tatra sattvaḿ nirmalatvāt
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 14.6
O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The living entities conditioned by material nature are of various types. One is happy, another is very active, and another is helpless. All these types of psychological manifestations are causes of the entities’ conditioned status in nature. How they are differently conditioned is explained in this section of Bhagavad-gita. The mode of goodness is first considered. The effect of developing the mode of goodness in the material world is that one becomes wiser than those otherwise conditioned. A man in the mode of goodness is not so much affected by material miseries, and he has a sense of advancement in material knowledge. The representative type is the brahmana, who is supposed to be situated in the mode of goodness. This sense of happiness is due to understanding that, in the mode of goodness, one is more or less free from sinful reactions. Actually, in the Vedic literature it is said that the mode of goodness means greater knowledge and a greater sense of happiness.
The difficulty here is that when a living entity is situated in the mode of goodness he becomes conditioned to feel that he is advanced in knowledge and is better than others. In this way he becomes conditioned. The best examples are the scientist and the philosopher. Each is very proud of his knowledge, and because they generally improve their living conditions, they feel a sort of material happiness. This sense of advanced happiness in conditioned life makes them bound by the mode of goodness of material nature. As such, they are attracted toward working in the mode of goodness, and, as long as they have an attraction for working in that way, they have to take some type of body in the modes of nature. Thus there is no likelihood of liberation, or of being transferred to the spiritual world. Repeatedly one may become a philosopher, a scientist or a poet, and repeatedly become entangled in the same disadvantages of birth and death. But, due to the illusion of the material energy, one thinks that that sort of life is pleasant.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse describes how sattva guna binds the jiva. It is without distress (anamayam) or peaceful. The association of the jiva with happiness, which is the product of peacefulness, and the association of the jiva with knowledge, which is the product of illumination (prakasakam), produce the misidentity of “I am happy, I am learned.” Thus, from happiness and knowledge whose quality is to produce these designations, from this ignorance, the jiva develops his misconception of himself. These bind him.
O pure one (anagha), do not accept impurity in the form of such misconception of “I am happy” or “I am learned.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
14.6 Of ‘these’, i.e., of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, the characteristic nature of the Sattva is this: it illuminates on account of its being pure. What is called purity is to be bereft of qualities which veil light and happiness. Because its nature is solely the generation of light and happiness, it constitutes the cause of light and happiness. ‘Light’ or illumination is enlightenment about a thing as it is. It is ‘not morbid,’ i.e., an effect called morbidity (disease) does not exist in its presence. The meaning is, that Sattva is the cause of health. The Guna, called Sattva, however, binds the self by attachment to happiness and knowledge. The meaning is that it causes attachment to happiness and knowledge. When attachment to knowledge and happiness is born, one engages oneself in secular and Vedic means for securing them. Consequently, one is born in such bodies which constitute the means for realising such fruits. Hence the Sattva binds the self through attachment to happiness and knowledge. What is said is this: Sattva generates knowledge and happiness; again it generates attachment to them.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna states that sattva or the mode of goodness being transparent, stainlesss, and luminous is free from the propensity for evil and thus is serene. Yet being serene binds the jivas or embodied beings as well by attachment to its effect of happiness. As well being luminous binds the jivas by attachment to its effect of knowledge. The understanding is that the happiness one feels and the knowledge one has achieved gives one the corresponding mental states of I am happy and I am wise respectively and gives rise to the jiva identifying themselves with the temporary physical body and not with the atma or immortal soul.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In order to delineate the characteristics and types of bondage associated collectively and individually to the three gunas or modes of material nature. Lord Krishna begins in three verses first with sattva the mode of goodness and in the next two verses rajas or passion and tamas or ignorance. The quality of sattva is immaculate , it illuminates and is lucid like a crystal. It is devoid of the propensity to veil or cover happiness or knowledge and it possesses tranquillity and equipoise. Although sattva is imbued with such good qualities it still binds the jiva or embodied being through attachment to happiness and knowledge which keeps the identification with the physical body strong inducing feelings of I feel happiness, I am knowledgeable and so on. This entices one to seek accomplishments of greater and greater deeds and experience the rewards of their result.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
14.6 Tatra, among them, among sattva etc.;-the characteristics of sattva itself is being stated first-sattva, nirmalatvat, being pure like a crystal stone;is prakasakam, an illuminator; and anamayam, harmless. Anagha, O sinless one; badhnati, it binds. How? Sukhasangena, through attachment to happiness. Bringing about the association of happiness, which is the object, with the Self, which is the subject, in the form of the idea, ‘I am happy’, is certainly an unreal contact with happiness. This as such is nescience, for the quality of an object cannot belong to a subject. And it has been said by the Lord that all the qualities, from ‘desire’ to ‘fortitude’ (see 13.6), are, indeed, of the field, which is the object. Therefore, it is certainly through nescience, which is an attribute [In reality, though nescience has no connection with the Self, yet, since there is none other with which it can become associated and since it has no independence, therefore the Commentator imagines it as an attribute of the Self.] of the Self and has the characteristics of non-discrimination between object and subject, that sattva apparently brings about the association with happiness, which is not the Self. It makes (the Self) attached, as it were; [Here Ast. adds ‘asangam saktam iva, (makes) the Unattached attached, as it were’.-Tr.] makes one not possessed of happiness as though possessed of it! Similarly, it binds also jnana-sangena, through attachment to knowledge. [Jnana, derived in the sense of ‘that through which one knows,’ means an instrument of knowledge, and not Consciousness. (S.: Knowledge arising from the study of the import of various scriptures; or, jnanam, means the scriptures, through which the supreme God is known and which leads to devotional practices, but not to steadfastness in (the absolute) Brahman.] Because of its concomitance with happiness, knowledge here is an attribute of the internal organ, the field, but not of the Self. Were it an attribute [If knowledge were a natural attribute of the Self, then there can be no question of the latter again becoming bound through association with the former.] of the Self, there could be no contact (between it and the Self), and ‘bondage’ would become illogical. Association with knowledge etc. should be understood in the same sense as with happiness.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
14.6-8 Tatra etc. upto Bharata. The Sattva is dirtless. [Source of craving-attachment] : that from which the attachment of craving springs up. Negligence : wasting the human birth which is difficult to get, but got by means of hundreds of merits accumulated for a very long period, and which is the sole means for attaining emancipation. That has been also said- ‘Not even a single moment of life is gained by (spending] all the gems. [Hence], he, who wastes it, is a man of negligence and is the lowest of men’. Laziness : i.e., in doing good deeds. Sleep : being poor totally i.e. a contemptible course.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
tatra sattvam nirmalatvat
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
tatra — there; sattvam — the mode of goodness; nirmalatvāt — being purest in the material world; prakāśakam — illuminating; anāmayam — without any sinful reaction; sukha — with happiness; sańgena — by association; badhnāti — conditions; jñāna — with knowledge; sańgena — by association; ca — also; anagha — O sinless one.