CHAPTER 14 VERSE 4
सर्वयोनिषु कौन्तेय मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः ।
तासां ब्रह्म महद्योनिरहं बीजप्रदः पिता ॥४॥
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
sarva-yoniṣu—in all species of life; kaunteya—O son of Kuntī; mūrtayaḥ—forms; sambhavanti—as they appear; yāḥ—which; tāsām—all of them; brahma—supreme; mahat yoniḥ—the source of birth in the material substance; aham—Myself; bīja-pradaḥ—seed-giving; pitā—father.
It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.”
So before proceeding, I don’t know if you’ve realized, but we’ve jumped from the 10th chapter now to the 14th. This little study that we’re doing of the—study program of the Bhagavad-gita has, just to remind you, we’ve only selected 40 verses out of the 700 verses that are in the Gita, to try and present the most essential teachings. And it’s not that between the 10th and the 14th chapter there is nothing that’s very important. It’s all incredibly important. But for the purpose of making it so that somebody will more easily perhaps follow this program of instruction, we’ve had to choose.
So now, this verse: In this verse we see, or it makes it very clear, that our actual mother is material nature (in Sanskrit this is prakriti), and that our true father is Krishna—the seed-giving father. So what do we mean by that? Well, as it is stated in this verse:
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature…”
So just to reiterate: The living being, the actual soul, is never born. We exist eternally. What is born is the material body, and there are vast numbers of different species of life. And the arrangement to get a particular material body, it is said that it is provided by material nature who (not in this verse but in other places) is referenced as being the mother, the mother of the body that we have.
The father as Krishna, speaks to our spiritual existence. The living being, the atma, is a part and parcel, an expansion of the Supreme Lord, but a minute or minuscule, what the English term, “part and parcel.” It’s like you’re part of something, but you have your own individual existence. There is a boundary, as it were, that defines your individual existence.
The Sanskrit word that describes this, what is in English, the term used is “part and parcel” is what in Sanskrit is stated as vibhinamsa. And so, this word vibhinamsa, it is made up of two parts. The second part of the word, amsa, it means a portion, or a part, of something. And then the word vibhina, it means that which is separated or divided or disunited, and it can even also mean alienated or estranged. And so, when you join these together there is a description of the nature of the soul itself.
The Vedas have used two types of analogies to describe the nature of the relationship between the soul and the Supreme Soul. One is the analogy of sparks that come from a blazing fire, limitless sparks that can be seen flying out from a blazing fire; and the other example that they give is the sunshine that is emanating from the sun, that within the sunshine there are particles of light.
So, these are analogies. They aren’t perfect descriptions. But the analogy of the sun and the sunshine is good in the sense that it helps us to understand this idea of our eternal existence. With the sun there was never a time that the sun existed but there was no sunshine. If there was no sunshine, we wouldn’t have the sun. The sunshine has simultaneously existed along with the sun.
And so, while the living beings are described as a shakti, an energy of God, of the Supreme Lord, they are called the jiva shakti or another term that is used tatastha shakti. The term tatastha shakti is very descriptive. Tatastha, this speaks to this actually non-existent line between water and land, like if you have a lake, or you have the ocean, and the land, there’s—you can’t point to a line, a place that is neither on the land nor in the water. It’s kind of like you can’t—there is no such place. But yet we can see this demarcation when we just look at it with our eyes. And this tatastha is used in this way to describe the living being because it actually speaks to the characteristic of the soul, that while we are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and we possess many of His qualities, just like a drop of water from the ocean possesses the qualities or some of the characteristics of the ocean, still there is a massive quantitative difference. The jiva, or the tatastha shakti, has this characteristic, that while we are eternally existent and spiritual in nature, we can take on either our eternal spiritual identity or we can ignore that and become absorbed in temporary material identities and become overwhelmed by the material energy, the maya shakti.
And so, because all the living beings have emanated from Krishna, from the Supreme Lord, one is considered to be a relative. Another way this term amsa can be used is as—it describes—it can be used to describe a descendant. So that is kind of helpful in sort of understanding the deeper meaning of this term vibhinamsa, this part and—the separated part and parcel of the Lord, the jiva atma, the spirit soul.
So, addressing this point of how we should therefore be considered to be, in reality, children of God—everyone, all living beings, we have a commentary from Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad who states:
“In this verse, it is clearly explained that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is the original father of all living entities. The living entities are combinations of the material nature and the spiritual nature. Such living entities are seen not only on this planet but on every planet, even on the highest, where Brahma is situated. Everywhere there are living entities; within the earth there are living entities, even within the water and within fire. All these appearances are due to the mother, [that is] material nature, and Krishna’s seed-giving process. The purport is that the material world is impregnated with living entities, who come out in various forms at the time of creation according to their past deeds.”
So, I’m not going to get into addressing the whole process of creation. It’s actually, as it’s described in the Vedas, extraordinarily complex, and there is a process of gradual evolution, but it is not like what Charles Darwin has proposed, for instance. But we won’t address that now.
So, I’d just like to read a note that I have:
“Every living being is a child of Krishna, not just human beings but also animals, trees, plants, fish, birds, insects; every life form is a child of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The different forms or bodies of these living entities are only their external clothes. Material nature, or prakriti, is the mother who can give us material bodies, but as the spirit souls, we are parts and parcels of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and have an eternal relationship with Him; therefore, one should not favor only one kind of living being and discriminate against others. The person with spiritual vision sees all living entities as dear children of God and treats them with respect and kindness.”
So, we have already studied the 18th verse or sloka from the 5th chapter that states:
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog eater [or outcaste]”
So, we—if we can embrace this spiritual understanding, it provides the most perfect platform to truly achieve what many people are struggling to do today. Many people are struggling to be accepted on the basis of some bodily identity. And amongst all these bodily identities there is diversity, and people that feel they are not embraced and accepted, they feel that they should be part of a bigger diversity that is being embraced. But the problem with their proposal is that we should equally accept all of these external differences as being the same, and of course, everything is not the same in terms of external appearances and differences; but there is a commonality, and that only, commonality lies in the minimum, or at minimum, in our humanity. If we could see other people as being human beings, it would mean that we could easily embrace one another and have a sense of commonality. The shortcoming of that principle is that it only applies to human beings, and therefore can give a license to people to be destructive or to act very harmfully towards other types of living beings.
And so, what is promoted in the Bhagavad-gita is that our true commonality, the thing that binds us together in common and grants us equality, it lies in our spiritual identity. It lies in our being the atma, or the self, the spirit soul inhabiting the body. There, there is a commonality, there is an equality. And if people actually cultivated this understanding it would solve all of the problems related to conflict in this world.
In another verse in the Bhagavad-gita from the 6th chapter, the 32nd sloka, Krishna had already stated to Arjuna:
“He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, both in their happiness and distress, O Arjuna.”
Reflecting on that verse and endeavoring to see how we are the same, it’s always fascinated me how people can so easily tend to look at a herd of animals as being different and separate. I don’t have a connection to them. I can look at them, and they’re sort of like objects, and they all seem to be the same. I saw this amazing program on the television where families were provided with a young chickens, a young lamb or young calf and asked to take care of it, I think, for a month, and they were given all of the supplies needed to feed and take care of them; and how people that lived in the cities now became bonded with and really close to these animals. And they began to identify that they had unique characters, and they responded to things. It’s kind of like somebody saying, looking into an animal’s eyes and “seeing that there was someone in there looking back at me.”
And then at the end of the time, they were asked, “The animals are going to be sent on for slaughter. Do you want that, or is that okay with you, or would you prefer to either take care of it or put it into a sanctuary?” And almost everyone, even the people in the beginning who were very hardened and looked at these animals simply as food on legs, actually changed. And many of them changed their lifestyle and eating habits just by virtue of coming to recognize that there was actually someone in there.
So, this ideal that’s promoted by the Bhagavad-gita lies in the perception of a deeper reality, that there is a spiritual being that is animating the body that you’re looking at, the body doesn’t define who is that spiritual being; and that even in lower life forms, it is an observable reality that even animals experience some of the things that we also experience.
So, if we are to address many of the ills of the world and to consider ourselves as brothers and sisters, that we are in fact one large family, then logic does dictate that we also accept a common father and a common mother. And it is to this point that Krishna is addressing when He states in this verse:
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and I am the seed-giving father.”
Thank you very, very much.