The Bhagavadgita on the Influence of Gunas


by Jayaram V

Chapter 14 - Sloka 16

karmanah sukrtasyāhuh sāttvikah nirmalah phalam
rajasas tu phalam duhkham ajñānam tamasah phalam


karmanah = actions; su-krtasya = of good; ahuh = they say; sattvikam = born of sattva; nirmalam = pure; phalam = fruit; rajasah = of rajas; tu = but; phalam = fruit; duhkham = sorrow; ajnanam = ignorance; tamasah = of tamas; phalam = fruit.


"They say that the fruit of good actions is pure and born of sattva; but the fruit of rajas is sorrow; the fruit of tamas is ignorance.


Good leads to good. Sattva promotes sattva in all forms. So is the case with the other two qualities. Sattva is transformative and purely divine.

For the embodied beings, sattva is the key to peace, happiness and liberation. Sattva is the source of righteous conduct and our intelligence.

When the body is filled with sattva exclusively, it leads to purification (suddhi) of the mind, whereby one experiences cheerfulness, one-pointedness, stability, self-control and the ability to perceive the Self.

Form them arises the highest happiness (anuttama sukha). According to yoga philosophy, from the accumulation of sattva and the purification of the mind and the body, a yogi becomes perfect and efficient in his thinking and actions.

He succeeds in establishing contact with his chosen deity and experiences samadhi for increased periods of time, which eventually leads to his liberation and attainment of supreme bliss.

Thus, sattva is conducive to the onset of brighter things in the mind and the body and life in general. On the other hand, rajas and tamas are considered impurities because they clog the mind and the body and make it inefficient and imperfect. Most of the ills in society and in our behavior arise from rajas and tamas.

Action induced by them lead to attachment, egoism, pride, ambition, envy, greed and sexual passion. Hence, their fruit is sorrow and ignorance.

The Yoga Vashista says that those who cultivate sattva do not live mechanically indulging in indiscriminate actions.

They enquire into the nature of the appearance of the world, by studying the scriptures and consulting the holy people. With it, they develop a clear understanding and discernment and perceive the truth concerning themselves and the world in which they live.

Sattva leads to both purity of the mind and the body and clarity of thinking and perception.

One should therefore aim to cultivate sattva and develop the divine qualities whereby one moves closer to the worlds of light and pure delight.

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