Gunas — Qualities of Nature

Gunas — Qualities of Nature

by Chandra Om

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna imparts that all of nature is composed of three forces—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, collectively known as the Gunas. Continually in flux and intermingling, these three forces manifest in the material world as conditions present everywhere, existing in varying degrees of concentration and combination.

Depending on their singular or intermingled strength, they determine the nature, actions, and behavior in the material realm. They create delusion, desires, and attachment.

Sattva manifests itself as purity, calmness, light, health, illumination, and truth. When Sattva is predominant, spiritual virtue, disciplines, and Yama and Niyama come naturally. The Yogi radiates with the illumination of God.

Rajas manifests itself as passion, activity, restlessness, desire, and attachment. When Rajas is predominant, the senses run after stimulation and gratification. Selfish striving appears.

Tamas signifies darkness, ignorance, inactivity, recklessness, procrastination, heaviness, and delusion. When Tamas is predominant, the individual is devoid of discrimination and virtue.

The Yogi is solely interested in the development of Sattva, and should associate herself with solely Sattvic items and individuals. As Sattva grows, the Yogi develops tremendous devotion to God. When Sattva prevails, perfect serenity is experienced and you feel charged with bliss. Self knowledge begins to dawn. The “I”, identification disappears. You feel like a channel.

Even the cultivation of Sattva is not an end in itself, but a means to overcoming passions, desires, and ignorance. While it is the highest of qualities in the ephemeral material realm, it is still an instrument of Prakriti. Eventually, the Yogi goes beyond even Sattva to attain immortality and freedom from birth, death, old age, and sorrow.

When the individual goes beyond the three gunas, there is direct perception of God. The Sadhaka becomes like a dry leaf—unshaken, unconcerned, knowing that it is the Gunas themselves carrying out all action.

Alike in pleasure and pain, honor and dishonor, remaining the same towards a piece of gold, or a lump of clay, alike to friends and foes, without any egoistic effort in performing actions, she rises above the Gunas.

By understanding and discerning between the three qualities, and through the development of Sattva, the Yogi purifies the mind and realizes the Supreme Self. Only the “I AM” Consciousness remains.

View all: