids s tand as pathetic remind ers that time and tide wait for no man.
Ac c ording to the Vedic vers ion, Brahm a, the four -head ed c os mic engin eer of this
univ ers e, liv es in a body that is s ubtle, bec aus e it is made prim arily of
intellig enc e, and h e liv es for the duration of this univers e, the eq uiv alent of 311 trillion of our years , whic h
s eem to him only on e hun dred of his years . From our viewpoint, 311 trillion y ears is an et ernity, but from
the point of view of Vis nu, the origin al c aus e of the mat erial c reation, thats the time it tak es him to exh ale
on e br eath. W hen Vis nu exh ales all the univ ers es c ome out of the por es of his sk in in s eed lik e form s , then
they d ev elop, and wh en h e inh ales , all th e univ ers es merge within Him.
Th e purpos e of the c os mic c reation is to ac c ommod at e thos e s ouls wis hing to as s ume Kris hnas pos ition as
the Suprem e Enj oy er and Propriet or. Sinc e the c ons titution al p os ition of ev ery on e is s ubordin ation t o God,
it is impos s ible to c omp et e with Him. So Kris hna mak es the imp os s ible a p os s ibility, by creating a
temp orary illus ion c alled the m aterial world, wher e we m ay forg et Him and enj oy being illus ory c ontr ollers
for s om e time.
time I am, the great des troy er of the worlds , the Lord dec lares in Bhag av ad-git a (11.32). Under the
influ enc e of etern al time th e c os mic manif es tation is creat ed, maint ain ed, and annihilat ed at regular
interv als .
Tim e pas s es differently ac c ording to on es s ituation in the c os m os . Brahma liv es for one hundr ed y ears , but
for us his on e hundred y ears s eem lik e trillions . His twelve h ours c ons is t of on e thous and c yc les of four
ag es (yugas ): Satya, Treta, Dvap ara and K ali. A s ingle c yc le of Kali, the s hortes t yuga, c orres ponds to
4,320,000 s olar years .
Tim e pas s es differently ac c ording t o on es s ituation in the c os m os . Brahma liv es for one hundr ed y ears , but
for us his on e hundred y ears s eem lik e trillions . His twelve h ours c ons is t of on e thous and c yc les of four
ag es (yugas ): Satya, Treta, Dvap ara and K ali. A s ingle c yc le of Kali, the s hortes t yuga, c orres ponds to
4,320,000 s olar years .
Th e four ag es are fully und er the c orrupting influenc e of time. W hereas Satya-yug a is mark ed by virtue,
wis dom, and religion, thes e qu alities det erior ate with the p as s ing of time, and when K ali-yug a rolls ar ound,
we exp erienc e mos tly strife, vic e, ignoranc e, and irreligion, true virtue being pr ac tic ally non exis t ent.
To c orrec t the imb alanc e c reated by the degr ading influ enc e of time, the Lord adv ents Hims elf millen nium
after millenn ium. He first s pok e Bhag av ad-git a to Viv as van, the s un-god, millions of years ag o. I
ins tructed this imperis hable s c ienc e of yog a to the s un-god, Vivas v an, and Viv as v an ins truc ted it ti Manu,
the father of mank ind, and M anu in turn instructed it to Iks vak u. (Bg. 4.1) This is c onfirmed in the
Mah abh ar ata: In the beginn ing of the millennium k nown as Treta-yug a this sc ienc e of the relations hip with
the Suprem e w as deliv ered by Viv as van to M anu. Manu, being th e father of mank ind, gav e it to his s on

Mah ar aj a Ik s vak u, the k ing of this earth plan et and foref ath er of the Raghu dyn as ty, in whic h Lord
Ram ac andr a ap p ear ed. Bhag av ad-gita h as therefore exis ted in human s oc iety from the time if Mah araj a
Ik s vak u.
Sp eak ing to Arj una, Lord Kris hna further s aid, This s uprem e sc ienc e was thus r ec eiv ed through the c hain
of dis c iplic s ucc es s ion, and the s aintly k ings unders tood it in that way. But in c ours e of time the s ucc es s ion
was brok en, and ther efor e the s c ienc e as it is app ears to b e los t. (Bg. 4.2) The Lord then explain ed that
s am e sc ienc e ag ain to Arj una five thous and y ears ago, an d it has been brought to us through an unbrok en
c hain of s elf-realiz ed s piritual mas ters , by His Divine Grac e A.C. Bhak tived anta Sw ami Prabh up ad a, the
Found er-Ac arya of the Intern ation al Soc iety for Kris hna Cons c ious nes s .
W hen Kris hna s aid He h ad s pok en millions of years ago to Viv as van, Arjuna rais ed a d oubt: How c ould
Kris hna hav e d on e this ? Lord Kris hna replied: Many, man y births both you an d I hav e p as s ed. I c an
rem emb er all of them, but you c ann ot.(Bg. 4.5) Kris hna rememb er ed ac ts He had p erformed millions of
years befor e, but Arj una c ould n ot rem emb er anything, des pite th e fac t that both Kris hna and Arj una are
et ernal. This is s o bec aus e wh en ev er the Lord app ears He app ears in His origin al trans c end ent al form,
whic h nev er det eriorat es . Any ordin ary pers on, how ev er, trans migrates from on e b od y to an oth er. And from
on e life to the n ext, on e forgets his former identity. But Kris hna, the very princ iple of s ubduing t ime, is
nev er under the c ontrol of time, and thus He rememb ers ev erything at all times . O Arj una, as the Suprem e
Pers on ality of God h ead, I k now ev erything that has hap pen ed in the p as t, all that is happ ening in th e
pres ent, and all things that are yet to c ome. I als o k now all liv ing entities ; but Me no on e k nows . (Bg. 7.26)
Th e Srimad Bh ag av at am c omp ar es time to the dead ly sharp blad e of a Raz or. Bec aus e time imp erc eptib ly
dev ours the duration of life of ev ery on e, on e mus t c arefully us e on es life prop erly. Sinc e time rep res ents
Kris hna, us ing time to s earc h for the Abs olute Truth is the b es t prac tic al us e of time. The Nar ad a
Panc aratra adv is es : By c onc entrating on es attention on the trans c end ent al form of Kris hna, who is allperv ad ing and b ey ond tim e an d s pac e, on e b ec om es ab s orbed in think ing of K ris hna and then attains the
happy s tate of trans c end ent al as s oc iation with Him.

Karma Material Activities

Th e Bhag av ad-git a dis c us s es five topic s : is vara, the Su prem e Controller; j iva, the
living entity; prak riti, material n ature; k ala, time; and k arma, ac tivities . The living
entity, material n ature, and time ar e et ernal en ergies of the Lord, the Suprem e
Controller. Karma h ow ev er, is not etern al. k arma mean s work and its res ults, or
ac tion and reac tion. ac tion pertaining to the d ev elopm ent of the mat erial b odies
of the livin g entities is c alled k arma," s ays Bhag av ad-gita (8.3).
From on e life to the n ext, and from on e c os mic creation to the next, the living
entity mak es a det ermin ation to ac t in a c ertain w ay, an d then he is entangled in
the reac tion to his work. After giving up on e b ody, he en ters an oth er and us ually
he forg ets everything ab out his previous life. The Sup er s oul in ev eryon es heart
witnes s es on es pas t des ires and giv es on e fac ility and direc tions by whic h to
fulfill them. In this way, the s oul reaps the res ults of his ac tions .
But k arma is not etern al. Although w e are reap ing the res ults of our activities from time imm em orial, we c an
c hang e our k arma. Chang e is pos s ible wh en w e b ec om e s ituated in the m od e of goodn es s , in s an ity, and
und ers tand what s ort of ac tivities we s hould ad opt. If we do that, then all the ac tions and reac tion s
c onn ec ted to our pas t ac tivities c an be c hang ed.
Ac tion has three c omp on ents - the s ens e, the work , and the doer - and three m otiv ating fac tors: k nowledg e,
the obj ec t of k nowledg e, and the k now er. Ac tion c an be of three k inds : k arma, ak arm a and vik arm a.
Th e s oul within the body ac ts to bring ab out the res ults of ac tivity and is therefore k now n as the d oer. Its
ins truments of action are the s ens es , and for every ac tion there is a different end eav or. But all of on es
ac tivities dep end on the will of the Sup er s oul, s eat ed within the heart as a friend. Not a blad e of grass
mov es without the L ords s anc tion. W hatev er right or wrong ac tion a m an p erforms by body, mind or
s peec h is c aus ed by thes e five fac tors , the Bh ag av ad-gita s ays (18.15).
Ac tions performed in ac c ord anc e with sc riptural inj unc tions ar e c ons id ered right and ar e tec hnic ally c alled
k arma. They lead the perform er to the heav en ly plan ets for prolong ed s ens u al enj oym ent. But, when a
pers ons pious credits are exh aus ted, he mus t return to earth, just as a pers on returns from a holid ay an d
res umes his work .
Ac tions performed in defianc e of the s criptures are c alled vik arma and lead to h ellis h p lan ets or to low er
s pec ies of life. Then on e h as to work ones way up the evolution ary ladd er to reg ain a hum an form of life.
Th ere are 8,400,000 s pec ies of life, but only 400,000 are hum an, s o vik arma is risk y.
Ac tions performed und er the direc t guidanc e of the Suprem e L ord or His repres entativ es are c alled ak arm a.
This type of ac tivity produc es neither good n or bad reac tions . A s oldier may k ill und er the c ommand of his
s uperior offic er and not be h eld res p ons ible for murder, though if he k ills on his own ac c ord he is liab le for
punis hm ent. Similarly, a Kris hna Cons c ious pers on ac ts und er the Lords direc tion an d not for his ow n
s ak e. one is unders tood to be in full k nowledg e wh os e ev ery end eav or is dev oid of the des ire for s ens e
gratific ation, s ays the Bhag av ad-git a. he is s aid by the s ages to be a w ork er for whom the reac tions of
work hav e b een burned up by the fire of perfec t k nowled ge. (bg. 4.19)

Until on e is lib erat ed from material n ature, on e h as to perform his duty ac c ording to religious prin c iples and
in this way gradu ally ris e to the platform of real k now led ge. Kris hna s ays (bg. 4.13). acc ording to the three
mod es of mat erial n ature an d the work as s oc iated with them, the four divis ions of human s oc iety ar e
created by Me, The four divis ions are the brahm an as , the int ellig ent c las s , s ituated in the m od e of
goodn es s ; the ks atriyas , the military and adminis trative c las s , in the mod e of pas s ion; vais yas , the
merc antile c las s , in mixed p as s ion and ign or anc e; and sudras , the work ing c las s, in the mod e of ignor anc e.
Ev ery c iviliz ed hum an fits into on e of thes e c ateg ories , but not ac c ording to birth; it dep en ds on on es
pers on al qu alities an d work .
by following his qualities of work, every man c an bec ome p erfec t, Kris hna s ays (bg. 18.45). on e w ho
performs his duty without attac hment, s urrend ering the res ults unto the Suprem e L ord, is unaffec ted by
s inful ac tion, as the lotus leaf is untouc hed by wat er. (bg. 5.10) By work direc ted towards the hig h es t
perfec tion of s elf-realiz ation und ers tanding on es c onstitution al p os ition as Kris hnas eternal s ervitor
on es k arma c eas es to exis t.