|The Three Gunas |
The Blessed Lord said:
1. I shall now expound to you again that knowledge relating to the Supreme Being, the most
exalted of all forms of knowledge, by gaining which all sages passed from this state of
bondage into the highest perfection.
2. Those who have attained unity with My nature through this knowledge are not born
again even at the beginning of a new creative cycle, nor are they subjected to the distress of
3. The Great Nature Prakriti is like a womb to Me. I deposit therein the germ of creation,
the creative impulse, out of which everything comes into being.
4. O son of Kunti! All creatures. whatever might be the womb from which they are born,
have really the Great Nature as the womb - the source of their origin. And I am their
father, the bestower of the seed.
5. The three Gunas as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas born of Prakriti, bind down the immortal
soul to the body in its embodied state.
6. Among these, Sattva is luminous and harmonious due to its essential purity. It binds the
soul, O sinless one, with the feeling 'I am happy, I am full of knowledge.'
7. Know Rajas to be passion-based, and productive of longings for unattained objects and
attachment for those in one's possession. It binds the (actionless) soul, O son of Kunti, by
entangling it in action through the feeling 'I am the doer.'
8. As for the Guna known as Tamas, it is ignorance-born and is productive of delusion in
all beings. It binds the soul, O scion of the Bharata clan! with the obsession of a disposition
characterised by negligence, indolence and sleepiness.
9. Sattva enslaves one to a mood of joy and happiness, and Rajas to one of activity, while
Tamas, which veils up knowledge, fills one with negligence and laziness.
10. Overpowering Rajas and Tamas, Sattva prevails (sometimes); suppressing Sattva and
Tamas, Rajas becomes dominant; and likewise dominating over Sattva and Rajas, Tamas
holds the field.
11. When through all the senses, which are the portals of the body, knowledge, happiness
and similar characteristics manifest, then indeed it should be understood that Sattva is
12. Avarice, extroversion, ceaseless planning and execution of works, restlessness, desire
for enjoyments - these arise when Rajas prevails.
13. When Tamas dominates, there is lack of intelligence, lack of effort, negligence and
14. If one dies when Sattva is prevailing dominant, then one attains to the pure regions of
the knowers of the Highest.
15. Those who die when Rajas dominates are born among those attached to action (men);
and likewise those dying in Tamas are born in the wombs of creatures without reason
16. Virtuous actions promote spirituality and purity (Sattva), while the Rajas-dominated
ones result in pain, and the Tamas dominated ones in ignorance.
17. From Sattva arises knowledge and from Rajas, avarice. Negligence, delusion and also
ignorance are the products of Tamas.
18. Those established in Sattva evolve to higher goals, while those abiding in Rajas remain
in the mid-course. Steeped in evil tendencies, the Tamas-dominated ones degenerate.
19. When the subject (Jiva) recognises the Gunas alone as the agent in all actions, and
himself as transcending the Gunas - then he attains to My state.
20. The embodied spirit (Jiva), having transcended the Gunas from which the body has
sprung, gains deliverance from the miseries of birth, death and old age, and attains to
21. Lord! What are the marks of one who has transcended these three Gunas? How does he
behave? And how does he rise above them?
The Blessed Lord said:
22. O son of Pandu! He who shows no aversion to knowledge, activity, or delusion when
any of them is dominant, nor longs for them when absent;
23. Who remains like an unconcerned witness and is unperturbed by the Guna-born sense
objects; who knows that it is only the Guna-born senses and mind that act and enjoy (and
not his real self); who remains unwavering in all situations;
24. Who is self-poised alike in pleasure and in pain; who makes no difference between
stone, iron, and gold; who is the same towards the loving and the hating; who is unmoved
by praise and blame alike;
25. Who is alike in honour and in humiliation; who views a friend and a foe alike; who has
abandoned all sense of agency - such a person is said to have transcended the Gunas.
26. He who serves Me through the communion of unswerving and exclusive devotion,
transcends the Gunas and attains fitness to become Brahman.
27. Indeed, I (Krishna, the God of love and grace, or the Pratyagatman the true Inner Self),
am the basic support of Brahman - of the incorruptible state of Moksha, of the Eternal Law
and of unending Bliss.