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Gunas in Ayurveda

The term "Gunas" is a Sanskrit term. It refers to virtue, excellence, quality or attribute. The concept of guna originated from the philosophy of Samkhya. It refers to one of the essential four components, which are present in the Indian philosophy. But, the key concept according to the Hindu philosophy is that there exist three types of Gunas.

These are:

  1. Sattva – Goodness, harmonious
  2. Rajas – Passionate, active
  3. Tamas – Darkness, chaotic, destructive

Each and every individual has some or the other proportion of these three gunas in them. It is the proportion of these various gunas in the individuals, which determine the characters and evelopment of the lives of the individuals. In some cases, the individuals are Rajasik. This means, they possess the significant characteristics of Sattvic guna, while, some of the individuals possess the characteristics of Tamas guna in significant extent. They are known as the Tamasic guna. When these three gunas are completely in their balanced state, the individual's body and mind remain healthy and fit.

gunas in ayurveda


"Sattva" characterizes lightness, purity, knowledge of wisdom, harmony, balance, holistic, peaceful and mental clarity. The individuals with higher proportions of Sattva are generally the healers, spiritual leaders and teachers. These individuals are spiritual, wise and noble. The minds of these individuals are well illuminated by their spirits. It is the final aim in an individual's life.


"Rajas" characterizes activity. It denotes the transformation from the darkness to light. These individuals with the characteristics of Rajas get easily fooled by the concept of illusion. They possess the various negative feelings of the world like lust, greed, ego, self centeredness, dynamic, individualizing, moving, ambition and a feeling of dominating. The society of today's world is completely filled with individuals with Rajas mindset and thoughts.


"Tamas" represents inertia, lethargy, drowsiness and delusion. These groups of individuals are generally lazy and they often resort to various self-destruction forms. Their characteristics often develop the feelings of vindictiveness, destruction, hatred, perversion, addiction and several other extreme forms of negative feelings. The individuals with Tamas attributes possess the quality of disorder, imbalance, anxiety, chaos, impurity, viciousness, apathy, ignorance, violence and viciousness.

However, these characteristics of individuals can be controlled by following a particular recommended Ayurvedic food habits.

Food items, which portray the Sattvic characteristics:

Foods, which are light, fresh and juicy are generally the characteristic food products of the Sattvic individuals. Generally, the food items are tasty and sweet. They consume the food items to provide the necessary energy to the body to attain the state of consciousness. Some of the recommended food items for the Sattvic individuals are fresh fruits and vegetables, which are digestible, butter, milk, sprouted or soaked beans, spices in proper quantities, nuts, grains and certain herbs.

Food items consumed by individuals with Rajasic characteristics:

Foods, which are pungent, bitter, salty, hot, dry and sour in taste are the specific food products for the individuals with Rajasic characteristics. All those food items, which help to enhance the excitement and speed of the human beings are generally consumed by the Rajasik individuals. These keep them lively and active. The food items, which are extremely cooked or fried in oil or food items with a lot of spices are generally the specific features for these individuals.

Food products for people having Tamasic characteristics:

Foods, which are old, dry and distasteful are the characteristic food items of the Tamasic individuals. These include liquor, eggs, meat, fish and other unpalatable food products. They generally consume the food items, which are incompatible, frozen or canned and completely stale. These food products help to develop the feelings of pessimism, ego, hatred to a significant extent Overview of the Gunas according to Ayurvedic Principles According to Ayurveda, the body exhibits three different types of trienergies. These are also known as the doshas. They are Vata, Pitta and kapha. Kapha dosha is equated to the Tamaguna and Pitta dosha to the Raja guna. Disturbances in the balance of the Pitta dosha give rise to negative feelings like jealousy, competitiveness, sentiments, aggression and several others, while, the individuals with unbalanced kapha dosha are greedy and are more prone to destruction. And, Vata dosha individuals display all the above characteristics of the gunas significantly.

These three gunas give rise to the basic principles of life. And, this is given by another important concept of Ayurveda, known as the Prakriti.

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