SB 11.22: Enumeration of the Elements of Material Creation
This chapter enumerates and categorizes the natural elements, explains the difference between the male and female natures and describes birth and death.
There are many opinions concerning the number of material elements. But this difference of opinions, brought about by the influence of the illusory energy, is not illogical. All the elements of nature exist everywhere; so authorities who have accepted the illusory potency of the Supreme Personality may propose a variety of theories. The insurmountable illusory energy of God is the root cause of their mutually contradictory arguments.
There is no difference between the ultimate enjoyer and the supreme controller. To presuppose any distinction between them is senseless. Ordinary knowledge is simply a quality of material nature, not of the soul proper. The raw substance of material nature is designated according to its different phases. In the mode of goodness, it is known as knowledge, in the mode of passion as activity, and in the mode of darkness as ignorance. Time is another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and another name for material propensity is sūtra or mahat-tattva. The twenty-five elements of nature are the Lord, nature, the mahat, false ego, ether, air, fire, water, earth, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the skin, speech, the hands, the feet, the genitals, the anus, the mind, sound, touch, form, taste and smell.
The unmanifest Supreme Personality merely glances at nature. Material nature, which is under the control of the Supreme Lord, then assumes the forms of causes and effects and carries out the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world. Even though the puruṣa and prakṛti appear nondifferent to superficial vision, there is an ultimate difference between the two. Material creation is produced from the modes of prakṛti, and its quality is transformation. The living entities who are inimical to the Supreme Personality of Godhead take on and give up various kinds of material bodies through the agency of their own material work. But those who are ignorant of the self, because of being bewildered by illusion, do not understand this. The mind, which is filled with ideas of fruitive work, simply takes the senses with it from one body to another, while the soul follows along. Nevertheless, on account of being totally absorbed in sense gratification, one cannot remember his past existence.
The body undergoes nine stages of manifestation, which are brought about by association with the qualities of material nature. These are impregnation, gestation, birth, childhood, youth, maturity, middle age, old age and death. From the death of one’s father and the birth of one’s son, a person can easily comprehend the rise and fall of his own body. The soul, who is the perceiver, is different from this body. But when there is no knowledge of the true facts, the living entity, confused by the objects of sense gratification, achieves his destinations within the cycle of material existence. Thus the living entity continuously wanders under the spell of material work, taking birth as a sage or a demigod when he is predominated by the mode of goodness, among the demons or human beings when he is predominantly influenced by the mode of passion, and in the species of ghosts, spirits or animals when he is predominated by the mode of ignorance. The spirit soul does not engage in the enjoyment of sense objects; rather, it is the senses that perform this activity. Therefore the living being has no actual need for sense gratificatory pleasures. With the exception of those peaceful personalities who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and are dedicated to the divine duty of His service, everyone, including so-called learned scholars, is inevitably overcome by the all-powerful material nature.