THREE GUNAS OR MODES: Why Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 14.19 that Only the gunas act, not the persons?
Swetha Ganguly asked like this:
Hare krishna prabhu. Prabhu I am not able to understand the below verse from bhagvad gita 14.19, where krishna says… “When a person does not perceive anyone as the doer except the three gunas” Please explain this verse prabhu. Hari bol.
Krishna says like this to relieve us from the thoughts that we are the doers. We always develop ego and bondage with the materials just by thinking that we are the doers.
“I am running the family”
“I am keeping my wife happily”
“I am a rich man”
“I have achieved everything in life”
Actually, we are not doing a work. Only our gunas (modes) are doing.
You like to become the richest person in the world. You are not thinking like this. Your mode of passion makes you think so.
Mode of Goodness (Satva Guna) makes you perform any action after thorough evaluation and you will be interested in pious deeds. These persons are gifted with a life in heavenly planets.
Mode of Passion (Rajo Guna) makes you perform to achieve things in life taking tireless efforts to satisfy your senses, not the giver Krishna. These persons takes repeated births in this earth to face their karma again and again. Because for achievement, he has to hurt many, help many in his life. To face the reactions, he takes birth in this earth again and again.
Mode of Ignorance (Thamo Guna) makes a person to act as if he is taken to lower positions in his life. He may take birth as bird, animal, insects, etc and he may also have a space to live in hellish planets.
Now, we are in this earth. So, we are dominated with the Mode of Passion with the traces of other two gunas. We always try to achieve things in life. We need varieties in our life. To taste these varieties and achievements, we need more and more births. Still we are not satisfied. Still, we are taking births.
A person on earth has two choices:
(i) To elevate himself to satva guna and get promoted to the higher planets.
(ii) To downgrade himdelf to the thamo guna and depromoted to the lower planets like the hells.
Krishna Consciousness makes a person to elevate himself to Satva guna dominated person.
Even here, you have two choices:
(i) If you follow devotion to Krishna with material attachments also, ie, desire in adding materials and relations, you can get elevated to higher planets like heavens. Pandavas are the best example for this. They followed Krishna, but, at the same time, had desires to rule their country. So, they got elevated to heavenly planets.
(ii) If you follow sincere devotion to Krishna and also come out of all your desires on materials and material relations, you have no business in earth, heavens, hells, etc. Your place should be Goloka to live. Because you won’t have desire to enjoy heavenly pleasures too and will like to serve only Krishna. So, you are taken to Krishna’s kingdom.
Keeping these details in mind, read the following verses of Krishna in Bhagavad Gita:
(1) Bhagavad Gita 14.18:
“Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the abominable mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds”.
In the verse 14.18, Krishna lists the benefits/results of being in three modes. All these three results are meant for those who work under the influence of the three gunas (modes).
When a person sees a girl, he does not take his hand to pull her towards him to do nonsense things. His mode of passion induces him to pull that girl. His hands act according to the instruction of his mind that is under the influence of the mode of passion (rajo guna).
When a servant hangs a convicted person, he is not doing. The justice department is doing it. He is acting just as an instrument.
When a teacher is teaching the student, he is not teaching. The government is teaching the student through the teacher.
When I am preaching here, I am not preaching; Krishna is using me as an instrument to preach His messages and the ways of implementing them in the real life.
Thus, no one is a doer. He is just an instrument. His modes are making him to do things.
So, no one should think that he is doing the things. He is forced to do so by his material modes of nature.
If we keep our mode dominated with satva guna, we will involve in pious things like helping the needy, following devotion, being a good grahastha, etc.
That is why, it is said that being in satva guna is good for devotional development. If we allow the mode of passion (Rajo Guna) to dominate us, we will be involving more in material achievements. We can’t concentrate in pious activities and devotion.
That is why, many devotees are struggling to manage their devotion as well as material success.
If you are dominated with satva guna, you will not dare to cheat anyone; You will carefully select your actions ensuring they are not violating the dharma; You will be choosing a devotional way of life.
So, you will be rewarded with a life in higher planets.
Now, let us read the next verse said by Krishna:
(2) Bhagavad Gita 14.19:
When one properly sees that in all activities no other performer is at work than these modes of nature and he knows the Supreme Lord, who is transcendental to all these modes, he attains My spiritual nature.
If you use that satva guna to further advance in devotion and ONLY IN DEVOTION without showing attachment to materials and material relations, you will get Krishna Himself as said by Krishna Himself in this verse.
When will you develop that detachment to materialistic way of life?
Only when you realize that (i) you are not doing anything; (ii) All the materials are that of the creator Krishna; (iii) All these relations are for the body and the senses; (iv) We use these relations to satisfy our mode of passion, ie, to enjoy the company of relations.
We are proud to have a beautiful wife. We enjoy her close company. We enjoy being with the parents, brothers, sisters, etc who make our life interesting with mundane discussions. We enjoy the pride of having big cars, houses, bank balance, etc.
Thus, all these materials and material relations are useful only to satisfy our ego. This ego is because of the mode of passion.
Thus, we are acting under the influence of modes/ gunas.
Who are we then?
We are the athma. We are the pure athma. But, now, we are conditioned with the addition of materials and material relations. These conditioning was catalyzed by the modes/ gunas.
So, we are suffering birth after birth.
So, as said by Krishna in 14.19 above, if we do not consider ourselves as doers, but only the gunas and our target is Krishna who is beyond these gunas, we will get liberated from these modes/ gunas.
After getting relieved from these gunas, we will be with Krishna Himself, not here.
Hope this well simplified, easy to understand explanation has cleared your doubts.