What Are The Three Gunas of Hinduism?

Human consciousness is complex; so complicated in fact that modern science is struggling to come to terms with the unpredictable and explainable “phenomena” that is pure consciousness.

Three Gunas elicit light and calmness of mind

Scientists that do attempt to explain the nature of consciousness are criticised for their “pseudo-scientific views” and labelled “cranks.” It’s a harsh stance to take – especially when the daggers are thrown by deluded minds.

Ancient sages seemed to have the nature of consciousness nailed thousands of years ago, but modern man seldom listen. We typically write ancient wisdom off as primordial.

The reason for that is because most modern thinkers are considered superior to our ancient ancestors. And what a shallow view this is. The majority of us today fall for the trapping of the material world.

The wise men of old were more connected to nature and divided human nature into three categories of personality. They called them the three modes of material nature, otherwise known as The Three Gunas.

Bhagavad Gita 14:20

When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.

The three gunas are primal energies of Cosmic Intelligence that encompass matter, life and mind. They are grouped into three categories of human nature; sattva, rajas and tamas.

The subtle qualities of nature manifest in the conscious mind and the sub-conscious mind. They form the spectrum of consciousness which eventually develops as physical and spiritual experiences and help us to understand how the mind functions.

What is human nature?

Human nature forms through various forces of consciousness and can either mature into wisdom or root as ignorance. Human nature is affected by the clarity we obtain from enlightened thoughts, or the delusions that result in negative experiences.

The manifestations of these subtle energies are determined by our choice of lifestyle. We are naturally prone to error, but unless we are willing to understand and atone for our errors we are more susceptible to harm, confused thinking and physical illness.

Individuals that are not prepared to pull back the veil of delusion will live in darkness and be unable to control the mind. Painful experiences subsequently occur more frequently.

The false reality is a pool of delusion

For self-conscious individuals that actively look to improve their lifestyles and attitudes promote positive energy on a daily basis and will be rewarded with a rational, calm and peaceful mind.

The three gunas bind themselves to the ego which ultimately creates our personal nature. These energies are then projected outwards from the internal world of the mind – which we are mostly unconscious of – into the physical world where it manifests as reality.

In general, the mind is unstable and fluctuating thoughts cause us to lose control of our emotions and actions. Negative thoughts also secrete toxic chemicals from the brain and cause illness.

It is therefore important to understand how energies appear in our conscious psyche.  The ultimate goal is to identify habits that are self-harming. The challenge is to find the strength and willingness to change.

By altering or adapting our lifestyles and the choices we make in life, we can physically improve our nature and find the path to living in peace and harmony.

And the three gunas are:

Rajas, Tamas and Sattva. Rajas and Tamas are moderate to poor habits that are ultimately the cause of mental disharmony and agitation. Sattva is a healthy and responsible way of living that result in a well-balanced nature of being.


Tamas is a negative energy that gravitates downwards and creates obstructions, delusion and ignorance. It makes us lazy, insensitive and passive.

People that are prone to tamastic energies live unhealthy, chaotic lifestyles. They are typically unconscious of the effect their actions have on other people and tend to ignore their own problems.

The following natures come from tamas energy:

  • Oversleep
  • Over eat
  • Do not exercise
  • Eat a lot of meat
  • Indecisive
  • Ignorant
  • Arrogant
  • Judgemental
  • Poor memory
  • Vain
  • Boastful
  • Unreasonable
  • Bad ideas
  • No self-control
  • Bouts of fear
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Use intoxicating substances like drugs and alcohol on a regular basis

Tamas is often the result of psychological blockages that have rooted themselves in our sub-conscious which is then transferred to our ego. The ego is our nature.

People that suffer from tamasic energy become repressed, stagnant and tend to blame others for their own problems. When they are ill or experience problems, they do not seek proper help and hope the problem will just go away.

Tamas: negative energies lurk in the shadows


Because Tamasic types do not take responsibility for themselves, they are easy to influence and often led astray by dominate characters.  Tamasic energies put your future at risk!


Rajastic people are energetic and motivated to succeed, but oftentimes will burn themselves out. Too much activity and turbulence upsets the equilibrium of balance.

The nature of Rajas is a longing for recognition and an attachment to worldly possessions which compels us to seek an affluent lifestyle.

Although Rajas energy is stimulating, it evokes desire and passion which compels us to seek happiness on the outside rather than the inside. The distortion of Truth creates a false impression of the world which ultimately leads to pain and suffering.

Whilst it is true that Rajastic people can be materially successful in the physical world, because they are not conscious of their spiritual nature, their minds are often restless and emotionally unstable.

Rajas nature can be detected by the following qualities:

  • Ambitious
  • Pride
  • Valour
  • Endurance
  • Argumentative
  • Jealous
  • Harmful to others
  • Cruel
  • Critical
  • Anxious
  • Harbouring desires
  • Studious
  • Deceitful
  • Disrespectful
  • Accept gifts and compliments
  • Attachment to dancing and music
  • Passionate

Although the attributes and qualities of Rajas are both good and bad, we should look to balance our energies with better living in order to bring about the best qualities of Rajas.

If you do everything by moderation you can improve Rajas, but there is also a need to adopt more Sattvic ways of living in order to purify the negative energies that exist in Rajas.


Ayurvedic practitioners maintain that the Sattvic way of life brings us in tune with our inner-self and helps us to discover our True Nature. It cultivates purity and peace of mind which creates harmony and stability in our lives.

Sattva gives you peace of mind

Sattvic energy starts from within and moves upward to connect us with the soul – our higher conscious. This is the Cosmic Intelligence where we find our True Nature.

Connecting with our higher self enables us to have clarity of thought and an abundance of love. It lifts the veil of delusion and liberates the mind from the bondage of the material world.

Sattva energy promotes the best qualities of our nature and enables us to draw positives from negative situations. We are more consciously aware of our thoughts, emotions and actions which give us more control our environments.

Sattavic people are generally more creative and healthy because they cut of the negative roots which grow as erratic behavior and disease. Not only do they look after themselves physically and mentally, they are generally more open-minded. When something bad happens in their life they strive to understand what caused it. Life is always a learning curve.

The qualities of Sattva are:

  • Joy
  • Satisfaction
  • Happiness
  • Contentment
  • Free from fear
  • Enlightenment
  • Clarity of thought
  • Confident
  • Modest
  • Forgiving
  • Self control
  • Considerate

It should be noted that we should not bind ourselves to the virtues of Sattva energy, otherwise we upset the balance of duality. However, if your nature is predominantly Tamas, try incorporating Sattva into your life.

The way to live in Sattva is to do more exercise, eat less meat, inorganic and healthy foods, drink less alcohol, caffeine and soda and abstain from taking intoxicating substances.

We should also respect the nature and opinions of others and try to bring more harmony into our lives. Sattva gives us the clarity of vision to alter our perceptions which allows us to find peace of mind.

The mind cannot be freed from chaos and clutter until we bring our energies into balance. By using the three gunas as a guide, our modes of nature will fall into place and ultimately improve our quality of life.

5 thoughts on “What Are The Three Gunas of Hinduism?”

  1. Putting names to certain energies, I’m so glad I found this. I was just posting about clarity on some of my facebook groups. I’ll share this as well. Thank you so much.

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