The Trigunas

Home / Ayurveda / The Trigunas

Just as the Doshas are the essential components of the body, the three GunasSatav, Rajas and Tamas – are the three essential components, emotions of the mind or energies of the mind. Ayurveda provides a distinct description of people on the basis of their Manas (psychological) Prakriti (constitution). Genetically determined, these psychological characteristics are dependent on the relative dominance of the three Gunas (emotions of mind).

Satvik is peace giving, Rajsik is sorrow giving while Tamsik is illusion giving. While all individuals have mixed amounts of the three, the predominant Gunadetermines an individual’s Manas prakriti. In equilibrium, the three Gunaspreserve the mind (and indirectly the body), maintaining it in a healthy state. There is a constant interplay of these three Gunas (qualities) in the individual consciousness, but the relative predominance of Satav, Rajas, or Tamas is responsible for individual psychological constitution.

All the three Gunas try to suppress each other. When Satvik is dominant, it suppresses Rajsik and Tamsik and creates peace and religious emotions in mind. When Rajsik is dominant, it suppresses Satvik and Rajsik, and then it creates sorrow and diseases. When Tamsik dominates it suppress the other two it creates laziness, illusion, diseases of mind etc.

All the three Gunas are dependent on each other. Satav creates light with the help of Rajas and Tamas, it lighten rajas and Tamas. So on the other two help each other.


Satvik is characterized by lightness, that’s why all the Satvik-dominating things are light e.g. fire is light it flames go upward, air is light, intellect is light. Satvik is emblem of contentment, heaven, ease, delightful in thought of GOD, tranquility welfare of others, comfort, gratification, peace. Satvik qualities imply essence, reality, consciousness, purity and clarity of perception, which are responsible for goodness and happiness.

The people in whom Satvik qualities predominate are religious, loving, compassionate; pure minded, free from disease and cannot be disturbed in any way. Following truth and righteousness, they have good manners, behavior and conduct. They do not get easily upset or angry. Although they work hard mentally, they do not get mental fatigue, so they need only several hours of sleep each night. They look fresh, alert, aware, full of luster, wisdom, joy and happiness. They are creative, humble and respectful of their teachers. Worshipping God and humanity, they love all. They care of people, animals, trees, and are respectful of all life and existence. They have balanced intuition and intelligence.

Rajsik mental constitution

Rajsik is moving in nature, it stimulate aggressiveness and excitement in mind.Rajas, the most active of the Gunas, has motion and stimulation as its characteristics. All desires, wishes, ambitions and fickle-mindedness are a result of the same.

The people in whom Rajsik qualities predominate are egoistic, ambitious, aggressive, proud, competitive, and have a tendency to control others. They are hard working people, but are lacking in proper planning and direction. They are ungrounded, active and restless. Emotionally, they are angry, jealous, ambitious, and have few moments of joy due to success. They have a fear of failure, are subject to stress, and soon lose their mental energy. They require about eight hours of sleep. They like power, prestige, position, and are perfectionists.  They are loving, calm and patient only as long as their self-interests are served. They are good, loving, friendly and faithful only to those who are helpful to them. They are not honest to their inner consciousness. Their activities are self-centered and egotistical.

Tamsik mental constitution

Tamas is heavy and resistant. It produces disturbances in the process of perception and activities of the mind. Delusion, false knowledge, laziness, apathy, sleep and drowsiness are due to it. The people in whom Tamsik qualities predominate are less intelligent. They tend towards depression, laziness, and excess sleep, even during the day. A little mental work tries them easily. They like jobs of less responsibility, and they love to eat, drink, sleep and have sex. They are greedy, possessive, attached, irritable, and do not care for others. They may harm others through their own self-interest. It is difficult for them to focus their minds during meditation.


According to domination of these Gunas mental states of human beings may be classified as follows:

    * MURDHA: In this state Tamas Tatav is dominating; Satav Tatavas and Rajas Tatav are secondary. Tamas Tatav depresses Satav Tatavas and Rajas Tatav. This state is due to Lust, Greed, Anger, Dilusion, Attachment and Desires. This is the state in which the mind is foolish, dull and stupid.  It is confounded and at a loss to know what it wants and here the quality of darkness and ignorance predominates.

* KSHIPTA: Here Rajas Tatav is dominating; Tamas and Satav Tatavas are secondary. Rajas Tatav depresses Tamas and Satav Tatavas This is the state where the mental forces are scattered, being in disarray and in the state of neglect.  Here the mind hankers after objects.
* VIKSHIPTA: Here Satav Tatav is dominating; Tamas Tatav and Rajas Tatavas are secondary. Satav Tatav depresses Tamas Tatav and Rajas Tatavas. This is the state where the mind is agitated and distracted.  Here there is a capacity to enjoy the fruits of one’s efforts, but the desires are not marshaled and controlled.
* EKAGRA:  This is also called Sampagayat-Samadhi. This is Natural state of mind. Here the intellect is like clear Crystal. The meaning of this state is One Foremost state, where the mind is closely attentive and the mental faculties are concentrated on a single object or focused on one point only quality of goodness and purity prevailing.  This type of Yogi or person has superior intellectual powers and knows exactly what he wants so he uses all his powers to achieve his purpose.  It often happens that even if the desired object is achieved it leaves behind a bitter taste.

* NIRUDDHA:   This is the state where the mind, intellect and ego are all restrained and all these faculties and worship are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service.  Here there is no feeling of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’. Here he becomes We, Us.  An aspirant, who has given up his mind, intellect and ego to the Lord, becomes one with Him for an aspirant thinks of nothing but Him, who is the creator of the cosmos, the universe, the PARBRAHAM, the OMKAR (The All Mighty).

 Each of these Gunas is also comprised of sub-types and the particular sub-type to which one belongs to determine the qualities of that individual.

Satvik individuals are dominated by kapha usually, noble and spiritual in character, their nature determined as much by body type as their star constellation.

Satvik Subtype Qualities
Brahma Free from passion, anger, greed, ignorance or jealousy, ability to create new things, possessing knowledge and the power of discrimination.  
Arsa Excellent memory, purity, love and self-control, excellent intellectual frame of mind, free from pride, ego, ignorance, greed or anger. Possessing the power of understanding and retention.  
Aindrya Like king, Devotion to sacred books, study rituals and oblations, far-sightedness and courage. Authoritative behavior and speech. Able to perform sacred rituals.  
Yamya Free from mean and conflicting desires and acts. Having initiative, excellent memory and leadership. Free from emotional binds, hatred, ignorance and envy. The capacity for timely action.  
Varun Free from mean acts. Exhibition of emotion in proper place. Observance of religious rights.  
Kuber Courage, patience, and hatred of impure thoughts. Liking for virtuous acts and purity. Pleasure in recreation.  
Gandharv Possession of wealth, attendants and luxuries. Expertise in music, poetry, stories and epics. Fondness for dancing singing and music. Takes pleasure in perfumes, garlands and flowers. Full of passion.  

Rajsik are dominated by Pitta, wavering mind, intellectually oriented but vulnerable to temptations, and are very human in their character and approach to life.

Tamsik are dominated by Vata individuals are the most down to earth, concerned about fundamental questions of practical existence, specially when confronted by more spiritual and less physical issues.

Tamsik Subtype Qualities
Pasava Lack of intelligence, forbidding dispositions, envious nature. Excessive sexual indulgence and sleep.  
Matsya Unsteadiness, constant passion, and cowardice. Excessive desire for water intake.  
Banaspatya Indolence. Excessive indulgence in food. Deficiency of intellectual faculties.