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Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

Oordhwam gacchanti sattwasthaa madhye tishthanti raajasaah;Jaghanyagunavrittisthaa adho gacchanti taamasaah.

Those who are seated in Sattwa proceed upwards; the Rajasic dwell in the middle; and the Tamasic, abiding in the function of the lowest Guna, go downwards.

Interpretation

After explaining the nature of qualities that arise from Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic gunas Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the journey that people who follow these three gunas would make in their lives. He starts talking about the sattvik person first. He says that those people who are immersed in doing sattvik activities in their lives, tend to proceed upwards in their spirituality. Those who are engaged in the Rajasic activities tend to remain where they are in their spiritual endevour. Finally talking about the Tamasic nature he says that those who follow the tamasic nature because of it being the lowest guna go downwards in their spirituality.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

As we all know life is a journey. The journey of life is different for the body and the soul. For a body life is all about satisfying the needs and luxuries that it wants to satisfy. Like your eyes see a beautiful looking house and wants to own it, then your body works very hard to find out the ways and means through which you can acquire that. The same is the case with other luxuries and comforts that our body wants. The entire life of an individual goes in acquiring them and creating himself safety for situations, where your body is not capable of working hard to earn those comforts. This in short is the journey of body. 

The journey of soul is very different. It wants to increase its spirituality. It is in constant quest for understanding everything around it and sees them as the creation of God. It wants to know them, connect them and find the meaning of that connection which ultimately takes himself closer to the Almighty. A person also spends his life in understanding and fulfilling the needs of his soul and thus it becomes a journey of his life. In this journey he hardly pays any attention to the needs of the body and sacrifices his bodily needs to the needs of the soul. Thus the journey of life satisfying the needs of the body and the needs of the mind is quite different.

Now if we apply the above shloka into this context, a sattvik person listens to the voice of the soul in his journey by sacrificing the needs of the body, satisfy the needs of the soul. Thus his soul receives knowledge through his body and thus he starts going up spiritually. Compared to this a Rajasik person always puts the needs of the senses or the body ahead of the needs of the soul. Thus he earns lot of money and power but since his soul did not learn anything, spiritually it remains where it was. A tamasic person wastes all his time doing nothing and lives in ignorance. This attitude takes away whatever little he had learnt also and thus he starts to go down spiritually. Thus a Sattvik person has positive spirituality, Rajasik person neutral spirituality and a Tamasic person negative spirituality, which means he loses his existing spirituality also.