Triguna or “Three – Gunas” are the most basic and innate qualities of matter that form the basis of mental set-up or personality in human beings. It is also used to characterize matter or things that we can see in front of us.
Triguna direct the functioning and response of our Mind
The concept of Triguna is deemed to have first mentioned in Atharva Veda. It has also been talked about in Bhagvad Gita and later in Samkhya. Our mind influences the physiology and pathology of the physical body.
All of our mental states at any point are considered to be the manifestations of either one or different combinations of the Triguna.
Sattva is characterized by clarity, harmony, and lightness. It is the subtle motion of life, nature, and prana in our body. It is also characterized by our sub-conscious mind.
Rajas guna denotes action, domination, forcefulness, and willpower. It lacks the subtle flow in Sattva. Rajas moves in a determined manner in one direction.
Tamas usually arises from need and instinct. It is the hyperactive state which is commonly seen in animal kingdom. It is stagnant, carries inertia, or moves in an erratic manner.
Your Prakriti and Personality is an expression of Triguna
The triguna of Sattva, Tamas, and Rajas are the three essential components or energies of the mind. In the word triguna, “tri” stands for three and “gunās” stand for intangible components.
Ayurveda provides a distinct description of people on the basis of their Manasa (psychological) and Prakruti (constitution).
Sattva is associated with pure state of mind that is constantly detached and considers work as worship. They are not interested in the fruits but are eternally happy and spiritually oriented.
Any action is done with calmness and without any doubt. This is the stage one reaches with very high level of self awareness and empathy. It is the energy / force of balance and equilibrium.
Sattva translates in quality as good and harmony and happiness and light.
Predominance of Sattva in a person is characterised by happiness, contentment, virtues like patience, graceful, peaceful, disciplined, intuitive, sensitive, ability to forgive, and spiritual yearning.
Rajas is characterised by activity and is the force to translate passion into action. In fact, Brahma is believed to carry Rajas during the creation of the universe.
This is because, Rajsic Guna is the characteristic of the DOER – one who is motivated by the desire to achieve, is attached to results, has a passion to turn the ideas into action.
It is force of motion, vibration and translates in quality as struggle and effort, passion and action. It is fast moving and nonrhythmic. All pressure, tension, stress, worry, impulsive behavior pattern are its creation.
Highly materialistic and engrossed in self, Tamas is one of the most disillusioned personality traits. It is dominated by hatred, jealousy, narcissism, selfish motives, and a tendency to neglect anybody else’s interest over your own.
Naturally, the negative mental states of anger, dissatisfaction, mental fog, and stubbornness originate in Tamsic tendency. Even though they are willing to work hard, they will be highly attached to the worldly possessions or rewards from them.
All energy in its grossest, densest and heaviest form is Tamasic energy. A dark heavy cloud is tamsic energy. It is force of ignorance and inertia and translates in quality as obscurity and incapacity and inaction.
It makes the body and mind feel lazy, heavy , sleepy and dull.
The Triguna and Food
Ayurveda states that “What we eat impacts our Mind, Body, and Soul”. It has been proven by multiple studies that our daily meals impact our gut flora, hence our physical and mental response to any stimulant (food, stress, situation, experience, smell, touch etc).
Food can also be classified as Sattvic, Rajsic, and Tamsic based on how it is assimilated in our body. In Ayurveda, great emphasis has been put on how physical and mental health can be promoted by adopting specific guna rich foods and lifestyle at any point.
Putting TriGuna in the context of your Diet and Meals
One should look to introduce higher proportion of Sattvic foods in their to promote mental balance and clarity. However, foods from Rajsic and Tamsic category are equally important as highlighted in their attributes below.
One should consume Rajsic foods in limited quantity to stay put on their goals, ignite passion and motivation. Also, one should limit consumption of Tamsic foods as they promote dullness. However, they are required to gain physical strength. So, choose limited quantity of fresh, whole, and natural Tamsic foods.
Sattvic foods – To Promote Spirituality and Harmony
- These foods are pure, fresh, clean and full of life force energy.
- Eating a sattvic diet keeps our minds pure, clear and content and is the basis for good health and enduring happiness.
- In order to experience a more sattvic way of being (calm, clear, receptive, peaceful) the majority of your diet would include fresh, wholesome and “living”(as opposed to processed) foods.
Rajsic Foods – To promote Motivation and Passion
- Rajsic foods are stimulating and energizing to the mind and body and tend to include pungent (spicy), sour and salty tastes.
- These foods promote mental restlessness, aggressive and dominant thoughts for others.
- A diet consisting of primarily rajsic foods can and can overexcite the circulatory and nervous systems and cause aggression, and competitiveness as well as physical and mental stress.
Tamsic Foods – To promote Physical Strength
- Tamsic foods are dulling to the mind and body. These foods can leave a person feeling lethargic, dull, heavy, and complacent.
- Foods that are old, dead, frozen or highly processed, full of chemicals, or impure are included in this category.
- They are strengthening to the body in nature. Tamsic foods dull the pain and stress and they allow the body to heal itself.
- However, these foods are necessary in times of great physical stress and pain. Tamsic foods should be consumed when body is weak and requires physical strength. Of course, such foods from Tamsic category would be real, fresh, and natural foods and not the stale and processed type.
- Choose Tamsic in limitation when you are involved in physical work or when carrying out high physical activity.
Concept of Personality – Indian Perspective