Shree Bhagavan uvaacha:
aksharam brahma paramam svabhaavodhyaatmamuchyate |
bhootabhaavodbhavakaro visargaha karmasamjnyitam || 3 ||

Shree Bhagavan said:
“Brahman” is the imperishable supreme. “Adhyaatma” is individual nature. “Karma” is defined as the force that produces the existence of beings.

aksharam : imperishable
brahma : “brahman”
paramam : supreme
svabhaavaha : individual nature
adhyaatmam : “adhyaatma”
uchyate : is called
bhoota : beings
bhaavaha : existence
bhavakaraha : produce
visargaha : force
karma : “karma”
samjnyitam : defined
As we saw earlier, Arjuna asked seven questions to Shri Krishna. In this shloka, three questions are answered. We shall use the illustration of the animated character Tom to get an additional perspective on the answers given by Shri Krishna.
First, Shri Krishna answers the question “What is that brahman”. He says that brahman is the imperishable, supreme eternal essence that we encountered in the second chapter. In terms of our illustration, brahman is the light in the movie projector that illuminates the film strip. It has no specific shape, qualities or attributes. It is just light. It stands as a witness and is not affected by whatever is happening in the movie. It can exist without the movie, but the movie cannot exist without it.
“What is adhyaatma” is answered next. Shri Krishna says that it is svabhaava, or the set of qualities of an individual. Each person in this world has a unique combination of attributes, a unique permutation of sattva, rajas and tamas that is their own. When the universal eternal essence is conditioned or covered by an individual’s attributes, it is known as adhyaatma or aatma.
In the example of the movie projector, karma refers to the portion of light that illuminates the character of Tom. Suppose Tom is wearing a blue outfit and is walking on a green lawn. A portion of the movie projector’s light shines blue on the movie screen. The other portion shines blue. The portion of light that shines blue and thinks that it has its own identity – that is adhyaatma.
Lastly, Shri Krishna answers the question “What is karma”. He says that it is the force that brings about the creation of every entity in this universe. At one level, it is the mechanism in the projector that brings to life the story that lies hidden in the film strip. At another level, it is the animator’s act of drawing the characters in the movie. Essentially, it is the force that converts an unmanifested object into a manifested object.
Similarly, we can say that Ishvara set into motion this entire universe with the one original action that has resulted into the millions and millions of actions that occur in the universe every second. It was the seed of all future actions in the universe. But our ego, our false sense of individuality, comes under the delusion that it is the doer of all actions. Each such individualistic action causes us to further identify with our body, and go further from liberation. Ultimately, like the movie that eventually ends in two hours, everything that is unmanifested will be manifested and will be dissolved, only to start all over again.
Shri Krishna continues with his explanations in the next shloka.