Chapter XIV: 16
|The fruit of good action, they say, is sattvika and pure; verily the fruit of rajas is pain, and ignorance is the fruit of tamas.|
We should avoid the misunderstanding that these three qualities are gross material objects like fire or water. Their function is not as simple as the dictum: if you are hot, get into water; if you are cold, go near fire. They are subtle qualities of nature, being what heat is to fire and coolness is to ice. Heat and fire have no independent or cause-and-effect relationship, but an intimate and immediate relationship; for the distinction between them is purely academic. One depends on the other; because one is the other.
The fruit of good action is sattvika or pure; and the manifestation of the sattvika is good action. Similarly, the fruit of passionate activity is rajasa, manifesting pain. The quality of rajas, passionate activity and pain are three shades of the same factor. In the same way, ignorance is tamas; ignorance is the fruit of tamas, and tamas is the fruit of ignorance. One cannot draw a distinctive line anywhere.
This, however, should not lead us to a vicious circle. We must deliberately break through somewhere. We should endeavor, with the help of the "categories" given in detail in the seventeenth and the eighteenth chapters of the Gita, to increase the sattva in us. This will result in our actions being good, which in turn will result in greater increase of sattva.
Rajas, unless based on or directed towards sattva, is itself pain. Aimless dynamism will sooner or later result in disillusionment and the painful realization that all endeavor not directed towards the realization of God was waste.
We should beware of this, as also the complacent attitude, "All is well, I don't care," that tamas or ignorance gives rise to.
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