Passion – Gita 14.12

Bhagavad-gītā  14.12

lobhaḥ pravṛttir ārambhaḥ

karmaṇām aśamaḥ spṛ

rajasy etāni jāyante

vivṛddhe bharatarṣabha


lobhaḥ — greed; pravṛttiḥ — activity; ārambhaḥ — endeavor; karmaṇām — in activities; aśamaḥ — uncontrollable; spṛ — desire; rajasi — of the mode of passion; etāni — all these; jāyante — develop; vivṛddhe — when there is an excess; bharata-ṛṣabha — O chief of the descendants of Bharata.


O chief of the Bhāratas, when there is an increase in the mode of passion the symptoms of great attachment, fruitive activity, intense endeavor, and uncontrollable desire and hankering develop.


One in the mode of passion is never satisfied with the position he has already acquired; he hankers to increase his position. If he wants to construct a residential house, he tries his best to have a palatial house, as if he would be able to reside in that house eternally. And he develops a great hankering for sense gratification. There is no end to sense gratification. He always wants to remain with his family and in his house and to continue the process of sense gratification. There is no cessation of this. All these symptoms should be understood as characteristic of the mode of passion.


This text tells us about the effect of the mode of passion. Let’s step back and get our perspective and context on this.


In the previous chapter we learned that everything in existence is a combination of matter and spirit. Spirit is bound into matter, and this chapter is teaching us about how matter accomplishes that miraculous task.

The force which binds soul into matter is “guna” – a power that operates in three manners, three “modes:” (1) Clarifying, (2) Coloring, (3) Darkening. The “mode of goodness” (sattva-guna) creates a clear path for the soul to interact with matter. The “mode of passion” (rajo-guna) colors the soul with excessive desire. The “mode of ignorance” (tamo-guna) darkens the soul almost entirely.

We learned that each mode exerts a different type of “charm” which entices the soul to allow herself to be subsumed into matter. The mode of goodness seduces with the feeling of happiness, the mode of passion with the feeling of ambition, and ignorance with the relief of oblivion.

Then we learned that these modes are in constant fluctuation. There is never only one mode affecting us. It is always a combination of all three – but there is usually one mode that is prominent over the others.

Current Section

If different modes affect us all the time, how can we tell one from the other? What are the primary symptoms of each mode, by which we can understand which of the modes is prominent over the other two?

The current group of verses, 11-13, answers this question.

When goodness is dominant all of our senses feel clear, and we have clear knowledge and perception. When passion dominates (the current verse) we feel very attached to starting new efforts. When ignorance dominates (the next verse) we our senses become dark, we dream and fall asleep.

Symptoms of the Mode of Passion

Now let’s look at the current verse in more detail…

 lobhaḥ pravṛttir ārambhaḥ

karmaṇām aśamaḥ spṛ

rajasy etāni jāyante

vivṛddhe bharatarṣabha

The main thing that develops from the mode of passion is desire. Desire is called spṛin this text. The other words before it are clarifying the nature of the desire that arises from the mode of passion.

Lobhaḥ is the main word describing the type of desire that the mode of passion creates. Lobha means greedy, excessive and strong. Strong, excessive greed results from the mode of passion.

Pravṛttir describes the main focus of the greed: to accumulate more than we need. Everyone needs a place to live, but the mode of passion makes us want to have a better place to live.

Ārambhaḥ describes what happens next – we have to start new efforts. When we want something better than what we already have, we need to make new plans to get the money, resources, etc.

Karmaṇām describes the next event in the chain – once we start the new enterprises we have to work really hard to carry them out.

Aśamaḥ is the final descriptive word. It means unable to rest. We are now working so hard to carry out the plans we laid for improving the satisfaction of our desires – we cannot take a moment out to rest, to joke with our children, to have a light conversation, to just do anything spontaneous. We cannot rest.

This is the nature of the mode of passion. It inflames desire into greed for acquiring more and more, thus we embark on ambitious projects, work our asses off in that regard, and never get a moment’s rest. You will see later that the “happiness” produced of this mode looks like “nectar at first, but is poison at the end.” This is already clear. It starts out with the grandiose hope of improving what we have, and it ends up in the inability to get a moment of peace.

May Śrī Kṛṣṇa release me somehow from the sharp, cold iron shakles of the mode of passion – causing me constant worry and ache.

Categories: Tags: ,

Do You have a Comment or Questions?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s