How can we understand which mode we are in?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJuly 7, 2014

Answer Podcast

Transcription by– Keshavgopal Das & Ambuj Gupta

Question: How can we know which mode we are in?

Answer: By looking at the prominent emotions that we are having and the actions that we are prompted to do. That means Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita from 14.6-9, He gives the broad characteristic of each mode. Then He describes in 14.10 how the three modes are in competition. Then 14.11-13 He describes what happens when a particular mode becomes prominent. For example, when the mode of passion is prominent He says

lobhaḥ pravṛttir ārambhaḥ

karmaṇām aśamaḥ spṛhā

rajasy etāni jāyante

vivṛddhe bharatarṣabha


In 14.11 He says what happens when goodness is in prominent. First is the broad characteristics of each mode and second is in the competition when the particular mode becomes prominent. So He says lobhah, one feels greedy, more-more. Pravrttir means wants to start new-new things, I want to do this, I want to do that. Karmanam ashamah sprha means that the desire are irresistible. Rajasy etani jayante vivrddhe means when rajoguna becomes very strong, prominent, dominant then this is what happens. Rather than doing a micro analysis of which mode we are in, in general what we focus on is to have a broad pattern of behavior. That means we have say in morning time the morning program, then we have certain job to do or some services to do and when we know that there are certain activities which are expected of us, which are good for us, and then we start feeling like not doing well. Instead doing activities which are non devotional or anti devotional, which are unfavorable for us then we start understanding that OK now the mind is at work. In general unless we are very introspective, it’s not possible for us to constantly observe the mind. But in general Prabhupada writes in the purport of 3.37

śrībhagavān uvāca

kāma eṣa krodha eṣa


mahāśano mahāpāpmā

viddhy enam iha vairiṇam


How does one control lust? He says that by the prescribed way of living and acting. That means there is a certain prescribed way which is given not in terms of microscopic specific details but broad patterns, do this-this. Whenever we start feeling pulled to do other things, that means the modes are influencing us. I am talking about specifically some anti devotional desires that start coming up and pulling us. Otherwise we can always have some creative inspiration and then we feel ok, this is something good. I am not talking about the inspiration to do positive things but in general when we start feeling to do things which we know are not good so at that time we understand that now I am being pulled in wrong direction. Sometimes we will not immediately realize that I am being dragged by the mode of passion or ignorance. That’s possible. At that time we just recognize that our bondage is not with a prisoner’s shackles. Prisoners are tide to one spot to some shackles. Our bondage is with the puppeteer’s strings. Puppets are made to move here, go there-go there. That’s how the puppets are bound but then they are moving here and there. When we know this is the background, ok I feel impelled to do this, I feel impelled to do that then we try to create some pause buttons for ourselves. Pause button means that something which enables us to stop. When we know that certain thing is wrong and even if we at that time don’t remember clearly why it is wrong, why I should not be doing this, at least if we just have that much awareness that this is what I should not be doing. To have that awareness also is good that we put ourselves in a devotional culture where doing non devotional things is not very easy and that also acts as a protection for us. Mind impells us to do something and immediately if external facilities are available to do that then it becomes difficult to protect ourselves than when the mind impells us and the things are not available immediately. Then what happens? In intervening period we can come back to little bit more of alertness. Ok, this is wrong. We should not do this. By generally having a proper described pattern of behavior and by recognizing whenever we deviate from that pattern we can understand the mode we are in and correct them, if it is wrong. Thank you.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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