rajas tamaś cābhibhūya
sattvaḿ bhavati bhārata
rajaḥ sattvaḿ tamaś caiva
tamaḥ sattvaḿ rajas tathā
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 14.10
Sometimes the mode of goodness becomes prominent, defeating the modes of passion and ignorance, O son of Bharata. Sometimes the mode of passion defeats goodness and ignorance, and at other times ignorance defeats goodness and passion. In this way there is always competition for supremacy.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
When the mode of passion is prominent, the modes of goodness and ignorance are defeated. When the mode of goodness is prominent, passion and ignorance are defeated. And when the mode of ignorance is prominent, passion and goodness are defeated. This competition is always going on.
Therefore, one who is actually intent on advancing in Krishna consciousness has to transcend these three modes. The prominence of some certain mode of nature is manifested in one’s dealings, in his activities, in eating, etc. All this will be explained in later chapters. But if one wants, he can develop, by practice, the mode of goodness and thus defeat the modes of ignorance and passion. One can similarly develop the mode of passion and defeat goodness and ignorance. Or one can develop the mode of ignorance and defeat goodness and passion. Although there are these three modes of material nature, if one is determined he can be blessed by the mode of goodness, and by transcending the mode of goodness he can be situated in pure goodness, which is called the vasudeva state, a state in which one can understand the science of God. By the manifestation of particular activities, it can be understood in what mode of nature one is situated.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
With regards to their respective effects, how do the gunas arise? When rajas and tamas are eclipsed, sattva appears. It appears because these two become invisible. Thus, raja guna appears from the eclipse of sattva and tamas. Tamas appears from the eclipse of sattva and rajas.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
14.10 Even though all the three Gunas of Sattva etc., are associated with the nature of the self conjoined with Prakrti in the form of body, yet owing to the dominance of previous Karmas and the differences in the food nourishing the body, Sattva etc., preponderate or are subdued by turn. Sometimes Sattva preponderates prevailing over Rajas and Tamas; sometimes Rajas preponderates prevailing over Tamas and Sattva, and sometimes Tamas preponderates prevailing over Rajas and Sattva. He teaches that this changing preponderance of the Gunas can be inferred from the knowledge of the effects produced by them.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
All the three gunas being sattva guna or mode of goodness, raja guna or mode of passiion and tama guna or mode of ignorance originate from past karma which are reactions to actions from previous lives whose results are known as adrishta. When sattva guna is dominant it overpowers the effects of rajas and tamas and in this way sattva binds the jiva or embodied being exclusively to its effects of happiness and pursuit of knowledge. When raja guna is dominant it overpowers sattva and tamas and binds the jiva to its effects of desire and activity and when tama guna is dominant it overpowers sattva and rajas and binds the jiva by its effects of inertia and indolence.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna explains the relationship and interaction between the three gunas which are sattva guna or the mode of goodness, raja guna or the mode of passion and tama guna or the mode of ignorance. All three gunas inexplicably locked to all jivas or embodied beings throughout material existence; but one of the gunas prevails over the other two due to the stringent law of karma or the reactions of committed actions performed in the previous lifetime combined with the effects from the types of food eaten such as vegetarian or animal, compounded with the degree of sinfulness committed knowingly or unknowingly determines which of the three gunas will be prevalent. The Chadogya Upanisad VI.VI.V beginning annamayam hi somya mana states: The mind is made up of the food that it eats. Srila Vedavyasa states in the Bhagavat Purana that knowledge, water, progeny, place, time, actions, origin, meditation, formula and mental tendency, are the 10 causes of growth.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
14.10 O scion of the Bharata dynasty, sattva bhavati, increases, comes into being; abhibhuya, by subduing both rajas and tamas. When sattva increases, then, coming to its own, it produces its own effects-knowledge, happiness, etc. Similarly, when the quality of rajas increases by overpowering both sattva and tamas, then it produces its own effects-activity and hankering. When the quality called tamas increases by similarly dominating over sattva and rajas, it then produces its own effects-obscuring of knowledge, etc. When any quality preponderates, then what is its indication? This is being answered:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
14.9-10 Sattvam etc. Rajah etc. Dominates fully i.e. sets [to work]. The Sattva flourishes by overpowering the Rajas and the Tamas. But, the Rajas [flourishes by overpowering] both the Sattva and the Tamas; and the Tamas [does so by overpowering] both the Sattva and the Rajas. That has been stated : ‘The Strands augment by overpowering each other’.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
rajas tamas cabhibhuya
sattvam bhavati bharata
rajah sattvam tamas caiva
tamah sattvam rajas tatha
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
rajaḥ — the mode of passion; tamaḥ — the mode of ignorance; ca — also; abhibhūya — surpassing; sattvam — the mode of goodness; bhavati — becomes prominent; bhārata — O son of Bharata; rajaḥ — the mode of passion; sattvam — the mode of goodness; tamaḥ — the mode of ignorance; ca — also; eva — like that; tamaḥ — the mode of ignorance; sattvam — the mode of goodness; rajaḥ — the mode of passion; tathā — thus.