The 3 Gunas in the Bhagavad Gita

Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita describes the three gunas as follows:

5 SATTVA, RAJAS, TAMAS – light, fire, and darkness – are the three constituents of nature. They appear to limit in finite bodies the liberty of their infinite Spirit.

6 Of these Sattva because it is pure and it gives light and is the health of life, binds to earthly happiness and to lower knowledge.

7 Rajas is of the nature of passion, the source of thirst and attachment. It binds the soul of man to action.

8 Tamas, which is born of ignorance, darkens the soul of all men. It binds them to sleepy dullness, and then they do not watch and then they do not work.

9 Sattva binds to happiness; Rajas to action; Tamas, over-clouding wisdom, binds to lack of vigilance.

10 Sometimes Sattva may prevail over Rajas and Tamas, at others Rajas over Tamas and Sattva, and at others Tamas over Sattva and Rajas.

11 When the light of wisdom shines from the portals of the body’s dwelling, then we know that Sattva is in power.

12 Greed, busy activity, many undertakings, unrest, the lust of desire – these arise when Rajas increases.

13 Darkness, inertia negligence, delusion – these appear when Tamas prevails.

14 If the soul meets death when Sattva prevails, then it goes to the pure regions of those who are seeking Truth.

15 If a man meets death in a state of Rajas, he is reborn amongst those who are bound by their restless activity; and if he dies in Tamas he is reborn in the wombs of the irrational.

16 Any work when it is well done bears the pure harmony of Sattva; but when done in Rajas it brings pain, and when done in Tamas it brings ignorance.

17 From Sattva arises wisdom, from Rajas greed, from Tamas negligence, delusion and ignorance.

18 Those who are in Sattva climb the path that leads on high, those who are in Rajas follow the level path, those who are in Tamas sink downwards on the lower path.


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