Arjuna uvaacha:
kairlingaistreengunaanetaanateeto bhavati prabho |
kimaachaaraha katham chaitaanstreengunaantivartate || 21 ||

 
Arjuna said:
By which signs is the one who has gone beyond the three gunas known, O Lord? What is his behaviour, and how does he transcend these three gunas?

 
kaihi : which
lingaihi : signs
treen : three
gunaan : gunas
etaan : these
ateetaha : one who has gone beyond
bhavati : is
prabho : O Lord
kimaachaaraha : what is his behaviour
katham : how
cha : and
etaan : these
treen : three
gunaan : gunas
ativartate : transcend
 
We hear Arjuna speak after a long time in this shloka. Arjuna usually speaks when he needs to clarify a doubt, or when he thinks that he needs a more practical version of what he has just heard. We have seen this happen several times. In the second chapter, Arjuna wanted to know the marks of the person who is established in knowledge, sthitha prajnya. Arjuna also asked the signs of a perfected devotee in the chapter on bhakti yoga. Every time he has asked a question, we as listeners have benefitted tremendously.
 
Having heard a detailed explanation around the three gunas, but only a couple of shlokas on the person who transcends those gunas and attains immortality, Arjuna found it appropriate to ask a question at this juncture. He wanted to know three things. First, how does one know that a person has transcended the three gunas. Second, how does such a person behave in the world. Third, how does he actually transcend the three gunas.
 
We have to constantly remind ourselves that everything we learn from this chapter is purely for self-analysis, not for judging or evaluating someone else. The only person that can accurately determine whether our mental state is sattvic, rajasic or tamasic is none other than ourselves. There is another aspect to learning about the signs of one who has gone beyond the influence of the gunas. Until we reach the state of liberation, these signs are attributes that we should aspire to cultivate in our lives.

Advertisements