Month: June 2008

The Three Gunas

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In the philosophy of Yoga, all matter in the universe arises from the fundamental substrate called Prakriti. From this ethereal Prakriti the three primary gunas (qualities) emerge creating the essential aspects of all nature—energy, matter and consciousness. These three gunas are tamas (darkness), rajas (activity), and sattva (beingness).


Tamas is a state of darkness, inertia, inactivity and materiality. Tamas manifests from ignorance and deludes all beings from their spiritual truths. To reduce tamas avoid tamasic foods, over sleeping, over eating, inactivity, passivity and fearful situations. Tamasic foods include heavy meats, and foods that are spoiled, chemically treated, processed or refined.


Tamas – accounts for restraint and inertia. Experienced psychologically as delusion, depression and dullness. Classical Yoga: – when tamas (obscurity, heaviness) predominates, consciousness is sthiti – inert, punged into a state of repose and torporTamasic Food is meat, alcohol, tobacco, garlic, onions, other fermented foods (pickles and vinegar for example), and either over-ripe or stale foods. These foodstuffs are seen not to benefit either the body or mind and energy, Prana, is reduced producing inertia and dark moods.


The body’s resistance to disease is weakened and consequently the whole being becomes inert, greedy and prevents one from seeing the spiritual truths.The mind’s psychological qualities are highly unstable and can quickly fluxuate between the different gunas. The predominate guna of the mind acts as a lens that effects our perceptions and perspective of the world around us. Thus, if the mind is in rajas it will experience world events as chaotic, confusing and demanding and it will react to these events in a rajasic way.



Rajas is a state of energy, action, change and movement. The nature of rajas is of attraction, longing and attachment and rajas strongly binds us to the fruits of our work. To reduce rajas avoid rajasic foods, over exercising, over work, loud music, excessive thinking and consuming excessive material goods.


Rajasic foods include fried foods, spicy foods, and stimulants.Rajas – accounts for motion, energy and activity. Experienced psychologically as suffering, craving and attachment. Classical Yoga: – when rajas (energy) predominates, consciousness is pravritti – active and energetic, tense and willful.


Rajasic Food is usually hot food, both in terms of temperature and spiciness; they include fried food, coffee, tea, spices, fish, eggs, salt, peppers, chocolate and other stimulants. These foodstuffs are seen by some as a block to the body-mind equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind and stimulating artificial processes in the brain making it restless and wandering.



Sattva is a state of harmony, balance, joy and intelligence. Sattva is the guna that yogi/nis achive towards as it reduces rajas and tamas and thus makes liberation possible. To increase sattva reduce both rajas and tamas, eat sattvic foods and enjoy activities and environments that produce joy and positive thoughts.


Sattvic foods include whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits and vegetables that grow above the ground. All of the yogic practices were developed to create sattva in the mind and body. Thus, practicing yoga and leading a yogic lifestyle strongly cultivates sattva.


Sattwa – Samkhya: accounts for thought and intelligibility, experienced psychologically as pleasure, thinking, clarity, understanding and detachment. Classical Yoga: – when sattwa (purity, illumination through comprehension) predominates, consciousness manifests itself as prakhya – vivacity, illumination, mental clarity and serenity.


The Sattvic Diet is a pure diet comprised of cereals, nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds, spouting seeds, some dairy products, honey and herbs – including herbal teas of course. These foodstuffs will nourish the body, calm and purify the mind creating a balanced flow of energy between the body and the mind.