What Are Gunas
Gunas is the term that denotes a set of qualities, primarily, of human souls. In total, there are three gunas.
The first guna is tamas, that is darkness, stupidity, ignorance.
The second guna is rajas, that is the stage when man starts the active process of self-development, transcends dumb primitiveness, grows as a warrior, and then as a leader, organizer of other people.
The third guna is sattva, that is purity, harmony, bliss, happiness.
The qualities peculiar to the gunas rajas and sattva have to be mastered sequentially by every person who wants to go further. It is impossible to bypass the sattva guna. It is impossible to merge with God without mastering the qualities inherent to this guna.
Likewise, it is impossible to bypass the rajas guna, for it is in this guna that man masters such qualities as energy, self-discipline, power.
Every evolving person has to ascend by these gunas-steps and then go higher (i.e. to the Divine states).
It should be stressed that it does not imply just the ability to feel certain
emotions; it is about the states of the
consciousness habitual to a person. And which states are habitual at the moment of ones parting with the body determines the destiny of this person for hundreds of years.
Selected Excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita
One can find the description of the gunas in the
Bhagavad Gita, in particular, where Krishna tells to His student Arjuna about the qualities of the three gunas:
14:5. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are the gunas originating due to interaction with
prakriti. They firmly bind to the body the immortal indweller of it, O mighty-armed.
14:6. Of these gunas, sattva, thanks to its unstained purity light and healthy, attaches by attraction to happiness and by the bonds of relationships (with like-minded people) and by the bonds of knowledge (about the non-important), O sinless one.
14:7. Know that rajas the field of passions is the source of attachment to the earthly life and the thirst for it that binds, O Kaunteya, the indweller of the body by attraction to action.
14:8. Tamas, born of ignorance, deludes the indwellers of bodies binding them by negligence, carelessness, and laziness, O sinless one.
14:9. Sattva attaches to bliss; rajas attaches to actions; tamas, verily, destroys wisdom and attaches to carelessness.
14:10. Sometimes the guna sattva overcomes rajas and tamas; when rajas prevails then sattva and tamas are defeated; sometimes tamas dominates defeating rajas and sattva.
14:11. When the light of wisdom shines from every pore of the body, then one can know that in this person sattva grows.
14:12. Greed, anxiety, urge to act, restlessness, worldly passions all these qualities arise from growth of rajas.
14:13. Dullness, laziness, carelessness, and also delusion all these are born when tamas grows.
14:14. If at the time of death sattva prevails in man, then he enters pure worlds of men of higher knowledge.
14:15. If prevails rajas, then he gets born among those attached to action (in the world of matter). Dying in the state of tamas, he will be born again among the ignorant.
14:16. The fruit of righteous action is harmonious and pure. Verily, the fruit of passion is suffering. The fruit of ignorance is wandering in darkness.
14:17. Sattva gives birth to wisdom. Rajas to greed. Carelessness and insanity originate from tamas.
14:18. Those living in sattva go up. The rajasic ones remain on the middle level. The tamasic ones, possessing the worst qualities, go down.
14:19. When man sees the three gunas as the only reason of activity, and when he cognizes that which is transcendent to the gunas then he comes to My Essence.
14:20. When the indweller of the body becomes free from the three gunas related to the world of matter, then such a person becomes free from births, deaths, old-age, suffering, and partakes of immortality.
Gunas and Sex