The avenue for crossing the cycle of guṇa is through sāttvaguṇa. It is not through rajoguṇa, it is not through tamoguṇa. ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

In this excerpt from The Magical Jewel of Devotion in Kashmir Shaivism – Stava Cintamani, by Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇa, Swamiji reveals why we need to develop sāttvaguṇa in Kashmir Shaivism.

“The avenue for crossing the cycle of guṇa is through sāttvaguṇa. It is not through rajoguṇa, it is not through tamoguṇa.” ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

The avenue for crossing the cycle of guṇa is through sāttvaguṇa. It is not through rajoguṇa, it is not through tamoguṇa. ~Swami Lakshmanjoo


triguṇatriparispanda-dvandvagrastaṁ jagattrayam /

uddhartuṁ bhavato’nyasya kasya śaktiḥ kṛpātha vā  //46//


In this three-fold world (jagat trayam, in these three worlds–bhur, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ),1 . . .

Internally, these three worlds are said to be the three states of individuals. What are those? Wakefulness, the dreaming state, and the dreamless state (jāgrat, svapna and suṣuptī).2

. . . in these three worlds, you find triguṇa tripari spanda dvandva, there are three guṇas, three guṇas working in jāgrat, svapna, and suṣuptī, and tripari spanda, and three-fold waves are working. Sometimes there is the love of God that rises, sometimes the love for worldly pleasures rises, and sometimes the love for sluggishness rises in this three-fold world–jāgrat, svapna, and suṣupti. So, by this triple-ness, dvandva grastam, the whole world is finished, the whole world is . . .

ERNIE:  Consumed.

SWAMIJI:  . . . consumed, yes. It is gobbled, swallowed (grastam). The whole world is swallowed in this dvandva3 of the three guṇas. Who else except You, who else has the strength, O Lord, to get these individuals out of this pit of the three guṇas? Nobody has got the power to get those [individuals] out from the pit of the three guṇas. And kṛpā, and nobody has got that kind of kṛpā.

Kṛpā is . . . what is kṛpā?

ERNIE:  Power.

SWAMIJI:  No, kṛpā is . . .

ERNIE:  Ability?

SWAMIJI:  Not ability. Kṛpā is anugraha.

JOHN:  Grace?

SWAMIJI:  Grace, grace. Grace.4

And only that Lord Śiva has got that power and that grace to take out all these individuals, out of that pit.

Who is that Lord Śiva?

Ācāryadehamāsthāya śivaḥ pāśānnikṛntati,5 where shall we find Lord Śiva? He is unknown to us. Lord Śiva, for us, is our master.” This is what [Kṣemarāja] says here. “[Lord Śiva] has got the ability to take us out from that pit.”6

DENISE:  Having love for God, you know, being in that sāttvic guṇa, . . .


DENISE:  . . . isn’t it a sign of being close to God? Or no, it’s a pit.

SWAMIJI:  No, it is also a pit. Because in sāttvaguṇa, you find peace.


SWAMIJI:  That peace should not be found.


SWAMIJI:  It must be your nature. If it is your nature, then you have crossed the cycle of guṇa.

ERNIE:  That’s mokṣa.

SWAMIJI:  That is mokṣa.

JOHN:  So, in other words, in this case, sāttvaguṇa is just another mood, and then rajoguṇa is another mood, and it changes and it will go . . .


JOHN:  Here today, gone tomorrow.


JOHN:  If it’s real, it shouldn’t go.

SWAMIJI:  It shouldn’t go. It will [not] go only when it becomes your nature. When you say, “Kashmir is the portion of India, Kashmir is the portion of India, Kashmir is the portion of India, part and parcel of India”, it means it is not. They go on giving lectures like that, these leaders. It seems that it is not. If you are really Denise, why should you bother to tell everybody that, “I am Denise, I am Denise, I am Denise”? You are Denise by nature.

ERNIE:  Yes, but don’t you want to cultivate that nature, and so . . . ?

SWAMIJI:  It must be your nature, it must not be your . . .

ERNIE:  Yes, but don’t you get closer to your nature when you do sāttvic things?

SWAMIJI:  When you stick to sāttvic things. Bas, sāttvaguṇa does not stick to one point. It will change to rajoguṇa, then it will change to tamoguṇa.

ERNIE:  But isn’t the idea to lead a sāttvic life?


ERNIE:  Not a tamasic life.

SWAMIJI:  Yes. Not tāmasic, not rajasic. Saints have got a sāttvic life, they develop a sāttvic life. But that life is also ignorance. That life is also residing in the pit.

ERNIE:  A trap.

SWAMIJI:  You are not liberated. You are liberated only when you become guṇātīta.

JOHN:  Beyond these guṇas.

SWAMIJI:  Beyond these guṇas.

BRUCE H:  So what is the purpose of leading a sāttvic life?

SWAMIJI: sāttvic life? To discard these rajoguṇa and tamoguṇa. When this rajoguṇa and tamoguṇa, you don’t allow your mood of sāttvic activity to step in rajoguṇa or step in tamoguṇa at all, then what happens? You’ll rise above sāttvic guṇa. You have to maintain that sāttvaguṇa for the time being so that you cross that sāttvaguṇa. The avenue for crossing the cycle of guṇa is through sāttvaguṇa. It is not through rajoguṇa, it is not through tamoguṇa. This cycle, it has got three openings: one opening is sāttvoguṇa, another is rajoguṇa, and another is tamoguṇa. By this opening [of rajoguṇa], you will fall in the pit. By this opening [of tamoguṇa], you will fall in the pit. By this opening [of sāttvaguṇa], you will rise in the cycle of guṇātīta, above the guṇas. So, masters have preferred to maintain sāttvaguṇa all the time.


1 “There are three worlds: bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ (bhūrloka, bhuvarloka, and svarloka). This is one world (bhūrloka, earth); where there are stars, moons, etc., that is another world (bhuvarloka); and above that, there is heaven–that is the third world (svarloka).” Swami Lakshmanjoo, Śivastotrāvalī 4.23, USF archive.

2 Swamiji noted that creation, protection, and destruction are also included among these threefold cycles. Swami Lakshmanjoo, Stavacintāmaṇi, Denise Hughes’ notes, USF archive.

3 Opposites.

4 Kṛpā literally means, “pity”, “tenderness”, or “compassion”.

5 Kṣemarāja’s commentary.

6 [Lord Śiva says:] “I am Parabhairava and I take the formation of the guru. In this world, there are so many Śaiva gurus. You should not treat them as human beings. You should treat them as Lord Śiva. A guru destroys all the bondage of his devotees. Those Parabhairava gurus are hidden in human beings, they are walking around speaking with everyone. He knows who he is.” Swami Lakshmanjoo, Stavacintāmaṇi, Kṣemarāja’s commentary, Denise Hughes’ notes, USF archive.

Source: The Magical Jewel of Devotion in Kashmir Shaivism – Stava Cintamani, by Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇa,
revealed by Swami Lakshmanjoo.

All Content is subject to Copyright © John Hughes.

  1. August 29, 2017

    Thank you. 1. Does the use of bhur, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ here also refer to the same words and context as used in the Gayatri mantra. 2. If sāttvaguṇa is also the pit then how does one use the sāttvaguṇa to go to guṇātīta, please clarify or refer to a piece where Swami ji speaks more of it. Namaste’

  2. September 5, 2017

    Hi Kenan,
    Thank you for your questions.

    1) the words are the same, but the meaning is different in the context of this verse. Kashmir Shaivism generally refers to bhur, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ as the three worlds, and also the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep, respectively.

    2) Swamiji does say the in the beginning the aspirant should adhere to sattvic activities, in the long run this leads to a state of guṇātīta.


  3. September 5, 2017

    Here is an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita that illustrates it perhaps more clearly…

    DVD14 (16:06) verse 12, 13….
    When an individual finds that in all [his] organs, in all senses (in mind, in the state of mind, in the state of ahaṁkāra, in the state of ego, in the state of intellect, in the state of organic field), prakāśam upajāyate, something illuminating rises and you are forced to do abhyāsa (practice) at that time; your organs all become divine, your mind becomes divine, your intellect becomes divine (these are the tides going on of the three guṇas). This is . . . [at this time], you should know that sattvaguṇa is in force. This is the kingdom of sattvaguṇa at this time. At that time, you should make good purpose of this and do abhyāsa, do abhyāsa. Do abyāsa and that abhyāsa will have much more effect. At that time, you should know that vivṛddhaṁ sattvamityuta, that sattvaguṇa is in force, it is the kingdom of sattvaguṇa. You should not neglect that point.

    and in the footnotes it says…
    “You have to get rid of the kingdom of these two first (rajaguṇa and tamaguṇa) . . . and then you get entry in the kingdom of sattvaguṇa. And sattvaguṇa will also be shattered afterwards when you get entry in the guṇātīta state. Guṇātīta is where these three guṇas are just one with God consciousness.” Bhagavad Gītā (1978).

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