Jnaanam karma cha kartaa cha tridhaiva gunabhedatah;
Prochyate gunasankhyaane yathaavacchrinu taanyapi.
Knowledge, action and the actor are declared in the science of the Gunas the Samkhya philosophy to be of three kinds only, according to the distinction of the Gunas. Hear them also duly.
After the three fold impulse to action and the three fold impulse to the basis of action, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the three kind of gunas that are declared in the Samkhya philosophy. Lord says that the Knowledge, the action which prompts to acquire the knowledge and the actor, who is basically the person performing that action are finding a mention in the Samkhya philosophy. Not only that, Lord also says that these three elements of knowledge, action and actor are purely dependant on the Guna that a particular person possesses and then asks Arjuna to listen to them very carefully.
Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!
Guna of a person decides the spirituality that he is into. That is the reason why we keep coming back to the same aspect of Guna again and again. The last 6 chapters of Gita have at multiple points referred to the importance of Gunas, and Chapter 14 and 17 dealt extensively only the Gunas. A person who is of Tamasic guna reads Gita, he takes it and personalizes it to his level and does things that suits him and thinks that this is what Gita teaches. Same is the case of a person in Rajasic or in Sattwik state. Everyone understands things in their own way and attach meaning and relevance akin to their understanding, maturity and spiritual levels.
If we take all this apply to what is being discussed in this shloka, it fits in perfectly. Knowledge comes to a person according to his actions and its primarily his actions that define how much of knowledge that comes in. For example a highly evolved soul like Sri Aurobindo, who also wrote commentaries on Gita, can write not less than one full page on this verse itself, whereas a less evolved person like me is able to write just 2-3 paragraphs. The shloka is the same, but the depth to which you go is different. Its your actions that primarily defines the depth of your knowledge and that remains as your understanding.
Not only that, the Gunas also make a significant difference in the quality of what is being written. Its not always the quantity that defines something but it is also the quality. As you move spiritually, you will be transported from Tamasic state to Sattwik state and from there to the stage of “om tat sat”. A person who sees God all around him is in the stage of “om tat sat” and none can explain better than the way he explains. If you really want to see that, read Sri Aurobindo’s Bhagavad Gita or his famous work “Savitri” which a poetic work based on the drama of integral self-realisation. The book narrates the legendary “Love conquers Death” concept of Satyavan and Savitri in Shri Aurobindo’s most philosophical ways.