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  1. The Three Modes of Nature and Beyond
  2. The Aila-gita

25. The Three Modes of Nature and Beyond

The Lord said: Best among men, please listen as I describe to you how the living entity attains a particular nature by association with individual material modes. [25.1]

Mind and sense control, tolerance, discrimination, sticking to one's prescribed duty, truthfulness, mercy, careful study of the past and future, satisfaction in any condition, generosity, renunciation of sense gratification, faith in the spiritual master, being embarrassed at improper action, charity, simplicity, humbleness and satisfaction within oneself are qualities of the mode of goodness. Material desire, great endeavour, audacity, dissatisfaction even in gain, false pride, praying for material advancement, considering oneself different and better than others, sense gratification, rash eagerness to fight, a fondness for hearing oneself praised, the tendency to ridicule others, advertising one's own prowess and justifying one's actions by one's strength are qualities of the mode of passion. Intolerant anger, stinginess, speaking without scriptural authority, violent hatred, living as a parasite, hypocrisy, chronic fatigue, quarrel, lamentation, delusion, unhappiness, depression, sleeping too much, false expectations, fear and laziness constitute the major qualities of the mode of ignorance. Now please hear about the combination of these three modes. [25.2-5]

Dear Uddhava, the combination of all three modes is present in the mentality of "I" and "mine." The ordinary transactions of this world, which are carried out through the agency of the mind, the objects of perception, the senses and the vital airs of the physical body, are also based on the combination of the modes. [25.6]

When a person devotes himself to religiosity, economic development and sense gratification, the faith, wealth and sensual enjoyment obtained by his endeavours display the interaction of the three modes of nature. [25.7]

When a man desires sense gratification, being attached to family life, and when he consequently becomes established in religious and occupational duties, the combination of the modes of nature is manifest. [25.8]

A person exhibiting qualities such as self-control is understood to be predominantly in the mode of goodness. Similarly, a passionate person is recognized by his lust, and one in ignorance is recognized by qualities such as anger. [25.9]

Any person, whether man or woman, who worships me with loving devotion, offering his or her prescribed duties unto me without material attachment, is understood to be situated in goodness. [25.10]

When a person worships me by his prescribed duties with the hope of gaining material benefit, his nature should be understood to be in passion, and one who worships me with the desire to commit violence against others is in ignorance. [25.11]

The three modes of material nature — goodness, passion and ignorance — influence the living entity but not me. Manifesting within his mind, they induce the living entity to become attached to material bodies and other created objects. In this way the living entity is bound up. [25.12]

When the mode of goodness, which is luminous, pure and auspicious, predominates over passion and ignorance, a man becomes endowed with happiness, virtue, knowledge and other good qualities. [25.13]

When the mode of passion, which causes attachment, separatism and activity, conquers ignorance and goodness, a man begins to work hard to acquire prestige and fortune. Thus in the mode of passion he experiences anxiety and struggle. [25.14]

When the mode of ignorance conquers passion and goodness, it covers one's consciousness and makes one foolish and dull. Falling into lamentation and illusion, a person in the mode of ignorance sleeps excessively, indulges in false hopes, and displays violence toward others. [25.15]

When consciousness becomes clear and the senses are detached from matter, one experiences fearlessness within the material body and detachment from the material mind. You should understand this situation to be the predominance of the mode of goodness, in which one has the opportunity to realize me. [25.16]

You should discern the mode of passion by its symptoms — the distortion of the intelligence because of too much activity, the inability of the perceiving senses to disentangle themselves from mundane objects, an unhealthy condition of the working physical organs, and the unsteady perplexity of the mind. [25.17]

When one's higher awareness fails and finally disappears and one is thus unable to concentrate his attention, his mind is ruined and manifests ignorance and depression. You should understand this situation to be the predominance of the mode of ignorance. [25.18]

With the increase of the mode of goodness, the strength of the gods similarly increases. When passion increases, the demoniac become strong. And with the rise of ignorance, Uddhava, the strength of the most wicked increases. [25.19]

It should be understood that alert wakefulness comes from the mode of goodness, sleep with dreaming from the mode of passion, and deep, dreamless sleep from the mode of ignorance. The fourth state of consciousness pervades these three and is transcendental. [25.20]

Learned persons dedicated to Vedic culture are elevated by the mode of goodness to higher and higher positions. The mode of ignorance, on the other hand, forces one to fall headfirst into lower and lower births. And by the mode of passion one continues transmigrating through human bodies. [25.21]

Those who leave this world in the mode of goodness go to the heavenly planets, those who pass away in the mode of passion remain in the world of human beings, and those dying in the mode of ignorance must go to hell. But those who are free from the influence of all modes of nature come to me. [25.22]

Work performed as an offering to me, without consideration of the fruit, is considered to be in the mode of goodness. Work performed with a desire to enjoy the results is in the mode of passion. And work impelled by violence and envy is in the mode of ignorance. [25.23]

Absolute knowledge is in the mode of goodness, knowledge based on duality is in the mode of passion, and foolish, materialistic knowledge is in the mode of ignorance. Knowledge based on me, however, is understood to be transcendental. [25.24]

Residence in the forest is in the mode of goodness, residence in a town is in the mode of passion, residence in a gambling house displays the quality of ignorance, and residence in a place where I reside is transcendental. [25.25]

A worker free of attachment is in the mode of goodness, a worker blinded by personal desire is in the mode of passion, and a worker who has completely forgotten how to tell right from wrong is in the mode of ignorance. But a worker who has taken shelter of me is understood to be transcendental to the modes of nature. [25.26]

Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in my devotional service is purely transcendental. [25.27]

Food that is wholesome, pure and obtained without difficulty is in the mode of goodness, food that gives immediate pleasure to the senses is in the mode of passion, and food that is unclean and causes distress is in the mode of ignorance. [25.28]

Happiness derived from the self is in the mode of goodness, happiness based on sense gratification is in the mode of passion, and happiness based on delusion and degradation is in the mode of ignorance. But that happiness found within me is transcendental. [25.29]

Therefore material substance, place, result of activity, time, knowledge, work, the performer of work, faith, state of consciousness, species of life and destination after death are all based on the three modes of material nature. [25.30]

Best of human beings, all states of material being are related to the interaction of the enjoying soul and material nature. Whether seen, heard of or only conceived within the mind, they are without exception constituted of the modes of nature. [25.31]

Gentle Uddhava, all these different phases of conditioned life arise from work born of the modes of material nature. The living entity who conquers these modes, manifested from the mind, can dedicate himself to me by the process of devotional service and thus attain pure love for me. [25.32]

Therefore, having achieved this human form of life, which allows one to develop full knowledge, those who are intelligent should free themselves from all contamination of the modes of nature and engage exclusively in loving service to me. [25.33]

A wise sage, free from all material association and unbewildered, should subdue his senses and worship me. He should conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by engaging himself only with things in the mode of goodness. [25.34]

Then, being fixed in devotional service, the sage should also conquer the material mode of goodness by indifference toward the modes. Thus pacified within his mind, the spirit soul, freed from the modes of nature, gives up the very cause of his conditioned life and attains me. [25.35]

Freed from the subtle conditioning of the mind and from the modes of nature born of material consciousness, the living entity becomes completely satisfied by experiencing my transcendental form. He no longer searches for enjoyment in the external energy, nor does he contemplate or remember such enjoyment within himself. [25.36]

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26. The Aila-gita

The Lord said: Having achieved this human form of life, which affords one the opportunity to realize me, and being situated in my devotional service, one can achieve me, the reservoir of all pleasure and the Supreme Soul of all existence, residing within the heart of every living being. [26.1]

A person fixed in transcendental knowledge is freed from conditioned life by giving up his false identification with the products of the material modes of nature. Seeing these products as simply illusion, he avoids entanglement with the modes of nature, although constantly among them. Because the modes of nature and their products are simply not real, he does not accept them. [26.2]

One should never associate with materialists, those dedicated to gratifying their genitals and bellies. By following them one falls into the deepest pit of darkness, just like a blind man who follows another blind man. [26.3]

The following song was sung by the famous emperor Pururava. When deprived of his wife, Urvasi, he was at first bewildered, but by controlling his lamentation he began to feel detachment. [26.4]

When she was leaving him, even though he was naked he ran after her just like a madman and called out in great distress, "my wife, terrible lady! Please stop!" [26.5]

Although for many years Pururava had enjoyed sex pleasure in the evening hours, still he was not satisfied by such insignificant enjoyment. His mind was so attracted to Urvasi that he did not notice how the nights were coming and going. [26.6]

King Aila said: Alas, just see the extent of my delusion! This goddess was embracing me and held my neck in her grip. My heart was so polluted by lust that I had no idea how my life was passing. [26.7]

That lady cheated me so much that I did not even see the rising or setting of the sun. Alas, for so many years I passed my days in vain! [26.8]

Alas, although I am supposed to be a mighty emperor, the crown jewel of all kings on this earth, just see how my bewilderment has rendered me a toy animal in the hands of women! [26.9]

Although I was a powerful lord with great opulence, that woman gave me up as if I were no more than an insignificant blade of grass. And still, naked and without shame, I followed her, crying out to her like a madman. [26.10]

Where are my so-called great influence, power and sovereignty? Just like an ass being kicked in the face by his she-ass, I ran after that woman, who had already given me up. [26.11]

What is the use of a big education or the practice of austerities and renunciation, and what is the use of studying religious scriptures, of living in solitude and silence, if, after all that, one's mind is stolen by a woman? [26.12]

To hell with me! I am such a fool that I didn't even know what was good for me, although I arrogantly thought I was highly intelligent. Although I achieved the exalted position of a lord, I allowed myself to be conquered by women as if I were a bullock or a jackass. [26.13]

Even after I had served the so-called nectar of the lips of Urvasi for many years, my lusty desires kept rising again and again within my heart and were never satisfied, just like a fire that can never be extinguished by the oblations of ghee poured into its flames. [26.14]

Who but the Lord, who lies beyond material perception and is the Lord of self-satisfied sages, can possibly save my consciousness, which has been stolen by a prostitute? [26.15]

Because I allowed my intelligence to become dull and because I failed to control my senses, the great confusion in my mind did not go away, even though Urvasi herself gave me wise counsel with well-spoken words. [26.16]

How can I blame her for my trouble when I myself am ignorant of my real, spiritual nature? I did not control my senses, and so I am like a person who mistakenly sees a harmless rope as a snake. [26.17]

What is this polluted body anyway — so filthy and full of bad odors? I was attracted by the fragrance and beauty of a woman's body, but what are those so-called attractive features? They are simply a false covering created by illusion. [26.18]

One can never decide whose property the body actually is. Does it belong to one's parents, who have given birth to it, to one's wife, who gives it pleasure, or to one's employer, who orders the body around? Is it the property of the funeral fire or of the dogs and jackals who may ultimately devour it? Is it the property of the indwelling soul, who partakes in its happiness and distress, or does the body belong to intimate friends who encourage and help it? Although a man never definitely ascertains the proprietor of the body, he becomes most attached to it. The material body is a polluted material form heading toward a lowly destination, yet when a man stares at the face of a woman he thinks, "What a good-looking lady! What a charming nose she's got, and see her beautiful smile!" [26.19-20]

What difference is there between ordinary worms and persons who try to enjoy this material body composed of skin, flesh, blood, muscle, fat, marrow, bone, stool, urine and pus? [26.21]

Yet even one who theoretically understands the actual nature of the body should never associate with women or with men attached to women. After all, the contact of the senses with their objects inevitably agitates the mind. [26.22]

Because the mind is not disturbed by that which is neither seen nor heard, the mind of a person who restricts the material senses will automatically be checked in its material activities and become pacified. [26.23]

Therefore one should never let his senses associate freely with women or with men attached to women. Even those who are highly learned cannot trust the six enemies of the mind; what to speak, then, of foolish persons like me. [26.24]

The Lord said: Having thus chanted this song, Maharaja Pururava, eminent among the gods and human beings, gave up the position he had achieved in the planet of Urvasi. His illusion cleansed away by transcendental knowledge, he understood me to be the Supreme Soul within his heart and so at last achieved peace. [26.25]

An intelligent person should therefore reject all bad association and instead take up the association of saintly devotees, whose words cut off the excessive attachment of one's mind. [26.26]

My devotees fix their minds on me and do not depend on anything material. They are always peaceful, endowed with equal vision, and free from possessiveness, false ego, duality and greed. [26.27]

Greatly fortunate Uddhava, in the association of such saintly devotees there is constant discussion of me, and those partaking in this chanting and hearing of my glories are certainly purified of all sins. [26.28]

Whoever hears, chants and respectfully takes to heart these topics about me becomes faithfully dedicated to me and thus achieves my devotional service. [26.29]

What more remains to be accomplished for the perfect devotee after achieving devotional service unto me, the Supreme Absolute Truth, whose qualities are innumerable and who am the embodiment of all ecstatic experience? [26.30]

Just as cold, fear and darkness are eradicated for one who has approached the sacrificial fire, so dullness, fear and ignorance are destroyed for one engaged in serving the devotees of the Lord. [26.31]

The devotees of the Lord, peacefully fixed in absolute knowledge, are the ultimate shelter for those who are repeatedly rising and falling within the fearful ocean of material life. Such devotees are just like a strong boat that comes to rescue persons who are at the point of drowning. [26.32]

Just as food is the life of all creatures, just as I am the ultimate shelter for the distressed, and just as religion is the wealth of those who are passing away from this world, so my devotees are the only refuge of persons fearful of falling into a miserable condition of life. [26.33]

My devotees bestow divine eyes, whereas the sun allows only external sight, and that only when it is risen in the sky. My devotees are one's real worshipable deities and real family; they are one's own self, and ultimately they are nondifferent from me. [26.34]

Thus losing his desire to be on the same planet as Urvasi, Maharaja Pururava began to wander the earth free of all material association and completely satisfied within the self. [26.35]

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