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(Continued from the previous issue)

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1. Arjuna says, ‘Krishna, the scriptures describe You as the One without a second. But when You project Yourself onto Creation, we see only diversity. Why is that?’

2. Krishna replies, ‘That, Arjuna, is entirely due to the play of the Gunas. I have earlier mentioned Gunas in passing. I shall now tell you more.’

3. ‘The word Guna means tendency or characteristic. There are basically three Gunas, Tamo Guna, Rajo Guna and Sattva Guna. The characteristic that I mentioned pertains to body functions as well as those of the mind.’

4. ‘At this stage, I must clarify that God has deliberately built Guna into the scheme of things where the Universe is concerned. There is a purpose behind God’s action, as always! At the same time, man must watch out and make sure that he does not become a slave to the Gunas.’

5. ‘A few words now about the basic nature associated with the three Gunas. Tamo Guna is related to inactivity, Rajo Guna is connected with vigourous action and Sattva Guna with calmness.’


6. At the purely bodily level, when a person is sleeping, he is under the spell of Tamo Guna. When he is vigourous and active, for example while playing, he is responding to Rajo Guna. And while praying or doing service, he is exhibiting Sattva Guna.’

7. ‘All this is a broad-brush description, and I must now supplement this with some details. Firstly, you must understand that not only every human being but in fact every being is a composite of the three fundamental Gunas in some proportion or the other, with one particular Guna dominating over the others.

8. This mixture of the Tamo, Rajo and Sattva can be done in innumerable ways, and that is what leads to the extra-ordinary diversity that one sees in Nature.’

9. ‘Later, after the war is over, try out an experiment in mixing colours. Start
with red, green and blue, and mix them in different proportions like red = 10 %, green = 60% and blue =30%; red = 5%, green = 15% and blue = 80% and so on. Obviously, this kind of mixing can be done in an infinite number of ways, with each mixture leading to one particular composite colour. It is the same in Nature, except that what is mixed are the three fundamental Gunas that I mentioned earlier.

10. Arjuna asks, ‘Krishna, you say each person corresponds to one particular mix of the basic three Gunas. Agreed. Does this composition remain unchanged throughout the life of that person or there can be changes and fluctuations?’

11. Krishna replies, ‘Good question! The average value, if I might say so, generally does not change, unless there is a compelling force exerted either from outside or from inside. However, daily fluctuations there could be and indeed do occur. Thus, a person may be generally Sattvic. That means he would generally be calm. However, once in a while he could get angry too. And anger rises from Rajas. Thus you have here an example of the deviation from the norm.’


12. ‘However, despite such fluctuations, it is possible to characterise a person as basically of the Tamasic, or Rajasic or Sattvic type. From now on, you must understand that whenever I refer to the Guna of a person, I am referring to his average nature.’

13. ‘The characteristic of a person basically reflects his mental attitude. Thus, a Sattvic person is gentle, usually calm, often smiling, generally helpful, soft-spoken, etc. There is a distinctive aura about such a person. I suppose you get the general picture.’

14. ‘A Rajasic person is restless and itches for action. Sometimes, he is even hyper-active! Of course, it is ambition and desire that drive his activity and make him dynamic. Naturally, such a person can get agitated, can become angry, feels disappointed when he fails, and so on.’

15. ‘The Tamasic person is at the bottom, being a personification of dullness, sloth, inertia, laziness, and what have you. He is totally devoid of initiative, and a confirmed work-shirker! Well, that gives in a nutshell, what the three basic types of people are.’

16. Arjuna asks, ‘Krishna, a person is Tamasic, knows that he is so and wants to change. What is he to do?

17. Krishna replies, ‘On account of his very nature, it is doubtful if a Tamasic person, would, of his own accord, want to change. Yet he may feel the urge, on advice from a noble soul. In such an event, laziness must be eliminated with activity; in other words, Tamas must be conquered with Rajas.’

18. Continuing, Krishna adds, ‘While Rajas is certainly preferable to Tamas, one must not forget its undesirable aspects. In fact, Rajas has a strong tendency to get amplified. Hence, before much damage is done, Rajas itself must be vanquished with Sattva. So Tamas first with Rajas and Rajas then with Sattva.’

19. ‘I have told you how Rajas is to be used for overcoming Tamas. Likewise, Sattva is invoked by avoiding bad company and seeking nly good company. By the way, don’t imagine that good company means only good people; a good book also can be a good companion. In this context, the scriptures must be given priority number one.’

(To be continued...)

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– Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 5 Issue 05 - MAY 2007
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