Gita Series – 166: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. Verse 29 – 32

Listen to me while I explain the classification of intellect and fortitude based on the predominance of each guṇa. The one, whose intellect is sattvic, is one who is able to understand the paths of action and renouncement, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, the difference between fear and fearlessness and bondage and liberation. The one, whose intellect is said to be rajasic, is not able to understand what is dharma and adharma and what is to be done and what is not to be done. The one, who understands adharma as dharma and looks at all things in a perverted manner, his intellect is tamasic in nature.”

Kṛṣṇa after having classified all actions and the performers of actions under three types of guṇa-s, now proceeds to classify intellect under the three types of guṇa-s.

When a person is able to distinguish between actions performed with desire and actions performed with intent to renounce, his intellect is said to be sattvic in nature. One has to have an intellect that has acquired the ability to discriminate. If the intellect is devoid of ability to discriminate, realising the Lord is not possible, as one should be able to discriminate between māyā and reality. The intellect is a product of mind and if the mind remains pure, the intellect automatically attains the capacity to discriminate. Realising the Self can happen through two ways. One is by performing actions like charity, rituals, etc prescribed by Scriptures. However, these actions are to be performed with no intent on the fruits of action. The other one is to renounce all the karmas and stay eternally connected with the Lord. Generally, one should enter the spiritual life by following the precepts of Scriptures and after gaining versatility over them, should enter the final stage of renunciation. True spiritual aspirant, blossoms forth as yogi, only if this path is strictly followed. Knowledge required for realisation can be attained only by following Scriptural dictums at the beginning of one’s spiritual life. In the case of total renunciation, a renouncer cannot perform any types of actions.A person with sattvic intellect has to understand the difference between the two and has to pursue these paths at the appropriate times. If one does not have knowledge to discriminate between the two, he will remain as a confused person. Therefore, in spiritual pursuit, mere intention is not enough; one has to have adequate knowledge and capacity to discriminate.

All actions are classified as good and bad according to the precepts of the Scriptures. One has to have sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures, so that he knows what can be done and what cannot be done. Fear is inherent nature of any being. One cannot fear for everything in life. A man with knowledge can discriminate between what is to be truly feared and what is not to be feared. Spiritually advanced person has the ability to discriminate and hence he will not fear for anyone except his own conscience. He is able to distinguish between bondage and liberation. Bondage causes impressions and he ensures that he never gets afflicted with impressions of materialistic life. As long as impressions remain, one cannot get liberated. A person, whose intellect is endowed with these quality is categorised as sattvic.

When a person’s intellect is not able to differentiate between dharma and adharma and the actions that are approved and unapproved by Scriptures is said to be rajasic in nature. A person with rajasic intellect cannot take appropriate decisions as his intellect is not endowed with the capacity to discriminate.

A person with tamasic intellect understands adharma as dharma. His mind is corrupted and afflicted with immorality and sensuality. This kind of intellect cannot be corrected. They always look at the world in a perverted manner. Most of the criminals continue to be criminals in their life because of tamasic intellect.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 23 -25

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 26 - 28

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 33 - 35