Chapter 14The Three Qualities of Material NatureVerse 5


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

Having thus declared that the origins of all jivas or embodied beings is from the combination of prakriti or the material substratum pervading all existence and purusa the Supreme Being as eternal consciousness and that they are both manifestations of the Supreme Lord Krishna. The resulting situation of the purusa's conjunction with prakriti is elaborated upon in fourteen verse beginning with this one is described in relationship to the gunas or three modes of material nature: sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or nescience which all arise from prakriti. The source and foundation of these gunas is only from prakriti and are dependent upon it. The physical body is a product of the three gunas. Everything in material existence is under the influence of the three gunas which binds fast the jivas by connecting the effect of actions to the results of reactions. Due to accepting the illusions of happiness, distress, exhilaration, delusion, etc. The jivas believe that they are physical beings because of identifying with the senses and the physical body. So much so that the eternal part within which is the atma or the immortal soul is completely forgotten even though it is a direct manifestation of the Supreme Lord and in reality immutable and eternal.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The forms and accruements of attachment obstructing the jiva or embodied being in relation to atma tattva or realization of the immortal soul is indicated in this verse. The words sattva, rajas and tamas are usually depicted as goodness, passion and nescience. But there are other interpretations of the same. Sattva is luminous because goodness illuminates. Rajas is exuberance giving passion to the ego and momentum to activity. Tamas is nescience the degenerative utilization of rajas and the total antithesis of sattva.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The three gunas or modes of material nature are sattva or goodness, rajas or passion and tamas or nescience and all arise from prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence. The gunas in actual fact are the attributes and qualities of prakriti and their existence can be discerned from the effects that they are responsible for producing such as intelligence, dimwittedness or beautiful, ugly, etc. These attributes and qualities are in a latent state within material nature when it is unevolved but manifests themselves when in an evolved state. The results of their effects is that the immutable atma or immortal soul is nibadhnanti which means enslaved by material sentiments of the mind. Due to this the atma is impounded in a body as a captive, forced to be manufactured as a jiva or an embodied being and subject to birth and death within the body of a demigod, human, animal, fish, etc. The characteristics of the individual guna's along with their method of imprisoning the jiva is given by Lord Krishna next.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna refutes the impersonalistic sankhya philosophy which negates the existence of the Supreme Lord by propounding the combination and essential dependence of the ksetra or field of activity with the ksetra-jna or the knower of the field of activity. He delineates all aspects such as what the qualities are. How they can be recognised. How they keep the jivas or embodied beings in bondage and how this is established and enforced by contact and attraction to sense objects and material nature. He states that the three gunas or qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas or goodness, passion and ignorance respectively are not the actual forms of objects seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched but are the status of the inherent attributes contained as. Thus prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence is defined as the resting place where the three gunas are equipoise and arise from. This same prakriti when agitated by the Supreme Lord's onslaught of time transforms into mahat or cosmic intelligence and firmly becomes bonded with the dualities such as pleasure and pain, happiness and distress, etc. But then one may question why it is stated in chapter 2, verse 30 that the atma or immortal soul can never be destroyed. Anticipating such a query Lord Krishna states the words dehinam avyayam meaning the immutable spirit soul denoting that although the atma resides in the physical body it is immutable and never changes it quality of eternality. So the gunas cause the atma to be imprisoned by the physical body due to its attachment to the body and its attraction to the senses and its desire for sense objects. The Visnu Purana states: The Supreme Lord enters by His own will with equipoise into mutable matter and immutable spirit, activating both at the time of creation. O sage He is both the activator and the activated. By way of contraction and expansion He abides equipoise within prakriti as the ksetrajna from whence the three gunas arise which control the ksetra. This irrevocably manifests at the commencement of creation. So in conclusion the three gunas are the modified essence of prakriti which is generated by the mahat unto all material beings and planets such as Earth and others.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 14, verse 5 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 5

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