Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 14 (guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga)

Post By: Published on: December 13, 2016 Reading time: 28 minutes


School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga (Yoga of differentiation of the three guṇa-s).


  • Starting with chapter 9, Śrī Kṛṣṇa moves from explaining the basics to implementation of concepts. To do this, he speaks about his Absolute (virāt) Self in chapter 9 and finally shows him his Universal form (viśva-rūpa) in chapter 10. This obviously confuses as well as amazes and scares Arjuna.
  • In chapter 13, he moves to the next step and explains cognition of the body and environment. In terms of daily living, it is all about vijñāna or cognition of the body and environment in the visible or gross (sthūla), subtle (sūkṣma) state as well as the causal (kāraṇa) state.
  • In chapter 14, though he seems to repeat a lot of the same concepts, actually he is applying the concept to various situations, so that one understands the myriad opportunities for implementation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā and Yoga in real life.
  • In this chapter, Śrī Kṛṣṇa speaks about how attributes affect behaviour. School of Yoga expands the subject to examine how this concept affects every aspect of living.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga, verse 1-20.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains the three attributes (triguṇa-s). 

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: I will now teach you that knowledge of the Self (jñāna) which will enable you to merge with the source (Brahman).

  • I am the seed, the womb and the placer of the seed of all creation.
  • From me is born the (three guṇa-s) triguṇa-ssattva, rajas and tamas, the qualities which are common to all entities.
  • Of these, sattva is spotless, luminescent and free from faults. Also, it binds one to the knowledge of the self which is sourced from contentment.
  • Rajas is the embodiment of passion, the source of thirst and attachment. Consequently, it binds one to action.
  • Finally, tamas is born out of ignorance and delusion. As a result, it binds one to heedlessness, indolence and sleep.
  • Sattva binds one to peace, rajas to action and by shrouding one from the knowledge of oneself, tamas binds one to heedlessness.
  • There is a constant struggle for ascendancy, with sattva, rajas and tamas competing to overpower the other two. Consequently, when every sense is filled with awareness, this is the state of sattva. Likewise, when greed drives any undertaking and there is restlessness and longing, rajas predominates. Lastly, when darkness, inertness, heedlessness and delusion predominate, then tamas is predominant.
  • In fact, if one dies when sattva is predominant, then he goes to the world of the pure. Next, if he dies in rajas, then he is born again attached to action. Finally, if one dies when tamas is predominant, then he is born into a deluded home.
  • Sattva is born out of good action, rajas results in pain and tamas results in ignorance. From sattva emerges knowledge of the Self, from rajas arises greed and from tamas arises heedlessness, ignorance and error. Those whose awareness of the Self is fixed in sattva rise. In rajas, there is stagnation and in tamas, there is deterioration of one’s progress.
  • When a practitioner recognises all action as arising out of guṇas, and transcends it, he will merge with the Brahman.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Example: A person is using an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) for the first time after the bank issued an ATM card to him. Let us imagine the person’s state of anxiety when he/she stands in front of the ATM.

  • Initially, there is confusion – “How am I going to do this?” or anxiety/ fear “What will happen if…?” This is tamas.
  • Next, comes anger or irritation – “This is ridiculous! How do they expect me to operate this machine without training?” Then, there is effort… “Let’s see what we can do”. This is rajas.
  • Finally, there is acceptance and ownership. Here, the person hacks around and finds a solution, either by doing it himself or by asking someone. This is sattva.

Consequently, an awareness of having found a solution builds in the person. This is vijñāna. This results in increased confidence in the Self, an increase in asmitā (I am this or self-esteem) which is called jñāna.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Qualities of guṇa (attributes).

Tamas (Inertia): This aspect is characterised by fear, laziness, indolence, confusion, delusion etc. A person with a predominance of this state is generally vacillatory, lethargic, prone to giving excuses and, indecisive.

Rajas (Passion): This state governs nearly all forms of passion and is driven primarily by desire. As a result, a person in this state would typically focus on personal achievement and gratification, be result oriented, dominating, aggressive, impatient etc.

Sattva (Harmony): This state is characterised by harmony. It is demonstrated when a person tries to balance result with resource or process, task with quality and relationships etc. A person in this state avoids confrontation, but in a conflict situation, is calm, absorbs emotional outburst and remains objective.

Obviously, no one is endowed with one attribute only. The mix of attributes changes according to the situation, desires, perception of threat and this changes continuously as the situation unfolds. This means that the three attributes constantly change in composition with each other, with each attribute trying to gain ascendancy over the other, depending on the quality of change and its impact on one’s self-worth (asmitā).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga, verse 21 onwards.

How does one rise above the guṇa-s?

Arjuna said: What are the characteristics of him who has transcended the guṇa-s? How does one rise above the guṇa-s?

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: The qualities of a person who has transcended the guṇa-s are;

  • He who does not hate light, activity or delusion when it occurs, nor longs for them when they are absent (is free from opposites such as like-dislike, good-bad, right-wrong).
  • Also, he who is unaffected by the guṇa-s, for he knows how they operate. Therefore, this person is centred in the Self and does not get swerved by the actions of the guṇa-s.
  • Balanced in peace, centred in the Self, viewing earth, stone and gold alike, treating loved ones and strangers in the same manner, firm in all situations and treating censure and praise with equal value.
  • Same in honour or dishonour, treating friend or foe equally, and abandoning all undertakings.
  • He who is devoted to me, merges with me reaches the

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Concept of samādhi (transcending of the Self).

From first principles, we know that;

  • Guṇa rises from the weave of puruṣa and prakṛti.
  • Puruṣa is the experiencer and prakṛti is the manifestation of puruṣa.
  • Puruṣa and prakṛti combine to form the Self (ātmā)
  • Hence, when the puruṣa ceases to experience, prakṛti has no impact on the ātmā (Self).

How does puruṣa stop experiencing?

  • Stop dealing in dualities such as like-dislike, love-hate. That stops puruṣa from experiencing
  • Be even-handed. Treat everything and every situation without bias.
  • Stop living in the past and don’t dream about the future. Be aware of the present. Become a sthitha-prajñā (one of steady awareness)

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Concept of sva-tantra (personality) using India as an example.

Since Yoga is from India, it seems appropriate that one should explore the possibility of applying Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s advice in all the above chapters to India. Obviously, once this is done, the litmus test for Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā would be its applicability to humanity as sanātana-dharma.

What is a country? What would constitute the personality of a country? How would the principles of guṇa apply to a collective society of people such as a country?

To start, a country is established by a group of people with a common culture and purpose. The individuality/ personality (sva-tantra) of a country is the way it is perceived by its people, other peoples and countries. However, this perception is an outcome of the way people perceive their own country which would be reflected in the way they carry themselves and behave.

For example, if the people had a balanced view of themselves and behaved in a responsible manner, that country would be considered to be in harmony with its own nature (sāttvika). Next, if the people of a country behaved in an aggressive manner and bullied others, they would be considered as a volatile or greedy country (rājasika). Finally, if the people of a country were deluded, confused and weary or if the people did not resonate with their government, it would be a deluded country (tāmasika). Obviously, no single guṇa would dominate public discourse, but people’s conditioning (dharma) would determine their individuality (sva-tantra) which would get reflected in the way the citizens and the country behaved in the environment.

Since people live in the country for betterment and harmonic living, is there a template on which a country’s development could be based? Ancient texts from the sub-continent talk about puruṣārtha-s (puruṣa = human + artha = reason) which means reason-for-living or raison-d’etre of human existence.

Puruṣārtha principle states that people live for artha = material gain, kāma = sensual pleasure, dharma = harmony, mokṣa = freedom from seeking. Importantly, for balanced living, dharma must be resident in artha = material gain and kāma = sensual pleasure.

The question that needs answering is, does freedom-from-seeking (mokṣa) fit? Absolutely! After people have achieved material (artha) enjoyment and sensual pleasure (kāma) in harmony (dharma), they begin to look for an answer to the question, “What is life?”, “Why am I alive?”, “Does life have a purpose?” etc. This takes them into an esoteric world that culminates with absolute freedom from materiality (māyā). This freedom comes when the person has cognised the Self and results in the person having no further desire-to-seek (mokṣa).

Therefore, any country that wishes to exist as a balanced individual (sātvika-sva-tantra) must be able to create for its citizens, circumstances for them to comprehend their Self, the reason thei are alive. Not encouraging people to seek freedom from materiality (mokṣa) would condition people into viewing materiality as life’s sole objective. Also, practice of mokṣa brings with it, finer altruistic sentiments (bhāva) of charity (dāna), tolerance (kṣamā), non-violence (ahiṃsā) etc.

 So, any society that wishes to develop its personality must develop the finer qualities of behaviour control (yama) and self-restraint (niyama) of its people, as detailed in rāja-yoga (check Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 17 for more on yama and niyama).

Obviously, behaviour control (yama) and self-restraint (niyama) cannot be taught overnight, so they need to be inculcated in children when they are young. This means that the education system of the country must systematically teach yama (behaviour control) and niyama (self-restraint) and encourage its citizens to discuss its values as well as practice the concept in civic life. This will condition people to live a life of natural peace (dharma) while they are enjoying material (artha) and sensual (kāma) pleasures and prepare them for absolute freedom (mokṣa) later.

How can the principles of puruṣārtha-s (reason for human existence) be applied to the management of the country? Artha is obviously material well-being, availability of food, shelter, clothing and infrastructure such as transport, electricity, availability water etc., kāma is the softer aspects of artha. For example, while shelter might be available, if it is designed and constructed in a haphazard manner, badly designed or dilapidated, there can be no positivity about the place and residents would be unhappy. If food is spoiled, cold, unappetising or lacking in nutrition, then there is no pleasure derived in eating. This means that both hardware (artha) and software (kāma) are required for a society to be a functional and happy place. So, we can see that material aspects (artha) and sensual aspect (kāma) of a country cannot function independently.

Additionally, material aspects (artha) and sensual aspect (kāma) cannot be independent of order and harmony (dharma). For example, even if food and shelter were to be made available in a country, if there is no order, harmony or peace, then material aspects (artha) and sensual aspect (kāma) become irrelevant.

So, we can also see that for a country (kṣetra) to experience it individuality (sva-tantra) with complete awareness (prajñā), its society (kṣetra) must be conditioned for a life of harmony (dharma) which must be a weave of its material (artha) and sensual (kāma) aspects in the gross/ visible/ overt (sthūla) as well as subtle (sūkṣma) states. This knowledge of how to manage a country is called (kṣetrajña) and is completely dependent on sincere and diligent application (śraddhā) of the policies, systems, processes and rules (dharma) by its rulers as well as citizens.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Prāṇa (motility).

If we accept that the principles of kṣetra as espoused by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in chapter 12 can be applied to an individual as well as a country, then we can apply the principles of individuality (sva-tantra) to a country because the individual is the unit of a country. To begin, the person and country are both living entities, both have prāṇa. Consequently, this means that a country can die, just like a person. For example – Czechoslovakia split into Czech and Slovakia while North and South Vietnam merged into Vietnam. All these countries displayed different personalities (sva-tantra) before and after their change in composition. So, countries can die and when they do, the personality dies with them. Similarly, when countries are born, they get a new personality (svatantra) as defined by their region (kṣetra) and citizens (jana).

We also know that all entities have five vital airs (vāyus),

  • Prāṇa-vāyu which controls all incoming value (sat),
  • Apāna-vāyu which controls all excretory value,
  • Vyāna-vāyu which determines the quality of energy or aura that governs the projection of individuality (sva-tantra) of the country.
  • Udāna-vāyu which determines how the country communicates with the outside world and
  • Samāna-vāyu which determines how it digests all the resources that it ingests.

Let us detail this further.

  • Prāṇa-vāyu is incoming motility, which includes material, ideas, energy and resources. The key discriminator is ṛṇa (debt). When a country is not in debt and adds value in all its actions, it can enjoy material (artha) and sensual (kāma) prosperity, but when it borrows beyond its means of repayment and lives without adding value, there is loss of dharma, and the country lapses into delusion and depression (tamas).
  • Apāna-vāyu can be viewed in the light of the primordial elements (pañṭca-bhūta). For as long as solid (prithvi) and liquid (jala) waste management ensures betterment of the community, when air (vāyu) and space (ākāśa) are pure and energy/ fire (agni) used is adequate to transform raw materials into products of value (sat), apāna-vāyu will not become destructive (tāmasika) but ensure that the country is harmonised, clean and in peace (sāttvika).
  • Vyāna-vāyu – when people of a land (kṣetra) use their energies in constructive development of themselves and their neighbourhood, the overall aura of the country becomes one of a people that can be called civilised and developed. Example – both Germany and Japan ended World War II with a terrible reputation and in servitude. However, over the years they used their energies to transform themselves in a holistic manner (increased dharma), so much so that today, their World War II reputation has become insignificant.
  • Udāna-vāyu is how the country communicates and represents itself. Some countries punch above their weight, some become bullies, some struggle to keep their composure, others turn docile while a few become rebellious. We can see examples of all these countries in the neighbourhood of Bhārat, in Asia itself. The quality of attributes (guṇa) is evident in the manifestation of self-worth (asmitā) in the individuality (sva-tantra).
  • Samāna-vāyu is the energy that circulates within a country. For example – Germany and Japan were able to acquire reputations as countries that add value (sat) on account of their hard work and harmonious societal ethics.

So, how does samāna-vāyu work?

In the body (kṣetra), samāna-vāyu is centred around the abdomen. Resources such as food, water and air enter the body. Air goes to the lungs, after which oxygen impregnated blood is brought to the abdomen. Food and water enter the stomach where they are broken down, digested and absorbed into the blood for transportation to organs as nourishment for work or waste for disposal.

Similarly, in country (kṣetra), resources come into a country in the form of goods, services and ideas where they are converted by citizens of the country. What do people need to convert resources into goods?

Dharma, good constitution, governance, law and order and a citizenry that understand as well as follow dharma. Conditioning (dharma) is determined by the quality of attributes (guṇa) that are encouraged and practiced by the people of the country (kṣetra), which is also known as culture (saṃskriti), life-event management (saṃskāra) and practices (sampradāya) of a people.

Additionally, we need to cycle back to the definition of individuality (sva-tantra) and knowledge of the region (kṣetrajña). 

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Some situations.

  • When indolence, delusion and laziness (tamas) are the predominant attributes of the people, then the country is likely to remain poor, living on hand-outs / aid and blaming others for its situation.
  • Next, when the people of a country are full of passion (rajas), then one will see a high level of energy, passion and ambition. If this rājasika energy is tempered by indolence (tamas), then growth will be haphazard with frequent conflicts. In many countries, there will be a disconnect between the people and their governments.
  • However, when rājasika energy is tempered by balance and harmony (sattva), then one will see an attempt by the government to make each person stand on his or her own feet and be independent.

For example – when passion (rajas) is tempered with indolence (tamas) every citizen will be given fish to eat. However, when passion (rajas) is tempered by balance (sattva), citizens will be taught and encouraged to fish so that they stop being dependent on others for free fish, as this makes them vulnerable to power, pressure and influence and weakens their individuality (svatantra). The latter method is harder and more painful, but leads to a self-reliant and stronger country.

  • The difference between the above two situations is the quantum of sacrifice (yajña) that is required.
  • In the former, the citizen merely needs to convince his leaders that giving fish freely, will lead to harmony and easier governing of the country (kṣetra). However, in the latter case it becomes incumbent on the leader to convince citizen that free fish is not in their interest and they must learn to fish.
  • There is a big difference in the input required to condition (dharma) the citizens in the latter situation and the way the citizens (jana) and leaders (rā-jana) relate will determine whether the country comes out with a strong and resilient personality (sva-tantra).

Samāna-vāyu and the four āśrama (stages of existence).

How does samāna-vāyu affect people in various stages of their existence (āśrama)?

  • There are four stages of existence (āśramas);
    • Brahmacaryāśrama (stage of youth),
    • Gṛhasthāśrama (stage of a house-holder),
    • Vāṇaprasthāśrama (stage of retirement),
    • Sannyāsāśrama (stage of renunciation).

  • Brahmacaryāśrama (stage of youth) is a phase of learning and formation of conditioning (dharma). This is the most critical stage of a country and effort that society invests in teaching its youth to work with dedication (śraddhā), to sacrifice (yajña), act (karma-yoga) and align sacrifice (yajña) with Truth (satya) will determine the country’s conditioning (dharma) and consequently, its personality (svatantra).
  • Gṛhasthāśrama (stage of a householder) is that stage where maximum consumption occurs. Here, awareness (prajñā) is the quality that needs to be developed. The householder (gṛhastha) implements everything that was learned in brahmacaryāśrama and begin to understand the value or shortcoming of everything that was taught. They become alert to income, expenses, waste and its disposal. They learn discrimination (viveka) and dispassion (vairāgya). Only then do householders understand and contribute to all aspects of the country’s development (kṣetrajña).
  • Vānaprasthāśrama (stage of retirement) is a stage when the person steps back from activity and reflect on the learnings of his or her gṛhasthāśrama. The key requirement of this stage is having enough resources to face the remainder of life and not be dependent on anyone as well as svādishtāna (ability to view the Self dispassionately (vairāgya).
  • Sannyāsāśrama (stage of renunciation) is the last stage, where a person is expected to focus on the nature of the Soul (ātma-vichāra), absolute freedom (mokṣa) and nature of death. Unfortunately, people often baulk at any suggestion that they should reflect on the nature of death and after-life. However, the result of ignoring this major life-event is having to face anxiety and fear of death when one is least prepared.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

The universality of the Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā and sanātana-dharma.

  • Lastly, for universal application of the principles of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, every creature or vegetation get included with a right to exist in its own state of natural state (dharma). Only then can a country become truly universal (sanātana) and secular.
  • This is not a plea against animal slaughter or meat consumption. The natural food pyramid is universal and inviolable (sanātana-dharma).
  • However, humans sit on top of this pyramid, thus having the ability to control how the rest of the ecosphere functions.
  • So, it becomes the responsibility of humans to ensure that the balance between the various flora and fauna that inhibit Earth is maintained and not interfere with it.
  • For India, this means increasing forest cover, reducing pollution and carbon footprint as well as stabilising usage of resources.
  • This means managing population, for as India increases in prosperity and consumes more resources, it will need to ensure that the per capita utilisation of resource is kept constant and ultimately brought down to a sustainable level such that its resident Souls (ātmā), sentient and insentient exist in peace (śānti).

Conclusion – the principles in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā can be extended to a country, where each citizen contributes to build an orderly, harmonic, strong and resilient dhārmika society which ultimately becomes recognised as its individuality (sva-tantra).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Some contradictions to accepted positions

There is no other world, everything is here, on this Earth. There is no past or future, there’s only the present, and this is situational awareness (sthita-prajñā). Total situational awareness (sthita-prajñā) gives control over all variables that affect a person, thereby ensuring complete free-will.

In India, apāna-vāyu (the force of excretion and waste management) has always been casually managed.

  • Be it personal hygiene, disposal of solid and liquid waste of a town/ city, management of waste at the various ship breaking yards, disposal of effluence from leather tanneries or from washing of petroleum tankers, even plastic, garbage or harvest waste, Indians have low awareness and integrity.
  • The integrity factor is important because, waste management is personal. How we deal with plastic, how we dispose household garbage, what detergents do we use to clean our toilets and clothes, whether we spit on the road or drop empty bags of eats and bottles of drinks in public places… the list is endless. Both self-awareness and integrity are required, and urgently. As consumption increases, disposal of waste becomes a critical requirement which needs to be addressed by every citizen.
  • This lack of integrity and awareness extends to larger entities. All the requisite knowledge, laws and procedures exist but, companies, users and regulators choose to undermine the country’s future for today’s profit.
  • This is not to say that development is bad, but right of development and growth must weave with responsibility to maintaining the pañca-bhūta (five primordial elements). One cannot be sacrificed for the other, there will always be a price tag at the end.
  • We can either pay up-front, instal waste management hardware and software, have clean earth, water and air or pay later with bad health, medical costs and large clean-up costs. India has to address this critical issue quickly or the cost of neglect will be paid for by future generations.
  • Another aspect of India’s waste management narrative is a tendency to compare India with the rest of the world. It’s important for Indians to realise that while the outside world’s consumption and waste issues are important in the larger scheme of environmental sustainability, controlling India’s own waste by individuals, companies and civic authorities is clear and present danger.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 – guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga.

Lessons learned in Chapter 14.

Principles of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā are universal, like sanātana-dharma. It can be applied to any society, region or country also.

The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 14 follows,

The Sanskrit diacritic words are in red italics. 

 श्रीभगवानुवाच –

परं भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि ज्ञानानां ज्ञानमुत्तमम् ।

यज्ज्ञात्वा मुनयः सर्वे परां सिद्धिमितो गताः ॥ १४-१॥

इदं ज्ञानमुपाश्रित्य मम साधर्म्यमागताः ।

सर्गेऽपि नोपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च ॥ १४-२॥

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (1-2) Again I will declare the supreme of all wisdom, the knowledge of the highest degree, which after cognising, all sages have attained supreme perfection after leaving life (paraṃ bhūyaḥ pravakṣyāmi jñānānāṃ jñānamuttamam । yajjñātvā munayaḥ sarve parāṃ siddhimito gatāḥ ॥ 14-1॥). Having taken refuge in this wisdom and having attained one-ness with me, one is not born at creation, nor disturbed at dissolution (idaṃ jñānamupāśritya mama sādharmyamāgatāḥ । sarge’pi nopajāyante pralaye na vyathanti ca ॥ 14-2॥).

मम योनिर्महद् ब्रह्म तस्मिन्गर्भं दधाम्यहम् ।

सम्भवः सर्वभूतानां ततो भवति भारत ॥ १४-३॥

सर्वयोनिषु कौन्तेय मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः ।

तासां ब्रह्म महद्योनिरहं बीजप्रदः पिता ॥ १४-४॥

(3-4) In my womb is the great Brahma in whose womb, I place at his birth creation of all beings thereafter (mama yonirmahad brahma tasmingarbhaṃ dadhāmyaham । sambhavaḥ sarvabhūtānāṃ tato bhavati bhārata ॥ 14-3॥). In all wombs where creation occurs embedded in the womb of great Brahma, I am the seed-giving father (sarvayoniṣu kaunteya mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ । tāsāṃ brahma mahadyonirahaṃ bījapradaḥ pitā ॥ 14-4॥).

सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणाः प्रकृतिसम्भवाः ।

निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् ॥ १४-५॥

तत्र सत्त्वं निर्मलत्वात्प्रकाशकमनामयम् ।

सुखसङ्गेन बध्नाति ज्ञानसङ्गेन चानघ ॥ १४-६॥

(5-6) Satva, rajas, tamas, these attributes which are born out of prakṛti bind within the body, the indestructible embodiment (sattvaṃ rajastama iti guṇāḥ prakṛtisambhavāḥ । nibadhnanti mahābāho dehe dehinamavyayam ॥ 14-5॥). Of these, sattva displays stainlessness, luminosity, health, bias towards happiness and binding to wisdom (tatra sattvaṃ nirmalatvātprakāśakamanāmayam । sukhasaṅgena badhnāti jñānasaṅgena cānagha ॥ 14-6॥).

रजो रागात्मकं विद्धि तृष्णासङ्गसमुद्भवम् ।

तन्निबध्नाति कौन्तेय कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् ॥ १४-७॥

तमस्त्वज्ञानजं विद्धि मोहनं सर्वदेहिनाम् ।

प्रमादालस्यनिद्राभिस्तन्निबध्नाति भारत ॥ १४-८॥

(7-8) Cognise rajas to be the nature of passion, the source of attachment, which binds the embodied to action (rajo rāgātmakaṃ viddhi tṛṣṇāsaṅgasamudbhavam । tannibadhnāti kaunteya karmasaṅgena dehinam ॥ 14-7॥). But cognise tamas to be born out of ignorance, with stronghold of being confused when dealing with others, negligent, lazy and somnolent (tamastvajñānajaṃ viddhi mohanaṃ sarvadehinām । pramādālasyanidrābhistannibadhnāti bhārata ॥ 14-8॥).

सत्त्वं सुखे सञ्जयति रजः कर्मणि भारत ।

ज्ञानमावृत्य तु तमः प्रमादे सञ्जयत्युत ॥ १४-९॥

रजस्तमश्चाभिभूय सत्त्वं भवति भारत ।

रजः सत्त्वं तमश्चैव तमः सत्त्वं रजस्तथा ॥ १४-१०॥

(9-10) Sattva attaches one to happiness, rajas to action by truly shrouding wisdom but tamas attaches one to heedlessness (sattvaṃ sukhe sañjayati rajaḥ karmaṇi bhārata । jñānamāvṛtya tu tamaḥ pramāde sañjayatyuta ॥ 14-9॥). Overpowering rajas and tamas, sattva rises; similarly rajas rises over sattva and tamas; and tamas over rajas and sattva (rajastamaścābhibhūya sattvaṃ bhavati bhārata । rajaḥ sattvaṃ tamaścaiva tamaḥ sattvaṃ rajastathā ॥ 14-10॥).

सर्वद्वारेषु देहेऽस्मिन्प्रकाश उपजायते ।

ज्ञानं यदा तदा विद्याद्विवृद्धं सत्त्वमित्युत ॥ १४-११॥

लोभः प्रवृत्तिरारम्भः कर्मणामशमः स्पृहा ।

रजस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे भरतर्षभ ॥ १४-१२॥

(11-12) When every sensory aperture in the body shines with the light of wisdom then this wisdom is predominantly sattva indeed (sarvadvāreṣu dehe’sminprakāśa upajāyate । jñānaṃ yadā tadā vidyādvivṛddhaṃ sattvamityuta ॥ 14-11॥). When greed, restlessness and longing predominate in any undertaking of action, these arise from rajas (lobhaḥ pravṛttirārambhaḥ karmaṇāmaśamaḥ spṛhā । rajasyetāni jāyante vivṛddhe bharatarṣabha ॥ 14-12॥).

अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च ।

तमस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे कुरुनन्दन ॥ १४-१३॥

यदा सत्त्वे प्रवृद्धे तु प्रलयं याति देहभृत् ।

तदोत्तमविदां लोकानमलान्प्रतिपद्यते ॥ १४-१४॥

(13-14) No clarity, inertness and heedlessness, even delusion, these arise when tamas becomes prominent (aprakāśo’pravṛttiśca pramādo moha eva ca । tamasyetāni jāyante vivṛddhe kurunandana ॥ 14-13॥). In fact, if sattva becomes prominent at time of dissolution, the spotless embodied then attains the highest world (yadā sattve pravṛddhe tu pralayaṃ yāti dehabhṛt । tadottamavidāṃ lokānamalānpratipadyate ॥ 14-14॥).

रजसि प्रलयं गत्वा कर्मसङ्गिषु जायते ।

तथा प्रलीनस्तमसि मूढयोनिषु जायते ॥ १४-१५॥

कर्मणः सुकृतस्याहुः सात्त्विकं निर्मलं फलम् ।

रजसस्तु फलं दुःखमज्ञानं तमसः फलम् ॥ १४-१६॥

(15-16) At dissolution in rajas, the person is born among those attached to action, those dying in tamas are born in the womb of the deluded (rajasi pralayaṃ gatvā karmasaṅgiṣu jāyate । tathā pralīnastamasi mūḍhayoniṣu jāyate ॥ 14-15॥). The outcome of sāttvika action is pure, the fruit of rājasika action is pain and ignorance is the fruit of tāmasika action (karmaṇaḥ sukṛtasyāhuḥ sāttvikaṃ nirmalaṃ phalam । rajasastu phalaṃ duḥkhamajñānaṃ tamasaḥ phalam ॥ 14-16॥).

सत्त्वात्सञ्जायते ज्ञानं रजसो लोभ एव च ।

प्रमादमोहौ तमसो भवतोऽज्ञानमेव च ॥ १४-१७॥

ऊर्ध्वं गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्था मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः ।

जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्था अधो गच्छन्ति तामसाः ॥ १४-१८॥

(17-18) From sattva rises wisdom, from rajas it’s surely greed, heedlessness and delusion rise from tamas and also gives rise to ignorance (sattvātsañjāyate jñānaṃ rajaso lobha eva ca । pramādamohau tamaso bhavato’jñānameva ca ॥ 14-17॥). Upward go those seated in sattva, those of rajas remain in the middle, those abiding in the lowest of attributes which is tamas, go downward (ūrdhvaṃ gacchanti sattvasthā madhye tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ । jaghanyaguṇavṛttisthā adho gacchanti tāmasāḥ ॥ 14-18॥).

नान्यं गुणेभ्यः कर्तारं यदा द्रष्टानुपश्यति ।

गुणेभ्यश्च परं वेत्ति मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति ॥ १४-१९॥

गुणानेतानतीत्य त्रीन्देही देहसमुद्भवान् ।

जन्ममृत्युजरादुःखैर्विमुक्तोऽमृतमश्नुते ॥ १४-२०॥

(19-20) When the seer beholds no agent higher than the attributes, and goes beyond the qualities of the attributes, he attains my state (nānyaṃ guṇebhyaḥ kartāraṃ yadā draṣṭānupaśyati । guṇebhyaśca paraṃ vetti madbhāvaṃ so’dhigacchati ॥ 14-19॥). The embodied that has transcended the three attributes out of which the body is evolved is freed from birth, death, ageing and pain, and attains immortality (guṇānetānatītya trīndehī dehasamudbhavān । janmamṛtyujarāduḥkhairvimukto’mṛtamaśnute ॥ 14-20॥).

 अर्जुन उवाच ।

कैर्लिङ्गैस्त्रीन्गुणानेतानतीतो भवति प्रभो ।

किमाचारः कथं चैतांस्त्रीन्गुणानतिवर्तते ॥ १४-२१॥

Arjuna asked (21) what are the indicators of one who has transcended these three attributes? what is the conduct and how can one go beyond the three attributes (kairliṅgaistrīnguṇānetānatīto bhavati prabho । kimācāraḥ kathaṃ caitāṃstrīnguṇānativartate ॥ 14-21॥).

श्रीभगवानुवाच –

प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च मोहमेव च पाण्डव ।

न द्वेष्टि सम्प्रवृत्तानि न निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति ॥ १४-२२॥

उदासीनवदासीनो गुणैर्यो न विचाल्यते ।

गुणा वर्तन्त इत्येवं योऽवतिष्ठति नेङ्गते ॥ १४-२३॥

(22-23) Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – He neither hates nor longs for light or activity or even delusion. He does not dislike it when it is available or long for it when it is absent (prakāśaṃ ca pravṛttiṃ ca mohameva ca pāṇḍava । na dveṣṭi sampravṛttāni na nivṛttāni kāṅkṣati ॥ 14-22॥). Sitting indifferent among attributes, who operates unmoved by attributes, who is centred within and not shaky (udāsīnavadāsīno guṇairyo na vicālyate । guṇā vartanta ityevaṃ yo’vatiṣṭhati neṅgate ॥ 14-23॥).

समदुःखसुखः स्वस्थः समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ।

तुल्यप्रियाप्रियो धीरस्तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुतिः ॥ १४-२४॥

मानापमानयोस्तुल्यस्तुल्यो मित्रारिपक्षयोः ।

सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी गुणातीतः स उच्यते ॥ १४-२५॥

(24-25) Alike in pain and pleasure, secured in the Self, regarding mud, stone and gold alike, balanced with liked and disliked, steadily balanced Self in censure and praise (samaduḥkhasukhaḥ svasthaḥ samaloṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ । tulyapriyāpriyo dhīrastulyanindātmasaṃstutiḥ ॥ 14-24॥). Balanced in honour and dishonour, balanced with friend and foe, abandoning motivation of starting anything, such a person is said to have transcended attributes (mānāpamānayostulyastulyo mitrāripakṣayoḥ । sarvārambhaparityāgī guṇātītaḥ sa ucyate ॥ 14-25॥).

मां च योऽव्यभिचारेण भक्तियोगेन सेवते ।

स गुणान्समतीत्यैतान्ब्रह्मभूयाय कल्पते ॥ १४-२६॥

ब्रह्मणो हि प्रतिष्ठाहममृतस्याव्ययस्य च ।

शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्यैकान्तिकस्य च ॥ १४-२७॥

(26-27) He that unswervingly practices yoga of dedication and serves me, he crosses beyond the attributes and becomes fit to become Brahman (māṃ ca yo’vyabhicāreṇa bhaktiyogena sevate । sa guṇānsamatītyaitānbrahmabhūyāya kalpate ॥ 14-26॥). Indeed, Brahman is the abode, I exist in immortal, immutable and everlasting natural state of absolute bliss (brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāhamamṛtasyāvyayasya ca । śāśvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikāntikasya ca ॥ 14-27॥). 


2 Replies to “Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 14 (guṇatraya-vibhāga-yoga)”

  1. Rukmani Vijayaraghavan says:

    This is so different from the usual read! Very connected to the world around us today. The examples of individuals, community, processes, nation state, governance and the attitude of individuals and the nation are so so relevant. It does explain the conflicts within and between nations so beautifully..
    As engineered by the individuals within and the government that leads. A fascinating read. WishI had these examples too hand when I used to teach children Gita for their bhagavat Gita chanting contests. I used to make for with various stories from our itihasas to bring home gunas, stitapragnya,karma etc. Including of course good food and junk food as captured in the Gita! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and look forward to hearing other chapters too through your chakshu!

    1. Thank you for your feedback, especially as you have been a Gita teacher. I would be very grateful if you could suggest more improvements to make this critical document more relevant to daily life. Thanks again. Vishwanath, School of Yoga.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *