Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14 SUMMARY (154)


Lesson 154 brings out the main points worthy of thinking about from Chapter 14.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, SUMMARY (All Verses)

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14 SUMMARY:
Gunatraya Vibhaga Yoga

  • Title; gunatraya-vibhaga-yoga. Distinction of the 3 energies.
  • 3 Guna Metaphor:
    • Sattva: Like music sheet (knowledge of entire creation).
    • Tama: Physical piano (material).
    • Raja: Playing the music on the piano (the energy that connects the knowledge and material and produces something meaningful).
  • Purpose of chapter is 2-fold:
    • FOLD-1:
      • Reorient-reassess our relationship towards all our experiences (impatience, sorrows, ambition, lust, concern, guilt, motives, defensiveness, devotion towards external deities).
      • In short, anything other then the subject, is a mixture of 3 energies which comprise the entire universe.
      • And whatever emotional investment and hard work the subject dedicates to the 3 energies, can only result in more 3 energies. More of the same.
        • Unless one uses the knowledge 3 gunas to not get enmeshed in the 3 gunas.
    • FOLD-2:
      • 3 gunas are maya’s upadhis. They are responsible for concealing (avarana-shakti) my real nature (atman). And once concealed, they project (vikshepa-shakti) anatman notions.
        • We expose this universal concealing-projecting phenomena through statements/actions:
          1. “I want to live forever”. Thus try to make anatma body-mind eternal (atma).
          2. “He/she (anatma) is my love forever”.
            • Reality: I love myself (atma) when he-she temporarily silences my mind’s notions that “I am not enough”.
          3. God (atma) is placed in time-space-boundaries of heaven (anatma).
          4. Mistaking anatma-objects as source of joy. Actually source of joy is always atma (experienced when turbulence of raja-guna has temporarily ceased).
          5. Liberation (atma) is mistaken as an extraordinary experience (anatma), better then the ordinary (anatma) experience.
          6. “I am unhappy with my life”.
            • Correction 1: There is unhappiness in my mind.
            • Correction 2: “I” (Awareness) am independent of states-of-mind.
            • Correction 3: Life is not “mine”. Life is Ishvara’s.
          7. Sectors of neuro-science, chemistry, biology: Consciousness is product of matter.
          8. Movies: Person’s consciousness captured in some device.
          9. Forms of religions: God is big. I am small. Ask for his forgiveness and mercy, so you may enjoy Him in the future.
          10. Self-help: Become your best-self.
          11. Spirituality: Enter altered states of consciousness.
          12. Looking for life in outer-space. Fascination with other life-forms or civilizations. IE: Since seeker identifies with anatma, thus gives importance to anatma-lifeforms.
  • So fold-2 purpose is to see anatma as just anatma, and stop unconsciously mingling it with Self (the source of fullness, wholeness, completeness).

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 1-4:

    • Krishna first glorifies self-knowledge as the greatest knowledge.
      • In Upanishads, called: parā-vidyā.
      • In CH9, rāja-vidyā.
    • Why greatest? Other knowledges make me smaller. More I know, smaller I feel.
    • “All this” came from what is called Isvara / God.
    • Ishvara consists of two aspects: Consciousness / matter.
      • CH7: para/apara-prakriti.
      • CH13: Purusha/prakrti.
      • CH14: Brahman/māyā (the primordial cause consisting of 3 gunas).
      • For the individual, I’ll call it: atma / anatma or ahankara (individuality consisting of body-mind complex).
      • From this, 3 conclusions are drawn:
        • Everything is endowed with 3 gunas. Our body-mind complex also.
        • For the individual, neither atma nor ahamkara has the potential to interact with world on their own. Mixture of both is needed.
        • Aim of CH14 is to learn to identify more and more with atma nature… and less and less with ahamkara/anatma.
          • Because aham kara is a mechanism governed by Isvara’s orders and not Self.
          • Owing to ignorance, individual believes this body-mind can’t run without “my” intervention. In truth, it’s always been running without “my” intervention.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 5-18:

  • Analysis of the 3 guna’s.
  • Why analyse them? Like any object, if know how to handle it, it’s utility becomes constructive. Else destructive.
    • EG: Fire/electricity blessing or curse.
    • Similarly, if let guna’s run our life without guidance, they become destructive (binding ropes).
    • So it profits you to spot the signatures of each guna. For this purpose, V5-18 is divided into 5 sections:
    1. Definition of gunas.
      • Sattva make mind knowledge friendly. Bright.
      • Raja makes mind action friendly. Dynamic.
      • Tama makes mind neither knowledge-action friendly.
    2. How they bind.
      • SATTVA:
        • A sattvic-mind is particular about having a learning/research/study conductive atmosphere.
          • EG: Surrounded by books/reports. Seeks teachers/courses. Insistent on maintaining a quiet atmosphere. Desk is priority!
        • Else restless/unhappy.
      • RAJA:
        • A rajasic-mind is particular about an activity oriented lifestyle. Attached to ongoing movement, development. Attached to yogic techniques/methods.
        • If put rajasic-mind in quiet house, turns on TV/music, brings in friends, arranges outings.
        • If activity is denied, becomes restless/unhappy and tries to involve others.
      • TAMA:
        • Attached to prolonged sleep, procrastination, passivity. EG: TV is 100% tama oriented device.
    3. Indication which is dominant.
      • Sattva: Reading, thinking, analysing increases.
      • Raja: Movement, doing, exercise.
      • Tama: Drowsiness. Fatigue. Unintentional mistakes. Tripping over.
        • It’s said in older age, mainly 2 gunas become dominant until death: Sattva or Tama.
          • If Tama:
            • Usually passivity like TV, starts shunning away thinking/activity based events.
            • Solution: Do opposite. Give brain a challenge by learning a new language. You want a relatively alert, contemplative mind in final years.
          • If Sattva:
            • This is the most ideal. Resorts to sannyasi. Inquiring into every facet of life.
    4. Post-death travel.
      • Sattva: Higher lokas.
      • Rajas: Earth because Earth is meant specifically for actions and results of actions.
      • Tamas: On earth, a plant/animal. Or lower loka.
    5. Result of dominance of each while living.
      • Sattva: Enjoys lucidity and effortless cheerfulness. Appreciates the subtler layers of reality/environment.
      • Raja: Driven to accomplish a meaningful task. Although quickly agitated/empty if not surrounded by objects.
      • Tama: Starts resembling basic animalistic qualities: Eat, sleep, survive, protect family. Finds appealing role of protector (as if there’s danger out-there), because living out of fear/lack.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 19-20:

  • Krishna speaks of transcending the gunas. Requires making proper use of the gunas, so that one can free oneself from them.
    • EG: Fruit’s skin required for ripening. When ripened, skin is naturally shed. Similarly Veda prescribes taking journey from tama > raja > sattva > gunatita (free from gunas).
  • How Vedas (karma-kanda / jnana-kanda) helps the individual to take the journey to gunatita:
    • STAGE 1:
      • Sakama-bhakti. In earliest stages of life, engage in selfish activities. Because it’ll move one out of procrastinating/lazy/passive/sleepy personality INTO a desirous/ambitious-thirsty individual.
      • Summary: Tama > Lower Raja-guna.
    • STAGE 2:
      • Sakama-bhakti > Nishkama-bhakti (circle of influence expands to include others and not just “my own family”).
      • Summary: Lower Raja > Higher Raja.
      1. Shudra: Tama Wants to be told. Shuns thinking. Highly self-centered.
      2. Vaishya: Lower raja. Selfishly active in the community.
      3. Kshatriya: 2 Types. Both are expressions of Higher raja. Nobly active; thinking about future consequences upon environment/others. 
        • Type 1: Non-Karma-Yoga. God not included in one's actions. EG: Police force, politicians, world leaders.
        • Type 2: Karma-Yoga. This is category of Arjuna. One devotes all actions to the Lord, and releases need to be obsessed over the results of one's actions. Whereas, type 1 is obsessed with results of actions.
    • STAGE 3:
      • Withdraw (grihasta > vanaprastha). Less karma-yoga (action). More upasana-yoga (meditation).
      • Converts extroverted, action-oriented personality INTO quiet and withdrawn.
      • At this stage, NOT guilty or reducing-dropping duty to society/family because already did lot of it. For this reason, withdrawal is NOT selfish, but healthy evolution.
    • STAGE 4:
      • Sattva guna can’t further evolve to nirguna because no connection between Consciousness and Matter.
        • IE: The wave-in-the-ocean can’t evolve further to “become” the H2O (which inheres through-and-through the entire Ocean).
      • So only solution left is to remove ignorance that’s preventing my mind from recognizing permanently that there’s nothing missing right now.
      • Thus person gains enough courage, confidence and dharmic-desire which compels them to aggressively/assertively pursue a guru.
        • Person at this stage is not interested in occasional satsangs, online videos, new books on Amazon. They inspire, but don’t have power to solidify a tangible, imperishable personality-change… backed by emotional support.
          • Also if one were to disagree to this, it shows they’re not at STAGE 4, thus unable to see value in teacher. One feels comfortable remaining anonymous. One resists idea of surrendering to any tradition. Because the ahamkara enjoys it’s separation from the rest.
      • Stage 4 involves jnana-yoga.
        • By listening and analysing the statements in light of your personal experience, one comes to see (intellectually at first) that: (VERSE 20) My body-mind is an incidental instrument born out of 3 gunas. And I am NOT this ever-changing-body-mind-complex. What/who am I then? The UNCHANGING EXPERIENCER of the ever-changing-experiences.
        • In other words, the experienced attribute ALWAYS belongs to the experienced object. EG:
          • The seen blue-color belongs to seen-object. And not to the seer-eye.
          • The experienced-doubt belongs to the source-from-where-doubt-arose; the mind… and not to the Experiencer in whose presence that doubt took place.
          • In other words:
            • Attributes can never belong to the One become of whom those attributes got to be objectified in the first place.
            • The Knower can never be the Known. Otherwise the Knower would cease forever because it’s become the Known-object.
        • By inquiry into above explanation, one starts to accept that I (the experiencer) thus must be free from the 3 gunas, was always free and continue to be free in future.
          • Eventually one’s firm knowledge transforms into direct ascertained, doubtless, concrete, uncompromisable experience that this body-mind truly has nothing to do with me (Awareness). Even though “I” (Awareness) need this costume to express myself in the world.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 21-25:

  • Arjuna being an ever-curious, knowledge-thirsty student… wants to know the lifestyle of a gunatita (jnani). Asks 3 questions…
  • 1) Indications of gunatita.
    • Reactions are reduced at 3 levels: (1) Reduction in frequency, (2) intensity and (3) recovery.
    • LEVEL 1: Frequency of unhealthy reactions come down at level of thoughts, speech and action. EG: clinginess, worry, impatience, premature judgement. Comes down because…
      1. When you know the nature of something (3 gunas), that something becomes less threatening.
      2. Gunatita has dropped the need to get along, be compatible-with and be liked. Because gunas varies for every mind. Hence impossible to be 100% compatible with anyone.
        • That’s why when looking for a partner/friend, choosing them by external compatibility is potentially inaccurate. Because compatibility is based on transitory stages of life. Rather bring out deeper values / culture (because indoctrinated).
      3. Gunatita only focuses on changing one’s attitude towards situations (which isn’t as stressful as trying to change external situations).
    • LEVEL 2: Intensity of negative emotions are greatly reduced. Although never completely gone (else dead).
    • LEVEL 3: Reduction in recovery period.
      • If your integrity is exploited (perhaps felt violated or deceived), or your lifelong skill is disrespected… before took days to get over. Eventually the time shortens mere seconds.
      • When knowledge fully takes place (moksha), it is immediate and all at once. Most may not notice moksha has occurred because… like seasons; there’s no definitive edge between spring/summer.
        For this reason, one should drop the unrealistic notion that something special and BIG is supposed to happen.
        Although some sensitive minds may certainly notice a pleasant moment of owing up (like prospect owns up resistance all at once to salesman).
      • Also as bhakta continues nididhyasanam, one may report that clarity of Self is becoming stronger/cleaner/firmer. This is INCORRECT. Rather it seems like that, because remnants of-old-notions are gradually fading.
        • EG: Moon is same brightness during day/night. Only in relation to sun receding in evening, moon seems to become brighter.
  • 2) Characteristics of gunatita.
    • Reduction in reaction to (1) situations, but most importantly (2) reduction in reaction that my mind has reacted.
  • 3) Conduct of gunatita.
    • Equanimous mind. Not taken back so easily because…
      • All phenomena are of the primordial gunas (which have operated before my body-mind birth and after death).
      • Because this world is merely a product of past causes of prior generations. It’s not a treasure box. There’s literally NOTHING to find on in the universe. Only Self is to be found.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 26-27:

  • What is the ultimate means to gunatita?
    • Devotion (or love) for Truth.
      • IE: Eventually Lord is pleased by your sincere pleads to Know Thyself, thus His order connects you with the acharya and methodology. Although you still need to apply EFFORT.



Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 4 Jan, 2022


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