After dealing with knowledge, Krishna speaks about action. Sattvic actions are those that are done with karma yoga buddhi and Ishvara arpanam (offering everything to the Lord) and prasada buddhi (taking everything as prasada from the Lord), Rajasic actions are done with a sense of ahankara or those done with longing and passion. Nothing wrong with that but these actions will be called rajasic and usually involve a lot of worry, headache, and, in extreme situations, could also result in coronary problems. The same action can be made sattvic when you do it with karma yoga buddhi. Tamasic actions are those done with delusion, without regarding the consequences of the action, without determining whether one is capable of doing it, without calculating the loss this action would involve—basically, these are actions done thoughtlessly.
After dealing with action, Krishna speaks about the doer, the karta. A sattvic karta (doer) is one who is not an egotist, has got high energy, will, and, most importantly, he has karma yoga buddhi and, therefore, is not swayed by success or failure. He definitely aims for success but is not swayed by it, and neither is he depressed by failure. In fact, a karma yogi is called a sattvic karta. A rajasic karta is a raagi, a passionate person longing for the fruit of his action. There is an element of greed in such a person’s action. This is exemplified by Michael Douglas, the protagonist of a film called `Wall Street’, in which he declares `Greed is good’. Such a person can also be cruel and ruthless, and might not hesitate to trample over others to get what he wants. Such a person is subject to elation and depression. A tamasic karta is vulgar, stubborn, cunning, wicked, heedless about the laws of society and steeped in ignorance.
Let us look at it holistically. It is very easy to jump to the conclusion that sattvic knowledge will lead to sattvic action done by a sattvic karta. Remember, sattvic knowledge is the knowledge of Reality and it frees you from the question of action and doership. However, sattvic knowledge is not what is involved in sattvic action or in being a sattvic karta. But rajasic knowledge, the knowledge of differences, etc., if combined with an understanding of Ishvara and karma yoga buddhi will lead to sattvic action and make one a sattvic karta. Please note, this is not sattvic knowledge, it is not the knowledge of oneness, it is only the knowledge of Ishvara, and even if Ishvara is not fully understood but the attitude of bhakti is there, it is sattvic action. Therefore, a sattvic karta who does sattvic action and, therefore, grows will be able to get sattvic knowledge.
Take the example of a person who is full of desires, whose knowledge of the world is limited to science, economics, commerce, etc. This sort of person will be rajasic in his action. If he also wants to know the truth and if he introduces the understanding of God, even if it is not complete, and brings in Ishvara arpanam buddhi and prasada buddhi, his actions will automatically become more sattvic and dharmic. He will start caring for others and his actions, therefore, will become more dharmic. Therefore, as a karta who was rajasic, he will become more sattvic in nature. Then all that he has to do is take the final step of knowing the truth. If he knows the truth, he is free from doer-ship. So it’s not a one-to-one equation. A rajasic karta with the knowledge of Ishvara arpanam buddhi and prasada buddhi will lead to sattvic actions and make him a sattvic karta . On the other hand, rajasic knowledge without Ishvara arpanam buddhi will lead to rajasic action and make him a rajasic karta, and tamasic knowledge will lead to tamasic action and make one a tamasic karta. When Ishvara arpanam buddhi is introduced in a rajasic action, the same knowledge can help you become become sattvic. The sattvic person studies the truth and understands the truth. The aim is not to become sattvic, the aim is to know the truth that `I am free from the problem of sattva, rajas, and tamas’, and for that one needs a sattvic mind.
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