The classification of the three gunas – Chapter 14 – Slokas 14.01 – 14.27

The Blessed Lord said, “param bhuyah pravaksyami
jnananam jnanam uttamam
yaj jnatva munayah sarve
param siddhim ito gatah
– I shall speak again of the Supreme Knowledge, the best of all knowledges, by realizing which all the contemplatives namely the monks and seekers reached the Highest Perfection from here.

 

idam jnanam upasritya
mama sadharmyam agatah
sarge ‘pi nopajayante
pralaye na vyathanti ca
– Those who attain identity with Me by resorting to and following this Knowledge are not born during creation nor do they suffer pain during dissolution.

 

mama yonir mahad brahma
tasmin garbham dadhamy aham
sambhavah sarva-bhutanam
tato bhavati bharata
– My womb is the great sustainer. In that I place the seed. From that, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, occurs the birth of all things.

 

sarva-yonisu kaunteya
murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita
– O son of Kunti, whatever forms are born from all wombs, of them the great sustainer is the womb and source and I am the father who deposits the seed.

 

sattvam rajas tama iti
gunah prakrti-sambhavah
nibadhnanti maha-baho
dehe dehinam avyayam
– O mighty-armed one, the qualities namely sattva, rajas and tamas, born of Nature, bind the Immutable embodied being to the body.

 

Among them, sattva, being pure is an illuminator – prakāsakam and is harmless. O sinless one, it binds through attachment to happiness – sukhasangena and attachment to knowledge – jnāna-sangena.

 

Know rajas to be of the nature of passion, born of hankering and attachment – trsnā-āsanga-samudbhavam. O son of Kunti, that rajas binds the embodied one through attachment to actions – karma-sangena.

 

On the other hand, know tamas, which deludes all embodied beings to be born of ignorance. O scion of Bharata dynasty, tamas binds through inadvertence, laziness and sleep – pramāda-ālasya-nidrābhih.

 

O scion of the Bharata dynasty, sattva attaches one to happiness, rajas to action, while tamas, covering up knowledge leads to inadvertence also.

 

O scion of the Bharata dynasty, sattva increases by subduing both rajas and tamasrajas by overpowering sattva and tamas, and tamas by dominating over sattva and rajas.

 

sarva-dvaresu dehe ‘smin
prakasa upajayate
jnanam yada tada vidyad
vivrddham sattvam ity uta
– When the illumination – prakāsa that is knowledge radiates in this body through all the doors of the senses, then one should know that sattva has increased greatly.

 

O best of the Bharata dynasty, when the quality of rajas becomes predominant, these indications come into being namely avarice, movement in general, undertaking of actions, unrest and hankering.

 

O descendant of the Kuru dynasty, when tamas predominates these indications surely come into being namely non-discrimination, inactivity, inadvertence and delusion.

 

yada sattve pravrddhe tu
pralayam yati deha-bhrt
tadottama-vidam lokan
amalan pratipadyate
– When an embodied one undergoes death while sattva is exclusively predominant, then he attains the taintless worlds of those who know the highest.

 

When one dies while rajas is predominant, he is born among people attached to activity. Similarly, when one dies while tamas is predominant, he takes birth among the stupid species.

 

They say that the result of good work is pure and is born of sattva. But the result of rajas is sorrow and the result of tamas is ignorance.

 

From sattva is born knowledge, and from rajas verily is avarice. From tamas are born inadvertence and delusion as also ignorance to be sure.

 

People who conform to sattva go higher up; those who conform to rajas stay in the middle and those who conform to tamas, who conform to actions of the lowest quality go down.

 

nanyam gunebhyah kartaram
yada drastanupasyati
gunebhyas ca param vetti
mad-bhavam so ‘dhigacchati
– When the witness after becoming illumined sees none other than the qualities as the agent, and knows that which is superior to the qualities, he attains My nature.

 

gunan etan atitya trin
dehi deha-samudbhavan
janma-mrtyu-jara-duhkhair
vimukto ‘mrtam asnute
–  Having transcended these three qualities which are the origin of the body, the embodied one, becoming free from birth, death, old-age and sorrows experiences amrtam – Immortality.”

 

Arjuna said, “O Lord, by what signs is one who has gone beyond these three qualities known? What is his behaviour, and how does he transcend these three qualities?”

 

The Blessed Lord said, “prakasam ca pravrttim ca
moham eva ca pandava
na dvesti sampravrttani
na nivrttani kanksati
– O son of Pāndu, he neither dislikes prakāsam – illumination and knowledge, pravrttim – activity and moham – delusion when they appear, nor does he long for them when the disappear. 

 

udasina-vad asino
gunair yo na vicalyate
guna vartanta ity evam
yo ‘vatisthati nengate
– He who, sitting like one indifferent, is not distracted by the three qualities; he who, thinking that the qualities alone act, remains firm and surely does not move –

 

ama-duhkha-sukhah sva-sthah
sama-lostasma-kancanah
tulya-priyapriyo dhiras
tulya-nindatma-samstutih
– He to whom sorrow and happiness are alike, who is established in his own Self, to whom a lump of earth, iron and gold are the same, to whom the agreeable and the disagreeable are the same, who is wise, to whom censure and his own praise are the same;

 

manapamanayos tulyas
tulyo mitrari-paksayoh
sarvarambha-parityagi
gunatitah sa ucyate
– He who is the same under honour and dishonour, who is equally disposed both towards the side of the friend and foe, who has renounced all enterprise – he is said to have beyond the qualities.

 

mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
– And he who serves Me through unswerving Yoga of Devotion, he having transcended these qualities qualifies for becoming Brahman.

 

brahmano hi pratisthaham
amrtasyavyayasya ca
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
sukhasyaikantikasya ca
– For I am the Abode of Brahman – the Indestructible – amrtasya and Immutable – avyayasya, the eternal – sāsvatasya, the Dharma – dharmasya and Absolute Bliss – aikāntikasya sukhasya.

 

[Chapter 14, Slokas 14.01 – 14.27]

Introspection:

Lord Krishna reveals the Supreme Knowledge which is the best among all knowledges by realizing which one is neither born again nor do they suffer pain during dissolution. This is in continuation to what Lord had said in the final verses of the Thirteen Chapter where He stated categorically that a devout person who sees the Supreme Self existing equally within and outside and all-pervading and as existing equally in all the beings will not injure the Supreme Self by the Supreme Self and thereby attain the Supreme Goal. This devotee of the Lord who is steadfast on the Supreme Goal sees all actions as done by Nature with the Immutable Brahman  embodied in the body as the non-agent and a Witness and thereby he realizes with the jnāna-caksusā – eye of wisdom, that the origination of all beings is rooted in the One as is its sustenance and thus, the annihilation of the Matrix of all beings and thus, reaches the Supreme.

 

Lord Krishna in the above verses speaks about the qualities of Nature but one needs to remember as the Lord has stated in the Thirteen Chapter, both Nature and the purusah – individual soul are without beginning and all modifications as also the qualities as born of Nature and as the purusah – soul is seated in Nature, it experiences the qualities born of Nature remaining as a non-agent and a witness and that all actions as being done in various ways by Nature itself.

 

Lord Krishna in the above verses continues to reveal about the attributes of the qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas that are born of Nature and what happens to the embodied one when one quality is predominant at the time of passing away.

 

Lord Krishna states that the one who is immersed and absorbed in the Supreme Self and sees through the jnāna-caksusā eye of wisdom that qualities and modifications thereafter and all actions as being born of Nature and the Self to be a non-agent and a witness, will see that the origin, sustenance and destruction of the Matrix of beings as rooted in the One but that One still remains only as a witness. As this is a highly Absolute experience, it can be known, understood, realized and experienced only upon the will of the Lord.

 

Lord Krishna in the final verses of the Fourteen Chapter reveals the state of a jeevanmukta, one who has transcended the three qualities, one who sees and has realized that actions, qualities and modifications as born of Nature with the Self remaining as a non-agent and witness and one who has understood that origin, sustenance and annihilation of the matrix of beings to be rooted in the One Indestructible Immutable Brahman which is eternal, Dharma and Absolute Bliss.

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