The Perfection Of the Soul Attaining To the Divine Nature

The sattwic sacrifice attenuates the aggressive hold of the vital-physical nature and its attachment to the fruits of action and fulfilment of desire; nevertheless, there are limitations to sattwa that prevent the seeker from obtaining the utmost liberation and perfection. Sri Aurobindo explains: “For it is carried out as a fixed Dharma, and it is offered as a sacrifice or service to the gods, to some partial power or aspect of the Divine manifested in ourselves or in the universe. Work done with a disinterested religious faith or selflessly for humanity or impersonally from devotion to the Right or the Truth is of this nature, and action of that kind is necessary for our perfection; for it purifies our thought and will and our natural substance.”

Most of us would look at this kind of high and disinterested action and dedication as the ultimate type of action, but the Gita makes it clear that this is not the realisation that it is describing and recommending to Arjuna. We have to transcend the framework and limits of sattwa, go beyond the play of the Gunas to a status that is unbound by the fixed law or Dharma, and unlimited by the effects of the constant changes brought about through the natural action of the Gunas–for sattwa is not constant, but subject to modification and the uprising of rajas and tamas in the natural order. The Gita proposes that by abandoning all fixed rules and Dharmas, and acting solely for the Divine, one can transcend the Gunas.

“For then comes a freedom in which there is no personal action at all, no sattwic rule of Dharma, no limitation of Shastra; the inferior reason and will are themselves overpassed and it is not they but a higher wisdom that dictates and guides the work and commands its objective. There is no question of personal fruit; for the will that works is not our own but a supreme Will of which the soul is the instrument. There is no self-regarding and no selflessness; for the Jiva, the eternal portion of the Divine, is united with the highest Self of his existence and he and all are one in that Self and Spirit. There is no personal action, for all actions are given up to the Master of our works and it is he that does the action through the divinised Prakriti. There is no sacrifice,–unless we can say that the Master of sacrifice is offering the works of his energy in the Jiva to himself in his own cosmic form. This is the supreme self-surpassing state arrived at by the action that is sacrifice, this the perfection of the soul that has come to its full consciousness in the divine nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 18, The Gunas, Faith and Works, pp. 471-472