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Three unique qualities of matter – The Trigunas – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas

Three unique qualities of matter – The Trigunas – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas
September 26, 2018 Nidhi Bansal
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The Trigunas are the three facets of Matter

Trigunas or “Three – Gunas” are the most basic and innate qualities of matter that form the basis of mental set-up or personality in human beings. It is also used to characterise matter or things that we can see in front of us. The concept of Trigunas is deemed to have first mentioned in Atharva Veda. It has also been talked about in Bhagvad Gita and later in Samkhya. All of our mental states at any point are considered to be the manifestations of either one or different combinations of the Trigunas.

“Mind influences the physiology and pathology of the physical body” as quoted in Reference 1. Food can also be classified as Sattvic, Rajsic, and Tamsic based on how it is assimilated in our body. In Ayurveda, great emphasis has been put on how physical and mental health can be promoted by adopting specific guna rich foods and lifestyle at any point.

Prakriti or Personality is an expression of Trigunas on human mental state

The three “tri” gunas of “Sattva”, “Tamas” and “Rajas” are the three essential components or energies of the mind. In the word triguna, “tri” stands for three and “gunās” stand for intangible components. Ayurveda provides a distinct description of people on the basis of their Manasa (psychological) Prakruti (constitution).


Sattva Guna or Sattvic Personality

Sattva is associated with pure state of mind that is constantly detached and considers work as worship. They are not interested in the fruits but are eternally happy and spiritually oriented. Any action is done with calmness and without any doubt. This is the stage one reaches with very high level of self awareness and empathy. It is the energy / force of balance and equilibrium.

Sattva translates in quality as good and harmony and happiness and light.

Predominance of Sattva in a person is characterised by happiness, contentment, virtues like patience, perseverance, ability to forgive, and spiritual yearning. 


Rajas Guna or Rajsic Personality

Rajas is characterised by activity and is the force to translate passion into action. In fact, Brahma is believed to carry Rajas during the creation of the universe. This is because, Rajsic Guna is the characteristic of the DOER – one who is motivated by the desire to achieve, is attached to results, has a passion to turn the ideas into action.

It is force of motion, vibration and translates in quality as struggle and effort, passion and action. It is fast moving and unrythmic. All pressure, tension, stress, worry, impulsive behaviour pattern are its creation.

Tamas Guna or Tamsic Personality


Highly materialistic and engrossed in self, Tamas is one of the most disillusioned personality traits. It is dominated by hatred, jealousy, narcissism, selfish motives, and a tendency to neglect anybody else’s interest over your own. Naturally, the negative mental states of anger, dissatisfaction, mental fog, and stubbornness originate in Tamsic tendency. Even though they are willing to work hard, they will be highly attached to the worldly possessions or rewards from them.

All energy in its grossest, densest and heaviest form is Tamasic energy. A dark heavy cloud is tamsic energy. It is force of ignorance and inertia and translates in quality as obscurity and incapacity and inaction.

It makes the body and mind feel lazy, heavy , sleepy and dull.


Concept of Personality – Indian Perspective

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