Chapter 14The Three Qualities of Material NatureVerse 22 ,23, 24, 25


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

Although the questions put forth in verse 21 were asked previously in chapter two verse 54 and answered from that point of view. Now Lord Krishna describes the characteristics in detail from another angle of vision until the end of the chapter. In verse 22 He describes the primary quality of each of the three gunas or modes of material nature that indicates the position were one is situated. One who neither hates nor rejoices by being exposed to unpleasant or pleasant situations due to illumination within is a result of sattva guna the mode of goodness and from all the sense openings of the physical body this light of consciousness radiates. Similarly when these same sense openings express themselves with activity it is a result of raja guna the mode of passion and when they are steeped in nescience they are in tama guna the mode of ignorance. When the attributes and qualities of the three gunas manifest themselves within the consciousness as the case may be; one who is not repulsed by them because they are painful nor is attracted to them because they are pleasurable is known to have transcended the three gunas.

Thus Lord Krishna having described the characteristics that can be known only by Him regarding such a person, He now describes the conduct that can be known by anyone in verses 23, 24, and 25. One who is indifferent in every situation like a winess to an event and who is equipoised and undisturbed by any interaction with the three gunas that might present itself such as happiness or misery, realises that the gunas themselves are empowering the effects. Such a jiva or embodied being understands by discriminative reflection that the atma or immortal soul has no connection whatsoever with the gunas or their effects. Such a jiva is avatisthati or firmly situated and nengate or unwavering. The use of the suffix ti instead of te in the verb is poetic license in tribute to the sages and seers.

To whom pleasure and pain are non-different to the jiva who is thus situated abiding in the atma in one's eternal nature. To such a jiva aclod of earth, a precious stone and a nugget of gold are all simply manifestations of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and are all of equal worth. Also to whom agreeable and disagreeable things which are the causes of pleasure and pain are seen as the same by one of calm and steady intellect who is also indifferent to the bestowal of both praise and ridicule. Equiposed in honor or dishonor, equal towards friend or foe alike. Who is habituated to renouncing the rewards of all actions producing visible or invisible results to bhakti or exclusive loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised avatara's or incarnations as verified in Vedic scriptures. Such a jiva is known to have transcended the three gunas.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The primary chracteristics is an enlightened being is equipoise in all situations. Such a one has no desires so nothing can disturb them. If adversity comes one is not alarmed and if prosperity comes one is not elated. One remains balanced in all situations. In the Ballaveya section of the Sama Veda it is stated:One who transcends the three gunas or modes of material nature is neither attracted, attached , repulsed or antagonised. If some subtle qualities of sattva guna or the mode of goodness were to enter the consciousness in connection with the Supreme Lord Krishna then they would be accepted. But if subtle qualities of raja guna or the mode of passion and tama guna or the mode of ignorance were to appear they would be rejected immeadiately. The Moksa Dharma known as the Mahabharata confirms that neither the demigods nor the enlightened one's being established in sattva guna can ever be without the subtle attributes of sattva thus they are firm in their convictions. One who is not steadfast in their convictions can never achieve moksa or liberation from material existence and attain the Supreme Lord. The person who is fixed within in sattva guna soon becomes perfected and is assured all success.

Now begins the summation.

The illumination that may be established in others is neither desired or detested by one who has transcended the influence of the three gunas. But sometimes it has been seen that illumined beings seem to again succumb to subtle desires by the subtle influence of raja guna and tama guna. This can be perceived by anger or bewilderment; but as they are always in communion with the Supreme Lord within their hearts even if they appear deluded they will still always seek the association of the Supreme Lord Krishna alone. Even in the absence of happiness or the darkest adversity the devotees of the Ssupreme Lord remain balanced and are ever equipoised. They are never disturbed because of lack of wealth, the death of dear ones, harrassment by those who are inimical, bewilderment or fright. In all situations there is never any decrease in their devotion if anything here is an increase in devotion because the devotee is humbly reflecting how the Supreme Lord is only allowing the minimum reaction to past reactions. The word nengate means unwavering. The word udasinavat means indifferent to the inflences of three gunas bothe subtle and gross. Those who completely relinquish all activities opposed to dharma or eternal righteousness which are not pleasing to the Supreme Lord and His devotees will undoubtedly attain Him. The words sarvarambha means abandonment of all endeavors unrelated to the Supreme Lord Krishna. Being impassive does not mean being unconcerned or uncommitted it means being only dedicated to the essential principles of bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The word prakasa means illumination, lucidity, the brightness of disposition and are the effects of sattva guna or the mode of goodness. The word pravritti means enthusiastic effort or the disposition to endeavour actively and are the effects of raja guna the mode of passion. The word moha means delusion, bewilderment or having a distorted perception. All things external to the atma or immortal soul are of two categories. One is what causes attraction and the second is what causes aversion. The fundamental symptom of discerning who is beyond the three gunas or modes of material nature is that such a being neither desire to accept anything nor does such a one desire to reject anything. Whatever the Supreme Lord Krishna designates to come, such a one remains equipoise in all situations. Such a one is udasinavat or unconcerned with external circumstances because of being enraptured within by atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul. Therefore one is naturally indifferent to anything external. One who is never agitated by attraction and aversion which arise from the three gunas and who lucid and tranquil reflects within that it is natural for the impulses of the three gunas to occasionally parade themselves in one's consciousness, is never deluded by them into being impelled to act as the qualities might provoke one to respond.

The word sama means equanimity or keeping oneself equipoise in both joy and distress. The word svasthah means solidly situated, established firmly within on the immortal atma, filled with raptureand bliss by its communion. Such a one is never even distracted by external things let alone influenced by them. Even when exposed to great events of joy or catastrophic events of grief such a one is undisturbes and does not succumb to delusion or illlusion. To such a one a clod of earth or , a precious jewel or a nugget of gold all are looked upon alike as merely modifications of prakriti. So there is nothing in material existence which such a one has any special attraction or aversion towards.

The word means dhirah means sober and denotes the wisdom of one who is knowledgeable of the distinction between prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence and the eternal atma or immortal soul. Hence such a one remains equaniminous in both praise and censure. It is the deisre for praise and adulation that shows the consequence of egotism which abides in the mind and is erroneously mistaken for the atma and deludes one into thinking that it is a great honor to be praised. Similarly aversion to being ridiculed and censured is also the consequence of same egotism which makes one think it is ignoble and shameful to receive such infamy. But both conceptions are the results of delusion and one who is established in atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul is never implicated in illusion as such a being is unlimited in consciousness knowing that all material designations are all transcended by communion with the atma. In the same way that egotism is alienated from the atma what pertains to egotism such as honor and disgrace, friends and enemies, praise and censue does not affect the atma. One who is illuminated by atma tattva is unconcerned and indifferent to worldly matters. Similarly since such a one comprehends that all efforts of activity are the cause and perpetuation of physical embodiment such a one abandons all efforts not related to the atma. Such a person is known to be a conqueror of the theree gunas. Next the primary means to overcome them will be given.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna now clarifies the characteristics and qualities of one who has transcended the three gunas or modes of material nature. First He answers by what symptoms does one transcend them? One who is neither repulsed by what is unpleasant nor is attracted to that which is pleasant is prakasam or illuminated, filled with the light of spiritual wisdom which arises from sattva guna or the mode of goodness. Activity and endeavor arises from raja guna the mode of passion and inertia and stupor arise from the mode of ignorance. By the effects indicative of the three gunas all other qualities of them can be accordingly determined when they are visibly appearing and even as mental tendencies in the mind. So by this it can be seen that one who is free from aversion and attraction is able to transcend.

Next Lord Krishna clarifies the question what is the behavior and conduct of one who has transcended the three gunas? One who is perfectly focused on the atma or immortal soul within is merely a witness to what transpires in the physical body. Such a one does not involve themselves anywhere in anything because they are unattached everything external and thus free from desire and and repulsion which arise from passion and ignorance. Such a one does not deviate from the their firm and steadfast establishment in the atma. Such a one is impervious to the desires for happiness and the disdain for unhappiness, accepting whatever comes equally and indifferently. They are free from bodily attachment and conceptions that the physical body has any connection with the atma. Thus they understand that they never engage in any actions. Such a one equally reacts to adversity and felicity alike considering them both to be the same similarly with a clod of earth, a precious jewel or a nugget of gold are just different manifestations of prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence. In the same spirit one is neutral when exposed to pleasant or unpleasant sense objects and is dhirah or wise, not deviating from discriminative knowledge even if by chance one is subjected to the effects of the three gunas due to circumstances. Such a one views censure and praise, honor and infamy, friend and foe as alike as well and is equal to all living entities because of being free from attachment to all actions and due to perceiving the atma within all beings.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 14, verse 22 ,23, 24, 25 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 22 ,23, 24, 25

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