3.16 Evam pravarthitham chakram

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

Chapter 3

<< Chapter 3 verse 15

SlOkam – Original

Evam pravarthitham chakram nAnuvarthayathIha ya: |
aghAyur indhriyArAmO mogham pArtha sa jIvathi ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

pArtha – Oh son of kunthI!
Evam – in this manner
pravarthitham – aspects that depend on each other (arranged by bhagavAn)
chakram – wheel like cause-effect setup
iha – who is in the stage of performing the means
ya: – one
na anuvarthayathi – does not follow it (by not engaging in yagya)
sa: – he
agAyu: – having sinful life span
indhriyArAma: – engaged in garden of senses
mOgham – uselessly
jIvathi – lives

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

Oh son of kunthI! in this manner [there is the] wheel like cause-effect setup of aspects that depend on each other (arranged by bhagavAn); one who is in the stage of performing the means if he does not follow it (by not engaging in yagya), he is having a sinful life span, being engaged in garden of senses, lives uselessly.

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

‘Thus is the wheel made to revolve. Whoso, here, does not follow it, his is a life of sin, -he is a reveller in the garden of the senses,- he lives a vain life, O Pārtha.’

From food, all creatures spring, and from rain, of course, comes food. That it is so, the world is witness to.

As for Yajña causing rain, we know it so from the authority of the Śāstras, for it is therein declared:-

‘Oblations well delivered into the fire, mount up to the sun. From the sun is born rain etc.’1

And actions, such as the earning of money etc., by an agent, result in Yajña. And actions proceed from the body (brahma).

The term brahma (here) denotes the body, an aggregate of material particles. That such denotation is sanctioned, may be seen from the Veda-passage:-

‘From Him, this brahma (matter=the extended stuff=body) name, form, as well as food are born.’2

This use of the term is also found in the Gita:-

‘My womb is the extensive brahma’ (xiv-3). Hence our interpretation of the passage ‘karma brahmodbhavam’ meaning ‘that actions proceed from the body’ -a compound of matter- is correct.

Brahm-ākshara sam-udbhavam; the term akshara (the imperishable) refers to jīvātma, the individual soul, for it is jīvātma, who informs the body and obtains gratification from food, water, etc., and so fortified, is able to engage in action. Hence the body which serves as the instrument of jīvātma for work, is said to spring from it (akshara)3. Thus ‘the all-prevalent body’, i.e., the body that every votary of Yajña must own, is the inevitable requisite for Yajña.

(From Yajña, rain; from rain, food and so on, again), is the wheel set in motion by the Supreme Spirit.

‘From food comes all beings:’ Bhūtas are beings or creatures, meaning embodied entities (souls=ātmas) or souls clothed in bodies.

Thus:- food from rain; rain from yajña; yajña from works, performed by a doer; works from a living body; living bodies again from food; is the wheel of ceaseless antecedents and sequences.

Whoso that is born here, -be he karma-yogi or jñāna-yogi-, follows not this wheel, leads a sinful life by the reason that he omits to nourish or support his embodied existence by the leavings of Yajña-dedicated food.

Aghāyuḥ= He whose is a life of sin: means either he whose life is devoted to commission of sin, or he whose life is born of sin. It may mean both.

Therefore he becomes an indriyārāmaḥ: or he who has the senses for his pleasure-garden, meaning he who indulges in the delights of the senses.

And therefore he is no ātmārāmaḥ: or he who would revel in the delights of the garden of ātmā (or spiritual transports of bliss). In other words, the person (aghāyuḥ) is one who is exclusively addicted to sensuous enjoyments.

Food, not consecrated to yajña before-hand, nourishing the body and the mind, provokes rajas (passions) and tamas (darkness of intellect etc). A man in whom these dispositions are uppermost, becomes hostile to achieving ātmā-illumination, and finds all his pleasures in the gratifications of the senses alone.

(With a necessary body then, which is to be used as an instrument for Divine Worship, and which has therefore to be served with food, let one act and fulfil this object. He who does not do so, albeit his attempt to practice jñāna-yoga, is destined to fail.)

‘He, therefore, Pārtha! lives a useless life.’

It is now shown that necessity for works such as the mahā-yajñas4, incumbent for the several castes (varṇa)5 and orders (āśrama)6, ceases in the case of that person who is a mukta, (the liberated), and therefore he is under no obligation to adopt any Means whatever to accomplish ātmā-vision.

>> Chapter 3 verse 17

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  1. Manu. III-76: ‘Agnau prās-tā-hutis samyagādityam patishṭhate etc. This is also quoted at the end of VI-73, Maitri. Up: Asiat: Society of Bengal Edition. p: 284 (Engl:)
  2. If brahma as interpreted here by some commentators is Supreme Spirit, the Supreme Spirit springing from Akshara, or spirit, again, would be meaningless. Some others interpret it as the Vedas. Both are irrelevant here.
  3. If brahma as interpreted here by some commentators is Supreme Spirit, the Supreme Spirit springing from Akshara, or spirit, again, would be meaningless. Some others interpret it as the Vedas. Both are irrelevant here.
  4. The five Great Sacraments or Acts of Divine Worship ordained for every holy man are:- 1. Adhyāpana = The teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, etc., called Brahma-yajña. 2. Tarpaṇa = The oblation of water, food, etc., called Pitṛi-yajña. 3. Homa = The offering of clarified butter, etc., into fire, called Deva-yajña. 4. Bali = The distribution of food to creatures in general, called Bhūta-yajña. 5. Athiti-pūjana = entertainment of holy guests, called Nṛi-yajña. Vide Manu, III 69 to 73.
  5. The four varṇas are Brāhmaṇa, Kshatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra.
  6. The four āśramas are Brahmacharya (bachelor and student), Gārhastya (married life), Vānaprastha (retired forest life) and Sanyāsa (monastic or ascetic life).

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