prakṛtyaiva ca karmāṇi
yaḥ paśyati tathātmānam
akartāraḿ sa paśyati
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.30
One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This body is made by material nature under the direction of the Supersoul, and whatever activities are going on in respect to one’s body are not his doing. Whatever one is supposed to do, either for happiness or for distress, one is forced to do because of the bodily constitution. The self, however, is outside all these bodily activities. This body is given according to one’s past desires. To fulfill desires, one is given the body, with which he acts accordingly. Practically speaking, the body is a machine, designed by the Supreme Lord, to fulfill desires. Because of desires, one is put into difficult circumstances to suffer or to enjoy. This transcendental vision of the living entity, when developed, makes one separate from bodily activities. One who has such a vision is an actual seer.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
One who sees that all actions are done by prakrti in the form of body and senses, and sees that the jiva (atmanam) is the doer only by thinking himself the body, but is not actually the doer, actually sees.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.30 When he perceives that ‘all acts are performed by the Prakrti’ in the manner previously stated in, ‘Prakrti is said to be the cause of agency to the body and sense-organs’ (13.20), and perceive also that ‘the self, being of the form of knowledge, is not the doer,’ and that the self’s conjunction with the Prakrti, Its direction of the body and Its experiences of happiness and misery are the result of ignorance of the nature of Karma — then indeed he perceives the pure self.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
It may be postulated that substantial differences can be seen by different jivas or embodied beings in performing good and evil activities so how is it that the atma is equal within all? Anticipating such a query Lord Krishna states yah pasyati meaning one who sees. Sees what? One who sees understands that all activites in all respects are factually performed by prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. This is actualised by the transformations of prakriti being the three gunas or modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which direct and influences the mind, body and senses organs to actions. Such a one comprehends that the purely spiritual atma or immortal soul is the monitor and witness to these actions only. Any misconception arising contrary to this reality is due to the erroneous identification of the atma as being the physical body instead of understanding that the atma is imperishable and completely independent of the perishable physical body.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
One who perceives that the atma or immortal soul is only the witness and performs no actions; such a person can realise the Supreme Lord Krishna. After enacting the effects of one’s karma or reactions to previous actions, the Supreme Lord causes the reactions to be experienced by the jivas or embodied beings. But for the Supreme Lord there exist no enactment of previous actions. Vedavyasa has confirmed that the Supreme Lord is transcendental to material nature, actions and time. The Skanda Purana states: From but a single desire of will the entire creation is manifested by the Supreme Lord. He is the creator of everything but nothing is the creator of Him. He himself has stated earlier that: I am the Lord of all creation. I am the progenitor of Brahma. Everything rests in Me. It is from me that everything has arisen. Know that all creation has manifested from Me alone. These proofs found in the Vedic scriptures and also the absence of any contradictions to this in the Vedic scriptures is corroborated by the words in this verse of prakrtyaiva ca meaning: the material substratum pervading physical existence in the unlimitedly modified forms of bodies with senses. The adjective ca specifically establishes all forms to be from the Supreme Lord alone. In the Shabda Nirnaya is stated that sometimes ca is used to show additional embellishments and other times to emphasise association and other times to show detriments.
Since for the inanimate there is no self-motivation as confirmed by Vedavyasa in Vedanta Sutras. It is clear that prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence which is inanimate cannot be the primary cause of creation in any way and the creative impulse to animate from the inanimate is completely impossible and preposturous. Thus in this instance the adjective ca is applicable only to the Supreme Lord and not prakriti. in any way. What Lord Krishna has explained in earlier chapters about His being the original seed and everything is connected to Him like pearls on a string is what He is confirming here through association of the ksetra or sphere of activity and the ksetrajna or the knower of the sphere of activity; so there is absolutely no contradiction whatsoever in this regard. Contrarily, hypothesising that anything inanimate can be the cause of the animate is extremely contradictory and completely erroneous. The Paigni scripture states: Creation emanating from conscious will can alone be the main criteria. So in conclusion only supra-mundane actions which are not subject to any modification should be considered eternal and of the nature of the Supreme Lord.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna is making the point that when one does not comprehend that all actions are impelled by the body, mind and senses due to the influence of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and perceives different living entities and who assume that the performers of good and evil actions are separate from the Supreme Lord; then it is impossible to realise the atma or immortal soul within the etheric heart. All actions are due to prakriti which is transformed into the body and from which all physical activity depends upon to perform actions and fulfil desires through the medium of the senses. For the atma this does not apply having no material qualities or material attributes it is the witness monitoring all thought and activities of every jiva or embodied being.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.30 And yah, he who; pasyati, sees, realizes; karmani, actions, those performed through speech, mind and body; as kriyamanani, being done, being accomplished; sarvasah, in various ways; prakrtya, by Nature-Nature is God’s Maya consisting of the three qualities, as is said in the Upanisadic text, ‘However, know Maya as Nature’ (Sv. 4.10); by that Nature; eva, itself-not by the other [Not by the Pradhana of the Sankhyas, known otherwise as prakrti.] which transforms itself in the form of cause and effects such as Mahat etc.; tatha, and also; atmanam, the Self, the Knower of the field; as akartaram, the non-agent, devoid of all adjuncts; sah, he; pasyati, sees-he is the one who has realized the supreme Reality. This is the idea. What is implied is that there is no valid proof about differences in the Non-agent who is devoid of qualities and is unconditioned like space. The Lord elaborates again in other words that very true knowledge:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
13.30 Prakrtya etc. He whose firm conviction is of this nature ‘The Material Cause alone performs (or creates) this; I do nothing’ – he, though he performs (or creates) all, does not perform (or create) anything [in fact]. In this manner, is the absence of doership in him.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
prakrtyaiva ca karmani
yah pasyati tathatmanam
akartaram sa pasyati
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
prakṛtyā — by material nature; eva — certainly; ca — also; karmāṇi — activities; kriyamāṇāni — being performed; sarvaśaḥ — in all respects; yaḥ — anyone who; paśyati — sees; tathā — also; ātmānam — himself; akartāram — the nondoer; saḥ — he; paśyati — sees perfectly.