Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
The Three Modes of Material Nature
Chapter 01
Why Study the Three Modes of Material Nature?
Segment 01
Introduction to Why Study the Three Modes of Material Nature?

[ Note to reader.  The majority of this was written around 25 years ago.  I am in the process of re-writing, editing, and bringing it up to date, in order to reflect our current time and circumstances.  However, the core subject matter will not change and thus you should keep this in mind.  You should also know that the Author of this work is Kundali Dasa.  I know some of you may have some issues with him, however, it is my conviction, that the CONTENT of this work, is EXTREMLY MORE IMPORTANT than, who is the AUTHOR IS.   I also want to inform you, that back in the early 1990, in Vrindavana, where I assisted Kundali, with his work, by doing research for him on the Srila Prabhupada VedaBase; Kundali personally gave me permission to use his work when I desire to do so.  I invite anyone to refute or disprove any of the contents of this Treatise, you got our e-mail address.  Make a submission, and we at Saragrahi.Org will post it if it is well presented and formatted, according to our Submission Policy, which is stated in the Submissions Page.]


In the Bhagavad-gita (14.1), referring to the three modes of nature, the Supreme Lord said

“Again, I shall declare to you this supreme wisdom, the best of all knowledge, knowing which all the sages have attained the supreme perfection.”

Srila Prabhupada makes some compelling statements in the purport:

“In the Thirteenth Chapter, it was clearly explained that by humbly developing knowledge one might possibly be freed from material entanglement.  It has also been explained that it is due to association with the modes of nature that the living entity is entangled in this material world.  Now, in this chapter, the Supreme Personality explains what those modes of nature are, how they act, how they bind, and how they give liberation.  The knowledge explained in this chapter is proclaimed by the Supreme Lord to be superior to the knowledge given so far in other chapters. 

By understanding this knowledge, various great sages attained perfection and transferred to the spiritual world.  The Lord now explains the same knowledge in a better way.  This knowledge is far, far superior to all other processes of knowledge thus far explained, and knowing this many attained perfections.  Thus, it is expected that one who understands this Fourteenth Chapter will attain perfection.”

Here Srila Prabhupada says the Fourteenth Chapter, teaches four things about the three modes of nature,

  1. What they are.
  2. How they act.
  3. How they bind.
  4. How they give liberation.

Of these, the fourth item—how they give liberation—is rarely discussed, if at all.  It is a fact that there have been many lectures or discourses that discuss the three modes of nature, which you may have participated in.  However, have you ever heard a word on how they give liberation?  In discussing the three modes with vaisnavas, I often asked if they have ever heard a lecture or read an essay; emphasizing how the modes give liberation; I never got an affirmative response.  Usually, the other three items are the entire focus.  This is an interesting phenomenon, because as transcendentalists, this item is clearly the one of most interest to us.

The lack of emphasis, on how the modes give liberation, makes one wonder how well devotees have grasped the philosophy.  It demonstrates the potency of the modes of nature.  They have kept us from emphasizing what Krishna considers “the supreme wisdom”. 

How can we expect to have a correct understanding of the affairs of Radha-Krishna, without a proper understanding of the modes of nature? 

How can we progress to higher math, without understanding basic math?

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