Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 2, Sloka 45

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 45


The Vedas deal with three gunas O Arjuna. Transcend the three gunas, become free from the pairs of opposites. Remain ever in pure satvika state and be firmly established in Atman.


Sri Krishna has brought in the subject of “Gunas.” Arjuna was already familiar with the word “Gunas”.

Let us briefly analyse the meaning of this important word.

We will have more opportunity to learn about it as we proceed further. Chapter 14 is dedicated totally to the subject of “Gunas.”

“Guna” means “Quality.” “Quality” is the outward expression of our inherent nature.

This is influenced by the reaction to the impulses brought in by the five sense organs to the mind, the reaction by the mind to such impulses received and the amount of influence the intellect has on the mind. It is not just the impulses received at present but to the impulses received from the past.

The gunas are three in number:

Satvic  –  pure
Rajasic  –  passionate
Tamasic  –  lazy, indolent.

Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to transcend the three gunas. Why?

Tamasic guna which is “laziness and indolence” does not assist in the upward progress for the spiritual seeker. On the other hand, it is the cause of downfall of the seeker to lower levels of existence.

Rajasic guna brings in the thirst for more desires. Desires in turn lead to many more actions, subsequent reactions and the cycle goes on and on. This is the cause for innumerable births into this world. Depending upon the quality of desires, the birth could be into one of the many different forms of life.

Satvic guna even though pure in nature, has the pitfall of making the seeker feel that he is a pure soul and as a consequence develop the feeling that “I am superior to others.” It brings in “ego” which is the cause for rapid and great fall from spiritual heights achieved.

Arjuna had climbed up from tamasic to the rajasic level. Arjuna by birth was a kshatriya and a man of action. His pure nature by association with revered elders in the family like Bheeshma and with Krishna had lifted him to higher levels of rajas. The next step for him was to lift himself up to satvic level of purity.

As a true guru Krishna wanted his sincere disciple not to develop the ego of being “satvic”. Hence, his advice “Transcend the three gunas.”

“Remain ever pure in Satvika and be established in Atman” is the advice. This state, the learned elders say is “Suddha Satva.”

“Suddha Satva” is total purity of thoughts. The spiritual seeker having overcome reacting to pairs of opposites like happiness and sorrow; pains and pleasure gets firmly established in the “Atman.”

This state is the same as “Sthitaprajna” which means “Man of steady wisdom.” We are going to get an elaborate description of the qualities of “Sthitaprajna” towards the end of this chapter.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
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