Once, a man was going through a forest, when three robbers fell upon him and robbed him of all his possessions. One of the robbers said, “What’s the use of keeping this man alive?” So saying, he was about to kill him with his sword, when the second robber interrupted him, saying: ‘Oh, no! What is the use of killing him? Tie his hand and foot and leave him here.” The robbers bound his hands and feet and went away. After a while the third robber returned and said to the man: “Ah, I am sorry. Are you hurt? I will release you from your bonds.” After setting the man free, the thief said: “Come with me. I will take you to the public high way.” After a long time they reached the road. At this the man said: “Sir, you have been very good to me. Come with me to my house.” “Oh, no!” the robber replied. “I can’t go there. The police will know it.
“This world itself is the forest. The three robbers prowling here are Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. It is they that rob a man of the Knowledge of Truth. Tamas wants to destroy him.Â Rajas bind him to the world.Â But Satva rescues him from the clutches of rajas and tamas. Under the protection of Satva, man is rescued from anger, passion and other evil effects of tamas.Â Further, Satva loosens the bonds of the world. But Satva also is a robber. It cannot give man the ultimate Knowledge of Truth, though it shows him the road leading to the Supreme Abode of God. Setting him on the path, Satva tells him: “Look yonder. There is your home.” Even Satva is far away from the knowledge of Brahman.
Source: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishn