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Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) :: Conto 3b

Fundamental Principles of Material Nature

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Srimad Bhagavatam » Conto 3b   

 Fundamental Principles of Material Nature

(1) The Supreme Lord said: 'I will now describe to you the different categories of reality, knowing which anyone can be released from the [yoke of the] modes of material nature. (2) I will explain that to you about which one speaks as the spiritual knowledge [the jñâna] that cuts the knots [of egoism] in the heart and constitutes the ultimate truth of one's self-realization. (3) The Supreme Soul, the Original Person is beginningless and is, situated in the beyond of all matter, transcendental to the modes of nature. He can be perceived everywhere as the self-effulgence of the entire creation that is maintained by Him. (4) That very person, the greatest of the great, accepted out of his own free will as His pastime the subtle material energy that is invested with the three modes and relates to the divinity [of Vishnu]. (5) Nature by means of the modes created the variegated forms of the materially living beings. They in this world being confronted with it, were from the first day on illusioned by it because they [those forms] constitute the covering of their spiritual knowledge. (6) Because the living entity identifies himself with the material action that was brought about by the modes of nature and is other than himself, he unjustly considers himself the doer. (7) He because of that bound to a conditioned life thus became dependent, even though he is the naturally joyful and independent witness who doesn't do anything. (8) The knowers of truth understand that the body and the senses of one's respect are subject to the causation of the material modes of nature and that the spiritual soul above all matter is responsible for the experience of happiness and distress [see also B.G. 13: 21].'

(9) Devahûti said: 'Kindly explain to me the characteristics of the energies and the Original Person [prakriti and purusha] who together constitute the cause of the manifest and unmanifest reality this creation consists of.'

(10) The Supreme Lord said: 'The undifferentiated, eternal reality that differentiated in the form of material nature [prakriti] as a combination of the three modes, this cause belonging to the effect [of this material manifestation], is called the primary nature [the primal ether or pradhâna]. (11) That primary nature is known as the basis from which the five gross and five subtle elements, the ten senses of perception and action and the four internal sense departments [of mind, ego, consciousness and  intelligence] evolved who together add up to a number of twenty-four [see also elements]. (12) The five gross elements are to be exact: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Of the subtle elements there are, to My notion, as many. They are the smell and so on [taste, color, touch and sound]. (13) The ten senses are the organs of [perception of] hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling, with the [organs of action known as the] mouth, the hands, the legs, the genitals and the organs of excretion as the tenth. (14) Mind, intelligence, ego and consciousness are the four aspects of the internal, subtle sense one distinguishes when one pays attention to the different characteristics of the [brain] functions. (15) Thus are with the classification I provided the material qualities of the Absolute Truth of Brahman summed up [called saguna brahman]. One speaks thereto of time as the twenty-fifth element.

(16) The influence of the Original Personality of God is said to be the time factor that is feared by some who are deluded by the ego of being in contact with the material nature of one's individual existence. (17) The [expanding, accelerating] movement of material nature without her interaction of the modes and their specific qualities o daughter of Manu, is the [space]time [the fourth dimension] from which we in our world know Him, the Supreme Lord. (18) He who abides within in the form of the original person [purusha] and without in the form of time [the twenty-fifth element], exists by [exhibiting] His potencies as the Lord of All Opulence [Bhagavân, the Fortunate One] for all living entities [and elements]. (19) She [material nature] whose equilibrium of the modes was agitated by the grace, the divine ordinance, of the Supreme Person who impregnated  her womb with His semen, His internal potency, delivers the sum total of the cosmic intelligence [the mahat-tattva] of Brahmâ's effulgent golden reality [known as hiranmaya]. (20) The universe which contains this unchangeable root cause of the cosmic manifestation within itself, swallowed by its own effulgence the dense darkness of the Self in its primordial slumber. (21) The mode of goodness, which is the clear and sober position of understanding the Supreme Lord, is known by the name of Vâsudeva; it is the consciousness that constitutes the nature of the intellect [see also S.B. 1.2: 23]. (22) The characteristic traits of one's [reason in this state of Krishna or natural time] consciousness thus are similar to those of the natural state of pure water: clarity, invariability and serenity.

(23-24) From the complete reality [of the mahat-tattva] that undergoes changes brought about by the Supreme Lord His energies, the in five divided elements, the material ego [or I-awareness] and the therefrom generated mind in combination with the different senses of action and perception sprang up. Moved by that active potency of the Lord the ego manifested itself in the three forms of goodness, passion and ignorance. (25) All of that ego consisting of the elements, senses and mind is in person the Supreme Personality of Ananta with His thousands of heads [Vishnu's snake-bed] who is known by the name of Sankarshana [and also as the Supreme Lord His first plenary expansion]. (26) The false ego, the materially identified self, can thus [according to the three gunas] be characterized as being the one acting, the instrument that is handled [the body] as also the effect of the actions [or that what was realized]. One may in that context also speak of the ego as being serene, active or dull. (27) With the transformation [of the ego in three false forms] from its emotions [in goodness] the principle of mind evolved that with its thoughts and reflections gives rise to desires. (28) The name of that principle is Aniruddha, He who [as the  personal expansion of the mind of Vâsudeva] is known as the supreme ruler of the senses. He is bluish like a lotus in autumn and is only gradually realized by the yogis. (29) From the brilliance of the light of the transformation arose the principle of intelligence [the primal expansion of the Lord named Pradyumna] o virtuous lady, in order to assist in sensually ascertaining the objects that can be perceived [see also S.B. 1.5: 37]. (30) Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep are thus said to be the different characteristics of the functions of intelligence.

(31) From the forceful action of the ego we have the senses for arriving at actions and the acquiring of knowledge according to the active powers of respectively the vital energy and the intelligence. (32) Impelled by the potency of the Supreme Lord from the ignorance of the ego in transformation the subtle element of sound was manifested. Then from the ether rose the sense of hearing to catch the sounds. (33) Persons of learning define sound as that which is indicative of an object, as that which betrays the presence of a speaker [who remembered no longer might be present] and as that which characterizes the subtle element of the sky [the ether]. (34) As for its action and characteristics the ether is described as the element internally and externally giving room to the living beings and as the field of activities of the vital air [prana], the senses and the mind. (35) From the ether evolving from the subtlety of sound the evolution of the subtle element of touch takes place under the transforming impulse of time and thus the air is found as well as the sense organ for it and of that sense of touch the active perception. (36) Softness and hardness as well as cold and heat are of this subtle element of touch the distinguished attributes in the sensual experience of the air. (37) By the different characteristics of the air in action, which moves and mixes, brings close and transports particles [of dust] and waves of sound, the other senses are stimulated to function properly. (38) As arranged by fate from the element of the air and the subtle element of touch the form [one has] evolved in which with fire the sense of sight arose for perceiving color and form.

(39) O virtuous one, the characteristics of the form element are the dimension, the quality and the individuality of an object. For fire this is the effulgence. (40) The functions of fire consist of illumining, digesting, heating, evaporating, to give rise to hunger and thirst and to serve with food and drink. (41) From the form element that under divine ordinance transforms under the influence of fire the element of taste manifested from which with the water the tongue appeared that perceives the taste. (42) Even though taste is one, it is in contact with all the different substances divided into the sensations of the astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent [salt] and sour. (43) The typical of water is to be moistening, coagulating, quenching, life-sustaining, refreshing, softening, cooling and to be available in abundance. (44) Because of the transformations of the element of taste in relation to the water, by superior arrangement finding earth the measure of odor manifested so as to smell the aromas. (45) The oneness of odor is depending the proportions of the substances divided in the separate realizations of odors being mixed, offensive, fragrant, mild, strong, acidic and so on. (46) The characteristic function of the earth is to be modeled into forms of the Supreme Brahman with places of residence, pots to contain substances etc. that constitute the place for the presence of anything that can be separated in space. (47) The sense that has the distinctive character of the sky [sound] as its object is called the auditory sense and that sense which has the different features of the air [touch] as its object of perception is known as the tactile sense. (48) The sense which has as its object that what is distinguished by fire [viz. form] is called the sense of sight, the specific perception of the characteristics of water is known as the sense of taste and the perception of that what characterizes earth is called the sense of smell.

(49) In the characteristics of the effect of something the characteristics of the cause can be recognized. Hence one can retrace in the earth element only [being the element created last] the peculiarities of all the preceding elements. (50) When [in the beginning of creation] the seven primary elements [the five material elements, ego and cosmic intelligence - the mahat-tattva] were not yet mixed, [the Lord,] the origin of creation endowed with kâla, karma and guna [time, workload and the modes] entered the universe. (51) Next were by Him [in the form of time] these seven elements roused into activity and united in an egg-shape in an unconscious state. From that egg the celebrated Cosmic Being [or the original 'gigantic' person, the virâth purusha] manifested. (52) This egg is called vis'esha ['the differentiated reality']. It is the outer form of Lord Hari, the Supreme Personality extending as the planetary systems [see S.B. 2.1: 24-37] that consist of successive layers of water and the other elements, each ten times thicker than the previous one. On the outside they are enveloped by pradhâna, the unevolved state of matter [the primal ether]. (53) From the golden [sunshine of the] universal egg arose, from within the waters that He pervaded and was lying in, the greatness of God [Mahâdeva] divided in many cells [kham, ethereal apertures in control of the light]. (54) The first to appear from Him was a mouth with next the organ of speech. Thereafter the divinity of fire [Vahni, the godhead ruling the fire of digestion] also appeared which was followed by the nostrils and the olfactory sense and life breath [prâna] belonging to them. (55) From the olfactory sense the divinity of the wind [Vâyu] appeared, then from the sense of sight of the two eyes the divinity of the sun [Sûrya] manifested and from the auditory sense of the two ears [next] the divinity that rules the directions appeared. (56) Then the skin appeared of the universal form with its hair growth and such, whereupon the curative herbs appeared followed by the sexual organs. (57) From them there was semen and the manifestation of the divinity of the waters. Also an anus appeared and  from that anus the capacity to evacuate. Then [the god of] death appeared who causes fear throughout the world. (58) Also two hands manifested together with the power they have and thereafter Lord Indra [the sovereignty] appeared. From the manifestation of the two legs the onward movement manifested itself with next the appearance of the Lord [Lord Vishnu who rules them]. (59-60) The veins of the universal form manifested themselves together with the blood produced with them. Therewith the rivers appeared as well as a stomach with which hunger and thirst are found. After their appearance the ocean and the heart of the universal form manifested. Then from the heart the mind appeared. (61) From the mind the moon [Candra] came into view and therefrom intelligence manifested itself. From that intelligence the Lord of speech [Brahmâ] manifested. In false ego identifying oneself with matter then led to the appearance of Rudra [S'iva], reason and the divinity ruling reason.

(62) All these divinities who thus found their existence were not at all capable of awakening the Original Person and thus they one after the other returned to the source from which they generated, in order to awaken Him. (63) The god of the fire of digestion went back to the mouth, but failed to bring Him to life. The god of the wind returned to the olfactory sense of the nostrils but couldn't awaken the Original One. (64) The divinity of light going for His two eyes couldn't make the Authentic One rise and with the divinity of orienting by the auditory sense on His two ears, the Greatness of the Person wasn't brought to life either. (65) The divinity of the skin could, with its growth and blessing of herbs, not wake up the Celebrated Person, nor could the divinity of water with the procreation performed by the organs of reproduction rouse the Great Person. (66) With the capacity to defecate the god of death could by approaching His anus not stir the Cosmic One into action and not even the two hands of Lord Indra with their power of control could find a way to awaken the Master of Rule. (67) Vishnu with the power of progress entering His two feet wasn't capable of making the Greatness of the Complete move into action and the divine flow of the river returning to His vessels with the blood and power of circulation neither was able to move the Celebrated Person. (68) The ocean that followed along with hunger and thirst, going to His abdomen couldn't raise the Gigantic Person and the heart with the mind according to the divinity of the moon failed to awaken the One and Only Gigantic Person as well. (69) Also Brahmâ who entered His heart with intelligence didn't make the Celebrated Person stand up, nor could the complete of the Purusha be awakened by Lord S'iva sending the ego to His heart. (70) But, the very moment the divinity ruling consciousness with reason entered the heart as the knower of the field, the Cosmic Being rose from the causal waters. (71) It is like with a man asleep whose vital air, working and knowing senses, mind and understanding out of their own cannot wake him up without Him being present. (72) Therefore someone who practices yoga should conscientiously, with the help of spiritual knowledge, detachment and devotion, consider the thought of Him, the Supersoul as being present within.'

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SOURCE: Translation: Anand Aadhar Prabhu, http://bhagavata.org/

Production: the Filognostic Association of The Order of Time, with special thanks to Sakhya Devi Dasi for proofreading and correcting the manuscript. http://theorderoftime.com/info/guests-friends.html

The sourcetexts, illustrations and music to this translation one can find following the links from: http://bhagavata.org/