Answers to Very Important Questions

Svāyambhuva Manu told Dhruva:

[15] “The five physical elements evolve into female and male life forms. Through intercourse, those life forms then fill this world with more female and male bodies. This is how people are created, and it is also how they are maintained and destroyed. All of it is just an interaction of Paramātmā’s external qualities.”

Why do the physical elements evolve into male and female life forms?

[17] Svāyambhuva explained, “The Supreme Person is the essential, original cause of all these evolutions in his external qualities, even though he himself is without any such external qualities. This whole world manifests and disappears because of him, like iron being moved by a magnet.”

What “magnet” does he use to cause this evolution?

[19] Svāyambhuva explained, “Time is the ‘magnet.’ The All-Attractive uses the energy of time to set his external qualities in motion.”

How does time come into contact with the external elements?

Svāyambhuva Manu explained, “His potency of individualized consciousness (the jīva) carries this energy into those qualities. It is only through them that his divine nature acts within this external world; he himself does not act here. It is only through them that things are killed and destroyed; he himself does not kill or destroy. All these deeds transpire merely by his distant separated energies. The true deeds of the Great Origin are certainly far beyond all this.

[20] “He is eternal and unchanging, but through the agency of time the Endless creates endings, and the Beginningless creates beginnings. It is only through the agency of people that other people are born, and it is they who kill one another. He certainly never takes sides. No one is his enemy. No one is his ally. Mortality affects everyone equally.”

Then why do some die young, while others live long?

[21] Svāyambhuva explained, “The individual conscious beings who become involved with the external world simply submit to the impartial rules he establishes, just as dust submits to the wind. Sometimes these rules diminish their lifespan; sometimes they increase it. He is not directly involved in either case. He is absorbed in internal affairs within himself, and his laws impartially reward and punish those absorbed in the external world.”

Why do the living entities behave in unique, different ways, earning different rewards and punishments from Paramātmā’s impartial system?

[22] Svāyambhuva explained, “Some say it is due to cause and effect, karma. Others say it is due to each individual having a unique nature, svabhāva. Some say that is all fate and predestination, daiva. But certainly others say it is because each individual person has their own individual desires, kāma.

None of these opinions are entirely correct or incorrect, because they all play a role in causing living entities to be individuals. But the root of all of them is kāma, individual desire and will.

[23] Why do they all have different desires? Svāyambhuva Manu explained, “The Supreme, who is beyond scrutiny and beyond examination, likes to generate many different types of energy. My dear boy, among these philosophers and logians, no one really understands his intention. He has his own reasons, and he manifests things according to his own liking. There is no causality superior to his will.”


In 19, we see that time activates the external energy, and that time is carried into the external energy by the vibhakta-vīrya which VCT explains as the “individualized potency” known as jīva – individual souls like you and I. Time exists within consciousness (as does everything), so existing within the jīva’s consciousness, who herself is a distinct energy of the Supreme, time is carried into the external world and allows conscious will to set elemental evolution in motion. This concurs with the previous descriptions of initial creation given in the Second and Third Cantos.

19 also establishes that the separated conscious entities are denoted as such because they have independent free will. Their will is given autonomy by the Supreme, and allowed to operate on its own, separately from the Supreme Will. Of course it can, and should act in harmony with the Supreme Will. But this is not mandatory, nor does “harmony” indicate absolute uniformity and non-distinction.

19 also establishes that the things that happen in this world are not caused by “God.” They are caused by the inhabitants of the world, you and me. God is the remote cause, because he is the cause of you and I existing, but the direct cause is our own independent will.

20 confirms this and specifies that the Supreme is equally disposed impartially towards each and every one of his separated individual expansions of consciousness.

21 clarifies that different living beings experience different joys and sorrows, not because of God, but because of their own deeds. God is impartial, it is our own harmony or disharmony with his system (which also implies harmony with one another) which causes the impartial rewards and punishments.

22 seeks for the root of why the living entities should be individuals. The answer is that many factors are involved, but the root cause is kāma – individual taste, individual desire, individual will.

23 adds that the absolute root cause is the individual taste, desire and will of the Original, Self-Causing Being.

This is a translation, with comments

On Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.11.15 ~ 23

by Vraja Kishor dās

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