Chapter 2 Shloka 19 – Samkhya Yoga

Sloka

Traigunyavishayaa vedaa nistraigunyo bhavaarjuna;
Nirdwandwo nityasatwastho niryogakshema aatmavaan.

Translation

The Vedas deal with the three attributes of Nature; be thou above these three attributes Arjuna!
Free yourself from the pairs of opposites and ever remain in the quality of Sattwik(goodness), freed from the thought of acquisition and preservation, and be established in the Self.

Interpretation

In this Shloka Lord Krishna introduces the concept of Gunas to Arjuna. Guna means attribute or quality. Apart from being a quality, guna is also a substance. Nature is made up of three Gunas—Sattwik which is purity, light, harmony. The second guna is Rajasic which means passion, restlessness, motion and Tamasic which is inertia, darkness. Lord Krishna again reminds Arjuna about the pairs of opposites that obstruct us. The pairs of opposites are pleasure and pain, heat and cold, gain and loss, victory and defeat, honour and dishonour, praise and censure. He advises Arjuna to get free from this and embrace Sattwik guna which puts oneself above the thoughts of acquisition and preservation and focus on establishing the self in them.

Extending interpretation to Mankind’s life!

Do you know that every human being is made up of 3 gunas. These are qualities as well as substances that are present in nature. We all take into our body these 3 gunas and develop a mindset in accordance to it. For example, lets take a person who wakes up at 10am in the morning and remains awake till 3am in the night. If his day starts at 8pm in the night, he enjoys, parties and goes to bed at 3am then his active time is tamasic and he imbibes the tamasic nature which is laziness and pleasure seeking. It is because the nature is active with tamasic substance in the late night. Since he is active at that time he imbibes all those qualities.

Sattivik nature will be active from 4am in the morning till almost mid day. Rajasic will be active from mid day till 3 hours after sunset. From then on to 2 hours before sunrise tamasic substance will be active in nature. If you get up in the morning before sunrise, do yoga, study and do maximum work before lunch time and keep lighter activities post lunch you will emerge as sattvik person. A saavik person is pure, honest, humble and possesses humanitarian qualities. If you start your day late at 11am and keep most important activities to afternoon and evening you are a rajasic person. Rajasic people are leaders, ambitious and want to achieve command and authority. But if you are a person who doesn’t do anything during the day but gets active in the nights by partying, pubbing and drinking till late night you are a tamasic person. A tamasic person is lazy, unproductive and always seeks pleasures like wine, sex and lives in the world of illusion.