prakruteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvashah |
ahamkaaravimoodhaatmaa kartaahamiti manyate || 27 ||

All actions, in all situations, are performed by the gunaas of prakriti. He who is completely deluded by the ego thinks “I am the doer”.

prakruteh : of prakriti
kriyamaanaani : act upon
gunaih : by the gunaas
karmaani : all actions
sarvashah : in all situations
ahamkaara : ego
vimoodhaatmaa : one who is complete deluded
kartaa : doer
aham : I
iti : in this way
manyate : thinks

We saw earlier that an ignorant person is attached to action while a wise person is not. But what exactly does it mean to be attached to action? Shri Krishna clarifies that point in this shloka, which is yet another deep shloka with layers and layers of meaning. We shall approach it step by step to grasp its essentials.

First, let us take the example of someone who has accomplished a great thing, for example, won a Grammy award for outstanding singing. If that singer truly examines her accomplishment, she will realize that there were so many people and situations that were responsible for her accomplishment.

To begin with, her parents probably encouraged her to pursue music seriously. Her music teacher taught her the theoretical aspects of music. She met other musicians who helped hone her craft. She came across a situation that inspired her to write her award-winning song. Her accomplishment was a product of all these factors.

Compare that singer to some other award-winning singer who thinks that it was he who did it all, and does not even acknowledge the contribution of others. The notion that “I am the doer” is called “ahamkaara” or the ego, and creates an “us-vs-them” attitude. Someone who is under the influence of the ego is called deluded in this shloka.

Let us now look at what is meant by gunaas and prakriti so that we can better understand the shloka. Just like our scientists have discovered that all of matter is made up of fundamental particles known as atoms, ancient rishis postulated that all matter or prakriti is made up of combinations of three essential forces: an inert force, an active force, and a harmonizing force. These three forces or gunas are known as tamoguna, rajoguna and sattvaguna respectively.

Now here comes a statement which is a little difficult to swallow. Like the singer whose accomplishments had very little to do with her “own” efforts, every action that we perform is in reality performed by prakriti that is comprised of the gunas.

So then who are “we”? We go back to the second chapter to remember that we are the eternal essence that is everlasting and all-pervading. Like the sun that enlivens the earth but does not itself do anything, the eternal essence does not perform any action. It only enlivens prakriti which is performing the action. Most of us that do not realize this truth, unfortunately, fall in the “ignorant” category. The next shloka shows us the goal : how to become wiser.

Footnotes

1. Prakriti is further subdivided into the following 24 components:
– 5 elements : space, air, fire, water, earth
– 5 mediums : sound, touch, form, taste, smell
– 5 sense organs : ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose
– 5 organs of actions : speech, grasp, movement, generation, excretion
– 4 internal organs : mind, intellect, memory, ego

2. Prakriti is also known as Maya

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