Chapter 25. The operation of the three gunas – their individual and combined effect on the jiva – how one can overcome such effects – while making most of the precious human body.

The 25th chapter is an exposition by the Lord to Uddhava, on how men are affected by the three gunas, individually as well as in conjunction with one another; and how one can get over the effects. The individual as well as the combined traits of sattva, rajas and tamo guna are enumerated.

From virtues like self control, one should conclude a man to be endowed predominantly with sattva; from passion etc one should know him to be predominantly full of rajas; and from anger and allied characteristics, he should infer him to be full of tamas. Disinterested devotion to the Lord through performances of ones duties is the sign of sattvic disposition. When a man worships the Lord, seeking pleasures of sense, that is a sign of rajasic disposition and when he does so expecting injury to others, it is a sign of tamasic disposition.

The gunas affect the jiva alone and not the Lord, in as much as they appear only in the mind of the jiva and because it is the jiva alone who is bound, getting attached to the elements in the form of the body, senses, mind and the sense objects. When sattva is on rise, the strength of the gods increases; that of the asuras when rajas is on the rise; that of the rakshasa, when tamas is ascendant. Waking state is attributed to sattva, dream state to rajas and deep sleep to tamas; the fourth state viz turiya uniformly running through all the other states of consciousness.

Men following the courses of conduct prescribed in the Vedas go higher and higher through sattva; by recourse to tamas they descend lower and lower embracing even inanimate life; while by recourse to rajas they continue to move in the intermediate state as human beings. Those who died when sattva was on the descendant ascend to heaven, those whose death occurred at a time when rajas was predominant return to the human world; those whose death took place when tamas was in the ascendant go down to hell, while those who have transcended the three gunas attain to the Lord alone.

One who performs actions according to shastras without attachments to the fruits thereof, is sattvic; the doer who is blinded by passion is rajasic; one who acting against the tenets of shastras, indulges in prohibited actions, is tamasic; whereas one who performs prescribed acts leading to liberation is nirguna. Food is also of three types. Thus substance (food etc), place of abode, fruit (in the shape of happiness etc), time, knowledge, actions, the doer, faith, state of consciousness, state of existence, and final destiny-everything is a matter of fact constituted of the three gunas alone. Therefore, as all things are established by Sri Laxmi and Sri Narayana through the three gunas, one should through the hearing of scriptures and pondering over the same through one’s intellect meditate on Sri Hari as being present everywhere. The transmigration of the jiva in this whirligig is due to the operation of the gunas and the karmas (actions) springing from them. He who is able to overcome the influence of these gunas manifesting in the mind, and becoming established in the Lord by treading the path of devotion, surrender to the Lord, bids fair to go back to the Lord.

A wise man seeking to make the most of this precious human body should therefore worship the Lord free from attachments to sense pleasures, and with controlled senses and with extreme vigilance, should get the better of rajas and tamas by duly cultivating sattva. Possessed of a tranquil mind, he should thoroughly subdue sattva too by means of desirelessness. Rid of the three gunas, the embodied soul is able to give up the linga sarira; and becoming full of the Lord consisting of perfect bliss, the jiva neither goes out to enjoy the external objects, nor turns inwards to enjoy them mentally. In other words, he is liberated during his very lifetime. Thus ends the twenty-fifth chapter.

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