Chapter XIV: 5
|Sattva, rajas and tamas - these qualities, Oh Arjuna, born of the divine nature, bind fast in the body, the embodied, the indestructible.|
Even when the sky is clear, you know there is moisture in it. When there is pressure or depression somewhere, this moisture condenses into white clouds. If the atmospheric change continues, white cloud changes into black, rain-bearing cloud. That black cloud, though one, has hidden in it the potentiality of drop-formation - one yet many! In a few minutes the drops form and they do not linger in the sky but fall to earth.
In Vedanta (Indian philosophy) the clear sky is comparable to Brahman the absolute, with prakriti or nature "hidden" in it. The pressure is comparable to the original vibration (Om) or the word or logos. The white cloud, to Ishvara (the supreme personal God). The black cloud, to hiranyagarbha (the world-soul) when you view it as a whole, and to virat (manifestation) when you view it as just an aggregate of individuals.
Rainwater in Australia, America and Africa, is all the same. The difference lies in what it falls on; then it becomes good, bad or indifferent.
The three qualities belong to divine nature. Take fire, for example. The mysterious power that burns in fire is God. The visible flame is divine nature. This flame has inherent in it three qualities: light, heat and smoke (comparable to sattva, rajas and tamas respectively). Similarly, the entire universe is composed of three strands of existence. One is the light. In every atom there is something luminous, and it is because of this inner light that we exist and are able to recognize one another. Then, there is something in every atom that is dynamic, which vibrates; and, in addition, every atom has something that the scientist calls "inertia." This eventually makes up the mass of material, physical bodies.
The individual soul is pure; it is actually not different from God. However, it is caught in these three qualities of divine nature. Why? - we do not conclusively know.