Guna is a Sanskrit word that signifies “rope”. In an abstract use of the word, it can signify “subdivision”, “species”, “type” and generally “quality”. According to the Bhagavad Ghita, a Guna is the subtlest quality in nature and exists in all human beings, in various grades of concentration and combination, moving in different physical, emotional and mental levels. Basically, they are three qualities that compose the universe.
In the philosophy of Samkhya, one of the six schools of orthodox philosophies of Hindu, Guna is one of the three tendencies: Tama, Sattva, and Raja. They are in charge of categorizing behaviors and natural phenomenon, and can be utilized in medicine as well. Ayurvedica is used in diagnostic systems with various conditions and diets. According to Ayurveda, medicine and food are Sattvic, Rajasic, or Tamasic, or a combination of the three. Each one cannot exist without the other.
Sattva: (core) grace, kindness. It is intelligence and maintains balance. Sattva or grace is calm and clear, light and luminescent. If Sattva dominates a person, they will always do things right, Sattva unites the spirits and the body with happiness and understanding. When grace and knowledge are present in you, they flow towards the exterior, letting Sattva dominate. Sattva is the quality of intelligence, your virtue and grace. It proves the length of happiness and satisfaction and is the strength of love that unites all people. When we die, if Sattva is dominating our lives, we go to heaven, the pure world where we find the enthusiasts of the supreme life.
Examples of Sattvic people
Sattvic people are very difficult to identify because they are so humble they do not know that Sattvic dominates their lives. Psychologically they are graceful, calm, alert and meditative.
- Give the necessary energy that your body needs
- Have the tendency to go towards pureness, mental peace, and a healthy body
- Products that are fresh and soft, also nourishing the body while being sweet and delicious
- Examples: fruit juices, fresh vegetables that are easy to digest, fresh milk and butter, alfalfa, soybeans, grains, and nuts
Raja: (active) passion. It is energy and creates imbalance. Raja, or selfishness, is seen in people who follow materialistic dreams or are egocentrics. Raja begins with desire and is the result of working. Raja unbalances and disrupts the existing harmony; the quality of change is turbulent. Greed, activity, passion, agitation, and selfish intentions occur when Raja dominates our lives. It leads to division and suffering. The consequence of a rajasic action, a selfish action, is pain. The rajasic person is reincarnated in the mortal world, or Earth.
Examples of Rajasic people
They are people who work extremely hard, or cannot stop working. The majority of the time they are wealthy people who are preoccupied about their house or cars; they will do anything for money. They live selfishly, tormented, agitated, and they have a very active lifestyle and are emotionally disturbed. Fluctuating from euphoria to depression, they are worried and anxious.
- Foods that are acidic, hot, dry, sour, spicy or very salty.
- They increase the speed and excitement that the body can handle
- The basis of movement are action and pain
- Examples: fried foods that require a lot of cooking, or foods that are eaten in excess, exciting foods and spices, coffee, salt, and tea.
Tama: (inertia) matter, ignorance, obscurity. It creates inertia. Tama or inertia joins the spirit with laziness, ignorance and excessive tiredness. Tama unites us to ignorance, laziness and neglect, concealing knowledge. It has a downward movement that produces disintegration and decay. It is associated with the dark and disillusionment. Whatever activity Tama does, it will result in ignorance. Negligence, disillusionment and ignorance come out of Tama. Tamas are reincarnated in the lowest creatures of humanities.
Examples of Tamasic people
Tamasic people really do not do anything. They wake up late, eat, and generally drink alcohol all day; they are lazy and ignorant. They are not interested in learning anything, and generally spend most of their time trying to change their mind. They refuse to do many activities, and are not interested in other people. They are self-destructive people or the activities that they do are self-destructive.
- Dry foods, fermented, deteriorated, without flavor, in decomposition or rancid
- They consume energy when it should be spent digesting
- They are the basis of ignorance and are pessimistic
- Examples: Foods that have been heavily processed, packaged, frozen and/or are old, or are not compatible with each other: meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
There are saints and prophets that can survive with sattvic food. They stress that we must maintain a balance of food of sattvic and rajasic, avoiding tamasic food as much as possible. Those who conquer the Gunas, according to Bhagavad Ghita, reach eternal happiness. When one realizes that they can conquer the Gunas, they are free of their birth, aging, illness and death. When we are liberated from the Gunas, we are not sattvic or rajasic or tamasic. We can put ourselves above the Gunas and see everything as a single thing. For example, treating everyone the same way like a cloud, stone, or gold, everything is the same, nothing is more precious than the other. Another example is when we do not feel proud when people talk to us, or angry when we trip or are embarrassed, or we treat our enemies as friends. By dominating these types of situations, it is said that we have overcome the Gunas.