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Triguna Theory Of Ayurveda


Inborn qualities are classified in Ayurveda into three distinct categories called Trigunas. Triguna theory of Ayurveda is subject of Metaphysics. The three biological humours viz; Vata, Pitta and Kapha are integral components of the human body. Triguna (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) are integral components of the mind. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are better known as Mansa dosha (Psychic constitution). Precisely, Triguna are known as Ayurvedic mind types.

The spectrum of Triguna theory is not only confined to energy but it is applicable to materialism also. Further, the physical and mental characteristics of an individual in healthy and diseased states are determined by the predominance of one or the other of Trigunas.

Triguna theory of Ayurveda

Triguna and Origin of Life

As per Ayurvedic Metaphysical approach, the building blocks of life were omnipresent justifying the onset of creation. The origin of life was possible only a few billion years ago despite the fact that building blocks originated since time immemorial.

It has been proposed that Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (Triguna) were present on primitive earth representing the physical properties prevalent to the primitive earth. Sattva represents the energy requirements for creation. Rajas stand for the particle movements and Tamas is the inert material characterised by capacity to conversion into new forms. Tamas function under the constant influence of Sattva and Rajas.

Relationship Between Triguna and Tridosha

Pancha Mahabhutas are building blocks of three biological humours (Tridosha) as well as Triguna (Sattva, Rajas and Tama). In human beings, one or the other Dosha and Guna is dominant either singularly or in combination. One cannot imagine this universe without Pancha Mahabhutas, the Tridoshas and Trigunas as they are essential parameters for sustainability of life. Triguna and Tridosha are intrinsically related to each other as they are responsible for an integrated personality composition at the physical and psychological level.

Triguna and Pancha Mahabhutas

The Trigunatmaka description of the constitution of Pancha Bhutas is the applied aspect of philosophical concept of Gunas in the field of science and medicine. According to Sushruta, Mahabhutas are constituted by the Trigunas. Akasa is predominant with Sattva, Vayu with Rajas, Agni with Sattva–Rajas, Jala with Sattva–Tamas, and Prithvi with Tamas. According to Charaka, Vata is a combination of Akasa and Vayu, Pitta of Agni and Jala, and Kapha Dosha of Jala and Prithvi. On basis of this one can deduce the Gunas that are predominant in each of them.

  1. Vata is a combination of Sattva and Rajas Gunas but is referred to as being predominantly Rajas.
  2. Pitta is said to be more Sattva in nature, though it has an element of Rajas and Tamas.
  3. Kapha is said to be more Rajas in nature though it has an element of Sattva in it.

Thus one can understand the Doshas in respect of the Gunas exhibited by them due to the relative dominance of one or the other Pancha Mahabhutas that they are made up of.

Triguna in Relation to Personality

Triguna theory provides platform for understanding personality as a dimension of human behavioural attempt. Dhulla in her research article titled "A New Approach to Indian Philosophy and Personality – A Study" explains dynamics of Triguna. According to Dhulla, Gunas inherited by an individual can be changed due to physical, psychological and social influences and the behaviour of an individual is determined by the personality operating at that time.

Characteristics of Triguna

  1. Sattva Guna is evident by positive attitude, happiness, lightness, spiritual connection and consciousness. Sattvic state can defined as disease free body. Sattva stimulates the senses and represents intellect and knowledge.
  2. Rajas Guna is supposed to be active among Trigunas and characterised by stimulation and motion. Passion and wish to achievement are outcome of Rajas Guna.
  3. Tamas Guna has two powerful characters i.e. resistance and heaviness. It stimulates negative thoughts in the mind and induces lethargy, sleep and apathy.


Triguna represents essential energies of the mind. Individual's personality is genetically determined and dependent on domainane of Triguna. Ayurveda has described foods to be Sattvic, Rajas and Tamsa. To conclude, Gunas influence the physical, mental and intellectual level of every individual.

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