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by Swami Sivananda

1. Time and Gunas

The past and the future exist in their real nature due to the difference in the condition of the characteristics or qualities.


The objects have the three experiences of the changes of past, present and future. As the effect is contained in a subtle state in the cause itself, that which is in a state of Sankocha (contraction) attains Vikasa (state of expansion), just like the tree from the seed. Vastu exists always. The outer coverings change, according to the changes of coverings of Gunas or qualities. As Gunas change, difference in Bhava also occurs. Changes take place like a Pravaha or continuous current. The future is a manifestation which is to be. The past is the experience which has been experienced. The present is that which is in active operation. We have these three periods of time with reference to a marked indicative point. The seeds of everything exists in a subtle state. That is the reason why Samyama on the three Parinamas produces knowledge of the past, present and future (vide Sutra III-16).

2. Nature of Characteristics

They (the characteristics), whether manifest or subtle, are of the nature of Gunas, qualities.


These characteristics are of the nature of the manifested, when they exist in the present and are of the nature of the subtle when they are passed into the past or yet unmanifested. They are all from Mahat down to any object of the nature of Gunas. The Gunas change every minute and produce the various phenomena of nature. Past and present are due to the different modes of manifestation of these Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The whole manifested universe is made up of these three Gunas. Modifications of these Gunas constitute all sorts of Sthavara-jangama (immovable and moving things). In truth, the world is only Gunas.

3. Reality of Things

The reality of things is the result of the unity of modifications.


As one Guna is prominent and the other two are subordinate there is only one Parinama. When the Sattva Guna is predominating, and Rajas and Tamas are under subordination, the organs of knowledge are formed. When Rajas is preponderating and the Sattva and Tamas are under subordination, the organs of action are formed. Each of these modifications is always known as one.

The strong current of Vrittis of the mind will be directed along the virtuous path if Sattva is predominating in the mind. The man will be doing virtuous actions. If Rajas and Tamas predominate, the mental current and mental energy flow along a vicious path and the man will be doing vicious actions. Sattvic mental current will make you inward (Antarmukha) and take you to Kaivalya or Moksha. Rajasic and Tamasic currents will throw you down in Samsara.

Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are the three Gunas or qualities of the Chitta. Sattva is its inherent quality. Chitta is born of Sattva Guna. But when it mixes with Rajas and Tamas, all the worldly taints manifest. Sattva is purity, light or knowledge.

Rajas is passion or activity. Tamas is inertia or darkness. By checking Rajas and Tamas, you can increase the Sattva. When Sattva increases, the mind becomes steady like the flame of a lamp in a windless place. He who is Sattvic can do real concentration and meditation, and can enter into Samadhi easily. A Rajasic man loves power and objects of senses. A Tamasic man does vicious actions on account of ignorance. No quality can stand by itself. Sattva is mixed with Rajas and Tamas. When there is preponderance of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are controlled. They lurk themselves for the time being. When there is preponderance of Rajas, Sattva and Tamas are controlled. When there is preponderance of Tamas, Sattva and Rajas are controlled. Your important duty is to increase Sattva and to control the senses and the mind. Other duties are secondary. A sensible man only can understand this point. When there is increase of Sattva, there is brightness and brilliance in the face, lightness in the body, joy, purity, strength, peace and illumination.

Intense Rajas takes a Sattvic turn. Dacoit Ratnakar became the sage Valmiki. Jagai and Madai, who were intensely Rajasic and who pelted stones on Lord Gauranga, became his first disciples.

4. Stages of Gunas

The stages of Gunas, qualities, are the defined, undefined, indicated and non-indicated.


The Visesha Tattvas which are 16 in number are the effects of Ahamkara and the five Tanmatras. The Avisesha Tattvas which are six in number are the effects of Mahat Tattva. These six Avisesha Tattvas are called Prakriti-Vikriti, because they are the effects of Mahat and the causes for the 16 Visesha Tattvas. These are the producers and the produced. The Visesha are the produced only. As the Mahat gets dissolution in the Alinga (Pradhana), it bears the names Linga. Pradhana is Trigunasamyavastha, wherein the three Gunas exist in a state of equilibrium. Read Sutra I-45. Mahat is the effect of Pradhana. That is the first manifestation.

Mahat is the cause for Avisesha Tattvas, Ahamkara and Tanmatras. It is also a producer and the produced, the defined or specialised.

Tattvas (Visesha) get involved into the Avisesha (undefined). The Avisesha along with the Visesha get involved into Mahat (Linga). Then, Avisesha along with the Visesha gets involved into the Mahat (Linga). Then the Avisesha along with Mahat gets Laya into the Alinga or the Pradhana. Pradhana is the final state of latency of the phenomenal world. Purusha is above Prakriti. He is not material. He is not a compound and therefore, He is Immortal. Vedanta is only an amplification and fulfilment of Sankhya Philosophy.

5. Hints on Gunas

If Sattva predominates in the mind, thoughts of God, Brahma Vichara will manifest. This mind will be one-pointed. The meditative mood will come by itself without exertion.

In spiritual neophytes the Sattvic state of mind will not last for a long time. Rajas and Tamas will try to rush in. You will have to be very vigilant. You will have to watch the mind through thoughtful introspection. A Sattvic man will be ever God-loving, dispassionate and powerful.

A Rajasic man will be ever engaged in worldly activities. He wants to lord over the people. He has domineering attitude. He wants powers. He is much attached to wife, children and property. Rajahs, Pandits and rich people are full of Rajas.

Just as you squeeze out the tooth-paste from the collapsible tube, you will have to squeeze out all Rajas from this bodily tube and fill it with Sattva. Then you will become a Dhyana Yogi.

The doors or impurities of the mind - Rajas and Tamas, should be removed by heating the mind with the fire of Vairagya and Abhyasa. This is referred to in Sutra I-15 and 16.

By increasing the Sattvic modifications of the mind as Kshama, love, mercy, magnanimity, generosity, truthfulness, celibacy, you can destroy the Rajasic and Tamasic mental Vrittis.

Although mind is one, it passes into many conditions or states, as it is made up of three qualities or Gunas. All these qualities enter into a variety of combinations. The modifications or Vrittis of the mind also are various. Peace of mind is a Sattvic Vritti. Lust is a Rajasic Vritti. Laziness is a Tamasic Vritti.

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