Gita essays 25
Earlier in ch.2, Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to transcend the three gunas of satva, rajas and tamas in verse 45 with the words “Be free from the triad of three gunas”. In ch, 14 where the Lord discusses the gunas in detail he again emphasises the point as it is impossible for a person to get liberation unless one transcends the three gunas as all the three gunas bind a person, only the nature of binding differs. And also these three gunas together make up Maya Sakthi, the other name for Prakrithi. Maya Sakthi has two constituents, one called avarana sakthi, the veiling power, and the other called vikshepa sakthi, the projecting power. The veiling power throws a veil over the real nature of one’s Self and in the state of ignorance of the real nature of one’s Self as Brahman, one takes the body-mind-complex as the real nature of one’s self. The projecting power projects the external world as real. These two beliefs, one about one’s self as body/mind/intellect and the other regarding the reality of the external world, create samsara, the cycle of pleasure and pain. One who transcends the three gunas and is called Gunatheetha, overcomes the influence of the two powers with the result he realizes his true Self as Brahman, and sees the real nature of the external world as transactional reality only and not as absolute reality. Thereby he gets liberated from the clutches of samsara, and becomes a Jeevanmuktha. So Lord Krishna says in verse 20: “Having gone beyond these three guṇas which are the cause of rebirth, a person becomes free from birth, death, old age, and sorrow, and attains immortality.”
Gunatheetha understands his real Self as Athma that has no birth or death, sorrow or old age (though the body that is made up of the three gunas may suffer these till the end of prarabhdha), and is in a state of peace and bliss always. This remark evokes Arjuna’s curiosity and so he asks the Lord in verse 21: “What are the marks of him who has transcended the three gunas, O Lord? What is his conduct and how does he go beyond these three gunas?”, leading to Lord’s description of Gunatheetha in the remaining verses of this chapter. Through his question, Arjuna has asked for:
1) The indicators to recognize a Gunatheetha
2) The conduct of Gunatheetha towards the outside world and others
3) The sadhanas through which one can become Gunatheetha
In verse 14-22, Lord Krishna states the answer to the first question, Gunatheetha hates not the effects of the three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas, namely prakasam, light; pravritti, activity and moham,delusion, when present in his body mind complex, nor does he long for them in their absence. Gunas and their effects will still be present for him even though he has transcended them, for two reasons. Gunathitha has transcended the gunas through Athmajnanam that his true self is only Athma which is beyond the three gunas. So there is only change of cognition and no physical change involved. Secondly his body-mind-complex remains physically the same as the product of gunas; mind, intellect and organs of knowledge, of satva of subtle pancha bhutas; prana and organs of action, of rajas of subtle pancha bhuthas and gross physical body, of tamas of grossified pancha bhuthas; the pancha bhuthas being the five elements, space, air, fire, water and earth. So Gunatheetha watches the play of gunas in the body-mind-complex, as one watches a play without identifying with the characters. Equanimity in all circumstances and inner peace independent of all environments is his hallmark.
In verses 23,24 and 25 Lord gives the answer to the second question. In verse 23, Lord Krishna, describes Gunatheetha’s attitude as one of total unconcern to the impact of events and relationships as he is aware that what is happening is only a play of gunas on gunas as even the physical world is also a product of tamas of grossified pancha bhuthas. So pleasure, creation of satva, and pain, creation of rajas, arising out of interaction with the world, also do not disturb his stoic indifference as he remains unshaken in his knowledge that he, as Athma, is like the space in the pot, uncontaminated by the contents of the pot. In verses 24 and 25 Lord Krishna describes few other characteristics which are:
1) samadukhasukhaha, He treats alike pleasure and pain.
2) swasthaha- He is steadfastly established in his true Self, Athma, unruffled by drafts of pleasure or pain. As he knows his Athma is the same as the one undivided Brahman, which pervades all, living and inert, he has a vision of oneness of all and from this vision flows 3,4,5, 6 and 7.
3) samaloshtasmakanchanah- He has no hunger for possessions. He treats alike with the same indifference, a lump of gold as with a piece of stone or with a clod of earth. He knows the value of gold, but he also knows it cannot give security like the mud and the stone.
4) tulyapriyapriyaha- Through this and next three descriptions, Lord Krishna explains the equanimity of a Gunatheetha. Here it is stated he is equal minded whether pleasant or unpleasant things happen to him. Any categorisation here or hereafter as pleasant/unpleasant, praise/abuse, honour/dishonour and friend/foe is only as per our judgement and not from his standpoint.
5) tulyanindatmaamsthuthihi- He treats equally praise and abuse, not flattered by one or provoked by the other
6) maanapamaanayoh tulyaha- Honour and dishonour is the same in his vision.
7) tulyo mitrari pakshayoho- He is the same with all whether they regard him as friend or foe.
8) Sarvarambaparityagi- He is one who has relinquished all undertakings for profit, fame or self-promotion. Any undertaking that he starts due to the force of residual prarabhdha, that keeps him alive in the body, will be for universal good and social welfare and not out of ego-centric desires, as in the case of Swami Vivekananda who founded the Ramakrishna mission.
Lord Krishna answers the third question prescribing bhakti as the sadhana to achieve this goal of becoming Gunatheetha in verse 26: “He who worships Me through the yoga of ananya bhakthi becomes fit to attain the nature of Brahman by going beyond these guṇas.” And the nature of Brahman is immortality and absolute ananda, as Lord reiterates in the final verse 27.