Translation of Bhagavad Gita 15.7
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In this verse the identity of the living being is clearly given. The living entity is the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord—eternally. It is not that he assumes individuality in his conditional life and in his liberated state becomes one with the Supreme Lord. He is eternally fragmented. It is clearly said, sanatanah. According to the Vedic version, the Supreme Lord manifests and expands Himself in innumerable expansions, of which the primary expansions are called vishnu-tattva and the secondary expansions are called the living entities. In other words, the vishnu-tattva is the personal expansion, and the living entities are the separated expansions. By His personal expansion, He is manifested in various forms like Lord Rama, Nrisimhadeva, Vishnumurti and all the predominating Deities in the Vaikuntha planets. The separated expansions, the living entities, are eternally servitors. The personal expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the individual identities of the Godhead, are always present. Similarly, the separated expansions of living entities have their identities. As fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the living entities also have fragmental portions of His qualities, of which independence is one. Every living entity, as an individual soul, has his personal individuality and a minute form of independence. By misuse of that independence one becomes a conditioned soul, and by proper use of independence he is always liberated. In either case, he is qualitatively eternal, as the Supreme Lord is. In his liberated state he is freed from this material condition, and he is under the engagement of transcendental service unto the Lord; in his conditioned life he is dominated by the material modes of nature, and he forgets the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As a result, he has to struggle very hard to maintain his existence in the material world.
The living entities, not only human beings and the cats and dogs, but even the greater controllers of the material world—Brahma, Lord Shiva and even Vishnu—are all parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. They are all eternal, not temporary manifestations. The word karshati (“struggling” or “grappling hard”) is very significant. The conditioned soul is bound up, as though shackled by iron chains. He is bound up by the false ego, and the mind is the chief agent which is driving him in this material existence. When the mind is in the mode of goodness, his activities are good; when the mind is in the mode of passion, his activities are troublesome; and when the mind is in the mode of ignorance, he travels in the lower species of life. It is clear, however, in this verse, that the conditioned soul is covered by the material body, with the mind and the senses, and when he is liberated this material covering perishes, but his spiritual body manifests itself in its individual capacity. The following information is there in the Madhyandinayana-shruti: sa va esa brahma-nistha idam sariram martyam atisrjya brahmabhisampadya brahmana pasyati brahmana srnoti brahmanaivedam sarvam anubhavati. It is stated here that when a living entity gives up this material embodiment and enters into the spiritual world, he revives his spiritual body, and in his spiritual body he can see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. He can hear and speak to Him face to face, and he can understand the Supreme Personality as He is. From smriti also it is understood, vasanti yatra purushah sarve vaikuntha-murtayah: in the spiritual planets everyone lives in bodies featured like the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s. As far as bodily construction is concerned, there is no difference between the part-and-parcel living entities and the expansions of vishnu-murti. In other words, at liberation the living entity gets a spiritual body by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The words mamaivamshah (“fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord”) are also very significant. The fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord is not like some material broken part. We have already understood in the Second Chapter that the spirit cannot be cut into pieces. This fragment is not materially conceived. It is not like matter, which can be cut into pieces and joined together again. That conception is not applicable here, because the Sanskrit word sanatana (“eternal”) is used. The fragmental portion is eternal. It is also stated in the beginning of the Second Chapter that in each and every individual body the fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord is present (dehino ’smin yatha dehe). That fragmental portion, when liberated from the bodily entanglement, revives its original spiritual body in the spiritual sky in a spiritual planet and enjoys association with the Supreme Lord. It is, however, understood here that the living entity, being the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, is qualitatively one with the Lord, just as the parts and parcels of gold are also gold.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
Who is that jiva who, crossing samsara by devotion to you, attains that place?
In the Varaha Purana it is said:
svamsas catha vibhinnamsa iti dvedhayam isyate vibhinnamsas tu jivah syat
There are two types of amsa of the Lord, the svamsa and vibhinnamsa. The vibhinnamsa is the jiva.
The jiva is eternal (sanatanah), and in the conditioned state, drags the senses, the sixth of which is the mind, situated in prakrti, situated in delusion—like a person who drags chains bolted on his feet, which he proudly accepts, thinking “These are mine.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
15.7 That self, whose nature has been described thus, though constituting an everlasting part of Myself, becomes the bound individual self in the world of life. Covered by ignorance in the form of beginningless Karma, It attracts to Itself the five senses and the mind, which are located in the bodies of gods, men etc., and which are particular transformations of Prakrti. Some parts of Myself (i.e., the selves), becoming free from ignorance (Avidya) in the aforesaid manner, remain in their own intrinsic nature. But the bound individual self is very much contracted in power and knowledge. The individual self is the lord of the senses and the mind in bodies, and forms a bound individual in combination with a particular transformation of the Prakrti through Karma. Thus Karma attracts the selves hither and thither according to its nature.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The query may arise that if when attaining the Supreme Lord Krishna’s eternal abode the jiva or embodied being does not return to material existence then at the time of pralaya or dissolution when all jivas are merged into His manifestation of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence they become one essence as confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.IX.II beginning te yatha tatra na vivekamlabhante meaning: As the pollen of different flowers forms the essence of honey and lose their individual identities in the same manner all jivas lose their individual existences when they merge into the brahman although they know not in their varigated forms from whence they have come forth. If this is the case then who really is a transmigrating jiva. Apprehending such a query Lord Krishna describes a samsarin or transmigrating jiva in this verse and the next four. Lord Krishna explains that an eternal portion of Himself is within the etheric heart of every jiva in existence in the form of paramatma the eternal, omnipresent supreme soul which exists next to the atma or individual immortal soul as a witness. The jiva although eternal in essence having an eternal portion of the Supreme Lord, through ignorance and false identification of the physical body becomes a samsarin drawn by the desires and attachments of the previous existence to suffer or enjoy as precisely dictated by karma or the reactions to actions performed in past lives. This is accomplished on the subtle plane by a specifc and unique algorithm for every jiva along with senses, mind and vital force which involuntarily draws them back down into mundane existence on the physical plane automatically adjusting the karma and tabulating the merits or demerits from the exact same position by which they were merged at the time of pralaya. So although it is true that all jivas attain the state of the Supreme Lords brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. At the time of dissolution they are unconscious of it and of the Supreme Lord due to being covered in ignorance, over burdened with the impressions of past lives and overwhelmed by the karma of the previous life. Thus with such consciousness they only qualify to attain His transitory external nature of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and not His eternal transcendental nature as brahman. Therefore such jivas revolve in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death due to ignorance of their eternal nature and attachment to the desires and sense objects. But for one situated in atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord there is never mandatory return to material existence.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains a manifestation of His divine form. Due to the atma or immortal soul although distinctly different is similar in quality to the Supreme Lord it is sometimes spoken of as a partial manifestation. The Supreme Lord when enveloping the physical body, energises the five senses and activates the mind relative to prakriti the material substratum pevading physical existence. The statement that the mind is drawn toards sound may give rise to the misnomer that the jiva or embodied being is independent. Lord Krishna clarifies this in the very next verse.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
It might be asked that since the attributes and potencies manifesting from the Supreme Lord Krishna are His eternal portions; then why does the atma or immortal soul which also manifests from Him and is an eternal portion subject to the forced incarceration of transmigration. Lord Krishna clarifies this point by stating that finite reflections cannot be proved of having eternality neither that they are beginningless . This is because they are generated due to accessories and adjuncts such as water reflecting the sunlight. The sun is always present but it may be obscured by clouds and then again there is no reflection at all during night. Because the sun is perceived externally by reflection it is known to exist but to peceive the atma in its eternal state it must be perceived internally. In this way due to limitations of the jiva or embodied being, there are some conditions which cannot be seen, experienced or perceived attached to realising the atmas eternality which is beyond the purview of the mind and senses. Thus the atma cannot be proved by reflection. One in nescience and ignorance by the obscuration of knowledge is unable to ever understand the atma or comprehend its infinite nature; so how can one imagine its reflection. Contrarily if the finite nature of the atma is accepted the atma still cannot be proved as a reflection because of the established doctrine confirmed in the Mundaka Upanisad III.I.IX beginning: eso anuratma cetasi veditavyo meaning: The atma or immortal soul is infinitesimal and difficult to realise but when one achieves spiritual enlightenment by self- realisation the atma shines within the etheric heart. Also the Vedanta Sutras II.III.XVIII beginning utcranti gat yagatinam states: The atma is infintesimal, sub-atomic and able to pass in and out from body to body. Also in II.III.XXII beginning guna dva lokavat meaning: The atma resides in the heart but by its potency of consciousness pervades all the body like candle light pervading a room. So although the individual soul is eternal it is infintesimal; but paramatma the Supreme soul is eternal, unlimited and infinite.
The conclusion is that if an adjunct is infinite it can not be reflected because it is beyond perception. Thus any conception of the atma being a reflecion of the Supreme Lord is illusion and would be like considering the suns rays to be a reflection of the sun. Such ideas and conceptions are false and delusory and contradict Vedic scriptures. So whenever Lord Krishna speaks of His portion or His potency, it always denotes eternality as every part of Him is eternal and is not a seperate entity or consciousness. Lord Krishna already declared in chapter 7, verse 5 that he has an internal and external nature. Although the power and the powerful appear as seperate energies they cannot exist independent of each other even though eternally exemplifying unity in diversity as is evidenced by the jiva or embodied being, which is confined to inhaling air or water as the case may be in various organisms. The jiva has been bewildered by the latent tendncy of enjoying sense objects since time immemorial and subsequently ensnared by their actions to the law of karma or reactions to actions from such material enjoyment and exploitation by the five senses which awards every jiva the appropriate body to inhabit corresponding to what one eats and what reactions one has acquired in te form of the effect called the indivual flase ego.
Those not fully situated in spiritual knowledge have the opinion that the atma is the highest self and that it only appears limited due to the covering of nescience which is like ether appearing limited in a pitcher. When the limiting adjuncts are no longer in contact with each other then the ether is perceived without limitations and in the same way when the adjunct of nescience is removed the true nature of the atma is revealed. But this supposition is directly refuted in this verse by the word sanatana meaning eternal because it is a part of Lord Krishna. The singular usage of the compound words jiva-bhuta refers to the category of jiva and includes all jivas in every dimension throughout all creation.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
15.7 It is eva, verily amsah, a part, portion, limb, fragment-these are all synonymous; mama, of mine, of the supreme Self; [Here Ast. adds ‘narayanasya, of Narayana’:-Tr.] which, jiva-bhutah sanatanah, becoming the eternal individual soul, will known as the enjoyer and agent; jiva-loke, in the region of living beings, (i.e.) in the world-. As the sun (reflected) in water is a part of the (actual) sun, and goes to the sun itself and does not return when the water, the cause of the reflection, is removed, so also even this part becomes similarly united with that very Self; or, as space enclosed in a pot etc., delimited by such adjuncts as the pot etc., being a part of Space does not return after being united with Space when the cause (of limitation), viz pot etc., is destroyed. This being so, it has been rightly stated, ‘by reaching which they do not return.’ Objection: How can the partless supreme Self have any limb, fragment or part? If it has limbs, then there arises the contingency of Its becoming destroyed through the dismemberment of the limbs! Reply: This fault does not arise, since Its fragment, which is delimited by an adjunct arising out of ignorance, is imagined to be a part, as it were. And this idea has been fully explained in the chapter (13) dealing with the ‘field’. How that individual soul, imagined as a part of Mine, enters into the world and leaves the body are being stated: Karsati, it draws to itself; indriyani, the (sense-) organs-ear etc.; manah-sasthani, which have the mind as their sixth; and prakrti-sthani, which abide in Nature, which are located in their respective spheres such as the orifice of the ear etc. When (does it draw the organs)?
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
15.7 Mama etc. The individual Soul is a portion just of the Brahman only : Because, due to the attribute (or, nature) viz., the nescience, the Self does not realise Its all pervaisveness and because the Consciousness is also not absent, It is figuratively referred to as portion [of the Brahman]. For, a real apportioning is not possible [in the Absolute]. For the scripture also says : ‘In the case of the Brahman (the Absolute), even the particular manifestation (or a particular space) does not preclude Its all-comprehensive nature’. This figurative usage may be resorted to wherever required. Hence there is no room for any difference of opinion.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
mama — My; eva — certainly; aḿśaḥ — fragmental particle; jīva-loke — in the world of conditional life; jīva-bhūtaḥ — the conditioned living entity; sanātanaḥ — eternal; manaḥ — with the mind; ṣaṣṭhāni — the six; indriyāṇi — senses; prakṛti — in material nature; sthāni — situated; karṣati — is struggling hard.