vanam tu sattviko vaso
gramo rajasa ucyate
man-niketam tu nirgunam
Residence in the forest is in the mode of goodness, residence in a town is in the mode of passion, residence in a gambling house displays the quality of ignorance, and residence in a place where I reside is transcendental.
Many creatures in the forest, such as the trees, wild boars and insects, are actually in the modes of passion and ignorance. But residence in the forest is designated as being in the mode of goodness because there one may live a solitary life free from sinful activities, material opulence and passionate ambition. Throughout the history of India, many millions of persons from all walks of life have adopted the orders of vanaprastha and sannyasa and have gone to sacred forests to practice austerity and perfect their self-realization. Even in America and other Western countries, persons such as Thoreau achieved fame by retiring to the forest to reduce the scope and opulence of material involvement.
The word grama here indicates residence in the village of one’s family. Family life is certainly full of false pride, false hopes, false affection, lamentation and illusion, since the family connection is squarely resting on the bodily concept of life, the very opposite of self-realization. The word dyuta-sadanam, “gambling house,” refers to pool halls, racetracks, poker clubs, bars and other sinful places that maintain an abysmal level of consciousness in the mode of ignorance. Man-niketam refers to the Lord’s own abode in the spiritual world as well as the Lord’s temples within this world, wherein the Deity form of the Lord is appropriately worshiped. One who lives in the temple of Lord Krsna, following the rules and regulations of temple life, is understood to be residing on the transcendental platform. In these verses the Lord clearly explains that all material phenomena may be divided into three divisions according to the modes of nature, and that ultimately there is the fourth, or transcendental, division — Krsna consciousness — which elevates all aspects of human culture to the liberated platform.