tribhirgunamayairbhaavairebhihi sarvamidam jagat |
mohitam naabhijaanaati maamebhyaha paramavyayam || 13 ||

 
This entire universe, deluded by these three modes in the form of gunaas, does not know me to be beyond these (gunaas) and imperishable.
 
tribhihi : three
gunamaiyaihai : in the form of gunaas
bhaavaihi : modes
ebhihi : these
sarvam : entire
idam : this
jagat : universe
mohitam : deluded by
na : do not
abhijaanaati : know me
maam : me
ebhyaha : these (gunaas)
param : beyond
avyayam : imperishable
 
So far in this chapter, Shri Krishna indicated that Ishvara is the ultimate cause, that he pervades everything, the entire universe is a play of the three gunaas, and that he supports all the three gunaas but they do not impact him. In theory, if we know this, then we should be a hundred percent clear about the true nature of Ishvara, which is the objective of this chapter. But there is still more to come. Why is that? It is because there is something in these three gunaas or aspects of nature that prevents us from accessing Ishvara.
 
Shri Krishna says that most people are deluded or confused about the true nature of Ishvara due to the overpowering effect of the three gunaas. This overpowering effect is our tendency to get carried away by name and form. It is our tendency to judge a book by its cover. We are so dazzled by the diversity of various forms of gold jewellery (the effect) that we fail to recognize that everything is ultimately gold (the cause).
 
Each gunaa or mode of nature has the ability to overpower us. Imagine a vendor at a vegetable market that has to haggle with his customers in order to turn a profit. A taamasic vendor can resort to any tactic including fraud to dupe unsuspecting customers, and potentially get caught doing so. A raajasic vendor can use fair, but aggressive negotiating tactics with even the shrewdest of his customers, eventually shrinking his customer base to zero. Now, we typically think that a saatvic vendor would follow the correct strategy, but this is not the case. Even saatva can overpower the vendor if he always gives in to the customer’s negotiations and goes into a loss.
 
Now, let us see what exactly happened with each of the vendors. The taamasic vendor could only see the most tangible thing in front of him – the crisp note that he can keep in his pocket as soon as the sale is made. He did not have the ability to think one step beyond the note, that he would get caught for fraud.
 
The raajasic vendor thought one step ahead and knew that he should not resort to anything illegal. But by always focusing on his personal gain, he missed the big picture in that he would eventually lose all his customers.
 
The saatvic vendor understood the big picture to some extent. But he forgot that he had to support a family at home, and therefore had to strike the right balance of maximizing his profit and making the customer happy.
 
So what does all this have to do with Ishvara? All three vendors were deluded or overpowered by gunaas. This is because our mind and senses is made up of the very “stuff” of the gunaas, as we saw in a previous shloka in chapter 3. They run after prakriti or nature which is also made up of the gunaas. We are helpless because our senses and our mind is wired to focus on names and forms, and not the underlying essence or cause. We get so carried away by names and forms that we cannot comprehend that Ishvara who is beyond any name and form, any attribute or modification.
 
So then, how do we develop this ability to pierce through the three gunaas and understand the real nature of Ishvara? Shri Krishna tackles this topic next.

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