Sunday, August 15, 2010


Durga is the personified external energy of the Lord

The external potency of the Lord is called prakrti or bahiranga-sakti, the energy responsible for all the material manifestations. It is thus defined by the sastras:

satvadi-guna-trayasrayo dravyam prakrtir nitya ca sa
gaur anady-antavati sa janitri bhuta-bhavini
(Culika Upanisad; Govinda-bhasya, Introduction)

“Material nature is like a cow. She never had a beginning. She is the mother of all living entities. She is black, white, and red. She is a cow whose milk fulfills all of Lord Visnu’s desires.”

trigunam taj-jagad-yonir anadi-prabhavapyayam
acetana parartha ca nitya satata-vikriya
trigunam karminam ksetram prakrte rupam ucyate
(Visnu Purana, 1.2.21; Govinda-bhasya, 1.4.10)

“Material nature consists of the three modes. She is the mother of the material universes. She is never born and never dies. She is unconscious, meant for the Lord’s pleasure, eternal and unchanging. She is said to be field where the conditioned souls perform their actions under the spell of the modes.”

The mode of goodness is the cause of illumination, self-satisfaction, knowledge, etc. The mode of passion causes misery, sensual desires, fruitive work, attachment, greed, etc. The mode of ignorance causes negligence, laziness, sleep, madness, darkness, illusion, etc. The balance stage of these modes in the universe causes the universal devastation. Their misbalance produces the creation of all material elements and the material bodies of the conditioned souls. Thus, everything that exists inside the universe is composed of a certain combination of the modes, among which one is always predominant. For example, in the animals the mode of ignorance is prominent; in the human beings, the mode of passion; and in the demigods, the mode of goodness. By the interaction of the modes, the mahat-tattva emanates, which is the substance from which all the material elements will further appear. By the interaction of the mahat-tattva with the modes, the ahankara becomes manifested, which causes the living entities to falsely identify themselves with the material body. This is explained thus:

tebhyah samabhavat sutram mahan sutrena samyutah
tato vikurvato jato yo 'hankaro vimohanah
(Bhagavatam, 11.24.6; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.6)

“From these modes arose the primeval sutra, along with the mahat-tattva. By the transformation of the mahat-tattva was generated the false ego, the cause of the living entities' bewilderment.”

By the interaction of the ahankara with the mode of goodness, the mind and the presiding deities of the senses appear. By the interaction of the ahankara with the mode of passion, the five knowledge-acquiring senses and the five working senses appear. By the interaction of the ahankara with the mode of ignorance, the five sense objects become manifest, from which the five gross elements- ether, air, fire, water, earth- appear.

vaikarikas taijasas ca tamasas cety aham tri-vrt
tan-matrendriya-manasam karanam cid-acin-mayah
(Bhagavatam, 11.24.7; Govinda-bhasya, Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.Adhikarana 7, Intro.)

“False ego, which is the cause of physical sensation, the senses, and the mind, encompasses both spirit and matter and manifests, in three varieties: in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.”

arthas tan-matrikaj jajne tamasad indriyani ca
taijasad devata asann ekadasa ca vaikrtat
(Bhagavatam, 11.24.7-8)

“From false ego in the mode of ignorance came the subtle physical perceptions, from which the gross elements were generated. From false ego in the mode of passion came the senses, and from false ego in the mode of goodness arose the eleven demigods.”

mahat-tattvad vikurvanad bhagavad-virya-sambhavat
kriya-saktir ahankaras tri-vidhah samapadyata
vaikarikas taijasas ca tamasas ca yato bhavah
manasas cendriyanam ca bhutanam mahatam api
(Ibidem, 3.26.23-24; Govinda-bhasya, 2.4.6)

“The material ego springs up from the mahat-tattva, which evolved from the Lord's own energy. The material ego is endowed predominantly with active power of three kinds—good, passionate and ignorant. It is from these three types of material ego that the mind, the senses of perception, the organs of action, and the gross elements evolve.”

In summary, prakrti expands into mahat-tattva, false-ego, intelligence, mind, ether, air, fire, water, earth, the five knowledge-acquiring senses, the five working senses, and the five sense objects, thus totalizing twenty four material elements, which comprise the field of activities for the living entity.