sattvam rajas tama iti gunaah prakritisambhavaah | nibadhnanti mahaabaaho dehe dehinam avyayam ||Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 5||
When purush (soul) combines with prakriti, in the form of three gunas of satva, rajas and tama, a being takes birth in creation. Light, happiness and gyan are properties of satva, rajas pertains to desires, attachments and resultant actions, and tama is darkness, ignorance and sleep. At all times, all the three gunas are present in a human being, one dominating the other depending on the desire and state of evolution of being.
Ordinary beings are ruled by tama, which is also the guna dominant in animals and other lower beings. When a being leaves the body with the dominance of tama guna, he/she gets the animal yonis and enters into the netherworlds, says Bhagwad Gita. So the tama guna needs to be reduced and satva and rajas increased.
As the rajas increases in a being, he/she is guided towards action (karma) driven by passion, material desires and attachment. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every bhog has a rog attached to it. Guided by the rajas guna, a being indulges in pleasures of the senses, and goes through the pains that come along with it. There is no limit to desire, and no matter what one gets in the physical, he/she is never satiated and wants more. This ties the being in the downward spiral of births and deaths, every birth being lower and more painful than the previous. Therefore, even rajas needs to be reduced and satva increased.
With the dominance of satva guna, a being indulges in practice of dhyan and sadhna, begins the process of cleansing through service and charity, gyan and bliss follow. When a being leaves the body with dominance of satva, he/she takes birth into subtler dimensions and lokas and in the yonis of devas and rishis.
All the three gunas, pertain to physical Creation (prakriti) and tie the being to it. The key to exiting the painful cycle of births and merging with the Ultimate is rising over the gunas such that whether something is there or not – whether that something is darkness and ignorance, attachments and indulgence, or happiness and light – it ceases to have an effect on you. Then you become ‘guna ateet’, a state achieved only through transfer of gyan (shakti) through Guru. Before this, it is imperative for one to engage in charity and service, to negate the negative karmas accumulated over so many births. Only then the gyan flows.