Tag Archives: Tamasic

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

Satkaaramaanapoojaartham tapo dambhena chaiva yat;Kriyate tadiha proktam raajasam chalamadhruvam.

The austerity which is practiced with the object of gaining good reception, honour and worship with hypocrisy, is here said to be Rajasic, unstable and transitory.

Interpretation

This shloka talks about the austerities that a Rajasic mind prefers. We have seen in the previous shloka how a steadfast mind practices Sattwik austerities. The Rajasic austerities are aimed at gaining a good reception, which actually means that whatever work the person undertakes, he is expecting an appreciation for the same. Apart from that Rajasic person’s austerities are also aimed at giving him honor and worship of people around and the person also becomes a hypocrite who in the process, says one and does another. Also, Lord tells that this Rajasic behaviour exhibited by the person is unstable and transitory.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Why is Lord Krishna saying that the Rajasic nature of an individual is unstable and transitory? Here we have to understand the true nature of a Rajasic person. A Rajasic person is someone who strives for excellence in everything he does. He is hardworking and fulfills all his responsibilities without any delay. But the problem is, as the person completes his work and achieves success and takes rewards, he starts attributing them to himself. He feels that only because of his abilities he was able to achieve success. That builds a sense of over confidence in him and gives him false sense of invincibility and superiority, which in the due course becomes the reason for his downfall.

Take a look at any businessman or a political leader or a community head, we have seen that many of them steadily rise to glory and then go through a sharp decline to depths of degradation. It happens because from a lazy and easy going and static tamasic state a person becomes dynamic and hardworking, taking him to the Rajasic state. Till that point he is alright. But one aspect of his personality has to undergo a change to take him to sattwik stage, but that doesn’t happen. That is, whatever was achieved was mandated and charted by Almighty and he is just a doer. This process gets delayed because he believes in self and becomes a hypocrite also, by saying one thing and doing another. 

All this he does only to keep his success and name and even resorts to rituals to prevent himself from any kind of a downfall to his glory. Till this feeling remains he is a Rajasic person. Lord calls it transitory because like the way he changed from tamsic to Rajasic, one day he will realise that nothing was his achievement alone, and that takes him to sattwik stage. Thus whatever he is doing in the Rajasic stage is just temporary and like the way he came from Tamasic to Rajasic, he has to one day progress from Rajasic to Sattwik.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 10

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 10

Yaatayaamam gatarasam pooti paryushitam cha yat; Ucchishtamapi chaamedhyam bhojanam taamasapriyam.

That which is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure refuse, is the food liked by the Tamasic.

Interpretation

After talking about the Sattvik and Rajasic foods, Lord Krishna in this shloka is narrating the characteristic of the Tamasic foods. He starts by saying that all the stale foods which we keep in deep freezers and frozen foods that stay for a longer time are the Tamasic foods. Apart from that He also says that the foods which are tasteless, which decompose and decay over the period of time and become rotten are also classified as Tamasic foods. Also, the impure refuse of any fruit or an animal is classified as the tamasic food. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

By the time you finish reading the interpretation, you would have already concluded that most of the foods that were mentioned here are so disgusting that you would never ever eat them. But to your surprise more than 50% of the food that many people living in cities and urban areas in the country actually consume this food. Let’s take, for example, cow’s milk which is stored in the tetra pack and which is 2-3 months old, is it a sattvik food? Definitely not. Tetra pack prevents it from decaying but the positive and vibrant energy that fresh milk used within one day can never be obtained from the milk consumed from tetra packs.

Let’s take the fruit juices that you drink from Tropicana or Real or any other brand, they are all 3-6 months old and are considered to be Tamasic as they can never substitute a fresh fruit juice extracted and consumed within 24 hours. The preservatives used in those juices prevent it from decaying but the benefits you get from them, are totally absent. Wine and Alcohol are the natural examples of Tamasic food as the wine gets tastier as it gets older. Apart from that we also have the examples of frozen foods that are stored for days together under sub-zero temperature conditions also come under Tamasic foods, just look at them when you visit a supermarket next.

These Tamasic foods by nature lose all their taste and become tasteless. We add artificial tasters to it to make it tasty. Such kind of foods will only serve your taste buds but it never does any good to the kind of energy you get. We should here recollect what Lord Krishna said at that the beginning of this yoga, that eats food to live but not lives to eat. Foods give us energy and eating Sattvik food gives sattvik energy, Rajasic food gives you Rajasic energy and consuming Tamasic food gives you Tamasic energy. All our actions are dependent on these energies. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Katvamlalavanaatyushna teekshna rooksha vidaahinah;Aahaaraah raajasasyeshtaa duhkhashokaamayapradaah.

The foods that are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, dry, pungent and burning, are liked by the Rajasic and are productive of pain, grief and disease.

Interpretation

After talking about the type of Sattvik food one should eat, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the type of food that Rajasic people eat and the results of eating such foods. Lord talks about the taste of the food that is consumed. He says that Rajasic people like food that is bitter and sour. They also add a lot of salt and other related ingredients into the food. The third type of food that Rajasic people consume are foods that are very spicy, which are pungent in smell and those which create a burning sensation in the stomach. Rajasic people like these type of foods that usually create pain, grief and many other diseases. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

What we eat speaks about what we are. When you are suffering from some chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension or any lever and kidney related ailments there are a number of restrictions that are imposed on the food that we consume. There are foods which taste bitter and sour, there are foods which are high on salt, pepper and other spices and thirdly there are foods that have excess masala content with a spicy taste. All these types of food has to be avoided if you are intending to turn sattvik and attain enlightenment. 

The bitter foods that have excessive tamarind and other related ingredients should always be avoided. Salt is something that many doctors say to avoid. Excessive spicy foods also irritate the stomach and cause indigestion, ulcers and many other gastrointestinal problems. A person who is Rajasic is very ambitious and he loves the third variety of food that has a lot of spice and masala in them, which is mostly the non-vegetarian food. The purpose of eating is not to relish or get a happy feeling or to derive satisfaction but it is to keep the body healthy and strong. “Eat to live, do not live to eat.” Thus we should take food that only helps in maintaining good health, and has a positive impact on the mind, which is possible only through sattvik foods.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 1

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 1

Arjuna Uvaacha:
Ye shaastravidhimutsrijya yajante shraddhayaanvitaah;
Teshaam nishthaa tu kaa krishna sattwamaaho rajastamah.

Arjuna said:
Those who, setting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, perform sacrifice with faith,  what is their condition, O Krishna? Is it that of Sattwa, Rajas or Tamas?

Interpretation

This is the beginning of the 17th Chapter in Gita called “Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga” or “Religion by three kinds of faith”. In the 14th Chapter which is called Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga we have studied about the three gunas of sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic and this yoga is the extension of that where Lord talks about the thoughts, deeds and food habits of the people who are Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic in nature. The Yoga starts with Arjuna asking a question to Lord where he says, what if a person doesn’t follow the rules as listed in the scriptures, but still worships God with faith? What would be the condition of that person? Is it Sattvik, Rajasic or Tamasic is what Arjuna asks Lord Krishna. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The question that Arjuna asks Lord Krishna comes from the discourse he gave in the previous chapter about demonic people and how when they disregard the rules of the scriptures are pushed into the womb of hell by the Lord. Arjuna in a way understands the fact that he also at times had disregarded the faith and behaved opposite to what scriptures have prescribed and did things that are prohibited under the rule of scriptures. So, he is naturally worried about the results of all those actions. So, this question is a no surprise as the worry in him made him to ask this question to the Lord.

Similarly we also in our lives would have bent the rules or even would have violated them. When we don’t know the result of our actions, we would not be bothered but once we know the consequences, there is a worry that is there in our minds about the outcome of such actions. This chapter primarily deals with these kind of situations and Lord takes us back to the Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga where He talked about the nature of the Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic natured people. Arjuna himself brings back those things and asks a question that if a person after breaking the rules realises his mistakes and performs his duties and worship God, then what condition is it called is what Arjuna asks. Let us now see what Lord Krishna replies.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 17

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 17

Sattwaat sanjaayate jnaanam rajaso lobha eva cha; Pramaadamohau tamaso bhavato’jnaanameva cha.

From Sattwa arises knowledge, and greed from Rajas; heedlessness and delusion arise from Tamas, and ignorance also.

Interpretation

After talking about the fruits of Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic gunas which are purity, pain and ignorance, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the results of following these gunas in an individual. An individual can follow any of these gunas depending upon his spirituality and he is bestowed with the results accordingly. He says that by following sattivik nature a person gets knowledge. By following a rajasik way of life he gets a lot of greed and comes out as a greedy person. Finally talking about the Tamasic nature, Lord Krishna says that following tamasic a person gets heedlessness and delusion. These two qualities ultimately makes a person ignorant.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

We have talked about these qualities before also, but this shloka primarily focuses on the results that each of these gunas bestows. Sattwa guna is following a life which is dedicated to others. A person lives for the sake of others and most of the things he does are directed towards the well being of others. Such kind of person when he lives Sattvik lifestyle, he acquires knowledge. For instance, a teacher who learns things only for his students. His constant endeavour would be to make his students more knowledgeable which is the motivating factor for him to learn more. Since it is a sattvik activity, as he is not doing it for himself, automatically he will be able to learn more and dispassionately.

Contrary to that is a Rajasik person who does everything for himself and his benefit. So, every bit of information he acquires, he starts looking at the returns that can be generated out of it. Thus he rejects all the inflormation that is not giving him returns terming it useless. If a Rajasik person, even if he acquires knowledge will start looking at how much that knowledge can be helpful to reach the position of power and earn wealth. Thus the result of this action is greediness and the person tends to become more and more greedy as he starts to acquire more and more wealth. Thus the result of any Rajasik action is greed.

A tamasic person lives in a different world. He wants comforts but without working hard. Thus he gets into all wrong things in life like cheating and wrongful ways of doing things. He is not bothered about prestige or wealth. He wants only comforts and if those comforts are coming with wealth he wants to acquire that wealth through short cut and easy methods. This makes him heedless and delusion which is becoming stubborn and wavering in nature. Whoever tells him the easier way of achieving things he will follow them. He is neither bothered about knowledge nor power. He only wants comforts and that nature can give rise to nothing but ignorance. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 10

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 10

Rajastamashchaabhibhooya sattwam bhavati bhaarata;
Rajah sattwam tamashchaiva tamah sattwam rajastathaa.

Now Sattwa prevails, O Arjuna, having overpowered Rajas and Tamas;
now Rajas, having overpowered Sattwa and Tamas; and now Tamas, having overpowered Sattwa and Rajas!

Interpretation

After explaining the nature of all the three Gunas Lord Krishna in this shloka talks about the prevalence of one Guna over the other. He says that when Sattvik Guna prevails in an individual then it overpowers the Rajasik and Tamasic nature and stands ahead. In the same way Rajasic Guna overpowers an individual, when passion takes over the reasoning power in him and he becomes obsessed about things. Then the third situation is when the Tamasic guna prevails over an indidvidual when he becomes lazy, then sattvik and Rajasi Gunas take a back seat. Lord Krishna says that all these three Gunas prevail in an individual at one point or the other as dominant force. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Your mood swings explain very clearly what Guna is dominant in you. All the three are inside you and you exhibit them at different times in different proportions. There are times when you want to be calm, peaceful, helpful and generous and that is when you have sattvik quality is dominating you. You don’t feel like saying ill about anyone and would want to be with yourself in your own world reading or doing meditation. Then another mood swing is suddenly you get ambitious, passionate and wants to do something big. You feel that you should achieve something and people around you should appreciate you for that. This is nothing but the Rajasik guna in you which is pushing you to achieve something. 

Another quality of Rajasik guna is when you feel jealous and envy of others. Suppose if your best friend is appreciated for what he has done and if part of the activity you have also done, but no one realises it, you will feel bit envy and jealous about that person. A sattvik natured person never experiences that. Tamasic is when you feel lazy, sleepy and doubt everything around. You are asked to do a particular task and you doubt whether its essential or not. You feel lazy and postpone it. If you are scolded for your inaction you get angry. All these are the qualities of a Tamasic person. Thus all these three qualities exist in every individual and the proportion of that forms his personality, says Lord Krishna.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Sattwam sukhe sanjayati rajah karmani bhaarata;
Jnaanamaavritya tu tamah pramaade sanjayatyuta.

Sattwa attaches to knowledge, Rajas to action, O Arjuna, 
while Tamas, shrouding knowledge, attaches to heedlessness only!

Interpretation

The last three shlokas explained the nature of Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic guna in an individual, in this shloka Lord Krishna tries to connect all the three gunas and explains them in one single shloka. He says that Sattvik guna is attached to knowledge and the happiness that is derived from that knowledge. The Rajasik guna is attached to the actions that one performs as the part of their quest to success and achieved. Then Lord Krishna reiterates the point He said in the previous shloka that Tamasic guna in a person is the result of leaving the path of knowledge and going in the path of stubbornness and ignorance. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

We have already discussed the fact that every human being has all the three gunas of Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasic embedded in him. Depending on the situations and the influences of the people around, the quantity of these gunas present in an individual keeps changing. If a person is kept in the company of sattvik people, he imbibes a lot of sattivik characteristics and same is the case with other gunas. We usually have a lot of tamasic guna people around because we live in a country which has mostly ignorance in it. Strange it is that this is the land of Buddha, Swamy Vivekanada and Adi Shankaracharya but the maximum number of people are deeply ignorant. 

When you have ignorant people around, the ignorance is spread across and the people get those characteristics only. They will stay away from seeking any knowledge and thus will spend all their lives in seeking pleasure. If you are in the company of achievers like MS Dhoni or Milkha Singh or Saina Nehwal or Mukesh Ambani or JRD Tata you would see the competitive spirt and this is the  Rajasik guna of an individual. The simple example is how the Rajasik nature of Gopichand has created many great Badminton stars for India. So, the bottom line here is keeping the right kind of company is very essential and knowing each type of guna and the qualities associated with it helps us to choose the right company.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 8

Chapter 14 Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 8

Tamastwajnaanajam viddhi mohanam sarvadehinaam;
Pramaadaalasyanidraabhis tannibadhnaati bhaarata.

But know thou Tamas to be born of ignorance, deluding all embodied beings; it binds fast, O Arjuna, by heedlessness, sleep and indolence!

Interpretation

After talking about Sattva and Rajasik guna that comes with attachment to knowledge and action respectively, Lord Krishna in this shloka talks about the Tamasic guna in an individual. He says that Arjuna should clearly understand that this Tamasic guna in an individual is the resultant of the person’s ignorance. Ignorance is due to the delusion that a particular being experiences. Lord Krishna also goes on to say that this Tamasic guna binds very fast to an individual and that makes a person not listen to anything that others say, makes him to sleep most of the time and the person starts postponing things due to extreme laziness.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

One always needs to understand that our mind supports all our actions and that is the nature of the mind. Even when the soul disapproves mind makes sure that the message is not reached to the senses. Also one has to note that every individual possesses a bit of Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamsic gunas in him. As he starts growing up and starts meeting individuals and encountering situations, these gunas take a formidable shape and one of the three gunas become dominant. Today, we are looking at Tamasic guna, which is present in every individual. One cannot get rid of it completely but one can only reduce the percentage of it in an individual.

The origin of Tamasic guna is ignorance and since everyone of us are ignorant, it is there in all of us. What drives away ignorance is knowledge so, as the person acquires more and more knowledge the tamasic nature in him starts to reduce. The biggest hurdle for seeking knowledge is a delusion. Delusion, as we have understood in many shlokas, is wavering mentality where a person starts doubting the knowledge he is seeking, thus he starts to move away from it, abandon it and remains in tamasic state. It can happen for some time or it can even happen for a lifetime. There are people who spend their whole lifetime in ignorance and under total tamasic control. 

How does tamasic nature affects a person? It makes you heedless, sleepy and indolent. To explain it a bit further, heedless is where the person shows at least inclination to anything that others are saying to him. Like, we keep advising people who are goal-less and aimless to have an aim in their life and work hard. Do they listen to you? No, they don’t. They will the nod their head and do what they want to do. If you persist more they will hurt you by harsh words. Tamasic guna also makes you sleepy. Sleep is required for everyone but not for more than 6-7 hours a day. Why do Tamasic people sleep more and that too in the daytime?

Sleep is the result of mind telling it to itself that you need not do anything now and can rest and enjoy the state of inactivity. If mind goes to inaction the person’s senses one by one goes to rest resulting in sleep. This tendency is very harmful for a sattvik or a rajasik person, because it makes them to waver from their goals. Keeping mind active with aims and goals is the only way to attack sleep. Third is indolence. Indolence is nothing but laziness and the tendency to postpone things. Tamasic nature keeps you in inertia always, because of which any new task that you want to take, you keep postponing it. These are the qualities of a Tamasic person and everyone of us need to understand this and beware of this!!!