Explore the three “gunas”

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Explore the three gunas

Have you ever heard of the three gunas?

The Samkhya philosophy describes the gunas as the threefold characteristics in it’s nature; in this sense every action, thought and event is created due to the interaction of the three gunas. All gunas are always present in all beings and objects surrounding us by vary in their relative amounts.

  • Sattwa guna: beingness

When this guna predominates, the mind remains quiet, the vrritis (thoughts, fluctuations in mind) remain concentrated and nothing causes disturbance.

  • Tama guna: darkness

When this guna predominates, then nothing in the world can keep you active, spiritual or blissfull, you will always find your mind dull, destructive, chaotic and tense.

  • Raja guna: activity

When this guna predominates, you have a lot of energy and passion. If you don’t have enough control over you mind, that energy can become stress.

Explore which guna dominates!

I think it is very interesting to analyze the predominance of the three gunas and to find out the guna in the power of the moment. Why should you do this? The three gunas very rarely have an equal influence on a person. One guna always holds sway over the others and rules, even though the other gunas have an equal chance of operation.

After having analyzed the influence of the three gunas over consciousness, you can find out ways to eliminate the negative influence of a particular guna and develop the influence of a positive guna.

For instance: if after observation and analysis of the thoughts, you have discovered the influence of tamas during meditation, you should try to find out ways and means to reduce that influence and develop the opposite guna by any appropriate method.

One rule in this process is very important 🙂  The technique of developing the positive influence is more important than trying to suppress the negative influence of the guna.


  • When you are overpowered by the force of raja guna, due to mental troubles, desires and depression you should stop fighting with yourself and employ practices that reduce the element of rajas, from the very root of itself.
  • When you find that sattwa guna is very powerfull, you do not have to eliminate this guna but you have to strengthen it, because sattwa is desirable. Tama guna is undesireble and you have to reduce it. Raja guna is also undesireble and you will have to reduce it.

Pranayama exercises can be helpful in this process.

The three gunas as bridge to the eight folded path

As explained in the previous paragraph, raja guna and tama guna can bye subdued by pranayama excersises in order that tossing of the mind is arrested. The mind becomes one-pointed and achieves dharana, concentration and dhyana, meditation.



 Prana and pranayama, Swami Niranjananda Saraswati, Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India

Four chapters on freedom, Swami Satyananada saraswati, Yoga publications Trust, Munger, Bihar India

Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Muktbodhananda, Yoga publications Trust Munger, Bihar, India


Picture: www.hinduwebsite.com


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