The Three Modes of the Divine Nature

The three Gunas, or modes of Nature that are operative in the lower nature, are actually deformations of the three qualities they inadequately represent existing in the higher or divine nature. The transition from the bondage to the Gunas in the lower nature to taking on the nature and action of the Divine nature involves the transformation from the deformed to the pure and original quality.

Sri Aurobindo describes the higher modes thus: “Tamas is replaced by a divine peace and tranquil eternal repose out of which is released as from a supreme matrix of calm concentration the play of action and knowledge….Rajas is replaced by a self-possessed power and illimitable act of force, that even in its most violent intensities does not shake the immovable poise of the soul or stain the vast and profound heavens and luminous abysses of its peace….Sattwa is replaced by an illumination and a spiritual bliss identical with the depth and and infinite existence of the soul and instinct with a direct and authentic knowledge that springs straight from the veiled glories of the secret Omniscience. This is the greater consciousness into which our inferior consciousness has to be transformed, this nature of the Ignorance with its unquiet unbalanced activity of the three modes changed into this greater luminous supernature.”

This transition does not come about all at once and can be attained by any of the paths, knowledge, love or works: “This is a state of freedom which can come in the Yoga of works through renunciation of ego and desire and personal initiation and the surrender of the being to the cosmic Self or to the universal Shakti; it can come in the Yoga of Knowledge by the cessation of thought, the silence of the mind, the opening of the whole being to the cosmic Consciousness, to the cosmic Self, the cosmic Dynamis or to the supreme Reality; it can come in the Yoga of devotion by the surrender of the heart and the whole nature into the hands of the All-Blissful as the adored Master of our existence.”

Beyond this stage comes an ultimate transformation of the nature: “But the culminating change intervenes by a more positive and dynamic transcendence: there is a transference or transmutation into a superior spiritual status, trigunatita, in which we participate in a greater spiritual dynamisation; for the three lower unequal modes pass into the equal triune mode of eternal calm, light and force, the repose, kinesis, illumination of the divine Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 10, The Three Modes of Nature, pp. 229-230