Baghawad Gita, Class 182: Chapter 14, Verses 4 & 5


Shloka # 14.4:

14.4 O son of Kunti, whatever forms are born from all the wombs, of them the great-sustainer is the womb; I am the father who deposits the seed.

Continuing his teachings Swamiji said today, in this chapter 14 the first four verses were introductory ones where Sri Krishna mentioned that we are going to deal with topic of Self Knowledge. He glorified self-knowledge as a liberating knowledge. In third and fourth shlokas he talked about creation. He did so to point out that every individual is made up of two parts, the Prakriti and Purusha. He said Ishwara, the cause of creation is also a combination of Prakriti and Pursuha; also known as the father-mother principle. Purusha cannot create without Prakriti and Prakriti too cannot create without Pursuha. So God is a mixture of father and mother principle. Hence, the Puranas talk of Parvati  Shiva, Laxmi Vishnu and Saraswati Brahma. They can’t be separated from each other and this mixture alone is called God. Since cause of creation is a mixture of two the effect is also a mixture of both.

Thus, if the Gold has got 6% silver or copper, then all the ornaments also will have the same percentage; because the law of karana guna is that the features of the cause will inhere the effect also. And therefore every individual Jiva, you and I, is also a mixture of Purusha tatvam and Prakrti Tatvam, and therefore to understand oneself thoroughly, we should clearly know how to differentiate/distinguish these two features within ourselves. And therefore for the sake of self-study, Sri Krishna is introducing creation.

O Arjuna, I am the Purusha Tatvam and definition of Purusha Tatvam is: Nirguna, Nirvikara, Sathya, Chetana tatvam. Purusha means the changeless, attributeless, consciousness principle, which is an independent and absolute reality. Whereas prakrti tatvam is saguna, savikara, mithya, achetana tatvam, that which has attributes, that which is subject to changes, and that which is of the nature of jada, achetana or inert principle. In English we can say consciousness plus matter is equal to Ishvara tatvam and Ishvara paramatma is karanam while jivatma is karyam. If a karanam is a mixture of consciousness and matter, karyam is also a mixture of consciousness-principle and matter-principle.

So in me too both are there, and therefore, I should understand both these features. And this analysis is going to be the subject matter of the 14th chapter. Thus you have both, changing feature and changeless features.

You have a nature which is attributed, saguna feature and you have got a nirguna feature as well, and similarly, you are a mixture of matter and consciousness and you are a mixture of lower Mithya principle and higher Sathyam principle. And, therefore, I should thoroughly understand both and that analysis is going to start hereafter.

So from 5th shloka, the analysis is going to begin.

Shloka # 14.5:

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

Before entering this analysis I would like to give you a bird’s eye view of this analysis.

I said Bhagavan is a mixture of consciousness and matter, and therefore every one of us is also a mixture of both.

And what is the material aspect of the individual? The physical body is material in nature; it is made up of prakrti tatvam; because body is made up of matter and body has got attributes or saguna it is  savikaram subject to change therefore body comes under the prakrti part of the individual; Similarly the mind also comes under the prakrti part of the individual; And other than the body mind complex, there is the purusha tatvam, which is the consciousness principle. And what is that consciousness? Consciousness is not part, product or property of the body, consciousness is an independent entity which pervades and enlivens the body and consciousness principle is not limited by the boundaries of the body, it goes beyond and the consciousness principle does not die when the body dies; and finally, this surviving consciousness principle cannot be contacted by us; not because it is non-existent, but because there is no medium of contact. I have given you the example of light, which is pervading this body and this consciousness principle in me, which enlivens the body-mind-complex, is called purusha tatvam.

And in vedanta, we use two technical words that I would like to introduce. The pure consciousness principle, which is nirguna and nirvikara, that consciousness, is called sakshi tatvam. It isthe witness principle; the changeless-witness of all the changes that happen. Now the mind is in peaceful condition; there is a witness of the peaceful state of mind; Next moment the mind is turbulent; the mind changes, but there is a changeless witness-consciousness that is aware of the previous condition of the mind as well as aware of the present condition of the mind. This changeless witness consciousness is called sakshi tatvam, which is one aspect of mind. This Vedanta calls my higher nature; my superior nature; my diviner nature; my loftier nature.

Then, of course, I have got this body principle and the mind principle, both of whom are in themselves inert in nature. Why is it inert? Because it is made up of matter, it is a bundle of chemicals; a bundle of five elements; this body by itself is inert; but even though intrinsically the body is inert, because of the pervasion of consciousness, the body has got borrowed consciousness. Just like now, my body is shining for you; not because the body has got its own luminosity; now my body is shining because of what? the light pervading the body.

Similarly, this body is inert; but because of the pervading consciousness, body has got borrowed consciousness; it is like the hot water. The hot water is hot not because heat is its intrinsic nature, but because water is pervaded by the invisible agni tatvam. You cannot see it with the visible eyes. If you put your finger, you will know. Water looks the same; hot water is hot, not because heat is its nature, but it is borrowed from the fire principle. Similarly, this body is now sentient; not because of the intrinsic-sentiency but because of borrowed-sentiency; in Sanskrit we call it; Chidabhasha pratibimba chaitanyam or reflected consciousness (RC); we had discussed this long ago in Tatva Bodha as OC, RC, RM.

So now this body has got borrowed sentiency; therefore it is a live body. It is prakrti but a live prakrti. Similarly, the mind also is made up of subtle matter only, subtle Elements only and therefore the mind is also intrinsically insentient; but the mind has become sentient due to borrowed sentiency, which is technically called chidabhasha. So, thus, we have got a live body; with borrowed-consciousness and we have got a live mind with borrowed consciousness. In short we have a got a live prakrti, prakrti means the body mind complex, with borrowed consciousness. And in Vedantic parlance, this body-mind-complex, otherwise called prakrti, with borrowed sentiency, borrowed-consciousness, this body-mind complex is called Ahamkara.

Ahamkara is equal to body-mind complex; otherwise called prakrti-plus-borrowed consciousness; i.e. chidabhasha. So, Shariram-plus-chidabhasha is equal to ahamkara. Prakrti-plus-chidabhasha is equal to ahamkara. Matter plus borrowed consciousness is called ahamkara. And what is the name of the original consciousness? It is Sakshi Tatvam. So sakshi is the name of the original consciousness; Ahamkara is the name of the body mind complex, plus the reflected or borrowed consciousness. And every individual is a mixture of Sakshi and ahamkara. When I say, Sakshi, you should remember; OC, the original consciousness; ahamkara means the body plus reflected consciousness (RC). In Tatva Bodha we used the expression RM plus RC. RM means reflecting medium; what is the reflecting medium? It is the body-mind-complex. RC means the reflected consciousness.

So now let us put the formula. OC is the sakshi, RC plus RM is equal to Ahamkara. I hope it is not confusing. And every individual is a mixture of Ahamkara and Sakshi.

So, when a Gyani says Aham brahmasmi, that Aham refers to the sakshi aspect, the original consciousness (OC), which is nirguna, nirvikara, sathya, chaitanyam, whereas when you take the ahamkara aspect of mind, your mind should shift to the body mind complex, that is with borrowed consciousness. Now, Ahamkara being body mind complex, body mind complex being prakrti, ahamkara is saguna and Ahamkara is savikara. Ahamkara is intrinsically achetanam, but it has borrowed chetanatvam. And Sri Krishna wants to say O Arjuna you are a mixture of ahamkara and sakshi. And you should be able to differentiate between nirguna sakshi and saguna ahamkara.

And Sri Krishna wants to point out Ahamkara is your lower nature. It is your individuality, whereas Sakshi is your higher nature. And then Sri Krishna wants to point out that as long as you are taking yourselves as ahamkara, as long as you are remain as ahamkara alone, samsara cannot be avoided. Ahamkara is vulnerable to samsara and the only way of getting out of samsara is for you to transcend your lower ahamkara-nature and to own up to your higher sakshi-nature.

And for this purpose, Sri Krishna wants to point out, how the Ahamkara is poison; it is a problem. And why it is a problem, because it is saguna. The very saguna nature of ahamkara makes it a problematic aspect of yours. And naturally the question will come; how the gunas become responsible for samsara.

And for that Sri Krishna wants to talk about the various gunas of ahamkara. And he points out that ahamkara has got three gunas; because it is made up of prakrti, which has got three gunas.

The three Gunas are: Satvika ahamkara, rajasa ahamkara, and tamasa ahamkara, and Sri Krishna says all the three ahamkaras are samsari-ahamkaras. And each ahamkara is bound in a different way. Satvika

ahamkara is bound by satva guna; rajasa ahamkara is bound by rajo guna; and tamasa ahamkara is bound by tamo guna.

And therefore Sri Krishna wants to talk about the nature of each guna and how each guna binds a person and what are the indications of the presence of each guna and what will be the consequences of the respective bondage; all these Sri Krishna is going to analyze; hence name of Chapter as:  guna traya vibhaga yoga. Domination of each guna binds the ahamkara.

And in Sanskrit language, the word Guna has two meanings; one meaning is it is a property or an attribute. And the second meaning is, it is a ‘rope’ or a shackle. So the very word guna indicates that it is a rope that will bind you to samsara and which will never allow you to be a free person. Therefore, you have to break the shackles of three gunas and discover the freedom of moksha.

And now, we will briefly see the expressions of each guna. At the time of creation, in the prakrti or in matter all the three gunas are present; but they are in equilibrium or in the same proportion.

And in equilibrium state, there is no creation. And when the time for creation comes, the gunas are disturbed; the proportions are disturbed, and in creation the proportion will vary and the percentage of these three gunas will vary.

And, according to the scriptures, even the most inert object in the creation has three gunas as well as the plants, animals and human beings.

Every one is a mixture of three gunas; the differences are in the proportions of the gunas.

And in the human being, how does the domination of each guna express itself?

Sri Krishna points out that satva guna make the character or the nature of the individual to be Gyana Pradhana Purusha. It makes a person a cognitive individual, an intellectual person interested in or thirsting for more and more knowledge. So in his case, the Gyanendriya, the five sense organs of knowledge, as well as the controlling intellect will be highly active.

And diagonally opposite is the raja pradhanam. In a rajasic character, it will be karma pradhana or activity oriented. So, here Gyanenndriyas are generally passive; The Gyanenndriyas are the eyes, the ears, nose, the tongue and the skin and the intellect; the analyzing-intellect; the thinking intellect, judging-intellect; that will be active, whereas in a rajasic personality, it will be karma pradhana, which means karmendriyas will be active.

So therefore vak, pani, pada, payu, upastha and behind that the pancha pranas, the energy is highly active.

So satva guna is Gyana pradhana while rajo guna gives a karma pradhana personality.

And Tamo guna will be the suppression of both. Neither the Gyanendriyas nor karmendriyas are active; more inertia will be there; So tamas is the suppression of both Rajas and Satva.

And when a person is a Gyana pradhana person; generally that person will be turned inwards, internal oriented; because a mind, which seeks knowledge, is always intellectually active, analyzing, thinking, hypothesizing, theorizing, in fact, intellectuals live in their own world of ideas; they are not even aware of the surroundings. Therefore Satva dominant will express itself in the form of Nivritti pradhana. Nivritti means turning inwards or withdrawal.

Whereas when rajoguna is dominant, it will be pravritti pradhana, the person will be highly turned outwards; One is inward, another is outward. When satva guna is dominant, and a person is thinking, contemplative, etc.; naturally that mind will not like to relate itself with the external world of objects, because very relationship or interaction or transaction will make the mind extrovert; whereas satvic mind being turned inward, it does not like sanga.

Therefore it is asanga- pradhana whereas a rajasic mind loves turning, outward. Socializing, interacting, talking to people.  So, one is asanga, the other sasanga.

The fourth difference that we can see is that a thinking mind would naturally love a set up which is conducive for contemplation, and therefore it loves silence.

Tranquility, quietude; It wants nishabdhatha, whereas the silence is poison for the rajasic mind, it cannot withstand silence.

And Tamoguna is just the opposite, it suppresses both satva and rajas and Sri Krishna wants to point out that all the three gunas are bondage. All the three gunas cause bondage in different ways.

How do all the three gunas cause bondage? A satvic mind will love a set up which is quiet, and which is conducive for thinking, contemplation, study, etc. and if that set up is disturbed, by any sound or any visitor; then a satvic mind is upset. And therefore, it is a dukha-misritha condition, because as long as the set up is favorable to me, the satvic mind enjoys.

A satvic mind is also a bound-mind, because it cannot totally control the set up and when the set up is disturbed, it is disturbed.

Similarly, a rajasic mind, of course hates silence and quietude. It cannot keep quiet because he cannot face silence. Therefore a rajasic mind also will face dukham. So long as it is able to order the set up as it wants, it is fine; but when the set up is disturbed, it is unhappy.  

Tamasic mind also will have problems. Sri Krishna will talk of the details later; the greatest problem being there is no scope for progress at all. So, therefore, all the three gunas are mixed with pain or sorrow. And Sri Krishna points out that all the three gunas cause dependence. A person who loves silence is addicted to silence. And he is not a free person because to enjoy happiness, he requires silence.  So, Satvic person is also bound, because he is addicted to silence. What about rajasic person? That person is also bound, because he is addicted to noise and the company he wants.

Therefore, dependence and bondage are common to all the people; pain is common to all the people, wherever dependence is there; pain is also there.

And thirdly, all the people will have athrupthikarathvam . So common to all three are features of dukha-mishrithatvam, athrupthikarathvam, and bandhakatvam. Athrupthikarathvam is also common to all the three. A satvic person wants to gain more and more

knowledge. He has a got a great hunger for knowledge. And without knowledge, he feels a limited person; and therefore he wants to remove the knowledge-wise limitation. Satvic person alone will have the unique sense of limitation; what I know is less; and therefore, he goes on acquiring knowledge, because he wants to become omniscient. But to his utter desperation and dismay he finds out any amount of knowledge he gathers, his limitation, knowledge-wise limitation, does not go away.

In fact, the more you learn, the more you know that you do not know. Therefore greater your knowledge, more you know about your ignorance, and that is why in every field, he goes on specializing. Thus, Swamiji says, a dermatologist has only skin-deep knowledge.

So therefore, as somebody nicely defined it, a specialist is one who learns more and more about less and less things. And therefore I am never going to become omniscient in the field of any branch of science and therefore samsara; this is called intellectual samsara. I want to know more about; and I am not able to know.

Similarly, a rajasic person also suffers from samsara, not in terms of knowledge but in terms of activity. He wants to do more and more; accomplish more and more. He becomes a workaholic. And at any time he looks at himself, he is not satisfied. Satvic person travels from finitude to finitude, rajasic person travels from to finitude to finitude, tamasic person does not travel at all.

And therefore Sri Krishna says: all the three gunas will bind you. And all the three forms of ahamkara are bondage. Satvic ahamkara is also bondage; rajasic ahamkara is also bondage, tamasic ahamkara is also bondage.

If you want to transcend bondage, you have to transcend ahamkara and own up to your higher nature. What is your higher nature? The Nirguna Sakshi is that higher nature.

But Sri Krishna wants to point out that even though the three gunas are causes of bondage, for liberation, you will have to use the three gunas alone as stepping-stones. Even though they are the causes of bondage, you will have to intelligently use them and transcend them; like a poll vaulter.

An intelligent person uses the pole, goes up, drops the pole and wins the Commonwealth gold medal.

Similarly use the ahamkara pole. You require tamoguna as well. If you do not have tamoguna at all, if you are all the time Gyana pradhana and karma pradhana, you will never go to sleep. And if you have no sleep at all, that is a problem in itself.

Therefore we require Tamoguna for sufficient rest and recuperation.

Suppose in the class you have got tamasic ahamkara,  you will end up dozing. If you have a rajasic ahmakara your mind will be wandering all over So a wandering mind cannot learn, a dozing mind cannot learn; only an alert, vigilant and non-wandering mind absorbs the teaching like sponge. And once it gets wisdom that I am not this inferior saguna ahamkara nature; because it is mithya and inferior; but my real nature is Aham gunathitha sakshi asmi.

Thus, we have to know the nature of the three gunas and how they bind us and we also should know how to intelligently use the three gunas, and become gunathitha and gunathitha is a liberated person. This is going to be the analysis in verses beginning from the 5th verse.

Take Away:

This mixture of Purusha and Prakriti alone is called God.

Individual Jiva, you and I, is also a mixture of Purusha tatvam and Prakrti Tatvam,

This consciousness principle in me, which enlivens the body-mind-complex, is called purusha tatvam.

The pure consciousness principle, which is nirguna and nirvikara, that consciousness, is called sakshi tatvam.

There is a changeless witness-consciousness that is aware of the previous condition of the mind as well as aware of the present condition of the mind. This changeless witness consciousness is called sakshi tatvam, which is one aspect of mind.

Ahamkara: And in Vedantic parlance, this body-mind-complex, otherwise called prakrti, with borrowed sentiency, borrowed-consciousness, this body-mind complex is called Ahamkara.

The only way of getting out of samsara is for you to transcend your lower ahamkara-nature and to own up to your higher sakshi-nature.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy