Avana Yoga

The Three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas

Guna is a Sanskrit word, meaning “quality” Three Gunas are Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity), Tamas (darkness). In Yogic philosophy and Ayurveda, a Guna is tattva or element of reality that can affect our psychological, emotional and energetic states. These three qualities of nature always exist together. Gunas exist in everything; human, animal, food and object surrounding us. Gunas cannot be separated in oneself but can be increased or decreased. The Gunas can be seen as operating at the physical, mental and emotional levels. The mind`s psychological qualities are unstable and quickly fluctuate between different gunas. Sattva binds us to attachment with happiness, rajas binds us to with attachments of activity and tamas binds us attachments with delusion. Our goal is to unattached from the three gunas.

Sattva (Purity) – Sattva manifests as purity and knowledge.

Rajas (Activity) – Rajas manifests as activity and motion.

Tamas (Darkness) – Tamas manifests as laziness and darkness.

Purity Activity Darkness
Harmony, joy Desire, attachment Ignorance, laziness
Consciousness Movement Dullness
Upward flow Expansion Downward flow

नियतं सङ्गरहितमरागद्वेषतः कृतम् । अफलप्रेप्सुना कर्म यत्तत्सात्त्विकमुच्यते ॥२३॥

यत्तु कामेप्सुना कर्म साहंकारेण वा पुनः । क्रियते बहुलायासं तद्राजसमुदाहृतम् ॥२४॥
अनुबन्धं क्षयं हिंसामनपेक्ष्य च पौरुषम् । मोहादारभ्यते कर्म यत्तत्तामसमुच्यते ॥२५॥

Action that is virtuous, thought through, free from attachment, and without craving for results is considered Sattvic; Action that is driven purely by craving for pleasure, selfishness and much effort is Rajasic; Action that is undertaken because of delusion, disregarding consequences, without considering loss or injury to others or self, is called Tamasic.

— Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, verses 23–25