Chemistry of three gunas

Purusha is the Father of the universe while prakriti is the Mother of the universe. Maya or cosmic illusion is the womb of Brahman and by virtue of this fact become the origin of all creation. All living beings are born with three gunas or attributes of sattva or purity, rajas or activity and tamas or sloth indolence. Sattva is immaculate and binds the individual with the attraction of pleasure and knowledge. Rajas binds the individual through the attraction of craving and attachment and tamas binds the individual through the attraction of sleep and ignorance.

Even the foods we consume are subject to this classification. Sattvic foods include milk, bread, pulses, vegetables, rice and milk products. Rajasic foods are rich and include meat, fish and poultry products while tamasic foods include stale, fermented and leftover foods that ought not to be normally consumed. Knowledge is associated with sattva, greed is associated with rajas and ignorance with tamas.

He who is established in the supreme state is free from the interplay of the gunas. The body functions as a result of the influence of the gunas but a person established in wisdom is free from body consciousness. Such a person is released from the cycle of birth and death and achieves immortality.

Arjuna then asks Sri Krishna to describe to him the virtues of a person who has successfully transcended the gunas: how does such a person conduct himself? Sri Krishna replies by saying that the wise neither resist nor are they influenced by the attributes of illumination, activity and delusion. They possess equal vision and see no difference between a lump of clay or a nugget of gold. A liberated individual endowed with wisdom is alike in honour and dishonour, the same to friends or enemies and remains a witness to the three states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep.

The wise are unaffected and detached from the interplay of the three attributes. They do not identify themselves with the body and know themselves to be no different from pure consciousness. Such persons are liberated when alive and are sages established in perfect wisdom.

They display evenness of temper, equanimity of mind under all circumstances and are undisturbed by notions of gain or loss.

Devotion is then the most effective vehicle to overcome the influence of the gunas: “And he who serves Me with an undeviated yoga of devotion, fully transcending the gunas, he is fir to become Brahman/I am the foundation of the immortal and immutable Brahman of eternal law (dharma) and ultimate happiness.”

It is difficult to remain unaffected by the gunas. Transcending them requires discipline, faith and surrender; the mire of delusion is then successfully crossed.

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