Monday, March 16, 2009


There is good interpretation of Guna is given in the Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta, Section 36,37 and 38 demonstrate the meaning of Three Gunas. Verses 1 to 4 of section 36 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta explain about the relationship of three Gunas. Roy, P.C. translates these verses as follows:
Tamas (Darkness), Rajas (Passion) and Sattva (Goodness) These are called the three qualities. These are coupled with one another. They exist, depending on one another. They take refuge in one another and follow one another. They are also joined with one another (MB-AP, 36, 1-4). Tamas should be known to have the night (or obscurity) for its essence. It has three characteristics, and is (otherwise) called Delusion. It has unrighteousness (or sin) also for its indication, and it is always present in all sinful acts. This is the nature of Tamas and it appears also as confined with others (MB-AP, 36, 8). Rajas is said to have activity for its essence. It is the cause of successive acts. When it prevails its indication, among all beings, is production (MB-AP, 36, 9). Splendour, lightness, and faith—these are the form that is light, of Sattva among all creatures, as regarded by all good men (MB-AP, 36, 10).
Characteristics of Tamas Guna:
Verses 12 to 20 section 36 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta describe the basic nature of the Tamas Guna . Translation of these verses by Roy, P. C. is given below-
Complete delusion, ignorance, illiberality, indecision in respect of action, sleep, haughtiness, fear, cupidity, grief, censure of good acts, loss of memory, unripeness of judgment, absence of faith, violation of all rules of conduct, want of discrimination, blindness, vileness of behaviour, boastful assertions of performance when there has been no performance, presumption of knowledge in ignorance, unfriendliness (or hostility), evilness of disposition, absence of faith, stupid reasoning, crookedness, incapacity for association, sinful action, senselessness, stolidity, lassitude. absence of self-control, degradation,--all these qualities are known as belonging to Tamas. Whatever other states of mind connected with delusion, exist in the world, all appertain to Tamas. Frequent ill-speaking of other people, censuring the deities and the Brahmanas, illiberality, vanity, delusion, wrath, unforgiveness, hostility towards all creatures, are regarded as the characteristics of Tamas. Whatever undertakings exist that are unmeritorious (in consequence of their being vain or useless), what gifts there are that are unmeritorious (in consequence of the unworthiness of the donees, the unreasonableness of the time, the impropriety of the object, etc.), vain eating,--these also appertain to Tamas. Indulgence in calumny unforgiveness, animosity, vanity and absence of faith are also said to be characteristics of Tamas (MB-AP, 36, 12-20) .
Characteristics of Rajas Guna:
Verses 2 to 14 section 37 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta describe the basic nature of the Rajas Guna Injuring (others), beauty, toil, pleasure and pain, cold and heart, lordship (or power), war, peace, argument, dissatisfaction, endurance, might, valour, pride, wrath, exertion, quarrel (or collision), jealousy, desire, malice, battle, the sense of meum or mineness, protection (of others), slaughter, bonds, and affection. buying and selling, lopping off, cutting, piercing and cutting off the coat of mail that another has worn, fierceness, cruelty, vilifying, pointing out the faults of others thoughts entirely devoted to worldly affairs, anxiety, animosity, reviling of others, false speech, false or vain gifts, hesitancy and doubt, boastfulness of speech, dispraise and praise, laudation, prowess, defiance, attendance (as on the sick and the weak), obedience (to the commands of preceptors and parents), service or ministrations, harbouring of thirst or desire, cleverness or dexterity of conduct, policy heedlessness, contumely, possessions, and diverse decorations that prevail in the world among men, women, animals, inanimate things, houses, grief, incredulousness, vows and regulations, actions with expectation (of good result), diverse acts of public charity, the rites in respect of Swaha salutations, rites of Swadha and Vashat, officiating at the sacrifices of others, imparting of instruction, performance of sacrifices, study, making of gifts, acceptance of gifts, rites' of expiation, auspicious acts, the wish to have this and that, affection generated by the merits of the object for which or whom it is felt, treachery, deception, disrespect and respect, theft, killing, desire of concealment, vexation, wakefulness, ostentation, haughtiness, attachment, devotion, contentment, exultation, gambling, indulgence in scandal, all relations arising out of women, attachment to dancing, instrumental music and songs—all these qualities have been said to belong to Rajas (MB-AP, 37, 2-14). Those men on Earth who meditate on the past, present, and the future, who are devoted to the aggregate of three, viz., Religion, WeaIth, and Pleasure, who acting from impulse of desire, exult on attaining to affluence in respect of every desire, are said to be enveloped by Rajas .
Characteristics of Sattva Guna:
According to the 38 chapter Sattva is excellent quality. Verses 1 to 8 of this chapter explain the characteristics of Sattva Guna. Sattva is beneficial to all creatures in the world, and unblamable, and constitutes the conduct of those that are good. Joy, satisfaction, nobility, enlightenment, and happiness, absence of stinginess (or liberality), absence of fear, contentment, disposition for faith, forgiveness, courage, abstention from injuring any creature, equability, truth, straightforwardness, absence of wrath, absence of malice, purity, cleverness, prowess, (these appertain to the quality of Rajas) . He who is devoted to the duty of Yoga, regarding knowledge to be vain, conduct to be vain, service to be vain, and mode of life to be vain, attains to what is highest in the world hereafter. Freedom from the idea of meum, freedom from egoism, freedom from expectations, looking on all with an equal eye, and freedom from desire,--these constitute the eternal religion of the good. Confidence, modesty, forgiveness, renunciation, purity, absence of laziness, absence of cruelty, absence of delusion, compassion to all creatures, absence of the disposition to calumniate, exultation, satisfaction, rapture, humility, good behaviour, purity in all acts having for their object the attainment of tranquility, righteous understanding, emancipation (from attachments), indifference, Brahmacharyya, complete renunciation, freedom from expectations, unbroken observance of righteousness are said to be characteristics of Sattva (MB-AP, 38, 1-8).

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