guNAs: part 2

... continued from part 1

The guNatrayAs make up the prakRti which in other words is also known as mAyA. Now we know that mAyA has two powers: AvaraNashakti and vikSepashakti. Its AvaraNashakti covers and hides brahman, while vikSepashakti projects the world. I'll come back to this a bit later. Lets try and see the link between the three guNAs here; the respective characteristics or keywords that relate to them being as follows.

tamas: darkness, inactivity, ignorance, lassitude, dullness, inadvertence, stupidity, doubt, etc.
rajas: energy, primal active force, ambition, lust, anger, avarice, arrogance, pride, egotism, envy, jealousy, etc.
sattva: giver of happiness, humility, guilelessness, self-control, unselfishness, purity, contentment, truthfulness, fearlessness, faith, devotion, yearning for liberation. (#1)

Now if we look closely, we see that tamas has specific characteristics to cover things up (eg: darkness hides things, ignorance will lead to not knowing something, etc), while rajas can aid projecting things (eg: arrogance and egotism may lead to a false sense of achievement, etc). So rajas and tamas potentially form the powers of mAyA! sattva, on the other hand, creates a balance between the other two and sets the path for freedom. That is, while tamas digs the grave for one, rajas attaches him, and sattva sets him free. So, in a way, mAyA itself has the hidden potential to liberate.

Let go back to mAyAshakti now. Consider a drama and a role for an actor in it. The person, who is trying to get in a role puts on some makeup. Now the idea of makeup is twofold: hide what he is and then be what he is not. Although twofold, these are not really two distinct steps, its a single step; if the actor hides who he is, he is trying to be someone else already. If he tries to be someone else, there's an implicit idea to hide. Precisely so, Avarana itself results in vikSepa. Taking the classic Vedantic rajjusarpa example or the rope-snake analogy, if due to insufficient light, the characteristics of rope remain hidden, that in itself projects a snake!

to be continued...

(#1: Sw. Nikhilananda's introduction to Atmabodha)
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