Bhagavad Gita English 14

गुणत्रयविभाग योग ( Yoga of Division of Three Gunas )

The Main topics discussed in this chapter are:







1 to 4


Analysis of Gunas

5 to 8


Kowledge and the means to transcend Gunas

19 to 20


Gunatita Laxana and sadhanas

21 to 27


Since the main topic here is the transcending of the three gunas and realizing the self (Purusha), this chapter is called Gunatraya vibhaga yoga.



VERSE – 14: 01

I shall explain to you again the supreme knowledge, by knowing

 which many sages have attained salvation.

  1. Introduction to Glory of Brahaman verses…1 to 4


Paramarthananda: “The chapters 13, 14, and 15 emphasize on self-knowldge, the knowledge of our higher nature.  आत्म ज्ञान. In the 13th chapter the higher principle or atma was called Kshetrajna or Drashta (द्रष्टा), the observer. Everything else is called Kshetra or drashya (द्रश्य) or the observed; the observer- observed priniciple, Drik Drishya viveka. (द्रक् द्रश्य विवेक). This is the same as subject-object differentiation.”


In the 13th chapter nehi nehi method (that is not me) of

negation is applied to rule out all anatma principles. The body, mind and intellect, and all the objects of the world are thus ruled out as anatma. Finally what remains is only one thing the experiencer, Kshetrajna, or Atma the subject,  who can never become an object of experience. 


In the 14 th chapter Krsihna deals with same subject matter of self. He uses the term Gunateeta or Nirguna tatwa to describe self or Brahman. Every thing that has guna is an object. This chapter is therefore called gunatraya or guna ateeta vibhaga yoga (गुणत्रय, गुणातीत विभग योग).  

Saguna means with attribute (Gunatraya) and nirguna satva is Gunateeta. That transcends all attributes. I am the

gunateta atma. I am not Gunatraya anatma.



”’अथ चतुर्दशोऽध्यायः”’


परं भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि ज्ञानानां ज्ञानमुत्तमम् ।

यज्ज्ञात्वा मुनयः सर्वे परां सिद्धिमितो गताः ॥१४:१॥

sri-bhagavan uvacha

paraṁ bhūyaḥ pravakṣyāmi jñānānāṁ jñānamuttamam

yajjñātvā munayaḥ sarvē parāṁ siddhimitō gatāḥ |14:1||


परम् भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि ज्ञानानम् ज्ञानम् उत्तमम् ।

यत्  ज्ञात्वा मुनयः सर्वे पराम् सिद्धिम् इतः  गताः ॥ 

परम्-supreme भूयः -again प्रवक्ष्यामि –I will declare ज्ञानानाम् –of all the knowledges ज्ञानम् -knowledge  उत्तमम् –the best यत् -which ज्ञात्वा having known मुनयः –the sages सर्वे –all पराम् –the supreme  सिद्धिम् –to perfection इतः –after this life गताः –have gone


Shri Bhagawan said:

I shall further explain to you the supreme knowledge; the best of all knowledges having known which the sages at the end of their life have attained final perfection.


परम् भूयः प्रवक्ष्यामि –- I shall further explain to you the

supreme knowledge; the best of all knowledges. भूयः ­–I will tell you again. I have already discussed the method of attaining liberation in earlier chapters. Still I shall speak on this subject again. But the method of exposition is quite different.

There are many methods of escaping from the vice like grip of samsara. I am going to tell you the best method.

ज्ञानानाम्  ज्ञानम् `उत्तमम्  – The knowledge which I am going to discuss now, The Lord says, “is the best of all knowledges”. ज्ञानानाम्  is in plural that means there are many knowledges. It refers to the entire body of teaching in Vedas, smruti, puranas and other sacred literature. Krishna uses two qualifications to explain the greatness of self-knowldge. परम् and उत्तमम् . Both are superlative and mean the greatest; the greatest-greatest knowledge. Why does he use the two superlatives? Shankara says the word param refers to greatness of the subject of atma and the word uttamam refers to greatness of result.  (from the stand points of the subject and result (विशय द्रष्टि- फल द्रष्टि). उत्तम विषयात्, उत्तम फलत्वात्.

In Munduka upanishat the self knowldge is called para vidya and in 10th chapter it is called Raja vidya.

ज्ञानानाम् `उत्तमम् – Which is the supreme knowledge? Perfect knowledge is one which gives goal of life, frees the embodied soul from the bondage of prakrati and its three Gunas for ever. Supreme knowledge is one which leads us to unity with God. By knowing the supreme knowledge there remains nothing else to learn.

यत् ज्ञात्वा – by gaining this greatest wisdom

मुनयः सर्वे – all sages. The word muni indicates detachment or one who has accomplished साधन चतुष्टय सम्पत्ति. He needs four qualifications—4 D’s: Discrimination, Dispassion, Discipline and Deliverence.

साधनचतुष्टयम् किम् ?नित्यानित्यवस्तुविवेकः ।

इहामुत्रार्थफलभॊगविरागः शमादि षट्कसम्पत्तिः

मुमुक्षुत्वं चेति ।।


पराम्  सिद्धिम्  Parama siddhi or mokhsa or liberation is the highest accomplishment in life.  That indicates the goal of life of attaining Godhood-Gunatita status. सिद्धि –accomplishment,  uncommon power. सिद्ध –One who has accomplished this is called a siddha. The fallowing are the eight types of siddhi.


अणिमा महिमा चैव गरिमा लघिमा तथा।

प्राप्तिः प्राकाम्यमीशित्वं वशित्वं चाष्ट सिद्धयः॥

Hanuman has been described as possessing the power of siddhi.” अष्ट सिद्धि नव निधि के दाता। अस बर दीन्ह जानकी माता” 


इतः गताः  – Such Munis attain salvation ‘after this life’. Itah (इतः) signifies the present mortal existence. Some dualists take this explanation too literally and think that perfection cannot be achieved in this mortal life. Shankara and others assert that perfection can be gained, here and now, by any deligent seeker. According to them “After this Life” means at the end of our egocentric misconception of life. It signifies that the sages who have severed all connections with the Gunas, desires and attachments have become immortal. This argument is supported by the fact that in the next verse the Lord emphasises that they attain  “My own nature” and do not reincarnate after death or deluge. That means they get liberation right now, in this very life. They become one with the spirit. Such emancipated persons are freed not only from the individual cycles of births and deaths, but are no longer involved in the macrocosmic cycles of this phenomenon (प्रलय). 

VERSE – 14: 02

Those ho take refuse in this knowledge are freed from birth and death

इदं ज्ञानमुपाश्रित्य मम साधर्म्यमागताः ।

सर्गेऽपि नोपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च ॥१४:२॥

idaṁ jñānamupāśritya mama sādharmyamāgatāḥ |

sargē:’pi nōpajāyantē pralayē na vyathanti ca ||14:2||


इदम् ज्ञानमु्  उपाश्रित्य मम साधर्म्यम् आगताः ।

सर्गे  अपि न  उपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च ॥ 


इदम्-this ज्ञानम् -knowledge उपाश्रित्य –having taken recourse to मम –my साधर्म्यम् –being आगताः –have entered into सर्गे –at the time of creation अपि -also न –not उपजायन्ते –are born प्रलये अपि –at the time of dissolution also –न –not व्यथन्ति -disturubed च-as well


Those who have taken refuse to this transcendental knowledge and attained unity with me, are neither born at the time of creation nor afflicted at the time of dissolution.


इदम् ज्ञानम् उपाश्रित्य –By taking recourse to this transcendental knowledge (आत्म  ज्ञान) discussed in chapter 13 and 14. This superior knowledge includes the study of Prakruti and Purusha and the method of transcending the shackles of Prakruti and her Gunas; and stay put identfied with the absolute Brahman. They achieve unity with Brahman. Just as a piece of coal fallen into fire becomes fire itself, the jiva which has attained unity with Ishwara becomes Ishwara. But unlike coal he does not revert to the old state. This is one way travel. That is called साधर्म्यम्.  

There are four benefis by the study and assimilation of this knowledge.

  1. 1. मम साधर्म्यम् आगताः –They attain my own nature or gain unity with Me. Jiva becomes Shiva. Purusha becomes Purushottama. They go beyond and above the triple modes of nature and establish identity with the supreme spirit, the attributeless aspect of God, which is truth, consciouness, and Bliss solidified. They become eternal.

2.अभयत्व –or freedom from fear is another feature of Brahman. Bhagawan is full of security. Man is a slave of people, circumstances and karma. The Jnyani becomes swami. No more slave of karma phala. A master has no  regret of past and no fear of future.  This is called sadharmya. This indicates jivanmukti.

The phrase मम साधर्म्यम् आगताः conveys the same idea described in the previous verse as पराम् सिद्धिम् आगताः (attained highest perfection). Perfection or purnatva is the third benefit. Perfection is a state of awakening to a different level of consciousness. When from our waking state we go to the state of a dreamer or deep sleeper, we become one with that state and totally get ourselves freed from the waker personality. So too, on realizing the self, we end our limited existence of our body, mind and intellect and become one with spiritual nature.  This phrase also suggests Jivana mukti, attainment o Godhood during our life.

3.सर्गे अपि न उपजायन्ते प्रलये अपि  व्यथन्ति  च –not created in next srushti. They do not take birth again at the time of creation or not disturbed at pralaya.  Such liberated ones are are freed not only from the individual cycles of births and deaths, but are also freed from the macrocosmic cycles of deluge and resurrection. Videha mukti freedom from birth. He escapes the cycle of reincarnation. पुनरपि जननम् पुनरपि मरणम्. Only a man who has not experienced this transcendental knowledge rides the cycle of birth and death.


VERSE – 14: 03

All forms of life begins to start by the union of prakruti and purusha


Verse 3 to 5 : Maya creates individual and cosmos

मम योनिर्महद्ब्रह्म तस्मिन्गर्भं दधाम्यहम् ।

संभवः सर्वभूतानां ततो भवति भारत ॥१४:३॥

mama yōnirmahadbrahma tasmingarbhaṁ dadhāmyaham |

saṁbhavaḥ sarvabhūtānāṁ tatō bhavati bhārata ||14:3||


मम योनिः महत् ब्रह्म तस्मिन् गर्भम्  दधामि अहम् ।

संभवः सर्वभूतानाम् ततः भवति भारत ॥ 


मम -my योनिः-womb(wife) महत् ब्रम्ह –total material substance, primordial nature, Great Brahma , universal mother (Mula prakruti) तस्मिन् –in that womb गर्भम् –the seed of all life दधामि –place अहम् -me संभवः –the birth सर्वभूतानाम् –of all beings ततः –from there –the union of matter and spirit भवति –comes to be भारत –O descendent of Bharata, Arjuna



The total material substance, prakṛiti, is the womb. I

impregnate it with the seed of all life. The creation of all beings follows from that union of matter and spirit.


Creation of  समष्टि  Creation of  व्यष्टि . Krishna is reiterating what he said in 13th chapter quoted below:  He explains how the combination of Kshetra and Kshetrajnya became the cause (कारण) of creation and the the cosmos became the effect (कार्य)

यावत्संजायते किंचित्सत्त्वं स्थावरजङ्गमम् ।

क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञसंयोगात्तद्विद्धि भरतर्षभ ॥१३:२७


O Best of Bharatas (Arjuna), whatever animate or inanimate is borne, understand it to be from the union of kshetra (nature) and Ksherjna (spirit).


मम योनिः–My womb is the primordial prakriti or  mahat brahma. मम  or my refers to Krishna, the pure consciousness. He is trying to explain “one womb” from which the entire universe has evolved. It is my womb, from which tens and thousands of life is given birth every second. It refers to the total vasanas or the causal body of the world.

महत् ब्रम्ह – मूल प्रकृति  primordial matter.  It is the universal creative consciousness of the spirit,   It is the first cause of creation. It is the Father-Mother of all phenomenal life.  It is also called as अव्यक्त or unmanifest  or प्रधान primary cause.

तस्मिन्  गर्भम्  दधामि अहम् – into it I deposit the seed of germination of the total creation. The primordial matter is impregnated with the reflected intelligence of the spirit. Thus vitalized by life, the inert primordeal prakriti becomes dynamised, grows and manifests itself as the spectacular cosmos and the play of maya. In its transcendental aspect, the spirit is unified or uncreative. Reflecting into the vibratory matrix of cosmic nature, the spirit then starts the work of creation. I transfer the life priniciple, the power to reproduce the child. Garbha adaanam is blessing the maya with chidabhasa or consciousness. I activate Maya, I enliven maya, I impregnate maya with the power to evolve itself into universe.

संभवः सर्वभूतानां ततो भवति भारत –The creation of all beings follows from the union of matter (क्षेत्र) and spirit (क्षेत्रज्ञ). Sambhava means emergence.

The absolute spirit or consciousness is non-vibratory, formlessbliss. No creation of change is possible by it. He dynamises his own vibratory aspect of prakruti or maya. By this a host of activities are set in. The prakruti begins to unwind. The entities of moha, ahankara, pancha- tanmatra, pancha- mahabuta evolve. The material energy creates multitude forms of life. The total aspect of creation is called vyashti or macrocosm and individual aspect is called samashti or microcosm. It should not be misunderstood that creation started at a particular time and there was no cosmos earlier to that. Creation is has no beginning (अनादि).


VERSE – 14: 04

The material nature is the womb and Im the seed giving father for all species and forms

सर्वयोनिषु कौन्तेय मूर्तयः संभवन्ति याः ।

तासां ब्रह्म महद्योनिरहं बीजप्रदः पिता ॥१४:४॥

sarvayōniṣu kauntēya mūrtayaḥ saṁbhavanti yāḥ |

tāsāṁ brahma mahadyōnirahaṁ bījapradaḥ pitā ||14:4||


सर्वयोनिषु कौन्तेय मूर्तयः संभवन्ति याः ।

तासाम् ब्रह्म महत् योनिः अहम् बीजप्रदः पिता ॥ 


सर्वयोनिषु –in wombs of species of various kinds कौन्तेय –O son of Kunti मूर्तयः –forms, embodied beings, sharira, beings संभवन्ति –are produced याः –which तासाम् –their महत् ब्रह्म –the great brahma Purusha  योनिः –womb or the conceiving mother principle, universal womb अहम् –me बीजप्रदः –the seed giving पिता -father


O son of Kunti, for all species of life that are produced, the material nature is the womb, and I am the seed-giving Father.

In verses 3 and 4 Krishna summerises the process of creation which was described in 13th chapter as 


प्रकृतिं पुरुषं चैव विद्ध्यनादी उभावपि।विकारांश्च गुणांश्चैव विद्धि प्रकृतिसंभवान् ॥१३:२०॥ Know that both purusha and prakruti are beginingless; and know also that all modifications and qualities (gunas) are born of prakruti


Before creation there were only two primordeal principles purusha and prakruti. Both are anadi.  They are the cause of creation. They themselves are not created.  Chetana or conscious principle is nirguna (without attributes), Nirvikara (without modification), has independent existence and is the absolute truth. Prakruti or matter on the other hand is saguna (with attributes), savikara (with modification), dependent and mithya.  Both of them are inseperable like Parvati-parameshwara or Laxmi-Narayana. The world is ardhanarishwara.

सर्वयोनिषु  मूर्तयः संभवन्ति याः –The variety of forms which take birth in the wombs of all species. Any one couple of species can give birth to its own species but the universal mother gives birth to multiple species. Every moment tens and thousands of different species take birth in this universe; animate, inanimate, angelic, demonic, human, animal, vegetable, or mineral.

तासाम् महत् ब्रह्म योनिः –The great Brahma or primordeal prakriti  (matter) is the womb; and I am the seed giving father. In other words, spirit is the Father and the matter is his consort and by their union arises the creative  potential in the cosmos. From the mahat yoni or the primordeal prakruti evolved plurality of species. The inert matter becomes energised and brings forth development and evolution. This idea is poetic and should not literally understood that there is a sexual union of consciouness and matter.

अहम् बीजप्रदः पिताI am the seed giving father. The consciousness kackstarts the material inert  body into creative mode.


VERSE – 14: 05

The material gunas bind the immutable soul to this world.

  1. Analysis of gunas :5 to 18

सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणाः प्रकृतिसंभवाः ।

निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् ॥१४:५॥

sattvaṁ rajastama iti guṇāḥ prakr̥tisaṁbhavāḥ |

nibadhnanti mahābāhō dēhē dēhinamavyayam ||14:5||


सत्त्वम् रजः तमः इति गुणाः प्रकृतिसंभवाः ।

निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनम् अव्ययम् ॥ 

सत्वम् –the quality of sattva रजः –the quality of rajas तमः –the quality of tamas इति – these गुणाः –qualities प्रकृतिसंभवाः –born of nature निबध्नन्ति –tie down महाबाहो –O mighty armed Arjuna देहे –to the body देहिनम् –the embodied one, jiva अव्ययम् –indestructible


O, mighty armed (Arjuna)! The three gunas, (literally cords or ropes) or modes of the Prakruti are material in nature. They fetter the eternal individual soul to the body.


The main theme of 14th chapter is Gunas. This word was introduced in chapter 8 stating that the attachment to guna is responsible for taking birth in a good or evil womb. Continuing further the Lord explains the gunas now in verses 5 to 8.


सत्वम् रजः तमः इति गुणाः प्रकृतिसंभवाः –Sattva purity, rajas passion, and and tamas inertia  are the three modes or gunas born of prakriti.  They are the evolutes of prakriti.


निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनम् अव्ययम् –They bind the immutable soul (जीवात्मा) to the body. The embodied soul although indestructible and infinite, due to its identification and attachment to the body feels the changes and experiences in the body as its own changes. It is the delusion caused by the play of these three gunas.  As a result the perfect soul appears as the distorted ego under the influence of the three gunas of the cosmic prakriti.

‘Guna’ lierally means a strand of a cord or rope, which binds a man to this material nature. Thus the prakriti holds all embodied beings in bondage. What is liberation? It is nothing but release from the bondage of three gunas. Liberation that I am Brahman is enlightenment (साक्षात्कार).

Some examples are given which explain how the the perfect soul gets enchanted and entraped to the material world.

  1. A house fly which sits on a cut jack fruit attracted by the smell nibbles at it. It cannot fly back because its legs bcome sticky due to the latex produced by the jackfruit.

2A rat enters the bone attracted by the tasty bait. As it enters, the door of the bone closes and the rat is entrapped.

  1. . Swami Mukundanada writes: Consider the example of three-color printing. If any one of the colors is released in excess by the machine on the paper, then the picture acquires a hue of that color. simiularly,  prakṛiti has the ink of the three colors. Based upon one’s internal thoughts, the external circumstances, past sanskārs, and other factors, one or the other of these modes becomes dominant for that person. And the mode that predominates creates its corresponding shade upon that person’s personality. Hence, the soul is swayed by the influence of these dominating modes. Shree Krishna now describes the impact of these modes upon the living being.


VERSE – 14: 06

The Pure Sattva binds the soul to the world by attachment

 to happiness and knowledge


Verse 6: Effects of Domination of Sattva Guna


तत्र सत्त्वं निर्मलत्वात्प्रकाशकमनामयम् ।

सुखसङ्गेन बध्नाति ज्ञानसङ्गेन चानघ ॥१४:६॥

tatra sattvaṁ nirmalatvātprakāśakamanāmayam |

sukhasaṅgēna badhnāti jñānasaṅgēna cānagha ||14:6||


तत्र सत्त्वम् निर्मलत्वात् प्रकाशकम  अनामयम् ।

सुखसङ्गेन बध्नाति ज्ञानसङ्गेन च अनघ ॥ 

तत्र –of these (three qualities) सत्त्वम् –the quality of sattva निर्मलत्वात् –from its stainless nature प्रकाशकम् –luminous nature, (unpolluted by tamoguna) अनामयम् –flawless (unpolluted by rajoguna free from restlessness) सुखसङ्गेन –by attachment to happiness बध्नाति binds ज्ञानसङ्गेन –by attachment to knowledge च –and अनघ –O sinelless one (Arjuna)


O sinless one! (Arjuna)! Of these three gunas, sattva being purer than others gives enlightenment and health. Nevertheless, it binds soul through attachment to happiness and knowledge.

Krishna analyses the gunas as below in five topics


  1. लक्षण or definition. This is considered in the first line of verses 6,7 and 8
  2. बन्धन प्रकार mode or method of bondage. How each guna binds a person in its own unique way. Second line of verses 6, 7, and 8 respectively for sattva, rajas and tamas.
  3. विव्रुद्धत्व Predominance of a guna. Verses 10 to 13 indication or clue to find out which guna is predominant in a person.
  4. गतिः The type of travel taken by jiva after death Verse 14, 15, and 18
  5. फलम् Consequence of domination of each guna in this life Verse 16 and 17


तत्र सत्त्वम् निर्मलत्वात् प्रकाशकम् अनामयम् – In this verse the Lord explains the action of Sattva. Among the three gunas,  sattva being pure, gives enlightenment and health. Satva being absolutely pure in character; untainted from any form of evil, lends illumination to the mind and senses. The mind being free from Rajas is naturally free of agitation, is at rest, and capable of clear understaning and has clarity in all its transactions. It can take right decisions. Being free from Tamas it removes sorrow, distraction, depravities, evil propensities and vices. It brings peace. The man becomes absorbed in the thought of supreme spirit, truth and consciousness. Sattva, by virtue of its purity also causes and healthiness (अनामयम्) in thought and action. प्रकाशकम् means brightness. A boy is called bright when he has satvic predominance. The first line of the verse shows the lakshana or triats of satva and second gives the nature of bondage.

सुखसङ्गेन बध्नाति –The chord of sattva binds a man to the

material world by attachment to happiness. Although a brilliant fetter, sattva is still a bondage; a noble bondage. A gold wire can tie a man to a post just as securely as a binding wire.  Like tamas and rajas sattva also binds a man to this material world. What is the bondage caused by sattva? The quality of sattva is untainted by delusion.

But when a person has related happiness and wisdom to his own physical body and brain, his soul has identified itself with the human ego. The thought of “I am happy”; “I am wise” flows from satvik ahankara or  ego. Good actions and virtues too can keep a man on the incarnation wheel unless he gets rid of the ego. The mind of sattvik man of knowledge is jnyanedriya pradhana and  a man rajas is karmendriya pradhana. 

ज्ञानसङ्गेन बध्नाति  – Also binds an individual by attachment to knowledge. Here knowledge is not supreme knowledge but material knowledge like medicine, economics, rocket science etc.,

A true yogi understands that all good actions and qualities flow from the soul and not from the ego. So he never has a sense of doer or enjoyer and performs all actions to please God.


VERSE – 14: 07

Rajo guna strongly  binds the soul to attachment to fruits of work

Verse 7: Effects of Domination of Rajo Guna


रजो रागात्मकं विद्धि तृष्णासङ्गसमुद्भवम् ।

तन्निबध्नाति कौन्तेय कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् ॥१४:७॥

rajō rāgātmakaṁ viddhi tr̥ṣṇāsaṅgasamudbhavam |

tannibadhnāti kauntēya karmasaṅgēna dēhinam ||14:7||


रजः रागात्मकम् विद्धि तृष्णासङ्ग समुद्भवम्

तत् निबध्नाति कौन्तेय कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् ॥१४:७॥

रजः –the quality of rajas रागात्मकम् –of the nature of passion, relationship  विद्धि –know तृष्णा-desire, hankering सङ्ग-association  समुद्भवम् –arises from तत् -that निबध्नाति –binds कौन्तेय –O son of Kunti कर्म-सङ्गेन –through attachment to action and its fruit देहिनम् –this soul (the embodied one)


O Son of Kunti (Arjuna)! Understand that the activating rajas is of the nature of passion born of desire and attachment; it strongly binds the embodied soul by attachment to fruits of work.


रजः रागात्मकं विद्धि –Know that rajas is the nature of passion or attachment. It is characterized by intense craving for sense gratification.

तृष्णासङ्गसमुद्भवम् – It is the product of ‘thirst’ and attachment. Thirst is the word used in Sanskrit for morbid craving. Desire (राग) is the insatiable propensity to possess every material object which gives satisfaction. After one desire is fulfilled many more crop up. The man never stops to acquire all these. Thirst for material object never cease; it becomes unquenchable. There is a subtle difference between desire and thirst. Desire is propensity to get more of what you already have. Thirst (तृष्णा)  is the disre to get what you are lacking.

Which came first,  desire and attachment or rajoguna?

This verse says, rajas is the offspring of तृष्णा and सङ्ग. In oher words, desire and attachment is the cause कारण and rajoguna is the product or effect.

In verse 3:13, however  he says desire and rage are born out of Rajas, that means rajoguna is the cause and desire is the effect.


काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः

महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणां ॥३ -३७॥


It is desire; it is anger begotten by the principle of Rajo guna that is the impelling force to commit sin. It is insatiable and grossly wicked. Know this to be the foulest enemy on earth.


लोभः प्रवृत्तिरारम्भः कर्मणामशमः स्पृहा।

रजस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे भरतर्षभ ॥१४:१२॥

When Rajas is predominant greed, self-centred activity, restlessness, and thirst for enjoyment arise. That means rajas is the casue and desire is effect.


Then what are we to understand? Both are possible.

Two meanings are possible for the phrase तृष्णासङ्गसमुद्भवम्. It can be interpreted that deisre is borne out of तृष्णा and  सङ्ग (desire and attachment). It can also be said that

Rajoguna is  तृष्णासङ्गाभ्याम् समुद्भवति.- rajoguna is the effect of desire and attachment. It is like a puzzle of seed and tree. Which comes first? Both are possible.


कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् निबध्नाति –It binds the embodied soul (jeeva) by action and its fruit. Man can obtain deliverance by performing action. But a rajasik man does actions with selfish motive to get name and fame and to enjoy its fruit. Such an action becomes binding to wordly and selfish interest. He becomes a workaholic.

It binds the embodied soul to this material world. The jiva identifies with all the experiences of the body and mind and thinks that he is the doer and enjoyer. This is called karma sanga.

The mode of passion creates strong Karmic bonds and takes the individual further away from liberation. Such persons even though they know right and wrong actions based on religious principles, they are unable to follow them because of strong impulses of lust. Rajoguna obscures real knowledge of Self and causes one to experience both the pain and pleasure of this worldly life. Such persons are very much attached to wealth, power, prestige, sensual pleasure, and are very selfish and greedy. Majority of the people in the world are rajasik by inclination. Impelled by passion they remain absorbed in wordly and selfish interest.


VERSE – 14: 08

Verse 8: Effects of Domination of Tamo Guna


तमस्त्वज्ञानजं विद्धि मोहनं सर्वदेहिनाम् ।

प्रमादालस्यनिद्राभिस्तन्निबध्नाति भारत ॥१४:८॥


tamastvajñānajaṁ viddhi mōhanaṁ sarvadēhinām |

pramādālasyanidrābhistannibadhnāti bhārata ||14:8||


तमः –the quality of tamas तु -but अज्ञानजम् –born of ignorance विद्धि –know मोहनम् -deluding सर्वदेहिनाम् –of all those who look upon the body as their own self प्रमाद- by heedlessness आलस्य-indolence निद्राभिः –and slumber तत् -that निबध्नाति -binds भारत –O descendent of Bharata


Bharata (Arjuna)! Know that Tamas arises from ignorance, deluding all embodied beings. It binds them by inadvertence, laziness and excessive sleep.


Tamoguna laxana and tamoguna bandhana prakara. It suppresses satvaguna. He does not question what is purpose of life. Time, and respect are never taken seriously because of lack of clarity of thinking.

तमः तु अज्ञानजम् विद्धि –Know that Tamas is borne out of ignorance. Absence of self-knowledge is ignorance. It deprives a man from descriminating right and worng. It causes wrong priority of goal of life. Ignorance is the cause and tamas is the product.

There are two seemingly contradicting statements of the Lord. In verses 5 as well as  17 of this very chapter the Lord attributes different sources as origin of tamas:


सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणाः प्रकृतिसंभवाः।  ॥१४:५॥

O, mighty armed (Arjuna)! The three gunas are borne of prakriti  and fetter the eternal individual soul to the body.


सत्त्वात्संजायते ज्ञानं रजसो लोभ एव च ।

प्रमादमोहौ तमसो भवतोऽज्ञानमेव च ॥१४:१७॥

Self knowledge arises from the mode of sattva, greed from the mode of rajas; and heedlessness, delusion and ingnorance are born from tamas.

Now what are we to understand? Tamas is the root or cause  of ignorance or ignorance is the product or karya of Tamoguna? Or else does tamas take birth from Prakruti? Tamas is an evolute of the illusory power of maya or prakruti,  preventing devine realization. It gives a seeming reality to ego and matter as separate from spirit. This false reality is called ignorance. Ignorance grows from tamoguna and tamoguna in turn arises from ignorance. Hence there is no contradiction .

मोहनम् सर्वदेहिनाम् –The tamasic man is full of wrong ideas. His judgement is impaired; mind is stupefied and unable to take decisions. No goal, no priorty no clarity.

प्रमाद  आलस्य  निद्राभिः -It binds him by inadvertence, lazinesss and sleep. प्रमाद  is inadvertence, heedlessness. He is indifferent to perform his duties and postpones or if possible avoids the duties. आलस्य  is indolence. He is too lazy to do his work and take up a new responsibility. He has no interest or commitment to the work  निद्राभिः –He indulges in oversleeping, always in a state of drowsiness and never alert. Like an animal he is chiefly conscious of the body.

तत्  निबध्नाति  भारत  -These negative qualities  tie him down to mundane existence consisting of birth and death.

In the mode of ignorance, one is unable to recognize the real goal of life, is unable to distinguish between right and wrong action, and remains attached to sinful and forbidden activities. Such a person is lazy, violent, lacks intellect, and has no interest in spiritual knowledge.

A man of activity (Rajasik) is better off because he identifies himself with some activity. A man of goodness (Satrtvik) is in a still better position because he is in touch with soul perceptions.

The impact of the triple qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas can be illustrated by a storey. There was a merchant carrying a lot of money who had to pass through a forest. In the darkness, three robbers surrounded him. One said,  ”we shall plunder money, and slain him”. The other said, “We shall certainly plunder his belongings, tie him to a post and we proceed”. The third robberer said, “No, we shall plunder his belongings, and we shall let him go without harming him”.

The import of the story: The merchant stands for jiva who carries a lot of money called knowledge and is engaged in his  day to day wordly activities. He cames across three thieves called sattva, rajas and tamas. Tamo guna not only robs the knowledge but is also is fatal to life. Rajo guna hijacks knowledge but binds the jiva to world. Sattva guna also usurps the knowledge but will not harm the man. It also binds the man to the world.


VERSE – 14: 09

Sattva binds the sould by happiness of knowledge, rajas by addiction to

 activity and tams by shrouding the knowledge

सत्त्वं सुखे संजयति रजः कर्मणि भारत ।

ज्ञानमावृत्य तु तमः प्रमादे संजयत्युत ॥१४:९॥

sattvaṁ sukhē saṁjayati rajaḥ karmaṇi bhārata |

jñānamāvr̥tya tu tamaḥ pramādē saṁjayatyuta ||14:9||


सत्त्वम् सुखे संजयति रजः कर्मणि भारत ।

ज्ञानम् आवृत्य तु तमः प्रमादे संजयति उत ॥  

सत्त्वम् –the quality of sattva सुखे –to happiness संजयति -attaches रजः –the quality of rajas कर्मणि –to action भारत –O descendent of Bharata ज्ञानम् -knowldege आवृत्य –shrouding judgement  तु- but तमः –the quality of tamas प्रमादे –to inadvertence, heedlessness संजयति –binds उत -but 


O Bharata (Arjuna)! Sattva attaches one to happiness of learning of self- knowledge , rajas attaches to action; and tamas attaches to ignorance by shrouding the self-knowledge.


In this verse Krishna summarizes the Bandhana Prakara or the binding nature of the three Gunas.


सत्त्वम् सुखे  संजयति  -sattva attaches, causes addiction to happiness,  silence and tranquilty, the Guru, the shastras and even to God. Sattva avoids worldy pleasure, avoids heedlessness, laziness and excessive sleep. It binds one to happiness. सुख  mentined here is not sensual pleasures but spiritual happiness. A person whose nature and actions is good is attached to it’s virtue and its rewards of inner contentment and happiness.


Sant Tukaram was a sage who had crossed the three gunas. His wife was a shrew with bad temper. Inspite of provocation Tukaram kept his cool without reacting to her words. Once, his wife called him names, said he is lazy and does not earn money and sent him to work in a shop. In the evening he started to go naclk home with  his salary. On the way he gave away his money in charity and had only some money to buy a sugar can stick. His wife got angry because he had brought only one cane for two of them. She beat him with it. The cane broke into two. Tukaram said, “Thank you, you saved my work of cutting it into two. सुख here does not mean mundane pleasures. It is the sattvik pleaure as mentioned in 18:37 quoted below.


यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम्।तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् ॥१८:३७॥ 

Such a joy, though appearing as poison in the beginning tastes like nectar in the end; such a joy born of self-realization is called sattvik in nature


रजः कर्मणि  संजयति  – Rajas stirs one to wordly activity (कर्मणि). He quickly becomes attached or addicted to selfish karma  or enterprise, gaining rewards of success, money and enjoyment.


ज्ञानम् आवृत्य तु तमः प्रमादे  संजयति उत –Tamas shrouds the man’s judgment and two things could happen an account of such shrouding of jnana. One, it robs his faculty of  judgement of right and wrong leading to errors. Two, it may slow down his alertness, cause sloathness, sleep and drowsiness. Just as darkness envelopes when the day light goes, tamas becomes active with the shrouding of knowledge. It tows along with it a host of negativities like grief, restlessness, diseases, and poverty.

 All these three gunas bind a man to some attachment. Majority of mankind stays in the  sphere of wordly activities, which they perform with attachment. This sphere however is the clearing house and testing ground of life. Such wordly persons remain alert mentally, far above the low tamasic plane of slolth and bewilderment. They have a chance to rise to good satvic state as they learn to perform activities for God without egoistic influence. Comparatively only a few stupid persons misuse their powers of discrimination and stoop down to low animalistic level. Perhaps many would go to tamasic sphere if Mother Nature didn’t use hunger, poverty and misery to prod us for remedial activity. The purpose of life is to ascend to God but not to fall down in  the ladder of evolution.

Swami Muktananda:  The mode of ignorance clouds the intellect of the living being. The desire for happiness now manifests in perverse manners. For example, everyone knows that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Every cigarette pack carries a warning to that extent issued by the government authorities. Cigarette smokers read this, and yet do not refrain from smoking. This happens because the intellect loses its discriminative power and does not hesitate to inflict self-injury to get the pleasure of smoking. As someone jokingly said, “A cigarette is a pipe with a fire at one end and a fool at the other.” That is the influence of tamo guṇa, which binds the soul in the darkness of ignorance.


VERSE – 14: 10

How one guna predominates thwarting the other two.

विव्रुद्धत्व  Predominance of a guna. Verses 10 to 13  

रजस्तमश्चाभिभूय सत्त्वं भवति भारत ।

रजः सत्त्वं तमश्चैव तमः सत्त्वं रजस्तथा ॥१४:१०॥

rajastamaścābhibhūya sattvaṁ bhavati bhārata |

rajaḥ sattvaṁ tamaścaiva tamaḥ sattvaṁ rajastathā ||14:10||

रजः सत्वम् च अभिभूय सत्वम् भवति भारत ।

रजः सत्वम् तमः च एव तमः सत्वम् रजः तथा ॥ 

रजः –the quality of rajas तमः –the quality of tamas च -and अभिभूय –having overpowered सत्त्वम् –the quality of sattva भवति –prevails  भारत –O descendent of Bharata रजः –the quality of rajas सत्त्वम् –the quality of sattva तमः –the quality of tamas च –anch एव -even तमः –the quality of tamas सत्वम् –the quality of sattva रजः –the quality of rajas तथा -also


O Scion of Bharata (Arjuna), sometimes  sattva prevails overpowering rajas and tamas; other times  rajas prevails not sattva and tamas, and still other times tamas thwarts  sattva and rajas.


रजः तमः च अभिभूय  सत्वम् भवति भारत –By overpowering the gunas of Raja and Tamas sattva predominates.

When sattva surges up in the body, Senses, and mind are flooded with illumination, discrimination,  dispassion , deliverence and disciplines (4D’s). One enters into a state of extreme tranquillity and happiness. At that time the effects of rajoguna such as craving for enjoyment, activity and greed are diminished. The effects of tamoguna such as sleep, sloth and error also reduced.

साधनचतुष्टयम् six fold sadhanas Discriminagtion, Dispassion, Desire for deliverance and शमादि-षट्कसम्पत्तिःsix fold disciplines namely शमः, दमः, उपरमः, तितीक्षा, श्रद्धा, and समाधानम्.

रजः सत्त्वम् अभिभूय  तमः भवति भारत – By thwarting the operation of raja and satva the guna of tamas predominates. when the quality of tamas begins to surge up nullifying  the operation of sattva and rajas, dullness, Laziness and disinterest in activity prevail in the body, sense and mind. One’s capacity to make proper decisions, interest and zeal are diminished. One tends to make errors. Under this condition, the quality of sattva such as illumination, and knowledge, the quality of rajas such as activity and craving do not manifest themselves.

एव  तमः सत्त्वम् अभिभूय  रजः तथा भवति भारत – Similarly when the quality of Tamas and satva are suspended, Rajas begins to ascend, the body, sense and mind are seized with a spell of restlessness, greed and craving for enjoyment and an irristable urge to undertake selfish activities of various kinds. Under these conditions, the effects of sattva guna such as tranquillity, illumination and discrimination etc., disappear. The effects of tamo guna such as laziness, disinterest in work etc. also disappear.

Swami Ramakrishna says, the three Gunas are not exclusive but they are always together as a combination in different proportion and degree. A sattvic man may at times show

increment in rajasik or tamasik nature. Similarly a rajasik or tamasik man may show quality of sattva. Just as you cannot prepare and ornament from pure Gold, it needs some

additional material impurity, a man cannot be exclusively sattvic, rajasik or tamasik. There is always  other two qualities in different proportions.

The gunas and the mind are products of prakruti or kshetra. So the gunas reside in the mind and intellect. The mind oscillates in these three gunas depending upon external environment, internal contemplation and samskaras. It is like three wresters involved in fight. One of them dominates throwing the other two down.

Swami Muktananda says, “suppose you are sitting in your library, engaged in study. There is no worldly disturbance, and your mind has become sāttvk. After finishing your study, you sit in your living room and switch on the television. Seeing all the images makes your mind rājasic, and increases your hankering for sense pleasures. While you are watching your favorite channel, your family member comes and changes the channel. This disturbance causes tamo guṇa to increase in your mind, and you are filled with anger. In this way, the mind sways amongst the three guṇas and adopts their qualities.


VERSE – 14: 11


Indicators of Satva domination on Mind

सर्वद्वारेषु देहेऽस्मिन्प्रकाश उपजायते ।

ज्ञानं यदा तदा विद्याद्विवृद्धं सत्त्वमित्युत ॥१४:११॥

sarvadvārēṣu dēhē:’sminprakāśa upajāyatē |

jñānaṁ yadā tadā vidyādvivr̥ddhaṁ sattvamityuta ||14:11||


सर्वद्वारेषु देहे अस्मिन् प्रकाशः उपजायते ।

ज्ञानम् यदा तदा विद्यात् विवृद्धम् सत्त्वम् इति उत ॥ 


सर्व-द्वारेषु -through every gate (mind and senses) देहे –in the body अस्मिन् –in this प्रकाशः –light (Wisdom) उपजायते –dawns ज्ञानम् –knowledge यदा –when तदा –then विद्यात् –one should know विवृद्धम्  –predominant सत्त्वम् –the quality of sattva इति –thus उत -indeed


When the light of wisdom and discernment dawns through all the sense gates in the body and mind, then one should know that the quality of sattva is predominant.


The Lord continues to explain the consequences of predominance of Sattva guna


सर्व-द्वारेषु अस्मिन् देहे प्रकाशः उपजायते –When the light of

wisdom dawns in all the sense gates of the body. The sense organs namely nose, tongue, eye, ear,skin, mind and intellect are called the gateways to self-knowledge. (श्रोत्रं त्वक् चक्षु: रसना घ्राणम् इति पंच ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि) These are called 5 organs of knowledge or karmendriya.  सर्व-द्वारेषु should not be confused with the nine gates of the body. (नवद्वार)

अस्मिन्  देहे –in this body. It is only in this human body that one can cross over the gunas and attain liberation. Other animals do not have this previlage.

प्रकाशः उपजायते –the light shines. During the ascendency of sattva guna there is light shining in all gates of senses. All that he sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes remind one of God. When the light of knowledge dawns, the illusion of the world as real is gone. The jiva ceases to enjoy along with the body. The intellect takes correct decisions. Just as when the light is switched on the darkeness goes away;  as soon as the self-knowledge shines the illusions are removed. There is no attraction in the mind for sense pleasures. The mind becomes quite joyful and peaceful. The qualities of rajas such as feeling of attraction and aversion, greed, grief, anxiety go way. The quality of tamas such as sloathness, error etc. also do not appear.

What is प्रकाशः the light or knowledge ? uring he ascendencey of sattvik guna, a thought comes to he mind of Sadhak, “I have received so much grace from my Guru. I should endeavor to progress rapidly in my sādhanā, since the human form is precious and it should not be wasted in mundane pursuits.”


VERSE – 14: 12

Indicators of Rajas  domination on Mind

लोभः प्रवृत्तिरारम्भः कर्मणामशमः स्पृहा ।

रजस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे भरतर्षभ ॥१४:१२॥


lōbhaḥ pravr̥ttirārambhaḥ karmaṇāmaśamaḥ spr̥hā |

rajasyētāni jāyantē vivr̥ddhē bharatarṣabha ||14:12||


लोभः प्रवृत्तिः आरम्भः कर्मणाम् अशमः स्पृहा ।

रजसि ऎतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे भरतर्षभ ॥ 

लोभः -greed प्रवृत्तिः -activity कर्मणाम् आरम्भः –undertaking of actions with interested motive अशमः –restlessness स्पृहा –thirst (for enjoyment) रजसि  विवृद्धे –with the preponderance of the quality of rajas  एतानि -these जायन्ते -appear भरतर्षभ –O Chief of Bharatas (Arjuna)


O Chief of Bharatas (Arjuna)! When Rajas is predominant,  greed, delusive attachment to work, self-centred activity, restlessness, and thirst for enjoyment arise.


In this verse five characteristics of a rajasik man are given.

  1. लोभः –Greed, morbid lust for amassing wealth and possession by any means right or wrong. A greedy man never parts his wealth with others. He wants to usurp for himself everyone’s property and possessions. He does not hesitate to cheat his fellow beings. He plans various forms of additional enjoyment. Among all bad qualities greed is the worst. लोभश्चेदगुणेन किं ? (लोभः चेत् अगुणेन किम् ). Do you need another bad quality when lobha is there?


  1. प्रवृत्तिः–is inclination or propensity to attach to a work or an event. It is a natural character of man. But the attachment induced by rajoguna tends to be self- centered. This is called rajasik pravratti. Day and night one has a job on hand. This job is not to to get freedom from  bondage. It is a self centred enterprize done for profit, power, fame and name.

By this a host of negativities such as desire, anger, greed etc,. follow. This is an unending cycle.

  1. कर्मणाम् आरम्भः –undertaking of works. Karma or action is like a sword. It can be used for activities for self-realization or for cheap self-serving purposes. A rajasik man sets off with actvitivities for selfish gain. Home, marriage, world trip, acquiring property, election, competition, rivalry… there is no end. This is a vicious circle. One activity completed results into profit and sets off many more. There is no end. He forever chases results, tries to go one step above the competators. It produces restlessness अशमः. It disturbs his peace. He is never at peace. His desire is never quenched.
  2. अशमः –restlessness. As the desires increase so does his state of unrest (अस्थिर मनः).

5.स्पृहा –is thirst, longing, covetousness for sensual pleasure विशय भोग. In Sanskrit desire is called thirst. It is unquenchable thirst. When a man considers an object as indispensable to him it is called thirst for the object. There is a subtle difference between desire and thirst. Desire is propensity to get more of what you already have. Thirst (तृष्णा)  is the desire to get what you are lacking.


These are the five characteristics of  Rajopguna. A man in preponderance of rajoguna is ever chasing something in the life. He is disillusioned and full of grief. He is engrossed in fear of loss and expectation of gain. As his desire increases, he gets into more activities. He is beset with worries. Peace, security and happiness elude him.


VERSE – 14: 13

 Indicators of Tamas domination on Mind

अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च ।

तमस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे कुरुनन्दन ॥१४:१३॥

aprakāśō:’pravr̥ttiśca pramādō mōha ēva ca |

tamasyētāni jāyantē vivr̥ddhē kurunandana ||14:13||


अप्रकाशः अप्रवृत्तिः च प्रमादः मोहः एव च ।

तमः एतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे  कुरुनन्दन ॥ 

अप्रकाशः –darkness, dullness अप्रवृत्तिः –disinclination to perform one’s duties च -and प्रमादः -inadvertence, heedlessness मोहः –delusion एव even च –and तमसि विवृद्धे  सति –with the predominance of quality of tamas एतानि –these जायन्ते –appear कुरुनन्दन –O descendent of Kuru


O Arjuna! darkness,  disinclination to perform one’s  duties, sloth and delusion make their appearance when the tamas is ruling. 

The lord gives four characteristics of a man who has descended into a lowly, dark strata of tamas.

अप्रकाशः –This is opposite of prakasha or light. When the light of knowledge  glows, the body and mind open up to Godliness. In darkness of ignorance the body and mind are constricted and there is no zeal for spiritual jouney. Even if he listens to a talk by the Guru, he understands nothing, nor does he try to learn more. In aprakasha jnyanendriys are suppressed.

अप्रवृत्तिः –absense of pravratti or inclination to perform duties. In sattva guna you find sattvik pravratti and in rajoguna one sets up innumerable activities. In tamas he stops all activities, becomes inert and has no enthusiasm. In apravratti karmendriyas are suppressed.

प्रमादः –heedlessness or inadvertence. It leads  lack of alertness and therefore error in his work. He postpones or avoids all the work and engages in futile and frivoulous activities just to pass time.

मोहः –Delusion, The mind and senses become blank, cannot take right decision and not able to differentiate between right and worng. He becomes lazy and memory becomes dull. Moha is ignorance or ajnayana.  मोह क्षय is called मोक्ष


A  man overindulging in the senses becomes exhausted and inactive.  Sense slaves are inferiour to most animals, living as they do in sex , boozing and sleeping. They fall lower in the scale of evolution. They find no room for physical, mental and spiritual pleaure.


VERSE – 14: 14

What happens when the jiva is in sattvic mode at the time of death?

गतिः the type of travel taken by jiva after death.

Verse 14, 15, and 18

यदा सत्त्वे प्रवृद्धे तु प्रलयं याति देहभृत् ।

तदोत्तमविदां लोकानमलान्प्रतिपद्यते ॥१४:१४॥


yadā sattvē pravr̥ddhē tu pralayaṁ yāti dēhabhr̥t |

tadōttamavidāṁ lōkānamalānpratipadyatē ||14:14||


यदा सत्त्वे प्रवृद्धे तु प्रलयम् याति देहभृत् ।

तदा उत्तमविदाम् लोकन् अमलान्  प्रतिपद्यते ॥ 


यदा -when सत्त्वे प्रवृद्धे सति –during preponderance of quality of sattva तु -verily प्रलयम् –death याति –meets देहभृत् –the embodied one (man), jiva तदा -then  उत्तम-विदाम् –of the knowers of the highest अमलान् –of the spotless लोकान् – etheral worlds such as heaven etc. प्रतिपद्यते –he obtains


When a man dies when the sattva qualities are ruling, he enters the taintless ethereal worlds where live the  “Knowers of the highest”.


यदा सत्त्वे प्रवृद्धे तु प्रलयम् याति देहभृत् –If the embodied soul casts off his body, when sattva is predominant. When sattva is ruling, light and wisdom prevail in the body as described in 14:11.


सर्वद्वारेषु देहेऽस्मिन्प्रकाश उपजायते ।

ज्ञानं यदा तदा विद्याद्विवृद्धं सत्त्वमित्युत ॥१४:११॥


When the light of wisdom and discernment dawns through all the sense gates in the body and mind, then one should know that the quality of sattva is predominant.


According to Vedanta death is not terminatioin of a man’s journey. From here he attains different worlds according to his karma. He may be reborn as a man or lowly animal and

insects. Krishna explains here in this verse that the predominat guna of the deseased at the time of death determines his future. If the mind is sattvic at the time of death he gains amara loka which is prerogative of wise. From there he may realise his real nature of ‘aham brahmasmi’ and gain liberation. So it is recommended to recite the name of the lord as many times as possible in a day, or at the starting of any activity. Jesus Christ said at the time of crucification, “O Lord, forgive them. They do not know what are they doing”. Mahatma Gandhi cried out, “Hey Ram” when he was shot at by a misguided man. So, stop saying “Shit” whenever you are


देहभृत् –embodied soul. Another word often used in the text is जीवभूतः. It indicates a person who looks upon the body as his own self but not as a conditioning (उपाधि). But, the liberated soul who does not regard the body as his own- self has no rebirth.


तदा उत्तमविदाम् अमलान् लोकान् प्रतिपद्यते –then he enters the stainless ethereal world where men of great knowledge live.  ऊर्ध्वगति upward travel  

अंते या मतिः सा गतिः – it is said, the state of mind at the time death predetermines your course after death.  A man who has cultivated satvic qualities is transported to angelic realms.

VERSE – 14: 15

What happens when the jiva is in tamasik mode at the time of death?

रजसि प्रलयं गत्वा कर्मसङ्गिषु जायते ।

तथा प्रलीनस्तमसि मूढयोनिषु जायते ॥१४:१५॥

rajasi pralayaṁ gatvā karmasaṅgiṣu jāyatē |

tathā pralīnastamasi mūḍhayōniṣu jāyatē ||14:15||


रजसि प्रलयम् गत्वा कर्मसङ्गिषु जायते ।

तथा प्रलीनः तमसि मूढयोनिषु जायते ॥


रजसि –during the preponderance of the quality of rajas प्रलयम् –death गत्वा – happens कर्मसङ्गिषु –among those

attached to action जायते –he is born तथा -so तमसि –during preponderance of quality of tamas प्रलीनः –if dead मूढयोनिषु –in the wombs of the lowly creatures such as insects, beasts etc., buddhi not evolved जायते –is reborn


If one dies when rajas dominates he is reborn among those attached to action; if the person dies when tamas is premodinant, take birth in the animal kingdom.


रजसि प्रलयम् गत्वा –If one is dissolved (dead) during the surge of Rajas. The indicators of rajoguna are given in verse 12. When Rajas is predominant,  greed, delusive attachment to work, self-centred activity, restlessness, and thirst for enjoyment arise.

कर्मसङ्गिषु जायते –He is reborn amongst men who are extremely attached to actions and their fruits. That means his senses and mind will seek and successfully discover a field where he can fulfil his tendencies or vasanas.   Manushya loka or bhuloka is considered as neither a higher sphere nor a lower one. So his gati or travel is lateral.


तमसि प्रलीनः मूढयोनिषु जायते – If a man passes away when his tamasik qualities are more, he will get a birth in animal-like human family, or in lower insects beasts and plants. These are the ‘dark wombs’ or yonis. The Lord has explained in in verse 13 above as to which are the predominant quality of Tamas. “अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च”-spiritual darkeness, indolence, frivolity, heedlessness, indiscrimination and stupor are the tamogunas.  

Rajasik persons chastened by their success and failures may begin deeper search for lasting joy. But the tamasik beings caught in the ignorance of their own making, with no will for self-improvment, fall into ever deeper ignorance. They find sadistic pleasure in hurting themselves and others.


VERSE – 14: 16

The result f sattvik, rajasik and tamasik actions

फलम्  Result of action  of each guna Verse 16 and 17


कर्मणः सुकृतस्याहुः सात्त्विकं निर्मलं फलम् ।

रजसस्तु फलं दुःखमज्ञानं तमसः फलम् ॥१४:१६॥


karmaṇaḥ sukr̥tasyāhuḥ sāttvikaṁ nirmalaṁ phalam |

rajasastu phalaṁ duḥkhamajñānaṁ tamasaḥ phalam ||14:16||


कर्मणः सुकृतस्य आहुः सात्त्विकम् निर्मलम् फलम् ।

रजसः तु फलम् दुःखम्  अज्ञानम्  तमसः फलम् ॥ 


कर्मणः –the actions सुकृतस्य –of noble deeds आहुः-they say सात्त्विकम् –sattvik, charecterised by the quality of sattva such as joy, wisdom, dispassion etc., निर्मलम्  -stainless pure freedom from stress and anxiety. फलम् –fruit, (reward) ;  रजसः –of rajasik type of actions तु –verily फलम् –fruit, (reward)  दुःखम् -suffering अज्ञानम् –ignorance तमसः –of quality of tamas फलम् –is the fruit (reward)  


The fruit of righteous action they say (the sages) is satvik and pure in nature (in the form of joy, wisdom, dispassion etc.); the fruit of rajasik action is pain, and the fruit of tamasik action is ignorance.  


कर्मणः सुकृतस्य आहुः – The fruit of good actions they say is satvik and pure, free from tension and anxiety. Life is like an

agricultural farm; you reap what you sow. A noble man makes his life divine. An ignorant man makes his life miserable by his actions. Rajasik action yields grief. Continued evil and tamasik action destroys man’s discrimination and understanding.

A thought preceeds an action. Thought is the seed sown and actions is the harvest gathered. Seeds of weeds cannot but produce weeds. Similarly bad thoughts result into bad

actions, and noble thought into good rewards. Sattvik thoughts result into sattvik actions, even so are rajasik and tamasik. Disciplining the mind and changing the quality of thoughts is not easy. But however we can easily modify the quality of our action. Kabir said, “मन गये तो जने दो मगर तन को मत छॊडो”. If you are not able to restrain the mind, it is OK; but never allow the body to obey the mind. It is for this reason that our elders used to tell us to obey the seniors, not to tell lie etc.

सात्त्विकम् कर्मणः निर्मलम्  फलम् – The fruit of satvik action is pure in nature in the form of joy, wisdom and dispassion.


रजसः तु कर्मणः फलम् दुःखम् –The fruit of rajasik action is grief. A man in the sway of excessive greed and ego- centric actions bogs down into more actions and brings upon himself agitation,  grief, tension etc. He fallows the commands of the wayward senses rather than intelligent mind. He gets repeated births into action-oriented family to fulfil his desires. The fruit of rajas is pain.

The Lord explains Rajasik action in 18:24 as under:


यत्तु कामेप्सुना कर्म साहंकारेण वा पुनः। क्रियते बहुलायासं तद्राजसमुदाहृतम् ॥१८:२४॥ Egocentric actions performed with a lot effort with a view to enjoying the fruit is called Rajasik action. 

अज्ञानम् तमसः फलम् –ignorance is the fruit of tamas. Evil men continue in their abnormal path steeped in senseless living.  As the camel eats the thorny bramble shrub, even as its mouthstarts bleeding, the tamasik man is not aware of God nor likes to know God and good ways of living. The lord explains the condition of a tamasik man in ch. 18: 25 like this:


अनुबन्धं क्षयं हिंसामनवेक्ष्य च पौरुषम्। मोहादारभ्यते कर्म यत्तत्तामसमुच्यते ॥१८:२५॥ 

That action which is undertaken through sheer ignorance, having no regard for its outcome is called Tamasik action. Such men find sadistic pleasure in hurting themselves or others.


This verse explains the theory of rebirth. Just as we say similar birds flock together, a man finds the company or association of his own guna. If at the time of death sattvik guna is upper,  the subtle body looks for for a family suitable for its “vasana” to take birth. A sattivk man is untainted, free from grief and tension. He will be born in such a family. A rajasik man will opt for a family whch  undertakes a lot of activities for selfish need. A tamasik man will be born in family with

lazy attitude.  

Ramakishna says it is like the result of eating jilebi is sweetness, result of eating hot chillies is spicy taste and result of taking a campose tablet is nothing but sleep.


VERSE – 14: 17

Sattva begets Knowledge, rajas leads to greed and tamas to inadvertence

सत्त्वात्संजायते ज्ञानं रजसो लोभ एव च ।

प्रमादमोहौ तमसो भवतोऽज्ञानमेव च ॥१४:१७॥


sattvātsaṁjāyatē jñānaṁ rajasō lōbha ēva ca |

pramādamōhau tamasō bhavatō:’jñānamēva ca ||14:17||


सत्त्वात् संजायते ज्ञानम् रजसः लोभ एव च ।

प्रमादमोहौ तमसः भवतः अज्ञानमेव च ॥ 


सत्त्वात् –fom the quality of sattva संजायते –is born ज्ञानम् –the knowledge रजसः –from the quality of rajas (is born) लोभः –greed एव –even च –and प्रमाद-मोहौ –inadvertence, heedlessness and ignorance तमसः –from the quality of tamas भवतः –arise अज्ञानम् –perpetuation of ignorance  एव च- as well


wisdom arises from the mode of sattva, greed from the mode of rajas; and heedlessness, delusion and ingnorance from tamas

Phalam continued:

सत्त्वात् संजायते ज्ञानम् –Knowledge is the offspring of satva guna. How can satva guna bring about knowledge? Knowledge here is the supreme knowledge of self or truth. Krishna calls this as पर ज्ञान, आत्म ज्ञान. The knowledge or

experience obtained from objects is caled objective knowledge or अपर ज्ञान or भौतज्ञान.

रजसः लोभः एव च  संजायते –From the quality of rajas arises lobha or greed. When the mind is seething with desire it will be continuously in a state of agitation and looks for avenues to pacify itself in the form of more wealth,  power, and possessions. 

तमसः प्रमादमोहौ भवतः अज्ञानमम् एव च  -Heedlessness, delusion and ignorance breed  from tamas. Tamas viels the intellect;  a man’s capacity to judge between right and wrong. A person filled with tamas is known by his deeply rooted misconsceptions about life, his aimless actions, his unbecoming behaviour, his lack of self-control, his pride and arrogance, and contempt to others good advice.


VERSE – 14: 18

Those who are imbued with sattva go upward, rajasic stay in the

 middle and tamasic drift downward

The topic of gati which was discussed in verse 14 and 15

is continued.


ऊर्ध्वं गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्था मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः ।

जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्था अधो गच्छन्ति तामसाः ॥१४:१८॥

ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattvasthā madhyē tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ |

jaghanyaguṇavr̥ttisthā adhō gacchanti tāmasāḥ ||14:18||


ऊर्ध्वम् गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्थाः मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः ।

जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्थाः अधः गच्छन्ति तामसाः ॥ 


ऊर्ध्वम् -upwards गच्छन्ति –go सत्त्वस्स्थाः –those abiding in sattva मध्ये –in the middle तिष्ठन्ति –stay राजसाः –those of rajasik nature जघन्य-गुण-वृत्तिस्थाः –abiding in the function of the lowest guna, vilest अधः –downwards गच्छन्ति –go तामसाः –those of tamasik nature


Those who are established in the mode of sattva go upward; the rajasik, stay in the middle (reborn in the mortal world), and the tamasik go downwards (to lower planets of hell or take birth in the womb of petty creatures.


The lowest state of development is seen in the vegetable and animal kingdoms. The middle stage of evolution is seen in men who have intelligence, health and brightness. The higher state of existence is seen in the disembodied heavenly beings. In this yardstick, the stone life is of zero evolution because it has no awareness of the world. The plant life comes next in which consciousness has started dimly. In the animal kingdom the awareness becomes more and more clearer as we reach man who has full consciousness and sharp intellect.  Man has also limitations because he is workling with his material body and mind and in the ambit of time and space. Ample possibilities are reached in the denizens of Heaven who are beyond these limitations.

 Swami Chinmayananda explains the ladder of evolution in the three postions of a staircase. Those who are standing on the lower flight of steps are are considered as of a lower evolution. Those who are standing on the landing are of the middle type and those who are standing on the top flights are of the highest evolution. The vegetable and animal kingdom stand on the lower rungs. Man stands on the landing and the higher beings on the upper flights of steps. Those who are in the middle or higher level have freedom and an option either to go up or come down.


ऊर्ध्वम्  गच्छन्ति सत्त्वस्स्थाः –Those imbued with satva guna go upward. Urdhwa means above. The Lord says in verse 14:14, “तदोत्तमविदां लोकानमलान्प्रतिपद्यते”  If a man dies when the sattva qualities are ruling, he enters the staintless ethereal worlds where live the  “Knowers of the highest”. This is the ऊर्ध्वगति.

मध्ये तिष्ठन्ति राजसाः –Rajasik man is in the middle. He has power to turn his consciousness upward and become sattvik. He can misuse his freedom to descend in the evolution and become tamasik. A rajasik person driven by self-centred activites is trapped in the endless cycle of activity-fruit-desire –mode. Bhuloka or the mortal world is the middle region.

जघन्यगुणवृत्तिस्थाः –abiding in the function of the lowest guna. Jaghanya means low or reproachable, they go down in the ladder of evolution. They take birth as lower species.


Kannada writer D. V. Gundappa in his book essence of Bhagavad Gita has given the course and scope of Guna in a tabular form which is reproduced below.


Nature स्वभाव

Definition लक्षण








Consequence परिणाम

Sattva सत्त्व



Brightness प्रकश

knowledge ज्ञान



Ethereal world  ऊर्ध्वलोक  स्वर्ग



Rajas  रजस्

Desire, anger काम क्रोध

Passion अतिरॆक आवेश


कर्म प्रवृत्ति


तृष्णा उद्वेग

Earth  मध्यस्थ लोक

Bewilderment परिभ्रमा


Tamas तमस्



Failure to do duty





Laziness , sleep  प्रमाद,

अलस्य निद्रा


Lower World  अधोलोक नरकादि






VERSE – 14: 19

The soul is neither the der or enjoyer which action belongs to gunas.

 By knowing this one attains liberation.

Knowledge as the means to transcend the gunas  19 to 20


नान्यं गुणेभ्यः कर्तारं यदा द्रष्टानुपश्यति ।

गुणेभ्यश्च परं वेत्ति मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति ॥१४:१९॥


nānyaṁ guṇēbhyaḥ kartāraṁ yadā draṣṭānupaśyati |

guṇēbhyaśca paraṁ vētti madbhāvaṁ sō:’dhigacchati ||14:19||

न अन्यम् गुणेभ्यः कर्तारम् यदा द्रष्टा अनुपश्यति ।

गुणेभ्यः च परम् वेत्ति मद्भावम् सः अधिगच्छति ॥ 


न -not गुणेभ्यः अन्यम् –anything other than the three gunas कर्तारम् –as the doer यदा –when द्रष्टा –the seer, individual अनुपश्यति –beholds गुणेभ्यः –than the gunas परम् –higher standing entirely beyond the three gunas च -and वेत्ति –knows (the supreme spririt who is truth, consciousness and bliss) मत् भावम् –my own nature सः –he अधिगच्छति -attains


When the seer perceives no agent except the three gunas as the doer and realizes Me, the supreme spirit who is above and beyond these three gunas; he enters into my being.


अन्यम् गुणेभ्यः कर्तारम् – No agent other than the Gunas as the doer. In other words, only the Gunas are the agents of action and ‘I’ as the Nirguna Atma or witness (साक्षी)  has no role in it. Anatma constituting body, mind complex is eternally a karta. Anatma is a product of Guna and all his actions are controlled by Guna. There is no karta other than Guna.  I am the atma and therefore eternally akarta and abhokta.

No agent other than the Gunas is responsible for actions. Due to ignorance an individual thinks that he is the karta or bhokta  or God as the karta and  bhokta. What Gita teaches is that neither of them is karta and bhokta. It is conglomeration of the three Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas that is responsible for an action of the individual. The gunas take the form of cause and effect and drive an individual into good or bad actions.

God has given us the power of reasoning, decision and discernement and therefore it is for the individual to choose the right and wrong way and become liberated or bound to the world. This decision is controlled by the modes of material Nature (Guna) and is governed by one’s past Karmand incement in sattva guna. Those who understand this properly know how to act and do not blame God for their misfortunes or feel jealous of others’ fortune. 

There is a wall between Jiva and Shiva. That wall is called triple Gunas. Once this wall is demolished one realises his true nature.

यदा द्रष्टा अनुपश्यति –When the seer beholds. द्रष्टा or seer should not be mistaken as one who experiences through his senses organs like ear, eye, skin, tongue and nose. The seer mentioned here is the one who perceives that, “I am not this body, mind, intellect, sense  organs, or ego. These are sentient anatma (अनात्म), subject to change (विकारशील), fleeting in nature (क्षण भंगुर) and divisible (परिच्चिन्न). I am a different stuff. I am the witness of all changes (साक्षी). I am the the spirit, dynamic principle, आत्म चैतन्य, साक्षी, अखंड, अविकार, नित्य and  पूर्ण. The seer has realized that neither the soul nor the spirit is the driver of actions. He sees only the gunas as the driver of actions. Due to ignorance, the individual experiences that he himself is the doer and enjoyer of actions and its rewards.

Verse 3:27 also concurs with this view.

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः
अहन्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ॥३ -२७॥

As a universal law, all actions are performed by the forces of gunas of prakruti (attributes of the primordial matter). The fool, whose mind is deluded by egoism, assumes “I am indeed the doer”


A man is either convinced that he is the  doer and experiencer; or that it is the Lord alone who is the doer and experiencer (karta or bhokta). But a seer realizes that it is neither the man nor God that is the doer or enjoyer; Gunas are the driver of actions and enjoyments. A meditator who is capable of realizing this will ‘behold’ or अनुपश्यति the state of pure knowledge.  

The body as the aggegate of the 24 principles is called Guna-vibhaga (गुण विभाग) and their interaction is called (कर्म विभाग).


गुणेभ्यः परम् च वेत्ति –having crossed the three gunas out of which the body is evolved. A wise man realizes that the senses, mind, intellect and the vital airs etc., are the evolutes of the three Gunas and that they are acting on the sense objects which are also evolutes of the same Gunas. He knows in other words that the Gunas are acting on the Gunas (Chapter 3 verse 28) and he himself as sakshi chaitanya has no connection whatever with them.

गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा न सज्जते ॥३ -२८॥

That means the seer perceives that there is no agent other than the Gunas.

मत् भावम् सः अधिगच्छति –He attains my being. That which is wholly beyond the three Gunas is the Brahman or spirit which is truth, consciousness and bliss solidified. He who

recognizes God as absolutely unconnected with the Gunas and views his personal identity with that of the formless and attributleless Brahman merges with him. A dreamer on waking, cannot still remain a dreamer he must himself become the waker. Similarly the soul disentangled from the matter identifications not only rediscovers but also becomes spirit. This is what is meant by “he attains my being”.

To summarize this verse gives 2 takeaways. They are:

  1. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are causes of all the beings,

the body, mind complex, भूतसंघः is a modification of gunas. They are product of ignorance.  

The atma has no connection with the Gunas. Gunateeta is one who has transcended the gunas. This is viveka jnyana. He is also called आत्मज्ञानी, स्थितप्रज्ञ्. or जीवन्मुक्त, गुणातीत. He has no rebirth.

Shankaracharya says, one can obtain this knowledge even in this birth.

A storey explains the position clearly. There was a hungry tiger in a forest. He was old and incapacitated. He set out in search of food and saw a monkey and a man sitting on thebranches of a tree.  He thought of a plan to trick his prey. He trampled on the monkey’s shadow hard. The foolish monkey thought that he received the blow and fell down. The tiger ate him and did the same trick with the man.  The man said – “Hey, stupid animal, don’t think I am monkey. I am man. I know I am different from shadow. You are beating my shadow. I have nothing to do with it; OK?”


VERSE – 14: 20

When one raises above the gunas he becomes immortal

गुणानेतानतीत्य त्रीन्देही देहसमुद्भवान् ।

जन्ममृत्युजरादुःखैर्विमुक्तोऽमृतमश्नुते ॥१४:२०॥


guṇānētānatītya trīndēhī dēhasamudbhavān |

janmamr̥tyujarāduḥkhairvimuktō:’mr̥tamaśnutē ||14:20||


गुणान् एतान् अतीत्य त्रीन्  देही देहसमुद्भवान् ।

जन्ममृत्युजरादुःखैः विमुक्तः अमृतम् अश्नुते ॥ 

जन्म मृत्यु जरा दुःखैः


एतान् -these त्रीन् -three गुणान् –gunas explained in earlier verses अतीत्य –having crossed, having identified with Brahman देही –the soul देहसमुद्भवान् –out of which the body is evolved entrapping the soul जन्ममृत्युजरादुःखैः –from birth, death, old age and sorrow (जन्म मृत्यु जरा दुःखैः)

र्विमुक्तः -freed (from body consciousness) अमृतम् -immortality अश्नुते –attains


When one rises above, or transcends the triple Gunas which is the cause of the embodiment of the soul, he is released from the sufferings of birth, old age, and death; and thus attains immortality.

Verses 19 and 20 are very impotant in Gita. Here the Lord explains how to transcend the Gunas and become one with Him. It is a process of self-edifiction method called Gunatita. The human body is made up of material principle which are evolutes of Gunas. This is the Kshetra. Then there is also the soul who is responsible for enlivening the body. He is Kshetrajnya. When one realizes that the doer and enjoyer is only the Gunas and that atma has nothing to do with it, one becomes Gunatita.


देही एतान् त्रीन् गुणान् अतीत्य – The soul, having crossed or transcended these three Gunas which tie down it to the body. He has to totally cast off all his identification with the three Gunas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas or its evolutes. Due to ignorance which existed from time without beginning, the jiva feels that he is connected with Gunas. Only wisdom helps him to sever the connection with the Gunas and  shift his identity from body consciousness to the idea of formless,

attributeless Brahman, who is truth, conscsiousness and Bliss solidified. The world which is caused by the three Gunas is called in Vedanta as Maya. If we become free from the thraldom of Maya we realize Paramatma who is the mayapati. Man is like a silk worm. It builds a caccon of fine silk thread around it and meets its end. Jiva is a prisoner of three gunas.

देहसमुद्भवान् –out of which the body is evolved. The physical body is made up of 24 elements चतुर्विंशतितत्वोत्पत्तिप्रकारम्

The 24-factors that constitute the world are: five great elements (पञ्महाभूत), five organs of perception (पंचज्ञानॆन्द्रियाणि), five organs of action (पंचकर्मेन्द्रियाणि), five pranas (पंच प्राणाः), and the four thought modifications (मनस्, बुद्धि, चित्त, and अहंकार).

 All these are evolutes of three Gunas born out of Prakruti. It is responsible for the creation of  macrocosm and microcosm. An ordinary man regards body which is a conglomeration of the twenty four elements as his own.

जन्ममृत्युजरादुःखैः र्विमुक्तः –the embodied one becomes freed from birth, death, old age and all kinds of sarrow. Birth, growth, old age and death are status of the body. All forms of suffering such as mental agony, body ailments etc., affect the body alone, but not the soul. The soul is independent of and not connected with the body which is an evolute of prakruti. The soul is the spark of Brahman foolishly identifying with the happenings in the body. A man of knowledge who realizes his own real position becomes free from the Gunas and attains immunity from birth, death, old age and agony.

अमृतम् अश्नुते –attains the supreme bliss. What fallows next is the direct realization of immortal Brahman, who is the truth, consciousness and bliss solidified which is one’s own self. He attains मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति enters my being. Amruta (अमृतम् ) is nothing but Brahman. If we become free from mortality we gain immorality or amrutam. The ambrosia of amrutam partaken by the gods in heaven is not the real amruta. It is only a relative amruta. The absolute amruta is what is obtained by the Gunatita. Mortality is connected with the body. The soul or atma is immortal. He has no birth, death or the modifications. The objective of mortal life is to become immortal.

To get immortality, one need not take birth again or go to another world. He becomes liberated right here.


VERSE – 14: 21

Arjuna asks three questions to Krishna regarding a man who has transended three gunas

Gunatita lakshana and Sadhana Verses 21 to 27


अर्जुन उवाच

कैर्लिङ्गैस्त्रीन्गुणानेतानतीतो भवति प्रभो ।

किमाचारः कथं चैतांस्त्रीन्गुणानतिवर्तते ॥१४:२१॥

kairliṅgaistrīnguṇānētānatītō bhavati prabhō |

kimācāraḥ kathaṁ caitāṁstrīnguṇānativartatē ||14:21||


कैः र्लिङ्गैः त्रीन् गुणान् एतान् अतीतो भवति प्रभो ।

किम् आचारः कथम् च एतान् त्रीन् गुणान् अतिवर्तते ॥१४:२१॥


कैः –by what र्लिङ्गैः –marks, characteristics, symptoms त्रीन् -three गुणान् -gunas एतान् -these अतीतः –one who has transcended भवति –becomes प्रभो –O lord किम् अचारः  –what is his conduct कथम् –how च –and एतान् -these त्रीन् -three गुणान् -gunas अतिवर्तते –does he transcend


Ajuna said:

O Lord, what are the signs that distinguish a man who has transcended three Gunas? What is his behaviour? How does he rise beyond the triple qualities?


Swami Paramarthananda says: In the previous verse Krishna assured that a man who would transcend these three gunas attains immoprtality. Arjuna who is a good student was listening to the Guru carefully. So he asks three questions to the Lord.

  1. 1. कैः र्लिङ्गैः त्रीन् गुणान् एतान् अतीतः भवति प्रभो –What are the marks of a person who has risen above the three Gunas, O Lord. The first question relates to the laxana or characteristics of a Gunatita jnyani. This is anwered in verses 22 and 23
  2. किम् अचारः भवति प्रभो –What is his conduct?The second question relates to the conduct and behaviour. Does he

fallow Vedic karma. Or laukik karma or is a shvechachari? How he behaves with those who come in contact with him? How he lives and carries on his day-to-day activities? This is anwered in verse No. 24 and 25


  1. कथम् च एतान् त्रीन् गुणान् अतिवर्तते –How does he rise beyond the triple qualities. What are the tricks and tips to cross the three Gunas. This is anwered in verse No. 26

These three questions of Arjuna reminds one of his earler enquiry to Lord in chapter 2:54


स्थितप्रज्ञस्य का भाषा समाधिस्थस्य केशव।स्थितधीः किं प्रभाषेत किमासीत व्रजेत किम् ॥२:५४॥ 

What is the mark of a realized soul? How does he speak, how does he sit and how does he walk? Sthitaprajnya (स्थितःप्रज्ञ) and gunatita (गुणातीत) are synonyms.


VERSE – 14: 22

A man who has crossed three gunas neither hates the presence of

enlightenment, passion for activity or de;usion



प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च मोहमेव च पाण्डव ।

न द्वेष्टि संप्रवृत्तानि न निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति ॥१४:२२॥


prakāśaṁ ca pravr̥ttiṁ ca mōhamēva ca pāṇḍava |

na dvēṣṭi saṁpravr̥ttāni na nivr̥ttāni kāṅkṣati ||14:22||


प्रकाशम् च प्रवृत्तम् च मोहम् एव च पाण्डव ।

न द्वेष्टि संप्रवृत्तानि न निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति ॥ 

प्रकाशम् –light meaning knowleddge (which is born of sattva) च –and प्रव्रत्तिम् –activity (which is born of rajas) च –and मोहम् –heedlessness, delusion (which is born of tamas) एव-also च –and पाण्डव –Son of Pandu (Arjuna) न –not द्वेष्टि -hates संप्रवृत्तानि –when prevalent, or arrive  न –not निवृत्तानि –when exited काङ्क्षति –desires, attached


The Blessed Lord said:

A man who has transcended the triple Gunas, neither hates the presence of enlightenment (born of sattva), activity (born of rajas), and delusion (born of tamas); nor desires them when they are absent.


Verses No 22 and 23 answers the first question of Arjuna, viz., “O Lord, What are the marks of a person who has crossed these three Gunas?” (कैः र्लिङ्गैः त्रीन् गुणान् एतान् अतीतो भवति प्रभो). In other words the characteristic (लिङ्ग, लक्षण) of Gunatita.  Krishna says, a perfect man lives in the world without any prejudices and agitations in the mind. Like a common man he is not affected by the feelings of love and hatered, attraction and repulsion. To have or not have are both equal to him because he is beyond the both, living a life of essentail peace and serenity which is independent of all environments. He has gone through karmayoga, upasana etc. and his mind is predominatly sattvik. He does not violently react to a good or bad happening, he has healthy response.


प्रकाशम्  च प्रव्रत्तिम् च मोहम् एव – प्रकाशम्  Prakasham or light and illumination comes from the quality of satvaguna. When sloth and delusion have disappeared from the body; a feeling of lightness, liveliness, and purity comes in the mind. Such a feeling is called Prakasha. प्रव्रत्तिम् is the urge to undertake activities of various kinds. This is the effect of Rajoguna and is fallowed by lust, greed, craving, attachment etc. मोहम् is the stupefying tendency of the mind. It results into lazyness, drowsiness, ignorance, a quality of tamoguna.

न द्वेष्टि संप्रवृत्तानि न निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति –A person who has risen above the Gunas, lives ever in peace unto him. He is not bothered whether good or bad qualities and thoughts arise or disappear from his mind. He lives like a witness. His happiness and peace is not dependent on the happenings in his life. He is already 100% happy and peaceful with God conscioness.


VERSE – 14: 23

A man who has crossed the gunas remains neutral

to  the gunas and is not disturbed by them

उदासीनवदासीनो गुणैर्यो न विचाल्यते ।

गुणा वर्तन्त इत्येव योऽवतिष्ठति नेङ्गते ॥१४:२३॥


udāsīnavadāsīnō guṇairyō na vicālyatē |

guṇā vartanta ityēva yō:’vatiṣṭhati nēṅgatē ||14:23||


उदासीनवत् आसीनः गुणैः यः न विचाल्यते ।

गुणाः वर्तन्त इति एव यः अवतिष्ठति न ङ्गते ॥


उदासीनवत् –like one unconcerned आसीनः –seated गुणै –by the gunas यः –who न –not विचाल्यते –is not disturbed गुणाः –the gunas वर्तन्ते -operate इति –thus एव -alone यः –who अवतिष्ठति –remains established in God न -not इङ्गते –swerves from that state


He who sitting like an unconcerned witness; without being disturbed by the three Gunas, remains established in identity with God; fully knowing  that Gunas alone are

operating throughout creation; and never swerves from that state.


उदासीनवत् आसीनः गुणै यः न विचाल्यते–seated like an unconcerned man and is not moved by the Gunas. He ever remains like an unconcerned man (उदासीनवत्). He is not unconcerned with the suffering and tribulations of the living beings or destruction of nature. He is very much concerned. He remains unconcerned with the results of his work. An unconcerned common man has a frivoulous or flippant attitude. He has an ostrichlike attitude. But gunatita does all the activities with zeal and commitment. He is like the sun who shines with full brilliance on all objects of the world. But he remains unconcerned as if he has no connection with the objects.

 A गुणातीत (one who has crossed the Gunas) is not really

perturbed as to what happens to him, his body, his prestige, his possessions etc. He knows that these are the evolutes of Gunas and not of his self. He remains ever established in the bliss of the supreme as a witness (sakshi).  He knows that the Gunas operate on the Gunas themselves meaning the qualities of satva, rajas and tamas work on the sense objects to cause various experiences. In the midst of the changing world he remains still in identity with God. For any happenings in the world he does not react violently. He has a healthy

response. He does whatever needs to be done as a duty but he ever remains tuned to God.

गुणै यः न विचाल्यते he is not upset with the vicissitudes of mind.

गुणाः वर्तन्ते इति एव यः अवतिष्ठति –he knows that it is Gunas that are the drivers of thought and action but not the self. The sense objects which are evolute of gunas, stimulate the mind, also a part of gunas and  commands the organs to work. In essences a wise man realizes that all these agents of action are nothing but an extension of Gunas. That means as has been clearly stated in chapter 03:28, quoted below, it is the Gunas that operate on the Gunas and therefore the self has no part in it.  The wise man remains established in the eternal, consciousness, wholly unattached truth and bliss or Brahman.

तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः

गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा न सज्जते ॥३ -२८॥


O mighty armed (Arjuna)! He who knows the truth about the role of Gunas or the attributes of nature  and their actions does not become attached to work. Because such a person knows that the gunas as the sense attributes are attahched to gunas as sense objects. So he remains unattached to them.


सः न इङ्गते –means never moves, swerves. A man of wisdom observes the play of Gunas working in his body as well as outside  as a non-aligned observer and enjoys the drama even as he remains abiding in the divine nature. The Gunas are incapable of shaking him because he has risen above them and the jiva has rediscovered its real nature and has no separate identity.

Shri Ramakrishna tells a parable. Just as a bull is unconcerned when a fly sits on its horns, a gunatita is unconverned with material afflictions or benefit.



VERSE – 14: 24

A man who is established in the self is equanimous in woe or joy,

 a stone or gold, pleasant or unpleasant thng.

समदुःखसुखः स्वस्थः समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ।

तुल्यप्रियाप्रियो धीरस्तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुतिः ॥१४:२४॥

samaduḥkhasukhaḥ svasthaḥ samalōṣṭāśmakāñcanaḥ |

tulyapriyāpriyō dhīrastulyanindātmasaṁstutiḥ ||14:24||


समदुःखसुखः स्वस्थः समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ।

तुल्यप्रियाप्रियः धीरः तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुतिः ॥


समदुःखसुखः-(सम-alike दुःख-distress सुखः- happiness)-alike in distress or happiness स्वस्थः- established in the self समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः-(सम-alike लोष्ट- a clod अश्म-stone काञ्चनः-gold)  the same attitude with a clod of mud, a stone or gold

तुल्यप्रियाप्रियः-(तुल्य- of equal value प्रिय-pleasent अप्रियः- unpleasant)- remains the same in pleasant and unpleasant situations  धीरः steady तुल्यनिन्दात्मसंस्तुतिः- (तुल्य- of equal value निन्दा-blame आत्म संस्तुतिः- praise) -same attitude in blame or praise


He who takes woe and joy alike, is ever established in self, considers a clod of earth, a stone and a piece of gold as equal in value, receives the pleasant and unpleasant in the same spirit, firm minded and views censure and praise alike, indeed transcends the three Gunas.(Gunatita)

This verse and the next one answer the second question in verse 21 of Arjuna. “ किम् अचारः त्रीन् गुणान् एतान् अतीतः भवति प्रभो O Lord, what is the conduct or behaviour of a Gunatita?

The Lord lists six laxanas of conduct or behaviour of a


  1. समदुःखसुखः – treating pleasure and pain alike. He does not hate grief दुःख, nor shows attachment (raga) in happiness सुखः.

Krishna has explained this attitude elsewhere as समत्वम् योग उच्यते.  A perfect man who is beyond the qualities of satva, rajas and tamas always stays put in a state of equipoise, is not disturbed by the emotins of hate and love, happiness and grief because he ever dwells in the self-consciousness. An adverse situation does not waver him. So, he is called a dhira.

  1. स्वस्थः – estabished in the self, abides by his higher nature (गुणातीत आत्म स्वरूपम्). A Gunatita is able to permanently stay in the state of equipoise because he ever remains in God consciousness. He knows that he is Gunatita. He is different froma guna, body, mind and world. Constant awareness is called स्वस्थः. स्व –means self or atma स्थः – means to remain, to stay. As against this an ordinary man is  प्रक्रतिस्थः meaning stationed in prakruti or matter. Since such men move among the Gunas or the modes of prakruti they are incapable of

being the same in pleasure and pain.

  1. समलोष्ट-अश्म-काञ्चनः – considering a clod of earth, a peace of stone and gold as equal in value. A Gunatita views all objects are nothing but manifestation of Brahman. So, he does not evaluate them in terms of money value or happiness content

He  considers a clod of earth, a peace of stone or gold as of equal value. These three are anatma forms to him. There is neither raga nor dwesha. There is a storey of Sant Kabirdas. Once he was walking in a forest trail alongwith his son who was also an advanced sadhak. Kabir happened to see a gold ornament in the walking trail, which he tried to cover up with mud with his feet. He did not want his son to be distracted by the gold. The son who noticed this said. “Dad, Did you think that I will go astray from my sadhana and pick up this gold which of mud value to me?”

Swami Ramakrishna tells a parable- A man had heard about the touchstone (स्पर्शमणि).  He wanted to obtain one and become very rich. He knew that the sages living in the forest have it. He heard about a sage who was living in a deep

jungle by the side of a river. He went to him and started serving him with devotion. The sage once asked him. “Why have you come here”. The greedy man said, “I am looking for a touch stone”. The sage told him that there is a shining stone in a corner of this hut. That is touchstone. You can take it”   The greedy man took it and started walking back to his village. On the way he thought, why would the old man live in a hut even after having the touchstone. He must be having something valuable than the touch stone. So, he came back to the hut and returned the toucstone. “What is that you are having with is higher than the toucstone”? asked the greedy man. The sage said you will not understand it. You should first give up desire. Then you will understand what is happiness. What you are carrying is not happiness. It is grief and trouble. Gunatita is one who considers all anatma objects have the same value.


  1. तुल्यःप्रिया-अप्रियः – receiving agreeable and disagreeable in the same spirit. For a man of body- consciousness a thing which enhances the comforts of the body, mind and intellect is considered as pleasant. Contact with a pleasant thing is a source of attraction and joy and its loss is a cause of aversion and sarrow. A wise man who is Gunatita makes no such

difference because he dwells always in the joy of self. Such trifle wordly joys and sarrows make no dent in him because he is enjoying the eternal super joy.

  1. धीरः – brave hearted (firm-minded). धी means mind, a man of steady wisdom. It also means a brave hearted, firm minded. He is called so because he does not waver from his self-consciouness. He has courage of conviction.
  2. तुल्य-निन्दा-आत्म-संस्तुतिः – viewing censure and praise alike. Both these are related to the body or mind. Since a Gunatita ceases to have any connection with the body, senses and mind he is not attached to a snub or a praise. It is like a man who became a beggar in his dream, does not bother about his dream miseries when he gets awake. A pefect man has gone into God-consciousness and therefore the dream world of body and its afflictions do not torment him.


VERSE – 14: 25

मानापमानयोस्तुल्यस्तुल्यो मित्रारिपक्षयोः ।

सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी गुणातीतः स उच्यते ॥१४:२५॥


mānāpamānayōstulyastulyō mitrāripakṣayōḥ |

sarvārambhaparityāgī guṇātītaḥ sa ucyatē ||14:25||


मानापमानयोः तुल्यःतुल्यः मित्र अरिपक्षयोः ।

सर्वारम्भपरित्यागी गुणातीतः सः उच्यते ॥ 


मान-अपमानयोः –in honour and dishonour तुलयः –the same तुलयः –the same in मित्र-अरि-पक्षयोः –to the cause of a friend and a foe सर्व-आरम्भ-परित्यागी –abandoning the sense of doership in all undertakings गुणातीतः –one who has risen above the gunas सः –he उच्यते –is spoken of


A sage who transcends the triple qualities is one, who is uninfluenced in honour or insult; is alike to the cause of a friend or a foe; abandons the sense of personal doership in all undertakings.


Three chareristics of a man who has transcended the triple Gunas are mentioned. Samatvam is further explained here. Six more qulaities are explained in verse 24.

  1. मान-अपमानयोः तुलयः –the same in honour and dishonour. In ordinary life a person is pleased if praised and displeased if snubbed. Since a Gunaita ceases to have any body-consciouness and ever stays put in divine vision, an honour or insult to the body-mind complex hardly makes any difference to him. It is often said that it is better to die than live with heaping insult and ingnominy. The Lord himself has said in Ch. 02:36 quoted below. “ Arjuna! Your foes will speak your name with contempt and will ridicule your prowess. Could anything be more painful for a warrior?

अवाच्यवादांश्च बहून्वदिष्यन्ति तवाहिताः।निन्दन्तस्तव सामर्थ्यं ततो दुःखतरं नु किम् ॥२:३६॥ A Gunatita on the other hand has equinamity of mind and has voluntarily given up all attachments to body and has rediscovered the self. There is a storey of Janaka. Once Shukamaharshi came to his door to meet Janaka. Janaka wanted to test if the Rrushi was indeed a gunatita. He did not meet the sage for three days. On the fourth day the king received him with all regal welcome. Shuka was neither happy not unhappy. He remained the same like a true yogi. Janaka fell at his feet and apologised.     

  1. तुलयः मित्र-अरि-पक्षयोः –entertains no feeling of friendship or enimity towards any creature. He has realized the oneness of of every being– unity of jiva, jagat and Ishwara. He considers the whole world and all inhabitants as his own body (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्).

So he is the same to the cause of a friend or a foe. Can I consider my right hand as a friend and the left as  a foe? 


  1. सर्व आरम्भ परित्यागी –abandoning all undertaqkings. आरम्भ means a work or undertaking done for self benefit. A work or a project can be undertaken by body, Mind or even by a word. Such undertakings are done with a motive to cause a benefit or harm others. So, it is desire motivated. Such activities give us a sense of doer-ship and enjoyer-ship. A gunatita also does all activities to help is brothern, but has no attachment to it fruits for his own benefit. So, he has no doership.

सः गुणातीतः उच्यते –He is called Gunatita or one who has risen above he triple qualities. This phrase sums up Lords reply to two of arjuna’s questions. गुणातीतस्य किम् आचारः How does he behave? As regards the third question, what are the means and methods of attaining that state, the lord replies in the next verse. कथम् च एतान् त्रीन् गुणान् अतिवर्तते ॥१४:२१॥


VERSE – 14: 26


Bonds of three modes can be cut by devotional love 

मां च योऽव्यभिचारेण भक्तियोगेन सेवते ।

स गुणान्समतीत्यैतान्ब्रह्मभूयाय कल्पते ॥१४:२६॥


māṁ ca yō:’vyabhicārēṇa bhaktiyōgēna sēvatē |

sa guṇānsamatītyaitānbrahmabhūyāya kalpatē ||14:26||


माम् च यः अव्यभिचारेण भक्तियोगेन सेवते

सः एतान् गुणान् समतीत्य  ब्रम्हभूयाय कल्पते

माम् -me च –and यः -who अव्यभिचारेण –unswerving भक्तियोगेन –with yoga of exclusive devotion सेवते –serves सः –he एतान् -these गुणान् –the gunas समतीत्य –having crossed ब्रम्ह-भूयाय –for attaining Brahma कल्पते –becomes eligible


He who constantly serves me with undeviating love, through the yoga of exclusive devotion, transcends the three gunas and qualifies to become Brahman.


In this verse, the Lord explains how one can cross the triple qualities and attin Godhood.

In the verse 21, Arjuna asked three questions to Krishna.

  1. कैः र्लिङ्गैः त्रीन् गुणान् एतान् अतीतो भवति प्रभो । what are the signs that distinguish a man who has transcended three Gunas?Veerse 22-23
  2. किम् आचारः What is his behaviour? Verse 24-25
  3. कथम् च एतान् त्रीन् गुणान् अति वर्तते How does he rise beyond the triple qualities? Verse 26


Krishna having already answered two questions, in this verse replies to Arjuna’s third question;  how does one transcend these three Gunas?

The Lord has actually replied to this question in Verse 14:19 as under:

गुणेभ्यश्च परं वेत्ति मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति ॥१४:१९॥

Me, the supreme spirit who is above and beyond these three gunas; one enters into my being. गुणेभ्यः च परम् वेत्ति – One who knows the supreme spririt as  truth, consciousness and bliss is other than and entirely beyond the Gunas, enters my own being. That means the Lord says that jnyana or transcendental knowledge  is the only sadhana to become gunatita. The Lord

explains jnyana acquired by bhakti yoga.


  1. माम् च यः अव्यभिचारेण भक्तियोगेन सेवते

माम् च and me only. Krishna efers to his universal form not he son of Vasudeva. 

– व्यभिचार  is prostitution. A whore offers her love to different clients. The love for God should be devoted to none else but the supreme, the love should be unswerving and exclusive. This pre-supposes extreme reverence and faith for him as ultimate resort, a friend, father, mother, guide and protector.

Why do we pray to God?. We pray to him to fulfil our several requirements such as home, hearth, health, wealth, property,  and such demands. Ananya bhakti means, we have to pray to him for the purpose of gaining him but not his gifts.

 If a retired man is asked on what support you live, we get different answers. One may say “I earn money”, another says “my childen support me”, or “I get a pension”. Yet another man says “I have suffiencent savings”. What all of them have forgotten is that it is God who suppots all of us. A love for God as the exclusive supporter and benefactor is called अव्यभिचार बुद्धि, which is a prerequisite for crossing over the three Gunas. It is also called अनन्य भक्ति. Narada bhakti sutra explains that Ananya bhakti is living by severance of support of others (अन्याश्रयाणाम् त्यागो अनन्यता).

  1. यः माम् च भक्तियोगेन सेवते –One who worships me through yoga of exclusive devotion. Such a person is always engaged in hearing, singing and dwelling on God’s virtues, glory and pastime. He is engaged in contemplation. He looks upon his body and mind as belonging to God and continues to perform all activities of the world in a disinterested manner as a service to the Lord. In the 7th chapter the Lord explains three types of bhakti: Arta, Artharthi and Jignyasu. Jignyasu bhakti is called avyabhichara bhakti or ananya bhakti.

माम् -me the formless, attributeless Brahman.

एतान् गुणान् समतीत्य –having crossed over these three Gunas Viz. sattva, rajas and tamas which form the subject of discussion in the present chapter. He ceases to have any connection wih these three Gunas or their evolutes of sense organs and sense objects. He knows that all the activity is driven by the gunas. He remains unattached to the activity or their results.

 ब्रम्ह-भूयाय कल्पते –becomes eligible for attaining the formless, attributeless spirit who is truth consciousness and bliss.


 VERSE – 14: 27

I am the formless Brahman, the immortal and imperishable, of eternal dharma, and of unending divine bliss.

ब्रह्मणो हि प्रतिष्ठाहममृतस्याव्ययस्य च ।

शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्यैकान्तिकस्य च ॥१४:२७॥


brahmaṇō hi pratiṣṭhāhamamr̥tasyāvyayasya ca |

śāśvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikāntikasya ca ||14:27||

ब्रह्मणः हि प्रतिष्ठा अहम् अमृतस्य अव्ययस्य च

शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्य ऎकान्तिकस्य च

ब्रह्मणः – of the above said Brahman हि –indeed प्रतिष्ठा –the abode, base अहम् – me अमृतस्य – the immortal Brahman अव्ययस्य –of the imperishable च –and शाश्वतस्य –everlasting, eternal च –and धर्मस्य –of dharma सुखस्य –joy, happiness ऐकान्तिकस्य–unending joy, ekantikam is dukha rahita sukham, दुखः रहित सुखम् unalloyed ananda. च –as well


I am the abode of the infinite, immortal and indestructible Brahman;  of eternal Dharma and of analloyed Bliss.


In this verse Krishna concludes the teaching of three Gunas. The previous verse may give rise to the question about the relationship between Krishna and the formless Brahman. It was previously stated that the all-powerful God has both aspects to his personality—the formless and the personal form. Here, Krishna reveals that the Brahman which the jñānīs worship is the light from the personal form of God.


अमृतस्य अव्ययस्य च शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्य ऎकान्तिकस्य च

Krishna says, “I am the ground or abode of Brahman, dharma and bliss.”  The word Brahman is followed by six features namely; अमृतस्य अव्ययस्य च शाश्वतस्य च धर्मस्य सुखस्य ऎकान्तिकस्य.  We shall study each of them separately.


ब्रह्मणःहि प्रतिष्ठा अहम् –I am the abode of Brahman which is Gunatita which you want to achieve. Krishna refers to the formless, attributeless supreme Brhaman. The intention of Krishna in declaring himself as the ground (प्रतिष्ठा) of supreme Brahman is to convey that the substratum or ground is not different from him.  So, the personal Gods possessed with attributes such as Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Durga, and Hanuman are manifested forms of God whereas the entire universe is his cosmic body. God possed with attributes is same as Brahman without guna or attributes. Krishna and Brahman are not two different entities but represent the same reality. In the previous verse Krishna said that one becomes qualified to attain me by unalloyed devotion or bhakti. Goyandka: The absolute or attributeless aspect which transcends maya which is inconceivable and beyond reach of mind and speech is same as manifested forms of God.


अमृतस्य अव्ययस्य- Both  these adjectives meaning immortal and imperishable refer to Supreme Brahman. Krishna is talking here as supreme Brahman without form.  By declaring himself as ground for अमृतस्य indicates lasting immunity from transmigration in the form of birth and death. By  अव्ययस्य meaning imperishable , the Lord refers to himself conveys that he is no different from immortality. Imperishablity and immortality are the same. Attainment of immortality is the same as his self realization. 

शाश्वतस्य धर्मस्य –everlasting, eternal dharma. This is the mark of one who has transcended the three gunas. It constitutes his own being.

सुखस्य ऐकान्तिकस्यच –Brahman is in the form of Bliss. This happiness is not born out of sense objects or certain conditions. That is why it is called  ऐकान्तिकस्य–absolute; It is not dependent on any object or condition. It is ever present. It is free from grief. It is the nature of Brahman. He is the ground for non-objective, non-dependent absolute bliss. Attainment of such as bliss is same as realization of truth.

स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते ॥५२१॥

A person who has realized Brahman feels no attraction for the sensory world; he lives in the ever new undiminished joy of his own being. United to the Brahman, he attains perfection in the absolute bliss.


युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी विगतकल्मषः ।सुखेन ब्रह्मसंस्पर्शमत्यन्तं सुखमश्नुते ॥६:२८॥ The sinless yogi, thus uniting his self for ever wth God, easily enjoys the eternal bliss of oneness with Brahman 

ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायां योगशास्त्रे

श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे गुणत्रयविभागयोगो नाम चतुर्दशोऽध्यायः ॥१४॥


Aum Tat Sat

In the Upanishad of the holy Bhagavad Gita – the discourse of Lord Krishna to Arjuna, which in the scriptures of yoga and the science of God realization—this is the Fourteenth chapter, called Transcending the Gunas



  Summary of 14th chapter


Based on the commentary of Paramarthananda:


The six chapters from 13 to 18 represents the final shatkam of Bhagawadgita. In chapters 13, 14, and 15, he teaches the persuit of self-knowldge or Atma Jjnyana. In chapters 16 and 17 he describes the virtues of jnyana yoga.

The 14th chapter deals with the subject of going beyond the Gunas and attaining Godhood. Therefore the name of the chapter is Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga.  This knowledge is called the greatest widom because it is the liberating wisdom or Atma Jnyana. This knowledge is called Para Vidya in the Upanishads and as Raja Vidya in the 9th Chapter.

In the 1st verse Krishna praises the self-knowledge because it leads  one to his own supreme naure. By this wisdom he says in the 2nd verse, that a man is liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and is not born again even at the time of new creation (सर्गेऽपि नोपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च). In the verses 3 and 4 the divine spirit is proclaimed as the Father-Mother principle of life. The eternal consciousness is the father principle. Mahat-Brahma or the universal creative consciousness or the womb is the mother principle. Mahat Brahma is also called as Mula Prakruti, unmanifested differentiation of the absolute. It is the womb of the primordial matter impregnated with the reflected intelligence of spirit, the seed of the future creations. This action of spirit arouses creative potential in the Primordial Prakruti and brings about the evolution of matter. In its transcendental aspect, the spirit however is unified or uncreative.

Several technical terms are used in Gita for the two aspects of God namely the Spirit amd Matter. These are chetana and achetana tatva, para and apara prakruti, Purusha and Prakruti (Ch. 13), Kshetra and Kshetrajyna, ahankara and sakshi. In the Upanishads, these principles are called Brahman and Maya. These two principles together is called Ishwara or Uttama Pursuha.

The process of liberation consists of realization that I am not the body, mind and intellect or its possessions and emotions. I am indeed the higher absolute consciousness. All the activities of the body and matter are anatma which will not lead  me to spiritual growth. My redemption comes only by identifying myself with the higher priniciple. Liberation during life is called jivanmukti and liberation after life is called videha mukti.

Having discussed creation, the Lord takes up the subject of Gunas in verses 5 to 18, fallowed by the method of transcending them and attaining one’s own supreme nature.  The Gunas are considered by Krishna in 5 sub- headings. These are:

  1. लक्षण or definition of three gunas 2. बन्धन प्रकार or mode of bondage 3. लिंगम् indication 4. गति Course of travel after death 5.फलम् fruit or reward
  2. 1. लक्षण or definition of three gunas:-

 सत्वगुण is प्रकाशकम् –luminous nature, (unpolluted by tamoguna) and अनामयम् –flawless and free from restlessness (unpolluted by rajoguna).  Rajas is रागात्मकम् or triggers desire, attachment and endless ego-centric activities. Tamas is अज्ञानजम् ,मोहनम् , causing ignorance and delusion.

  1. 2. बन्धन प्रकार or mode of bondage. When my mind is sattvik or knowledge friendly, I opeate jnyanedriya all the time. I seek infrastructure which is conducive to study and practice of knowledge such as a library, ashram or satsang. It also becomes a bondage because if such a conducive atmosphere is not present I becomes unhappy. ज्ञानसङ्गेन बध्नाति. Similarly Rajas is binding by कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् बध्नाति and tamas by प्रमाद आलस्यनिद्राभिः निबध्नाति.
  2. लिंगम् or indication to find out which guna is prominent in us. When the sense organs seek knowledge, associates with good people, spiritual music and talks etc, it indicates that sattva is predominant. (Verse 11). When there is more activity and agitation, it indicates the surge of rajas (verse 12) and  when stupor, laziness, procrastination etc,. are increasing, it points out that tamoguna is on the upper hand (13).
  3. 4. गति or post- death travel. If a person dies when satva guna is up, he attains a higher loka, ऊर्ध्व गति; if a person dies when rajoguna is predominant, he takes birth in mortal world in the family of rajogunis मध्यम गति. If a person meets his end when tamas is more, he goes downward in evolution and takes birth in the womb of lesser creatures अधो गति.


  1. फलम् or fruits of Gunas. Whereas gati is the consequence of Gunas post death, phalam is the result of Gunas during life time. Verse 16 says:

कर्मणः सुकृतस्याहुः सात्त्विकं निर्मलं फलम्।

रजसस्तु फलं दुःखमज्ञानं तमसः फलम् ॥१४:१६॥

The fruit of righteous action is sattvik and pure in nature (in the form of joy, wisdom, dispassion etc.); the fruit of rajasik action is pain, and the fruit of tamasik action is ignorance. 

In the verse 19 and 20 the Lord describes the naure of a jivanmukta. गुणेभ्यः च परम् वेत्ति मद्भावं सोऽधिगच्छति 14:19. One who attains a state which is higher than the Gunas, he indeed  enters into my being.

The process of transcending the gunas is not like a drive in a toll-free corridor. It consists of realization that I am not the body but I am the expereincer of body; I am not mind but I am the experiencer of mind.  All the known attributes belong to body- mind complex but not to me. I am merely an experiencer. The green colour belongs to the leaf or an object; it does not belong to me. Objectified attributes belong to the objects  but not to the objectifier.  All gunas belong to body mind complex but not to me. Similarly all the BMI, PFT and emotions and thoughts belong to the body but not to me.  I am the gunatita. Contemplation, realization and actual living in this state, transforms a sattvik sadhak into a Gunatita or Nirguna Brahman. 

In the four verse from 21 to 27 the Lord explains गुणातीत लक्षण or the distinquishing marks of a Gunatita Yogi.  Arjuna poses three direct questions to Krishna. O Lord, what are the distinguishing features of a man who has transcended the three Gunas. What is his behaviour? How does he rise beyond the tripple qualiies?

Krishna answers the first question. Gunatita is a free soul, the one liberated while still in the body. So he is also called Jivnmukta. He has disassociated  from prakriti. He does not have “I”-notion in the body or in the world. Hence, He looks at the variations of the gunas objectively without reacting to them. An ordinary man is continuously stirred by the triple qualities by the feelings of love and hate, attraction and repulsion (Verse 22). A gunatita remains unaffected by the opposite experiences of life like pleasure and pain, praise and censure, honour and dishonour etc. He understands that they are the play of prakruti and its Gunas and remains neutral. (Verses 23, 24 and 25).  Since a gunatita is invariably a wise man, his description tallies with the स्थितप्रज्ञ लक्षण of the 2nd chapter as well as the परभक्त portion of the 12th chapter.

In reply to Arjuna’s third question “How does a man rise beyond the Gunas”, Krishna concludes by prescribing अव्यभिचार भक्ति (unswerving devotion to God) as the sadhana to transcend the Gunas and become qualified to become Brahman (Verse 26).  In the last verse that is 27 he says I am the basis of the immortal and eternal Dharma and unalloyed Bliss.