Diagnosis of Root Cause of Suffering: Desire & Attachment (Samsara) (59)


Lesson 59 defines differences between constructive & destructive STRENGTH. Positive & negative DESIRE. General & specific THOUGHT-cause.  Then summarizes what is Īśvara (God). Finally provides reason for eternal ignorance (avidya) by analyzing what is root cause of endless samsara (suffering).

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – verse 11, 12, 13


  • From verse 4 onwards, Krishna talks about Īśvara svarūpam (nature of God). Lord consists of TWO parts. Higher (consciousness). And lower (matter).
    • Thus nature of Īśvara is mixture of cit and jada (matter). Or cetana-acetana-miśra (Conscious-principle/inert matter mixture).
      • Īśvara is ultimate cause from whom universe arises, rests, and resolves.
  • Remember important law: Whatever composition CAUSE is of, is same composition in EFFECT.
    • kāraṇa guṇā kārye anuvartate: Features of CAUSE inhere EFFECT also.
      • EG 1: Out of gold, we create ornaments. Composition of gold & ornaments is SAME. If 10% copper in Gold, then 10% in ornament.
      • EG 2: Characteristics of parents, inhere child. Even parents diseases transferred.
  • Meaning since Īśvara is mixture of cetana/acetana tatvam, UNIVERSE also mixture of conscious/inert principle.
    • Hence Krishna claims: Whatever glories are in creation, all belong to Me. He is asking for personality transformation in us. How? Do NOT look at world as world, but manifestation of Īśvaraḥ (cetana-acetana-miśra).
      • This vision produces: viśvarūpa darśanam (seeing all as God. Invoking humility. Removing jealousy).
  • Krishna intelligently suppressing negative aspect. Claiming only wonderful aspects. Purpose for deliberate suppression?
    • We already find difficult to develop devotion to God. If see negative aspects as Him also, one never develop devotion. Therefore on initial stage, we look at positive side of creation. Once matured, vision also includes negative.
    • In short: Ability to look totality of creation, requires maturity.
      • Hence can NOT hate section of creation. Hating sections is immaturity.
        • EG: BIRTH seen maṅgalam (auspicious). While DEATH seen amaṅgalam (inauspicious). Not want to talk, especially family/ourselves. Seeing it inauspicious = mind not mature enough. Learn to see death objectively.
      • Therefore Krishna not initially talk about death as Himself also. Only sṛṣṭi & sthiti.
      • Reason why Krishna says verse 10: “I am the intelligence in intelligent people”. He does not mention “I am dullness in dull people”.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 11:

balaṃ balavatāṃ cāhaṃ kāmarāgavivarjitam|
dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo'smi bharatarṣabha ||

Oh, Arjuna, Of the strong, I am the strength which is free from desire and attachment. In all beings I am the desire which is not opposed to dharma.


  • Verse 10 continued.
  • bharatarṣabha: Another title of Arjuna. Descendant of Bhāratha (√bha. Ancient India name. Land of light/knowledge). Greatest in your family.
    • Krishna using psychology to encourage his student Arjuna. If student should feels good for teaching to take place.
  • balam balavatām cāham: In strong people, I am the very strength which strong people enjoy/glorify.
    • Krishna divides 2 types of strength:
      • POSITIVE: Responsible for positive effects. Constructive.
      • NEGATIVE: Brutal, adharmic. Cause of destruction.
        • EG: In Purāṇās we find rākṣasās had destructive strength. EG: Rāvanā, Hiraṇyākṣa.
      • So Krishna diligently says, “I am constructive strength in strong people”.
  • What is constructive strength? Free from kāma-rāga-vivarjitam. Strength not backed by selfish desires.
    • When selfishness dominates, strength becomes destructive. To become great, I suppress/destroy others.
    • Hence kāmaḥ = selfish desires. Rāgaḥ = attachment.
    • ANSWER TO Question: Constructive strength is unpolluted by kāma/rāga.
    • Difference between kāma / rāga?
      • Kāmaḥ: Desire regarding object not YET acquired by me. (aprāpta viṣaye kāmaḥ)
        • EG: I see shiny OBJECT. After buying, desire disappears.
      • Rāgaḥ: After buying OBJECT, the kāma CONVERTS to rāgaḥ: attachment to OBJECT.
        (Therefore therefore prāpta viṣaye rāgaḥ, aprāpta viṣaye kāmaḥ).
      • Meaning, (1) Before buying: DESIRE, (2) After buying, ATTACHMENT.
      • Kāma/rāga are like poison. Freedom from both results in PURE/POSITIVE strength.
  • 2nd line: dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu kāmo'smi: I am in form of kāma. Desire in people who have desire. In desire ridden people, I am that desire.
    • 1st line, “I am strength which is NOT polluted by desire”. Thus desire presented as impurity.
      • But in 2nd line: “I am also desire.” Meaning: “I am also impurity. “
    • HOW TO RESOLVE? As strength has 2 types, desires also 2 types.
      • Dhārmica kāmaḥ: Desires which help me grow spiritually. Constructive.
      • Adhārmica kāmaḥ: Desires which pull me down spiritually. Destructive.
  • Examples of Dharmic Desire:
    • Service to others, do duty, help people. All ARE desires indeed, but all help me grow positively.
      • Mokṣa is also desire. Pure/impure? If impure desire, 1st lesson would be: Don’t desire freedom!
    • Also 4th qualification in Tattva Bodha’s sādhana catuṣṭaya is mumukṣu-tvam. (Wishing to let go / desiring freedom).
    • Thus any desire promoting spirituality / inner growth is dhārmic kāmaḥ.
    • Śankarācārya in Taittariya commentary support:
      • Even desire for money IS dhārmic desire if HELPING / SHARING with society. Making it pañca mahā yajñaḥ (worshipping 5 elements). But if keep under lock to enjoy in future, then becomes adhārmic.
      • Śankarācārya says: dhānam dharmārthaṁ; dharmaḥ citta śuddhyartaṁ; citta śuddhiḥ jnānārtham; jnānam mokṣārthaṁ
        • Money CAN be used for noble activities. Noble activities useful for mind purification. Purification useful for knowledge. Knowledge useful for liberation.
  • Thus Krishna says: aham kāmaḥ asmi: I am the noble desire in the noble people.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 12:

ye caiva sāttvikā bhāvā rājasāstāmasāśca ye |
matta eveti tān viddhi na tvahaṃ teṣu te mayi ||

All the states of mind which are affected by sattvaguna, rajoguna and tamoguna – know all of them to be (born) of Me alone. I am not dependent on them, but they are dependent on Me.

  • Up to V11, Krishna talked about external world being product of Īśvara.
  • In V12 Krishna points out, internal world of thoughts is ALSO a product of Īśvara.
    • Hence, bhāvāḥ: meaning antaḥkaraṇa (subtle body)… which produces inner world of thoughts (vṛttiḥ), memories (citta), emotions. Also product of Īśvara.
    • And according to scriptures, thoughts are also inert by themselves. But appear to be sentient, because of parā-prakṛti pervasion.
  • So in the mind (antaḥkaraṇa), there are 2 aspects:
    1. aparā-prakṛti: Changing thoughts.
    2. parā-prakṛti: Changeless consciousness.
    • Problem is BOTH are intimately intertwined. Thus unable to discriminate them.
      • For example, on hand see fingers, knuckles, bacteria, lines, dust.
        • We say everything, except LIGHT. Light is NOT part of hand. Light is distinct aspect.
        • Light/hand intimately MIXED.
        • Of TWO, hand is moving and light is motionless aspect.
      • Similarly within mind, there is Changing thought. Varying according to each English word heard, to comprehend it. Suppose thought is permanently stable, 1st word I say = stays for entire class.
        • In Pañcadaśi, Vidyāraṇya compares THOUGHTS to greatest dancer in world. Moving hands/feet fast. In same way, mind assumes thoughts in continuous sequence.
        • But there is one aspect not varying. “I am conscious of your 1st, 2nd, 3rd sentence”.
          • Sentence NOTICED varies. However conscious, conscious, conscious REMAINS.
          • Even if blank mind, “I am conscious of mind blankness”.
  • Tying with 3 guṇāh per verse:
    • Parā-prakṛti:
      • Continuous “I” presence.
      • Uninterruptable am-ness.
      • Familiar above all else. “I am conscious”.
      • Nirguṇam.
    • Aparā-prakṛti: all fluctuating experiences from birth to death. Saguṇam.
      • And Krishna says: every fluctuating thought arising in your mind, is my OWN aparā. Which is made up of 3 guṇāh.
        1. sattvaḥ: knowledge faculty.
          • Human Thought: Noble / Creative. Emotion: Compassion.
        2. rajaḥ: dynamism, activity, motion.
          • Human Thought: Dynamic, keen, agitation. Emotion: Anger/Greed.
        3. tamaḥ: delusion, dullness, inertia, laziness, slowness.
          • Human Thought: Delusional, forgetful. Emotion: Cruel, mean.
        • SUMMARY OF 3: Śankarācārya calls the 3: sukha, duḥkha, moha vṛttiyaḥ
  • Therefore 3 guṇāh belong to aparā-prakṛti. And thoughts are product of aparā. Thus they also have 3 guṇa.
    • And since aparā has 3 guṇa, then every PRODUCT of aparā… also has 3 guṇa.
      • EG: Material universe, body, emotions, every thought.
      • Guṇa detail in VERSE 14.
  • In short, variety of thoughts occurs in mind, from matta eveti tān viddhi: All mental states born out of Me (aparā aspect).
    • Śankarācārya note to avoid misinterpretation:
      • “All thoughts born of Me” misinterpreted as “Īśvara is responsible for all my thoughts”.
        • EG: Gloominess, despair, lust, guilt, shame.
        • Then other people say “Take charge!”, and we reply: “Don’t blame me. In Gītā, it says Bhagavān is responsible for all my thoughts!”.
      • HOW TO SOLVE? 2 causes of thoughts:
        • Sāmānya kāraṇam: General cause/origin of thoughts. Īśvara.
        • Viśeṣa kāraṇam: Specific cause for TYPE of thoughts. Your buddhi / freewill. Jīva.
        • COMPARISON EG 1:
          • Sāmānya kāraṇam: General cause of this house. Brick/cement. Cause of ALL houses.
          • Viśeṣa kāraṇam: Mind which chooses shape, pattern, plan of house.
            • Square/Round house was NOT determined by brick/cement. But builder who borrowed brick/cement to replicate image from his/her OWN mind.
            • Specific cause is different for each antaḥkaraṇa / mind.
        • COMPARISON EG 2:
          • Sāmānya kāraṇam: Petrol.
          • Viśeṣa kāraṇam: Direction of car. Speed. Determined by DRIVER.
        • CONCLUSION regarding our thoughts:
          • Īśvara = Samānya kāraṇam for entire world.
          • Our wilful discrimination / conscious or unconscious choices = Viśeṣa kāraṇam.
          • Thus, Ishvara is not responsible for either good luck nor bad luck. It is our OWN Viśeṣa kāraṇam that determines our puṇya/pāpa-karma (merits/demerits in life).
            • It is also your duty to explain this to anyone who brings up question “Why would God create evil on earth?”. Use Samanya-karanam / Vishesha-karanam examples to explain.
  • Krishna concludes, na tvaham teṣu te mayi: entire creation is product born out of Me. It depends on Me, it’s CAUSE.
    • Because law is: Any effect depends upon cause for it’s existence. Remove gold, no ornaments. Remove wood, no furniture.
      • Meaning effect DEPENDS on cause, but cause does NOT depend on effect.
        • Destroy table, wood remains.
        • During pralayam (dissolution) of world, Īśvara continues to exist.
      • Thus Īśvara is INDEPENDENT existence: satyam. World is DEPENDENT existence, mithyā.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 13:

tribhirguṇamayairbhāvairebhiḥ sarvamidaṃ jagat |
mohitaṃ nābhijānāti māmebhyaḥ parāmavyayam ||

Deluded by these states (of mind) which are affected by the three guṇas, this whole world does not know Me who am beyond these (and) who am changeless.


  • Previous V12, Krishna concluded Īśvara svarūpam (nature of God). Main points:
    1. Īśvara IS mixture of parā aparā prakṛti / cetana acetana tatvam.
    2. Īśvara alone IS sṛṣṭi-sthiti-laya kāraṇam of world. Creator / preserver / destroyer.
    3. Īśvara being final cause, manifests AS entire world. Thus world = manifestation of Īśvara. World is divine.
      • Viśvarūpaḥ Īśvaraḥ: God in all forms.
    4. Īśvara has independent existence: satyam. Because it is ultimate cause.
      • World has dependent existence, mithyā. Just how shirt depends on cotton for shirt worthiness.
  • In V13, Krishna answers why human beings suffer in the world. Important verse, because gives diagnosis of everyone’s mental problems in past, present, future.
  • V13 also resolves DOUBT/COMPLAINT:
      • If everything is God, why is there suffering / frustration / hardship? Why is there insecurity, incompleteness, feeling need for support? Why discomfort, feeling something is always lacking, etc.
      • People attempt to solve in different ways: acquiring, increasing relationship, extending family, more name/skills.
      • In reality nothing really seems to work.
      • This is universal problem is called saṃsāra.
    • Thus in V13 Krishna is diagnosing this disease called saṃsāra. And provides remedy in V14.
  • First we look into essence of verse, then details in PART 2.
      • We can not TREAT a situation/problem, without FIRST diagnosing.
      • Human problem is we never really ANALYZE anything completely. Especially sorrows. Thus continues.
      • Lucky Krishna will do analysis for us.
    • Example of non-analysis:
      • I thought education gives happiness. Then job will. Then settling. Then children. Then children education/marrying will. None provides lasting peace/happiness.
      • Reason nothing works? Trying to treat bhava-roga (taking world to be REAL; material disease) without proper diagnosis.
    1. Krishna pointed out WHOLE universe is mixture of parā/aparā.
      • Parā: cetana, nirguṇa, nirvikāra (conscious, without guṇa, free of modifications).
        • Property-less. Conscious principle.
      • Aparā: acetana, saguṇa, savikāra.
        • Matter principle. Changing properties (Sound, form, smell, taste, touch).
    2. Since apāra has ALL properties, it is PERCEPTIBLE to sense organs. VISIBLE.
      • While parā is WITHOUT sound, form, etc. Meaning INVISIBLE formless principle.
    3. When there is MIXTURE of visible/invisible, we ALWAYS attracted to VISIBLE changing apāra-prakṛti.
    4. Therefore Krishna says: We are distracted by aparā to such degree, we lose sight completely of parā (HIGHER nature).
      • EG 1: We are carried away by hand & it’s motion. Which distracts us AWAY FROM light principle.
      • EG 2: Walk into cinema room. Blank screen. Quiet. Movie comes on, immediately absorbed by changing characters. Lose sight of changeless screen. Parā is missed/forgotten.
        • When is it remembered again BRIEFLY? When movie ends. Body dies. Why briefly? Another movie begins. New body born.
  • Therefore universal human problem: Losing sight of parā-prakṛti.
    • EG: If person knew that “I AM” is the eternal-full truth my myself, then such person would not start wars in hopes to feel full when he/she conquers another.


Verse 13 (PART 2 – for extra details):

  • Reason for eternal ignorance…
  • Reason 1:
    • Parā (higher nature) of Īśvara is formless, colorless, changeless, non-perceptible/feelable/thinkable.
      • And because sense organs can only REGISTER a changing property, it misses parā.
      • Parā is aprameya. Not available for seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting.
        • Why not? Because parā does not have properties of: sound, touch, form, taste, smell (śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa, gandha).
      • Parā is nirguṇa. Nothing to know of it.
      • This is 1st cause of eternal avidyā: Our 5 senses can NOT pickup parā-prakṛti.
  • Reason 2:
    • We don’t attempt to know parā. Because always kept busy by tempting attractive aparā-prakṛti.
      • Reason why Krishna will call aparā as Mohinī (delusion personified). Mentioned in purāṇa.
        • Mohinī keeps us busy all the time. Thus I am always pre-occupied with changing universe, sound, color. Or body (decorating, hair/facial/nail care, etc).
      • Therefore, because we are carried away by non-stop engagement, one is NEVER interested in parā-prakṛti.
      • This is 2nd cause of continued avidyā.
  • So tribiḥ guṇamayaiḥ bhāvaiḥ ebhiḥ sarvam idam jagat mohitam, because of aparā endowed with 3 guṇā, we are attracted to either: sattva, raja, tama guṇa.
    • V14 will explain how each guṇa is responsible for our bondage.
  • Because of this attraction, sarvaṃ idam jagat, all people of the world (entire humanity / other planets included) are carried away by the 3 guṇā.
    • Including animal world. Although they have no choice.
  • As result of mohitam (delusion), what happens? na abhijānāti mām ebhyaḥ param avyayam, they do not come to know, nor even attempt to know Me.
    • What “Me” means? parā, nirguṇam, caitanyam. Never subject to change.
  • SKEPTICISM: What is harm if don’t know parā-prakṛti? I find aparā wonderful, provides everything. Why waste time pursuing parā-prakṛti?
    • Śāstra answers:
      • REASON 1 why SHOULD pursue parā-prakṛti?
        • aparā cannot give pūrṇatvam (fulfilment, completeness).
        • aparā cannot give eternal, limitless unchanging śānti (peace).
        • Why can’t it give? Everything within aparā is finite. Bound by time/space.
        • Therefore if want pūrṇatvam / śānti, go to parā.
      • REASON 2 why SHOULD pursue parā-prakṛti?
        • Aparā is in constant flux. Subject to time, hence nothing remains permanently.
        • Hold onto anything, in time will end/disappear. Thus never gives lasting/worryless SECURITY. Whatever hold onto, attacked by time.
      • Adi Shankara in Bhaja Govindam V11 says:
        • Just because have money, people around, high position… enjoy as wish. But NEVER have pride. Because it is annihilated in time.
        • Therefore ALWAYS have something permanent to hold on to. EG: Enjoy the flow of gushing river, but never let go of the chain (in case force pushes you into river of saṃsāra).
        • Unfortunately we hold onto aparā chain, EXPECTING permanency/safety from it.
          • When tragedy strikes one day, feel ground underneath disappearing. Therefore we need something PERMANENT to hold on. Called Īśvara’s higher parā.
    • So Krishna says, unintelligent people miss the permanent chain of parā-prakṛti, therefore suffer. This is ROOT CAUSE of suffering.
  • How to manage parā/aparā?
    • Use aparā for playing.
      • Use parā for SECURITY.
      • Thus no need to renounce aparā. Both always ARE available.
    • Mere parā is boring. Thus should have river (aparā) and chain (parā). Then aparā can never frighten.


Keywords: adharmica, amangala, antahkarana, antakarana, apara prakriti, bharata, dharmica, guna, ishvara, kama, mishra, misra, mithya, mohini, moksa, moksha, nirguna, nirvikara, papa karma, para prakriti, punya karma, puranas, raga, raja, rupa, sabda, saguna, samanya karana, sattva, savikara, shabda, shankara, sparsa, sparsha, srishti, srsti, srsti sthiti laya karanam, sthiti, svarupam, tama, visesa karana, vishesha karana, vishvarupa darshanam, visvarupa darsana, vritti


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 23 July, 2019


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