THREE MODES OF
Jai: Grandma, sometimes
I feel lazy, and at other times I am
very active? Why is that?
We all pass through different states
in order to do certain things. These
states or modes (Gunas) are three types:
the mode of goodness (Sattva), the mode
of passion (Rajas), and the mode of
ignorance (Tamas). We come under the
influence of these three modes. Sometimes
one mode becomes more powerful than
the other two.
The mode of goodness makes you peaceful
and happy. In this mode you will study
scriptures, will not harm anybody, and
will work honestly. When you are in
the mode of passion, you become greedy
for wealth and power. You will work
hard to enjoy material pleasures and
will do anything to satisfy your selfish
desires. When you are in the mode of
ignorance, you can’t tell the
difference between right and wrong action,
and will do sinful and forbidden activities.
You become lazy and careless, lack intelligence,
and have no interest in spiritual knowledge.
Jai: Do these three
modes of nature control us, Grandma,
or do we have control over what we do?
Actually, these three modes are the
doers of all the actions. (Gita 3.27)
When we are under the influence of the
mode of goodness, we do good and right
actions; under the influence of the
mode of passion, we do selfish actions;
and under the influence of the mode
of ignorance, we do bad things or become
lazy. (Gita 14.11-13) We must rise above
the three Gunas to attain liberation
(Nirvana). (Gita 14.20)
Jai: What are we
like when we have risen above the three
When we have risen above the three Gunas,
we are not affected by pain and pleasure,
success and failure, and we treat everybody
like ourselves. Such a person depends
on nobody but God.
Jai: It must be very
hard to rise above these three modes.
How can I rise above the three Gunas,
To rise above the three Gunas is not
very easy, but it can be done with a
little effort. If you are under the
mode of ignorance, you must stop being
lazy, stop putting off what you should
be doing, and start helping others.
This will bring you to the mode of goodness.
If you are under the mode of passion,
you must give up being selfish and greedy
and help others. This will bring you
to the mode of goodness. After reaching
the mode of goodness, you can rise above
the three Gunas by devotion to God.
Lord Krishna said: One who serves Me
with love and devotion rises above the
three Gunas and becomes fit for God-realization.
Here is a story
about the nature of three Gunas.
18. Three Robbers
on the Path
Once a man was going through a forest
when three robbers jumped on him and
One of the robbers then said, “What
is the use of keeping this man alive?”