tribhir guṇa-mayair bhāvair
ebhiḥ sarvam idaḿ jagat
mām ebhyaḥ param avyayam
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 7.13
Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The whole world is enchanted by three modes of material nature. Those who are bewildered by these three modes cannot understand that transcendental to this material nature is the Supreme Lord, Krishna.
Every living entity under the influence of material nature has a particular type of body and a particular type of psychological and biological activities accordingly. There are four classes of men functioning in the three material modes of nature. Those who are purely in the mode of goodness are called brahmanas. Those who are purely in the mode of passion are called kshatriyas. Those who are in the modes of both passion and ignorance are called vaishyas. Those who are completely in ignorance are called shudras. And those who are less than that are animals or animal life. However, these designations are not permanent. I may either be a brahmana, kshatriya. vaishya or whatever—in any case, this life is temporary. But although life is temporary and we do not know what we are going to be in the next life, by the spell of this illusory energy we consider ourselves in terms of this bodily conception of life, and we thus think that we are American, Indian, Russian, or brahmana. Hindu, Muslim, etc. And if we become entangled with the modes of material nature, then we forget the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is behind all these modes. So Lord Krishna says that living entities deluded by these three modes of nature do not understand that behind the material background is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
There are many different kinds of living entities—human beings, demigods, animals, etc.—and each and every one of them is under the influence of material nature, and all of them have forgotten the transcendent Personality of Godhead. Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance, and even those who are in the mode of goodness, cannot go beyond the impersonal Brahman conception of the Absolute Truth. They are bewildered before the Supreme Lord in His personal feature, which possesses all beauty, opulence, knowledge, strength, fame and renunciation. When even those who are in goodness cannot understand, what hope is there for those in passion and ignorance? Krishna consciousness is transcendental to all these three modes of material nature, and those who are truly established in Krishna consciousness are actually liberated.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Then if you are all things, why do people not know you, the Supreme Lord?”
All the jivas born in the universe (sarvam idam jagat), being bewildered by the states such as sense and mind control in the mood of goodness, jubilation in the mode of passion, and lamentation in the mode of ignorance, stemming from the nature of the gunas, do not know me, who am superior to them, since I am beyond the gunas, and without change (avyayam).
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
7.13 Now, in this way, the whole universe, consisting of animate and inanimate entities belonging to Me, evolves from time to time from Me only, is absorbed in Me, and abides in Me alone. It constitutes My body and has Me for its self. Whether in the causal state or in the state of effect, it is I who have all these entities as My modes, because all entities form My body. Thus, in regard to all these modes, I am superior to them, as I am their cause, principal, and as I possess a complex of countless auspicious attributes like knowledge, strength etc. In every way I remain as the highest being. There exists none higher than Myself. Such being the case, I am superior to these entities composed of the qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas — superior to them by My extraordinary attributes and by having these various modes for My enjoyment. I am the highest and immutable, i.e., I form a unity in Myself. This world constituted of gods, men, animals and immovables, and deluded by the three Gunas of Prakrti and its evolutes are inferior and transient. The forms of bodies, senses and objects of enjoyment comprising the world are there in accordance with their past Karmas. No one in the world knows Me. How is it possible that all experiencing beings think as enjoyable objects which are inferior, constituted of the Gunas and are transient, while You exist — You who are of the nature of unbounded and abundant bliss, who has an eternal unchanging form and who is the source of the enjoyableness of even the objects of the world? Sri Krsna replies:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Why is it that the people of this Earth are unaware of the Supreme Lord and His potencies. It is being stated that the whole world is deluded by the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and nescience which influence a person to act respectively in righteousness, passion and ignorance. Therefore the people of this world are unable to recognise that the Supreme Lord Krishna is transcendental to and unaffected by the three gunas being their source and therefore immutable and immaculate. Neither are they able to fathom His paramount position at the apex of divinity completely superior to all other gods.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Why does Arjuna know and is not deluded will be explained by this verse. To show Himself as the source of the three gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and nescience, Lord Krishna uses the word mayair meaning of mine. In regard to the Supreme Lord can be understood in three ways; as relating to the atma or soul, as relating to modification and as relating to effulgence. It is not used as illusion here as He speaks of gunamayair meaning My attributes being the three gunas which originate from Him. His actions apply to His nature as well for one’s nature is compatible with one’s actions. This is mentioned in the Vyasa Yoga. The word bhavair means conditions and refers to through objects. Objects become perceived by their attributes and by this they are seen. The word idam meaning this is used to show that the wise are not deluded. Those who recognise their own bodies as consisting of the three gunas and who think that Lord Krishna transcendental body is also similarly formed are certainly deluded persons.In the Vyasa Yoga a similar comparison is made as follows: After seeing the physical body of Brahma and other demi-gods possessing attributes; if one believes that the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord is similar to theirs such a person is completely deluded in bondage. The words ebhyah param means above and beyond, referring to the attributes. When referring to the Supreme Lord of transcendental form it means He is superior to the three gunas.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Why is it that billions of humans do not recognise Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord and controller of all and the cause and source of all creation? And even those who do know about Lord Krishna being the Supreme Lord of all, how do they still remain a transmigratory soul every lifetime forced to accept a new physical body? To answer these questions Lord Krishna explains: sarvam idam jagat mohitam meaning the entire creation is deluded. This is due to the influence of the three gunas or modes of goodness possessing discrimination and righteousness, mode of passion possessing pride and desire and the mode of ignorance possessing inertia and degradation. These three modes infatuates all living entities causing their higher consciousness to be veiled and inaccessible. Thus it is not possible for billions of human beings as well as other living entities to recognise Lord Krishna’s, imperishable, paramount position above all creation. Although in an impersonal sense human beings are able to recognise and relate to portions of Lord Krishna’s power, majesty and superiority by their conceptions of a supreme being or supreme controller, o as a totally independent power; but these humans are unable to relate that these attrinutes apply exclusively to Lord Krishna, who is the ultimate reality. Also these humans are unable to perceive that He manifests and incarnates in the material worlds in His eternal spiritual body which is immutable and not subject to decay or modification and He does this for the welfare of His devotees. The conclusion is that all these billions of human beings do not recognise Lord Krishna as He factually is possessed of eternal, transcendental attributes and divine qualities. Hence they all are unable to attain His divine potency which enables them to free themselves from samsara or the endless cycle of birth and death and thus remaining in bondage are reborn again and again indefinitely.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
7.13 Sarvam, all; idam, this; jagat, world, the aggregate of creatures; mohitam, deluded as it is-made to have indiscrimination; ebhih, by these; aforesaid tribhih, three; bhavaih, things, in the forms of attachment, repulsion, delusion, etc; and gunamayaih, made of the gunas, of the transformations of the gunas; na abhijanati, does not know; mam, Me; who am param, transcendental to, distinct, different; ebhyah, from these gunas as referred to above; and am avyayam, undecaying, i.e. free from all (the six kinds of) changes in things, viz birth etc. [See note on p.38.-Tr.] How, again, do they cross over this divine Maya of Visnu, constituted by the three gunas? That is being stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
7.12-13 Ye ca etc. Tribhih etc. The [Strands] Sattva etc., are derived from Me, and not I from them. That is why he who has achieved his identity with the Bhagavat (the Absolute), properly realises all [objects] as being the Bhagavat [Himself]. On the other hand, the person who is established in the knowledge of objects of umpteen varieties does not understand the reality of the Bhagavat. This krama (traditional order) pleases the mind of all. With this idea only the Lord is going to declare presently ‘Vasudeva is all’. There the meaning is this : He, whose internal organ is favoured by the descent of the Supreme Energy or grace (Sakti-pata) that arises after [teaching the stage of] equableness of effects of actions (karma-samata) that is brought about by the enjoyment [of effects] through many births; and who realises the reality of Bhagavat, with conviction ‘verily all is Vasudeva’ – that person is the great Soul and he is difficult to find. But, not knowing in this manner and, on the contrary, being duluded by the Strands, Sattva etc., this world, fails to perceive the reality of Vasudeva, transcending the Strands. [The Lord] declares why the persons established exclusively in the Sattva etc. (Strands), are not conscious of the real nature of the Bhagavat :
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
tribhir guna-mayair bhavair
ebhih sarvam idam jagat
mam ebhyah param avyayam
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
tribhiḥ — three; guṇa-mayaiḥ — consisting of the guṇas; bhāvaiḥ — by the states of being; ebhiḥ — all these; sarvam — whole; idam — this; jagat — universe; mohitam — deluded; na abhijānāti — does not know; mām — Me; ebhyaḥ — above these; param — the Supreme; avyayam — inexhaustible.