THE BHAGAVAD GITA - XIV:19-26
by Paramahansa Yogananda
(Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita)
Wake Up — See Reality as It Is
When the seer perceives (in creation) no agent except the three modes, and cognizes That which is higher than the gunas, he enters My Being.
Having transcended the three modes of Nature—the cause of physical embodiment—a man is released from the sufferings of birth, old age, and death; he attains immortality.
—The Bhagavad Gita XIV:19-20
Just as a man understands that he sees a motion picture through the instrumentality of an electric beam of light and a variegated film, so a perfected yogi comprehends that the phenomenal worlds and their activities are merely a dance of shadows and lights—the relativities or expressions of the three gunas, animated by the Supreme Light. This perception of truth enables the yogi to enter into the pure omnipresent Cosmic Light beyond all relativity.
So long as man remains transfixed by the cosmic phenomena, he reacts with painful and pleasurable emotions, solidifying in his consciousness the false notion of the intrinsic validity of the relativities. But when by the practice of yoga man frees himself from the reactions of likes and dislikes by filling his heart with unchanging ecstatic divine joy, he sees clearly—from his viewpoint centered in God—the true workings by Nature of the Lord's cosmic cinematography. (XIV)
Transcending the Gunas
O Lord, what signs distinguish the man who has transcended the three modes? What is his behavior? How does he rise beyond the triple qualities?
The Blessed Lord said:
O Pandava (Arjuna), he who does not abhor the presence of the gunas—illumination, activity, and ignorance—nor deplore their absence;
Remaining like one unconcerned, undisturbed by the three modes—realizing that they alone are operating throughout creation; not oscillating in mind but ever Self-centered;
Unaffected by joy and sorrow, praise and blame—secure in his divine nature; regarding with an equal eye a clod of clay, a stone, and gold; the same in his attitude toward pleasant or unpleasant (men and experiences); firm-minded;
Uninfluenced by respect or insult; treating friend and enemy alike; abandoning all delusions of personal doership—he it is who has transcended the triple qualities!
—The Bhagavad Gita XIV:21-25
The three attributes of Nature:
sattva - good
tamas - evil
rajas - activity
Sattva — the positive attribute, influences toward good, truth, purity, spirituality, wisdom.
Tamas — evil, the negative attribute, influences toward darkness or evil, untruth, inertia, ignorance and delusion.
Rajas — the neutral attribute, is the activating quality: working on sattva to suppress tamas or on tamas to suppress sattva, it creates constant activity and motion. Greed, restlessnes and desire.
In these four stanzas (22-25) Lord Krishna points out the characteristics of a "free soul"—one liberated while still in the body. Jivanmuktas have seen through the stupendous plot of Nature and have disassociated themselves from her world of flux and unsubstantial seemingness.
An ordinary mortal is continuously stirred by the triple qualities while witnessing the motion picture of life. But the calm yogi observes the scenes without the prejudices and agitations of mind that in the common man arise from feelings of love and hate, attraction and repulsion. The yogi, turning within to the imperturbable joy of his soul, is not emotionally involved with a mere picture.
Personal experience of the dualities does not affect inwardly the detached, desireless yogi, whether he receives pleasure or pain; or encounters agreeable or disagreeable persons and experiences; or is allotted acclaim or censure, honor or disgrace; or meets friend or foe; or gains a piece of land or a stone mansion or a mass of gold—all experiences that may occur in the motion picture of daily life. The yogi beholds all mundane scenes with undisturbed tranquility, knowing them to be only lights and shadows: changing vibrations of the Cosmic Beam and the "technicolored" triple cosmic delusive qualities.
All contrasts seem to him to be similar, made of the same light-shadow fabric. It is not that he fails to understand the value of gold as being different from the value of clay, or that he does not discriminate between pleasant and unpleasant persons, or that he is coldly insensitive to life's experiences. But he no longer has a personal interest in the phenomenal world even though he lives in it. He avoids the entanglements of delusion by beholding all creation in its reality: passing shadows of atomic change. (God Talks with Arjuna p.921)
Love is the Answer !
He who serves Me with undeviating devotion transcends the gunas and is qualified to become Brahman.
—The Bhagavad Gita XIV:26
Arjuna had asked (stanza 21):
"How does a man rise beyond the gunas?"
Lord Krishna now answers that question. "By Bhakti Yoga," he says.
"By unswerving devotion to God, by love for Him so complete that one's mind has no room for thought of self."
A reply of sweetness and profound simplicity, offering man divine hope and encouragement. (Chapter XIV)