ayuktaḥ prākṛtaḥ stabdhaḥ
śaṭho naiṣkṛtiko ’lasaḥ
viṣādī dīrgha-sūtrī ca
kartā tāmasa ucyate
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.28
The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In the scriptural injunctions we find what sort of work should be performed and what sort of work should not be performed. Those who do not care for those injunctions engage in work not to be done, and such persons are generally materialistic. They work according to the modes of nature, not according to the injunctions of the scripture. Such workers are not very gentle, and generally they are always cunning and expert in insulting others. They are very lazy; even though they have some duty, they do not do it properly, and they put it aside to be done later on. Therefore they appear to be morose. They procrastinate; anything which can be done in an hour they drag on for years. Such workers are situated in the mode of ignorance.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
One who does what should not be done is ayuktah. One who acts according his nature, so that whatever occurs in his mind he does rather than according to the instruction of the guru is prakrtah. One who offends others is naiskrtikah.
The jnanis must perform the sattvika tyaga described here, and must take shelter of the knowledge fixed in sattvika karma, must perform sattvika work, and must become a sattvika doer. This is the sannyasa of the jnani. This is my realization on this topic, how I have extracted this meaning of the section.
The knowledge of the devotees however is beyond the gunas. Their work for me, called bhakti yoga, is beyond the gunas. The doers are also beyond the gunas. This is stated by the Lord in the Bhagavatam:
kaivalyaih sattvikam jnanam rajo vaikalpikam tu yat
prakrtam tamasam jnanam man-nistham nirgunam smrtam
Absolute knowledge is in the mode of goodness, knowledge based on duality is in the mode of passion, and foolish, materialistic knowledge is in the mode of ignorance. Knowledge based upon Me, however, is understood to be transcendental. SB 11.25.24
laksanam bhakti-yogasya nirgunasya hy udahrtam
The characteristics of bhakti yoga which is beyond the gunas are manifested. SB 3.29.11
sattvikah karako ‘sangi ragandho rajasah smrtah
tamasah smrti-vibhrasto nirguno mad-apasrayah
A worker free of attachment is in the mode of goodness; a worker blinded by personal desire is in the mode of passion; and a worker who has completely forgotten how to tell right from wrong is in the mode of ignorance. But a worker who has taken shelter of Me is understood to be transcendental to the modes of nature. SB 11.25.26
Not only these three items—the knowledge, action (bhakti yoga) and doer (bhakta)-are beyond the gunas, but rather everything related to bhakti is beyond the gunas according to the philosophy of bhakti.
sattviky adhyatmiki sraddha karma-sraddha tu rajasi
tamasy adharme ya sraddha mat-sevayam tu nirguna
Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in My devotional service is purely transcendental. SB 11.25.27
vanam tu sattviko vaso gramo rajasa ucyate
tamasam dyuta-sadanam man-niketam tu nirgunam
Residence in the forest is in the mode of goodness, residence in a town is in the mode of passion, residence in a gambling house displays the quality of ignorance, and residence in a place where I reside is transcendental. SB 11.25.25
sattvikam sukham atmottham visayottham tu rajasam
tamasam moha-dainyottham nirgunam mad-apasrayam
Happiness derived from the self is in the mode of goodness, happiness based on sense gratification is in the mode of passion, and happiness based on delusion and degradation is in the mode of ignorance. But that happiness found within Me is transcendental. SB 11.25.29
Thus, for the devotees who are beyond the gunas, things related to bhakti such as knowledge, action, faith, residence and the happiness derived from it, are all beyond the gunas. For the jnanls who are in the mode of sattva, things related to jnana are all in the mode of sattva. Everything related to karmis acting in the mode of rajas is rajasic. For the unrestrained person in the mode of tamas, everything related to their action is tamasic. This should be understood by looking over the contents of the Gita. It has also been stated in the fourteenth chapter that even the jnani, at the last stage, after giving up jnana, attains a position beyond the gunas only by the power of pure bhakti, which remains at that point.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.28 ‘Ayukta’ is the doer who is unqualified for acts enjoined by the Sastras; the meaning is that he is engaged in perverse acts; who is ‘unrefined’, means one uninstructed; who is ‘stubborn’, means one who is not disposed to act; who is ‘depraved’ means one who has the taste for black magic etc; who is dishonest is one who is treacherous; who is ‘indolent’ is one who is not inclined to carry out actions undertaken; who is ‘despondent’ is one given to excessive despondency; and one who is ‘dilatory’, is a person who, while engaged in black magic, etc., pays malevolent attention to produce long-standing evil to others — such a doer is declared to be Tamasika. Thus, has been told the threefold division in terms of the Gunas of the knowledge about the work that ought to be performed, and about the agent of work. Now, Sri Krsna describe s the threefold division of Buddhi and Dhrti (fortitude) on the basis of Gunas. These faculties give the determinate knowledge of all realities in existence and of all ends of human life (Purusarthas).
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
One who performs actions inconsistently, who is careless, who is vulgar, who insults others, who is pretentious and indolent, who procrastinates unable to timely accomplish what one boasted, who has an acute lack of discrimination. Such a one is unremittingly situated in tama guna the mode of ignorance.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The compound word dirgha-sutri means procrastinating but it also infers dirgha-suchi given to calumny of pointing out the past defects of others. The Amarakosa also states that one who exposes the mistakes of others from the past is called dirgha-sutri.
Now begins the summation.
According to the Shabda Tattva, one who follows the procedures for prescribed Vedic activities but due to not being consequent, procrastinates and does not commence it at the proper time is known as dirgha-sutri.
The activity that is required to be performed at an auspicious time but is delayed and hence missed the mark also indicates the meaning of dirgha- sutri which includes indolence and incompetence. Although procrastination is accurate it also includes indolence, for even if one is inspired to perform prescribed Vedic activities there is some impediment and obstacles in accomplishing them. This is the result of obscuration of vision and lack of cognizance of the Supreme Lord Krishna’s paramount position. So even one with the potential for great achievements, due to bewilderment, despondency and laziness fails to reap the benefits for not performing the proper activity at the proper time. Such a one is undeniably situated in tama guna the mode of ignorance.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
One lacking in self control and devoid of piety, who is vain, vile and vulgar an. Who identifies with mundane material nature without discriminative knowledge. Who is deceitful, lethargic and morose. Who is offensive to others and who procrastinates in doing what is expected. Such unfortunates are indisputably situated intama guna the mode of ignorance.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.28 The agent who is ayuktah, unsteady; prakrtah, naive, of very unrefined intelligence, like a child; stabdhah, unbending like a staff-he does not bend down to anyone; sathah, deceitful, cunning, hiding his own powers; naiskrtikah, wicked, given to destroying the livelihood of others; alasah, lazy, not inclined even to his own duties; visadi, morose, ever in a mood of dejection; and dirghasutri, procrastinating, postponing duties for long, [Ast. adds here, ‘sarvada mandasvabhavah, always slow by nature’.-Tr.] not accomplishing even in a month what is to be done today or tomorrow;-one who is such, he ucyate, is said to be; tamasah, possessed of tamas.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.26-28 Muktasangah etc. upto Tamasa ucyate. He who does not make speech of egoism : He who does not claim ‘I am the agent’ i.e., he who is different from the one who claims so by natural inclination, or claims as such with an intention that ‘I should do so’, or claims so in an efficient manner. This nini (suffix employed in anahamvadi) does not prohibit for a Yogin, the speech ‘I do’ under the influence of the cover of the mundane life. Who is overpowered by joy and grief : i.e., at the time of success and failure [respectively]. Wickedness : cruelty.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
ayuktah prakrtah stabdhah
satho naiskrtiko ’lasah
visadi dirgha-sutri ca
karta tamasa ucyate
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
ayuktaḥ — not referring to the scriptural injunctions; prākṛtaḥ — materialistic; stabdhaḥ — obstinate; śaṭhaḥ — deceitful; naiṣkṛtikaḥ — expert in insulting others; alasaḥ — lazy; viṣādī — morose; dīrgha-sūtrī — procrastinating; ca — also; kartā — worker; tāmasaḥ — in the mode of ignorance; ucyate — is said to be.