3 gunas
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3 GuNaas
( 3 types of nature/qualities/ways of living )

Each and all beings are varying combinations of Satva guNa, Rajo guNa or Tamo guNa. At one time, one particular type is predominant in an individual and it is changeable. Today a person may not show a glimpse of Satva guNa but when you meet him next, he may be brimming with it. Such transformation is possible, Rishi Vaalmiiki being the best and well-known example. For this reason and for the fact that we too are a mixture of the three guNaas, we should not hate, detest or criticize him who we think dwells in the lower guNaas. Because the other person may be at an earlier stage of spiritual development today. You can't blame a six month old child for crawling and not walking or running.

It goes without saying that of the three guNas, Tamas is the lowest and Satva is the highest. Tamas keeps us in a state of ignorance, sloth, laziness, inaction and darkness. Ignorance and inaction invariably bring about misery and unhappiness. As the saying goes, 'Ignorance of law is no excuse'. So a Tamasic person lives in total ignorance of spiritual laws and violates them knowingly or unknowingly and often brings himself to sad ends.

Here, it is important to distinguish between the Saatvik quaity of contentment and the laziness and inaction of the Taamasic person. If laziness comes to you in the disguise of contentment, then beware, it can ruin you.

Not only living in Tamas is inappropriate and unhealthy, dying while Tamas is predominant in you is also fraught with grave danger of being born in lower yoniis or as insects and animals. How sad! It is certainly not proper therefore to lead a life in Tamas.

Rajas leads us to action, often with great expectations of particular kind of result or reward for fulfilment of one or the other of manifold desires. Most of the actions of ordinary people are tainted with desire of expectation. And as the saying goes, 'jahan hai aasha, vahii hai niraasha', being two sides of the same coin. He who expects too much is likely to be disappointed often. In Rajas, it is this disappointment, failure of fulfilment of desires, failure of getting the desired results of actions and the greed that brings forth misery and unhappiness. It is thus not too good to live in Rajas for too long, and nor is dying in Rajas. It does not elevate the soul. It keeps you in the middle.

We therefore ought to elevate ourselves from Tamo guNa to Rajo guNa and from Rajo guNa to Satva guNa.

Satva guNa leads us to happiness and enjoyment, irrespective of the results of our action. It leads us to thoughtful Nishkama Karma. Here we do our work considering it as our laid down duty and we stop bothering about the results and keep no expectations. We face the situations of life calmly and as they present, keeping our inner peace and balance. Satva guNa is light and knowledge, wisdom and the calm and quiet of mind. Satva guNa elevates the soul. Dying while in Satva guNa, you are born in a celestial birth or as a saadhaka to elevate yourself further.

Now, we thus learn that it is these three guNaas which are responsible for most of the activities. These may be high, as for social good, or middle as for personal good or low, as for self and social harm.

The wisdom is to know that it is Gunaas only which are responsible for such and such actions and the soul, the real self, the owner, is untainted, unaffected and is not the agent or the doer.

The moment this realization comes that he, the soul is not the doer of actions, the results of actions don't affect or touch him, he readily enters or merges into the Lord, the Supreme Over Soul.

Having thus steadied oneself in the knowledge that he is untainted by the guNaas and the actions born of guNas, one rises above all the three guNas and having thus risen, lifts and frees himself from birth, death, decay and pain thus attaining immortality and becomes one with the Lord.

Why is it important or necessary to get out of this circle of transmigration from one birth to the next? 'Janma mR^ityu jaraa vyaadhi duHkha dosha anudarshanam' See again and again the misery, the defects and suffering of birth, death, old age and sickness and aspire to a life beyond these.

Let's get beyond the guNaas, all three of them, sit established in our real selves. The three guNaas blind the Atman. We have to get even higher than the Satva guNa to a state of NirguNa.

As Swami Vivekananda said in a poem "For fetters though of gold Are no less strong to bind, So off with them Sanyaasin bold, say OM"

HariH OM

- (Talk by Dr Chowla, a satsanghi)

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Last changed on April 30, 1997

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Last Updated on 07/05/03