SB 1.2 - The mode of goodness

By fire we can derive the benefits of superior knowledge thru Vedic sacrifices. Thus fire is better than smoke, which is better than raw wood, which is a transformation of earth. Smoke is superior to wood because it heralds the coming of fire and is thus closer to the goal (fire). Similarly rajas is better than tamas but goodness (sattva) is best because it is favorable to realize the Absolute Truth. Passion produces results that may be offered to Kṛṣṇa, but goodness is better. Passion can lead to goodness but ignorance cannot. We come closer to seeing the Supreme in the mode of passion than in ignorance, but since it is agitating and troublesome, passion does not allow us to see Him properly. Tamas, rajas and sattva have the respective qualities of obscuring, agitating and revealing knowledge. Of these sattva is the best because it is not unfavorable for śuddha-sattva.

An expert spiritual master can direct a disciple even from tamas to sattva so that one becomes eligible for devotional service of the Lord. It is a mistake to consider that worship of any quality or form of the Lord is equally beneficial. Except Viṣṇu, all separated forms are manifested under the conditions of material energy. Uncivilized life or the life of the lower animals is controlled by the mode of tamas. The civilized life of man, with a passion for material benefits is the stage of rajas. This stage gives a slight clue to the realization of the Absolute Truth in the form of fine sentiments in philosophy, art and culture with moral and ethical principles, but the mode of sattva helps one in realizing the Absolute Truth.