The Trigunas

Just as the doshas are the essential components of the body, the three gunas – SatwaRajas and Tamas – are the three essential components or energies of the mind. Ayurveda provides a distinct description of people on the basis of their Manasa (psychological) Prakriti(constitution). Genetically determined, these psychological characteristics are dependent on the relative dominance of the three gunas.

While all individuals have mixed amounts of the three, the predominant guna determines an individual’s mansa prakriti. In equilibrium, the three gunas preserve the mind (and indirectly the body), maintaining it in a healthy state. Any disturbance in this equilibrium results in various types of mental disorders.

Satwa, characterised by lightness, consciousness, pleasure and clarity, is pure, free from disease and cannot be disturbed in any way. It activates the senses and is responsible for the perception of knowledge. 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. While Tamas is characterised by heaviness and resistance. 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.

Rajas and Tamas, as with the doshas, can be unbalanced by stress and negative desires as kama (lust), irshya (malice), moha (delusion and halucination), lobha (greed), chinta (anxiety), bhaya (fear) and krodha (anger). Each of these three properties is also comprised of sub-types and the particular sub-type to which one belongs to determine the qualities of that individual.

Satwika individuals are usually noble and spiritual in character, their nature determined as much by body type as their star constellation, having an element of kapha in their constitution.

Satwika Subtype Qualities


Free from passion, anger, greed, ignorance or jealousy, possessing knowledge and the power of discrimination.


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.


Devotion to sacred books, study rituals and oblations. Devotion to virtuous acts, far- sightedness and courage. Authoritative behaviour and speech. Able to perform sacred rituals.


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.


Free from mean acts. Exhibition of emotion in proper place. Observance of religious rights.


Courage, patience, and hatred of impure thoughts. Liking for virtuous acts and purity. Pleasure in recreation.


Possession of wealth, attendants and luxuries. Expertise in poetry, stories and epics. Fondness for dancing singing and music. Takes pleasure in perfumes, garlands and flowers. Full of passion.

Pitta dominated Rajasikas, intellectually oriented but vulnerable to temptations, are very human in their character and approach to life.

Rajasika Subtype Qualities


Indulgence in self-praise, bravery, cruelty, envy and ruthlessness. Terrifying appearance.


Excessive sleep and indolence. Envious disposition. Constant anger, intolerance, and cruel behaviour. Gluttonous habits.


Unclean habits. Cowardly, with a terrifying disposition. Gluttonous habits. Fondness for the opposite sex. Abnormal diet and regimen.


Sharp reactions. Excessive indolance. Frequent fearful disposition. Brave or cowardly attitude depending on situations.


Excessive desire for food. Envious character. Excessive greediness and actions without discrimination.


Full of passion. Unsteadiness, ruthlessness, and excessive attitude for food.

A dominant Vata ensures that Tamasika individuals are the most down to earth, concerned about fundamental questions of practical existence, specially when confronted by more spiritual and less physical issues.

Tamasika Subtype Qualities


Lack of intelligence, forbidding dispositions, envious nature. Excessive sexual indulgence and sleep.


Unsteadiness, constant passion, and cowardice. Excessive desire for water intake.


Indolence. Excessive indulgence in food. Deficiency of intellectual faculties.

IntroductionPanchamahabhutas | Tridoshas | Trigunas | Agni Dhatus | Malas