3.29 prakruthEr guNa sammUdAs

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Chapter 3

<< Chapter 3 verse 28

SlOkam – Original

prakruthEr guNa sammUdAs sajjanthE guNa karmasu |
thAn akruthsnavidhO mandhAn kruthsnavin na vichAlayEth ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

prakruthE: – primordial nature’s (which is transformed in to body)
guNasammUdA: – those who are confused and unaware of AthmA due to the three qualities viz sathva, rajas and thamas
guNakarmasu – the actions performed by these qualities
sajjanthE – are always attached to them; (They are not attached to the AthmA which is free from these qualities.)
mandhAn – being unwise
akruthsnavidha: – not knowing the true nature of AthmA fully
thAn – those
kruthsnavith – one who is well aware of the true nature of AthmA fully
na vichAlayEth – should not instigate them to abandon [karma yOga].

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

Those who are confused and unaware of AthmA due to the three qualities viz sathva, rajas and thamas of primordial nature (which is transformed in to body), are always attached to the actions performed by these qualities; (They are not attached to the AthmA which is free from these qualities). One who is well aware of the true nature of AthmA fully should not instigate those unwise ones who are not knowing the true nature of AthmA fully, to abandon karma yOga.

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

‘Deluded by matter’s guṇas1 they find employment in the workings of the guṇas2. The all-informed wise man shall not disturb the ill-informed ignorant.’

The ill-informed people attempt ātmā-realization, but they are ignorant of the true nature of ātmā by reason of their connection with matter, the guṇas of which obstruct him. He is naturally drawn to connect himself with the activities of the guṇas and cannot divert these natural tendencies towards the contemplation of the distinct ātmā- nature. Hence they are not competent for the Path of Jñāna, but only good enough for that of Karma.

The all-wise man, again, shall, seeing the capacities of these sluggish people and their slow understanding, though himself a jñāna-yogi, shall not try to turn them from their own easy Path of Action. The danger is that they are on the watch to follow the lead of wise men; while so, when they are not capable themselves to tread the Path of Jñāna, but when they find their wise man, above necessity of action, they may mistake the wise man, by giving up action themselves (and not be able to join the wise man in his ways.)

The conclusion thus is that the leading man, the man of wisdom, shall himself stay in Karma-Yoga; and though he know from his knowledge of the true ātmā-nature that ātmā is essentially no actor, shall yet persuade men of less knowledge that ātmā-vision is solely possible by the unaided Path of Karma (or action).

It was also previously pointed out that even to a jñāna-yogi, the karma-course was (for reasons stated) preferable.

Hence men of light and leading (vyapadesyāḥ) shall themselves tread the karma-Path as a measure, beneficent to the masses in the world.

The method of practising Karma-Yoga by ascribing all agency to the guṇas, —because ātmā has been shown to be a distinct essence— has now been described.

The ascription or attribution of agency to the guṇas is thus:—

Reflect, that ātmā from its essential nature, cannot be actor, but action comes to it from its conjunction with matter. (It is actorship not natural but derived or borrowed). Hence in association with matter (prāpta)3, there is actorship; in the absence of such association (aprāpta)4, there is no actorship.

It is next shown how works may be viewed by attributing authorship thereof —an attribution hitherto considered with reference to the guṇas5, —to Bhagavān, the Supreme Spirit, the all-Soul, —a consideration justified by the fact that all ātmās constitute His body, and are related to Him in the relation of the guided and the Guide.

>> Chapter 3 verse 30

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  1. See Lect: XIV for an exhaustive treatment of the gunās. These are the three main characteristics of matter which keep the world moving. Satva is the tendency to produce goodness, purity, etc., Rajas is the tendency to act in the world with passions; and Tamas is the tendency to sloth, evil, etc.
  2. See Lect: XIV for an exhaustive treatment of the gunās. These are the three main characteristics of matter which keep the world moving. Satva is the tendency to produce goodness, purity, etc., Rajas is the tendency to act in the world with passions; and Tamas is the tendency to sloth, evil, etc.
  3. Prāptāprāpta=agreement and difference; or prāpta, positive pre-miss, corresponding with the universal A proposition ‘All A is B.’ The aprāpta is negative premiss, corresponding with the converted A proposition ‘All not B is not A.’ Its application to the present case is thus:— ‘Ātmā becomes actor when in contact with the guṇas‘; ‘not contact with the guṇas, is no actorship to ātmā.’ Ātmā is thus, per se, no actor.
  4. Prāptāprāpta=agreement and difference; or prāpta, positive pre-miss, corresponding with the universal A proposition ‘All A is B.’ The aprāpta is negative premiss, corresponding with the converted A proposition ‘All not B is not A.’ Its application to the present case is thus:— ‘Ātmā becomes actor when in contact with the guṇas‘; ‘not contact with the guṇas, is no actorship to ātmā.’ Ātmā is thus, per se, no actor.
  5. See Lect: XIV for an exhaustive treatment of the gunās. These are the three main characteristics of matter which keep the world moving. Satva is the tendency to produce goodness, purity, etc., Rajas is the tendency to act in the world with passions; and Tamas is the tendency to sloth, evil, etc.

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