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Triguna: Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas

Nature has three qualities which are known as Trigunas.  The universe comprises purusha (consciousness) and Prakriti (nature). Those qualities are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Prakriti is the manifestation of the universe’s gross and subtle stuff, both alive and non-living. The source of any instant or life, for that matter, is called Purusha.

In other words, Prakriti (nature) is within the realm of these three Gunas while Purusha (consciousness) is beyond these Gunas.


Prakriti (Nature)

Purusha (Consciousness)

Composed of three Gunas- Sattva, Rajas & Tamas Beyond Sattva, Rajas,   and Tamas.
This is changing, bound by time, impermanent. This is eternal; permanent and timeless.
This is a sight, an observed, a witnessed, a spectacle. This is the seer, observer, witness, and spectator.
It has a beginning and ending. It has no beginning and no ending.








If one can discriminate between Purusha and Prakriti; it will be easier to understand Gunas, their effect and the path to get liberated from them.

Everything and everyone in this world is composed of these three traits, large and small, visible and invisible, living and non-living. Rajas is continuous activity- continuous movement of blood in our body is treated as Raja guna according to activity. Our minds sometimes can be Sattwa, rajas, or Tamas. Sattwa- during deep meditation, when you experience lightness, love, joy we feel self-love and joy, etc. When it swings wildly- is Raja Guna. When it stops properly functioning and is dull-  it is the Tamas gunas. Trigunas mold the immaterial and material characteristics in us. Our behavior, responses, conceptualization, and levels of understanding of the natural world will vary depending on how much each of the three trigunas, dominates. Due to external physical, physical, psychological and social influences, the inherited guna can be altered.

The attributes that are most evident at a given time influence behavior.  When the five components are interpreted by our five senses, processed by the mind, and altered by the dominant guna, the dominant guna will have an impact on the personality. Gunas are hence the last factors to affect a person’s personality. Everyone has the ego necessary to support their intellect with the information they perceive. Triguna, which are ego-derived, will determine which personality is dominant at a particular moment.

The sattva individual- is spiritually inclined, pure, and positive. One may calmly distinguish between favorable and unfavorable conditions at work. Love, compassion, kindness, and happiness increase with sattva nature. We are in a state of good health when sattwa is predominant.

Rajasic people- have lots of attachments and desires. They frequently lack moral judgment since they are so self-centered. When a person is enthusiastic, deeply interested, committed to their task, and successful, they are in the balancing Rajasic state. It serves as a link between sattva and tamas, balancing them. Insofar as it relates to passion, it inspires action, movement, proper action, and innovation for better change. One will experience rage, worry, and agitation if it is out of balance.

Tamas people is associated with ignorance and darkness. It was overcast with negativity, delusion, and boredom. Timing of sleep, balanced food, a love of nature, and care for others are all characteristics of a balanced Tamas condition. If it is out of balance, though, one gets possessive, wants to hurt other people, and experiences fleeting delight.

There are seven possible combinations of Gunas:

         i.            Foremost/ dominant Sattwa

       ii.            Foremost Rajas

      iii.            Foremost Ramas

     iv.            Prevailing/ dominant  Sattwa-Rajas

       v.            Prevailing  Sattwa- Tamas

     vi.            Prevailing Raja-Tamas

    vii.            Prevailing Sattwa-Rajas-Tamas

Through our actions, the intentions behind them, and our reactions, triguna can be seen. We must always ask ourselves two questions before taking any action: “Why am I doing this?” and “How am I doing this?” If you pay attention to it, it might be a different guna that dominates both intention and manifestation. If so, we can balance the dominating. How do you feel or respond when you consider that the activity taken has an effect on you? We must constantly strike a balance.

From Tama to Raja, we can take part in more physical activities, socialize with upbeat individuals, visit new places, and consume light fare.

These will increase our vigor and cause us to enter Raja state. From here, we can practice meditation, reading, charitable work, and adhering to Yamas to balance the surplus energy in order to get to Sattva. The secret is to observe and adjust for elevation.

Rajas Tamas Sattva
Selfish craving  Selfish hatred Selfless and unaffected by hatred and craving
Excited Dull Free from dullness and excitement
Manic Depressed Liberated from manicness and depression
Compulsive Suppressed Released from obsession and repression
Addicted Impaired Freed of addiction and damage
Greed Neglected Untouched by greed and neglect
Self-lust refuted Indifferent in self-lust and refutation
Overactive Underactive Unconcerned about activeness and under activeness

The human body is made up of the three biological elements, or tridosha (vata, pitta, kapha). These three distinct categories known as the trigunas are used to categorize human intrinsic attributes.
 But it is a different way of categorizing the people.

Comparison of three Gunas:

Rajas Tamas Sattwa
Extrovert mind Dull mind Calm mind
Partially awakened awareness Slept awareness Awakened awareness
Generally stress, anxiety, boredom, frustration, etc. Sluggish, lazy, and prone to depression Present-minded, wise, free from craving and passions.
Desire infers experience. Fear construes experience. Truth deduces experiences.
Brings great motivation to accomplish worldly materials. Drowsy, makes one rest and sleep. Permits proper wisdom and discrimination.
Obstructs self-discovery. Hinders self-discovery, even further than of Rajas. Path of self-realization, self-inquiry.

The trigunas are essential mental elements. These three are also known as Mansa dosha i.e. the psychic constitution.

a.Tamas is underactive condition which is the lowermost. It is illiterate, slothful, bewildered, possessive, dull, and greedy, as well as ignorant and attached.

b. Rajas is an overactive condition. The trait is aggressive, ambitious, restless, and workaholic.

c) Sattva is the harmony of motion and stillness. A sattva state is one that is joyful, at ease, cordial, meditative, content, and compassionate.

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