Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 7 (Part-1) Jnaana Vijnaana Yogah- Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom

  A  reference to the gunas was made by Krishna in  the Gita earlier vide Chapter 2 verse 45. In the beginning of this Chapter we  have seen the Lord is of two kinds of nature viz, Purusha and Prakriti. Thee  former denotes the Soul or Consciousness and the latter Nature or matter, which  is dull and insentient. Prakriti consists of three gunas namely, sattva, rajas,  and tamas. Rajas denotes restlessness or active principle. Tamas is the  principle of inertia and Sattva, serenity and harmony, is the equilibrium  between rajas and tamas. As prakriti consists of the three gunas, every object  in prakriti is compounded of these three gunas. Samsara is the realm of the  gunas. Freedom is beyond these gunas.

Prakriti  is not independent of the Lord. Everything constituted by the three gunas is in  no sense a self-dependent essence independent of God but springs from Him  alone. While He contains and comprehends all, they do not contain and  comprehend Him. This is the distinction between God and His creatures. They  undergo changes because of the divine but their changes do not touch the  integrity of the Divine. The lord is not subject to any one else, while all  things are subject to Him.

Matter  exists because of Spirit and Spirit is never restrained or regulated by the  finite matter.  The three Gunas - Sattva,  Rajas and Tamas - which are temperaments or nature of the head and heart, by  which the instruments of feeling, thinking and action come to play their role  everywhere, rise from the Self.


tribhirgunamayair bhaavairebhih  sarvamidam jagat
    mohitam naabhijaanaati maamebhyah  paramavyayam // 7.13 //

Deluded  by these threefold Gunas (modes of nature) of Prakriti the whole world does not  recognize Me as distinct from them and imperishable.

The  people of this world are deluded by the three gunas or qualities of nature. Affection,  attachment and infatuated love, hatred are all the characteristics of the gunas.  On account of delusion created by these qualities they are not able to break  worldly ties and turn their minds towards the Supreme Lord though the Lord is  the inmost Self of all beings and the object of direct and immediate  perception.

The  Lord in His purest essence is untouched by the gunas which belong only to His  prakriti. The Self is the essence which does not have the six modifications of  the body viz. birth, growth, existence, old age, decay and death.

This  verse answers the question as to why the ordinary mortals are not able to  understand at least the presence of the great truth about the spirit and  matter.  The answer in short is that  deluded by the modifications of the three Gunas the living beings become blind  to the divine possibilities in themselves. So long as a ghost is seen in the post,  the vision of the post will not be available to the perceiver. Thus deluded,  the ego does not realize the Supreme as different from it.

Dr.S.Radhakrishnan  comments: “According to Sankara the Supreme expresses His regret that the world  does not know Him, the Supreme Lord who is, by nature, eternal, pure,  enlightened and free, the Self of all beings, devoid of attributes (gunatheetha) by knowing whom the seed of the evil of samsara is burnt up. We see the  changing forms and not the Eternal Being of which the forms are the  manifestations. We see the moving shadows on the wall whereas we must see the  Light from which the shadows emanate”.


daivee hyeshaa gunamayee mama maayaa  duratyayaa
    maameva ye prapadyante maayaametaam  taranti te // 7.14 //

Verily,  this divine illusion of Mine (Maya), consisting of the gunas, is hard to  overcome. But those who take refuge in Me alone shall cross over this illusion.

Maya  or illusion is divine because it is a part of the Lord’s nature and inscrutable  to human reason as we have seen earlier. It is hard to overcome by self-effort  if unaided by divine grace. Although Sri Krishna Himself admits that it is not  easy for any egocentric individual to transcend this illusion which is caused  by His Maya, the Lord says that those who devote themselves to Him alone can overcome  this obstacle which creates sorrows and imperfections in the objective world.

How  to do this was already explained under `Meditation' in the previous Chapter.


na maam dushkritino moodhaah prapadyante  naraadhamaah
    maayayaapahritajnaanaa aasuraam  bhaavamaashritaah // 7.15 //

The  evil-doers and the deluded and the vilest among men, deprived of knowledge by  Maya and following the ways of demons do not worship Me.
  In  the previous verse Sri Krishna talked of those who can successfully transcend  their own subjective delusion.  In this  verse He gives the negative nature in those who cannot overcome this delusion  for realizing the Divinity in themselves.

He  says that low men because of their delusion and indulgence in evil actions,  follow the path of the devil (Asura) and get themselves deprived of  their discrimination. The difference between man and animal is his rational  intellect by which he can distinguish between the good and the evil, the high  and the low, the moral and the immoral etc. This rational discriminative  capacity alone helps the man to cast off his imperfections and become aware of  his essential nature of Absolute Divinity.

The  evil doers cannot attain to the Supreme, for their mind and will are not  instruments of the Spirit but of the ego. They do not seek to master their  crude impulses but are a prey to the Rajas and Tamas in them. If they control  their crude tendencies by the Sattva in them, their action becomes orderly and  enlightened and ceases to be the outcome of passion and ignorance.

To  go beyond the three gunas, first, we have to submit ourselves to the rule of Sattva.  We have to become ethical, before we can become spiritual. At the spiritual  level, we cross the dualities and act in the light and strength of the Spirit  in us. We do not act then to gain any personal interest or avoid personal  suffering but only as instrument of the Divine.

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