Baghawad Gita, Class 183: Chapter 14, Verses 5 to 9


Shloka # 14.5:

O mighty-armed one, the alities, viz sattva, rajas and tamas, born of Nature, being the immutable embodies being to the body.

Continuing his teachings Swamiji said today,

 For analyzing the three gunas, Sri Krishna has given the introduction and in the introductory portion we saw that every individual is a mixture of two portions; one is called sakshi-amsha, the higher part of the individual and second is ahamkara-amsha, the lower part of the individual. Of these two portions, the sakshi portion the higher part consists of only consciousness which is pure chaitanyam; whereas the ahamkara the lower part consists of two things, one is the inert-body-mind-complex, is part of ahamkara, and this inert-body-mind-complex, enjoys the reflected consciousness or borrowed consciousness and because of that, the body-mind-complex has become sentient. It is just as a mirror, a non-luminous-mirror, becomes a bright-mirror when it gets reflected sunlight. So when I look at a bright-mirror, I should remember it has got two parts; one is the mirror part and the second is the reflected sun. In the same way, the ahamkara, like the bright-mirror, has got two parts, one is the inert body-mind-complex, like the mirror, and the second is the borrowed or reflected consciousness; in Sanskrit we call it Prathibhimbha chaitanyam plus the body. And this mixture prathibhimbha-chaitanyam plus the body together is called ahamkara and what is the sakshi? Sakshi is neither the body, nor is it the reflected consciousness.

Sakshi is different from both the body and the reflected consciousness; it is the original consciousness. If you remember Tatva Bodha, RM + RC = Ahamkara. RM means the reflecting medium, the body + RC, the reflected consciousness is equal to the ahamkara.

Then what is the sakshi? It is neither the RM, nor is it the RC, but it is OC.  So this OC part is called the higher part, the sakshi-amsha, RC plus RM is called the lower part, the ahamkara amsa, the sakshi-amsha and the Ahamkara amsha are together inseparably. When I use the word, I, it is a mixture of both the sakshi and Ahamkara. And of these two amshas, the sakshi is the nirguna amsha, because it is pure consciousness, whereas the ahamkara contains the body mind-complex, and the body-mind-complex is matter. It is prakrti and therefore Ahamkara is endowed with three gunas. So Ahamkara amsha is saguna amsha, whereas Sakshi-amsha is nirguna(amsha means aspect, facet or part). So my lower nature is saguna nature and my higher nature is Nirguna sakshi.

And having said this much, Sri Krishna wants to point out that the ahamkara can never escape from the three gunas; because ahamkara consists of prakrti, it is made up of the prakrti and therefore ahamkara, body-mind complex, is born out of prakrti principle. You have to remember that always, then only ahamkara and saguna can be understood clearly.

Therefore, my lower part; the ahamkara amsha can never escape from these three gunas and the only juggling that I can do is change the proportion of the gunas.

Like some political parties do, they change the ministers to party work and from party work to ministry and then to governorship. The party consists of the same type of people. I am not telling whether they are good people or bad people. You can decide the composition.

Ahamkara can never escape from the three gunas. Ahamkara can only be dominant in satva guna; in which case it will be satvic ahamkara, dominant in rajo guna in which case it will be rajasic ahamkara or it can be tamasic ahamkara. And Sri Krishna wants to say that whether it is satvic, rajasic or tamasic, all these three gunas are bound to bind the individual. Only the type of samsara caused will change; the mode of bondage will change, one may be a golden shackle; another may be silver shackle; another may be an iron shackle; but all the three are shackles. Like in Saudi

Arabia, when a member of the royal family commits a crime and they have to behead, they will use a golden sword; what will be difference when it will be cut by a golden sword or a silver sword? Therefore Sri Krishna wants to say that all these three gunas would bind; therefore if you want to be free, you have to transcend the saguna ahamkara, and you have to own up your higher gunathitha, nirguna, sakshi-amsha.

But one thing that Sri Krishna admits is, to become a gunathitha, initially; you will have to use the three gunas as a stepping-stone, as I gave the example of the pole, used by the pole-vaulter. The pole will have to be used to go above the bar; but having gone above, the pole will have to be dropped. Not using the pole is also foolishness; not leaving the pole is also foolishness; use the pole, cross the bar and leave the pole. Similarly use the gunas and then drop the guna; drop means, transcend the guna. This is what Sri Krishna is going to teach. This analysis of Gunas is started from verse No.5, which will continue up to verse no.18. And Sri Krishna gave the introduction in fifth verse. There are three gunas associated with ahamkara.  And that ahamkara, the jiva, is associated with all the three gunas in different proportions and all the three gunas will bind differently.

Shloka # 14.6:

14.6 Among them, sattva, being pure, [Nirmala, pure-transparent, i.e., capable of resisting any form of ignorance, and hence as illuminator, i.e.a revealer of Consciousness.] is an illuminator and is harmless. O sinless one, it binds through attachment to happiness and attachment to knowledge.

For the sake of our convenience, this analysis of the three gunas can be divided into five topics.

  1. The first topic is the definition of each guna also called Lakshanam. What is the definition of Satva, Rajas and Tamas is the topic?
  2. Mode or method of bondage of each Guna, also called Bandana Prakara.
  3. Indication as to which Guna is dominant in a person also known as Lingam; not to be confused with Shivalingam.
  4. Type of travel or course of each Guna after death, also called Gathihi.
  5. Consequence of the domination of each Guna in this life, also called Phalam. Now Gathi is the consequence after death while phalam is consequence before death.

Shloka # 6 says when Satva is dominant in an Ahamkara the other two Gunas will not pollute. Thus if Tamoguna pollutes Satva Guna mind will become turbulent. But if it does not pollute Satva, mind will be clear in thinking. Clarity of thinking will be there.

If Rajoguna pollutes Satva, mind will be restless and wavering. Without Rajoguna pollution, mind will be free from restlessness, a relaxed mind.

Satva Guna is of the nature of brightness and calmness; quietude and tranquility And this seems to be a wonderful nature; if the mind is bright and calm, it is capable of learning things; it is capable of absorbing; it is capable of contemplation, it is capable of self-analysis.

 If so, why does Satva Guna bind? Sri Krishna says, Satvik mind seeks seclusion, freedom from noise. The problem is that we cannot control our external atmosphere. If you cannot control it then you become disturbed. Thus, for him, quietude becomes a source of bondage.

Now a liberated person is defined as a person who does not depend on quietude or seclusion for fulfillment and happiness. Any type of dependence is bondage, satva guna leads to noble dependence, but noble dependence is also a dependence.

Satvic mind is attached to knowledge it is introverted and wants to know more and more. Satvic mind is Gyanendriya Pradhana. What is wrong with greed for knowledge? Any amount of knowledge you gain and assimilate, omniscience is not possible. So, Satvic person is not happy with his material knowledge (not spiritual knowledge).

Sri Krishna says, O Ananta, which means you, one with a pure mind.

Shloka # 14. 7:

14.7 Know rajas to be of the nature of passion, born of hankering and attachment. O son of Kunti, that binds the embodied one through attachment to action.

Rajoguna is about attachment and passion. It wants to relate to things and people. It is extroverted. Satvic people prefer seclusion; while Rajasic people want action; they don’t like quietude.

We require each Guna for liberation. Thus Pancha maha yagya requires us to use all three Gunas.

Since it is a restless, dynamic mind, it wants to acquire things. If husband and wife are of different Gunas it can be a difficult life says, Swamiji. Now desire may be selfish or selfless. Once he acquires something he wants to hold on to it. For Rajo Guna, possession is important, while Satva wants to drop possessions. Desire and attachment are hallmarks of Rajo Guna.

How does Rajoguna bind? By making him attached to Karma. It makes him a workaholic. What is wrong with work? Up to a certain stage Karma yoga is acceptable, but then one has to shift to Gyana Yoga. He is Karma Pradhana.

Shloka # 14. 8:

14.8 On the other hand, know tamas, which deludes all embodied beings, to be born of ignorance. O scion of the Bharata dynasty, that binds through inadvertence, laziness and sleep.

Tamoguna is born of Agyanam or out of Prakriti or Maya. So one cant escape it. Sleep in itself not a problem; if Sleeping itself is not a problem then what is the problem? Continuing to sleep is the problem. Everyone has to sleep. If one does not sleep, insomnia is a problem; for that person as well as for the other people as well. Therefore, we do not condemn tamo guna but we are talking about the problems created by predominance of tamo guna. They are:

The first problem is that it suppresses the satva guna and rajo guna. Since satva guna is suppressed, there is no clarity of thinking. And therefore one even does not ask what is the purpose of life. Human life is never taken seriously. The precious time is never taken seriously. The young age is never taken seriously. All this happens because of lack of clarity of thinking. And because of  mohanam or delusion; It means there is no clear thinking and also often there is no goal in life; it is just moving along with the current; there is no goal and even if goals are there; the priorities are not clear. How much money is important; how much health is important; how much knowledge is important; with regard to all these, there is no clarity and therefore it causes delusion for all those people, and the definition of tamo guna is delusional mind.

How does Tamoguna bind? Carelessness with using body, laziness, and sleep are all qualities that bind Tamo guna. They cannot meditate.

Thus, Tamo guna binds a person. There is an advantage in Tamo Guna; this person does not acquire punyam or papam, why? punyam and papam are karma phalam; and this person does not do any karma; only by performing karmas one gets you do karma punyam and papam. Therefore the advantage for this person, he will not acquire much agami, he will not acquire fresh punyam and papam, but remember that is not a great achievement, animals also do not acquire punyam or papam. If I say I have not acquired any punyam or papam, it means I have been like a buffalo. Is it a credit, therefore it is perpetuation of bondage.

Shloka # 14. 9:

14.9 O scion of the Bharata dynasty, sattva attaches one to happiness, rajas to action, while tamas, covering up knowledge, leads to inadvertence also.

Here, Sri Krishna repeats how each Guna binds us. Each binds us by creating addictions. Satva causes addiction to silence and or quietude. Sukham in shloka means seclusion.

Rajo Guna causes addiction to Karma. Performing Karma is acceptable but addiction to it is a problem. Addiction can even be to Guru, Shastra and even Ishwara.

Tamo guna binds us via carelessness, lack of attention to the job etc, all due to lack of clear thinking. So by covering the discriminative power, the tamo guna makes a person addicted to lose jobs all the time. So that means you cannot make that person responsible as there is no assurance that the job will be completed.

He can never be a responsible person.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy