In Indian yogic philosophy, all matter in the universe has its source in the fundamental substrate called Prakriti. From prakriti’s ether, the three primary gunas (qualities) come together to create the essential aspects of nature – energy, matter and consciousness. These three gunas are: tamas (dark, inertial aspect), rajas (active aspect) and sattva (divine, pure aspect). All these three gunas are present in all beings and objects that surround us, but in different quantities, combining with each other in various proportions. We humans have the unique ability to consciously alter gunas levels in our bodies and minds. Gunas cannot be separated or removed from ourselves, but one can act on them consciously, in order to amplify or diminish them.
A gunas can be amplified or diminished by the interaction and influence of thoughts, lifestyle or the environment.
represents the state of inertia, darkening, inactivity and coarse materialism. Tamas manifests himself out of ignorance, creating a false iulsion of spiritual truths. In order to reduce the tamas we must avoid an impure, tamasic diet, based on meat and hard-to-digest foods, such as processed, refined, or an overeating, to avoid sleeping too much, to become inactive, passive, and fearful in the face of life.
represents the state of energy, action, change and movement. The nature of rajas is that of attraction that creates attachment, so rajas binds us quite strongly to the fruits of the action. To reduce rajas, we must avoid eating rajas, avoid working too hard, practice too much, listen to extremely loud music, think in excess or consume in excess any good material.
Rajas-ica food includes all foods that are fried and that are spicy in excess, or that contain stimulants of any kind.
Sattva represents the
state of harmony, balance, joy and pure intelligence. Sattva is the guans that yogis can achieve by cultivating a balanced life, by reducing rajas and tamas, thus taking important steps on the spiritual path. In order to grow sattva, we must eat sattva-ice food, enjoy pleasant and spiritual activities, and a clean, unpolluted environment that will positively influence us.
Sattva-ica food includes whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as root vegetables, those that grow in the ground. The entire yogic practice is based on creating a sattva-ice state of mind and body. Thus, by practicing yoga and leading a lifestyle as pure and disciplined as possible, we will be able to cultivate in our lives the state of sattva!
The psychological quality of the mind is extremely unstable and can change rapidly between the three guans. The predominant gunas of the mind acts as a lens that affects our perceptions and perspective of the world in which we live. Thus, if the mind is in a state of rajas, it will experience the events of the world as chaotic, confusing and overwhelming, and will react to these events in a Rajasic mod .
All gunas create attachment and connect the self to the ego. “When the Self rises above the three gunas that dwell in the body, then the liberation from the cycle of births and deaths, the liberation from time, aging and death, is reached, and thus enlightenment is achieved!” (Bhagavad Gita 14:20)
From the perspective of Gunas-s, the yohines’ objective is to cultivate the state of sattva, and their ultimate purpose is to transcend the wrong identification of the Self with the three Gunas-s, and to remain unattached by duality, by what is right or wrong, by the positive or negative qualities of life.