Chapter 14. Natural Tendencies

1I shall tell you more
about this supreme wisdom,
which transcends all knowledge.
By knowing this, the sages have
attained the highest perfection.

2Contemplating on this wisdom,
they have reached the supreme state.
They remain unaffected by creation or destruction.
Having reached the supreme state, they are not born again at the time of creation nor are they disturbed at the time of dissolution.

3Primordial nature is my womb,
in which I plant my seed;
all creatures are born from that.

4Whatever life forms develop in any womb,
primordial nature is their mother
and I am their seed-giving father.

5Sattva, rajas, and tamas
are the three gunas.
These gunas are born out of prakriti and
they bind the imperishable soul to the body.
Guna refers to the inherent tendency of a person.
Prakriti refers to nature or environment.

6Sattva, which is pure, luminous, and free from distress
binds one by attachment to knowledge and comfort.

7Rajas, marked by passion,
the source of thirst and anxiety,
binds one by attachment to relentless activity.

8Tamas, born of ignorance and delusion,
makes one careless, lethargic, and sleepy.
The states of sattva, rajas, and tamas are temporary;
all of them are merely different kinds of bondages of the soul.
The objective is to go beyond the gunas.

Interestingly, in 2:23-25, there is no mention of ‘the soul can’t be bound’. Perhaps, attachment is the one thing that affects the soul.
9Sattva brings happiness;
rajas gives rise to action;
tamas shrouds knowledge and
binds one to laziness.

10Sattva predominates,
subduing rajas and tamas;
or rajas prevails,
overpowering sattva and tamas;
or tamas sets in,
masking sattva and rajas.
Among the three gunas,
one dominates over the other two.

11When the glow of wisdom
emanates from all the gates of the body,
indeed sattva is dominant.
The body is considered as a city of nine gates
(two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, a mouth,
a genital organ, and an anus).

12When rajas predominates,
one is governed by greed, vigor, desire,
unrest, and constant activity.
Such a person takes up many activities out of greed
and with an eye on the rewards.

13Darkness, delusion, lethargy, and negligence arise
when tamas is predominant.

14When the soul departs a body
while sattva is predominant,
the soul attains the pure worlds of the wise.

15Departing in the state of rajas,
one takes birth among those attached to action;
likewise dying in the state of tamas,
one is born among the deluded.
The state of mind that prevails at the time of one’s death
is often a reflection of the kind of life one has lived. See 8:6.

16The fruit of sattva is purity and goodness;
the fruit of rajas is pain;
the fruit of tamas is ignorance.

17Wisdom is born from sattva,
greed from rajas, and
distraction, ignorance, and delusion from tamas.

18Those who live in sattva advance upwards;
those in rajas are stuck in the middle,
ever caught up in activity;
those in tamas,
the lowest state of quality,
sink downward.
The ‘upward’, ‘middle’, and ‘downward’
are references to spiritual advancement.

19One who has realized that
gunas are the driving force (in every activity)
and also knows what exists beyond gunas,
attains the supreme state.
He realizes that the Self is not the cause of action and activities,
but it is guna.

20When one has risen above these gunas,
which are associated with the body,
he is liberated from birth, death, old age, and pain
and becomes immortal!

21What are the traits of one
who has gone beyond the three gunas?

What is his way of life?

How does he go beyond the gunas?
22One who has gone beyond the influence of the gunas
is not moved by the illumination of sattva,
the activity arising from rajas,
or the delusion caused by tamas;
he neither dislikes them when they are present
nor desires for them when they are absent.

23He is never distracted and he stands firm;
he remains calm and unaffected by the gunas
for he understands how the gunas work.

24He is the same towards pleasure and pain;
gold, mud, or stone make no difference to him;
with the same courage he faces
reward and punishment or
the pleasant and the unpleasant;
25he regards alike:
praise and criticism,
friend and foe, and
honor and dishonor;
he is above selfish pursuits;
and he is established in the atman.
He has truly gone beyond the gunas.
‘Established in the atman’ refers to
a sense of self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency.

26One who sincerely worships me
through the path of devotion,
crosses the barriers of guna and
is ready to attain brahman.

27For I am the brahman
the immortal, the imperishable,
the eternal dharma, and the absolute bliss.
The ‘eternal dharma’ refers to
the natural law that governs universal welfare.

<< Chapter 13. Matter and Spirit


  1. I have felt difficult in gettng the meaining of 27th versa. Brahmano hi prathishtaham sukhasya ekanthikasya ca.
    brahmasya/brahmanaha is same or different?
    I am the prathishta of brahma is this the anvaya? or I am the brahma?

  2. brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāhaṃ / amṛtasyāvyayasya ca / śāśvatasya ca dharmasya / sukhasyaikāntikasya ca (14.27)

    brahmaṇaḥ = of brahman
    hi = indeed; truly
    pratiṣṭhā = foundation; support; basis; abode
    aham = I
    amṛtasya = of the immortal
    avyayasya = of the imperishable; of the eternal
    ca = and
    śāśvatasya = of the everlasting; of the perpetual
    dharmasya = of dharma; of virtue; of righteousness; of moral law; of principle
    sukhasya = of bliss; of happiness; of comfort
    ekāntikasya = of the one and only

    Hope this helps.