The Ayurvedic concept of mind is both broad and illuminating. A peculiarity is that is in contrast to the nature of the physical constitution (deha prakrti), the mental nature (manas prakrti) can be altered through action / procedure that alters the original or imbibes new qualities in an entity. Innumerable variations of manasik prakruti are possible because of the countless permutations and combinations of the proportionate influence of the sattva-raja-tama, at the time of conception. However, depending on the major contributing factor, the manasik prakruti is classified as sattvik prakruti, rajasik prakruti and tamasik prakruti. These are further classified into various subtypes. Though it is difficult to accurately assess one’s manasik prakruti, the following guidelines are handy.

The ‘Sattvika’ types are clean in character, have tremendous self-control, always live by their word and have sharing nature. They are endowed with wisdom, extraordinary memory, understanding and have a good convincing ability. They speak melodiously and authoritatively. They are devoid of anger, greed, pride, envy, exhilaration and intolerance. They have equal compassion for all creatures.

The features of subtypes of sattvika prakruti are as below.

Bramha: Clean clad, pure in conduct and character. They believe in the God and comprehend ‘Veda’ or the ‘Holy Scriptures’. They honor and respect the preceptors and the elderly. They perform religious ceremonies and worships.

Mahendra: Have valor and they command a large number of subordinates. They like to participate in discussions of shastra (sciences). They have lot of servants and maintain many dependents.

Varuna: Are fond of extremely cold climate and have an extraordinary forbearance. They talk very compassionately and sweetly.

Kubera: Efficient arbitrators. They can endure extreme hardships. They earn and accumulate lot of wealth through righteous means.

Gandharva: Love garlands, flowers and perfumes. They are fond of music and dancing. They like to travel a lot.

Yama: Have a strong sense of duty. They are prompt and firm in their actions. They are fearless, humble and have a spotlessness character. They do not have an attachment for mundane things.

Rishi: They have a divine contemplation. They observe complete sexual abstinence. Intellectual and wise, they are continuously engaged in performing rites and rituals.

The ‘Rajasik prakruti’ types are brave and often aggressive. They are blessed with ability to command and rule others. In the subtypes, the following prominent features are observed.

The features of subtypes of Rajasik prakruti are as below.

Asura: Rich, dreadful, valorous, hot-tempered, jealous of others, greedy and usually do not share their wealth or power.

Sarpa: Bad-tempered, timid, and are constantly irritated. They carry out laborious works. They eat hastily and are fast in sexual intercourse.

Shakuna: Have insatiable appetite and they indulge in excessive sexual intercourse. They are bad-tempered and have unpredictable behavior.

Rakshasa: Introvert and like solitude. They are ferocious, arrogant and are jealous of others achievements. They are ignorant and nonreligious.

Pishachya: Eat food partaken by others. They are shameless, irritable and adventurous. They show acquisitiveness for the fairer sex.

Preta: Have a very possessive nature. They are lazy, unhappy, envious, and greedy and very stingy. The ‘Tamasik prakruti’ types are lazy, inactive, dirty, dishonest and ignorant.

The prominent features of the Tamasik subtypes are as below.

Pashavi: Lack in judgment or prudence. They are incapable of ascertaining or discerning anything. They frequently have sexual dreams.

Matsya: Have a longing for water. Unsteady, stupid and coward they often pick up quarrels. If in power, they tend to be oppressive.

Vanaspati: Inactive and lethargic. They have craving for food and eat all the time. Devoid of any religious conviction, they do not desire wealth or enjoyment.

The gunas cannot be explained altogether distinctly from one another. Rajas, Sattva, and Tamas are mixed up with one another. They are attached to one another, serve one another, they feed on one another. They all depend on one another, and likewise follow one another. They act, unperceived, by turns in the several places in several ways. Everything in the world is made of these three gunas. The creation of the gunas is eternal. As long as there is goodness so long, darkness exists. And, as long as goodness and darkness exist, so long the passion exists. They perform their journey together, in union, and moving about collectively.

Thus the idea of the gunas hierarchic structure comes as a kind of vestige of some more archaic mythological layers. However strange it may seem, yet the most appropriate option here is the “energetic” metaphor form the natural sciences. That is, sattva can be correlated to potential energy of the system, rajas – to the kinetic one, while tamas is the lack of energy. For instance, the seed with its potency of making the new plant grow is sattvic in its nature, the plant in its full bloom is rajastic while the rotten fruit that has fallen from it is of tamas nature. But it is this very fruit that contains the new seed. The gunas are again “circulating within gunas”. Another instance is the cloud filled with rainy moisture is sattvic, the rain is of rajas nature and the water on the ground is of tamas kind yet at the same time it is of sattvic nature since it contains the possibility of the new cloud to emerge and the new crop to be grown.

The three subtle basic components (tri gunas) of Sattva, Raja and Tama are the very fabric of creation. Unknown to modern sciences, they permeate through all living and non-living, tangible and intangible things. The vibrations emitted by anything are dependent on its predominant subtle basic component. This also influences the behaviour of all things. The proportion of these components in human beings can only be changed by spiritual practice.

Sattva stands for purity and knowledge and sattvic individual lives in service of society with no expectation of recognition or reward of any ulterior motive. Rajas stands for action and passion and Rajasic individuals live more for personal gain and achievement. Tamas stands for ignorance and inertia. Tamasic individual has no problem about stepping on other’s toes to get ahead or harming the society. The qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas are predominant in the mind and can be altered according to lifestyle, diet and mental attitudes.

This article has been written by Vaidya Lakshmi L. (Consultant Physician & Head of Panchakarma Department of Chakrapani)