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What is an evil womb? How to know Prakriti-Purusha? || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagavad Gita (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 मिनट
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पुरुष: प्रकृतिस्थो हि भुङक्ते प्रकृतिजान्गुणान् ।

कारणं गुणसङ्गोऽस्य सदसद्योनिजन्मसु ।। 13.21 ।।

puruṣhaḥ prakṛiti-stho hi bhuṅkte prakṛiti-jān guṇān

kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu

Purusha seated in Prakriti experiences the gunas born of Prakriti the reason of his birth in good and evil womb is his attachment to the guṇas.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 21

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य एवं वेत्ति पुरुषं प्रकृतिं च गुणै: सह ।

सर्वथा वर्तमानोऽपि न स भूयोऽभिजायते ।। 13.23 ।।

ya evaṁ vetti puruṣhaṁ prakṛitiṁ cha guṇaiḥ saha

sarvathā vartamāno ’pi na sa bhūyo ’bhijāyate

He who knows thus the Purusha and the Prakriti together with the guṇas whatever his life is not born again.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 23

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Questioner (Q): What does it mean to take birth in a good or an evil womb? Also, it is said here that the one who knows Purusha and Prakriti together with the guṇas is not born again. Please explain what does it really mean to know Purusha and Prakriti.

Acharya Prashant (AP): We are talking of chapter 13 Kṣetra-Kṣetragya Vibhāga Yoga. It's important to put a few things in perspective.

That which is referred to as ‘Purusha’ here is actually Parā Prakriti. That which is referred to as ‘Prakriti’ is Aparā Prakriti. The gross elements of Prakriti are all called Aparā Prakriti. The subtle elements are called Parā Prakriti, or Purusha.

Corresponding to these two are the Kṣetra and the Kṣetragya. Aparā Prakriti is the Kṣetra; Parā Prakriti is Kṣetragya. So, the Kṣetra and the Kṣetragya both actually belong in the domain of Prakriti itself. Kṣetra is the seen, the object; Kṣetragya is the seer, the subject. And then there is Ātmān or Krishna or Truth, the witness.

So, there is the seen, there is the seer, and then there is the witness. The seen and the seer both belong in the dimension of Prakriti; Dṛśya(seen) and Dṛṣṭa(seer). Dṛśya is Aparā Prakriti; Dṛṣṭa is Parā Prakriti. Dṛśya is Kṣetra; Dṛṣṭa, the observer, the subject is Kṣetragya. So there must be no confusion on this count.

“What does it mean to take birth in a good or an evil womb?”

You see, we are conditioned since birth, aren't we? So, as we are born, then relative to the situations of the time, our conditioning decides whether we would be more susceptive, more receptive rather to the influences that lead to liberation, or to the influences that lead to further bondage.

The child is very susceptible, no? That susceptibility has taken birth. But each child, even at the moment of birth, is different from the other. We know that; that's our experience. And each child is born in a particular age, in a particular home, in a particular milieu, in a particular context. So it's not as if the womb is good or evil, as if the newly born child is good or evil; it's just that the particular personal conditioning of the child might be such that with respect to the prevailing familial and social conditions, he might be more vulnerable to evil influences. So it's not that the womb is evil; it's just that the child is born more vulnerable to evil influences.

Influences of all kinds exist in the society, and every child, each child is born in the society, right? Influencers of all kinds are there, and the child is a vulnerable bundle with very little consciousness. The child is going to be influenced. The structure of the child's biological conditioning determines whether the child will receive the evil influences more readily, or the liberating influences more readily. So let's not blame the womb, and let's not blame the child. Right?

It's just a question of match and mismatch, it's a question of accidental alignment. A child born in a particular époque, in a particular country, in a particular environment might find the situations around him or her to be very helpful in terms of his inner development. The same child, if hypothetically were to be born in another age, or another place, might find the conditions quite adverse to his inner development. So it's a question of the child's relative compatibility with the various influences around him. That's what.

These fundamental principles must be remembered, which means that the possibility of liberation exists equally with respect to each and every child born. The responsibility lies on the parents or the caretakers to adapt and adjust the child's environment in a way that it influences him in a creative and life-giving manner—because the child is what the child is. A hardware is born. You cannot just simply wish his biological tendencies, his inner biological structure, the entire genetic coding to go away. The child has been born in a particular way. The child is there. Now it's upon the guardians to realize what the particular configuration of the child's fundamental conditioning is, and then accordingly provide him an environment that facilitates his inner growth. If the guardians do that, then the guardians are great. If the guardians do not do that, then the guardians are evil.

So it's not that the mother has a good or an evil womb. No, the womb is not good or evil. What the mother does after the child is born might indeed be virtuous or evil. And you cannot blame the mother or the father for passing on certain kind of genes or chromosomes to the kid. In that regard, they are quite helpless. Even the most learned of guardians cannot really alter their genes.

So, the child will be born in a particular genetic way; the mother and the father can't help that. But once the child is born, then if the parents fail or abdicate their responsibility, then indeed they're evil. And if the parents fulfil their responsibility, then they are good or virtuous. So this verse has to be understood in that regard. It's only in context of the prevailing situations at home and in the society can you call a freshly born child as 'good' or 'evil'.

It's like this, you see: sodium is sodium, right? Sodium is not good or evil. But if sodium is born and you are naive or casual enough to keep sodium in water, then the explosion can kill many people. And you will say, “Oh! Such an evil thing was born! See, that thing having been born caused the death of so many people!” Now, was the death caused by sodium? Or was it caused by the way sodium was handled? Sodium is sodium. Sodium cannot change its inner electronic molecular configuration, or can it? But sodium is born, and the parents are so casual that they keep it in water, and the resultant explosion blows the entire locality away. And you start cursing sodium as evil. This is not quite justified.

If sodium is born, you better keep it in oil. If sodium is born, you better have the sense to put sodium in a chemical environment that will turn sodium into something useful. And there are a lot of useful things that can be made out of sodium, right? Starting with your common salt, there is so much life-giving that sodium can amount to. But you must first of all have the sense to give sodium the right environment. If you do not give sodium the right environment, then I do not know how you can call sodium as evil. And every child is born a different element, believe me. And there is no element that cannot be evil in a particular way. Treated wrongly, even the most inert and benign of elements can turn out to be evil. And treated properly, even the most reactive and volatile of elements can prove to be a blessing to the world. It depends on the handling.

So kindly do not read this verse to literally mean that one particular mother has an evil womb and the other one has some kind of a sacred womb. No, it's not that way. Wombs are wombs, and every child is unique. Just as you have so many different elements, similarly you can imagine that every new child born is some kind of a combination of different elements; a pretty unique combination. We know that, obviously. We have that in our experience. No two kids are the same; even twins are not the same. Even twins are not the same.

The parents must have the maturity, the spirituality, the sense to know how to treat sodium in a way that turns sodium into something very valuable. Instead, what we often have is very naive and ignorant parents. If sodium is born, they will put it in water. Then the younger brother comes—his name is potassium. They turn it into potassium cyanide, and then they say, “Oh! What to do? Such evil things are dropping from the heavens in our house!” No, nothing evil is coming particularly to you. You are mishandling everything.

Then, “It’s said in these verses that the one who knows Purusha and Prakriti together, he is not born again. Please explain what it means.”

Shri Krishna has defined Gyana here. What is the definition of Gyana? Krishna says, “To know Kṣetra and Kṣetragya together is called Gyana.” Oh, such a succinct definition! You know wisdom where it is by its precision. Precision is often a very strong indicator of wisdom.

So, Arjuna has been told what Gyana is. What is Gyana? To know Purusha and Prakriti together is Gyana. In more contemporary language, to know the observed and the observer together is Gyana; to know the seen and seer together is Gyana; to know the subject and object together is Gyana. Instead, what we commonly call as ‘knowledge’ is only about the seen, the object. That is why we say that knowledge is objective.

Krishna is far more wise. He will not say that just knowing these objects all around can be called as Gyana or knowledge. He says, “No, no, no! Unless you also know who the seer is, you are not a Gyani.”

You might be somebody who has a lot of knowledge about the world. But if you do not know who the one looking at the world is, you cannot be called a Gyani. Maybe you can be called an informed person, but information and wisdom are very different things, aren't they? You can be very informed, yet very unwise. We have so many examples. Equally it is possible that you are not greatly informed, but are very-very wise. You must have both information and wisdom. But if you have to choose between the two, if you really have to decide what you must invest your one hour in, if the choice has to be one of the two, then you must invest your one hour in wisdom rather than information. Of course, if you have more than one hour, then you must go for both. Are you getting the idea? It's good to have objective knowledge, but objective knowledge is a very foolish thing if you do not know yourself, the subject.

So that's what Krishna is saying here.

“What does it mean to know Purusha and Prakriti together along with the guṇas?”

It means, you must know why you are knowing and who is knowing. Otherwise knowledge is not only not useful, but often quite dangerous. Such knowledge where you do not know what tempts you, what prompts you to seek knowledge is often like going to Google and asking: how to make a bomb. You will probably get all the information. You have known how to make a bomb, but you have just not bothered to inquire what in you wants to make that bomb. What is it within you that is so eager to get a bomb? What is it that you want to blast away with the bomb? From where does the destructiveness and the hatred within you come? That you are not bothered to ask. That's not what you are Googling for. You just Googled, ‘How to make a bomb’. You didn't Google ‘Why the hell do I want to make a bomb?’. Did you Google that? That's what Krishna is saying here.

Bomb is the object. You are the subject who is desirous of that object, thinking of that object. Why exactly does that object mean so much to you? Who will ask that question? We fail to ask that question because we have not been taught to ask that question. That's not how our schooling has been. There was no course in the entire curriculum right from kindergarten till college that dealt with the self, or was there? Nothing at all! And that's the reason we just haven't had the practice to turn inwards—and ‘turning inwards’, I don't want to let it remain an exotic metaphor. ‘Turning inwards’ simply means asking this fundamental question.

Why am I doing what I'm doing? Why am I doing this?

What am I involved in right now?

Why do I need to think this way?

How do my thoughts, my entire inclination just change suddenly?

What are these inner fluctuations?

How do I become an almost entirely different person within five minutes?

How is my existence, my being, my sense of who I am so very dependent on the external situations?

These are the questions that one has to ask. It's not very difficult. It’s just that one has to have some practice.

And our education has not been that way; our education has been greatly afraid of the inner dimension. Those who are in charge of our education were probably people who were very-very afraid of spirituality. Those people really didn't deserve to be setting syllabi. But they did, and now we have an entire generation, or rather a couple of generations that have faced the consequences.

क्या आपको आचार्य प्रशांत की शिक्षाओं से लाभ हुआ है?
आपके योगदान से ही यह मिशन आगे बढ़ेगा।
योगदान दें
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