The chapter 13 of Bhagavad Gita, has been translated as Nature, the Enjoy-er and Consciousness by Bhaktivedanta Swami (Prabhupada)

The sloka Bg 13.21 has been translated as follows by the same author:

the Sanskrit original:


hetuḥ prakṛtir ucyate

puruṣaḥ sukha-duḥkhānāṁ

bhoktṛtve hetur ucyate

the word for word translation:

kārya — of effect; kāraṇa — and cause; kartṛtve — in the matter of creation; hetuḥ — the instrument; prakṛtiḥ — material nature; ucyate — is said to be; puruṣaḥ — the living entity; sukha — of happiness; duḥkhānām — and distress; bhoktṛtve — in enjoyment; hetuḥ — the instrument; ucyate — is said to be.


Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.

question - see below:

whatever desires we feed and struggle to satisfy, develops in us a nature, and this self-developed nature pushes us to desire even further.

how can we explain this situation (with reference from the shastra please)?

person "A" no interest whatsoever in aviation, then in 2014 person "B" who was a pilot, and that triggered "A" the desire to fly airplanes, this made "A" go through a long process to become a pilot, and today "A" love airplanes.

where does the "bija" (seed) of desires come from?

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    In Sankara's version of the Gita (the oldest recension we have), this is verse 13.20. The translation by Swami Gambhirananda is: "With regard to the source of body and organs, Nature is said to be the cause. The soul Is the cause so far as enjoyership of happiness and sorrow is concerned." Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 8:24
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    See Gita II. 62-63 for where desire comes from. It comes from attachment. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 8:27
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    The seed of desire is Ego or false-attachment to self. The false identity or the attachment to the body causes desires. Upon self-realization the ego attachment disappears and therefore all the miseries disappear. Good q
    – Sai
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 16:11
  • I think is also past life stuffs. But I think the desires could be a path to enlightenment too, if gone about in the correct manner / Edit : Hadn’t read Tezz reply below, innumerable births, sounds right 🥶 Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


According to Vivekchudamani of Adi Shankara Ignorance is the seed of Samsara tree. From ignorance comes Ego (Ahamkara) [Identification with body]. From Ego comes desires. Hence Ego and Ignorance are seed of desires. As Ego comes from Ignorance, Ignorance is the cause and Ego is the seed of desire:

  1. Ignorance is the seed of the tree of samsara, the worldy existence. Body-identification is the sprout, desires are its tender leaves, actions are its water, the body is the trunk, the Pranas are its branches, the sense-organs are its twigs, the sense-objects are its flowers, different miseries born out of the varieties of actions are the fruits and the individual soul is the bird perched upon it.

Then desires go on following Karmic chain from cycles of birth and rebirth until he comes out from veil of Maya. Hence choosing pilot, doctors etc. are the effects of desires of numerous births:

  1. Even wise men cannot suddenly destroy egoism after it has once become strong, barring those who are perfectly calm through the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Desires are verily the effect of innumerable births.
  • What is Ignorance? How does scripture define Ignorance? Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 17:26
  • @sv I think Ignorance is false knowledge at that condition when Jeeva is covered by veil of Maya...
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 17:30

There is a very long discussion between Yudhisthira, Bhishma, Suka and Vyasa in Mahabharata Santi Parva involving many sections about emancipation. conduct, Brahman etc. There is a wonderful description of Desire by Vyasa in this discussion.

Vyasa’s view of Desire

Vyasa said, ‘There is a wonderful tree, called Desire, in the heart of a man. It is born of the seed called Error. Wrath and pride constitute its large trunk. The wish for action is the basin around its foot (for holding the water that is to nourish it). Ignorance is the root of that tree, and heedlessness is the water that gives it sustenance. Envy constitutes its leaves. The evil acts of past lives supply it with vigour. Loss of judgment and anxiety are its twigs; grief forms its large branches; and fear is its sprout. Thirst (after diverse objects) that is (apparently) agreeable forms the creepers that twine round it on every side. Excessively greedy men, bound in chains of iron, sitting around that fruit-yielding tree, pay their adorations to it, in expectation of obtaining its fruit. He who, subduing those chains, cutteth down that tree and seeks to cast off both sorrow and joy, succeeds in attaining to the end of both. That foolish man who nourishes this tree by indulgence in the objects of the senses is destroyed by those very objects in which he indulges after the manner of a poisonous pill destroying the patient to whom it is administered. A dexterous person, however, by the aid of Yoga, forcibly teareth up and cutteth with the sword of Samadhi, the far-reaching root of this tree. One who knows that the end of all acts undertaken from only the desire of fruit is rebirth or chains that bind, succeeds in transcending all sorrow.’

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLIV

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    I have added some context as requested. Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:57

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