The Saint Who Ate -- Yet Didn't Eat

Chapter III, Stanza 27

Literal Translation:

The attributes (gunas) of primordial Nature (Prakriti) perform all activities. A man with his soul delusively identified with egotism, thinks he is the doer of all actions.


The delusion-drunk egotist deems himself as the doer of all actions. He knows not that all activities are instigated by the attributes of primordial Prakriti.

God created Nature. It manifests the attributes of God camouflaged by delusion. Man is the product of invisible God and visible Nature; therefore he is dual: the immanent, hidden, pure, spiritual soul and the exterior physical man equipped with the specific brain, mind, life and moods governed by the attributes of Nature. The variety of creation-animals without free will and man with free choice, and yet limited by Nature or mass Karma-shows that various differing attributes of Nature have created animal and human nature-brutish and human behaviorisms. These have created fixed habits which govern man, animals and plants. The average man lives sixty years. A man's birth, growth, marriage, procreative and mentally creative aspirations, his specific brain and mind and life, are different from the behaviorism of a dog that barks and wags its tail and lives from twelve to twenty-four years, or a redwood tree which stands still, only occasionally swaying with the wind, and may live as long as six thousand years.

So man dwells on the apparent differences between himself and the rest of creation, and forgets that his activity and that of all other manifestations come from a common source. As the body-identified Ego, man forgets that the soul working through Nature's attributes is the real doer.

The above does not mean that man has no free will. In fact, by disengaging his mind from the senses, man can identify himself with his soul and know that It, rather than the Ego, is the real performer of all actions. For man's soul has been endowed with free will, even as the animal soul has been allotted only the guidance of instinct.

Nature Modified by Karma

An awakened soul realizes that all his human qualities are created by God and governed by the confining attributes of Nature, an thus refuses to let his body-engrossed Ego deem itself as the doer of all actions. It is also true that a man, by exercise of free will wrongly or rightly creates specific karma, which modifies the influence of mass or environmental karma ordained by Nature. By good karma or actions approved by Nature (natural living) and the perfect God, man ascends toward perfection and liberation; by evil action he descends and becomes trapped in the meshes of material desires.

Of course, the body-bound ego-tist cannot ascend because, devoid of true wisdom, he deems himself the doer of all actions and thus creates more entangling human desires. Hence the Gita, in the above stanza, points out that each devotee should analyze himself and find out whether he is living according to the upward evolutional influence of Nature, or the higher Divine soul impulses, or only by his human nature, distorted by prenatal and postnatal effects of evil actions manifesting through his habits, moods and inclinations. When the sunshine of wisdom breaks upon the dark egotist, he realizes that the soul is the performer of all true actions, and not his fanciful individuality.

Two Influences

The human machine has many parts--cerebrum, cerebellum, spinal plexuses--they are all instigators of different forms of activity. The nose, eyes, ears are external - instruments, while the brain is the vehicle of thoughts and inner faculties. Mind has a hundred functions and intelligence has six: jealousy, fear, hate, greed, anger, attraction, repulsion, egotism, delusion, pain, pleasure, shame, sense of delicacy, envy, pride, repentance, worry, pity, delusion, illusion, memory, contentment, hope, desire, etc., - belong to the mental clan. While calmness, life-control, self-control, power to refrain from evil impulses and power to act according to good inclinations are attributes of wisdom.

When man is influenced by the attributes of mind, he is susceptible to pleasure and pain, heat and cold. But when guided by the intuitive perception of the soul, he finds himself swirling no more in the eddies of psychological relativities but safe on the shore of eternal Bliss. In other words, the egotist, conceiving himself as the doer of actions, makes a tragedy out of the drama of life. But by deep meditation he may awaken and suddenly realize that he has been assigned, by the Cosmic Director, a specific human part to be played on the stage of time. Having become a wise man, he is happy to play out his joyous or doleful, superior or inferior, part just to please God, and not his ego, which once falsely imagined itself as the doer of all actions.

The soul, mind, body, brain, senses, the world, the Cosmos--all are creations of Spirit, and so the wise man, not conceiving himself as the architect of his good or bad destiny, does not laugh or cry or disturb himself with the ups and downs of dualities as the ego-intoxicated worldly man does. An egotist is never satisfied, whether he is rich, poor, healthy or king of the world. A divine man is happy in a cell or in a king's palace.

The helpless kitten, being dependent on the mother cat, is still contented when transferred from a king's palace to the coal bin, for the latter might be a safer place. So, the Yogi surrendered to God does not mind being a King or a destitute individual, according to Divine ordinance.

Krishna and the Cheese

When Krishna was among his devotees in Brindaban, India, he resided on the other side of the river Jamuna. His Gopinis (shepherdesses) devotees often fed him with fresh curds, which he eagerly relished. Once the banks of the river were flooded. Boats were swept away. The devotees of Krishna, laden with their offerings, could not get to their Master. As they hesitated there, they saw the great sage Byasa sitting near the riverbank, his face gleaming, with Krishna-intoxicated eyes. Realizing him to be a man of miracles, the Gopinis approached him and requested his help in reaching their Master.

"You want to give cheese to MY Guru Krishna, but what about poor me?" he asked. So they set the offering before Byasa. And he ate and ate, until the devotees began to worry. There seemed scarcely enough left for the Lord Krishna.

After he was filled with cheese, Byasa cried, "Jamuna, if I did not eat anything, divide and part." The Gopinis were in despair, for this strange request sounded facetious under the circumstances. But, to their increasing astonishment, the river obeyed. Still not understanding Byasa's paradoxical exclamation, the Gopinis crossed along the path between the two walls of water, which crumbled and closed after them.

But they did not find Krishna coming to greet them as usual expectant of the cheese. He was soundly sleeping!

They wakened him, but he looked at the cheese without interest. "Master, what is the matter today?'' they asked. "Do you not crave curds today?"

Krishna smiled sleepily and replied, "0 that fellow Byasa, on the other side of the river, has already fed me too much cheese."

Then the Gopinis understood that Byasa, while eating the cheese, was conscious only of his all-pervading Guru Krishna, as the one who ate, and not of his individual ego.

Spirit Permeates Actions

If all souls could feel God in all their actions even as Byasa did, they would be free from all mass and individual effects of actions (karma), for they would perform all activities while guided by divine wisdom, and not by reincarnating desires of egoism. To understand this stanza of the Bhagavad Gita one must live it in every-day life by thinking of God during the commencement, performance, and end of all actions. Ego-consciousness is the root cause of all human sorrows. Performing all actions with God -consciousness neutralizes all inner and outer calamities.

In reality, the true Self in man, being the Image of Perfect Spirit, is beyond actions and all effects even as Spirit is beyond all karma even though the active universe evolved out of It. All activities of Nature evolve out of God and yet He is not attached to them; hence He does not suffer from effects of actions. A perfect man being made in the image of God behaves like Him and does not stiffer from Karma, while an ignorant man identifies his soul with the good and evil attributes in actions. Such a man deems himself the body-bound ego--the doer of all actions-and thus becomes enmeshed in the webs of karma.

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