Triguna - The three modes of nature


Everything in this Cosmos is subject to change. As the famous saying goes that Change is the only constant thing. This state of change is known as Dynamism or the state of motion as per Physics. Our ancient sages very well knew this concept. According to ancient Hindu philosophy, the whole creation is a manifestation of Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha refers to clear consciousness and stillness. Purusha is an unchangeable element and the real truth. It also refers to the soul or the Jiva which resides in the heart of every living being. Prakriti refers to false illusionary energy or Maya which is changing every moment. Everything in this Universe is under the influence of this illusionary energy. The main goal is to transcend this and become aware of the true reality. Prakriti can be split into 5 main elements which form the basis of every creation living or non-living. These 5 elements are known as Panchabhuta (earth, air, fire, water, and space). The Panchabhuta can be further classified under three traits. These three traits are known as Guna or Triguna. Hence everything in the Universe and under the influence of Prakriti or Maya has these three Gunas or Traits operating in different proportions. These three work together and cannot exist completely by itself. These traits can also be compared to different states of consciousness like the awake, dream, and sleep states. Every living being, every activity, and food as well can be classified into these three. In Hinduism these three Gunas have been linked to the three most important Gods known as the Hindu Trinity. Bhagwat Gita has described these modes very elaborately. Let us understand them in detail


Sattva or Sattvic Guna - Sattva or Sattvic Guna is known as the mode of goodness. It is a state of a calm and clear mind. It is also a state of peace and positivity. People operating under this trait have a very positive outlook on life. They are very selfless and act without expecting any rewards in return. They also spiritual and nonviolent by nature. They are seekers of truth and find goodness in everything. Lord Vishnu is associated with this quality as he is the preserver of Cosmos. Any vegetarian food that grows above the ground comes under the Sattvic category. The element of space is linked to Sattva.


Rajas or Rajsik Guna - Rajas is known as the mode of passion or action. This is the trait that functions under the spell of desires and greed. People acting from this mode are desire-driven and act to achieve rewards. These are ambitious people who want to dominate and acquire a lot of material possession. They are driven by wealth, fame and status in society and might achieve their goals by pursuing wrong deeds. Mentally they are in a state of confusion, aggression, and restlessness. Lord Brahma has been associated with this Guna. Very spicy or salty food items come under Rajsik food. The element of air and fire is linked to Rajas.


Tamas or Tamsik - This is known as the mode of ignorance and non-activity or inertia. The body under this state is influenced by sleep and lethargy. People operating under this state are very lazy and negative by nature. They are more like animals who just want to eat,sleep and mate. They do not have any goals to achieve and live a very selfish life. Since operating under this trait for a long time brings in depression, it ultimately leads to destruction. Overall this Guna is the source of all negative energy that we carry within ourselves. Food items like meat, alcohol, or processed come under this category. Since Lord Shiva is associated with the destruction of the Universe,he is associated with Tamsik Guna as well. The element of earth and water is linked to Tamas.


The Triguna always coexists and cannot operate completely by itself. In every person or object, one of these Gunas dominates and has a higher percentage while the other two are more passive and have limited control. The proportion of these three keep changing according to various internal and external aspects. For example, a person practicing a Sattvic life will be active. He would consume Sattvic food and practice meditation and other spiritual activities. He shall help others and act selflessly without any ulterior motive. However, if the same person now starts eating meat or consuming alcohol we shall see a massive change in his outlook. He is now prone to become lazier and indulge in negative activities. This same person is now operating under Tamas Guna. According to our sages and holy scriptures, the state of Moksha or liberation is a state where one transcends beyond these three qualities. This is a state of infinite bliss and our ultimate goal. Even our Hindu goddesses are linked to these traits. The Divine feminine or Adi Shakti is beyond these three Gunas, however, her different manifestations are linked to the Triguna. During the festival of Navaratri, the 1st three days we worship Durga who helps us balancing our Tamsik traits. The next three days are dedicated to Lakshmi who helps us balancing our Rajsik energy and the last three days is dedicated to Saraswati who balances the Sattvic energy inside us.


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