The Maha Gunas: The manifest world was created and boom, the guṇas immediately started acting and moving. As a yogi, you can begin to watch the world around you constantly fluctuate between these 3 great gunas of the mind. You’ll notice the peace and clarity of sattva in the mornings when you wake. You’ll experience the rajas of activity as you begin your day. And in the evening you’ll enjoy some tamas as you prepare for sleep.
Rajas and tamas can be experienced and used as opposite qualities. One is inertia, tamas, the other is activity, rajas. You can invoke these energies when you need to relax or energize. If you feel dull and tired, do some jumping jacks to stimulate rajas. If you are trying to sleep, create darkness to manifest tamas. Sattva is outside of this pair of opposites with it’s peaceful and harmonious state. To create more sattva, consider meditation, chanting, studying scriptures or eating sattvic foods. While our goal is to live a sattvic life, it is only natural to function within all three energies. Having awareness of them is what will make it easier to flow with the gunas.
Everything within existence consists of the three gunas and their qualities. We know these states as:
- peace, clarity, purity, intelligence, light, positivity
- Sattva is the guna of clarity, it is the energetic quality that allows for complete transparency, perception of wisdom, and clear knowledge. It is the mind illuminated by the pureness of spirit. Sattva is clarity, intelligence, and purity.
- activity, agitation, passion
- Rajas is the guna of activity, it is the energetic quality that allows things to move and change. It is the movement of light out of the darkness of tamas. Rajas is passion, drive and attachment.
- inertia, dullness, lethargy, negativity
- Tamas is the guna of inertia, it is the energetic quality that keeps things dense and static. It is the darkness in which things manifest and solidify, just how matter came together after the big bang. It is the absence of pure light. Tamas is sleep, structure and ignorance.
There is nothing in existence that is without these three dimensional energetic qualities. Similar to the three doshas, these three gunas are always working together in a state of balance; you cannot have one without the others. Also like the doshas, the gunas can fluctuate between states of imbalances. It is in recognizing these imbalances that we can further understand the current quality of our state of mind and how our environment is affecting us.
Too much tamasic energy leads to depression, lethargy, delusion, self destruction, and feelings of pessimism and hatred.
Too much rajasic energy can manifest as attachment to materialistic things, greed, lust, and control issues.
A Sattvic nature is what we strive for in life. It is through practicing the Vedic Braid of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Jyotisha that we can bring awareness to the uctuations of the mind to a point of clarity and understanding. Sattva is the pure illumination of your true self accompanied by a complete understanding of what that is.
The Gunas in Real Life
EXAMPLES OF TAMAS
the body, heavy rap music, the media, depression, lack of trust, regulating things and processes, tiredness, loyalty, delusion, holding things in place, structures and buildings, laws, discipline, perseverance, greasy foods, meat, cheese, onion, garlic, scallion, leek, chive, mushroom, alcohol, durian, blue cheese, eggplant, leftovers
EXAMPLES OF RAJAS
the mind, liking or disliking things, intelligent conversation, service with expectations, shopping, ADHD, enjoyment of another’s company, activity with attachment to results, spicy/heating foods, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, ginkgo biloba, salty food
EXAMPLES OF SATTVA
the heart and emotions, meditation, quiet walks, total contentment (santosha), service without expectations, chanting, a sense of bliss, water, cereal grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fresh raw milk and all fresh milk derivatives (mostly ghee, but also butter, cream, fresh or cottage cheese (paneer), fresh yogurt), raw honey