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Rajas and Tamas

Student question : The best way to balance Tamas and Rajas is to avoid tamasic and rajasic lifestyle ? Like trying to be sattvic in lifestyle and eat sattvic food, isn’t there an antidote for tamas and rajas ?

Answer : “Pathogenic factors in the body are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, while those in the mind are Rajas and Tamas.” CS.SU.1.57

The Caraka Samhita establishes that the causes of psychological disorders are due to Rajas and Tamas gunas in the above sutra. Note that Caraka does not say that the three doshas are causing mental problems.

To treat Tamas you need to use Rajas. In lifestyle therapies we need to use methods (Rajas) and practice (Rajas) in order to remove the stagnation (Tamas) or bad habits (Tamas). We cannot use Sattva to treat Tamas as it is too light and does not have action (rajas) or movement (rajas) that are needed to change Tamas.

Trying to live a Sattvic lifestyle without a structured method (Rajas) will not give you results. The only real antidote to Tamas is Vidya (knowledge) and the only real Vidya is the knowledge of the Self or Atman. So this Atmavidya is the only true antidote to Tamas.

In essence, according to the Samkhya Darshana all of the manifestation comes from the principle of Rajas or action. Without the basic principle of active movement the creation could not manifest. The main expression of Rajas is Prana as the cosmic energy of creation (Pranashakti) and secondarily, the five forms of expression, or five motor organs.

From the other two gunas the manifestation arises in subtle and solid forms. The Sattvic principle controls the mind and senses. The Tamasic principle controls the sense objects, the five states of matter and the resulting physical manifestation. These are the cosmic roles of the three gunas.

In modern society we are mentally a mix of the three gunas. Our culture demands a Rajasic mentality and often we become fixed in ideas or emotions that indicate Tamas. The ancient methodology to develop Sattva is to increase Rajas to move the inert Tamas. A Tamasic mind cannot be changed directly by Sattva. One has to use Rajas (a method or action) to diminish the inertia of Tamas as stated above. Pure Sattva is basically unheard of today, as our culture does not support it. If someone is saying that they are predominately Sattva it most likely indicates a dominance of Tamas or self-delusion.

Basically any structured method is good and can help us to balance the mind. I have detailed information on these processes in two Webinars :
- Part One : Ayurvedic-Psychology-Overview
- Part Two : Ayurvedic-Psychology-Application

Or full information can be found in this textbook :

Clinical Protocols and Treatments in Ayurveda (Volume 3)

or in this book which goes into greater details :

Psychology of Transformation in Yoga –

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