प्रकृतिस्थोऽपि पुरुषो नाज्यते प्राकृतैर्गुणै: ।
अविकारादकर्तृत्वान्निर्गुणत्वाज्जलार्कवत् ॥ १ ॥
prakṛti-stho ’pi puruṣo
nājyate prākṛtair guṇaiḥ
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Personality of Godhead said; prakṛti-sthaḥ — residing in the material body; api — although; puruṣaḥ — the living entity; na — not; ajyate — is affected; prākṛtaiḥ — of material nature; guṇaiḥ — by the modes; avikārāt — from being without change; akartṛtvāt — by freedom from proprietorship; nirguṇatvāt — from being unaffected by the qualities of material nature; jala — on water; arkavat — like the sun.
The Personality of Godhead Kapila continued: When the living entity is thus unaffected by the modes of material nature, because he is unchanging and does not claim proprietorship, he remains apart from the reactions of the modes, although abiding in a material body, just as the sun remains aloof from its reflection on water.
In the previous chapter Lord Kapiladeva has concluded that simply by beginning the discharge of devotional service one can attain detachment and transcendental knowledge for understanding the science of God. Here the same principle is confirmed. A person who is detached from the modes of material nature remains just like the sun reflected on water. When the sun is reflected on water, the movement of the water or the coolness or unsteadiness of the water cannot affect the sun. Similarly, vāsudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ (Bhāg. 1.2.7): when one engages fully in the activities of devotional service, bhakti-yoga, he becomes just like the sun reflected on water. Although a devotee appears to be in the material world, actually he is in the transcendental world. As the reflection of the sun appears to be on the water but is many millions of miles away from the water, so one engaged in the bhakti-yoga process is nirguṇa, or unaffected by the qualities of material nature.
Avikāra means “without change.” It is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā that each and every living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and thus his eternal position is to cooperate or to dovetail his energy with the Supreme Lord. That is his unchanging position. As soon as he employs his energy and activities for sense gratification, this change of position is called vikāra. Similarly, even in this material body, when he practices devotional service under the direction of the spiritual master, he comes to the position which is without change because that is his natural duty. As stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, liberation means reinstatement in one’s original position. The original position is one of rendering service to the Lord (bhakti-yogena, bhaktyā). When one becomes detached from material attraction and engages fully in devotional service, that is changlessness. Akartṛtvāt means not doing anything for sense gratification. When one does something at his own risk, there is a sense of proprietorship and therefore a reaction, but when one does everything for Kṛṣṇa, there is no proprietorship over the activities. By changlessness and by not claiming the proprietorship of activities, one can immediately situate himself in the transcendental position in which one is not touched by the modes of material nature, just as the reflection of the sun is unaffected by the water.