तमसस्तु रजस्तस्मात्सत्त्वं यद्ब्रह्मदर्शनम् ॥ २४ ॥
tasmād agnis trayīmayaḥ
tamasas tu rajas tasmāt
sattvaṁ yad brahma-darśanam
pārthivāt — from earth; dāruṇaḥ — firewood; dhūmaḥ — smoke; tasmāt — from that; agniḥ — fire; trayī — Vedic sacrifices; mayaḥ — made of; tamasaḥ — in the mode of ignorance; tu — but; rajaḥ — the mode of passion; tasmāt — from that; sattvam — the mode of goodness; yat — which; brahma — the Absolute Truth; darśanam — realization.
Firewood is a transformation of earth, but smoke is better than the raw wood. And fire is still better, for by fire we can derive the benefits of superior knowledge [through Vedic sacrifices]. Similarly, passion [rajas] is better than ignorance [tamas], but goodness [sattva] is best because by goodness one can come to realize the Absolute Truth.
As explained above, one can get release from the conditioned life of material existence by devotional service to the Personality of Godhead. It is further comprehended herein that one has to rise to the platform of the mode of goodness (sattva) so that one can be eligible for the devotional service of the Lord. But if there are impediments on the progressive path, anyone, even from the platform of tamas, can gradually rise to the sattva platform by the expert direction of the spiritual master. Sincere candidates must, therefore, approach an expert spiritual master for such a progressive march, and the bona fide, expert spiritual master is competent to direct a disciple from any stage of life: tamas, rajas or sattva.
It is a mistake, therefore, to consider that worship of any quality or any form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is equally beneficial. Except Viṣṇu, all separated forms are manifested under the conditions of material energy, and therefore the forms of material energy cannot help anyone to rise to the platform of sattva, which alone can liberate a person from material bondage.
The uncivilized state of life, or the life of the lower animals, is controlled by the mode of tamas. The civilized life of man, with a passion for various types of material benefits, is the stage of rajas. The rajas stage of life gives a slight clue to the realization of the Absolute Truth in the forms of fine sentiments in philosophy, art and culture with moral and ethical principles, but the mode of sattva is a still higher stage of material quality, which actually helps one in realizing the Absolute Truth. In other words, there is a qualitative difference between the different kinds of worshiping methods as well as the respective results derived from the predominating deities, namely Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Hara.