Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 14: The three modes of Material Nature: Verse 27
brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya
brahmaṇaḥ — of the impersonal brahma-jyotir; hi — certainly; pratiṣṭhā — the rest; aham — I am; amṛtasya — of the immortal; avyayasya — of the imperishable; ca — also; śāśvatasya — of the eternal; ca — and; dharmasya — of the constitutional position; sukhasya — of happiness; aikāntikasya — ultimate; ca — also.
And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal, imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness.
A brief summary of 14th chapter of Bhagavad Gita:
Living entity, although Brahman in nature, has the desire to lord it over material nature. The desire to enjoy makes him fall down. Association with modes makes him desire to dominate the material world in different bodies. Devotional service or Krishna consciousness immediately puts one in transcendental position by which his unlawful desire to control material nature is removed. So, by practicing nine processes of devotional service in the association of devotees and under the influence of the spiritual master, removes one’s material desire to dominate and one becomes firmly fixed in devotional service and one thus situated in Brahman conception becomes equal in quality to the Supreme Personality of Godhead
This verse BG 14.27 talks about the ultimate goal of life. Arjuna asks Krishna, “O Lord Krishna! How can a person go beyond the three gunas
and realize that he is an Atman, a Witness Consciousness? What are the characteristics of such a person? How does that person behave in the world?
Shri Krishna said, “A person who has gone beyond the three gunas and realized that hist rue identity is the Atman (the Witness Consciousness) will not hate when any Guna rises in him and does not crave for any Guna when it subsides. Such a person remains calm within and observes like an outsider how his body and mind function due to the gunas. Such a person realizes that his body and mind are constantly changing, but as Atman he/she remains the same.
What are the Gunas we are talking about?
Gunas are three: – Sattva Guna, Rajas and Tamo Guna
Sattva Guna manifests itself as purity, knowledge, and harmony. It is the quality of goodness, joy, satisfaction, nobility, forgiving and contentment. It is free of fear, violence, wrath, and malice. Not affected by praise and criticism, and sees every living being as one. It is the guna that people want to increase in order to reach the state of Samadhi or Liberation. Increasing sattva is possible by reducing rajas and tamas, both in your mind and in your body. You can do this by eating sattvic food such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, milk, ghee etc. Some practice yoga and live a non-violent lifestyle, surrounding themselves with positive people, and performing activities that bring them and others joy.
Rajas represents itself by passion, action, energy and motion. Rajas is characterized by a feeling of attachment, a longing for satisfaction and desire. If you want to decrease the level of rajas, avoid consuming rajasic foods like fried and spicy food and stimulants such as caffeine. A Rajasic person like praise for his action, have the desire to impress others, cannot understand the real meaning of the spiritual teachings.
Tamo Guna is characterized by impurity, laziness and darkness. A tamasic person indulge himself in unethical practices to gain powers and sensual pleasures, filled with ego, have no understanding of scriptures or willing to learn them, and don’t abide by any rules and regulations. It is the consequence of ignorance and it prevents all beings from seeing reality. In order to decrease the tamasic elements in your mind and body, avoid
eating tamasic foods (e.g., alcohol, meat, processed food), indulging (e.g., overeating, oversleeping, etc.).
These Gunas can be explained by a Story of a Mango tree.
Once long ago there were three friends. They were very poor and lived and a very small village. The land in the village was infertile and there was no work to do. One day these friends decided to go to a big city and find some work there.
So, one early morning they packed their bags and left for the city. They had no money, so they decided to walk to the city. It was the month of May when the summer is at its peak in India. By noon all their water and food were finished so they decided to take a short break and rest under the shadow of a tree in the nearby forest. They were hungry and thirsty but there was no food or water left.
When they were resting under a tree one of them spotted a big mango tree loaded with mangoes. When he told his friends, they were relieved as mango satisfies hunger and thirst. They asked the oldest friend to go and check out the mangoes.
The oldest friend went to the tree and thanked God for showing them this beautiful tree loaded with fruit. He then looked for some ripen mangoes but as he was about to pick them off the branch, he saw that there were many ripen mangoes lying on the ground. He thought when there are already so many mangoes on the ground it is not good to pick other mangoes who have not completed their life cycle on the tree. So, he picked some mangoes from the ground and ate them with gratitude to the god. After eating them he realized that he got these mangoes for free, and he could not pay them back as the tree was wild and did not belong to anyone. So, he digs the ground nearby and sowed the seeds and prayed ‘Oh god, may one day one of these seeds become a tree and benefit the travelers like this tree benefited me today’. The first friend came back and told his friends that the mangoes are really sweet and juicy.
The second friend went to the tree and after seeing the big tree he realized that he could take some mangoes and some wood to sell in the market. It will give him good money and as the tree belongs to anyone, he will make a 100% profit. So, after eating some mangoes, he broke a thick branch with many mangoes on it and placed it on his shoulders and said to himself, “I am very smart, what a great idea I came up with’. And he returned back to his friends.
Now the third friend went to the tree. After seeing this beautiful big tree, he
got jealous. He said, this not fair, in my childhood, I had put a seed and gave the water a few times, but no tree came into my garden. Here nobody is doing anything, and such a big tree is standing, I don’t like it, I will destroy this tree after I have eaten the mangoes. After thinking this he picked the mango nearest to him but as he took a bite, he had to spit it out, the mango was very sour as it did not ripen yet. He took another mango, but it was also no riped. The problem was that this man did not know the difference between ripe and unripe mango. He did not know how to differentiate between them. But instead of trying to find out, he got very angry and thought that this tree gave sweet mangoes to my friends, but it is giving sour mangoes to me. He decided to take revenge and he took out his matchbox from his pocket and lit the tree on fire.
Here you can see that the first friend had Sattva, he had qualities like gratitude, wisdom, kindness, sense of responsibility, fairness, etc. The second friend had Rajas; he was intelligent but manipulative. He thought only of his own benefit. The third friend was dominated by Tamas, he could not see the difference between right and wrong. He was driven by ego and negativity.
We all have one of these gunas are everywhere, it is part of MAYA. These gunas can be seen in day, seasons, food, thoughts and actions. They keep dominating us, our thinking, our actions, habit, our characters. For example, Early morning has Sattva guna that is why it is advised to get up early, clean yourself, do chanting, attend Mangala arati so these will give positive vibes, Afternoon is dominated by Rajas and night is dominated by Tamas. A tamasic person will have negative thoughts, actions and habits, even he may do a good deed, but his motives will be influenced by tamas.
Sattva binds us to attachment with happiness, Rajas binds us with attachment to activity and Tamas binds us to attachment with delusion. As long as we are influenced by any of the three gunas, we remain in the bondage of MAYA. So, the first thing we have to do is we have to increase the sattva guna and decrease the rajas and tams and be unattached from these 3 gunas and see the reality beyond Maya (that is the spiritual world). Once we do that, we will transcend the 3 Gunas and will be indifferent to the dualities of life like pleasure and pain and be undisturbed by these gunas and because we know that gunas are part of Maya and not of the Universe sole reality which is the self.
How can one transcend these modes?
Krishna says in BG 14.20.
guṇān etān atītya trīn
vimukto ’mṛtam aśnute
When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.
Although one is within this material body, by his advancement in spiritual knowledge he can be free from the influence of the modes of nature. He can enjoy the happiness of spiritual life even in this body because, after leaving this body, he is certainly going to the spiritual sky. In other words, devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the sign of liberation from material entanglement.
Explanation of Brahman
The Absolute truth is realized in three ways. Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. Our scriptures give lots of Analogy to understand these concepts. For example, for reincarnation the analogy is like how we change clothes we change the body. When a cloth is torn, we throw it and use new clothes. Our body is like a cloth to the soul and when the body becomes worn and old the soul rejects this body and accepts new body. Similarly, to explain Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan the analogy of sun has been given. We see the Sun. Suppose one who has lived in the dark and has never experienced the sun light, he opens the window and comes out of the room there is light everywhere, he will feel blissful. That is one understanding of sun through the sunlight.
Second understanding is someone who is intelligent will ask from where this sunlight is coming from. He may look up and see the sun in the sky who is the source of light, a localized source. This is Paramatma realization.
Third understand is Someone who is little more intelligent want to know what is there inside the sun. The sun is actually a whole planet where there is whole kingdom with Sun God and other Demigods. It is a different world with different types of body. So, when one understands the Sun god it is Bhagavan realization. Understanding with more details and have a personnel relationship with Sun God. So, the understanding the Sunlight, Sun planet and Sun god is compared to Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan realization. This is one analogy.
So, Brahman realization is the realization, the Brama Jyoti or effulgence or the divine light that comes from the spiritual world. The Paramatma realization is those yogis who meditate on God as super soul seated in the heart and Bhagavan is the personnel realization where one understands the supreme personality of God head, Krishna as a person having all features, qualifications etc. and the Spiritual world is a place where there is full of life, with all variegations, activities filled with eternity, knowledge and blissfulness. That is Bhagavan realization. All there are understanding of the Absolute truth but still difference between 3.
This is what Krishna explains in this verse I am the source of Brahman. The impersonalist who do not believe or accept the personnel form of the lord. The constitution of Brahman is immortality, imperishability, eternity and happiness. Everything has got some characteristics by which we know it. Sweetness is a constitutional position of Sugar. Liquidity is part of water. This cannot be separated from it. From water you cannot take liquidity. Another example is building a house in this material world. We need wood, cement etc. these are the constitution which needed to build the house, we cannot separate them, it is necessity. Similarly, our constitution is we are part and parcel of Krishna. That is our constitutional position and that cannot be separated from Krishna. Krishna constitutional position is Satchitananda vigraha. From Krishna you can never take out eternity, knowledge and blissful. That is Krishna. Absolute truth is Sat-Chit-Ananda – Vigraha. So, the constitution cannot be separated out.
Since the constitution of Brahman is immortality, imperishability, eternity and happiness. So, when we come in contact with it, we will be happy. Something which is immortal we have not experienced in this world. Anything in this material world is mortal be it Man, things, or other entities. It will stay sometime, and it will vanquish one day. There is nothing here which we experience immortality. All these things mentioned here is beyond our experience.
Imperishability: Everything in this material world is subject to decay. The table, the laptop, I-phone, Tv whatever we use one day will wear off. But Brahman is imperishable. In the material world everything will die one day. Here everything is miserable. The constitution of this material world is “janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi duhkha-dosanudarsanam”. Birth, old age, disease, death. These 4 problems can never be solved in this world be it in past, present or in future no matter what advancement medical science makes, how many hospitals are made.
One somebody asks Srila Prabupada, in London mortality rate is very high
in India. Srila Prabupada said wherever I go there is mortality 100 percent. Everybody will die.
So, one who has understanding of Bhagavan as a personnel form of the Lord has developed a relationship with the Lord is considered to understood and realized Paramatma and Brahman (included). Some who has realized Brahman that person has no understanding of Paramatma and Bhagavan.
There are many personalities who attained Brahman realization and later after in contact with pure devotees understood the Supreme personality of God head and became a devotee and had Bhagavan realization. The example in this purport gives example of 4 kumaras, the sons of Brahma. Earlier they were situated in the impersonal understanding of the absolute truth. But having come in contact with devotees they got attracted and when the smelled the Thulasi and flowers offered to the Lord became attracted to Krishna. In Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s past time also we can see how people who were with impersonal understanding having received the mercy of Mahaprabhu and became devotees. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is trying to explain before Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya that the Absolute truth is a person, a person like you and me. He is the supreme person, the chief person. We are all individuals. Krishna is also an individual, but he is the chief, and we are his sub-ordinates. That is the difference. kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ (Bs. 5.1). And Kṛṣṇa also says personally, “I am the origin of even Brahma, Śiva and Viṣṇu also.” Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate (BG 10:8). Even Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and his mayavadi disciples accepted what Caitanya Mahaprabu said
In this purport it said all living entities are Brahman by nature. Brahman means we are spirit soul, part and parcel of Krishna who is Parabrahman or super soul. A relation is there. The difference between the Brahman and Bhagavan relation is in there is no relationship. The living entity leaves the body, being completely detached and as a spark dwells in the effulgence of the Lord. There is no relationship with anybody, and that state is not a permanent state and there is a chance of coming down from there. But one who has established a loving relationship with the Lord then there is no chance of coming down. There is no happiness without relationship. Even in this world we see we all need relationship. No one can live completely alone without interacting with anybody. But the problem here in this material world all relationship is temporary. Always a fear of losing that relationship, because that relationship is based on the body and body is subject to destruction. So, it beyond our control. But
relationship based on understanding that we are spirit soul, we are part and parcel of Krishna and Krishna is the center of all our relationship then there is no fear of losing that relationship because that relationship is eternal permanent. That is our ultimate goal of life is to reestablish with god and with all other living entities together connected with Krishna. And in that relationship, there is exchange of feelings, thoughts, services, there is joy or happiness. Krishna has unlimited relationship with unlimited people, and he is capable of sustaining or maintaining all the relationship. He is infinite Lord. When we hear about him more and more, we develop attraction to him and get detached from this material world. This way we come closer and closer to the lord.
Process of establishing relationship is mentioned in the last paragraph of the verse one should always engage in the service of the Lord, should eat the remnants of foodstuffs offered to the Deity, smell the flowers offered to the lotus feet of the Lord, see the places where the Lord had His transcendental pastimes, read of the different activities of the Lord, when we read, we will remember the lord (sravanam, kirtanam….) His reciprocation of love with His devotees, chant always the transcendental vibration Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, and observe the fasting days commemorating the appearances and disappearances of the Lord and His devotees, associate with devotees, participate in festivals, and engage in various services. By following such process, one becomes completely detached from all material activities. One who can thus situate himself in the brahma-jyotir or the different varieties of the Brahman conception is equal to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in quality. By all this process we can re establish our relationship with the Lord and we can attain the lotus feet of the Lord and that is our ultimate goal, our ultimate resting place free from birth, death, old age and disease. Spiritual world is not affiliated with all these problems. The soul lives in pure relationship with the Lord blissfully and fully surrendered.
By all this process we reestablish our relationship with the lord and can attain lotus feet of the lord that is our ultimate goal and that is the ultimate resting place free from death, birth, old age and disease. Spiritual world is not afflicted with all these problems. There the soul lives in pure relationship with the lord and lives blissfully. We belong to that abode of Krishna where one has the association of Krishna all the time and one is fully surrendered. And is blissfully. Our problems in the world cannot be mitigated.
Benefit of a devotee who practice Krishna consciousness.
We have to trust what Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita that those who leave this body remembering me attain my abode. Beyond this world there is spiritual world which is immortal, happiness everywhere and imperishable. Also there are many planets in the world. So, depending on the relationship and the bhava that devotee has they reach to that destination. Those who have developed loving relationship with Krishna in that form they will go to the Goloka Vrindavan in the spiritual world. So that is benefit of practicing pure Bhakti.
Bhakti is the devotion that can be experienced in different rasas: Example Yashoda – Vatsalya, Radha rani – Madhurya, Krishna’s friends- Sakhya.
Basically, a devotee means one who has surrendered completely to the desire of the lord. He does not mind where he is. Wherever the Lord places him, he is there. He is happy wherever that is the destination. We won’t be able to understand everything related to spiritual world because right now our consciousness is totally material. We need to rise from this level by process of devotional then we will be able to see thing beyond this material world. Example driving a car in the night. The maximum we can see is the how far our car head light shows. We cannot see beyond that. As further we move forward, we will be able to see more. So, everything will not be visible to us right now. Because our conscious in engrossed in material world so we need to follow the process of devotional service to elevate ourselves from totally material understanding to a spiritual understanding and then other things become clear. The description of spiritual planet is described in scriptures, the houses are made of touch stone, the trees are desire trees etc. That is why it is important to have the association with devotees, Spiritual masters, following regulative principals so that we can attain perfection.