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Bhagavad-gita Chapter 14

CHAPTER 14
THE THREE MODES OF MATERIAL NATURE

Chapter Thirteen explained why the living entity (purusa) is entangled in the external energy (prakriti)due to his desire for enjoyment. Chapter Fourteen explains how material energy binds the soul through the modes of nature.

The liberation and conditioning of the living entity (1-4)
Krsna glorifies the knowledge he is about to speak by explaining that it will liberate the spirit soul. He then explains how the living entity first comes into contact with material nature.

Main theme:
Understanding the conditioning of the three modes is a powerful tool to assist on the path of self-realization.


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Sub points:
A. When one is fixed in understanding the modes of nature, he attains to the transcendental nature
like the Lord (14.2).
1. In his purport, Srila Prabhupada is clear in showing that this does not describe impersonal
merging. Rather, one who is liberated into the spiritual sky attains an individual spiritual
form, which is the same quality of the Lord's. Such a spiritual body is necessary to partake
of loving exchanges with the Lord.
B. The living entities are placed within material nature at the time of creation by the Lord's glance.
The Lord is like the seed-giving father, and material nature is like the mother (14.3-4).
The binding of the pure soul by the three modes (5-9) - Recognizing the supremacy of the mode within a person (10- 13) - Actions and death within the modes (14-18)

Main theme:
The three modes of nature bind the conditioned soul to matter by habituating him to various experiences and emotions.

Sub points:
A. Srila Prabhupada summarizes the conditioning of the three modes:
"The living entities conditioned by material nature are of various types. One is happy [goodness], another is very active [passion] and another is helpless [ignorance]."
B. The mode of goodness (sattvam):
1. Conditions one to happiness and knowledge (14.6).
2. Symptoms: correct perception and cleanliness inside and out (14.11).
3. Results after death - higher planets (14.14).
4. Action - leads to purity (14.6).
C. The mode of passion (rajah]
1. Conditions one to hankering and attachment (14.7).
2. Symptoms: greed, accumulation, always undertaking new projects, uncontrollable desire (14.12).
3. Results after death - rebirth among fruitive workers (14.15).
4. Action - leads to misery (14.16).
D. The mode of ignorance (tamah)
1. Conditions one to madness, indolence, sleep (14.8).
2. Symptoms: moroseness, inactivity, madness, and illusion (14.13).
3. Results after death - animal kingdom (14.15).
4. Action - leads to foolishness (14.16).
E. The modes of nature compete for supremacy within an individual (14.10).
1. Although one may be in lower modes, he can choose to nourish the higher modes and thus
assist their victory over the others. Thus one can elevate his modes.
F. Krsna consciousness naturally drives away the modes of material nature (14.10,17).

Transcending the modes (19-27)
In the preceding section, Lord Krsna made clear that the mode of goodness does not, in itself, liberate the soul. Rather, it binds one to a higher class of pleasure. To attain liberation one must completely transcend the modes. This section describes how to transcend the modes.

Main theme:
One can transcend the modes of nature by the practice of pure devotional service.

Sub points:
A. Bhakti-yoga is the means to transcend the modes and realize one's constitutional position. This is
an interesting way that the fourteenth chapter, and the jnana section in general, glorifies bhakti.
1. Jnana stresses discrimination. Discrimination ultimately leads one to appreciate that he is not
the body, that Krsna is supreme, and that he should take shelter of Krsna to become free. Thus
jnana is a path that culminates in bhakti.
B. One can understand reality only from proper authorities (14.19).
1. Sri Krsna is the ultimate authority because he is unaffected by the limitations and illusions of
material nature.
2. One who has taken shelter of Sri Krsna is also free from the influence of the modes, and can
therefore also impart knowledge which brings liberation from the modes of nature.
C. When one desires neither attainment of pleasure, nor escape from pain, he has transcended the
modes of nature (14.22-25).
1. The embodied soul will always undergo dualities of loss and gain, but the liberated soul can
remain unaffected by these things due to focusing his identity within.
D. One fully transcends the modes by unflinching devotional service (14.26).
1. The original cause of the living entity's contact with the modes of nature, as explained in
Chapter Thirteen, is his desire to enjoy separately from Krsna. As soon as he abandons this
desire by taking to devotional service, there is no need for the modes to act upon him. He thus
achieves complete transcendence.
2. The living entity is Brahman - spiritual, qualitatively one with the Lord. By bhakti-yoga, one
regains his original status as Brahman, and can thus engage in direct relationship with the
Supreme Brahman, Krsna.
3. Oneness of quality is essential to a personal relationship. Without similarity, there can be no
intimacy. Thus the living entity attains qualitative equality with the Lord, in order to serve Him
in a relationship of love.
E. Lord Sri Krsna is the source of Brahman.
1. After describing that one who performs pure bhakti-yoga reaches the platform of Brahman,
the Lord explains that He is the source of the Brahman. This serves to prove that Sri Krsna is
eternally superior to the living entity, although both are Brahman.
2. This also establishes that Krsna is above the impersonal conception of the absolute truth.
Bhakti is not simply a stepping stone to impersonal liberation. Rather, it is the culmination of all
transcendental knowledge. To give evidence of this fact, Srila Prabhupada cites the example of
the Four Kumaras, who were thoroughly realized impersonalists, and who left that path to take to bhakti.
3. Brahman is described in the verse as "the constitutional position of ultimate happiness". Srila
Prabhupada explains this to mean that Brahman is the foundational realization for all spiritual
knowledge. Without knowing that one is Brahman, spirit, one cannot advance to Paramatma or
Bhagavan realization. It is Bhagavan realization that brings the highest bliss.

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