Here Sri Krishna talks about His source of creation called Prakriti and the Gunas (modes) that are instrumental in creating variety of natures of living and nonliving beings. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna that when the sages acquire the highest knowledge, they reach perfection and they are not born at the time of creation and are unaffected at the time of dissolution. Sri Krishna says He would once again impart this highest knowledge to Arjuna.
Sri Krishna explains, whatever forms are born in different types of wombs, the Prakriti is the original source and Sri Krishna is the father who sows the seed. The three Gunas namely sattva, rajas and tamas are produced from
Prakriti and they bind the changeless indwelling self to the body.
Sattva is purity, light and wisdom. Sattva creates attachment to happiness and harmony. The senses in sattva are surcharged with the light of knowledge. If one leaves the body when sattva prevails, then he goes to the pure region of the wise people who have knowledge of the Highest.
Rajas is passion, desire and unlit activity. Rajas binds the body to action. When rajas grows then greed, activity, restlessness and intense desires are born. If one dies when rajas prevails, then he is reborn among those attached to action. Men of rajas stay in the midplane.
Tamas is slumber, darkness and ignorance. Tamas leads to futility and stagnation. Death in tamas is followed by rebirth among the dullards. Men of tamas busy with horrible deeds, sink to the lower plane.
The Lord says that he who understands the three Gunas as the source of all action and at the same time understands Purusa, who is beyond the qualities, comes to Him and enters into His Nature. Finally, when he goes beyond the three qualities – sattva, rajas and tamas – he is freed from birth, death, old age, and pain and attains eternal life. (14.19-20)
Arjuna then asks three significant questions to Sri Krishna.?What are the marks of one who has transcended the three qualities? How does he behave? How does he go beyond the three qualities?? (14.21)
Sri Krishna answers in the following manner: ?the man who has transcended the three qualities will neither hate nor crave for the fruits of sattva, rajas or tamas. He is a man filled with equanimity. He treats pain and pleasure, fame and infamy, honour and dishonour, friends and foes alike. For him mud, stone and gold are the same. He is absolutely independent. He serves God with unfaltering devotion. Such a man ultimately becomes one with the Supreme Self.? (14.22-26)
(The following English translation is taken from ‘A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy’ Edited by S. Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. 1957 Princeton University Press)
Chapter 14: The Mystical Father of All Beings
The highest knowledge
The Blessed Lord said:
1. 1 shall again declare that supreme wisdom, of all wisdom the best, by knowing which all sages have passed from this world to the highest perfection.
2. Having resorted to this wisdom and become of like nature to Me, they are not born at the time of creation; nor are they disturbed at the time of dissolution.
3. Great brahma (prakrti) is My womb: in that I cast the seed and from it is the birth of all beings, 0 Bharata (Arjuna).
4. Whatever forms are produced in any wombs whatsoever, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), great brahma is their womb and I am the Father who casts the seed.
Goodness, passion and dullness
5. The three modes (gunas) goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), and dullness (tamas) born of nature (prakrti) bind down in the body, 0 Mighty-armed (Arjuna), the imperishable dweller in the body.
6. Of these, goodness (sattva) being pure, causes illumination and health. It binds, 0 blameless one, by attachment to happiness and by attachment to knowledge.
7. Passion (rajas), know thou, is of the nature of attraction, springing from craving and attachment. It binds fast, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), the embodied one by attachment to action.
8. But dullness (tamas), know thou, is born of ignorance and deludes all embodied beings. It binds, 0 Bharata (Arjuna), by [developing the qualities of] negligence, indolence and sleep.
9. Goodness attaches one to happiness, passion to action, 0 Bharata (Arjuna), but dullness, veiling wisdom, attaches to negligence.
10. Goodness prevails, overpowering passion and dullness, 0 Bharata (Arjuna). Passion prevails, [overpowering] goodness and dullness and even so dullness prevails [overpowering] goodness and passion.
11. When the light of knowledge streams forth in all the gates of the body, then it may be known that goodness has increased.
12. Greed, activity, the undertaking of actions, unrest and craving-these spring up, 0 Best of the Bharatas (Arjuna), when rajas (passion) increases.
13. Unillumination, inactivity, negligence, and mere delusion-these arise, 0 joy of the Kurus (Arjuna), when dullness increases.
14. When the embodied soul meets with dissolution, when goodness prevails, then it attains to the pure worlds of those who know the Highest,
15. Meeting with dissolution when passion prevails, it is born among those attached to action; and if it is dissolved when dullness prevails, it is born in the wombs of the deluded.
16. The fruit of good action is said to be of the nature of ?goodness ? and pure; while the fruit of passion is pain, the fruit of dullness is ignorance.
17. From goodness arises knowledge and from passion greed, negligence and error arise from dullness, as also ignorance.
18. Those who are established in goodness rise upwards; the passionate remain in the middle [regions]; the dull steeped in the lower tendencies sink downwards.
19. When the seer perceives no agent other than the modes, and knows also that which is beyond the modes, he attains to MY being.
20. When the embodied soul rises above these three modes that spring from the body, it is freed from birth, death, old age, and pain and attains life eternal.
The Character of him who is beyond the three modes
21. By what mark is he, 0 Lord, who has risen above the three modes characterized? What is his way of life? How does he get beyond the three modes?
The Blessed Lord said:
22. He, 0 Pandava (Arjuna), who does not abhor illumination, activity, and delusion when they arise nor longs for them when they cease;
23. He who is seated like one unconcerned, unperturbed by the modes, who stands apart, without wavering, knowing that it is only the modes that act;
24. He who regards pain and pleasure alike, who dwells in his own self, who looks upon a clod, a stone, a piece of gold as of equal worth, who remains the same amidst the pleasant and the unpleasant things, who is firm of mind, who regards both blame and praise as one;
25. He who is the same in honour and dishonour and the same to friends and foes, and who has given up all initiative of action, he is said to have risen above the modes;
26. He who serves Me with unfailing devotion of love, rises above the three modes, he too is fit for becoming Brahman.
27. For I am the abode of Brahman, the Immortal and the Imperishable, of eternal law and of absolute bliss.
This is the fourteenth chapter entitled ?The Yoga of the Differentiation of the Three Modes.?