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The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 14: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas

The Holy Lord said:
I shall tell you supreme knowledge
Which is the best of all knowledge,
Having known which all the sages
Attained to highest perfection. (1)

Resorting to this knowledge they
Attain identity with Me,
At creation they are not born,
Nor tremble at its dissolving.1 (2)

For me great Brahma is the womb,
And in that do I place the egg.
The origin of all beings
Then comes from that, O Bharata. (3)

Whatever be the forms produced
Within all wombs, Son of Kunti,
Of them Brahma is the great womb,
And I the seed-casting Father. (4)

Sattwa, rajas, and tamas–these
Gunas born of Prakriti bind
Fast in the body him who is
Indestructible, embodied. (5)

Sattwa is stainless, luminous,
And free from defect, yet it binds
By attachment to happiness
And by attachment to knowledge. (6)

Know rajas’ nature is passion,
Producing thirst and attachment;
It binds fast the embodied one
By the attachment to action. (7)

Tamas is born of ignorance,
Stupefying the embodied;
It binds by miscomprehension,
Indolence, and sleep, Bharata. (8)

Sattwa ’ttaches to happiness,
Rajas to action, Bharata;
And Tamas, obscuring knowledge,
Attaches unto delusion. (9)

Sattwa prevails over rajas
And tamas; and rajas prevails
Over sattwa and tamas; and
Tamas over sattwa, rajas. (10)

When through each sense of the body
The light of knowledge clearly shines,
Then it should be known that sattwa
Is there fully predominant. (11)

Activity, undertaking
Of actions, greed, unrest, longing–
When rajas is predominant
All these arise, O Bharata. (12)

Darkness, inertness, heedlessness,
And delusion–all these arise
When tamas is predominant,
O descendant of the Kurus. (13)

If the embodied one meets death
When sattwa is predominant,
Then he attains the stainless realms
Of the knowers of the Highest. (14)

Meeting death in rajas, he’s born
Amid those attached to action;
Dying in tamas, he is born
From the wombs of the deluded. (15)

The fruit of good action, they say,
Is sattwic and pure; verily,
The fruit of rajas is pain, and
Ignorance the fruit of tamas. (16)

From sattwa arises wisdom;
From rajas, greed; while from tamas
Arises miscomprehension,
And delusion and ignorance. (17)

The sattwa ’biding go upwards;
Rajasics dwell in the middle;
Tamasics, abiding in the
Lowest guna, do go downward. (18)

When the seer beholds no agent
Other than the gunas and knows
That which is higher than gunas,
He attains unto My being. (19)

He who goes beyond these gunas
Which are the source of the body,
Is freed from birth, death, disease, pain,
And attains immortality. (20)

Arjuna said:
By what marks, O Lord, is he known
Who has gone beyond the gunas?
What is his conduct, and how does
He pass beyond these three gunas? (21)

The Holy Lord said:
He who hates not the appearance
Of light and of activity
And delusion, O Pandava,
Nor yet longs for them when absent; (22)

He, sitting like one unconcerned,
Who is not moved by the gunas,
Knowing: “The gunas operate,”
Stands firm and is unwavering. (23)

The same in pleasure or in pain,
He sees earth, stone, and gold alike;
Alike to pleasing, displeasing,
Firm, the same in censure and praise; (24)

The same in honor and disgrace,
The same to friend and enemy,
Renouncing all undertakings–
He has gone beyond the gunas. (25)

He who renders service to Me
With unswerving devotion, he,
Going beyond the three gunas,
Is fit for union with Brahman. (26)

“I am the abode of Brahman,
The Immortal, Immutable,
Abode of Eternal Dharma,
Abode of the Absolute Bliss.”2 (27)

Om Tat Sat
Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fourteenth discourse entitled: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas.

Read the next Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit


1) The idea is that the liberated are not impelled into birth at the beginning of the creation cycle nor are they unsettled at its dissolution. That is, creation and dissolution do not affect them in any way since they have severed all bonds with it. [Go back]

2) This is the realization of the liberated person. [Go back]

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Text of the Bhagavad Gita for Singing:

  1. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 1: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 2: Sankhya Yoga
  3. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 3: The Yoga of Action
  4. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 4: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 5: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 7: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 9: The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Kingly Secret
  10. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 11: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 13: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 14: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 16: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demoniacal
  17. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 17: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

The Bhagavad Gita—The Song of God A new Translation by Abbot George Burke

  1. Bhagavad Gita Chapter One: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Two: Sankhya Yoga
  3. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Three: The Yoga of Action
  4. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Four: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Five: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Six: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seven: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eight: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Nine: The Yoga of the Royal Science and Royal Secret
  10. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Ten: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eleven: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Twelve: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Thirteen: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fourteen: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fifteen: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Sixteen: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demonic
  17. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seventeen: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eighteen: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Read the Maharshi Gita, an arrangement of verses of the Bhagavad Gita made by Sri Ramana Maharshi that gives an overview of the essential message of the Gita.

Read the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening, a full commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

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