C L Kaloo
The Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita describes three modes; knowledge, action and character in Adhaya 18th; Shaloka-19 (18:19 BG) as quoted here under: –
“Jnanam karma ca karta ca-Tridhaivaguna-bhedateh
Means: According to the three qualities of material nature there are three kinds; knowledge, action and character (performer of action). The lord advised Arjuna to learn from HIM about these modes: –
It may be stated that in the 14th Adhaya, the lord elaborated the three divisions of modes of material nature and said that the mode of goodness is illuminating; the mode of passion is materialistic, and the mode of ignorance is conducive to laziness and indolence. The lord further stated that all the modes of material nature are binding and are not source of liberation. Even in the mood of goodness, one is conditioned. In the 17th Adhaya, the Lord made it clear about the different types of worship by different types of human beings in different modes of material nature.
Now, in Bhagavad Gita, SANKHYA philosophy elaborately deals with the three gunas (qualities of nature)-Sattva (good expanding), Rajas (activating) and Tamas (evil/obstructing). The Lord told Arjuna how these three qualities determine the nature of knowledge, action and character in the nextShaloka (20th) as stated hereby:
“O Arjuna, understand t hat knowledge to be ‘Sattvic’ by which the one indestructible spirit is perceived in all beings, undivided in the divided”
The Lord clarifies that he who sees one spirit soul in every living being, whether a demigod, human being, animal, bird or even plant possess knowledge in the mode of goodness as in all living entities. One spirit soul is there, although they have different bodies in terms of their previous actions and performances. The manifestation of the living force in everybody is due to the superior nature of the Supreme Lord.Thus, to see that one superior nature, that living force, in everybody is to see in the mode of goodness. That living energy is imperishable although the bodies are perishable. Differences are perceived in terms of the body, because there are forms of material existence in conditional life, the living force appears to be divided. It may be clarified that such impersonal knowledge in an awakened human being is an aspect of self-realisation. This awakened devotee or Yogi with pure ‘Sattvic’ wisdom realises that it is the one undivided spherical light of God surrounding the Cosmos and mix with the shadow of ‘Maya’ or cosmic delusion that produces the world of solids, liquids, gases, energy substances-trees, animals, human beings, as seemingly separate forms of matter.
That knowledge by which spirit is perceived as one and invisible, even in its manifold individual appearances as matter and mortal dreams, is called ‘Sattvic’ knowledge. The lord further stated in the Bhagavad Gita that the consciousness of man engrossed in the delusive appearances and activities of the world is said to be ‘rajasic’. Similarly, that knowledge which is identified with the active aspect of delusion, appearances and activities (earth’s infinite variety of beings) is ‘rajasic’.
The person whose cognition is of the ‘tamasic’ quality is wholly subverted to delusion. Thus, such a person of tamesic understanding thoughtlessly engages in trivial aspirations and thinks that it will give him lot of pleasure and expresses full satisfaction therein as though he had found the ultimate goal of life, while the lord said in Adhaya 18th; shloka-23 (18:23 BG) that action which is divinely directed and is performed in a state of non-attachment viz without attraction or repulsion and not desiring fruits of such action, is said to be ‘Sattvic’.
Therefore, it is quite evident that the knowledge by which spirit is perceived as one and indivisible even in its individual (manifold) appearances is called sattvic knowledge. Thus, the performance of a Sattvic activity must have, though primarily, knowledge of scriptures relating to God, directing through an elevated spiritual master (ideal guru).The other things which is most essential is the performance of action (characteristics of Sattvic action) with non-attachment and without selfish love or hatred, and more so, without desire for the fruits of action.
A true devotee or a yogi works solely for the love of God. He performs Sattvic action in the thought of his Lord. Though he acts in a world of relatively wherein his choices are often between the “lesser of two evils”, yet his consciousness remains atoned to the one Absolute, beyond doubt. This is in fact the goal advocated by the lord in the Holy Gita. In Shloka 24th of the same Adhaya (18th), the lord stated,”that the action which is performed with great effort by one seeking to satisfy his desires and enacted from a sense of false ego, is called action in the mode of passion-that is said to be ‘rajasic'” (18:24 BG). The Lord clarified that the ‘rajas’ is the passionate energy of creation, ever restless, always in motion. Thus, ‘rajas’ implies a constant exertion of will directed by the matter-loving, body-identified ego.
In conclusion, it is quite apparent that the majority of people are engaged in worldly pursuits, struggling in the middle of the two extremes, motivated by self-interest and worldly desires, but generally moderate in their habits and also averse to the primary evils. Thus, a pure sattvic actions lead, ultimately, to awareness towards the process of liberation. Rajasic actions, on the other hand, produce manifold desires of various kinds. Being instituted for the satisfaction of ego and its Limited and ephemeral world, such types (kinds) of action give rise to pain and cause distress, unless these manifold desires (of his own making) are destroyed by the greater power of Sattvic wisdom-viz inspiration of love and understanding; compassion, tolerance, humility andabove all morality (character). In this context, Swami Vivekananda had aptly said as quoted hereunder: –
“Behind everything, the same divinity is existing and out of this comes the basis of morality. Do not injure another. Love everyone as your own self because the whole universe is one. In injuring another, I am injuring myself; in loving another, I am loving myself. From this also springs the principle of morality which has been summed-up in one word-Self Abnegation.”
C L Kaloo