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82. The Root of Bondage

Among the three classes, namely, the individual soul, matter and Supreme Soul, only the individual soul is subject to the cycle of birth and death in this world. God is perfect and full of happiness. Inert matter is lifeless. In both there is no chance of any misery, illusion or ignorance. It is only the individual soul which is caught in this cycle of life and death, which is immersed in the misery of family life and which is ever striving for liberation. The soul by its very nature is full of knowledge and bliss. How is it then that it is affected by ignorance and misery contrary to its true nature? All souls ultimately aspire to reach a stage similar to that of God and how is it then that the soul is tormented by contrary qualities like ignorance and misery? A critical study of this question is essential for remedying this sorry state.

Even if dynamism and bliss are inherent in every soul, these are hidden under the thick cover of inert matter. The soul, under the spell of the mighty forces of matter, is in a wretched and forlorn state in this life. It loses its individuality and splendour, covered as it is by matter. Since the inert matter is as eternal as the soul, from the very beginning the soul is under the influence of matter. The glow of the soul is completely eclipsed, so to say, by matter. The three constituents of matter namely, sattva, rajas as and tamas cover the proper self of the soul and disfigure it. The cloth may be white, but when it is soiled, it appears black. Similarly being soiled by matter, the soul puts on extraneous deformations. Thus bondage is due to no other cause but the soul's being under the influence of matter. By the grace of the Supreme Lord alone, Who is beyond both, can the soul achieve liberation from this vicious cycle.

In this eternal life cycle of the soul, thus are the roles played by matter and the Supreme God. If the contact with matter gives a soul happiness and misery born out of these three qualities, the contact with God helps it overcome these deformations and reach to its proper state which is beyond the three qualities. The nature of matter and God and the reaction in the individual soul by contact with these two have been explained so far. The one ties us down to the cycle of birth and death; the other liberates us from this cycle. We should exert ourselves and carry on our spiritual exercise till the soul once again shines with its natural, inherent glory, realising our true nature, which is different from both inert matter and Godhead. By devotion and His grace, we should come out of the influence of inert matter and get into the immortal sphere of God's influence.

83 The Influence of Three Gunas on our Life:

The influence of matter on the souls varies with the three forces of matter. If the predominance of tamas leads to indolence, heedlessness and delusion, that of the rajas leads to a life excited by desire, anxiety, anger and disturbance. Sattva, which is a fount of knowledge, judgment and goodness, lights up the path of our life, like a torch, towards the fullness of consummation which is beyond the three gunas. One who can trample down both rajas and tamas alone can reach the height of sattva. While by tamas one takes to indifference towards the execution of one's duties, under the influence of rajas one performs actions, becoming a prey to petty desire and delusion. It is only by sattva that one can perform one's allotted duties without hoping for any reward. We should understand the effect of these three forces of matter on life and then make efforts to use this Prakriti as a bridge to take us towards God. If we use the Prakriti dexterously, the release from the bondage of Prakriti becomes easier.

We see all around us predominances of tamas and rajas. We may divide mankind into two classes; the Ravana class and the Kumbhakarna class. People who crave for wealth and power remind us of Ravana himself. Ravana wanted to possess all the beautiful and extraordinary things of the three worlds. He went on exerting all his brutal force perpetually to achieve his end. We see all around us people trying to stick to power and office by hook or crook. In every field there is an unethical competition due to the preponderance of the rajas. As against these Ravanas of passionate qualities, there are Kumbhakarnas who are embodiments of indolence and inactivity. The so-called purists and conservative religionists may be put in this category. When there is such an onslaught on the traditional religious life of the whole community, these people live with indifference and all by themselves, forgetting their duty to mend the situation. Indolence is the root of all vices. The emperor Nala due to his carelessness neglected to wash his feet properly and on this score, Kali could get access into his otherwise pure and spotless life. Kali had been waiting for a long time to find an opportunity to sneak into his life. Then he occupied the whole life and personality of the king. With the slightest opportunity for indolence. Kali sneaks in and in his train all other bad qualities follow. In the kingdom of Ravana and Kumbhakarna, there is hardly any room for sattvik quality like that of Vibhishana. The main task ahead of us is the conquest of these rajas and tamas qualities and establishment of the reign of the sattvik quality. Even if matter is a force of bondage, one should take the best advantage of the sattvik force which is its constituent and undertake the adventurous pilgrimage to God from across the sattvik bridge. The fourteenth chapter thus analyses the effects of the three gunas on the soul, explains the interrelationship of the soul with Prakriti and shows the way of the sattva guna which transcends the power of the Prakriti and leads it to the final perfection.

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This page prepared by  Ramadas
Created March 02, 2000; last modified March 08, 2000