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Prakrti - Material Nature In the seventh chapter of Bhagavad-gita (7.

6), Lord Krsna says that all created beings have their origin in two natures: the material and the spiritual&emdash;a nd that He is the source of both natures (Bg. 7.6). Prakrti, nature, is actually threefold. Nature consists of a superior energy (pa ra), an inferior energy (apara), and a marginal energy. The superior energy mani fests the spiritual realm. The inferior energy (known as "nature" by scientists) manifests this world. And the marginal energy, also spiritual by constitution, comprises the infinitesimal sparks of consciousness known as jivas&emdash;that i s, all living beings. When the jivas choose to associate with matter and identif y with the inferior energy, they manipulate it for sense enjoyment and thus the entire world functions. Everything that exists here is a product of matter and spirit, but spirit is the basic field of creation. Spirit is not created at a certain stage of material d evelopment. Matter grows around spirit. For example, a baby's body grows to chil dhood and youth and then maturity because the spirit soul is present within the body. Similarly, the entire cosmic manifestation develops because of the presenc e of the Supreme Soul. Krsna is the seed-giving father of all living entities, and material nature is t he womb, or mother. "This material nature is working under My direction," Krsna says, "producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestat ion is created and annihilated again and again" (Bg. 9.10). Krsna injects living entities into the womb of material nature simply by glancing, and they manifest in different forms and species, depending upon their previous desires and activ ities. Material nature consists of eight elements: earth, water, fire, air, space, mind , intelligence and false ego. These are known as Krsna's "separated material ene rgies" (Bg. 7.4). Another classification of the elements of the material world i ncludes the five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and space), the three s ubtle elements (mind, intelligence and false ego), the ten senses (five for work ing: hands, legs, stomach, rectum and genitals; and five for acquiring knowledge : eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin), the five sense objects (form, taste, smell , sound and touch), and consciousness. These twenty-four elements constitute the field of activity for the living entities. The material body of the jiva is also called the field of activity. It is a mini ature universe comprised of the twenty-four universal elements. Though covered b y gross and subtle material elements, the soul retains in a dormant state its in dividuality as the eternal servitor of the Lord. The pure soul in the material w orld desires to exploit material nature, and the false ego is the identification of the self as separate from Krsna. Material nature is endowed with three qualities or modes (gunas): goodness, pass ion and ignorance. When these three qualities combine and permutate, they create many varieties of consciousness, just as the combinations of the primary colors red, yellow and blue create many colors. Conditioned by the three modes, the li ving entity adheres to a particular type of faith, prefers certain kinds of food , and enjoys his own type of understanding, determination, happiness and knowled ge. Bhagavad-gita (4.13) says that one's tendency towards a particular type of w ork is determined by the modes of material nature. Generally, the mode of goodne ss conditions one to happiness; passion, to fruitive action; and ignorance, to m adness. All three modes bind one to the cycle of repeated births and deaths. "Th is divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is d ifficult to overcome," Krsna says. "But those who have surrendered unto Me can e asily cross beyond it" (Bg. 7.14).