The Three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas

The Three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas

According to the ancient Hindu philosophy, all creation in nature including you and me has three core gunas (qualities). The three gunas are Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (darkness, destruction). These three gunas are present in all objects in the world, animate and inanimate. The dance of these three gunas is witnessed through all our activities, thoughts, and intentions.

Sattva: When you feel positive, energetic, and eager to act, the satogun in you is dominant. It comes with other emotions such as enthusiasm for life, knowledge, lightness, alertness, and happiness. There is a natural tendency to think quick and act, and work also gets done well.

Rajas: Rajas is the drive to do something. Without rajogun, activity will no happen. A dominance of rajogun usually means restlessness, feelings of sadness, a lot of thoughts and desires.

Tamas: Tamas is that quality that coaxes s to rest. Without this guna, we would not learn to sleep. Yet, too much tamas drives into dullness, laziness, inertia, delusion, and anger.

We as human beings have the possibility to consciously change the levels of the gunas in our body and mind. By altering the presence and influence of external objects, food, and lifestyle we can increase or decrease the gunas. Whichever guna is predominating will affect how we perceive the world around us. It will affect behavior, attitude, actions, attachments and so on. For example, a person who is predominantly tamsic (tamas) will see everything as negative and destructive. A person who is more sattvic on the other hand will perceive the universe as positive and will find joy and happiness in everything. There is no escape from the gunas. It is incredibly difficult to experience sattva all the time. However, we can bring some control over the gunas.

Food: If you have been to India, you probably have heard about cooking and eating the sattvic way. Or you might have heard people saying, “I am feeling a little tamasic, I am going off sugar for a few days.” Food helps in stabilizing the cycle of gunas.

Here are a few foods in each category:

Sattvic: fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, honey, and jaggery.

Rajasic: fried or preserved food, coffee, sodas, vinegar, and pickles.

Tamasic: meat and fish, canned food, excessive intake of fat, and sugars.

If you want to increase the sattvic in you, you should reduce the rajasic and tamasic foods.

Yoga & Meditation: One way to shake-off the rajas in the mornings it to exercise. While an adrenaline-pumping routine has its benefits, the grounding benefits of yoga is a much required angle to life. Guided meditation brings calmness from pranayamas and other stretches. Yoga and meditation builds that much required stability and builds the balance in your gunas.

“When one rises above the three gunas that originate in the body;
one is freed from birth, old age, disease, and death; and attains enlightenment”

(Bhagavad Gita 14.20)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I think the world has become too materialistic and is now crossing the boundaries. Look around us and we have so many different viruses, cancers, inequality and misery. Even the rich people don’t have it right, they just sit in their luxury cars and buildings without really being simple and close to the nature. We need to go back to the basics. This article shows that the world is dominant with tamas guna. We need to go back to our roots.

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