Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 14

Guna traya Vibhaaga Yoga !

 

||om tat sat||
श्रीभगवानुवाच:
परं भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि ज्ञानानां ज्ञानमुत्तमम्।
यत् ज्ञात्वा मुनयः सर्वे परां सिद्धिमितो गताः॥1||
"By realizing which all sages reached the highest perfection that supreme knowledge I will again tell you."

||Salutations to Sri Krishna|!
Bhagavad-Gita
Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga
Chapter 14

In the third chapter Krishna says that one who is aware of the truth about the "Gunas" and "Actions" realizes that the Sathvika Tamas and Rajo Gunas act on the sensory organs driving one away from the realization of the Self. Having realized that nature of Gunas and actions, one ( who is interested in attaining liberation) does not become attached to actions (3.28). In a similar tone and in response to Arjuna's question as to why a man is attracted to committing sins as though he has been forced , Krishna says that the desire which is the outcome of Rajo Guna is the cause for such deep attraction to commit sin ! He alerts Arjuna to realize that the "desire" as the biggest enemy. Krishna does not elaborate further on Gunas at that point.

Then in the fourth chapter saying - "चातुर्वर्ण्यं मयासृष्ठं गुणकर्म विभागशः" " that the four castes have been created by me based on the gunas ", Krishna elaborates a little more on the effects of these Gunas on the nature of one self.

In Atmasamyama Yoga , Chapter 6, stating that "शांत रजसं" - the one who has quieted the Rajo guna , such a Yogi gets supreme satisfaction, Krishna emphasizes the need for controlling of Rajo and Tama Gunas.

In Vignyana Yoga saying - "त्रिभिर्गुणमयैर्भावैरेभिः सर्वमिदं जगत्" Krishna tells that the whole world affected by the three Gunas, is truly unable to distinguish the Brahman who is beyond these Gunas( 7.13). Effectively saying that these Gunas are the cause of people being misled or people's ignorance on spiritual matters.

In the thirteenth chapter Krishna says that birth of good fortune or otherwise is also because of the contact with Gunas (13.21) . Immediate several questions arise. Which Gunas are the cause ? how do the Gunas bring about the bonds? How does one free himself from the bonds of Gunas. This chapter is the answer to these questions.

These questions were not raised by Arjuna. But Krishna of his own accord wanting to elaborate on the Gunas which are because of nature, starts the Gunatraya Vibhaga yoga to elaborate on the three Gunas and give a definitive picture of the same.

Thus, the chapter starts on exactly the same lines as the Rajavidya Rajaguhya Yoga which Krishna starts by saying I will tell ("प्रवक्ष्यामि) that knowledge knowing which one will be free from this cycle of life and birth.

He starts the fourteenth chapter also making similar statement.
"यत् ज्ञात्वा..." Knowing which you will be free (such knowledge)
" तत् प्रवक्ष्यामि "- That I will tell you !
That means that this Gunatraya Vibhaaga Yoga is also as important as Rajavidya Rajaguhya Yoga.

That is the start of this chapter :
श्रीभगवानुवाच:
परं भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि ज्ञानानां ज्ञानमुत्तमम्।
यत् ज्ञात्वा मुनयः सर्वे परां सिद्धिमितो गताः॥1||
"By realizing which all sages reached the highest perfection that supreme knowledge I will again tell you."

Krishna says I will again tell that knowledge knowing which all the sages attained the liberation. Knowing this knowledge, the seeker merges his self with Brahman. That is the knowledge of the three Gunas namely Sattva , Rajas and Tamas. For one to attain liberation one has to go beyond these three Gunas more specifically the seeker has to be free from these three Gunas.

That the creation is the result of the two-fold Prakruti namely Para and Apara, that the seed of every being is Brahman, that Self is none other than Paramatman are statements we already heard. Here again Krishna elaborates that Prakruti is the mother and himself as the father of all (14.3,4)

That the Gunas are the result of Prakruti is again restated here:

श्रीभगवानुवाच
सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणाः प्रकृति संभवाः ।
निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् ॥5||
Meaning 'Oh Mighty armed one ! the qualities namely Sattva Raja and Tamas born of nature bind the embodied being "Atman" to the body. '

These three Gunas are cause of the highs and lows of the being. Among the three Gunas Sattva being pure is an illuminator and it binds the self through attachment to happiness and knowledge (14.6).

One has to still go beyond Sattva to be able to recognize the self.

The Rajo guna is of the nature of passion. It is born out of hankering after things not acquired and attachment of those acquired. It binds the self to actions to propagate the passion (14.7).

Tamas is born of ignorance and binds the self to the body through laziness , sleep and inadvertence. (14.8)

Thus, the Sattva with its attachment to Happiness, Raja with its attachment to action and the Tamas with its attachment to ignorance keep the being in danger of straying from the right path. (14.9)

How these gunas operate is also illuminated:

श्रीभगवानुवाच:
रजस्तमश्चाभिभूय सत्त्वं भवति भारत।
रजस्सत्वं तमश्चैव तमस्सत्त्वं रजस्तथा॥10||
Meaning 'Oh Bharata! Sattva increases by subduing Rajas and Tamas, Rajas increases by overpowering Sattva and Tamas ; and Tamas by dominating Sattva and Rajas

When one of these Gunas is in ascendance that acts of the person are dominated by that Guna. Then how does one recognize which Guna is in ascendency.

Krishna elaborates on the characteristics of each of the three Gunas

When knowledge radiates through all the doors of the body then Sattva is dominant. When the avarice unrest hankering after attachments dominate, it is because of Rajo Guna. When Tamas predominates, it produces delusion inactivity and laziness.

The nature of the individual depends the Guna predominant in him.

When Sattva is dominant all actions of the individual reflect the same. One would be talking with respect. Reading books of knowledge will happen. An example of Sattva Guna dominant person is Vibhisana. (14.11)

When Rajas is dominant the individual is prone to involve himself to unnecessary actions appropriating others possessions much like Ravana. (14.12)

When Tamas Guna is dominant one is predominantly ignorant and lazy . Kumbhakarna is seen as an embodiment of Tamas Guna. (14.13)

While one may have a predominant Rajo Guna or Tamas Guna but yet attain a higher level by suppressing the dominant Guna and attaining Sattva Guna by practice.

When one dies with predominant Sattva Guna he attains, worlds attained by those knowing the highest (14.14). When one dies with predominant Rajo guna he will be born among people attached to action (14.15). Similarly, those with predominant Tamas will be born among the species with ignorance.

The fruit of good action is Sattvic, while the fruit of Rajasic action is pain or sorrow, the fruit of Tamasik action is ignorance (14.16).

From Sattva Guna arises wisdom, from Rajo guna arises greed and from Tamas guna arises error prone action. (14.17)

The Sattvic go upwards, the Rajasik remain in the middle and the Tamasik go further down.
(14.18)

Krishna declares that one who realizes himself as a witness and is able to transcend the three Gunas which are part of the body will be free from birth and death and attains immortality in this life.

Having heard about the three gunas Arjuna again wants to know how does one recognize a person who has transcended the three Gunas. He has an even more fundamental question how does one overcome the Gunas.

अर्जुन उवाच:
कैर्लिंगैस्त्रीन्गुणानेतान् अतीतो भवति प्रभो ।
किमाचारं कथं चैतां स्त्रीन्गुणानतिवर्तते ॥21||

Meaning "By what signs is one who has gone beyond these three Gunas is known ? What is his behavior? And how does he transcend these three gunas ?

Krishna elaborates on the signs of one who has transcended the three Gunas.

"The one who neither dislikes nor longs for them, one who is not distracted by the three Gunas , one who for whom happiness and sorrow are alike, one to whom lump of earth , iron and gold are same , one to whom agreeable disagreeable are same, one who is wise, one to whom censure and praise are same, one who is same under honor and dishonor, one who is equally disposed of towards a friend and a foe, one who renounced all enterprise. Such a one is the one who is said to have transcended the three Gunas. (14.22-25)

Then remains the question of how to overcome the three Gunas.

In response to that Krishna says:
श्रीभगवानुवाच:
मां च योsव्यभिचारेण भक्ति योगेन सेवते।
स गुणान्समतीतैतान् ब्रह्म भूयाय कल्पते॥26||
Meaning " One who serves me through unswerving yoga of devotion, he having gone beyond the three Gunas qualifies for becoming Brahman"

So, one who practices the path of devotion is able to overcome the three Gunas also.

While talking about attaining Brahman , Krishna has elaborated the path of devotion through which one experiences Brahman

There could be more difficult ways of overcoming the Gunas too. But as before Krishna recommends the path of devotion as the way to overcome the Gunas too !

Krishna again reiterates - Brahman is indestructible, immutable and eternal.

That is Sat( indestructible ) Chit ( immutable) and Ananda ( absolute bless).

|| ओम् तत् सत्||
ब्रह्मणो हि प्रतिष्टाsहम् अमृतस्याव्ययस्य च।
शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्यैकान्तिकस्य च॥27||
"I am the abode of Brahman - the indestructible, and immutable, eternal, the Dharma and the absolute bliss "
||om tat sat ||