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Action in the mode of ignorance

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 13 - 18

BG 14.16, Translation:

The result of pious action is pure and is said to be in the mode of goodness. But action done in the mode of passion results in misery, and action performed in the mode of ignorance results in foolishness.

BG 14.16, Purport:

As far as the mode of ignorance is concerned, the performer is without knowledge, and therefore all his activities result in present misery, and afterwards he will go on toward animal life. Animal life is always miserable, although, under the spell of the illusory energy, māyā, the animals do not understand this. Slaughtering poor animals is also due to the mode of ignorance. The animal killers do not know that in the future the animal will have a body suitable to kill them. That is the law of nature.

BG 18.32, Purport:

Intelligence in the mode of ignorance is always working the opposite of the way it should. It accepts religions which are not actually religions and rejects actual religion. Men in ignorance understand a great soul to be a common man and accept a common man as a great soul. They think truth to be untruth and accept untruth as truth. In all activities they simply take the wrong path; therefore their intelligence is in the mode of ignorance.

BG 18.39, Purport:

One who takes pleasure in laziness and in sleep is certainly in the mode of darkness, ignorance, and one who has no idea how to act and how not to act is also in the mode of ignorance. For the person in the mode of ignorance, everything is illusion. There is no happiness either in the beginning or at the end. For the person in the mode of passion there might be some kind of ephemeral happiness in the beginning and at the end distress, but for the person in the mode of ignorance there is only distress both in the beginning and at the end.


SB Canto 2

SB 2.5.23, Translation and Purport:

Material activities are caused by the mahat—tattva's being agitated. At first there is transformation of the modes of goodness and passion, and later—due to the mode of ignorance-matter, its knowledge, and different activities of material knowledge come into play.

Material creations of every description are more or less due to the development of the mode of passion (rajas). The mahat-tattva is the principle of material creation, and when it is agitated by the will of the Supreme at first the modes of passion and goodness are prominent, and afterwards the mode of passion, being generated in due course by material activities of different varieties, becomes prominent, and the living entities are thus involved more and more in ignorance. Brahmā is the representation of the mode of passion, and Viṣṇu is the representation of the mode of goodness, while the mode of ignorance is represented by Lord Śiva, the father of material activities. Material nature is called the mother, and the initiator for materialistic life is the father, Lord Śiva.

SB 2.7.36, Purport:

Herein Brahmā mentions the future compilation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for the short-lived persons of the Kali age. As explained in the First Canto, the less intelligent persons of the age of Kali would be not only short-lived, but also perplexed with so many problems of life due to the awkward situation of the godless human society. Advancement of material comforts of the body is activity in the mode of ignorance according to the laws of material nature. Real advancement of knowledge means progress of knowledge in self-realization. But in the age of Kali the less intelligent men mistakenly consider the short lifetime of one hundred years (now factually reduced to about forty or sixty years) to be all in all. They are less intelligent because they have no information of the eternity of life; they identify with the temporary material body existing for forty years and consider it the only basic principle of life. Such persons are described as equal to the asses and bulls. But the Lord, as the compassionate father of all living beings, imparts unto them the vast Vedic knowledge in short treatises like the Bhagavad-gītā and, for the graduates, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Purāṇas and the Mahābhārata are also similarly made by Vyāsadeva for the different types of men in the modes of material nature. But none of them are independent of the Vedic principles.

SB Canto 3

SB 3.5.29, Purport:

Such men accept the standard ways of mundane altruism, but their plans are made on the basis of false ego. This false ego extends to the limit of becoming one with the Lord. The last class of egoistic conditioned souls—those in the mode of ignorance—are misguided by identification of the gross body with the self. Thus, all their activities are centered around the body only. All these persons are given the chance to play with false egoistic ideas, but at the same time the Lord is kind enough to give them a chance to take help from scriptures like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam so that they may understand the science of Kṛṣṇa and thus make their lives successful. The entire material creation, therefore, is meant for the falsely egoistic living entities hovering on the mental plane under different illusions in the modes of material nature.

SB 3.6.25, Purport:

The false ego of materialistic identity is controlled by the demigod Rudra, an incarnation of Lord Śiva. Rudra is the incarnation of the Supreme Lord who controls the mode of ignorance within material nature. The activities of the false ego are based on the objective of the body and mind. Most persons conducted by the false ego are controlled by Lord Śiva. When one reaches a finer version of ignorance, he falsely thinks of himself as the Supreme Lord. That egoistic conviction of the conditioned soul is the last snare of the illusory energy which controls the entire material world.

SB Canto 4

SB 4.11.16, Purport:

By the interaction of the material modes of nature, creation, maintenance and also annihilation take place inevitably. But at the same time we should know that all is conducted under the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everything is going on under that process. Creation is the action of the rajo-guṇa, the mode of passion; maintenance is the action of sattva-guṇa, the mode of goodness; and annihilation is the action of tamo-guṇa, the mode of ignorance. We can see that those who are situated in the mode of goodness live longer than those who are situated in the tamo-guṇa or rajo-guṇa. In other words, if one is elevated to the mode of goodness, he is elevated to a higher planetary system, where the duration of life is very great. Ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthāḥ: (BG 14.18) great ṛṣis, sages and sannyāsīs who maintain themselves in sattva-guṇa, or the mode of material goodness, are elevated to a higher planetary system. Those who are transcendental even to the material modes of nature are situated in the mode of pure goodness; they attain eternal life in the spiritual world.

SB 4.26.1-3, Purport:

In these three verses, King Purañjana's going to the forest to kill animals is symbolic of the living entity's being driven by the mode of ignorance and thus engaging in different activities for sense gratification. The material body itself indicates that the living entity is already influenced by the three modes of material nature and that he is driven to enjoy material resources. When the body is influenced by the mode of ignorance, its infection becomes very acute. When it is influenced by the mode of passion, the infection is at the symptomatic stage. However, when the body is influenced by the mode of goodness, the materialistic infection becomes purified. The ritualistic ceremonies recommended in religious systems are certainly on the platform of goodness, but because within this material world even the mode of goodness is sometimes polluted by the other qualities (namely passion and ignorance), a man in goodness is sometimes driven by the influence of ignorance.

SB 4.26.10, Purport:

A person in the mode of ignorance commits many sinful activities. In the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī explains that a man becomes sinful out of ignorance only. The resultant effect of sinful life is suffering. Those who are not in knowledge, who commit violations of the standard laws, are subject to be punished under criminal laws. Similarly, the laws of nature are very stringent. If a child touches fire without knowing the effect, he must be burned, even though he is only a child. If a child violates the law of nature, there is no compassion. Only through ignorance does a person violate the laws of nature, and when he comes to knowledge he does not commit any more sinful acts.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.17.16, Translation:

In Ilāvṛta-varṣa, Lord Śiva is always encircled by ten billion maidservants of goddess Durgā, who minister to him. The quadruple expansion of the Supreme Lord is composed of Vāsudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Saṅkarṣaṇa. Saṅkarṣaṇa, the fourth expansion, is certainly transcendental, but because his activities of destruction in the material world are in the mode of ignorance, He is known as tāmasī, the Lord's form in the mode of ignorance. Lord Śiva knows that Saṅkarṣaṇa is the original cause of his own existence, and thus he always meditates upon Him in trance by chanting the following mantra.

SB 5.17.16, Purport:

Sometimes we see a picture of Lord Śiva engaged in meditation. This verse explains that Lord Śiva is always meditating upon Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa in trance. Lord Śiva is in charge of the destruction of the material world. Lord Brahmā creates the material world, Lord Viṣṇu maintains it, and Lord Śiva destroys it. Because destruction is in the mode of ignorance, Lord Śiva and his worshipable Deity, Saṅkarṣaṇa, are technically called tāmasī. Lord Śiva is the incarnation of tamo-guṇa. Since both Lord Śiva and Saṅkarṣaṇa are always enlightened and situated in the transcendental position, they have nothing to do with the modes of material nature—goodness, passion and ignorance—but because their activities involve them with the mode of ignorance, they are sometimes called tāmasī.

SB 5.26.3, Translation:

Just as by executing various pious activities one achieves different positions in heavenly life, by acting impiously one achieves different positions in hellish life. Those who are activated by the material mode of ignorance engage in impious activities, and according to the extent of their ignorance, they are placed in different grades of hellish life. If one acts in the mode of ignorance because of madness, his resulting misery is the least severe. One who acts impiously but knows the distinction between pious and impious activities is placed in a hell of intermediate severity. And for one who acts impiously and ignorantly because of atheism, the resultant hellish life is the worst. Because of ignorance, every living entity has been carried by various desires into thousands of different hellish planets since time immemorial. I shall try to describe them as far as possible.

SB Canto 6

SB 6.1.11, Translation:

Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vedavyāsa, answered: My dear King, since acts meant to neutralize impious actions are also fruitive, they will not release one from the tendency to act fruitively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent. Indeed, they are in the mode of darkness. Unless one is freed from the mode of ignorance, trying to counteract one action through another is useless because this will not uproot one's desires. Thus even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedānta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth.

SB Canto 9

SB 9.8.22, Translation:

My Lord, You are fully situated in everyone's heart, but the living entities, covered by the material body, cannot see You, for they are influenced by the external energy, conducted by the three modes of material nature. Their intelligence being covered by sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, they can see only the actions and reactions of these three modes of material nature. Because of the actions and reactions of the mode of ignorance, whether the living entities are awake or sleeping, they can see only the workings of material nature; they cannot see Your Lordship.

SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13

SB 10.1.39, Purport:

One who commits sinful activities because of ignorance, tamo-guṇa, obtains a lower body. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-yoni janmasu (BG 13.22). There are hundreds and thousands of different species of life. Why are there higher and lower bodies? One receives these bodies according to the contaminations of material nature. If in this life one is contaminated by the mode of ignorance and sinful activities (duṣkṛtī), in the next life, by the laws of nature, one will certainly get a body full of suffering. The laws of nature are not subservient to the whimsical desires of the conditioned soul. Our endeavor, therefore, should be to associate always with sattva-guṇa and not indulge in rajo-guṇa or tamo-guṇa (rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ (SB 1.2.19)). Lusty desires and greed keep the living entity perpetually in ignorance and prevent him from being elevated to the platform of sattva-guṇa or śuddha-sattva-guṇa. One is advised to be situated in śuddha-sattva-guṇa, devotional service, for thus one is immune to the reactions of the three modes of material nature.

SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)

SB 11.25.27, Translation:

Faith directed toward spiritual life is in the mode of goodness, faith rooted in fruitive work is in the mode of passion, faith residing in irreligious activities is in the mode of ignorance, but faith in My devotional service is purely transcendental.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Antya-lila

CC Antya 3.80, Purport:

The universe would be devoid of living entities.” In answer to this, we may say that in a prison there are many prisoners, but if one thinks that the prison would be empty if all the prisoners adopted good behavior, he is incorrect. Even if all the prisoners within a jail are freed, other criminals will fill it again. A prison will never be vacant, for there are many prospective criminals who will fill the prison cells, even if the present criminals are freed by the government. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (13.22), kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu: “Because of the living entity's association with material nature, he meets with good and evil among various species.” There are many unmanifested living entities covered by the mode of ignorance who will gradually come to the mode of passion. Most of them will become criminals because of their fruitive activities and again fill the prisons.

CC Antya 4.57, Translation:

Acts such as suicide are influenced by the mode of ignorance, and in ignorance and passion one cannot understand who Kṛṣṇa is.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Krsna Book 88:

Wherever He remains is transformed into Vaikuṇṭha. So the planet within this universe known as Śvetadvīpa is also Vaikuṇṭhaloka. It is said in the śāstras that residential quarters within the forest are in the mode of goodness, residential quarters in big cities, towns and villages are in the mode of passion, and residential quarters in an atmosphere wherein indulgence in the four sinful activities of illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling predominates are in the mode of ignorance. But residential quarters in a temple of Viṣṇu, the Supreme Lord, are in Vaikuṇṭha. It doesn’t matter where the temple is situated; the temple itself, wherever it may be, is Vaikuṇṭha. Similarly, the Śvetadvīpa planet, although within the material jurisdiction, is Vaikuṇṭha.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Morning Walk -- November 17, 1976, Vrndavana:

Akṣayānanda: But all the people who are Sai Baba followers, they all do have some activity in the mode of ignorance. They eat meat or onions. By their symptoms, we can see that they're in the mode of ignorance.

Mahākṣa: ...at Meerut by Mr. Brijmohan Gad. He has come. He's in our guesthouse now. Actually he just came here this morning. We stayed in his house. That's was also a good... That is a good town also. Altogether we made fifteen life members in about two weeks. (break)

Prabhupāda: ...bring Hindi books.

Caraṇāravindam: Yes, we need Hindi books. I met one man in Meerut, Hindi...

Prabhupāda: Our Bhagavad-gītā?

Mahākṣa: Yes. And he is the brother of, he said, I think the nephew of Kṣīrodakaśāyī dāsa Adhikārī in London. His name is Mr. K.M. Gupta. I think he has taken initiation from you.

Prabhupāda: I don't think. K.M. Gupta has given. Kṣīrodakaśāyī is my...

Mahākṣa: Kṣīrodakaśāyī dāsa Adhikārī.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Compiler:MadhuGopaldas, Mayapur
Created:27 of Apr, 2010
Totals by section:BG=4, SB=14, CC=2, OB=1, Lec=0, Con=1, Let=0
No. of quotes:22