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mamaite manasa yad yad
asav aham iti bruvan
grhniyat tat puman raddham
karma yena punar bhavah
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
The living entity labors under the bodily conception of “I am this, I am that. My duty is this, and therefore I shall do it.” These are all mental impressions, and all these activities are temporary; nonetheless, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the living entity gets a chance to execute all his mental concoctions. Thus he gets another body.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
As long as one is absorbed in the bodily conception, his activities are performed on that platform. This is not very difficult to understand. In the world, we see that every nation is trying to supersede every other nation and that every man is trying to advance beyond his fellow man. All these activities are going on under the name of advancement of civilization. There are many plans for making the body comfortable, and these plans are carried in the subtle body after the destruction of the gross body. It is not a fact that after the gross body is destroyed the living entity is finished. Although many great philosophers and teachers in this world are under the impression that after the body is finished everything is finished, this is not a fact. Narada Muni says in this verse that at death one takes his plans with him (grhniyat), and to execute these plans he gets another body. This is called punar bhavah. When the gross body is finished, the plans of the living entity are taken by the mind, and by the grace of the Lord the living entity gets a chance to give these plans shape in the next life. This is known as the law of karma. As long as the mind is absorbed in the laws of karma, a certain type of body must be accepted in the next life.
Karma is the aggregate of fruitive activities conducted to make this body comfortable or uncomfortable. We have actually seen that when one man was about to die he requested his physician to give him a chance to live four more years so that he could finish his plans. This means that while dying he was thinking of his plans. After his body was destroyed, he doubtlessly carried his plans with him by means of the subtle body, composed of mind, intelligence and ego. Thus he would get another chance by the grace of the Supreme Lord, the Supersoul, who is always within the heart:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jñanam apohanam ca
In the next birth, one acquires remembrance from the Supersoul and begins to execute the plans begun in the previous life. This is also explained in Bhagavad-gita in another verse:
hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine made of the material energy.” (Bg. 18.61) Situated on the vehicle given by material nature and reminded by the Supersoul within the heart, the living entity struggles all over the universe to fulfill his plans, thinking, “I am a brahmana,” “I am a ksatriya,” “I am an American,” “I am an Indian,” and so on. All these designations are of the same essence. There is no point in becoming a brahmana in preference to an American or becoming an American in preference to a Negro. After all, these are all bodily conceptions under the modes of material nature.