The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes Sufferings of the Jiva—The Rajasi Gati which is chapter 31 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the thirty-first chapter of the Third Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 31 - Sufferings of the Jīva—The Rājasī Gati

The Lord said:

1. The jīva is impelled by the force of his Karma which is under the direction and control of God. For the formation of his gross body, he, through the medium of the semen of man enters the womb of a woman.

2. In one night, the mixture of the (man’s) semen and (the woman’s) blood takes place. In five nights, a circular bubble-like mass is formed. In ten days, it becomes (somewhat) hard like the fruit of the jujube tree (karkandhu). Thereafter, it becomes a ball of flesh or an egg.

3. In one month, the head is formed. In two months, the body develops arms, feet and other organs. In three months, nails, hair, bones, skin, the penis and the anus are formed.

4. By the end of the fourth month, the seven essential ingredients of the body are produced. In the fifth month, hunger and thirst are felt. In the sixth month, the foetus is enveloped with an external skin called jarāyu, and if begins to make movements in the rightside of the mother’s abdomen.

5. He develops the essential ingredients of the body by the mother’s intake of food and drinks. The jīva stays in an abominable hollow place, full of urine and feces, a breeding place of worms.

6. By the frequent biting of the hungry worms which are there (in the same hollow place), his whole body, being very delicate and soft, is wounded all over. Being extremely tormented, he falls into a swoon at every moment.

7. He is affected by the bitter, pungent, hot, salt, astringent, acidic and such other unbearable substances eaten by the mother, and thereby suffers pain spread all over the body.

8. Enveloped in the womb and surrounded on the outside with the entrails, it lies there with his head protruding towards the stomach and with his back and neck in a bent position.

9. Like a bird (shut up) in a cage, he is incapable of making (free) movements of his body there. As a result of his karma in previous births, he recollects his actions (karmas) done in the last hundred previous births and suffers the endless pain without a sigh. What happiness can he have (in such a condition).

10. From the seventh month, he gets consciousness. But as he is always moved by ‘the winds of delivery’ (sūtivāta), he cannot remain in one spot like the worms born in the feces in the same place.

11. The jīva who knows both body and the Soul but is bound by seven essential ingredients of the gross body, is afraid. In repentance he folds his hands and in words expressing distress, he praises the Lord who has confined him in the womb.

The jīva (the Individual Soul) said:

12. That the Lord has shown me this condition (made me to experience confinement in the womb) is quite befitting as I am wicked[1]. I, who am of that type, (now) take shelter under the lotuslike feet of the Lord, who fearlessly moves over the earth, after assuming various bodies (incarnations), with the desire of protecting the world, which has submitted to him for refuge[2].

13. I stay as if bound down, here (in the mother’s womb), depending on the Māyā in the form (of my body consisting) of five Bhūtas, sense-organs and mind (manas), and with my real nature covered by karmas. I bow to the Lord who is being realized in my tormented heart yet is himself unaffected by changes (avikāra) as he is extremely pure and unlimited by conditions, and of uninterrupted knowledge.

14.[3] I who am falsely concealed in a body composed of five Bhūtas, am factually unattached to it. I am the jīva falsely reflected in the sense-organs, attributes (like sattva) and objects of senses. I bow to that Supreme Man whose greatness is not limited[4] by the body—the Supreme Man who is the controller of the Prakṛti and Puruṣa and who is omniscient.

15. By what means can the jīva regain for himself his original status[5] without the grace of the Lord by (the power of) whose Māyā he lost his memory (about his true self) and is wandering in this path of saṃsāra suffering the afflictions resulting from it and wherein he incurs heavy bondage from actions (committed) due to the three guṇas.

16. Which[6] of the gods except the Supreme Being has inspired in me this knowledge of the past, present and future? (It must be the Supreme God as) we jīvas follow the course of karmas (and are subject to births and deaths). By his aṃśa, he has pervaded the mobiles and immobiles (as an antaryāmin). We resort to him for the cessation of the three kinds of afflictions (viz. ādhibhautika, ādhyātmika and ādhidaivika).

17. Oh Lord! this embodied being has fallen into the hollow place full of blood, feces and urine in the cavity in the body of another person (i.e. the mother). His body is extremely scorched by the abdominal fire (of the mother). Being anxious of getting out of this place, he is counting his months. When will this low-minded being be delivered (lit. pushed out of this place)?

18. Oh Omnipotent Lord, you are simply incomparable. By your unbounded mercy, you have blessed a jīva of ten months with this knowledge. May that protestor of the distressed (i.e., you) be pleased with his (your) own action (of this gift of knowledge). What can anyone do to him (you) except offering one’s obeisance?

19.[7] This another kind of jīva[8] (sub-human beings like birds, beasts) certainly feels physical (pleasures and pains) pertaining to his body. I am blessed by him with intelligence (knowledge and discretion) and gifted by him with a body capable of being disciplined with śama, dama etc. I can see that eternal, perfect Puruṣa directly both within and without my heart just like a caitya (the jīva who possesses ahaṃkāra and is an enjoyer of pleasure and pain).

20. Oh All-pervading Lord, though I am dwelling in the womb full of many kinds of afflictions, I do not wish to get out of the womb and fall into a dark well (of ignorance) (and be born in this world). (Because, outside) God’s Māyā approaches the jīva which has fallen into the dark pit (well) of saṃsāra. The Māyā is followed by false apprehension (about the identification of the body and the Soul etc.) and this cycle of saṃsāra.

21. I have now attained to the feet of Viṣṇu and am free from destruction. I shall stay therefore, here (in the womb) only with the help of my mind which is like a friend, I shall soon lift myself up from ignorance. So that the calamity of staying in many holes (wombs at the time of each birth in saṃsāra) will not befall me.

Kapila said:

22. In this way, the jīva who is ten months old and who has acquired knowledge, makes up his mind. While he is praising the Lord in the womb the wind produced in the womb during the pangs of travail suddenly pushes him with his head downward for his birth.

23. Being thus thrust down by the wind of delivery, the jīva gets suffocated and anguished and loses his memory. With great trouble, he is suddenly born with his head downward.

24. He falls on the ground in a pool of blood and urine. He moves about like a worm in feces. (Finding that) he has lost his knowledge and has fallen in the contrary state (of dark ignorance), he frequently cries out.

25. He is being fed by persons who cannot understand the will (and need) of another. If he is presented an unwanted object, he is incapable of refusing it.

26. He is made to lie down (sleep) on a dirty bed rendered troublesome by worms born of sweat. He is unable to scratch his limbs or make movements like sitting, standing or moving.

27. Just as big worms gnaw and bite smaller worms, similarly mosquitoes, flies, bugs etc. bite the soft and delicate skin of the crying child who has lost its (previous) memory.

28. In this way having suffered miseries in childhood and boyhood, (in youth) he becomes down-cast with grief for his inability to obtain the desired object. He flares up with rage out of ignorance.

29. His pride and anger go on increasing with the growth of his body. He, being passionate, fights with other passionate persons like him, and meets his end (ruin).

30. This ignorant, dull-witted embodied being constantly entertains the false notion about this body which is composed of five bhūtas to be himself and as belonging to him.

31. He performs action for the sake of the body—the body which gives the jīva a great trouble (from birth to death) and which being bound down by avidyā (ignorance) and karmas (destiny, fruit of actions), always follows him (in the next birth). It is by being bound down to the body that the jīva goes to (and is entangled in) the cycle of saṃsāra.

32. While on the path of righteousness, if the being comes in contact with and is influenced by the unrighteous who are striving for the gratification of their lusts and appetites and enjoys himself (in those ways), he enters the darkness (of ignorance or hell) as before.

33. (For virtues such as) truthfulness, purity, mercy, silence (control over speech), intelligence or the sense of the highest objective (puruṣārtha), affluence, modesty, renown, forbearance, control of sense-organs, control of the mind, prosperity go on diminishing in the company of the evil.

34. One should not form association with those wicked persons who regard the Soul as identical with the body and are devoid of serenity and are ignorant. They are under the influence of women like the domesticated deer with which the women play and hence pitiable.

35. He is not that much affected by delusion and bondage on other occasions as when he is attached to women or to those who are attached to women.

36. The Lord of Creation (Brahmā) was enamoured of the beauty of his daughter when he saw her. When she assumed the form of a female deer, the shameless god assumed the form of a male deer and ran after her.

37. With the exception of the sage Nārāyaṇa who else in this world (and out of the sages like Marīci created by Brahmā and out of sages like Kāśyapa and others born of them and among gods, human beings etc. created by Kāśyapa), is not attracted by the Māyā in the form of woman.

38. Look at the power of my Māyā in the form of the woman. By the mere movement of her eyebrow she tramples under foot (conquers) the conquerors of the quarters (the entire world).

39. He who has attained Self-realization by my service and desires to attain to the highest stage of Yoga, should never associate himself with women. (For) they(Yogins) call woman as the gate of hell.

40. A woman is the Māyā created by God. She slowly approaches you. You should look upon her as your death, like a deep pit covered by grass.

41. Similarly a woman who wants liberation (should regard as death the Māyā who approaches her in the form of a man and who she thinks to be her husband. The woman is a jīva who, due to his attachment to women (in a former birth) has attained the form of a woman which procures for her, wealth, a house and children.

42. Just as the song (sweet notes) of a hunter is a death to the deer, similarly one should understand the Māyā to be the death in the form of the husband, children and home brought to her by Fate.

43. By his Liṅga-śarīra surrounding the jīva, he wanders from one world to another (from one body to another). While the man enjoys the fruits of actions, he continuously goes on committing actions (karmas).

44. The jīva i.e. the subtle-body (Liṅga-śarīra) closely follows the ātman and is conditioned by it. The gross body is the product of the Bhūtas, indriyas (sense-organs) and manas (the mind). The suspension of the use of the gross-body is the Death, and the manifestation of its powers (to produce the effect) is the birth.

45.[9] When the gross body which is the place (and condition) of the perception of substances becomes incapable in its function of observing them, it is called death. When it (the gross body) is identified with the Self through ahaṃkāra and is capable of perceiving the objects, it is called the birth.

46.[10] (For example) when the eyes (the region of visual perception of objects) becomes incapable of seeing the parts of a substance, it is the incapability of the sensory organ. When the (physical) eyeballs and the sensory organ both cease to function, the seer (the jīva that perceives (becomes incapable of seeing. (Thus the Liṅga-śarīra—subtle body—becomes incapable of functioning after the incompetence (and cessation of function) of the gross body. But that is not the death of jīva, himself).

47. (As there is no birth or death to the jīva), the wise man should not get agitated with grief or show niggardliness (or be down-cast with dejectedness in life) nor should get confused. He should understand the nature and the course of jīva[11] and should move about (lead his life) without any attachment.

48.[12] By the power of his intellect capable of properly grasping the truth, and reinforced by the practice of Yoga and non-attachment, he should place his body in this world created by Māyā (i.e. he should give up attachment to his body) and go about the world.

Footnotes and references:


Subodhinī, Bhāgavata Candrikā read: upa-panna [pannam]—(the world) created by him.


Sārārthadarśinī: “I am ruined by great calamities. But the God has inspired in me such type of mental attitude as is capable of delivering me from this.”

Bhāgavata Candrikā: Paramātmā occupies the same body (consisting of bhūtas etc.) as the one occupied by jīva. But though he is staying in Prakṛti along with jīva, he is untouched by the blemishes of the Prakṛti and hence is extremely pure. He is destitute of changes such as birth, death, grief, delusion, hunger, thirst etc. His knowledge is undiminished. Though he stays in the same impure body as the jīva who is subject to karmas, he is not at all affected by any impurities. Hence the jīva bows to him who manifests in his afflicted heart.

Basing his explanation on satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma (Tait. Up. 2.1.1) Padaratnāvalī states: The Paramātman stays in the body even in the womb as the director of the Prakṛti. But (tu) there is extreme difference between the jīva and the paramātman as he is extremely pure, changeless, of unlimited knowledge. I bow to Hari whose presence in my heart burning with afflictions, is determined by his being free from them.

VC.: I bow to the Lord as we do not know whether he stays in this body to protect us or as a part of his līlā. It is proper that as a result of my past sinful actions I am here, but how does he live in this hell as an antaryāmin? His presence due to his dependence on Māyā does not bring any impurity, change or limitation to his knowledge as in my case. He stayed in my heart and gave me the (above) knowledge. Hence I realized this in my heart tormented with affliction.

Subodhinī: This verse describes the absence of blemishes and excellences in the Lord. It describes the blemishes of the Jīva. And the jīva bows to the Lord to remove his weaknesses and faults.


Bhāgavata Candrikā takes the first half as the description of Paramātman. “Paramātman, though concealed or covered by the body composed of five bhūtas, is not at all touched by the defects or blemishes resulting from the contacts with the body. He is the controller of both cit and acit (sentient and non- sentient) for his body consists of guṇas, objects of senses and the sentient principle (jīva)”.


v.l. avaguṇṭha-mahimānam—The shroud enveloping whose greatness is destroyed—Bhāvāratha Dīpikā


lokam [loka]—The real knowledge of the self, the means to liberation—Bhāgavata Candrikā


Katamaḥ—(1) Extremely blessed—Padaratnāvalī (2) The highest BrahmanSubodhinī


Bhāgavata Candrikā compares the jīva in the womb with a Yogī (damaśarīrī [damaśarīrin]). I can directly see the Lord in my heart by the power of knowledge (dhiṣaṇā) gifted to me. Caitya = the eternal god to be grasped by mind purified by Yoga. The Yogī has a body of seven sheaths but is different from the body. By the power of seeing, blessed by the Lord, a Yogī visualises the Lord due to his controlled mind and senses.

VC: This jīva in the human womb sees by his intelligence the physical pleasures and pains. Another fortunate one becomes a damaśarīrī (knower, jñānī). Though I am notorious of being evil-minded, I can directly see with the intelligence gifted by him, the Lord—the eternal Puruṣottama, presiding over my mind, both within and without my heart.


sapta-vadhri: vadhra = A leathern strap—ASD. 828.

(i) Bhāgavata Candrikā explains it as ‘a jīva with seven skin sheaths’ (i.e. body).

(ii) Kramasandarbha. and VC.: A jīva in the womb.

(iii) Bhāvāratha Dīpikā, Siddhāntapradīpa, Bālaprabodhini: A jīva.

(iv) Padaratnāvalī: jīva, the possessor of seven organs of knowledge.


Bhāgavata Candrikā states that the change of state is the death of the previous state and the birth of a new one. Here the subtle state (sūkṣmāvasthā) wherein a man becomes incapable of perceiving the elemental composition of the gross body, is called the death of that man. But when he sees it with ahaṃkāra (It is I), it is his birth.

Padaratnāvalī agrees with Bhāvāratha Dīpikā: The state in which a man is incapable of taking in the experience of gross objects in relation to the gross body, is called death. When he has the sense of I-ness (‘I am this body’) with reference to the body and is able to experience gross objects, it is the birth.


Bhāgavata Candrikā explains: For the creation of the sense of renunciation and to emphasize the distinctness of ātman from the body which is created and destroyed, the example of the organ of sight is taken. The physical eye is incapable of seeing the organ of sight and other objects. The organ of seeing is incapable to function when the eye is diseased, even though the object of seeing is present. When a person is absent-minded, he does not see the object though his physical eye and the sense of seeing are healṃy and the object is present. Thus it is the intelligent seer (Soul) who sees and he is distinct from the rest. So is the distinction between the Soul and the body.


jīvagati—The nature of jīva as distinct from Prakṛti and Brahman.


Padaratnāvalī states that this is the way how jīvan-muktas should lead their life here:

The jīva is unattached to the body and things pertaining to it. The body of the jīva lives in this karmabhūmi—the world created by the will of Nārāyaṇa. He should give up attachment, be unmoved like the deep (ocean). He should have correct knowledge and faith. With his intellect strengthened by Bhakti, Yoga and vairāgya he should realize Nārāyaṇa, the support of heaven, hell etc. where jīvas go. He should lead his life in the service (and meditation) of Nārāyaṇa.

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