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The Three Gunas

by Swami Sivananda

Gunas And Vrittis

The mind has three Gunas, viz., Sattva (light, bliss, goodness), Rajas (passion, motion) and Tamas (inertia, darkness). There are three Vrittis in the mind corresponding to the three Gunas. Santa Vritti (peace) comes out of Sattva Guna, Ghora Vritti from Rajo Guna and Mudha Vritti from Tamo Guna. Equilibrium or balance is Santa Vritti; anger is Ghora Vritti; laziness (Alasya), carelessness (Pramada) and drowsiness (Tandri) are Mudha Vrittis.

Characteristics Of Sattva Guna

Sattva Guna is purity. It is Prakasa (illumination, light). Sattva Guna is a force favourable for the attainment of Moksha. Daivi Sampat-virtues such as fearlessness, purity of heart, etc.,-will confer liberation on you. The effect of Sattva Guna is Brahmavichara (enquiry or search for Truth; differentiation between Sat and Asat, what is real and what is unreal.)

A Sattvic mind is always steady. It finds delight internally. It may stick to one place indefinitely. It keeps friendship with persons for a long, long time. It can read the Gita or the Yogavasishtha any number of days. It can live on Dal-roti for years together without any grumbling.

During Sattvic moments, when there is preponderance of pure Sattva in the mind, you are in touch with the Divine Source owing to the cleanness of the mind-mirror. You will get inspiration. You will compose beautiful poetry, etc. Preserve those inspired writings. Jot them down in your notebook.

Sattvapatti is a state of mind wherein the mind is full of Sattva or purity. There is purity of thought (Bhava-Samsuddhi) and purity of heart (Sattva-Samsuddhi). It is the fourth Jnana-Bhumika or fourth stage of Jnana.

Characteristics Of Rajo Guna

Rajo Guna is a hostile force to pull you down into Samsara. Asuri Sampat-vices like Dambha, Darpa, Krodha, etc.-will drag you down into hell. A mind endowed with Sattva Guna will make a man still and inactive, while a mind with Rajo Guna will make him restless. It will not allow him to sit idle and will force him to work.

The Rajasic mind always wants new sensations and variety. It likes certain persons, objects and places now and, after some time, it becomes disgusted with them and wants new persons for company, new vegetables to eat, new books to read and new places to see (finds pleasure in sightseeing).

The mind of Rajasic type wants always company and talk. These are the two defects which distract the mind much. Avoid company. Live alone. Observe Mouna. You will get peace of mind. Most of the pain comes from bad company. Be careful in the selection of your companions. You will rarely find a good, sincere friend. Never take a friend into your close confidence without testing him for a long time. There is no company or talk in Brahman who is Asanga and Asabda.

The Rajasic mind has a tendency to look into the defects of others. It also remembers the bad deeds or wrongs done by others and forgets easily their good acts. These two tendencies intensify hatred and cause frequent disturbance in the mind.

A mind which is devoid of Sattva Guna will not be good enough to consider others' happiness as its own and will, therefore, be ever reeling. Again, as this mind has not the complacency to rejoice at another's virtues, there is no internal contentment. Then, as it does not consider others' sufferings as its own, there arises in it no compassion for them.

It is the Rajasic mind that splits, separates, divides and deceptively shows plurality (Nanatva). The sun is one. The moon is one. Akasa is one. The idea behind languages is one. The feeling of sincerity is one. There is no inside or outside. Husband and wife become one in heart. Intimate friends are one in heart. Matter is one. Energy is one. Sattvic mind is one. It unifies. Cosmic Mahat is one. Karma (law of cause and effect) is one. Dharma is one. Religion is one. Truth is one. Brahman is one. Ekameva Advitiyam Brahma (Brahman is one without a second).

Intense Rajas takes Sattvic turn. Dacoit Ratnakar became the sage Valmiki. Jagai and Madhai, who were intensely Rajasic and who pelted stones at Lord Gouranga, became his first disciples.

Importance Of Sattva Guna

The real peace of mind does not come from outside. It is produced in the same mind when the mind is controlled and its thoughts are checked. You must put forth great efforts to check the passions and desires. Then alone will your aptitude for activity be subdued and you will be at rest and your thoughts will be stilled. Develop, therefore, Sattva Guna by Japa, Vichara, Satsanga, meditation, light Sattvic food, Tapas and Svadhyaya.

An ordinary worldly-minded man can hardly hear the inner voice of Atman. He cannot get pure thoughts or Vichara (enquiry into Self) also. Every Sattvic (pure) thought emanates from Sattvic Buddhi (pure intellect). In the case of worldlings, all thoughts proceed from the mind only. He who does Nishkama Karma Yoga (selfless service) and has purity of the mind, begins to entertain thoughts of God and meditation. Generally, the mind raises various sorts of curious, fantastic thoughts. It deludes all. It may pretend to do Vichara also. But, when it comes to actual practice, it will do nothing. If there is a serious determination in you to concentrate and, if you put it into actual practice for months steadily and, if the longing for Darshana of God or Self-realisation becomes keen and acute, then alone think that all these kinds of thoughts proceed from your Sattvic Buddhi only.

All Sadhanas aim at the development of Sattva Guna and the attainment of pure, irresistible Will. This will bring about Avidya Nivritti (removal of ignorance) and Paramananda-Prapti (Sat-Chit-Ananda state). Increase of Sattva Guna and pure, strong, determined Will pave a long way in achieving God-realisation.

In the world also, there are persons with a few Sattvic virtues such as patience, generosity, forgiveness, etc. But, a spiritual aspirant tries to develop the mind as a whole, to acquire all Sattvic virtues.

 

 


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