The first reference to the term ‘Guna’ is in 2.45 (Chapter 2, Verse 45) in the Bhagavad Gita.
“The Vedas deal with the three states or Gunas of mind. Become free from dualities; be ever balanced and unconcerned with the thoughts of acquisition and preservation. Rise above the three Gunas, and be Self-conscious, O Arjuna.” (2.45)
Here, Guna means the quality, state, or the property of mind, matter, and the nature as explained in Chapter 14 of Gita.
The term Guna refers to the ‘inherent energy’ with which the Prakriti (The Nature) is created. At individual level the Guna indicates the ‘inherent energy or tendency’ with which the human mind functions.
Krishna says in Chapter 3:
“No one can remain action-less even for a moment. Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed, by the Gunas of nature.” (3.05) The individual is a vital collection of powerful energies which drives people to work.
As Krishna says: “All works are being done by the Gunas (or the energy and power) of nature, but due to delusion of ego people assume themselves to be the doer.” (3.27)
It will be useful in approaching an ancient scripture like Bhagavad Gita to derive from it that is of value to us in the modern times. The eternal knowledge and precise expressions used in the Gita are examined here in the present context and interpreted in a way to benefit all. The Gita’s wisdom is used here to show us – how to live according to our “True Nature”.
The term Guna indicates the ‘inherent energy or tendency’ with which our mind functions. Guna theory is a theory of psychological energies or forces that determine individual inclinations and dispositions. TriGuna theory provides the explanation for the innumerable and distinctive nature of people in the world. Following table points out the influence of each Guna.
These Gunas act together and never exist in isolation. At any given time one of the Guna is dominant. The degree of predominance of one Guna over others determines your personality characteristics.
These three Gunas, in different proportions, influence the physical, mental and intellectual caliber of every individual and these influences provide the distinct flavor in each personality. Sometimes Sattva is predominant, overpowering Rajas and Tamas; sometimes Rajas prevails over Sattva and Tamas; and sometimes Tamas obscures Sattva and Rajas. The nature of things is determined by the predominant Guna, while the others are there in a subordinate position.
All three types of Gunas co-exist in every individual. You may observe their distinct individual qualities manifesting themselves during different parts of the day.
In the early hours of the day you are relatively calm and composed. Your capacity to understand is optimum. This is Sattva Guna. You feel uplifted and inspired, generally. You are relatively active during the course of the day, doing your own vocation. This is the influence of Rajasic Guna. Many a times you want to take rest, sleep, relax or enjoy. This is Tamasic Guna in operation.
The general attribute of these Guna can be explained as:
Sattva: The Positive Energy (The Spiritual Quality): It influences us toward goodness, truth, purity, knowledge through discriminative power of intellect.
Rajas: The Dynamic energy (The Active Quality): It provides energy for action to realize a cause, or pursue an interest or fulfill a purpose in life.
Tamas: The Potential energy (The Latent Quality): It provides vitality, the capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful existence.
The TriGuna composition influences qualities of human thought and behavior. They interact with each other resulting in the preponderance of one over the others. The degree of predominance of one Guna determines the individual’s personality characteristics.
These three Gunas, in different proportions, influence the physical, mental and intellectual caliber of every individual and these influences provide the distinct flavor in each personality. Sometimes sattva is predominant, overpowering rajas and tamas; sometimes rajas prevails over Sattva and tamas; and sometimes tamas obscures Sattva and rajas. The nature of things is determined by the predominant Guna, while the others are there in a subordinate position.
Characteristics: Sattva Guna is the “spiritual quality”. When Sattva Guna is dominant, a person has inherent desire to be good and caring. There is a resolute constancy of mind and senses. When Sattva is prevalent, the light of wisdom shines through the individual. Sattvic intellect clearly understands the difference between desirable and undesirable, undutiful and dutiful action. When Sattva is dominant a person does his work as a duty. An action is done with calm understanding and the person is free from doubts.
When Sattva is dominant a person pays homage to divine and spiritual values. S/he becomes capable of vast knowing and deep understanding. S/he cares for others without expectation.
The result of Sattvic actions is transparency and happiness. The outcome may appear like poison at first but gives happiness afterward. Sattva Guna gives enlightenment and health. When Sattva Guna is dominant, a person loves foods that promote longevity, vitality, endurance, health, cheerfulness and good appetite. Sattvic foods are aromatic, mild and agreeable to the body.
Strength: Respect for Gurus, non-violence, meditation, kindliness, silence, self-control and purity of character are the motive force of Sattvic action.
Limitations: Sattva Guna binds a person through attachment to happiness and knowledge. It describes the limits of ‘goodness’ though gives freedom from agitation.
The Sattva Guna also brings with it the problem of goodness. Being clean in all respect is good but when such person becomes obsessed with cleanliness and imposes this on others, they may develop negative feelings towards virtue of such clean habits.
Some salient characteristics:
Your ‘will’ is controlling your ‘desires’. (Will is the steering and brake and the desire is the accelerator).
Characteristics: This is “Intellectually active quality”. Sattva-Tamas combination produces discriminative analysis of material objects. This combination gives rise to intellectual capabilities.
Strength: When Tamas is guided by Sattva, people become very creative, inspiring and experimental. They are theoretical, intuitive and creative. They can visualize the larger perspective (the big picture) of surroundings. They can explore new avenues and possibilities.
A researcher, working dedicatedly in his laboratory, a painter working at his canvas, and an artist are examples of this combination.
Limitations: Sattva-Tamas Guna combination binds a person through attachment to creation. When the creative abilities get recognition a person submerges into this creative aspect and slowly loses basic commonsense approach to deal with the world. There is a danger of being too theoretical or simplistic.
Some salient characteristics:
Characteristics: This combination drives “skillful activity”. When the active quality of Rajas combines with latent quality of Tamas it determines your ability to deal with people and matter. It helps in building skills.
Strength: This combination gives power and ability to deal with people and your environment.
Limitations: Rajas-Tams Guna combination binds a person to his skills. Such a person starts building a series of expectations from such skills which may or may not come upto his/her satisfaction.
Some salient characteristics:
Characteristics: This is a blend of all the qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Guna. This combination indicates the quality of values and belief systems of an individual – whether the person is firm on values and beliefs or flexible or compromising. This is the common denominator.
Strength: This combination shows what you are – rigid, flexible or compromising.
Limitations: Sattva-Rajas-Tamas Guna combination shows the limitation of your personality in understanding others. Any deviation from your point of view creates conflict.
Some salient characteristics:
At any point of time one of the Guna is dominant. When a person is calm and seeking knowledge we know that Sattva Guna is dominant. When a person is active to fulfill his/her desires we know that Rajas Guna is dominant. When a person is seeking to build one’s unrealized potential we know that Tamas Guna is dominant.
The Triguna Energy Quotient (TEQ®) is structured as a personality test designed to discover one’s Guna composition. This personality quotient is derived from attributes of these Gunas as given in the Bhagavad Gita. After more than 15 years of research work on the Triguna concept, the current Triguna Energy Quotient (TEQ) has been developed. There are inbuilt validity tests to make the results reliable and consistent.
The TriGuna Energy Quotient (TEQ®) provides the explanations of psychological energies or forces that determine individual inclinations and dispositions based on composition of three Gunas. The TEQ® can help in understanding distinctive nature of people in the world and the way they work.
The TriGuna Energy Quotient TEQ® will help us in appreciating the natural differences between people, accepting this difference gladly and move on in our life to realize our own true vocation.
The TEQ® can be used as a help in
Gita is a discourse in which Krishna explains the nature of Gunas and describes various attributes of these Gunas. During the discourse he tells Arjuna that he is a warrior and he should fight the war without any expectation of results.
The TEQ® assessment makes you aware of your true nature. Though it is useful for every one, It will be very useful for some of the following categories: A. When you are at the crossroad of your career choice.