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Tamas as the Tenth Dravya


The three biological humours viz; Vata (biological air), Pitta (biological fire), and Kapha (biological water), have been defined as integral components of the human anatomy. Triguna, which includes (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) are the essential components of the human mind. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are included among Mansa dosha. Precisely, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are better defined as Ayurveda mind types or psychological doshas. Tamas basically stands for resistance to action and the quality of inertia. Some people translate Tamas to indifference.

The concept of the Triguna theory not fits in the domain of energy but it is equally applicable to materialism. The mental and physical attributes of an individual in health and disordered states are determined by the dominance of either of one Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

Relationship between Tridosha and Triguna

The five-elements i.e., Pancha Mahabhutas are the building blocks of three biological humours (Tridosha) as well as Triguna (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) just as amino-acids are the building blocks of the proteins. In the human beings, either one or the other biological humour and guna are dominant either in single form or in combinations. The existence of the universe cannot be imagined without, One cannot imagine this universe without Pancha Mahabhutas i.e., the five-elements i.e., the three biological humours and Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, as they are considered to be the essential and basic entities for sustaining the life.

Characteristics of Tamas Guna

According to the view of the original Vedic tradition, Brahma stands for sattva, Vishnu stands for rajas and Siva stands for tamas. According to the Samkhya philosophy, Tamas, more commonly known as tamoguna, is one of the Trigunas. Tamoguna is considered to be dull, heavy, slow and low. Normally, Tamoguna is not in a postion to counteract by the same. Rajas or rajoguma may find it easier to counteract Tamoguna by means of the action. It is also believed that its difficult to come in state of tamas to satoguna.

According to the Samkhya philosophy, the cosmos and the human atmosphere have linkage with the basic elements. Samkhya philosophy clearly states that the microcosm is representative of the macrocosm. Samkhya philosophy sees the world under nava-dravyas, postulated as nine entities.

  • Akasha (Ether)
  • Vayu (Air)
  • Agni (Fire)
  • Jala (Water)
  • Prithavi (Earth)
  • Aatma (Soul)
  • Manas (Mind)
  • Kala (Time)
  • Dik (Direction)

Earth, water, fire, air, and mind are supposed to be atomic. Earth, water, fire and air are considered to be eternal as well as non-eternal. The mind falls in the category of an eternal thing. The mind is considered to atomic and can admit only one thought at a time.

Tamas as the Tenth Dravya

Tamas is the source of obstructions, resistance, obstacles and obstructions. Samkhya is considered to be one of the oldest philosophy of Indian origin. An eminent, great sage Kapila, an epic Indian philospher is the founder of the Samkhyavad or school of thought. Accroding to Samkhyavad, three gunas, namely sattva, rajas and tamas constitute the nature (Prakriti). The term guna, in general refers to physical property. In Samkhyavad, guna is defined as the sense of component.

  • Sattva is connected with happiness,
  • Rajas is connected with action,
  • Tamas is connected with inaction and ignorance.

In human beings, tamas is associated with negligence, coarseness, indifference and inactivity. In normal man, tamas manifests as insensitivity, inaction and ignorance.

Prakriti is considered to the material cause of the universe. The dynamism of Prakriti can be attributed to Satva, Rajas and Tamas. The gunas are neither physical properties nor the components. The gunas represents the aroma of Prakriti. Gunas are not only components Prakriti but they constitute the world-substances, which are also reproduced by Prakriti.

Prakriti is definitely homogeneous and chances of separating the components gunas are practically not possible. The gunas keep on changing the configuration, thereby making Prakriti more dynamic. A equlibrium among Satva, Rajas and Tamas is due to operation of Prakriti.

Prakriti and Satva, Rajas and Tamas can undergo changes at two levels

  • Heterogeneous
  • Homogeneous

Homogeneous changes are not able to affect equilibrium in the Prakriti and Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Heterogeneous changes are characterised by radical interaction among Satva, Rajas and Tamas, which results in disturbance in the dymanic equilibrium. This represents the primary or initial phase of the evolution.

Evolution begins with rajas coming in action. This in turn activates Satva. Satva and rajas then overpower the inertia or resistance of the 3rd triguna, tamas. Human being (Purusha) is a vital factor in disturbing the equilibrium.

Thus, tamas plays a significant role at metaphysical level. Satva and rajas have to counteract the inertia of tamas to initiate the phase of evolution. Thus in addition to nava-dravyas, posulated as nine entities, tamas can be added as tenth dravya, also it requires extensive research.

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