The Hindu

Similarity to Brahman


The jivatma is not the doer of actions; it is the three gunas that cause us to act, says Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita. The atma does not inherently know grief or anger. These arise because of qualities like rajas and tamas. And his contact with prakrti is what brings him into contact with the gunas, because they are inherent in prakrti, said Valayapet Ramacharia­r, in a discourse. This is similar to a good man transformi­ng into a bad one, when he falls into bad company. Even sattva guna is binding, because it makes us desire happiness and knowledge all the time. It thereby binds us to samsara. We have to, therefore, move beyond the three gunas. However, through sattva guna, we are born into families that have atma jnana, and gradually we too progress to a state where we can attain liberation.

The Lord says that the person who knows that the three gunas are the karta, that is the doers of actions, will attain His state. This is not to be taken as the jivatma merging with the Brahman. It means that the jivatma attains qualities like Ananda. Like Him, we too will not know hunger, or thirst. Like Him we too will not experience ageing. Our thoughts will be pure. Our actions will be pure. What we will have will be His svabhAva, His qualities. But we do not merge with Him. Similarity to the Brahman, but not identity with the Brahman is what is to be understood here. Before one can attain liberation, one must first transcend the three gunas. Arjuna then wants to know what a person is like when he has transcende­d the gunas. And he also wants to know how the gunas can be transcende­d. The Lord replies that to obtain knowledge of atma svarUpa, we should neither like nor dislike the illuminati­on caused by sattva, or actions caused by rajas or wrong knowledge caused by tamas.

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