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According to the Bhagavadgita, the gunas (the primary qualities or modes of Nature) are three in number, sattva, rajas and tamas. They exist in all, including humans, in various degrees of concentration and combination. They also exist in all objects and natural products. Hence, even the food which we eat is important if we want to cultivate good behavior. Depending upon their relative strengths and ratios, the gunas determine the nature of things, beings, their actions, behavior, attitude and attachments and their involvement with the objective world in which they live. The primary purpose of the gunas in the living beings is to create bondage, through desires for sense objects, which lead to various attachments with them and which in turn keep them bound to the world and under the perpetual control of Prakriti.
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). All three gunas are always present in all beings and objects surrounding us but vary in their relative amounts. We humans have the unique ability to consciously alter the levels of the gunas in our bodies and minds. The gunas cannot be separated or removed in oneself, but can be consciously acted upon to encourage their increase or decrease. A guna can be increased or decreased through the interaction and influence of external objects, lifestyle practices and thoughts.
THREE TYPES OF GUNAS ARE:
- Tamas – Darkness, chaotic, destructive
- Rajas – Passionate, active
- Sattva – Goodness, harmonious
Each and every individual has some or the other proportion of these three gunas in them. It is the proportion of these various gunas in the individuals, which determine the characters and evelopment of the lives of the individuals. In some cases, the individuals are Rajasik. This means, they possess the significant characteristics of Sattvic guna, while, some of the individuals possess the characteristics of Tamas guna in significant extent. They are known as the Tamasic guna. When these three gunas are completely in their balanced state, the individual’s body and mind remain healthy and fit.
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.
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.
Satva is a state of harmony, balance, joy and intelligence. Satva is the guna that yogis achive towards as it reduces rajas and tamas and thus makes liberation possible. To increase satva reduce both rajas and tamas, eat sattvic foods and enjoy activities and environments that produce joy and positive thoughts. Satvic 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 satva in the mind and body. Thus, practicing yoga and leading a yogic lifestyle strongly cultivates sattva.
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.
All gunas create attachment and thus bind one’s self to the ego. “When one rises above the three gunas that originate in the body; one is freed from birth, old age, disease, and death; and attains enlightenment” (Bhagavad Gita 14.20). While the yogis goal is to cultivate satva, his/her ultimate goal is to transcend their misidentification of the self with the gunas and to be unattached to both the good and the bad, the positive and negative qualities of all life.
Food Items, Which Portray The Satvic Characteristics:
Foods, which are light, fresh and juicy are generally the characteristic food products of the Satvic individuals. Generally, the food items are tasty and sweet. They consume the food items to provide the necessary energy to the body to attain the state of consciousness. Some of the recommended food items for the Satvic individuals are fresh fruits and vegetables, which are digestible, butter, milk, sprouted or soaked beans, spices in proper quantities, nuts, grains and certain herbs.
Food Items Consumed By Individuals With Rajasic Characteristics:
Foods, which are pungent, bitter, salty, hot, dry and sour in taste are the specific food products for the individuals with Rajasic characteristics. All those food items, which help to enhance the excitement and speed of the human beings are generally consumed by the Rajasik individuals. These keep them lively and active. The food items, which are extremely cooked or fried in oil or food items with a lot of spices are generally the specific features for these individuals.
Food Products For People Having Tamasic Characteristics:
Foods, which are old, dry and distasteful are the characteristic food items of the Tamasic individuals. These include liquor, eggs, meat, fish and other unpalatable food products. They generally consume the food items, which are incompatible, frozen or canned and completely stale. These food products help to develop the feelings of pessimism, ego, hatred to a significant extent Overview of the Gunas according to Ayurvedic Principles According to Ayurveda, the body exhibits three different types of trienergies. These are also known as the doshas. They are Vata, Pitta and kapha. Kapha dosha is equated to the Tamaguna and Pitta dosha to the Raja guna. Disturbances in the balance of the Pitta dosha give rise to negative feelings like jealousy, competitiveness, sentiments, aggression and several others, while, the individuals with unbalanced kapha dosha are greedy and are more prone to destruction. And, Vata dosha individuals display all the above characteristics of the gunas significantly.
These three gunas give rise to the basic principles of life.