Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda


Bhagavad Gita - Song of God - Chapter 14: 21-23

October 11, 2018

arjuna uvāca
™kair liṅgais trīn guṇān etān atīto bhavati prabho
kimācāraḥ kathaṁ cai ’tāṁs trīn guṇān ativartate (XIV-21)

srībhagavān uvāca
™prakāśaṁ ca pravṛttiṁ ca moham eva ca pāṇḍava
na dveṣṭi saṁpravṛttāni na nivṛttāni kāṅkṣati (XIV-22)
™
udāsīnavad āsīno guṇair yon a vicālyate
guṇā vartanta ity eva yo ’vatiṣṭhati ne ’ṅgate (XIV-23)

XIV/21. Arjuna said: What are the marks of him who has crossed over
the three qualities, O Lord? What is his conduct and how does
he go beyond these three qualities?

XIV/22. The  blessed  Lord  said:  Light,  activity  and  delusion  –  when
they  are present, O Arjuna, he hates them not, nor does he
long for them when they are absent.

XIV/23.  He who, seated like one unconcerned, is not moved by
the qualities, and who, knowing that the qualities are active,
is self-centered and moves not (is a guṇātīta).

Swamiji's Commentary

    Once again we should remember we cannot sail in paper boats. Krishna’s approach is entirely scientific:

(i) First, there is the theoretical exposition of a principle.

(ii) Then there is the ‘model’ – the exemplar – the illustration of that
     principle.
    (iii) Then, practice – the model in real life, the  application of the principle.

      We can ennoble our lives only with the help of these three. Without the theory, we might misunderstand the example. We might interpret the theory in our own way, and reach nowhere near perfection. Without practical application we might make a business commodity of the principle and trade in the name of the example. It is only when all three are adopted in our own life, one following the other in the given order, that we reach the goal – and we shall, very soon.

      The sage, yogi, saṁnyᾱsī or ‘guṇātīta’ (one who has gone beyond the guṇā) is not a sour- faced embittered personality who does not sleep (because it is tamas), does not talk or smile (because it is rajas), and does not study, discuss, or even enjoy a meal (because it may be sattva); such an attitude is tantamount to committing suicide. It is negatively associating the self with the guṇā. The wise seeker should be indifferent, but even then he is only ‘like one unconcerned’ – he is a witness and therefore in a position to direct the guṇā to a divine purpose, without foolishly and vainly trying to stifle their operation.

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