Attitudes & behaviors to cultivate Sattva guna

Harih Om!

One of the unique features of Bhagavad Gita among other moksha shastras such as Upanishads, is that it deals extensively with the sadhanas for moksha in addition to the subject of moksha itself. Swami Akhandanandaji Maharaj points this out in his book, “Sadhana aur Brahmanubhuti”.

At multiple places in the Gita, we find lists of qualities that describe a self-realized person. In commenting upon such verses, Sankaracharya states that the natural attitudes or behaviors of a self-realized person are important to know because they are sadhanas for mumukshus.

We find in chapter 2 sthitaprajna lakshanas starting with dukheshu anudvignamanaah (दुःखेष्वनुद्विग्नमनाः), etc. In chapter 12 we have bhakta lakshanas starting with adveshtaa sarvabhutanaam (अद्वेष्टा सर्वभूतानां), etc. In chapter 13 are given jnana sadhanas starting with amaanitvam adambhitvam (अमानित्वं अदम्भित्वम्), etc. In chapter 14 are gunatita lakshanas starting with prakasham cha pravruttim cha.. (प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च), na dvesti… na kankshati (न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति) etc. In chapter 16 we find daivi sampada starting with abhayam sattvasamshuddhi (अभयं सत्त्वसंशुद्धिः), etc.

On similar lines, distributed in chapters 17 and 18 are various attitudes and behaviors associated with sattva guna. In one of his Gita classes, Swami Dayanandaji gave an advice to students which is paraphrased as follows: “Compile a list of all Gita verses in chapters 17 and 18 that talk of attitudes and behaviors connected with Sattva Guna. Read them with meaning every day. I did this when I studied Gita. They are the attitudes and behaviors you must cultivate in order to make them your own. Make them your own even by faking or acting them out. All spiritual practices are meant for this only.

Following his advice I compiled the list along with meanings and some notes where I felt necessary, gleaning from Swamiji’s Home study course and Sankara Bhashyam and have been reading and reflecting on them daily. This practice has been helpful as it serves as a reminder for how I must act. I have compiled these verses and am sharing in this post, hoping that it will be of use to others too.

I feel a number of these sattvika qualities boil down to an attitude of karma yoga, viz.

  1. Performing to-be-done karma (svakarma) diligently
  2. Offering performed karma to Isvara because He is in the form of that karma
  3. Remembering not to have an agenda for specific outcomes, which I have no control over
  4. Remembering that ultimately I am not even the doer
  5. Being ready to receive all types of outcomes as prasada from the Lord.. Thy will be done!

Finally, a key point to remember in connection with the gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas – is that all three are in everybody. While we may have a predominance of a certain guna based on prior samskaras, we are not at all stuck with that guna-combination. In fact the process of spiritual growth is to alter the guna-combination to make sattva more predominant. This will eventually lead to rising above all gunas. The above advice is sure to help us grow in this direction.

Download the compiled verses related to Sattva Guna here.

Hari & Aparna.


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