Understanding Gunas

Margaret Kruszewska

Yesterday’s entry started me thinking about the much misunderstood “tamasic” guna described in yogic philosophy, actually arising from Ayurvedic principles.

The gunas are used to describe the physical world:  there are 3 forms- “sattvic” “rajasic” and “tamasic”  – everything is a combination of these 3 states of gross matter.  Food is categorized this way, as are personalities and activities. 

Sattvic has come to mean the purest, most subtle form, rajasic is associated with fiery active states and foods that stimulate and tamasic has a grounding effect but has often been described as the “bad” guna (as in lazy, impure, sleepy, contaminated, yucky).

But we have to remember that we are a combination of all these states and, for someone like myself who often enjoys rajasic energy and aspires to more sattva, learning about tamasic inert energy is an exercise in balance.

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