śarīra-stho ’pi kaunteya
na karoti na lipyate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 13.32
Those with the vision of eternity can see that the imperishable soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
A living entity appears to be born because of the birth of the material body, but actually the living entity is eternal; he is not born, and in spite of his being situated in a material body, he is transcendental and eternal. Thus he cannot be destroyed. By nature he is full of bliss. He does not engage himself in any material activities; therefore the activities performed due to his contact with material bodies do not entangle him.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“You have said that the jiva in contact with his body takes repeated birth (verse 22). The jiva, by thinking himself the body by being in the body, becomes contaminated by the gunas and takes repeated birth. But the paramatma does not become contaminated. Why?”
He is called anddi because he has no original cause. But just as anuttama can mean parama uttama taking the ablative sense of the word (no one higher than him), so anadi, “having no cause”, can mean the supreme cause (no other cause than him). Therefore because he is the final cause (anaditvat), and because the gunas such as creation and destruction arise out of him (nirgatah + guna = nirgunatvat), this paramatma is distinguished from the jiva. At all times, in all circumstances, he is without decrease in his own knowledge, bliss and other qualities. Though situated in the body, because he does not take up the qualities of the body, he does not think he is a doer like the jiva (na karoti), nor does he become an enjoyer, nor does he get contaminated by the gunas of the material body (na lipyate).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
13.32 This ‘supreme self’ (Atman) has been defined as having a nature different from that of the body. While existing in the body, It is ‘immutable’, i.e., It is not liable to decay as It is ‘without a beginning,’ i.e., never created at any point of time. Because It is ‘free from Gunas,’ being devoid of Sattva and other Gunas of Prakrti, It neither acts nor gets tainted; It is not tainted by the qualities of the body. Granted that the self being without Gunas, does not act; but how is it possible that the Atman is not tainted by Its constant association with the qualities of the body? To this, Sri Krsna replies:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
It may be further postulated that differentiation of the atma or immortal soul is inevitable due to karma or reactions to actions arising from its connection to the physical body which results in happiness, misery, etc. as the jiva or embodied being transmigrates continuously in material existence; so how can there be equalness and sameness? Lord Krishna addresses this doubt by explaining that paramatma the Supreme Soul is without a beginning, without material attributes, transcendental, immutable, imperishable. Therefore paramatma although residing in a physical body which has a beginning and is perishable, possessive of attributes and subject to karma it paramatma is unaffected by the result of any action as it only monitors and never acts.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains that there is no annihilation for paramatma or the Supreme Soul as it is not material but completely spiritual and eternally existing. Normally material things are subject to disintegration and are subject to the decaying effects of time. But this is not applicable to paramatma which has no relationship to material nature and is never implicated or affected by the activities of the jiva or embodied being. The word nirgunatvat means the absence of qualities and attributes this denotes that paramatma has no material qualities and material attributes due to being completely spiritual.
Now begins the summation.
The jiva is established in the physical body. The Supreme Lord is His localised expansion as paramatma is causing the jivas to sleep at regulated intervals and is giving illumination to them. Yet the Supreme Lord remains without sleep and is full of illumination. The jivas established within the physical bodies identify themselves as their body. Yet the Supreme Lord even though dwelling within each and every physical body all over creation never identifies with the physical body. Experiencing pleasure and pain in the physical body makes one become attached to it. Due to the absence of the material and presence of the spiritual the Supreme Lord has no attachment to the physical body of any jiva.
Because the Supreme Lord is eternal, without any beginning and is devoid of any material attributes, qualities or accruements. The Supreme Lord is always distinctly exalted and superior to all jivas who are always subject to birth and the three fold miseries of old age, disease and death. Everything is created completely from the Supreme Lord alone, who is one without a second. Yet He is totally neutral and impartial to His creation. Even though residing within the physical body as paramatma of every jiva the Supreme Lord is witnessing all the activities performed. Yet no merits or demerits are attached to Him. This is the true purport of the ancient aphorism of neti neti meaning not this, not this.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
It may be comprehended that paramatma the all pervading Supreme Soul as well as the localised atma or the immortal individual soul are both distinctly different from prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. It may also be understood that it is only by the medium of prakriti that bodies and senses manifest and cause the jiva or embodied being to engage in activities which gives karma or reactions to actions. But the question may be raised that if paramatma and the atma have such intimate contact with the physical body which is experiencing joy and grief as it performs unlimited activities; then how are they both not affected, implicated and contaminated by such enactments and remain only the witness and monitor. Anticipating such a query Lord Krishna answers that they are both anaditvan nirgunatvat meaning eternal without beginning and possessing no material qualities or attributes whatsoever. Imperishable the knower of the sphere of activity, supreme because they are transcendental to prakriti and everything material including the physical body, mind and intellect which is in specific illustrative examples sometimes referred to as the self. Whatever has manifested from prakriti possesses the three gunas or goodness, passion and nescience and are perishable. This comprises the scope of prakriti but paramtama and the atma are not implicated by the physical body or influenced by its modifications thereof and therefore are only monitoring all thoughts and actions as the witness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
13.32 Anadivat, being without beginning: Adih means cause; that which has no cause is anadih. That which has a cause undergoes loss of its own characteristics. But this One, being causeless, has no parts. This being so, It does not suffer loss. So also, nirgunatvat, being without qualities: indeed, It si only something possessing qualities that perishes owing to the losss of its qualities. But this One, being without qualities, does not perish. Hence, ayam, this; paramatma, supreme Self; is avyayah, immutable. It suffers no depletion. Therefore It is immutable. Since this is so, therefore, api, although; sarira-sthah, existing in the body-since the perception of the Self occurs in the bodies, It is said to be ‘existing in the body’; even then, It na, does not; karoti, act. From the very fact that It does not act, It na, is not; lipyate, affected by the result of any action. For, one who is an agent of action becomes affected by its result. But this One is not an agent. Hence It is not affected by any result. This is the meaning. Objection: Who is it, again, that acts in the body and becomes affected? On the one hand, if there be some embodied being other than the supreme Self who acts and becomes affected, then it has been improper to say in, ‘And also understand Me to be the Knower of the field,’ etc., that the Knower of the field and God are one. Again, if there be no embodied being who is different from God, then it has to be stated who is it that acts and gets affected. Or it has to be asserted that the supreme One does not exist. [If the supreme One also acts like us, then He is no God.] Thus, since the Upanisadic philosophy as stated by the Lord is in every way difficult to understand and difficult to explain, it has therefore been abandoned by the Vaisesikas, the Sankhyas, the Jainas and the Buddhists. Reply: As to that, the following refutation has been stated by the Lord Himself in, ‘But it is Nature that acts’ (5.14). Indeed, Nature, which is nothing but ignorance, acts and becomes affected. In this way empirical dealing becomes possible; but in reality it does not occur in the one supreme Self. It has been accordingly shown by the Lord in various places that there is no duty to be performed by those who adhere to this philosophy of discriminating knowledge of the supreme Reality, who are steadfast in Knowledge, who have spurned actions arising out of ignorance, and who are mendicants belonging to the highest Order of monks. The Lord cites an illustration to show like what It does not act and is not affected:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
13.31-34 Yada etc. upto na upalipyate. When [a man of Yoga] perceives the mutual difference i.e., separateness of all beings (all mutually different beings) in the very Self on account of Its all pervasive nature and realises the said difference as having sprung up from the Self alone – even then he does not get any stain. For [in that case] he would be the creator (or performer) of all. For, he is none but the Supreme Self; and though residing in the body, he is not stained just as the Eather is [not stained].
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
sarira-stho ’pi kaunteya
na karoti na lipyate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
anāditvāt — due to eternity; nirguṇatvāt — due to being transcendental; parama — beyond material nature; ātmā — spirit; ayam — this; avyayaḥ — inexhaustible; śarīra-sthaḥ — dwelling in the body; api — though; kaunteya — O son of Kuntī; na karoti — never does anything; na lipyate — nor is he entangled.