Wednesday, June 8, 2011




In Post.1 we saw the general structure of  the three Gunas that bind our life, how we can transcend them with Sraddha and by being a witness. In this Post – we shall examine each Guna individually. All these are mostly based on extracts from Gita, though, great sages like Sankara also have dealt with these in various works.

With deep knowledge of the 3 Gunas - we can always discern who is in what Guna and wherefrom one’s actions are emanating – and guard our own interest accordingly.


SATHVA GUNA makes the man – utterly pure, shining and with absolute clarity. But, Sathva Guna also binds the man in Sukha or worldly joys. A man with  Sathva Guna is always striving for knowledge and happiness. If you watch a strange peace and calm energy in all or any of the nine paths in you – know that, that wisdom and calmness has come from Sathva Guna.

If we Keep Sathva Guna predominant in us – we live well and happily here and also attain to those heavens to which the greatest wise men also go – because most of our actions will be good deeds for others welfare - and result in purity, and flawlessness is us also and  give us “Punya”.

From Sathva arises, wisdom also.

People with Sathva Guna are always upwardly mobile, reaching greater heights of success and happiness in life.

Saathvicas like food which is energy-giving, strength giving, health giving, happiness giving, those with juices, oils, those which will be fresh for a long time (v.8.Sraddha thraya vibhaga yoga).

From this, we can also infer that foods of this nature are Sathva-giving. Some writings on the subject say that foods / vegetables etc which are mildly sweet and grow above the earth generally, with reasonable liquid content – are usually Sathva-predominant foods. But, they too should be taken fresh. Many of them, you will find growing on creepers; Some, on trees and very few, below the ground.

This gives rise to another question. Is Sathva or any other Guna imbibed by birth, or by practice? There is no doubt that certain element of genetic disposition comes in all of us because of Sanchitha Karma, disposing us towards one or the other Guna. But, man does have the power of will, if he undertakes such a discipline, to alter his guna by proper actions, proper food habits etc. A man disposed towards Thamas can change towards Sathva in this way.

Regarding Yajna – selfless work done with love and surrender feeling , without desire for the fruit of the karma, as described in ancient scriptures are saathvic in nature.

Regarding Thapas (Meditation / Penance) :- keeping the mind, body and word in total control and doing thapas – without desiring the fruits therefor, like yogis – is saathvic thapas.

Daanam (Charity) : We must keep an attitude to help the really needy persons, who cannot do us anything in return, but who deserve to be helped ; helping them – is called saathvic daanam.

Jnanam (Wisdom) :- In all things and people in the universe, one who does not see the division but sees the unity – he possesses saathvic Jnanam (v.20.Moksha sanyasa yoga). This is what ensures peace, happiness and contentment.


RAJO GUNA (or, RAJAS) is always thirsting after pleasures, likes (and their opposites also), and wants to acquire worldly objects and derive their pleasures.  This thirst for pleasure and comfort always binds the man with karma or Action. Because of action orientation, man with Rajas is always in a restless state.

From Rajas – are born Greed and Greed-ful actions in us. All such actions create restlessness and constant desires  in us. These in turn goad us into actions for more and more of some thing or other. Restlessness becomes our constant companion in Rajo guna.

If Rajas is predominant throughout life and at the time death – they are born in families which are action-oriented., while people with Sathva Guna are reborn in families of wisdom and happiness. So, the seeds of previous births are carried forward to an extent.

In any case –Action – is always the watchword for those with Rajo Guna.

People with Rajo Guna are always getting tossed between happiness and unhappiness and are in the middle of the happiness curve of life.

Those with Rajo guna generally like sour, bitter, saltish, hot and such tastes like those of chillies, bitter gourd, tamarind, lime etc;  oilless foods (fried), thirst creating, sorrow creating foods.

Regarding Yajna – they perform actions of Yajna without desire for any return or the fruits of Karma, but still desire a feeling of greatness and recognition. They do actions – to display their superiority and greatness.

Regarding thapas – doing thapas for receiving gifts, respect, felicitations, etc – is rajasic thapas.

Daanam :- Giving gifts with the anticipation of some thing in return after some time, or with some use in view for the self, and without the mind totally agreeing with the daanam – that daanam is Rajasic daanam.


Thamo Guna (or Thamas) springs out of Ignorance.

From Thamas is born Moha or lust in us. Moha is one of the main components of Maya. Thamas binds the man in “carelessness, tiredness, procrastination, and sleep. (v.8) .Thamas clouds our wisdom and leads us into all types of dangers and problems to us. Most of our mistakes get committed when our mind is clouded by Thamas.

Some times, Thamas  gets into ascendancy – over Sathva and Rajas, even in a usually saathvic or Rajasic man. If we are watchful – we can choose what should be in ascendancy at any particular time.

Tamas is clearly in ascendancy – if our mind is in darkness, unclear, not willing at all to do any work, is full of jealousy, or lust; always wanting to take rest, or over sleepy and so on.

Those who live and die in Thamo Guna are again reborn in the households of fools.

People with thamo Guna are always taken downward in life. Their life with be full of negativities and even when happiness comes – they look at it with suspicion and lose it.

Those with thamo guna like to eat – tasteless, old, long kept foods, foods with bad smell; those which were kept for more than one day; what others have eaten and left off; foods which are not pure;

They will eat these, because of laziness - whatever they get to eat.

Yajna : Acts done without appropriate procedure; without anna daanam (donation of food); without mantra(proper invocation), without dakshina(rewards); without Sraddha (devotion) – whatever yajna is done, is Tamasic Yajna.

Thapas : tormenting their own bodies and tormenting others’ bodies, and doing tapas is called tamasic tapas. A saathvic thapas never involves tormenting himself or others.

Daanam : A daanam with is given at an inappropriate time, in an inappropriate place, to undeserving persons – not given for good cause; given carelessly – is called tamasic daanam.


What is the benefit of all this discussion to us?
1.       Can you identify the Guna that is predominant in your life? Is it Sathva, Rajas, or Thamas? Are you (i) happy, compassionate, generous and calm (which makes you Saathvic)  (ii) angry, action-oriented, selfish and ambitious (which makes you Rajasic or (iii) jealous, careless, tired, sleepy, lazy and seeking others’ fall ( makes you thamasic)? You are a combination of all – but, try to identify the proportion of each like 50 : 30 : 20 or  70 : 20 :10 and so on. Be very honest in your self – assessment – or else, you won’t reap any benefits from this exercise.
2.      You must try to reduce your thamasic disposition – by first cultivating Raajasic disposition (easier path); and then by cultivating Saathvic disposition. This will improve your happiness in life and the quality of your life style significantly. You know you are moving up in your life when you do this.
3.      Have some absolutely noble, selfless and saathvic goals – which are not against any one but are in the larger good. If your goals are against ANY SECTION OF PEOPLE, unknown to you mostly, your goals are not Saathvic. There can be no HATRED or ANGER in SAATHVIC GOALS. Make an effort to pursue those goals on a daily basis.
4.      COMMUNICATIONS :-            A Saathvic man speaks softly, sweetly, factually, pleasing himself and others. But, he won’t speak untruth for this purpose. Untruth for any purpose, does not come under Saathvic Yajna.  He tries to spread happiness and joy within himself and all around him.  A Raajasic man speaks strong, angry words, has some human opponent most of the time, and always is on a challenge path. A thamasic man is selfish, jealous and speaks accordingly. You must try to speak every word to – speak truth, speak pleasantly and to benefit others.
5.      FOOD :  You must eat fresh foods, vegetables, curds etc  which are not Sour, Bitter or Saltish – but are slightly sweetish, may be slightly oily, or with more liquid content – and good for taste. Do not eat any cooked foods, preserved overnight. Do not eat curds which have lost their sweetishness. Do not eat fried foods which have lost their life. Generally, many vegetables which grow on creepers have Saathvic qualities, and a few which grow on trees and very few which grow under the ground.  There are vegetables which promote lots of activity, including sexuality and some vegetables which are bitter or sour but are good medicines to be taken some times. Choose Saathvic food generally – and take others occasionally, when needed. Saathvic food gives enough energy for any action – but you can choose what you want to do with that energy. Western world knows only about proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins etc -  but the Indian sciences have gone much deeper to analyze the sources of our Happiness and Unhappiness. Lord Krishna himself has talked about these in a nutshell- in the Gita, for the Benefit of Arjuna, and for our Benefit eventually. That is why – Gita is a great source of the most ancient wisdom and must be known to all – irrespective of caste, religion or sex. What we discussed is just one small part of Gita.
6.      ACTIONS : Choose actions which give you happiness but do not give unhappiness to any one. Choose actions which involve the maximum happiness of the maximum number. That was how Lord Krishna himself lived his life. Saathvic man is not devoid of action. He does actions – for common good. But, he is not bound to those actions. He moves on.
7.      EMOTIONS : Reduce your Likes and Dislikes. No hatred towards others at all. Not that Saathvic man does not punish  people for bad deeds. He does- but like Lord Krishna. Krishna does not dislike Duryodhan or his brothers.  But Adharma has to go. But your own happiness and the happiness of dharmic people should not be affected in any way. No anger. No jealousy; No Lust; No undue, adharmic desires; No greed; No pride in the self; No enmity; No fears. Saathvic man is the most fearless man; and most courageous man. It requires lots of Guts to speak truth always. To face adharma boldly.  If at any time – you have any doubt – look into the life of Lord Krishna. He is the very epitome of one who has transcended all three Gunas – but still, whose actions are examples of Sathva Guna.
8.     What you are Today is immaterial. What you decide strongly today matters. Take your decision and decide on your life course. Good Luck.

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