s’rI bhagavAn, the dispenser of fortunes said,
I shall tell you again, of this ultimate and best knowledge of all knowledges. Having known this all the munIs have gone from here to the ultimate siddhi. (14.1)
Having taken refuge in this knowledge, they have reached identity with me - साधर्म्य. They are neither born during sarga (see : sRSti and pralaya), nor do they decay during pralaya. (14.2)
mahat-brahma is my yOni (origin) into which I give garbha (offspring). Then the existence of all beings happens oh bhArata (arjuna)! (14.3)
The yOni of all the yOnIs from which all forms are manifested, is brahma, the mahat-yOni and I am the seed-giving father. (14.4)
sattvam, rajas and tama are the three guNAs (qualities, ropes/bonds) that are born from prakRti (towards-actions, ie the entire manifestation often called nature). Oh great-armed one, they bind the unchanging dEhin (the one who dwells in the body), inside the body. (14.5)
The luminous disease-free sattvam, by its purity, binds the dEhin by attachment to sukha and attachment to gnyAna, oh fault-less one! (14.6)
Know that rajas is rAgAtmaka (emotional, passionate) the origin of attachment to tRSNa – desire. That binds the dEhin, oh kountEya (son of kunti, arjuna), by attachment to karma. (14.7)
Know that tamah is born of ignorance (agnyAnaja), the delusion of all the dEhins. It binds the dEhin with carelessness (pramAda), laziness (Alasya) and nidra (sleep). (14.8)
(There is more than one dEhin, by the use of the plural dEhinAm. This is important.)
sattva causes clinging in sukha (comfort/joy), rajas causes clinging in karma (work), and having covered up knowledge, tamas causes clinging in pramAda (errors, carelessness, insanity) (14.9)
sattvam dominates by overcoming rajah and tamah. rajas by dominating sattva and tamas and tamas by overcoming sattva and raja. (14.10)
When sattva is powerful, light emanates from all the dvAras (doors – eyes etc) of the body, when there is gnyAna-knowledge from vidyA . (14.11).
(vid- to know. vidya – the state/attribute of knowing. gnya – to know, gnyAnam knowledge, they appear to be synonyms but over time you may be able to sense the nuance.)
When rajas dominates, these are born – greed, pravRtti (towards vRtti, going towards lower cakrAs), starting activities up, restlessness (as’ama) and longing – Oh bull among the bharatAs! (14.12)
When tamas reigns supreme, oh son of kurus, there is an absence of light (aprakAs’a – dullness), an absence of pravRtti (this is not the same as nivRtti or ascent up the cakrAs), carelessness and delusion (14.13)
Many times rAjasik people club the tAmasik and the sAttvik together, because they both look still. They cannot distinguish between meditative calm and a drunken stupour. It is advised that you spend more time in the presence of sAttvik people (people in who sattva dominates always, most of the time, or at least at the time of interaction!), because that will bring sattva to the fore in you.
Alcohol is an intoxicant that calms your rAjasik tendencies in the wrong direction. It does not give you s’ama (s’Anti). It gives you pramAda, mOha etc. Drinking alcohol is a tAmasik activity and not elevating at all. I recommend that you give it up. Instead you may go to a temple, or a beautiful natural place or read the gIta or anything that makes you feel that inner calmness. (a little preaching on my part – sorry).
About your rebirths :
If a person (a body-bearer, dEhabhRt) attains pralaya, when sattva is powerful, (s)he will reach the pure worlds of the knowers of the ultimate. (14.14) Attaining pralaya in rajas, they will be born among those attached to karma. And if they become pralIna – dead, re-absorbed in tamas they will be born in the wombs of mUDhAs (confused, foolish etc). (14.15)
About the fruit of your actions
Of sAttvika sukRta karmaNah (good deeds done well), the fruit is pure. The fruit of rajas is sorrow and the fruit of tamas is ignorance. (14.16)
Conversely if some action makes you sad you know that you handled it with passion and other attributes of rajas. Interestingly work places especially corporate work places demand passion. If the fruit of your work is pure and good, then you know that it is a deed well done. And if you or someone else is deluded at the end of their efforts you know their efforts were tAmasik.
Interestingly, it is said that Max Mueller started his study of the vEdAs to discredit them but was himself converted in the process. Maybe his work was a good deed done well, even though criticised by other schools of translators.
sattva causes clinging to knowledge, rajas causes clinging to greed. And tamas only negligence-pramAda, infatuation-mOha and ignorance-agnyAna. (14.17)
If you see someone clinging to ignorance in the face of evidence, you may guess it is caused by a predominance of tamas at that time and so on.
The sattvasthAs (those who stay in sattva) rise up, the rAjasAh stay in the middle, the tAmasAh who stay in the जघन्य-vRtti, the lowest or worst states, go below. (14.18)
The seers who see (realise) that there are no kartAs (doers) other than the guNAs, know my bhAva (essence) that is beyond the gunAs and attain That. (14.19)
The dEhI (body-owner) having done beyond the three guNAs, dEha-samudhavAn (born in the body), attains immortality being free from birth, death, old age and sorrow. (14.20)
arjuna said :
kaih lingaih, by which symbols, indications is a person beyond the guNAs, kim AcArA - what practice?
How are these three guNAs crossed over? (14.21)
s’rI bhagavAn said :
He does not hate the increase of these three nor desire their reduction – Illumination, activity and delusion. O pAnDava! (14.22)
One who is not disturbed by gunas, knowing that it is only gunas which function, who is steady and unwavering, who is the same in happiness and sorrow, who values a clod of earth and lump of gold equally, who equates praise and blame, who treats friend and foe alike, who does not start up any new endeavors, who is svastha (stays in himself) and intelligent (dhIra) – such a person is called a guNatIta. (14.23-14.25)
He who serves me, through unadulterated devotion, crosses over the three guNAs and becomes worth of the brahman (14.26)
I am the embodiment of the brahman, immortal and unchanging, eternal and dhArmik, joyful and alone. (14.27)
Chapter 14: Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga
Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga is the yoga of dividing the three gunas.
Sages who have this knowledge are not reborn, even at the time of creation, nor are they destroyed at the time of dissolution.
The great universe is the womb in which Krishna places the seed of all creation. The three gunas of Satva, Rajas, and Tamas bind the immutable resident of the body.
Sattva is pure and therefore luminous and free from illusion. It binds us in two ways — through attachment to knowledge and attachment to happiness.
Rajas is passion by nature. It is the source of desire and attachment. It binds the embodied person through attachment to Karma (action).
Tamas is born of ignorance. It deludes all the embodied. It binds the embodied one through sleep, laziness, and difficult or dangerous situations.
Any one of these gunas can dominate over the other two.
If the light of knowledge radiates from a person, from all his senses, then we know that Sattva predominates. Convsersely, greed, enterprise, activity, restlessness, and desire indicate the dominance of Rajas. Dullness, inactivity, danger and delusion indicate the dominance of Tamas.
If a soul meets Pralaya (translated here as death or dissolution) at a time when Sattva dominates, that soul attains the pure worlds inhabited by the knowers of the highest. If at that time Rajas dominates, it is born in the families of those attached to work. If Tamas dominates, then it is born in the womb of the foolish.
An interesting thought here . . . if you can categorize your parents and family, then you have a fair idea of which guna dominated you when you died last time. There is no reason to blame others for the conditions of your birth. However, many social reformers in India denounce this idea. They think that people will use it as an excuse not to help others or themselves. But that is not the point of the Gita at all — it tells us that you must do your duty, be kind to all creatures, and treat them equally. Where Vivekananda and Gandhiji picked action, service, truth, non-violence and devotion to their country and God, there are those who used the concept of gunas and karma to absolve themselves of any duty or accountability to their fellow beings and others who denounce the Gita and the Karma Siddhanta for this.
The result of good action is to said to be Sattvika and pure. The result of Rajasik action is pain; the result of Tamasik action is ignorance. (So if the result of your action gives you pain, that can give you a clue that your action was Rajasik born out of attachment to work and results.)
While Sattva leads to knowledge, Rajas leads to greed and Tamas to delusion. The Satvik go upwards, the Rajasik stay in the middle, and the Tamasik go downward.
But when a Seer sees that there are no doers other than the gunas and knows what is beyond the Gunas, then he attains the Krishna Bhaava.
One who has transcended the gunas which were the reason the Purusha took this body in the first place, attains immortality free of birth, death, old age, and misery.
Characteristics of one who has transcended the Gunas (Gunaatheetha):
One who neither desires nor resents it when light, activity and delusion arise or cease
One who is not disturbed by gunas, knowing that it is only gunas which function, who is steady and unwavering, who is the same in happiness and sorrow, who values a clod of earth and lump of gold equally, who equates praise and blame, who treats friend and foe alike, who does not start up any new endeavors. Such a person is called a Gunatheetha.
One who serves Krishna through Bhakthi Yoga, transcends the Gunas and becomes worthy of the state of Brahman, since Krishna is the embodiment of Brahman, of immutable immortality, of Dharma, and of absolute bliss.
satya sarada kandula