Chapter 14

Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga

(Classification of the Three Basic Qualities)

1. The Blessed Lord said: "I shall proclaim again that Supreme Knowledge, the greatest of all wisdoms grasping which sages have been liberated from bondage and have attained the highest of perfection.

2. "They who dwelling in this Wisdom are united with Me, are neither born when the Universe is recreated at the beginning of every Cosmic cycle, nor are they affected when it is dissolved.

3. "In that [symbolic] womb called [Mother] Nature (Prakriti), I place My seed; and from it 68 O Bharata, issue forth all beings.

4. "O Kaunteva, whatever be the physical wombs from which beings actually emerge, [Mother] Nature is the primordial womb of all, and I am the ultimate, seed-giving Father.

5. "Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas - these are the three basic Gunas, O Mahabahu, that are intrinsic to Nature; and to the body of the physical being, these qualities bind the embodied one (soul).

6. "Of these, Sattva is luminous and flawless; and yet, O sinless one, it in its own way also binds by creating attachment to happiness, as well as to knowledge.

7. "Rajas, on the other hand, is the source of desire and passion; and it binds man through attachment to action [and the fruit thereof].

8. "But Tamas, the product of ignorance, stupefies the senses in embodied beings; it binds fast, O Bharata, through heedlessness, indolence and sloth.

9. "Sattva promotes happiness and Rajas stimulates vigorous action, while Tamas, verily obscuring knowledge, induces laziness and triggers wrong action.

10. "Sattva prevails by predominating over Rajas and Tamas; likewise Rajas asserts itself by prevailing over Sattva and Tamas, and Tamas over the other two.

11. "When the radiance of Knowledge gleams forth from all the gates of the body, be aware that it is Sattva, which prevails.

12. "When Rajas is predominant, greed, vigor, restlessness, and craving are very much in evidence, O Bharatarishabha.

13. "Indiscrimination, inertia, ignorance, frivolity, sloth and rashness - these are the hallmarks of Tamas, O Kurunandana.

14. "The man in whom Sattva prevails, attains on death the pure ethereal world (heaven) of noble souls.

15. "When a man dominated by Rajas expires, he is born into an environment of vigorous activity; and if Tamas rules, rebirth would be as a lowly and ignorant species.

16. "Purity is the fruit of actions Sattvik, pain, sorrow and misery that of actions Rajasik, and ignorance that of actions Tamasik.

17. "From Sattva springs Wisdom and from Rajas avarice; Tamas, on the other hand, is the source of delusion, ignorance and heedlessness.

18. "Those abiding in Sattva rise upwards; those of Rajasik disposition remain in the middle, while those of Tamasik temperament sink downwards.

19. "When a man understands that everything [in Prakriti] is but a play of the Gunas and also clearly perceives Him who is above the Gunas, he attains My Divine nature.

20. "Transcending the three constituent Gunas which give the body its existence, the embodied one (soul) is then freed from the pangs of birth, death and old age, and wins Immortality."

21. Arjuna asked: "What are the marks, O Lord, of him who has transcended the three Gunas? How does he behave? And how does he rise above the three Gunas?

22. The Blessed Lord said: "Such a one, O Pandava, disdains not the quality which is present - be it Sattva, Rajas or Tamas - nor yearns for it when absent.

23. "Indifferent [to the pairs of opposites], unshaken by the Gunas, while watching as a silent witness their play 69 ;

24. "Responding alike to pleasure and pain, regarding gold and clay to be the same, accepting similarly both things pleasant and unpleasant, as well as praise and blame;

25. "Reacting similarly to honor and disrespect, same to friend and foe, and who has also relinquished the sense of doership in all undertakings - such a one may be said to have transcended the three Gunas.

26. "He who, treading the path of devotion, serves Me unswervingly, is qualified, upon transcending the Gunas, to merge in Me,

27. "For I am the Abode of Brahman, of the Immortal and the Immutable, of Eternal Dharma and Supreme Bliss."

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourteenth chapter, entitled:



68The union of Spirit and matter.
69i.e., of the Gunas.