Once a rich man was passing through a forest, when three robbers surrounded him and robbed him of all his wealth. After snatching all his possessions from him, one of the robbers said: ‘What’s the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him.‘ Saying this, he was about to strike their victim with his sword, when the second robber interrupted and said: ‘There’s no use in killing him. Let us bind him fast and leave him here. Then he won’t be able to tell the police.‘ Accordingly the robbers tied him with a rope, left him, and went away.
“After a while the third robber returned to the rich man and said: Ah! You’re badly hurt, aren’t you? Come, I’m going to release you. The third robber set the man free and led him out of the forest. When they came near the highway, the robber said, ‘Follow this road and you will reach home easily.‘
‘But you must come with me too‘, said the man. ‘You have done so much for me. We shall all be happy to see you at our home.’
‘No,’ said the robber, ‘it is not possible for me to go there. The police will arrest me.’ So saying, he left the rich man after pointing out his way.
“Now, the first robber, who said: ‘What’s the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him’, is tamas. It destroys.
The second robber is rajas, which binds a man to the world and entangles him in a variety of activities. Rajas makes him forget God.
Sattva alone shows the way to God. It produces virtues like compassion, righteousness, and devotion. Again, sattva is like the last step of the stairs. Next to it is the roof.
The Supreme Brahman is man’s own abode. One cannot attain the Knowledge of Brahman unless one transcends the three gunas.”
Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna