Tendencies of Prakriti

In the Gita, the entire creation is explained as being constituted of the gunas or modes, the primary base that is the cause of the variety of manifestations in which is subsumed all that is gross and subtle. It follows that the environment as well as each individual being comes under the influence of the three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas. They are, in fact, the three tendencies of Prakriti. These gunas are not perceptible to the senses as definite objects, but are subtle by nature and can be recognised only through their effects, pointed out Swami Omkarananda in a discourse.

Sastras define the ‘gunas’ as a rope with three strands to signify its binding tendency. Of these, satva is recognised as superior to the others. Satva is the consciousness that is bright and luminous and the power by which knowledge, awareness, etc, are radiated or transmitted.

Rajas is recognised as activity-oriented and is of the nature of desires in beings. This guna leads one to pursue worldly attainments with much fervour that one is unable to restrict the desires. It thus binds the jivatma with attachment to the work and with the sense of achievement in the works accomplished.

The lowest is tamas, characterised by inertia, or lack of activity, and also by lack of knowledge of the truth. It makes one blind to the purpose of one’s life and swirl in the world of ignorance.

All these three gunas are always present in all beings but in varying degrees of dominance. By knowing these effects of the gunas one can assess one’s own inherent tendencies and learn to transcend one’s basic nature. It is possible to move towards satva by consciously avoiding the effects of the other two. The ideal would be to then go beyond the gunas to reach an exalted state when one is freed of all bonds pertaining to this empirical world.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 4:39:15 pm |