Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda


Bhagavad Gita - Song of God - Chapter 18: 26-28

December 4, 2023

™muktasaṅgo ’nahaṁvādī dhṛtyutsāhasamanvitaḥ
siddhyasiddhyor nirvikāraḥ kartā sāttvika ucyate (XVIII-26)

rāgī karmaphalaprepsur lubdho hiṁsātmako ’śuciḥ
harṣaśokānvitaḥ kartā rājasaḥ parikīrtitaḥ (XVIII-27)

™ayuktaḥ prākṛtaḥ stabdhaḥ śaṭho naiṣkṛtiko ’lasaḥ
viṣādī dīrghasūtrī ca kartā tāmasa ucyate (XVIII-28)

XVIII/26. An  agent  who  is  free  from  attachment,
non-egoistic,  endowed  with firmness and enthusiasm,
and unaffected by success or failure, is called sāttvika (pure).

XVIII/27. Passionate, desiring to obtain the reward of actions,
greedy, cruel, impure, moved by joy and sorrow,
such an agent is said to be rājasa (passionate).

XVIII/28. Unsteady, vulgar, unbending, cheating, malicious,
lazy, desponding and procrastinating – such an agent is
called tāmasa.

Swamiji's Commentary

     If the light within (knowledge) that illumines our life and the actions that proceed in that light are sāttvika or pure, obviously the agent will also be pure. But no. Krishna does not let us take anything for granted. In the bloodless, weaponless inner warfare, a moment’s non-vigilance might undo a lifetime’s hard work. The inner agent (the ignorance-born ego) cannot be destroyed because it is a shadow. It has to be discovered.

     In reality, the ego (the agent) is not a devil, but God-asleep. The veil of ignorance or deep sleep has to be removed. This is achieved by sattva (the quality, ‘va’, reality, ‘sat’). The agent with the veil on is the little self or ego; the agent minus the veil is the self identical wins the supreme self whose thought is spread out as the universe and whose will maintains the cosmic play. Sun shines, earth revolves – but ignorance calls it the passage of time! There is a constant change of atoms in this universe; the ego superimposes on this an endless series of concepts – birth, death, success, failure, pain, pleasure, heat, cold, etc.

     Thus deluded, the ego lives a completely isolated and self-centered life (tāmasa). By evolution and effort, it graduates to the passionate life (rājasa). Then, through deliberate avoidance of the nature of the above two, and by the conscious cultivation of the sāttvika attitude, ego becomes non-ego, joyously surrendering to the divine participating in God’s will and enjoying the bliss that he is.

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