Bhagawatam 151: Distinction between Self (Puruśa) and Nature (Prakrti)

Haraye namah

Maharishi Kapila continued, “I am the Self who exists within everyone. That devotee who with feelings of total surrender develops infinite love towards Me, who hides Me within his heart believing Me to be his son, who places infinite trust in Me considering Me to be his friend, who reveres Me as his Guru, who accepts Me as his well-wisher and worships Me as God will never face defeat. They will reach my ultimate abode Vaikunṭha. My weapon known as time does not even approach such persons.

Imaṁ lokaṁ tathaivāmum ātmānam ubhayāyinam

Ātmānam anu ye ceha ye rāyaḥ paśavo gṛ

Visṛjya sarvān anyāṁś ca mām evaṁ viśvato-mukham

Bhajanty ananyayā bhaktyā tān mṛtyor atipāraye

 That devotee who, having completely given up inclination towards the comforts of this world, comforts of the supreme heavenly planets, comforts pertaining to this gross body such as wealth, cattle, family etc. and having giving up egoism (sense of I-ness), worships Me, the all pervading Lord, with absolute unflinching devotion and with a non-dual attitude, I will totally free him from the repeated cycle of births and deaths!

Nānyatra mad bhagavataḥ pradhāna-puruṣeśvarāt

Ātmanaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ bhayaṁ tīvra nivartate

I am the Lord of Nature and of all living beings. I, the Supreme Lord, exist as the inner Self (atma) within all living entities. Seeking refuge in anything apart from Me will not relieve the being from this fearful cycle of repeated re-births.

The wind blows out of fear of Me. The Sun shines out of fear of Me. The Fire-god burns and Indra showers rains only out of fear of Me. Fearing Me, the Lord of death executes all his duties.

Jñāna-vairāgya-yuktena bhakti-yogena yoginaḥ

Kṣemāya pāda-mūla me praviśanty akuto-bhayam

In order to attain the auspicious state called liberation, Yogis hold on to bhakti-yoga (devotion) coupled with spiritual knowledge (jnana) and detachment (vairagya) so as to reach My lotus feet. They obtain freedom from every form of fear.

Completely surrendering the mind, which is overflowing with devotion, to Me is the only way to obtain ultimate auspiciousness (kalyanam) in this world! It implies fixing the mind totally upon Me. There is nothing more supreme than this!”

With this the twenty fifth chapter comes to an end.


Third Canto Chapter Twenty six

In this chapter, Kapila Maharishi explains the creation of Mahat and other principles. He elaborates about right conduct (sadācāra).

Kapila Bhagawan continued, “O Mother, I will now explain to you in detail the characteristics of Nature (Prakriti) and other principles. Maharishis state that with this knowledge, human being will be freed from the influence of Nature (Prakriti) and its three attributes. In addition the knot called ignorance that exists in his heart will be shred completely. Through this he will attain Self-realization and achieve liberation.

The Supreme Lord is without a beginning. He is devoid of traits (nirguna). He is the Self (Puruśa) who is beyond Nature (Prakriti). In this combination of body and senses, the subtlest self-illuminating principle is the ‘Self’! It is only due to the all pervasive illumination of the Self that this entire universe illumines!

The all-pervading Self (Puruśa), out of His own desire, playfully and effortlessly entered into this subtle principle of Nature (Prakriti) which is composed of three attributes.

Then Nature (Prakriti) through the medium of its three attributes viz., sattva, rajas, tamas, began to create different living beings that were similar to it in form. The Self (puruśa) then noticed this Prakriti. Through the veiling power (avarana shakti) of his illusory energy (māya shakti), he forgot his original form.

Evaṁ parābhidhyānena kartṛtva prakte pumān

Karmasu kriyamāṇeu guṇair ātmani manyate

In this way the Self (puruśa) considered Nature (Prakriti) which is different from him, to be his own form. For this reason, he mistakenly believes that he is performing actions (karma) that actually belong to Nature and its attributes. He wrongfully takes upon himself the onus for all the actions.

Inherently the Self is devoid of action! He is merely a witness! He is an independent entity and an embodiment of bliss. However due to his false knowledge (mithya jnana) he gets trapped into this repeated cycle of births and deaths. Due to the wrong assumption that he is performing the action, he gets bound to action. As a result of this he loses his freedom.

The body and the senses arise from Nature. The Self, who actually is beyond Nature, assumes oneness with Nature and experiences joys as well as sorrows. He becomes the enjoyer. This is what Maharishis state” said Kapila.

Hearing this, Devahuti enquired, “O Purushottama! Prakriti and Puruśa (Nature and Self) are the cause behind this universe. Nature and Self are also the gross and subtle form of this universe. Hence please explain to me their characteristics”.

Maharishi Kapila replied, “That principle (essence) which is replete with the three attributes of goodness, passion and ignorance (sattva, rajas, tamas); which is subtle; which is not subject to creation or destruction; which is both cause and effect; which becomes the shelter for earth and other elements although they inherently do not exist within it, and which is the primordial cause for this creation is called Prakriti”.

Srikrishnaya namah.

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