(1-3) S'rî Uddhava said: 'O Lord of the Universe, how many basic elements of creation have been enumerated by the seers? O Master, I heard You speak about nine, eleven and five plus three basic elements [see also 11.19: 14]. Some say there are [not twenty-eight but] twenty-six, others speak of twenty-five or seven, some speak of nine, some of four and others of eleven, while some speak of sixteen, seventeen or thirteen. You should, o Eternal Supreme One, explain to us what the sages have in mind who so differently express themselves.'
(4) The Supreme Lord said: 'With them [the elements] being everywhere speak the brahmins the way it suits them, after all, what would for those who concern themselves with [the mystical potency of] My mâyâ be the wrong thing to say? (5) 'It is not the way you say it, it is the way I state it': this is what my unfathomable energies do to those who argue logically [see darshanas and 6.4: 31]. (6) Because My energies interact rise differences of opinion among the ones who talk about this subject, but when one finds peace in the control over one's senses subsides the controversy and stops the arguing [one reaches the true nature of the supreme spirit, âtmatattva]. (7) Because the various elements [subtle and gross] mutually pervade one another, o best among men, a speaker wants to provide a division of causes and consequences. (8) With those divisions refers one element to the other elements: whether it is there as a cause or a consequence, in one element [viz. the ether] one finds all the other elements and vice versa [*]. (9) When people departing from a certain division for that reason express themselves in terms of cause and effect, I accept that which is voiced with such a point of view on the condition that it is guided by reason [by scientific proof, by specificity about time and place]. (10) A person who inevitably is born in ignorance cannot all by himself figure out what the process of selfrealization all means, that knowledge is derived from someone else who is known with the principle of reality [compare 11.21: 10]. (11) There is according to this knowledge in the material mode of goodness not the slightest difference between the purusha, the original person, and îs'vara, the controller. To suppose that there would be such a difference is a useless endeavor [see B.G. 18: 20 and 9: 15 and **]. (12) Material nature [prakriti] is what binds the modes. These modes as the causes of keeping, producing and ending that accordingly are said to be of goodness, passion and ignorance, belong to the material world and not to the spirit soul [see also B.G. 3: 27]. (13) In this world is the mode of goodness of knowledge, the mode of passion of fruitive labor [karma] and the mode of darkness of ignorance; the interaction of the modes is called Time and that what's there by nature constitutes the thread [the mahat-tattva is the sûtra, see also 11.12: 19-21]. (14) The soul enjoying [purusha], material nature [prakriti], the intelligible [mahat-tattva], the identification with the form [ahankâra], ether, air, fire, water and earth are thus My nine elements of creation referred to [in verse 1]. (15) Hearing, touching, seeing, smelling and tasting are the five [senses] by which one acquires knowledge; the speech organ, the hands, the genitals, the anus and the legs constitute their operation, o dear one, and the mind is there for both. (16) Sounds, tactile qualities, tastes, fragrances, and forms [or colors] are the categories of the sense objects [see vishaya] and speech, manufacturing, excretion [by anus and genitals] and locomotion are the functions covered by them. (17) In the beginning of creation is the person of the enjoyer uninvolved given to witnessing the material nature of this universe, the universe that by the operation of sattva and the other modes assumes the forms of the gross manifestations and subtler causes [see also 2.10: 10]. (18) All the elements that received their potencies from the glance of the Lord, in the manifest reality undergo transformation and form, amalgamated by the power of nature, the egg of the universe [see also 2.5: 35, 3.20: 14-15, 3.26: 51-53, 3.32: 29, 5.26: 38, 11.6: 16]. (19) When one speaks about the creation as having only seven elements: the five of the physical elements beginning with the ether on the one hand and the individual knower with the Supreme Soul on the other hand, there are as a consequence of this fundamental, dual basis the body, the senses and the life air. (20) And when one departs from six elements: the five elements with the Transcendental Person as the sixth element that is conjoined with them, He has first projected this creation and next entered it. (21) When one speaks of four elements fire, water and earth arise from the Original Self; from these elements there is then the manifest product of this cosmos. (22) Counting seventeen there is the consideration of the five gross elements, the five objects and the five senses along with the one mind and the soul as the seventeenth. (23) So too one is counting with sixteen elements when one identifies the soul with the mind. With thirteen elements one has the five gross elements, the five senses, the mind and the [individual and supreme of the] soul. (24) Counting eleven elements in this one has the soul, the gross elements and the senses. One also knows nine of them with the eight natural elements [the five gross ones, mind, intelligence and false ego] and the Enjoyer in the beyond. (25) Thus have various enumerations of the elements been contrived by the sages. They are all logically supported by rational arguments, that is the brilliance one finds with the learned.'
(26) S'rî Uddhava said: 'Because both nature and the enjoyer, even though they are constitutionally different, cover one another o Krishna, there seems to be no difference between them: one sees the soul within nature and nature within the soul [see also B.G. 18: 16]. (27) Please, o Lotus eyed One, as the Omniscient, Very Expert in Reasoning, cut with Your words down the great doubt in my heart. (28) The living beings have from You indeed the knowledge and by the potency of Your outer illusion it is stolen away. Only You understand the ins and outs of Your illusory power and no one else [see also B.G. 15: 15].'
(29) The Supreme Lord said: 'Prakriti and purusha [nature and the enjoyer] are two distinct matters, o best of all persons, and both are subjected to the transformation that is based upon the mixing of the gunas of creation. (30) Dear Uddhava, My deluding energy consisting of the three modes is responsible for the diversity of manifestations as well as for the variety of different forms of perception. This changeable nature based upon the gunas knows three aspects: one is called adhyâtma, then there is adhidaiva and the other is called adhibhûta [see also kles'as and 1.17: 19]. (31) Alike the independently of these existing Supersoul who constitutes the actual cause of the subjective experience [adhyâtma], nature as the source of one's perception [adhidaiva] and the phenomenon one perceives [adhibhûta], is there similarly the sun in its independent position in the sky, that is responsible for the power of sight [adhyâtma], the external of nature [adhidaiva] and the distinct, reflected image [adhibhûta] that together contribute to that what can be seen through the opening of the eye. (32) Next to the eyes the same [trinity] applies to the sense of touch and what one feels with it, the ear and what one hears, the tongue and its occupation, the nose with what is smelled and with one's consciousness and its attributes. (33) The transformation effected by this agitation of the modes which rooted from the primary nature [pradhâna], leads to bewilderment and gives all kinds of trouble with the by the greater reality [the mahat-tattva] raised threefold, false ego which, subjected to change, in ignorance wants to take matters into its own hands [see also ***]. (34) When there is not the full knowledge of the Supersoul one will, eager as one is in one's desire to discuss matters, get entangled in useless speculations about the fact whether or not there would be a difference [between purusha and prakriti] with statements like 'this is real and that is not', and those speculations continue as long as one has diverted one's attention away from Me, I who am [qualitatively] equal to oneself.'
(35-36) S'rî Uddhava said: 'In what way do those whose minds diverted from You by the fruitive activities they performed, o Master, accept and give up higher and lower material bodies? Please Govinda explain that to me what by those who are not so spiritual isn't understood since they, predominantly being of material knowledge, are illusioned.'
(37) The Supreme Lord said: 'People's minds that are shaped by their fruitive labor are bound to the five senses from one world to the next. The soul, existing separately, follows that mind [see also linga, vâsanâ and B.G. 2: 22]. (38) The mind faithfully meditating on what is heard [from the traditions] or what is seen of the sense objects comes into being because of its being bound to the karma and dissolves again [with the vanishing of the sense objects]. As a consequence the remembrance [of past lives] is lost. (39) This total forgetfulness of not remembering one's previous self that for this or that reason was absorbed in the objects of the senses, is what one calls death. (40) O man of charity, what one calls birth is when a person completely identifies himself with the body he assumed, just like what one does when one dreams or when one has a fantasy. (41) And just as one in a dream or fantasy has no remembrance of a previous dream or fantasy, one has likewise no notion of a previous existence [*4 en B.G. 4: 5]. (42) Because of obtaining a new material body and a corresponding mind, the truth of the threefold reality imposes itself upon the soul, with the consequence of an inner notion that differs from the outer appearance, like one gave birth to bad natured offspring. (43) For created bodies, by the force of time which operates invisibly, that isn't seen because of its subtlety. (44) The lifespan, the circumstances and such of all created beings are determined by it, just as the flame of a candle, the stream of a river and the fruit of a tree are determined by it. (45) The way one has it wrong when one says 'this light is the same as this lamp' and 'this stream of water is the same as this river' it is also wrong to say that 'this body is the same as this person', it is a way of reasoning of men who are wasting their lives [see also 6.16: 58, 7.6: 1-2]! (46) A person doesn't die, nor is he born from the seed of his actions, he is immortal. It is because of illusion that one, like fire locked up in wood, is united [with one's material existence. See B.G. 2: 24]. (47) Impregnation, gestation, birth, infancy, childhood, youth, middle age, old age and death are the nine states of the body one thus has. (48) These more or less elevated states of the body that one owes to one's own motives, are because of his being bound to the modes by a soul accepted as one's own, while the other soul [with due effort in yoga] distances himself from them [by the grace of God]. (49) The incidence of one's own birth can be inferred from the birth of one's son and the incidence of one's death can be derived from the death of one's father [or ancestors], [but] he who remembers himself with all the things of birth and death is never subject to that what is ruled by this duality. (50) The way someone, who knows about a tree its seed and maturity, is the witness distinct from the birth and death of that tree, is one analogously the witness standing apart from the [birth and death of] the physical body. (51) An unintelligent person who fails to distinguish this way the person from his material nature, enters, completely bewildered in taking material forms for real, the material ocean [see also B.G. 9: 21-22 and 1.7: 5]. (52) Wandering around because of his karma he will, following the mode of goodness, head for the sages and the gods; following the lead of passion he will move among the common people or fall into the grip of darkness; and by the mode of ignorance he will find himself among the ghosts and spirits or reach the animal kingdom [see also B.G. 6: 41-42, 9: 25; 17: 4]. (53) Just as with observing dancing and singing persons one comes to imitate them, one is, even though being a silent witness who doesn't do anything, when one is placed before the qualities of matter the same way inclined towards a material intelligence [see also 11.21: 19-21]. (54-55) The way trees seem to be moving when they are seen in moving water and the world seems to spin when one's eyes are spinning around, one's mental impressions of the sense object are also not real. Just like the things one sees in a dream are but figments, also the soul's image of a material life in which he experiences sense gratification is a phantom. (56) For someone who meditates the objects of the senses material life will not stop, even though it is an illusory affair, just as the unpleasant things one experiences in a dream [may repeat themselves over and over *5]. (57) Therefore Uddhava, do not delight in the sense-objects that play games with the senses, just see how based upon the illusion of the material duality one fails to realize the soul. (58-59) When one is insulted, neglected, ridiculed or envied by bad people, or else chastised, held captive or deprived of his means of livelihood, or when one is repeatedly spat or urinated upon by ignorant people, someone desiring the Supreme who thus being shaken is having difficulties, should save himself by resorting to his essence [see also 5.5: 30].'
(60) S'rî Uddhava said: 'How can I keep that in mind? Please, o Best of All Speakers, tell us that. (61) The attacks of other people on my person is what I find most difficult. Except to those who fixed in Your dharma in peace reside at Your lotusfeet, even for the learned, o Soul of the Universe, no doubt the material definition constitutes the greatest burden.'