Chapter 3 – Verse 28 – Part 1

How a person gets attached to Karma

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
अहंकारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते

prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah
ahankaravimudathma kartaham iti manyate

prakrteh gunaih – by the gunas of prakruti
sarvasah – in various ways
karmani – actions
kriyamanani – are performed
ahankara-vimudhatma – one who is deluded by the ‘I’ notion
aham karta – Iam the doer
iti – thus
manyate – thinks

Actions are performed in various ways impelled by the gunas of prakruti, the body, mind and senses. Deluded by the I-notion, one thinks, ‘I am the doer’.

There are 2 aspects to an individual. i.e purusa (the atma) and prakruti (maya or avidya). Our body, mind and senses are modifications, creations born of prakruti which in turn depends upon the purusa (atma). Prakruti being the cause, anything born out of it is called prakruti guna. Guna is a technical term for sattva, rajas and tamas which indicate certain conditions of the mind as well as constituents of maya or avidya.

A virtue is a guna. E.g. a person of ethics, one who has stately qualities is called gunavan or a woman who is of good character and has good qualities is called gunavati.  The person who thinks he or she is doer of the various actions is referred to in this verse as Ahankara-vimudhatma meaning one who is deluded by the notions he or she has about the I, the atma. The I notion has all the attributes. When we say ‘ I am so and so, the physical body, mind and senses are an integral part of our Ahankara alone. Ahankara implies many notions beginning with ‘I am a mortal’. The I notion is connected to many notions about oneself. E.g. I am tall,  I am big, fat, rich, poor, I am feeling tired etc. All these are personifying the I and is related either to our mind, body. The atma inside is not tired or fat, rich or poor as it has no attributes. In fact, our whole life we always have an opinion on ourself and this is our Ahankara. Such a person is called a vimudha in this person.

Prakriti is further subdivided into the following 24 components:

1. 5 elements : space, air, fire, water, earth
2. 5 mediums : sound, touch, form, taste, smell
3. 5 sense organs : ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose
4. 5 organs of actions : speech, grasp, movement, generation, excretion
5. 4 internal organs : mind, intellect, memory, ego

Chapter 3 – Verse 28 – Part 2

Prakriti is also known as Maya. If we look at this, we can see that there is an attribute to each of these components and they are connected. E.g. when we see a rose, what happens is that our mind sends a signal to the power which resides in the eye (called golakam). Once the power in the eye is actioned, we see the rose. Next the mind sends a signal to the smell the rose and a similar power is sent to the physical nose. At the same time, other parts of the body e.g. hand, fingers etc are also active due to the mind powering the various golakams. Thus we complete the action. But if we step back and see, actually the mind is getting illumined by the atma and the real light is that. Without the atma, even the mind will not work. That’s why when we are dead, the mind leaves the body and because of that all our physiological functions, sensory functions stop functioning. But the subtlest of the sukshma along with the impression of the person is carried over just like a wind carries the scent. The person is pronounced dead once the mind departs.

Another example is of the bulb and electricity. We know that by turning on a switch the bulb produces light, but really what is that powers the bulb. It is electricity and do we see it? No. But we know that electricity is there, so we see the bulb and then all objects get illumined. Otherwise all objects are opaque in darkness and nothing gets illumined.
Can the bulb say I’m the light?

Likewise, here we need to understand that we as the body, mind and senses do not really perform the action, but it is done by the gunas which is part of prakruti. Prakruti is part of the Ishwara which is the self.

This vimudhatma or the aham karta  who does not think like this and thinks that he is performing the action, whereas the actions are done due to the nature of the prakruti. As long as one thinks that he is doing karma, this notion of I am the doer will exist and moksha will be difficult. The understanding that all the actions are not done by the person but due to the forces of prakruti and I am just a mere instrument, then this is gyanam and he is freed from karma phala. This leads to his moksha.