Sattva (purity), rajas (passion) and tamas (inertia) are the three qualities of nature which tie the soul to the body. Sattva binds by association with happiness and knowledge. Rajas, born of cupidity and attachment, binds by association with actions and their fruits. Tamas, born of ignorance, deludes by developing the qualities of negligence, indolence and sleep. When one meets death during the predominance of sattva, one obtains the stainless heaven of people of noble deeds. When one dies with a predominance of rajas, one takes birth among those attached to action. When one dies during the predominance of tamas, one is born in the wombs of the senseless (such as stupid persons, insects and beasts).
By discrimination, one can become established in sattva, rejecting tamas and rajas. One must do selfless service, have satsang, do swadhyaya, japa, and meditation. Eventually, one must discard sattva by single-minded devotion to God. When the embodied soul rises above the three gunas, it is freed from birth, death, old age and pain, and attains immortality. The person who serves God with unswerving devotion crosses beyond the gunas and becomes one with Him. Such a liberated sage does not hate activities born of sattva, rajas nor tamas when they come, nor long for them when they cease. Having established identity with God, he sits like a witness, knowing that the gunas alone move among gunas. He treats all alike, whether friend or enemy, stone or gold, honour or dishonour, and renounces the sense of doer-ship and acts as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and is eligible to attain God-consciousness.
Chapter 14 teaches the essential character of the three gunas and how to escape their clutches. Through undivided devotion, meditation and selfless service, one can become a Gunatita and transcend the qualities of nature. The Lord also explains the character of those who have experienced the supreme consciousness and the technique to become one with that supreme consciousness.
IMPORTANT VERSES OF CHAPTER 14
5. Purity, passion and inertia - these qualities, O Arjuna, born of Nature, bind fast in the body, the embodied, the indestructible.
6. Of these sattva, which from its stainlessness, is luminous and healthy, binds by attachment to happiness and by attachment to knowledge, O sinless one.
7. Know thou raj'as to be of the nature of passion, the source of thirst (for sensual enjoyment) and attachment; it binds fast, O Arjuna, the embodied one by attachment to action.
8. But know through tamas to be bom of ignorance, deluding all embodied beings; it binds fast, O Arjuna, by heedlessness, indolence and sleep.
9. Sattva attaches to happiness, rajas to action, O Arjuna, while tamas, verily shrouding knowledge, attaches to heedlessness.
Q1. Define the three gunas.
Q2. Why can even sattva be binding?Q3. How can tamas be transformed into sattva?