mama yonir mahad brahma
tasmin garbhaḿ dadhāmy aham
tato bhavati bhārata
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 14.3
The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This is an explanation of the world: everything that takes place is due to the combination of kshetra and kshetra-jna, the body and the spirit soul. This combination of material nature and the living entity is made possible by the Supreme God Himself. The mahat-tattva is the total cause of the total cosmic manifestation; and that total substance of the material cause, in which there are three modes of nature, is sometimes called Brahman. The Supreme Personality impregnates that total substance, and thus innumerable universes become possible. This total material substance, the mahat-tattva, is described as Brahman in the Vedic literature (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.19): tasmad etad brahma nama-rupam annam ca jayate. The Supreme Person impregnates that Brahman with the seeds of the living entities. The twenty-four elements, beginning from earth, water, fire and air, are all material energy, and they constitute what is called mahad brahma, or the great Brahman, the material nature. As explained in the Seventh Chapter, beyond this there is another, superior nature—the living entity. Into material nature the superior nature is mixed by the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thereafter all living entities are born of this material nature.
The scorpion lays its eggs in piles of rice, and sometimes it is said that the scorpion is born out of rice. But the rice is not the cause of the scorpion. Actually, the eggs were laid by the mother. Similarly, material nature is not the cause of the birth of the living entities. The seed is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they only seem to come out as products of material nature. Thus every living entity, according to his past activities, has a different body, created by this material nature, so that the entity can enjoy or suffer according to his past deeds. The Lord is the cause of all the manifestations of living entities in this material world.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In order to explain how the contact with the gunas through beginningless ignorance creates bondage, the Lord speaks about the method of appearance of the field and knower of the field. My (Supreme Lord’s) place of impregnation is prakrti, called mahat because it extends of all place and time continuously. It is called brahma because it is the cause of increase (root is brh). In some sruti texts, prakrti is referred to as brahma.
I place the seed (garbha) within that prakrti. The Lord said itas rv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param jlva-bhutam: know this other prakrti of mine, which is superior and which gives rise to the jivas. (BG 7.5) From this it is understood that there is a mass of consciousness, the jiva prakrti which is called the tatastha sakti This is called the seed (garbha), because it is gives life to all beings.
Then (tatah) from my action of placing the seed (jiva sakti) in the prakrti, the appearance of all the entities such as Brahma and others takes place.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
14.3 In that great brahman forming my womb, I lay the germ. The non-conscient Prakrti is alluded to in the text ‘Earth, water, fire, air, ether, Manas, Buddhi and Ahankara — thus My Prakrti is eightfold’ (7.4-5). This Prakrti is designated here by the name ‘the great brahman’ by reason of its being the cause of modifications like the Mahat, the Ahankara etc. In the Srutis also, here and there, even the Prakrti is designated as brahman, as in: ‘He who is all-knowing, all-wise, whose austerity consists of knowledge — from Him are produced this brahman as also food, i.e., the universe of name and form’ (Mun. U., 1.1.9) The higher Prakrti, which is the mass of conscient selves, alluded to in the passage, ‘Know My higher Prakrti to be distinct from this; it is the life-principle’ (7.5). It is here expressed by the term ‘Garbha’, the source or womb in which all living beings originate. I lay the germ, constituting the mass of conscious beings, in that great brahman, which is non-conscient and forms the womb. From that conjunction between the two Prakrtis, brought about by My will is brought forth the origin of all entities from Brahma down to tuft to grass. He continues to say: ‘I Myself bring about the conjunction of the conscient and unconscient Prakrtis in the manifested state of effect’.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
After praising such wisdom and proclaiming the results of what He is about to teach to get the listener attentive, Lord Krishna declares the fundamental purport of the teachings that the emergence of all living entities from the combination of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the purusa or the supreme being as eternal consciousness is that it derives itself from the Supreme Lord and is subservient and dependent upon Him. The brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence is not limited by time and space and is the abode and cause of the expanding evolution of praktiti which is the womb Lord Krishna impregnates casting His seeds in the form of limitless atmas or immortal souls which accept unlimited forms as countless jivas or embodied beings. This He does by infusing the reflection of His supreme intelligence which causes the expansion and evolution of all creation. At the commencement of universal creation at the time of conception the Supreme Lord unites again with the corresponding body of each and every jiva. During universal dissolution all jivas were previously absorbed into Him. Now once again spawning them out He abides within each and every jivas heart as paramatma the all pervading supreme soul and is distinguished as the ksetrajna or the knower of the sphere of activity distinctly different from the ksetra or sphere of activity. The jivas are endowed by the impressions of the three gunas which are the modes of sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or nescience comprised in a kalpa or one day of Brahma, the accumulative actions of their previous 43,200,000 lifetimes for a human. These calibrated results are kept intact and correspondingly transferred into their new existence to reap the exact reactions to there actions thereof. From this dissertation the origins of all jivas from the secondary creator Brahma, the most evolved jiva down to the least evolved jiva such as a one celled amoeba can be succinctly comprehended and practically understood.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The mahat means that which cannot be limited brahma denotes the expansive material energy or prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence. This represents sakti or the feminine energy such as Sri, Bhu, Durga, etc. Saraswati, Uma and others are partial manifestations of Sri. The same is confirmed in the Kashayana scripture which states: Sri, Bhu and Durga are the three forms of illusion which binds the jivas or embodied beings in this world. Although Saraswati and Uma are only partial expansions of Sri in the Agama texts they to are sometimes referred to as Sri as well. The words mama yonir meaning womb confirms that the feminine sakti is existing to accept the seed of consciousness from the Supreme Lord and give birth to all life forms. In the Sharkarakshya texts it states: For giving birth by the Supreme Lord the goddess Sri, the great illusion is devoid of all suffering. Yet she along with the Supreme Lord displays herself as if suffering to delude the debased and ignoble. An example of this is the sorrow displayed by Rama for the suffering of Sita. Another example is the tolerance of Bhu as the personified goddess of the Earth which is but her reflection. So much destruction and misery takes place on Earth but she is incorruptible and even though she appears as the last of the five primary elements fire, water, air, ether she is the origin of them all. The Anabhimlan scripture states: She willingly accepts the servitude even though she is the matriarch of all the worlds. The Matsya Purana states that prakriti sometimes can be referred by mahat brahma due to her great benevolence and selfless service.
Now begins the summation.
According to the Shabda Nirnay the word yonir has three distinct meanings. One is the wife. The second is the female generative organ and the third is known as the cause. Here it means the wife because Lord Krishna states that in the womb He impregnates.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna reveals that all jivas or embodied beings originate by the combination of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the purusa or the supreme, eternal consciousness. But this combination is determined by the will of the Supreme Lord and is not an accidental or random event as the impersonalists of the Sankhya doctrine propound. The Supreme Lord is the cause of origin for all jivas or embodied beings and fully controls prakriti with its gunas or three modes of sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance. This primordial matter known as prakriti is greater then all its products and beyond the sway of space and time and is infinite because it is the ksetra or sphere of activity where the expansion and evolution of the jiva or embodied beings is able to manifest. The all pervading, omniscient Supreme Lord the source of both the animate and the inanimate reflected as stated in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.II.III beginning tad-aikshata vahu svam meaning: The Supreme Lord glanced upon prakriti and impregnated it for the evolution of innumerable jivas in totality. The manifestation of all jivas from Brahma to a one-celled amoeba is a combination of the sentient purusat and insentient prakriti. When the Supreme Lord perceives that the jiva having an absence of sattva is oblivious to the ksetrajna or knower of the sphere of activity and is in possession of the latencies of tamas and rajas desiring to reap the rewards of their past actions they are bonded to the lower potency known as the ksetra or sphere of activity in the form of an appropriate physical body..
Now Lord Krishna explains in brief the true nature of the ksetra the field of activity and the ksetra-jna the knower of the field. The relationship the ksetra has with the ksetra-jna and the consciousness which is established in Him. Knowledge of the ksetra means what type entity is embodied and the qualities are what modifications restricts it and what is its means of evolving itself through the interrelationship of matter and spirit. And of the ksetra-jna exactly what is the atma or eternal soul, who is the knower of the ksetra and what is its powers and potencies.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
14.3 Mama, My own Maya, i.e. Prakrti consisting of the three qualities, which belongs to Me; is the yonih, womb [Here Ast. adds ‘karanam, cause’ (-off all the creatures).-Tr.] for all the creatures. Since it (Prakrti) is great (mahat) as compared with all its effects, and it is the sustainer (brahma) [Prakrti is brahma since it permeates all of its own products.-A.G.] of all its own transformations, therefore the womb itself is qualified as mahat brahma. Tasmin, in that, in the womb which is the great-sustainer; aham, I, God, possessed of the power in the form of the two aspects, viz the field and the Knower of the field; dadhami, place, deposit; garbham, the seed-the seed of the birth of Hiranayagarbha, te seed which is the cause of the birth of all things-; i.e., I bring the field into association with the Knower of the field who conforms to the nature of the limiting adjuncts, viz ignorance, desire and activity. Tatah, from that, from that deposition of the seed; O scion of the Bharata dynasty, bhavati, occurs; sambhavah, the birth, origination; sarva-bhutanam, of all things, following the birth of Hiranyagarbha.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
14.3 Mama etc. For Me : [For Me] Who am of the nature of the inexplicable Supreme Bliss, the mighty Brahman : the Brahman that is identical with My own energy, allowing expansion [of all in It]. Taking hold of just My own energy of Self-consciousness, I cause the beginningless tiny [individual] Souls to pass through the cycle of birth and death by way of favouring them. Therefore-
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
mama yonir mahad brahma
tasmin garbham dadhamy aham
tato bhavati bharata
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
mama — My; yoniḥ — source of birth; mahat — the total material existence; brahma — supreme; tasmin — in that; garbham — pregnancy; dadhāmi — create; aham — I; sambhavaḥ — the possibility; sarva-bhūtānām — of all living entities; tataḥ — thereafter; bhavati — becomes; bhārata — O son of Bharata.