śrī-bhagavān uvāca –
paraṁ bhūyaḥ pravakṣyāmi jñānānāṁ jñānam uttamam
yaj jñātvā munayaḥ sarve parāṁ siddhim ito gatāḥ
From the seventh to the twelfth chapter I have spoken about the Supreme Reality (parama-tattva). Again I will explain how, through knowledge, one can achieve the highest type of knowledge concerning this principle concerning Bhagavān (bhagavat-tattva). Fixed in this knowledge, all the munis such as Sanaka etc. attained supreme perfection in bhakti.
idaṁ jñānam upāśritya mama sādharmyam āgatāḥ
sarge’pi nopajāyante pralaye na vyathanti ca
Knowledge generally possesses qualities. Knowledge without material qualities (nirguṇa-jñāna) is said to be superior knowledge. By taking refuge in that nirguṇa-jñāna, the jīva possesses the same nature as me, in other words, he attains a similar form as Mine (sārūpya-dharma). Persons with mundane intelligence think that when one rejects material qualities, material forms, and material circumstances, the jīva becomes bereft of qualities, form and circumstances. They do not know that just as in the material world all objects are distinguished by what is called viśeṣa (distinction based upon a particular quality), so also, transcending matter, there is a pure transcendental viśeṣa within My abode of Vaikuṇṭha. By that viśeṣa, transcendental qualities, transcendental form and transcendental circumstances are eternally determined. This is called My transcendental nature (nirgūna-sādharmya). By nirguṇa–jñāna, one first transcends the world which possesses mundane qualities and achieves nirguṇa–brahman, and by attaining that, all transcendental qualities arise. When this occurs, the jīva does not take birth at the time of creation, and during annihilation, there is no pain in regards to the destruction of the self.
mama yonir mahadbrahma tasmin garbhaṁ dadhāmyaham
sambhavaḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ tato bhavati bhārata
The primary principle of material nature is the maternal womb of the universe. I impregnate that Brahman which represents the universal womb, from which all living beings originate. That Brahman is the material effect of My superior nature, and I infuse the jīvas, who possess a marginal influence, into material nature. From that, Brahmā and all the jīvas are born.
sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
This womb in the form of Brahman is the mother of the forms that manifest within the all the wombs of the Devatās, animals etc. and I, in the form of consciousness, am the seed-giving father of them all.
sattvaṁ rajas tama iti guṇāḥ prakṛti-sambhavāḥ
nibadhnanti mahā-bāho dehe dehinam avyayam
This material nature creates the universe and the three modes of sattva, raja and tama arise form her. From the marginal nature, all the jīvas are born into the womb of material nature. The jīvas, who are inherently conscious, are bound by the three modes of nature and attain a body.
tatra sattvaṁ nirmalatvāt prakāśakam anāmayam
sukha-saṅgena badhnāti jñāna-saṅgena cānagha
Mundane sattva–guṇa is relatively pure, it illuminates and it is devoid of pāpa. It is sattva-guṇa which binds the conscious jīvas to associate with knowledge and pleasure.
rajo rāgātmakaṁ viddhi tṛṣṇā-saṅga-samudbhavam
tan nibadhnāti kaunteya karma-saṅgena dehinam
You should know that raja–guṇa to be born from the association of desire, possessing the nature of hankering. O Kaunteya, this raja–guṇa binds one who is embodied to karma.
tamas tv-ajñānajaṁ viddhi mohanaṁ sarva-dehinām
pramādālasya nidrābhis tan nibadhnāti bhārata
Know that tama is the quality produced by ignorance which bewilders all those who are embodied. The jīva is bound to tamo-guṇa through confusion, laziness, sleep etc.
sattvaṁ sukhe sañjayati rajaḥ karmaṇi bhārata
jñānam āvṛtya tu tamaḥ pramāde sañjayaty-uta
Sattva–guṇa binds the jīva with happiness, raja–guṇa binds the jīva with work and tamo–guṇa binds him with bewilderment.
rajas tamaś cābhibhūya sattvaṁ bhavati bhārata
rajaḥ sattvaṁ tamaś caiva tamaḥ sattvaṁ rajas tathā
Where sattva–guṇa prevails, raja and tamo–guṇa are defeated. Where rajo–guṇa is dominant, sattva and tamo–guṇa are defeated, and where rajo–guṇa prevails, sattva and tamo–guṇa are defeated. In this way, the individual status of all the modes and their mutual relationships should be known.
sarva-dvāreṣu dehe’smin prakāśa upajāyate
jñānaṁ yadā tadā vidyād vivṛddhaṁ sattvam ityuta
By the increase of sattva–guṇa, realisation increases in all the doors of the material body. This is sensory knowledge.
lobhaḥ pravṛttir ārambhaḥ karmaṇām aśamaḥ spṛhā
rajasy-etāni jāyante vivṛddhe bharatarṣabha
Whose rajo-guṇa increases, his greed, endeavour, eagerness to engage in work and desires increase.
aprakāśo’pravṛttiś ca pramādo moha eva ca
tamasy-etāni jāyante vivṛddhe kuru-nandana
O Kuru-nandana, when tama increases, an absence of realisation, a lack of effort, inattention and bewilderment increases.
yadā sattve pravṛddhe tu pralayaṁ yāti deha-bhṛt
tadottama vidāṁ lokān amalān pratipadyate
If a person primarily possessing sattva–guṇa leaves the body, he attains the planet of the worshippers of Hiraṇyagarbha and achieves happiness.
rajasi pralayaṁ gatvā karma-saṅgiṣu jāyate
tathā pralīnas tamasi mūḍha-yoniṣu jāyate
When a person primarily possessing rajo–guṇa dies, he is born in a family of brāhmaṇas etc. who are attached to karma. When a person engrossed in tamo–guṇa dies, he is born within the womb of the ignorant, such as animals etc.
karmaṇaḥ sukṛtasyāhuḥ sāttvikaṁ nirmalaṁ phalam
rajasas tu phalaṁ duḥkham ajñānaṁ tamasaḥ phalam
The results of sattvika activities is said to be sattvika purity, the result of rājasika activities is misery and the result of tāmasika activities is ignorance and a lack of consciousness.
sattvāt sañjāyate jñānaṁ rajaso lobha eva ca
pramāda-mohau tamaso bhavato’jñānam eva ca
Knowledge comes from sattva–guṇa, greed comes from rajo–guṇa, and ignorance, inattention and bewilderment comes from tamo–guṇa.
ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthā madhye tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ
jaghanya-guṇa-vṛtti-sthā adho gacchanti tāmasāḥ
Those persons situated in sattva–guṇa attain a higher destination – in other words, they go as far as planets such as Satyaloka. Persons in rajas achieve the world of men. Persons in tamas fall down to the hellish regions.
nānyaṁ guṇebhyaḥ kartāraṁ yadā draṣṭānupaśyati
guṇebhyaś ca paraṁ vetti mad-bhāvaṁ so’dhigacchati
“All these modes are the doers. There is no other doer except for the modes” – if a jīva can perceive this through his subtle vision and knows the nature of Bhagavān who is beyond the modes, then he achieves pure bhakti for Me in the form of bhāva.
guṇān etān atītya trīn dehī deha-samudbhavān
janma-mṛtyu-jarā-duḥkhair vimukto’mṛtam aśnute
By steadiness on the nirguṇa platform, the embodied jīva, transcending these three modes of sattva, raja and tama, becomes freed from the miseries produced by the body such as birth, death, old age, disease etc. He remains situated in experiencing nectarean transcendental prema.
arjuna uvāca –
kair liṅgais trīn guṇān etān atīto bhavati prabho
kim ācāraḥ kathaṁ caitāṁs trīn guṇān ativartate
After hearing this, Arjuna said: O Lord, what are the signs of one who is beyond these three modes, in other words, what are his characteristics? How does he behave and how does he remain beyond the three modes?
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
prakāśaṁ ca pravṛttiṁ ca moham eva ca pāṇḍava
na dveṣṭi sampravṛttāni na nivṛttāni kāṅkṣati
udāsīnavad āsīno guṇairyo na vicālyate
guṇā vartanta ity-evaṁ yo’vatiṣṭhati neṅgate
sama-duḥkha-sukhaḥ svasthaḥ sama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ
tulya-priyāpriyo dhīras tulya-nindātma-saṁstutiḥ
mānāpamānayos tulyas tulyo mitrāri-pakṣayoḥ
sarvārambha-parityāgī guṇātītaḥ sa ucyate
After hearing Arjuna’s three questions, Śrī Kṛṣnacandra replied: Your first question is ‘what are the signs of that person who is beyond the modes?’ The answer is that the characteristics are that he is devoid of hatred and attachment. Being situated in the material world, the bound jīva is amongst these three material modes of sattva, raja and tama. Only by achieving complete liberation can he destroy these three modes. But until one attains liberation by Bhagavān’s mercy, in the form of the elimination of the subtle body, rejecting hatred and desire should be known as the only way of achieving the state of nirguṇa. In the state where the body exists, revelation, activity and bewilderment (stemming from the modes of sattva, raja and tama respectively) will unavoidably be present with the body. However, you should not engage in work out of attachment for all of these, and you should not endeavour to give up work through hatred – in whomever these two characteristics are observed is nirguṇa. Those who by their endeavours and intense selfish eagerness engage in the material world, or those who know the material world to be false and endeavour to practice renunciation are not nirguṇa.
Your second question is, “How does a person beyond the modes act?” His behaviour is like this – all the modes act upon the body, the mind and one’s activities. Such a person separates himself from the modes because his inherent nature is consciousness and like a person who is indifferent, he does not become contaminated by them. Although by his bodily efforts he achieves misery, pleasure, stones, iron, gold, agreeable and disagreeable things, criticism and praise – all these things appear, but he perceives them equally and is content, in other words, being situated in consciousness, he considers them to be the same. In his worldly conduct, he rejects respect, disrespect, enemies and friends, knowing that all these activities have no relation to consciousness. He rejects all kinds of endeavours in attachment and detachment and attains the name ‘nirguṇa.’
māṁ ca yo’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
Your third question is, “How does he remain beyond the three modes?” The answer to this is that is through constant practice of bhakti–yoga. In other words, by always serving Me through pure knowledge and actions whose objective is pure bhakti, he achieves brahma-bhāva, or similarity to Me.
brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham amṛtasyāvyayasya ca
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya sukhasyaikāntikasya ca
If one says, “The results of all kinds of sādhana for the jīva is the wealth of Brahman, then how can someone who is brahma-bhūta (situated in Brahman) experience Your nirguṇa-prema?” Then listen – I am eternally situated on the nirguṇa platform and I am inherently Bhagavān. When I infuse the taṭastha–śakti’s seed of consciousness within material nature, the initial manifestation of the aforementioned potency is My nature as Brahman. When the materially bound jīva achieves a superior state by gradually reflecting on knowledge, he eventually attains My abode of Brahman, then he achieves the first limit of the state of nirguṇa. Prior to achieving that limit, the stage of nirviśeṣa appears which is the abandonment of mundane attributes. If one is situated in that and takes refuge in pure bhakti–yoga, the state of nirviśeṣa is removed and it becomes possessed of transcendental qualities. In this way, ṛṣis such as Sanaka, Vāmadeva etc. who were on the path of jñāna and reflecting upon nirviśeṣa, achieved the nectar of nirguṇa-bhakti-rasa. Those who, due to being subjugated by the misconception of desiring liberation are not properly situated in brahma–tattva, can ultimately never attain nirguṇa–bhakti. In fact, I am the embodiment of the transcendental Reality who possesses qualities (nirguṇa-saviśeṣa-tattva-svarūpa). I am the basis or shelter of Brahman, the ultimate destination of the jñānīs. Immortality, imperishability, eternity, the eternal quality known as prema and that vraja–rasa which is exclusive bliss – all these remain under the shelter of the form of Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental Reality who possesses qualities.
Thus ends Chapter Fourteen entitled Guṇa-Traya Vibhāga Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the Fourteenth Chapter.