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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Shrimad Bhagavad Gita > Gita By Acharyas > Gita 14 Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga

Ch 14. Guna-Traya-Vibhaga Yoga

The Yoga of Understanding the Three Modes of Material Nature

An analytical study of this chapter leads to the understanding that this material world develops simply by action and interaction of the three material gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas. Sadhakas who perform bhakti yoga can easily cross over these three gunas, and finally become qualified to attain Bhagavan.

The Glories of Chapter Fourteen (Mahatmya)

Lord Siva said “Oh, Parvati kindly hear from Me the glories of the Fourteenth Chapter of the Shrimad Bhagavad-gita, with the greatest attention.

In Simhaldvip was a king of the name Vikram-Betual. One day, when he was going to the forest for hunting, he took his son and two hunting dogs along with him. When he reached the forest he released one dog to chase a rabbit. When that dog was chasing it, the rabbit looked as if it was flying. Running and running, that rabbit reached a beautiful hermitage, which was very peaceful. The deer were sitting happily under the shade of the trees. And the monkeys were joyfully eating the fruits of those trees. The cubs of the tigers were playing with the baby elephants, and the snakes were crawling over the peacocks. In this forest, the great sage Vatsa lived, who worshipped Lord Krishna by reciting the Fourteenth Chapter of the Shrimad Bhagavad-gita ? Near the ashram of Maharaja Vatsa, one of his disciples was washing his feet while chanting the Fourteenth Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita. The earth at that spot became wet. Just then that rabbit came running and slipped in the mud. Immediately that rabbit attained a heavenly body. An airplane came down, picked him up and took him off to the heavenly planets. After a moment, that dog arrived there in search of the rabbit, and he also slipped in the mud; gave up that dog body and attained a heavenly body and was also taken off to the heavenly planets.

Seeing all of this, the disciple of Maharaja Vatsa started to laugh. King Vikram-Betal, having witnessed those amusing events inquired from that Brahmana, “How is it possible that the rabbit and dog went off to heaven in front of our eyes?” That Brahmana said, “in this forest, a great sage of the name Vatsa, who has completely conquered his senses, is always engaged in chanting the Fourteenth Chapter of the Shrimad Bhagavad-gita. I am his disciple, and I am also by his grace always engaged in chanting the Fourteenth Chapter of the Shrimad Bhagavad-gita. Due to that rabbit and dog slipping in the mud, which had been made wet from the water, which had washed my feet, they both attained the higher planets. Now I will tell you the reason why I was laughing; In Maharastra, there is the town of the name Pratudhak. One Brahmana of the name Keshava had lived there. He was the most cruel of men. His wife’s name was Vilobbana. She was a very loose lady, who always enjoyed the company of other men. For this reason, her husband became very angry and killed her. In her next life she became that dog. And that Brahmana Keshava, due to his sinful activities became that rabbit.”
Lord Siva said, “After hearing the glories of the Fourteenth Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita, King Vikram-Betal also began daily reciting the Fourteenth Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita, when he gave up that body, he went to Vaikuntha where he was able to engage eternally in the service of the lotus-feet of Lord Vishnu.


shri bhagavan uvaca
param bhuyah pravakshyami / jnananam jnanam uttamam
yaj jnatva munayah sarve / param siddhim ito gatah

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shri bhagavan uvaca---the all-opulent Supreme Lord said; pravakshyami--- I shall speak; bhuyah---further; param---the best; jnanam---knowledge; uttamam---transcendental; jnananam---to all other forms of knowledge; jnatva---having understood; yat---which; sarve---all; munayah--- the sages; gatah---have attained; param---supreme; siddhim---liberation; itah---from this (world of bondage to bodily identification).

Shri Bhagavan said: I shall impart to you further supreme jnana which transcends all other knowledge. The sages who have understood and followed these instructions have all attained para mukti from this bondage to the body.


The three gunas of maya are indeed the cause of bondage. This is inferred just by their result. Bhakti is the cause of the symptoms which destroy the three gunas. This is being explained in the Fourteenth Chapter.

The previous chapter (Gita 13.22) stated: karanam gunasa ngo 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. "The cause of the jiva's taking birth in auspicious and inauspicious species is his attachment to the gunas." What are the gunas? How does one associate with them? What is the result of association with the different gunas? What are the symptoms of a person who is influenced by the gunas, and how can he become free from them? Expecting these questions, Shri Bhagavan is making a declaration in this shloka beginning with the words param bhuyah in order to introduce the subjects on which He will later elaborate. The word jnanam means by which it is known, or instruction, and param means the best.


It is clearly described in the Thirteenth Chapter that in saintly association even an ordinary person can become liberated from the bondage of material existence by knowing the tattva of the body, the jiva and Paramatma. The jiva has become bound in this material world only by his association with the gunas of material nature (prakriti). In this chapter, Bhagavan Shri Krishna explains to His bhakta Arjuna what the gunas are in detail, how they function, how they bind the jiva, and how the jiva can attain parama-gati (the supreme destination) by becoming free from these gunas. With this knowledge, many rishis and munis have attained perfection and the supreme destination. Even ordinary people become transcendental to the gunas after acquiring this knowledge and can attain the supreme status.


idam jnanam upashritya / mama sadharmyam agatah
sarge.pi nopajayante / pralaye na vyathanti ca

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upashritya---taking refuge in; idam---this; jnanam---knowledge; agatah---they become; sadharmyam---endowed with a similar nature; mama---to Mine; api---even; sarge---at the time of creation; na upajayante---they do not take birth; ca---and; na vyathanti--- they are undisturbed; pralaye---at the time of devastation.

Taking refuge in this jnana, the sages attain sarupya-dharma and acquire a transcendental nature like My own. Thus, they do not take birth again, even at the time of creation, nor does death disturb them at the time of devastation.


The word sadharmyam means mukti characterised by sarupya-dharma (attaining a transcendental form like that of Shri Bhagavan). Na vyathanti means they do not experience misery.


After acquiring atma-jnana (transcendental knowledge of the self), the sadhaka-jiva acquires qualities similar to that of Bhagavan, that is, many of his qualities become partially equal to the qualities of Bhagavan. Even after attaining mukti and becoming free from the cycle of birth and death, his individual existence continues as an associate of Shri Bhagavan. He remains eternally engaged in prema-mayi seva to the lotus feet of Bhagavan, having become established in his svarupa. Therefore, the bhaktas do not give up their svarupa, which is servitorship, even after mukti. The essence of all Bhagavan Shri Krishna's instructions is that the jivatma does not completely become one with Paramatma by merging with Him. Rather, the jiva's shuddha-svarupa (pure form) continues to exist separately from that of Shri Bhagavan, and in this pure form the jiva always remains engaged in premamay i seva to Him. Great personalities like Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Shrila Shridhara Svami have accepted the meaning of sadharmya as sarupya-mukti only. In the fourth prameya of Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana's commentary in the book called Prameya-ratnavali, he has written that the words samya in the Mundaka Upanishad (3.1.3) and sadharmya in Gita (14.2) should be understood to mean that, even in the liberated state of moksha, there is a difference between the jiva and Ishvara. He explains that the component brahmaiva in the shloka, brahma-vid brahmaiva bhavati means "like brahma." The word eva has been used in the sense of similarity. Therefore, brahmaiva means to acquire qualities like that of Bhagavan, that is, to become free from birth and death. But the jiva can never carry out such functions as the act of creation.

Shri Baladeva Vidyabhushana comments on the present shloka as follows: "When the faithful jiva acquires the above-stated transcendental jnana by the worship of guru, while performing the sadhana of bhakti, he attains qualitative equality with eight of Bhagavan's eternal qualities and becomes free from birth and death. The shrutis state that the jivas retain their individuality even in the stage of moksha. They never merge. In other words, more than one jiva is seen there. Tad vishnoh paramam padam sada pashyanti surayah. "Liberated people in the stage of mukti constantly see the abode of Shri Vishnu." The word samya is also seen in the Mundaka-shruti, yada pashyah pashyate rukma-varnam . . . niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti, and in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.48), tats amyam apuh. "They achieve a position on the same level as Him (in His eternal spiritual abode)."

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Krishna as saying, "Jnana is generally saguna. Nirguna-jnana is called uttama-jnana (topmost knowledge). By taking shelter of this nirguna-jnana, the jiva attains My sadharmya, that is, qualities similar to Mine. Less intelligent persons think that by giving up material qualities, material form and material existence, the jiva himself becomes bereft of all qualities, form and existence and loses his identity. They are not aware that, just as all objects in the material world are distinguished from each other by their unique attributes (vishesha), similarly, the purest unique attributes and qualities are situated in My Vaikuntha dhama, which transcends this material nature (vishuddhavi shesha-dhama). That pure, unique quality (vishuddha-vishesha) makes an eternal arrangement of transcendental form and existence which is called My nirguna-sadharmya (sarupya which is beyond the gunas). By nirguna-jnana, one initially transcends the saguna material world, and attains the state of nirguna-brahma. Transcendental qualities then become manifest. When this occurs, the jiva never takes birth again in the material world."


mama yonir mahad brahma / tasmin garbham dadhamy aham
sambhavah sarva-bhutanam / tato bhavati bharata

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bharata---O Bharata; mama---My; mahat---great; brahma---spirit (in the form of material nature); (is) yonih---a womb; tasmin--- in that (womb); aham---I; dadhami---impregnate; garbham---an embryo; (and) tatah---thereby; sambhavah---the birth; sarvabh utanam---of all living entities; bhavati---comes about.

O Bharata, My prakriti (mahad brahma) is the womb which I impregnate with the jivas who are of the tatastha nature. All beings are born from this mahad brahma alone.


The cause of material bondage is association with the gunas, which is the consequence of ignorance since time immemorial. To explain this, Shri Bhagavan is describing how kshetra and kshetra-jna are born. "Mahad brahma, the great brahma, is My place of impregnation (mama yonir)." That which cannot be divided by time and place and whose limit cannot be ascertained is called mahat (great). Here brahma refers to prakriti because the creation is an expansion of brahma. In this way, the word combination mahad brahma is formed.

In the shrutis, the word brahma is also sometimes used for prakriti. Dadhami means "I place garbha (the seed in the form of the jiva) in that prakriti, thereby impregnating it." Itas tv anyam prakritim viddhi me param jiva-bhutam (Gita 7.5).

This statement mentions the source of the conscious entities, jiva-prakriti, as the marginal potency (tatastha-shakti), and as the life of all beings. The word garbha (conception) describes this. Tatah means, "All jivas (sarva-bhutanam) beginning from Brahma are born as a result of My impregnation. "


In this material world, everything happens by the combination of kshetra and kshetra-jna only, that is, by deha (the body) and dehi (the jivatma).

This combination of prakriti (material nature) and purusha (the jiva) happens by the will of Parameshvara. The scorpion lays eggs in a pile of rice. People say that scorpions are born from rice, but, in fact, rice is not the cause of the scorpions. birth. Scorpions are actually born from eggs. In the same way, the birth of the jiva is not caused by material nature. Bhagavan places the jiva (seed) in prakriti, but people think that the jiva is born from prakriti. Every jiva gets a different type of body according to his past actions. Prakriti simply creates various material bodies under the supervision of Bhagavan. The jivas who identify themselves with their bodies enjoy happiness or undergo misery according to their past karma. It should be clearly understood that Parameshvara is the original cause of the manifestations of the jivas and the universe.

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Krishna as saying, "The original tattva of prakriti (mahad brahma) is the source of the universe. I impregnate that brahma (prakriti) and all beings are born from that prakriti. The material aspect of My para prakriti (transcendental nature) is that brahma (material nature), into which I place the seeds of tatastha, the jivas. All the jivas beginning from Brahma are born in this way alone."


sarva-yonishu kaunteya / murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir / aham bija-pradah pita

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kaunteya---O son of Kunti; mahat brahma---the great material nature; (is) yonih---the womb (mother); tasam---for those; murtayah---bodies; yah---which; sambhavanti---are born; sarvayoni shu---in all species of life; (and) aham---I (am); bija-pradah--- the seed-giving; pita---father.

O Kaunteya, the mahad brahma is the mother from whose womb all species of life are born, and I am the seed-giving father.


"It is not only at the time of creation that prakriti is the mother of all beings and I am the father; prakriti is always the mother and I am always the father. Mahad brahma (prakriti) is the womb, or birth-giving mother, of all varieties of bodies which are born in moving or non-moving species from devatas to grass and creepers, and I am the seed-giver, the father who impregnates."


In this shloka, it is clearly stated that Bhagavan Shri Krishna is the primeval father of all jivas. All the jivas in this material world are born from the mother, prakriti, through the seedgiving father, Bhagavan. The jivas are everywhere, inside the earth and outside, in the water and in the sky, and also in the seven lower and seven upper planetary systems. There are jivas everywhere; in Vaikuntha, in Goloka and also in other abodes. In Vaikuntha and so forth, there are muktaj ivas who are the associates of Bhagavan, and within this universe, there are the baddha-jivas who remain in various situations and states of consciousness such as covered (acchadita), contracted (sankucita), budding (mukulita), bloomed (vikasita) and blossoming (purna-vikasita).


sattvam rajas tama iti / gunah prakriti-sambhavah
nibadhnanti maha-baho / dehe dehinam avyayam

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maha-baho---O mighty-armed Arjuna; gunah---the three binding forces; sattvam---goodness; rajah---passion; (and) tamah--- ignorance; iti---which; prakriti-sambhavah---are born of material nature; nibadhnanti---bind; avyayam---the ageless; dehinam--- embodied soul; dehe---within his body.

O Maha-baho, it is the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas, born of prakriti, which bind the immutable jiva who dwells within the body.


After explaining how all jivas are born from prakriti and purusha, Shri Bhagavan is now explaining what the gunas are and how the jivas become bound by their association. Shri Bhagavan is saying dehe, meaning that the jiva who identifies himself as one with the functions of prakriti is situated in the body and becomes bound by the gunas. In fact the jiva is imperishable, immutable and free from any material contact, but the gunas bind him because of his association with them. This association is caused by his ignorance since time immemorial.


The three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas are born from prakriti and are manifest to perform the three functions of creation, maintenance and annihilation of the universe. Prakriti remains unmanifest when these three gunas are in their state of equilibrium. At that time, creation, sustenance and annihilation do not take place.

prakritir guna-samyam vai / prakriter natmano gunah
sattvam rajas tama iti / sthity-utpatty-anta-hetavah
Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.22.12

Nature exists originally as the equilibrium of the three modes, which pertain only to nature, not to the transcendental spirit soul. These modes are the effective causes of the creation, maintenance and destruction of this universe.

Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.23) also states: sattvam rajas tama iti prakriter gunah. "The jivas who manifest from the tatastha- shakti receive the association of material nature (prakriti) due to becoming averse (vimukha) to Krishna." By constitutional nature, the jivas are beyond maya, but due to the ego of "I" and "mine" caused by association with maya, they have fallen into the bondage of this material existence in bodies generated by prakriti. Lord Kapiladeva clearly instructs His mother Devahuti in this way in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.26.6-7):

evam parabhidhyanena / karttritvam prakriteh puman
karmasu kriyamaneshu / gunair atmani manyate
tad asya samsritir bandhah / para-tantryam ca tat-kritam
bhavaty akartur ishasya / sakshino nirvritatmanah

Because of his forgetfulness, the transcendental jiva accepts the influence of the material energy as his field of activities, and thus actuated, he wrongly applies the activities to himself. Material consciousness is the cause of one's bondage, in which the jiva is forced to accept the conditions placed by the material energy. Although the jiva does not do anything and is transcendental to such activities, he is thus affected by conditional life. In this way, due to the jiva's forgetfulness of the activities of prakriti, he considers himself the performer of the activities (karma) born of the modes of nature. In fact the jiva is only a witness. He is not the performer of any action. He is the para shakti of Ishvara called isha and himself is bliss personified. He is in the clutches of this material existence of birth and death because he acquired the ego of being the doer or performer. He, thus, becomes bound and is controlled by sense objects due to this bondage.

sa esha yarhi prakriter / guneshv abhivishajjate
ahankriya-vimudhatma / kartasmity abhimanyate
tena samsara-padavim / avasho .bhyety anirvritah
prasangikaih karma-doshaih / sad-asan-mishra-yonishu
Shrimad-Bhagavatam 3.27.2-3

Sometimes the jiva becomes excessively absorbed in the modes of nature in the form of happiness, misery, etc. At that time, he becomes bewildered because of his false ego, and he identifies the body with the self, thinking, "I am the doer." The jiva helplessly wanders throughout the higher and lower species of life, such as devatas, humans and animals, because he has the ego of being the doer and because he performs improper actions caused by his association with material nature. Unable to become free from the experience of mundane happiness and misery caused by karma, he continuously receives bodies in the material world.


tatra sattvam nirmalatvat / prakashakam anamayam
sukha-sangena badhnati / jnana-sangena canagha

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anagha---O sinless Arjuna; tatra---of these; nirmalatvat---because of its pure faultless nature; sattvam---the quality of goodness;(is) prakashakam---illuminating; (and) anamayam--- free from vice; badhnati---it binds; sukha-sangena---through attachment to happiness; ca---and; jnana-sangena---through attachment to knowledge.

O Anagha, sinless one, of these three gunas, sattvagu na is auspicious, illuminating and free from vice, due to its purity. It binds the jiva through his attachment to happiness and knowledge.


This shloka beginning with the word tatra explains the characteristics of sattva-guna and how it binds the jiva. Anamayam means calm, or free from agitation. Because the jiva becomes calm, attachment to the happiness of sattvika activities causes him to possess an ego of being materially satisfied. And because he is illuminated, attachment to knowledge in the activities of sattva-guna causes the jiva to possess an ego of being knowledgeable. The happiness and knowledge in these designated states is due to ignorance which forces the jiva to have such conceptions based on the false ego. It is this ego alone which binds the jiva. "However, O Anagha, sinless one, you should not accept this agha (sin), this characteristic of the false ego, by which you think, "I am happy" or "I am knowledgeable. ""


It was described in the previous shloka how the gunas of material nature (prakriti) bind the jiva in the body. The present shloka explains how sattva-guna binds the jiva. Of the three gunas, sattva-guna is relatively pure, illuminating and calm. It therefore binds the jiva to happiness and knowledge. Some consider that mukti can be achieved simply by taking shelter of sattva-guna because it is superior to the other two gunas. But this is not true. In his commentary on this shloka, Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana says that this mundane knowledge, the discrimination between matter and consciousness, comes from sattva-guna, as does the happiness of the satisfied body and mind. Due to attachment to such knowledge and happiness, one becomes engaged in activities which lead to that calm state of existence. However, the jiva has to accept another body to experience the result of these actions and becoming attached to that, he has to again perform action (karma). In this way, the cycle goes on and he can never become free from the cycle of birth and death. An ego in sattva-guna is also sinful.This is the import of the word anagha (sinless) that is used to address Arjuna in this shloka. Therefore, Arjuna (the sadhaka) is advised not to accept a sattvika ego.


rajo ragatmakam viddhi / trishna-sanga-samudbhavam
tan nibadhnati kaunteya / karma-sangena dehinam

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kaunteya---O son of Kunti; viddhi---know that; rajah---the quality of passion; raga-atmakam---(is) characterised by attachment; trishna-sanga-samudbhavam---(and is) born of association with the desire for sense pleasure; tat---it; nibadhnati---binds; dehinam--- the embodied being; karma-sangena---with attachment to fruitive work.

O Kaunteya, know rajo-guna to manifest through attachment to sense objects and the desire to enjoy them. It binds the embodied jiva by attachment to fruitive actions.


Know rajo-guna to be that which gives mundane pleasure. To desire an object that one does not yet have is called trishna, and attachment to objects that have been already attained is called sanga. That rajo-guna, from which both trishna and sanga are born, binds the embodied soul by attachment to action knowingly or unknowingly, drishta (seen) or adrishta (unseen). Attachment to fruitive action is solely due to trishna (desire) and sanga (association).


Since it imbues the baddha-jiva with attachment to sense objects, it is called rajo-guna. The mutual attraction between male and female is the specific quality of rajo-guna. It generates a hankering in embodied beings to enjoy material objects. Such a person wants honour in society or nation, a beautiful wife, good progeny, and a happy family. Such are the characteristics of rajo-guna.

The reason why the whole universe has fallen into the bondage of maya is attachment to sense pleasures through rajo-guna. The influence of rajo-guna is visible everywhere in modern society, but in ancient times sattva-guna predominated.

Even a man in sattva-guna is unable to achieve mukti, what to speak of one covered by rajo-guna.


tamas tv ajnana-jam viddhi / mohanam sarva-dehinam
pramadalasya-nidrabhis / tan nibadhnati bharata

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tu---however; bharata---O scion of Bharata; viddhi---know; tamah---the quality of darkness; (to be) ajnana-jam---born of ignorance; mohanam---it brings about delusion; sarvadehin am---for all embodied beings; tat---it; nibadhnati---binds; pramada-alasya-nidrabhih---through carelessness, laziness and sleep.

However, O Bharata, know that tamo-guna, which is born of ignorance, is the cause of delusion for all jivas. It binds the embodied soul through carelessness, laziness and sleep.


Ajnana-jam means that tamas (darkness) is inferred or perceived only by its result, which is ignorance. Therefore, it is called ajnana-ja, or ajnana-janaka, meaning that it gives rise to ignorance. Mohana means that which causes delusion; pramadah means madness; alasyam means lack of endeavour, and nidra means depression of the mind. These are all symptoms of tamo-guna.


Tamo-guna is the lowest of the three gunas. It is completely opposite to sattva-guna. A person in tamo-guna considers the body and bodily pleasures as the all-in-all. As a result, he loses all discrimination and becomes almost mad. Everyone comes to see that our father and grandfathers have died; we will die and our progeny will also die. That means that death is certain. Yet those in tamo-guna fail to search for the self within. Simply to satisfy their senses, they collect wealth by cheating, duplicity, violence and other similar acts. This is madness. The specific characteristic of tamo-guna is that it makes one mad like this. Symptoms of a person in tamo-guna are that he takes intoxicants, meat, fish, eggs, wine, etc. He remains inactive, lazy, careless and heedless, and he oversleeps. A sadhaka should totally abandon this mode.


sattvam sukhe sanjayati / rajah karmani bharata
jnanam avritya tu tamah / pramade sanjayaty uta

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bharata---O scion of Bharata; sattvam---the quality of goodness; sanjayati---binds one; sukhe---to happiness; rajah---passion; karmani---to fruitive work; tu---but; tamah---darkness; uta--- indeed; avritya---by covering; jnanam---knowledge; sanjayati--- binds one; pramade---to madness.

O Bharata, sattva- guna binds one to happiness and rajo- guna binds one to fruitive work, but tamo- guna covers all knowledge and binds one to madness.


Shri Bhagavan is briefly repeating what He has already said. Sattva-guna binds the jiva by creating attachment to happiness, which is the result of sattva-guna. Rajo-guna binds the jiva by attachment to karma (fruitive activity), and tamogu na engages the jiva in illusion, covering jnana and giving rise to ignorance.


rajas tamash cabhibhuya / sattvam bhavati bharata
rajah sattvam tamash caiva / tamah sattvam rajas tatha

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bharata---O scion of Bharata; eva---certainly; sattvam---goodness; bhavati---becomes manifest; abhibhuya---overwhelming; rajah---passion; ca---and; tamah---darkness; rajah---passion (manifests); (overwhelming) sattvam---goodness; (and) tamah--- darkness; tatha---also;tamah---darkness; (overwhelms) sattvam--- goodness; (and) rajah---passion.

O Bharata, when sattva-guna arises, it overwhelms rajas and tamas. When rajo-guna appears, it subdues sattva and tamas, and when tamo-guna manifests, it overpowers both sattva and rajas.


How do the gunas manifest their influence on their effects such as happiness, as previously mentioned? Expecting this question, Shri Bhagavan says that sattva-guna manifests and overpowers rajo-guna and tamo-guna. Similarly, rajo-guna manifests, overpowering sattva and tamas, and also tamo-guna manifests, overpowering sattva and rajas. All this takes place by adrishta-vashad, which means the influence of the unseen.


sarva-dvareshu dehe.smin / prakasha upajayate
jnanam yada tada vidyad / vivriddham sattvam ity uta

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yada---when; jnanam---knowledge; upajayate---appears; (there is) prakashah---illumination; sarva-dvareshu---in all the gates (knowledge-acquiring senses); asmin---in this; dehe---body; tada---at that time; vidyat---one should understand; iti---that; sattvam---the quality of goodness; vivriddham---is predominating; uta---indeed.

When jnana appears and there is illumination in all the gates of the body's knowledge-acquiring senses, and when happiness becomes manifest, one should know for certain that sattva-guna is predominating.


Previously it was said that, when a mode increases, it predominates over the other two weaker modes. Now, in three consecutive shlokas, the first beginning here with the word sarva, Shri Bhagavan is explaining the symptoms of the predominating mode. When the senses, such as the ears, begin to acquire perfect knowledge of Vedic sound and so forth, one should know that sattva-guna is predominating. The word uta is emphasising that illumination in the form of happiness is generated by the self.


The symptoms by which one can understand which guna is predominating are explained here. It is understood that sattva-guna is predominating when one is in proper knowledge of objects by the means of the senses (such as the ears and nose) and when a feeling of happiness manifests from the soul. Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.13) also states:

yadetarau jayet sattvam / bhasvaram vishadam shivam
tada sukhena yujyeta / dharma-jnanadibhih puman

Sattva-guna is illuminating, pure and peaceful. The jiva becomes qualified to have happiness, virtue and knowledge, etc., when this quality increases by the restraint of rajo-guna and tamo-guna. Furthermore, in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.9) it is said:

purusham sattva-samyuktam anumiyac chamadibhih. "One should recognise that a person who can control his mind and who has other similar qualities is endowed with sattva-guna." "When bhakti to Me is mixed with the material modes, it is called saguna-bhakti."

It is said in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.10):
yada bhajati mam bhaktya / nirapekshah sva-karmabhih
tam sattva-prakritim vidyat / purusham striyam eva va

Any person, male or female, who is situated in sattva-guna becomes indifferent towards prescribed karma and engages in the bhajana of Bhagavan.

Gita (9.27) refers to saguna-bhakti:

yat karoshi yad ashnasi / yaj juhoshi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya / tat kurushva mad-arpanam

O Kaunteya, offer to Me whatever activities you perform, whatever you eat or sacrifice, whatever charity you give, and whatever austerities you practise.


lobhah pravrittir arambhah / karmanam ashamah spriha
rajasy etani jayante / vivriddhe bharatarshabha

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bharata-rishabha---O best of Bharata's line; rajasi---when passion; vivriddhe---is in predominance; etani---all these; jayante---become manifest; pravrittih---activity; lobhah---greed; arambhah---endeavour; karmanam---for fruitive activity; ashamah---restlessness; (and) spriha---desire.

O Bharata-rishabha, when rajo-guna becomes prominent, the symptoms of greed, fervent endeavour and constant hankering for sense pleasure all appear.


Pravritti means various types of enterprises. Karmanam arambhah means endeavours such as the building of a house, and ashamah means being unfulfilled in sense enjoyment.


This shloka lists a number of symptoms which indicate an increase in rajo-guna. Lobha means that even when wealth from different sources increases, one still hankers to collect more. Pravritti means the tendency to always engage in action. Karmanam arambhah means endeavours such as the building of mansions. Ashama means the cycle of resolution and rejection, "I will perform this work and then I will perform that other work." Spriha means the desire to obtain good or bad sense objects as soon as one sees them (a thirst for sense enjoyment).

It is also said in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.14):
yada jayet tamah sattvam / rajah sangam bhida calam
tada duhkhena yujyeta / karmana yashasa shriya

When rajo-guna, which gives rise to attachment and separatism and which has a restless nature, overpowers sattva-guna and tamogu na, a person works hard to achieve fame and wealth but only receives misery.

Moreover, it is seen in Shrimad-Bhagvatam (11.25.9): kamadibhi rajo-yuktam. "One should understand the predominance of rajo-guna by his desire for sense objects, etc."

While describing the guni-bhuta bhakti of a person in rajogu na Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.11) states: yada ashisha ashasya / mam bhajeta sva-karmabhih / tam rajah prakritim vidyat. "When a person prays for sense objects through the worship of Bhagavan, he and his worship are in rajo-guna."


aprakasho.pravrittish ca / pramado moha eva ca
tamasy etani jayante / vivriddhe kuru-nandana

kuru-nandana.O descendant of Kuru Maharaja; tamasi.when darkness; vivriddhe.predominates; (all) etani.these; jayante.are manifest; aprakashah.lack of discrimination; apravrittih.inertia; pramadah.madness; ca.and; eva.certainly; mohah.illusion.

O Kuru-nandana, when tamo-guna predominates,

it gives rise to inertia, madness, illusion and a lack

of discrimination.


Aprakashah means lack of discrimination and to accept what shastra forbids. Apravrittih means lack of endeavour. Pramadah means to believe in the non-existence of objects which are immediately in front of oneself. Moha means to be absorbed in illusory objects.


In this shloka, Shri Bhagavan is explaining the symptoms arising in tamo-guna. Aprakasha means loss of discrimination or lack of knowledge. It is seen that in such a condition there is the tendency to perform activities that are forbidden in shastra. Apravritti means to have no inclination to understand the duties recommended in the shastra. One believes this is not his fate and he remains indifferent towards his duties. Moha means illusory absorption, that is, to become attached to temporary objects, considering them to be eternal. This is also stated in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.15):

yada jayed rajah sattvam / tamo mudham layam jadam

yujyeta shoka-mohabhyam / nidraya himsayashaya


Lamentation, delusion, sleep and the desire to commit violence are seen to dominate the jiva when tamo-guna, which covers discrimination and causes degradation, overpowers rajo-guna and sattva-guna. Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.9) also states: krodhadyais tamasa yutam. .One can infer an excess of tamo-guna by symptoms such as anger.. While describing the symptoms by which a person in tamo-guna worships Bhagavan, Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.11) states: himsam ashasya tamasam. .A person who worships Me with the desire to engage in violence is to be understood as tamasika.


yada sattve pravriddhe tu / pralayam yati deha-bhrit
tadottama-vidam lokan / amalan pratipadyate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.14 <>

yada---when; deha-bhrit---an embodied soul; yati---enters; pralayam---dissolution (death); (while) sattve---goodness; pravriddhe---is predominating; tu---indeed; tada---at that time; pratipadyate---he attains; amalan---the pure; lokan---planets; uttama-vidam---of people who know transcendence.

When one leaves his body under the predominance of sattva-guna, he attains the pure, higher planets, which are the abodes of the great sages, the worshippers of Hiranyagarbha, and which are free from the modes of rajas and tamas.


After death, people in sattva-guna such as those who worship Hiranyagarbha, who are the knowers of transcendence, go to the higher pleasure-giving planets.


One takes another birth according to whatever mode predominates at the time of death. A person attains the pleasure- giving and spotless planets of the worshippers of Hiranyagarbha, etc., if he dies when sattva-guna is predominant. Shrimad-Bhagavatam also states (11.25.22): sattve pralinah svar yanti. "If a person dies when sattva-guna predominates, he attains Svarga-loka."


rajasi pralayam gatva / karma-sangishu jayate
tatha pralinas tamasi / mudha-yonishu jayate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.15 <>

gatva---having entered; pralayam---dissolution (death); rajasi--- when passion (predominates); jayate---one takes birth; karmasa ngishu---amongst fruitive workers; tatha---and; pralinah---one dying; tamasi---when ignorance (predominates); jayate---takes birth; mudha-yonishu---in the womb of a foolish animal.

One who dies when rajo- guna is predominant takes a human birth among fruitive workers, while one who dies under the predominance of tamo- guna takes birth among ignorant animals.


Karma-sangishu means a person who is attached to karma, fruitive activities.


If a person dies when rajo-guna is predominant, he takes birth in a family of those who are attached to fruitive activities. If a person dies when tamo-guna is extremely predominant, he takes birth in an animal species. Some think that once the soul has taken birth in a human species, he does not degrade to a lower species. But from the present shloka it can be understood that, even after receiving a human body, a person receives an animal body after death if he is governed by tamo-guna instead of sattva-guna. He even goes to hell if he engages in activities such as violence. It is not sure when he will again take a human birth after returning from that place. Therefore, it is the duty of every human being to rise gradually from tamo-guna to rajo-guna, and from rajogu na to sattva-guna. And even beyond that, one should become nirguna, free from the gunas, by taking shelter of shuddha-bhakti in the association of shuddha-bhaktas. Only that nirguna sadhaka who takes shelter of nirguna bhakti directly sees Shri Bhagavan. In this way, his life becomes perfect and successful. The specific rule is that a person achieves a destination which corresponds to his consciousness at the time of death: marane ya matih sa gatih. "Whatever one's mind goes towards at the time of death will determine one's next destination and body." Therefore, it is imperative to only remember Bhagavan at the time of death. One can make one's life successful by attaining nirguna bhakti through remembrance of Bhagavan.


karmanah sukritasyahuh / sattvikam nirmalam phalam
rajasas tu phalam duhkham / ajnanam tamasah phalam

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.16 <>

(the wise) ahuh---say; (that) karmanah---for one who acts; sukritasya---piously; (there is) sattvikam---a good; (and) nirmalam---pure; phalam---result; phalam---the result; rajasah--- of passion; (is) duhkham---grief; tu---verily; (and) phalam---the fruit; tamasah---of darkness; (is) ajnanam---ignorance.

It is said by the wise that sattvika karma brings pure and pleasing results, rajasika karma incurs only misery, and the only fruit of tamasika karma is ignorance.


The result of virtuous sattvika karma is sattvika, pure and free from disturbance. Ajnana refers to lack of consciousness, dullness.


Those situated in sattva-guna remain engaged in the welfare of their personal life, society and people in general. Their actions are called punya-karma (pious activities). Those who perform punya-karma remain happy in this material world, and they have more possibility of gaining sadhu-sanga. The karma performed by those in rajo-guna causes misery. Actions performed for momentary sense pleasure are useless. The lives of such people are full of miseries, with no real happiness. The actions of a person predominated by tamo-guna are highly painful to him. After death, he has to take birth as a worm, bird, animal and so forth. To kill animals and eat their flesh is the chief symptom of those in tamo-guna. Those who kill animals do not know that in the future the same animal, in some form or other, will kill them. This is the law of nature. In human society, if a person kills another person, he is given the death penalty. This is the law of the state. But ignorant people do not know that Parameshvara is the original controller of the entire universe. He cannot tolerate even the killing of an ant in His kingdom; therefore, such people must certainly undergo punishment. To engage in the killing of animals just for the sake of satisfying the taste buds is a heinous offense. Among such actions, the killing of a cow is severely punishable. The cow and bull are like our mother and father. Therefore, in the Vedas and Puranas, the killing of cows is described as the most sinful act. The cow with her milk is like a mother, and the bull by his labour in farming is like a father. Thus, they nourish us like parents. Due to ignorance, the present so-called cultured human beings neglect this fact. In this way, they clear the path for their own degradation and for the degradation of society as a whole. Thus, they are heading towards destruction and taking all of society with them. In human society at present, there is a predominance of rajo-guna and tamogu na. This is dangerous for everyone. It is imperative for intelligent people to become situated in sattva-guna and take shelter of bhagavad-bhakti and hari-nama-sankirtana to protect humanity from this great danger. When one remembers Bhagavan in sat-sanga, all one's ignorance is removed, his worldly sectarianism and mundane discrimination are all dispelled, and he sees Parameshvara everywhere.


sattvat sanjayate jnanam / rajaso lobha eva ca
pramada-mohau tamaso / bhavato'jnanam eva ca

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.17 <>

eva---certainly; jnanam---knowledge; sanjayate---is born; sattvat---from goodness; ca---and; lobhah---greed; rajasah---from passion; pramada-mohau---madness and delusion; ca eva---as well as; ajnanam---ignorance; bhavatah---become present; tamasah--- from the quality of darkness.

Jnana is born from sattva- guna, while rajo- guna gives rise to greed. Carelessness, delusion and ignorance are the products of tamo- guna.


urddhvam gacchanti sattva-stha / madhye tishthanti rajasah
jaghanya-guna-vritti-stha / adho gacchanti tamasah

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sattva-sthah---those situated in goodness; gacchanti---go; urddhva---upwards (to the upper planets); rajasah---those in the quality of passion; tishthanti---remain; madhye---in the middle (planets); vritti-sthah---those situated in activities; (that are) jaghanya-guna---abominable; tamasah---who are in the quality of darkness; gacchanti---go; adhah---down (to the lower planets).

Those situated in sattva- guna go to the higher celestial planets. Those in rajo- guna remain within the earthly planets, and those absorbed in the abominable activities of tamogu na descend into the lower hellish planets.


According to this gradation, those in sattva-guna go up to Satya-loka, and those in rajo-guna remain in the middle, Manushya-loka. The word jaghanya means abominable, and its tendencies are gross ignorance, laziness, etc. Those who are thus situated go to hell.


nanyam gunebhyah karttaram / yada drashtanupashyati
gunebhyash ca param vetti / mad-bhavam so'dhigacchati

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yada---when; drashta---the seer (jivatma); anupashyati---sees in pursuance of the Vedic teachings; na---no; anyam---other; karttaram---agent; (exists) gunebhyah---other than the three qualities; ca---and; vetti---understands (the atma to be); param--- transcendental; gunebhyah---to those qualities; sah---he; adhigacchati ---attains; mat-bhavam---My nature.

When the jiva sees no agent of action other than the three gunas, and realises the atma to be transcendental to those modes, he develops shuddha-bhakti to Me and attains to My spiritual nature.


After describing the material world which consists of the gunas, Shri Bhagavan is explaining moksha (pure devotion), which is quite distinct from the gunas, in this shloka beginning with the word nanyam and in the next shloka. "When the jiva does not see any other active agent except for the gunas, which have been modified to become the doer, the effect and the objects, he sees and realises that the gunas alone are the active agents in every situation. He also realises that the atma is superior to the gunas and different from them. Such a seer (the jiva) attains love for Me (mad-bhavam) or sayujya with Me. In other words, he attains to My spiritual nature. At that time, even after he has acquired this knowledge, he only attains Me by performing bhakti." This will become clear from the meaning of the twenty-sixth shloka of this chapter.


All jivas in different species of life from rivers, mountains and ants, up to creepers, trees and human beings are working while helplessly bound by the gunas. In reality, there is no other active agent in all their actions except the three gunas of material nature. Parameshvara is completely beyond material nature and the gunas, although He is their original controller. Those who know this truth also cross over prakriti and the gunas to attain the supreme destination, but no one can understand this merely by his own intelligence and discrimination. Therefore, it is of the utmost necessity to have the association of maha-purushas who are well-versed in transcendental knowledge. No matter how degraded a jiva may be, in the association of great sadhus, he very quickly and easily becomes transcendental to these three gunas.


gunan etan atitya trin / dehi deha-samudbhavan
janma-mrityu-jara-duhkhair / vimukto'mritam ashnute

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atitya---after transcending; etan---these; trin---three; gunan--- qualities; (he) ashnute---attains; amritam---immortality; (and) vimuktah---becomes fully liberated; janma-mrityu-jara- duhkhaih---from the miseries of birth, death and old age; dehasamudbhav an---which produce the body; dehi---the embodied being.

After transcending these three modes which produce the body, the jiva attains moksa, pure devotion, becoming free from birth, death, disease and old age.


He then becomes free from the gunas after attaining the state of seeing material nature as the only active agent. Shri Bhagavan, therefore, speaks this shloka beginning with the word gunan.


A person who has attained the nature of brahma is not affected by the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease. Even bhakti-mishra-jnanis who have attained perfection in jnana give it up to attain para bhakti unto the lotus feet of Bhagavan. Remaining engaged in the bliss of that service, they finally taste the nectar of prema. In contrast, the nirvishesha-jnanis, who simply engage in the cultivation of jnana, achieve nothing. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.4) it is stated: shreyah-sritim bhaktim udasya. "Only the shuddhabhaktas of Shri Bhagavan transcend the gunas of material nature, not anyone else."


arjuna uvaca
kair lingais trin gunan etan / atito bhavati prabho
kim acarah katham caitams / trin gunan ativarttate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.21 <>

arjuna uvaca---Arjuna said; prabho---O master; kaih---by which?; lingaih---symptoms; bhavati---does someone become; atitah--- known as transcendental; etan trin gunan---to these three qualities; kim---what?; (is) acarah---his behaviour; ca---and; katham--- how?; ativarttate---does he transcend; etan---these; trin---three; gunan---qualities.

Arjuna inquired: O Prabhu, what are the symptoms of one who is transcendental to these three gunas? How does he behave? And how does he transcend the modes?


In the Second Chapter, Arjuna received an answer to the question: "What are the symptoms of one who is sthitapraj na?" Now, however, he is questioning further, being eager for more specific knowledge about this subject: 1) "By which symptoms are those who have transcended the three gunas to be known?" 2) "What is their conduct?" and 3) "How can one transcend the three gunas, thereby attaining the state of transcendence?" In the Second Chapter, when Arjuna asked, "What are the symptoms of one who is sthita-prajna?" he did not ask, "How does he transcend the gunas?" But here he is specifically asking this question.


In this shloka, Arjuna has questioned Shri Bhagavan about the symptoms of a person who is beyond the three gunas. What is his conduct and by what means did he attain that stage? It is very important for every human being to ask these questions. These questions are essential for those who are really enthusiastic to follow the teachings of the Gita. Their answers give instructions on how to transcend tamasika, rajasika and sattvika gunas and achieve the state of nirguna. Then, by cultivating bhagavad-bhakti, one can attain the highest goal in the form of bhagavat-prema.


shri bhagavan uvaca
prakashan ca pravrittin ca / moham eva ca pandava
na dveshti sampravrittani / na nivrittani kankshati

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udasina-vad asino / gunair yo na vicalyate
guna vartanta ity evam / yo'vatishthati nengate

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sama-duhkha-sukhah sva-sthah / sama-loshtashma-kancanah
tulya-priyapriyo dhiras / tulya-nindatma-samstutih

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.24 <>

manapamanayos tulyas / tulyo mitrari-pakshayoh
sarvarambha-parityagi / gunatitah sa ucyate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.25 <>

shri bhagavan uvaca---the all-opulent Supreme Lord said; pandava---O son of Pandu; sah---he; yah---who; eva na dveshti--- certainly does not hate; sampravrittani---the appearance; prakasham---of illumination; pravrittim---activity; ca---and; moham---delusion; ca---and; na kankshati---does not hanker; (when) nivrittani---they disappear; asinah---seated; udasina-vat--- as if neutral; yah---who; na vicalyate---is unmoved; gunaih---by the qualities; iti evam---who considers that (in all situations); gunah---the three qualities; vartante---are following their cycles; avatishthati---remains; na ingate---unmoved; sama---equal; duhkha-sukhah---in happiness and distress; sva-sthah---who is situated in his svarupa; sama---who considers equally; loshta-ashmak ancanah---dirt, stone and gold; tulya---who is equal; priyaapriya h---amidst pleasant and unpleasant events; dhirah---intelligent; tulya---equipoised; ninda-atma-samstutih---in hearing praise and defamation of himself; tulyah---equal; manaapam anayoh---in honour and dishonour; tulyah---equal; mitraari- pakshayoh---to parties of friends and enemies; sarva-arambhaparity agi---who renounces all endeavours (except those for bare bodily maintenance); ucyate---is said (to be); guna-atitah---transcendental to the three qualities.

Shri Bhagavan said: O son of Pandu, a person who is gunatita, transcendental to the three modes, is one who does not hate illumination, activity and delusion when they occur, nor long for them when they cease, who is therefore indifferent to, and unmoved by, the gunas such as happiness and misery, knowing that the modes alone are acting, who remains undisturbed and even-minded, who is situated in his svarupa, who considers dirt, stone and gold to be the same, who is situated equally amidst pleasant and unpleasant events, who is intelligent, who remains equipoised both in criticism and glorification and in honour and dishonour, who treats friend and foe equally, and who has renounced all karma except that required to maintain the body.


What symptoms indicate that one is gunatita? In response to this first question, Shri Bhagavan says, "The effect of sattvagu na is that knowledge illuminates all the senses of the body. The effect of rajo-guna is passionate action, and the effect of tamo-guna is delusion. These symptoms indicate the influence of the three gunas. When the gunas perform their natural functions, a person who is gunatita has no animosity towards them, because he understands them to be miserable. Similarly, when the modes are not acting, one who is gunatita does not desire them with a yearning to attain happiness. This shloka (14.22) is related to 14.25. In response to the second question: kim acarah, "How do they behave?" Shri Bhagavan speaks three shlokas beginning with the words udasina-vat. Those who are not disturbed by happiness and misery, which are the effects of the gunas, always remain fixed in their constitutional svarupa. They consider the gunas to be working in their respective functions, and have no relationship with them. After careful deliberation, such wise persons remain silent (mauni). Those who do not endeavour for any bodily sense gratification are called gunatita. A per- son can only be called gunatita when all the symptoms of one who has transcended the modes are seen in his behaviour. But garrulous people who proclaim to have transcended the modes are not called gunatita.


Upon hearing Arjuna's three questions, Shri Bhagavan first explains the symptoms of a person who is gunatita. The function of sattva-guna is to illuminate, of rajo-guna is to engage in passionate action, and of tamo-guna is to bewilder. A jivatma is said to be gunatita when he is not averse to these three gunas while they are engaged in their respective functions, seeing them as a cause of misery. Nor does he hanker for pleasure from them when their functions cease. What is his conduct? In response to this question, Shri Bhagavan says that a person who is beyond the gunas does not become disturbed in times of happiness or trouble, but remains indifferently situated. He is equally disposed to worldly happiness and misery, heat and cold, loss and gain, victory and defeat and, remaining neutral, understands that they have no relationship with the atma. With this conception, he remains busy only in the progressive development of the self (atma), and is not the least concerned about bodily activities. Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "After hearing Arjuna's three questions, Shri Bhagavan said, "Your first question is "What are the symptoms of a person who has transcended the gunas?" The answer is freedom from envy and desire. As long as one is situated in this material world, the baddhaj iva is under the influence of the gunas of material nature: sattva, rajas and tamas. These three gunas are only destroyed when one attains complete mukti. But until, by the will of Bhagavan, one has attained mukti in the form of the destruction of the subtle body, one should know that the process to become nirguna is to give up envy and desire (material hankerings). As long as one has a body, there will certainly be illumination, action and delusion (the functions of sattva, rajo and tamo-guna), but one should not yearn for them, nor should one try to renounce them out of aversion. Those in whom these two symptoms are visible are called nirguna. Those who engage in materialistic activities with effort because of the persistence of some selfish motive, or who practise forced renunciation, considering this material world to be illusory, are not nirguna. "Your second question is "What is the conduct of a person who is gunatita?. His conduct is as follows: He thinks, "The gunas themselves are working within this body." He lets the gunas perform their work, and does not become implicated in them. He remains separate from them, as an indifferent person who is nonetheless conscious. Misery, happiness, a clod of earth, stone, gold, favourable or unfavourable situations, criticism or glorification, all appear as a result of his bodily activities, but he keeps equal vision towards them and treats them equally, being situated in his own self or constitutional position. In his worldly dealings he thinks, "As a conscious entity, I have no relationship with honour and dishonour and the behaviour of enemies and friends." Giving up all feelings of attachment and renunciation, he acquires the designation of gunatita."


man ca yo'vyabhicarena / bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan / brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.26 <>

ca---and; sah---he; yah---who; sevate---serves; mam---Me; avyabhicarena---with one-pointed; bhakti-yogena---devotional connection; samatitya---fully transcends; etan---these; gunan--- three qualities; kalpate---and becomes eligible; brahmabh uyaya---to realise brahma.

One who renders service with aikantika-bhakti to Me, in My Shyamasundara form, can transcend these gunas and become qualified to attain realisation of brahma, My spiritual nature .


"How can one transcend these three gunas?" In response to this third question, Shri Bhagavan is speaking this shloka beginning with the words mam ca. The word ca means "Me alone." "Only those who render service to Me, Shyamasundara, who am Parameshvara, become brahma-bhuyaya or qualified to experience My spiritual nature." This is proven by the use of the adjective ekaya in the statement: bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah. "I am attained only by aikantika-bhakti." (Shrimad- Bhagavatam 11.14.21)

According to Gita (7.14): mam eva ye prapadyante mayam
etam taranti te. "Only those who surrender unto Me, cross over maya." It is also emphasised, by the use of the word eva, that brahma cannot be experienced by any means except with the help of bhakti. The import of the word avyabhicarena (undeviating) is that in bhakti-yoga there should be no mixture of karma, jnana, etc. Even nishkama-karma is to be given up. "Renounce even jnana of Me." In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.19.1), it is said: jnanan ca mayi sannyaset. "One should surrender unto Me both that knowledge and the means by which he achieved it." According to this statement, jnanis renounce their jnana even when they have cultivated jnana to its highest degree, but it is never said that bhakti-yoga has to be given up. There are many types of bhakti, not all of which are avyabhicara. Therefore, just as nishkama-karma-yoga is given up by a jnani, a jnani can become gunatita only when jnana-yoga is given up and avyabhicara (kevala-bhakti) is performed. There is no other means to attain the nirguna state. It is also said in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.26): "A performer of action (kartta) who has taken shelter of Me, is nirguna. In other words, only aikantika bhaktas are free from the modes."

sattvikah karako 'sangi / ragandho rajasah smritah
tamasah smriti-vibhrashto / nirguno mad-apashrayah
Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.25.26

A person in sattva-guna is unattached. One who is in rajo-guna is extremely attached, and a person in the mode of tamas loses his memory and can no longer discriminate. But one who has taken shelter of Me is nirguna.

This shloka (11.25.26) describes the karmi and jnani who are detached as tat-sahacarya-sadhakas (sattvika sadhakas), while those who have taken shelter of Bhagavan are described as nirguna. From this statement, it is understood that Krishna's bhaktas are the only real sadhakas.

After becoming perfect in jnana and renouncing sattvagu na, a jnani becomes gunatita, transcendental to the modes. Shrila Shridhara Svamipada says, "The word ca in this shloka is used to indicate a conclusion." Shri Madhusudana Sarasvati writes, "Only those who serve Me alone, Ishvara Narayana, with avyabhicara-bhakti-yoga, exclusive devotion as described in the Twelfth Chapter, become gunatita."


How do the above-mentioned people who are gunatita cross beyond the three gunas? In response to this third question, Shri Bhagavan says, "My bhaktas easily cross over these gunas and become qualified to experience My svarupa as a result of rendering service to Me in My Shyamasundara form, with avyabhicari or aikantiki bhakti-yoga." Those bhaktas who have taken shelter of Bhagavan become nirguna. This is verified in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.25.26): nirguno madap ashrayah. "Those who take exclusive shelter of Me are nirguna." The word mad-apashrayah means mad-eka-sharano bhaktah. "Only a devotee who takes exclusive shelter of Me is My ashritah (dependent on Me), and is nirguna."

It is also seen in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.88.5):
harir hi nirgunah sakshat / purushah prakriteh parah
sa sarva-drig upadrashta / tam bhajan nirguno bhavet

Certainly Shri Hari Himself is directly nirguna, beyond the gunas of material nature. He is the witness of everyone. Those who perform bhajana to Him also become nirguna.

Here, the word brahma-bhuyaya means to become qualified to realise brahma-tattva (the spiritual nature). Brahma cannot be realised by any practice other than bhakti, and this realisation requires that the person who will experience (the jiva) must be eternally distinct from that which is to be experienced (parabrahma). In other words, the jiva must have a separate existence. The nirvishesha-vadis (monists) do not accept that the jiva and brahma exist separately after mukti. Therefore, it is not possible for them to experience Him. On the contrary, only bhaktas are qualified to realise brahma. One gets the power to realise brahma (Shri Bhagavan) through bhakti alone, by the mercy of Shri Bhagavan. This has been stated very clearly in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.21): bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah. "I can be attained only by bhakti." One cannot attain mukti merely by jnana. Only by the help of bhakti, in some way or another, can one achieve mukti through jnana. This has been stated very clearly in many shlokas in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, such as (1.5.12):

aishkarmyam apy acyuta-bhava-varjitam
na shobhate jnanam alam niranjanam

Knowledge of self-realisation, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Supreme Lord.

Even if that jnana is nishkama (selfless) and nirmala (pure), it is not auspicious if it is bereft of bhagavad-bhava (a service attitude to Bhagavan). In other words, it is useless. What then to speak of kamya-karma (fruitive action), which is always miserable and insignificant. Such jnanis fall down even after reaching the highest stage of jnana: sthanad bhrashtah patanty adhah (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.3). The following shlokas from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam can be referred to in this regard: 10.2.32, 10.20.32, 11.14.21, 10.23.46 and 4.31.12. Some people translate the word brahma-bhuyaya in the present shloka to infer that the jiva becomes one with brahma. But the jiva does not become one with brahma even after he has attained mukti. In the Chandogya Upanishad, a brahmabh uta (realised person) is described as having eight characteristics: atma 'pahata-papna vijaro vimrityur vishoko vijighatso 'pipasuh satya-kamah satya-sankalpah so 'nveshtavyah

These are:
(1) Apahata-papa.He has no relationship with the sinful tendencies of maya, such as avidya.
(2) Vijara.He is free from old age, being eternally youthful.
(3) Vimrityu.There is no possibility of him becoming degraded.
(4) Vishoka.He is free from mundane happiness, misery, etc.
(5) Vijighatsa.He has no desire to enjoy sense objects.
(6) Apipasu.He has no desire other than for bhagavat-seva.
(7) Satya-kama.He is endowed with desires which are favourable for Krishna seva.
(8) Satya-sankalpa.He attains perfection in whatever he desires. According to the statement of Gita (14.17):

 sattvat sanjayate jnanam, jnana comes from sattva-guna, therefore jnanis are sattvika. After attaining perfection in jnana, a jnani gives up his sattvika nature and becomes free from all gunas, that is, he becomes nirguna. But the speciality of the bhaktas is that they are free from the gunas from the beginning of their sadhana. Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.29.34)


martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma
niveditatma vicikirshito me
tadamritatvam pratipadyamano
mayatma-bhuyaya ca kalpate vai

A mortal person attains immortality and becomes most dear to Me at the very moment he fully surrenders to Me, having given up all types of karma (action), and having become nirguna. Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments on the shlokas: jnanam vishuddham paramartham ekam, "The non-dual Absolute Truth being devoid of material contamination gives us liberation. (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 5.12.11), and martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma, "That surrendered mortal having given up all fruitive desires and having offered Me his very life, achieves opulences like My own. (Shrimad-Bhagavatam 11.29.34). He writes: "From the very beginning of the sadhana stage, when one takes shelter of bhagavad-bhakti, Bhagavan begins the treatment of the sharanagata (surrendered) bhaktas. That is, He starts to make them nirguna." The meaning is that a sadhaka while practising bhakti gradually becomes situated in the stages of nishtha, ruci and asakti. Eventually, he attains rati and becomes completely nirguna. At that time, he has no relationship with illusory objects (body, house, etc.). "By the inconceivable power of bhakti, even while he is being instructed in bhakti by Me, the transcendental body, mind and senses of the bhakta are created in a way that is hidden or invisible." In other words, it is unknown to the jiva. Similarly, his illusory body, mind and senses are removed in a hidden way. This shows the glory of bhakti. "At that time, after being situated in his own svarupa in My dhama, that pure jiva becomes qualified to taste the bliss of rendering service to Me."

In many places, Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has confirmed that a bhakta becomes free from the gunas even during the sadhana stage. Although objects such as a leaf, flower, fruit, water and candana appear to be material ingredients in the eyes of the non-devotees, when offered to Bhagavan with devotion by the bhaktas they become nirguna and attain a transcendental nature (aprakrita-bhava). How much more then is this true of the bhaktas when they fully offer themselves? This is also confirmed in Chaitanyacarit amrita, Antya-lila (4.191):

prabhu kahe---vaishnava-deha ---prakrita--- kabhu naya ---aprakrita--- deha bhaktera ---cid-ananda-maya

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said "The body of a bhakta is never material. It is considered to be transcendental, full of spiritual bliss."


brahmano hi pratishthaham / amritasyavyayasya ca
shashvatasya ca dharmasya / sukhasyaikantikasya ca

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 14.27 <>

aham---I (am); hi---certainly; pratishtha---the shelter; brahmanah---for that (same) nirvishesha-brahma; ca---and (the shelter); avyayasya---for everlasting; amritasya---immortality; ca---and; shashvatasya dharmasya---for the eternal dharma; ca--- and; sukhasya---for the happiness of prema; eka-antikasya--- which is achieved through one-pointed (exclusive) devotion to Me.

I alone am the basis of that nirvishesha-brahma and the sole refuge of everlasting immortality, eternal dharma and the transcendental bliss of prema arising from aikantika-bhakti.


One may raise the question: "How can Your bhaktas attain the state of nirguna-brahma, which is possible only by experiencing oneness with brahma?" In response, Shri Bhagavan speaks this shloka beginning with the word brahmano. "I am indeed the basis (parama-pratishtha) of that brahma and am famous as the supreme basis of everything. Since brahma depends upon Me, I am its shelter, or basis. The word pratishtha (basis) has the same meaning as this in all shruti statements such as annamaya. And furthermore, I am also the basis (pratishtha) of immortality (amrita). Is this amrita heavenly nectar? No! It means imperishable moksha: shashvatasya dharmasya. I am also the basis (parama-pratishtha) of bhakti, the supreme eternal dharma (sanatana-dharma) which is eternally existing both in the practice (sadhana) and perfected (siddha) stages, and I am the prema which is attained by aikantika-bhakti. Thus, since everything depends on Me, one can attain the platform of brahma (characterised by merging with brahma) by performing My bhajana performed with a desire to attain kaivalya." Kaivalya here refers to a unique state of spiritual existence devoid of physical and mental activities. While commenting on this shloka, Shrila Shridhara Svami quotes Krishna as saying, "I am the pratishtha (basis) of brahma, which means that I am concentrated brahma. Although the sun is concentrated light, it is known as the shelter of light. In the same way, although I am the form of Krishna (krishna-svarupa), I am the basis (brahmano hi pratishthaham) of nirvishesha-brahma." The Vishnu Purana also proves this point. "That Vishnu is the shelter (ashraya) of all auspiciousness. He is the shelter of citta (consciousness) as well as of the all-pervading atma." While commenting on this shloka, Shrila Shridhara Svami also writes that Vishnu is the parama-pratishtha (supreme shelter, or basis) of parabrahma, the omniscient atma. .As Shri Bhagavan says in Gita, "I am the pratishtha (basis) of brahma.""

In Vishnu-dharma it is said, "Among prakriti, purusha and brahma, only purusha, Vasudeva, is the Lord. This is the conclusion. " The same shastra also states, "Just as Acyuta, paratattva Shri Bhagavan, is parabrahma, He is also Paramatma."

In His pastime of bringing back the sons of the brahmana, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that parabrahma extends Himself as various manifestations (vibhutis) throughout the entire universe. "O Arjuna, that concentrated effulgence should be considered to be My effulgent svarupa. (Hari-vamsha Purana, Vishnu-parva 114.11.12).

In Brahma-samhita (5.40) it is also said, "I perform bhajana to that primeval Lord Govinda. Brahma, who is born from His effulgence, divides the unlimited opulence in unlimited brahmandas (universes)."

Also in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (8.24.38), Bhagavan Matsya told King Satyavrata: "At that time, I will respond to your questions, and by My mercy, My glory, popularly known as parabrahma, will manifest in your heart and you will be able to realise it completely."

Shri Madhusudana Sarasvati's writes in his commentary: "The following doubt may be raised: "How can Your bhaktas, having attained to Your bhava (transcendental nature), become qualified to achieve that state of brahma if You are different from brahma?" Anticipating this doubt, Shri Bhagavan says: brahmano hi pratishthaham (pratishtha implies "I alone am sufficient and complete.)" "Since I am the basis of brahma, if someone realises Me, then his realisation is sufficient and complete, and the realisation of brahma is also included in that.""

According to the Amara-kosha dictionary, the word paryapti means the complete Absolute Reality. Shrila Madhusudhana Sarasvati has composed a shloka to establish that brahma is savishesha:

para-krita-mana-dvandvam param brahman narakritim
saundarya-sara-sarvasvam vande nandatmajam aham

I worship the effulgent form of the essence of all beauty, the son of Nanda Maharaja, the parabrahma who has a human form, and who has put aside the duality of my mind.

The three gunas alone create all the anarthas which are obstacles on the path of perfection. This perfection for the jiva is ananya-bhakti, which he can only achieve when he is free from the three gunas. This is what has been explained in this chapter.

Thus ends the Bhavanuvada of the Sarartha-Varshini Tika, by Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, on the Fourteenth Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita, which gives pleasure to the bhaktas and is accepted by all saintly persons.


Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes Arjuna as saying, "If You say that the attainment of brahma is the ultimate goal of all types of sadhana, then how is it possible for persons who have realised brahma to enjoy Your nirguna-prema?" In response, Shri Bhagavan says, "In My eternal nirguna state, in My svarupa as Bhagavan, I place the conscious seed, the jiva, who is of the tatastha-shakti, in the womb of My inert material energy (jada-shakti). The mahad brahma, the selfeffulgence of My body, is the first manifestation of My spiritual realm, and is My brahma feature. When a baddha-jiva advances to higher and higher stages by cultivation of jnana-yoga, he ultimately attains My feature of brahma. This is the first step of the nirguna stage. Before attaining this step he is bewildered by a nirvishesha (featureless) feeling due to having given up all attraction to mundane variety. This nirvishesha-bhava is removed by becoming situated in that nirguna stage and by taking shelter of shuddhabhakti- yoga. He then realises the stage of cid-vishesha (transcendental variety).

"Rishis, such as Sanaka and Vamadeva, who first deliberated on nirvishesha-brahma by following the path of jnana, later achieved nectar in the form of nirguna-bhakti-rasa by this process. Unfortunately, those who are forced by their lower desire to achieve moksha (salvation) cannot properly situate themselves in brahma-tattva, and therefore they do not attain nirguna-bhakti as their highest stage of attainment. In the form of nirguna-savishesha-tattva (the Supreme Personality of Godhead), I am indeed the shelter (pratishtha) of brahma, which is the supreme destination of the jnanis. Immortality, imperishability, eternality, prema in the form of nitya-dharma (eternal occupation) and the ever-blissful state of vraja-rasa (the mellows of Vraja), are all attainable by taking shelter of My krishna-svarupa, that para-tattva who is nirguna (beyond the material modes) and full of variety (savishesha)."

Mukti-pradata sarvesham vishnur eva na samshayah. "Vishnu alone is the bestower of mukti." Shruti also says: tam eva viditvatimrityum eti. "Merely by knowing Him, one becomes free from the clutches of death. (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.8). Padma Purana also says: vishnor anucaratvam hi moksham ahur manishinah. "The thoughtful sages who have realised the Absolute (those who are tattva-darshi), say that moksha means service to the lotus feet of Bhagavan." Skanda Purana says: kaivalaya-dah param brahma visnur eva sanatanah. "Only Vishnu, who is the supreme brahma, is beyond impersonal oneness and is eternal."

Thus ends the Sarartha-Varshini Prakashika-vritti, by Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, on the Fourteenth Chapter of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita.