SATVA RAJAS TAMAS
( 3 types of nature/qualities/ways of living )
Each and all beings are varying combinations of Satva guNa,
Rajo guNa or Tamo guNa. At one time, one particular type is
predominant in an individual and it is changeable. Today a person
may not show a glimpse of Satva guNa but when you meet him next,
he may be brimming with it. Such transformation is possible,
Rishi Vaalmiiki being the best and well-known example. For this
reason and for the fact that we too are a mixture of the three
guNaas, we should not hate, detest or criticize him who we think
dwells in the lower guNaas. Because the other person may be at an
earlier stage of spiritual development today. You can't blame a
six month old child for crawling and not walking or running.
It goes without saying that of the three guNas, Tamas is the
lowest and Satva is the highest. Tamas keeps us in a state of
ignorance, sloth, laziness, inaction and darkness. Ignorance and
inaction invariably bring about misery and unhappiness. As the
saying goes, 'Ignorance of law is no excuse'. So a Tamasic person
lives in total ignorance of spiritual laws and violates them
knowingly or unknowingly and often brings himself to sad ends.
Here, it is important to distinguish between the Saatvik
quaity of contentment and the laziness and inaction of the
Taamasic person. If laziness comes to you in the disguise of
contentment, then beware, it can ruin you.
Not only living in Tamas is inappropriate and unhealthy, dying
while Tamas is predominant in you is also fraught with grave
danger of being born in lower yoniis or as insects and animals.
How sad! It is certainly not proper therefore to lead a life in
Rajas leads us to action, often with great expectations of
particular kind of result or reward for fulfilment of one or the
other of manifold desires. Most of the actions of ordinary people
are tainted with desire of expectation. And as the saying goes,
'jahan hai aasha, vahii hai niraasha', being two sides of the
same coin. He who expects too much is likely to be disappointed
often. In Rajas, it is this disappointment, failure of fulfilment
of desires, failure of getting the desired results of actions and
the greed that brings forth misery and unhappiness. It is thus
not too good to live in Rajas for too long, and nor is dying in
Rajas. It does not elevate the soul. It keeps you in the middle.
We therefore ought to elevate ourselves from Tamo guNa to Rajo
guNa and from Rajo guNa to Satva guNa.
Satva guNa leads us to happiness and enjoyment, irrespective
of the results of our action. It leads us to thoughtful Nishkama
Karma. Here we do our work considering it as our laid down duty
and we stop bothering about the results and keep no expectations.
We face the situations of life calmly and as they present,
keeping our inner peace and balance. Satva guNa is light and
knowledge, wisdom and the calm and quiet of mind. Satva guNa
elevates the soul. Dying while in Satva guNa, you are born in a
celestial birth or as a saadhaka to elevate yourself further.
Now, we thus learn that it is these three guNaas which are
responsible for most of the activities. These may be high, as for
social good, or middle as for personal good or low, as for self
and social harm.
The wisdom is to know that it is Gunaas only which are
responsible for such and such actions and the soul, the real
self, the owner, is untainted, unaffected and is not the agent or
The moment this realization comes that he, the soul is not the
doer of actions, the results of actions don't affect or touch
him, he readily enters or merges into the Lord, the Supreme Over
Having thus steadied oneself in the knowledge that he is
untainted by the guNaas and the actions born of guNas, one rises
above all the three guNas and having thus risen, lifts and frees
himself from birth, death, decay and pain thus attaining
immortality and becomes one with the Lord.
Why is it important or necessary to get out of this circle of
transmigration from one birth to the next? 'Janma mR^ityu jaraa
vyaadhi duHkha dosha anudarshanam' See again and again the
misery, the defects and suffering of birth, death, old age and
sickness and aspire to a life beyond these.
Let's get beyond the guNaas, all three of them, sit
established in our real selves. The three guNaas blind the Atman.
We have to get even higher than the Satva guNa to a state of
As Swami Vivekananda said in a poem "For fetters though
of gold Are no less strong to bind, So off with them Sanyaasin
bold, say OM"
- (Talk by Dr Chowla, a satsanghi)
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Last changed on April 30, 1997