Tag Archives: Gunas

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 13

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 13

Vidhiheenam asrishtaannam mantraheenam adakshinam;Shraddhaavirahitam yajnam taamasam parichakshate.

They declare that sacrifice to be Tamasic which is contrary to the ordinances of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of Mantras and gifts, and which is devoid of faith.

Interpretation

This shloka is concentrating on the Tamasic sacrifices that a person commits. We have already seen the Sattwik and the Rajasic sacrifices in the previous two shlokas. Lord in this shloka says that Tamasic people usually undertake sacrifices which are exactly opposite to the rules and regulations specified in the Vedic scriptures. They misinterpret what is said in the scriptures and that is the reason why they do the opposite of what is mentioned. There are three points that Lord talks here. One is the absence of any kind of alms, second is the absence of any kind of offering and Vedic chants and third is the absence of any kind of faith or belief in the sacrifices being performed by Tamasic people. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The major difference between Rajasic and Tamasic people is, Rajasic people depend on their own worth and doesn’t get into any rituals for accomplishing anything, but Tamasic people resort of all sorts of rituals that are either twisted or taken out of context and perform them to get the results. Anything that gives an instant result or benefit, a tamasic person doesn’t hesitate to do. Many categories of pujas and rituals which are linked to tantra, Vashikaran and Shanti pooja that is done for the benefit of the person comes under this tamasic category. Another type of ritual that is observed in many of the households which are tamasic in nature is “drishti” or “nazar utaarna” or remedy for an “evil eye cast”.

Many people believe that we fall ill or a work that is supposed to happen does not happen or you develop a dislike or hate for a particular food or set of activities because of this “drishti” or “evil eye”. In reality, there is no such thing called an evil eye. Karma theory propounds that we reap what we sow and many of the results that come are due to the result of acts that we committed in the past. Forgetting that we blame it on evil eye cast and we do remedies for that and transfer it out so that it goes to someone else! Am sure you would have seen lemons and vermilion thrown on the roads and you get scared to cross them. How can you even think that there will be rituals for transferring your bad luck to some other person? All these are the ills that a Tamasic person follows and unless he gets out of all this, he can never understand the plan of God and the law of Karma and its effects in one’s life. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 3

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 3
Sattwaanuroopaa sarvasya shraddhaa bhavati bhaarata;
Shraddhaamayo’yam purusho yo yacchraddhah sa eva sah.
The faith of each is in accordance with his nature, O Arjuna! 
The man consists of his faith; as a man’s faith is, so is he.
Interpretation

This shloka has a description of faith which we have also seen in the previous shloka. Lord Krishna in this shloka explains us what faith actually is. He states that the faith of a person is the result of his nature. The faith develops in a person as per his nature. Lord Krishna also says that the identity of any man is completely in sync with his faith. He uses the phrase “The man consists of his faith”. Then He finally goes on to say that whatever is the type of the faith that a man possess, the nature of the man is according to that only. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Many great people in this world are known from the faith they had. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Dream of it. Think of it. Live on that idea. Let the brain, body, muscles, nerves and every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced”. This is the faith of Swami Vivekanada, who in the last century has influenced millions across the world and continue to inspire people of today also. “In a gentle way you can shake the World” said Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered to be the greatest man to have walked on this land in 20th Century.

When you read the faiths of these people you will be amused by their unequivocal dedication to them. We all know how Gandhiji remained stubborn and fought for the freedom of the country on his own terms and also on Hindu-Muslim unity on his own terms. He had a pay the price for it with his life. Swami Vivekananda with his faith on sticking to one idea and making it the mission of one’s life was able to inspire us. Today also we remember him as a brave man who stood by his beliefs. We all need to develop a faith for each of us which will become our identity and we will all be known by that identity alone, says Lord Krishna in this shloka. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 15 Purushottama Yoga Verse 15

Chapter 15 Purushottama Yoga Verse 5
Nirmaanamohaa jitasangadoshaaAdhyaatmanityaa vinivrittakaamaah;
Dwandwairvimuktaah sukhaduhkhasamjnairGacchantyam

Free from pride and delusion, victorious over the evil of attachment, dwelling constantly in the Self, their desires having completely turned away, freed from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, the undeluded reach the eternal goal.

Interpretation

After talking about how to get freed from the inverted peepul tree of the cycle of birth and death, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the path for the person to reach the eternal goal or salvation. He says that first he person has to come out of his pride and wavering mentality. Then he has to free himself from the evil effects of being too attached to people around him. Next step is he should be constantly focussing on himself alone and no one else. That prompts him to get over all his desires and he will also get rid of the feelings of pain and pleasure. Once this happens, the person automatically comes out of his wavering nature and reaches the eternal goal of salvation. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The best way to salvation is being with oneself, is the message that Lord Krishna is giving here. When you are only with yourself many of the feelings described above will not affect you. For example if you are only with yourself then you feel neither pride of what you achieve nor you waver between different options that are available to you. Wavering is mainly due to external factors and so is the attachment. You get attached to things, people, situations and wants to constantly win over them. Just put them aside and see how things look. Suddenly you will find that you are not attached to anything and thus nothing is affecting you.

When nothing is affecting you, you will not be drawn to anything in life. You wont have a desire to possess or acquire anything nor you will feel happy or sad when you get or dont get what you desired. Getting rid of one’s desires is extremely crucial for you to get closer to understanding the Almighty. Winning an argument is a desire, longing for a holiday is a desire, wanting to achieve a target is a desire. But you can achieve all this without desiring for the result. That is what the goal of life should be. You can say what you want dispassionately and if your words have merit you will be acknowledged for that, which is nothing but winning an argument or a debate. That can happen immediately or in due course of time, you have no control on it nor desire the outcome.
Same is the case with longing for a holiday. You can think of it but when it has to happen it will happen. Desiring for it achieves nothing and all the targets are set by the Almighty not by you. Working everyday with an unwavering mindset is the only way for you. How many times you have set deadlines for yourself, only to change them and suddenly, one day everything falls in place and you achieve your goal. This is a message that nothing is in your hands and there is no point in desiring them. When a person gets over all these, he automatically becomes unattached to anything and thus will start finding the meaning of God and will set himself on the path of salvation. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 24

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 24

Maanaapamaanayostulyas tulyo mitraaripakshayoh; Sarvaarambhaparityaagee gunaateetah sa uchyate.

The same in honour and dishonour, the same to friend and foe, abandoning all undertakings—he is said to have crossed the qualities.

Interpretation

This shloka further talks about the qualities of a person who has transcended all the three gunas. Lord Krishna after speaking about the pain and pleasure, mud and gold, censure and praise talks about further more qualities exhibited by the person who transcended the three gunas. He says that a person who behaves in the same way in honor and dishonor is the one who transcended the gunas. Not only that, this person is the same to a friend as well as the enemy. This person also abandons all his activities and such a person is said to have crossed the qualities of gunas.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Will a person by abandoning all his activities attain a higher level of spirituality and cross over the gunas? Doing the work assigned to a person or the work he chooses to do is considered to be dharma and he has to follow it under any circumstance. Abandoning is never allowed. But this rule applies only to the learning stage itself. Take an example of the life of a student. When you were a student there were a lot of restrictions that would have been put on you and you would have been forced to adopt a life that you never wished to. This is all because you were a learner, not an earner. As a learner, you would have to face some hardships which will teach you the way of life.

In the journey of spirituality also, when a person is a learner, like a student he has to undertake tasks that becomes his dharma. He has to fulfill them and each of these tasks will teach him something new in life. Thus he acquires knowledge which will raise his spirituality and he moves from the lowest guna of Tamasic to Rajasik and then to Sattvik. Once he reaches a level of sattvik guna where learning becomes involuntary, then he gets enough spirituality where without doing any action the person is able to grow spiritually. That is the point where he has to abandon all his undertakings and spend time in understanding God through in-action. This is where the person is said to have transcended all the gunas. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 22

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 22
Udaaseenavadaaseeno gunairyo na vichaalyate; Gunaa vartanta ityeva yo’vatishthati nengate.

He who, seated like one unconcerned, is not moved by the qualities, 
and who, knowing that the qualities are active, is self-centred and moves not….
Interpretation

This is a two part shloka where Lord Krishna is explaining to Arjuna the qualities and the marks of a person who has transcended all the three gunas. In the previous shloka He dwells on the point of looking beyond light, activity and delusion. In this shloka He brings further clarity on them. He says that this person who transcended all the gunas is seated like an unconcerned person and is unmoved by  the qualities that are seen around him. Lord Krishna also says that the person even after knowing that the qualities are active is self centred and is very stable and does not moves from his resolve.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Here we are looking further into what we have already talked about in the previous shloka. We have to look at the words unconcerned and self centred here. Unconcerned is the person who is not moved by anything that is happening around him. It is possible to be unconcerned when you are dominated by Tamasic guna or when you have transcended all the three gunas. The difference is  Tamasic person is unconcerned because he is not bothered about anything around him except his pleasure and enjoyment. Whereas the person who has transcended all the three gunas is unconcerned because he is no longer affected by the qualities as he has seen all of them and has overcome the urge of getting drawn towards those gunas.

The other word we need to look at is self-centered. We normally use the word self-centred to describe selfish people. Is Lord saying that a person who transcended all the three gunas is actually self-centred here? In a way yes. Selfish people in Rajasik nature only think about them. Here also the person is only thinking about himself. The path to reaching God is singular and a person who has set out on the path should never be concerned about anyone else. We acquire these Gunas as a part of learning things and once we finish learning things we need to develop the ability to dissociate ourselves from those things and only think about themselves. Thus Lord says that a person who transcended the three gunas is self-centred and only bothers about his association with God. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 21

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 21

Sri Bhagavaan Uvaacha:Prakaasham cha pravrittim cha mohameva cha paandava; Na dweshti sampravrittaani na nivrittaani kaangkshati.

The Blessed Lord said: Light, activity and delusion,—when they are present, O Arjuna, he hates not, nor does he long for them when they are absent!

Interpretation

After listening to the question asked by Arjuna on the characteristics of a person who has crossed over the three gunas and the conduct of them, Lord Krishna starts to answer the question asked by Arjuna. He first takes into account the qualities of light, activity and delusion. Light is what a Sattvik person would acquire by doing the activities assigned to him, activity is the mark of a Rajasik person as he performs the various tasks and delusion or wavering nature is the mark of the Tamasic person, who doesn’t stick to anything that he chooses to do. He then goes on to say that, when an individual who has crossed all these gunas, when he sees people who possess these gunas, neither hates them nor feels the urge to acquire those gunas when they are absent in him, says Lord Krishna.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Here we get an answer to the question of the characteristics that a person who has transcended all the three gunas possess. Suppose, when you see a person who is busy doing social work or helping the needy what do you feel? You either don’t like what he is doing and feel that he is wasting his time in doing all this. Instead, if he uses all these efforts in doing something that can give more money, it would be better is what a Rajasik person feels when he sees a sattvik person. Thus there is an inherent hate that one guna person will have for another. The same Rajasik person is hated by Tamasic person who spends his time in enjoyment and luxuries and he thinks that all the hard work that this Rajasik person puts is of no use when he is not enjoying life when it is the time to enjoy. He thinks that the age will not come again and at old age you cannot enjoy even if you have Crores of rupees of wealth.

There is also another scenario where a person when he sees another person possessing the same guna as his, will get encouraged or desires for it. Like a Rajasik person who is establishing himself in life would always look at a successful businessman and thinks that he should also one day become like him. The same is the case with a sattvik person who sees another sattvik person who is more mature than him and gets motivated. But have you ever seen a person who doesn’t react to any guna quality seen in any person? That person always feels that these gunas are just boundaries that are laid to prevent oneself from becoming closer to God and understanding God. 

Such a person neither seeks a sattvik Guna when he sees sattvik people meditating, sharing knowledge, doing good to the society or helping others. He is also unmoved by the hard work, dedication and sincerity with which a Rajasik person pursues his tasks or mocks a tamasic person who enjoys being in the company of wine, women and other indulgences. He neither feels that he should acquire those qualities nor feels bad that those people are wasting their time in these activities. He has a neutral approach to all the activities and seldom looks at other people. His concentration is only on God and he is never bothered about the presence or absence of any gunas. 

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 20

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 20

Arjuna Uvaacha: Kairlingais treen gunaanetaan ateeto bhavati prabho; Kimaachaarah katham chaitaam streen gunaan ativartate.

Arjuna said: What are the marks of him who has crossed over the three qualities, O Lord? What is his conduct and how does he go beyond these three qualities?

Interpretation

In this shloka, Arjuna asks a question to Lord Krishna. After listening to Lord Krishna that once a person gets over these three Gunas out of whom he was created, Arjuna gets some questions in his mind and so this shloka starts with him asking questions. Arjuna’s first question which is a very natural question to ask was, what are the qualities or marks of a person who has crossed over these three qualities. Then he goes on to ask the second question. He asks Lord Krishna about the behavior of a person who has won over these three qualities and goes beyond. In short, he wants to know the nature of that person. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The questions that Arjuna asked are the questions that each one of us will get in our minds. Firstly, we feel that getting over these three qualities itself is impossible. That means one who is in Tamasic guna wants to progress into Rajasik guna by working hard and developing a goal and ambition in life. Then once the person develops that goal then he achieves it and then he starts to think beyond. He starts to look at inner self and its own well being and that is when he starts to look at being a Sattvik person. Once that mindset sets in, he starts to work for his spiritual development and starts to progress in that direction. 

Now the question that comes is after sattvik next what? One thing that is clear from the words of Lord Krishna is that just being a sattvik person in nature is not enough for attaining salvation. So, the natural question is, after sattvik, what will the person do? What are the marks or impressions that he carries when he attains the epitome of sattvik nature? Then the subsequent question that comes to one’s mind is about the behavior. We want to know how the person behaves once he overcomes the sattvik nature because beyond these three gunas we are in dark about the interactions of the person with himself and others. So, Arjuna asks these questions to Lord Krishna and awaits answers from Him. 

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 19

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 19

Gunaanetaanateetya treen dehee dehasamudbhavaan; Janmamrityujaraaduhkhair vimukto’mritamashnute.

The embodied one, having crossed beyond these three Gunas out of which the body is evolved, is freed from birth, death, decay and pain, and attains to immortality.

Interpretation

After talking about the direction in which a person following each guna will progress, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about a person who attains immortality. Lord Krishna starts off by saying that every being in this planet is evolved from the three gunas that are present in the nature. That means that the nature that we exhibit is from our body that has evolved from Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic gunas. Lord Krishna also goes on to explain the nature of these three gunas that include birth, death, decay and pain. Immortality is achieved only when a person moves beyond the natures that sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic gunas create in an individual.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

There are a few points that we need to have a clarity on. The first is can we change ourselves from a particular guna to a different guna, because it is desirable? The answer is, it is not possible. I say so because, the evolution of the body is based on the energy of the gunas present in the universe. We have already studied that the soul chooses to be born to whom it wants to, based on the vibes that it gets. In a way, soul is the seed for the guna to get established. Then once that seed is sown, automatically the body gets built on the guna characteristics of the soul. That means the body attracts the energies present in the universe pertaining to those gunas.

We also have to understand that the nature has energies dominated by Sattvik guna in the early hours of the morning, it has dominant guna of Rajasic during the other part of the day and the night will be dominated by the Tamasic guna. Body when it is developing in the womb, draws these energies at the appropriate times and develops itself. Once they are developed and once the baby comes out of the womb, the child grows up into a man or a woman based on these characteristics only. Thus a person turns into sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic by nature. 

The influence of the environment also plays a significant role as a Rajasik person invites more Rajasik vibes from the universe by working hard during the time when these energies are available in plenty. He also attracts people who have similar energies and makes them as his friends, colleagues and partners. Thus we are all embodied by these gunas. The same applies to a sattvik person or a Tamasic person. So, if one has to liberate himself from this cycle of birth and death, pain and decay he needs to raise above all these gunas and has to acquire attachment only with God and none else, then only immortality or moksha is possible, says Lord Krishna. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

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.