Prakrithi – The Three Gunas
The three Gunas are Sattva,
Tamas born of Prakriti, and these bind down the immortal soul to the body in its embodied state.Among these, Sattva is luminous and harmonious due to its essential purity. It binds the soul with the feeling ‘I am happy, I am full of knowledge.’
Rajas is be passion-based, and productive of longings for unattained
objects and attachment for those in one’s possession. It binds the (actionless)
soul, by entangling it in action through the
feeling ‘I am the doer.’
As for the Guna known as Tamas, it is ignorance-born and is
productive of delusion in all beings. It binds the soul,
with the obsession of a disposition characterized by negligence,
indolence and sleepiness. 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.
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.
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 dominant.
Avarice, extroversion, ceaseless planning and execution of works,
restlessness, desire for enjoyments – these arise when Rajas prevails.
When Tamas dominates, there is lack of intelligence, lack of effort,
negligence and delusion. If one dies when Sattva is prevailing dominant,
then one attains to the pure regions of the knowers of the Highest.
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 (animals). Virtuous actions promote
spirituality and purity (Sattva), while the Rajas-dominated ones result
in pain, and the Tamas dominated ones in ignorance.
From Sattva arises knowledge and from Rajas, avarice. Negligence,
delusion and also ignorance are the products of Tamas. 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. When the subject (Jiva) recognizes
the Gunas alone as the agent in all actions, and himself as transcending
the Gunas‘. 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
He who shows no aversion to knowledge, activity, or delusion when
any of them is dominant, nor longs for them when absent.
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; 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
he who serves the supreme consciousness
through the communion of unswerving and exclusive devotion, transcends
the Gunas and attains fitness to become Brahman.
(Excerpts from The