Manas – the mind

Sattva, raja and tamas – the gunas – mind is significantly affected by sattva. True nature of mind is sattva only but raja and tamas cloud it. When we clear them, sattva can reach Brahma Sattva – highest level of sattva. Side bar: Beware of misunderstanding here though, sattva is still not satya. Sattva is still the mind and not truth. Tamas is avidya of 2 types, Blissful and the other is of just plain weakness. Rajas is of aparavidya. Sattva is of paravidya or spiritual knowledge that LEADS to truth.

Body’s prakruti cannot change – it is fixed at birth due to conception. Manas prakruti however CAN change – it is not fixed and is therefore called Maha Prakruti. Anything can happen in a lifetime, it is very changeable. Never talk about Vata Pitta Kapha in referencing the mind. They do not exist there. You cannot say vata pitta in body, kapha in mind. You can say Tamas in mind. Everyone has all 3 gunas, but basic nature of manas is sattva – our beginning and end always is sattva. As baby grows raja and tamas increase. You need tamas guna to sleep.
Ayurveda considers Manasroga (mental disease) as a consequence of doshja (of vata pitta and kapha) and gunaja (Rajas and Tamas) imbalances, which result in mistakes of the Intellect (prajnaparada) which is the true root cause of all mental disorders.

The explanation:
Samprapti (pathogenesis) of manasroga Ayurvedic classics holds that the disturbance of the equilibrium of Manas Gunas leads to the origin of mental disorders along with disequilibrium of sharirika dosha. There are three qualities of mind viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. When these three remain in equilibrium state leads to mental wellbeing. When this state of equilibrium is disturbed i.e. when Rajas and Tamas Doshas are increased or reduction in the qualities of sattvaguna leads to development of Manas vikaras. Such disorders according to Ayurveda are minor. But when the somatic Doshas viz, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are involved in the process of pathogenesis, the disease produced as a result of such interaction is considered as major one. At this level there is usually marked alteration of Dhi, Dhriti and Smriti. Charaka has described the samprapti of manasroga in very systematic way. Accordingly the etiological factors primarily vitiate Raja and Tama (Manas Doshas), which affect Hridaya (the seat of intellect or brain) of an Alpasattva person and causes ManovahaSrotodusti (vitiates psychic centre .i. e. emotion etc) and give rise to different Manasroga.

Atmagnan (self knowledge), guru, bhakti (devotion to god) – all these things can help change the mind. Anyone who has more rajas/tamas than needed is diseased. We need some in order to function to support sattva – but when those take over gives suffering and is disease. We don’t have to hate the mind, sattva gives us true pleasure.

Sukha – gets amrita, not temporary pleasure. Desire brings temporary pleasure. The sattvic pleasure is very different than temporary pleasure.

Manas or Mind prakruti can change. Food and lifestyle change doshas and that can have affect on the mind, but we never say we have vata mind. All the combinations of gunas change. The state of the mind can change in a second but it isn’t very common for that to happen. What is more, from a Jyotish (astrological) perspective, one can see the changes of the mind due to time periods one is in. There is much much more to all of this when one peels back the layers with more and more detailed knowledge. For now lets keep it superficial….

Ex. The story of Angulimala tells of a fearsome bandit was tamed by the Buddha.

Example in the Ramayana – Maharishi Valmiki was born as Ratnakara to sage Prachetasa. As his family grew larger, Ratnakara took to robbery and began looting people passing from one village to another. One day, the great sage Narada, while passing through the jungle, was attacked by Ratnakara. He asked Ratnakara whether the family, for whom he was robbing others, will partake in his sins also. Ratnakara went to ask the same question to his family and on being refused by all his family members, he went back to sage Narada. Narada taught him the sacred name of ‘Rama’ and asked him to sit in meditation, chanting the name of Rama, till the time Narada came back. Ratnakara followed the instructions and kept sitting in a meditative posture for years, during which his body got completely covered by an anthill. At last, Narada came to see him and removed all the anthills from his body. Then, he told Ratnakara that his tapasya (meditation) paid off and the God was pleased with him. Ratnakara was bestowed with the honor of a Brahmarshi and given the name of Valmiki, since he was reborn from the Valmika (the ant-hill). Sage Valmiki founded his ashram at the banks of River Ganga. One day, Valmiki had the fortuity of receiving Lord Rama, His wife Sita and brother Lakshman at his ashram. Narada visited Maharishi Valmiki in his ashram once and there, he narrated the story of Lord Rama. Thereafter he received a vision from Brahma in which the Lord instructed him to write Ramayana in slokas, which the sage readily followed.


Sattva, Rajas and Tamas:—Adhesion, cohesion and disintegration in the Physical plane; affection, love and hate in the moral; emancipation, spiritual affinity and sin in the Psychic.
Simply phenomenal or the simple outcome of the phenomenal evolution without being by other specific attributes of matter and hence Sattvika or illuminating or quasi-spiritual.


Sattva can go into 7 layers of refinement. Japa, mantra, mala practice, atmagnanam (knowledge of self). Many people notice with japa (mantra practice) vrata/tapas – food tapas. Atmajnana – giving medicine and love is not enough, the most important is self knowledge. There is no room for emotions, to waste time on emotions around unworthy people just sucks one down into tamas. Suppose someone is only doing japa and doesn’t have atmajnana, won’t work to change the manas. If you have self knowledge, but no food, will fall asleep during practice.

Japa – mantra practice

Vrata – tapas like fasting

Atmajnana – self knowledge

Charaka Samhita, Shariristhana, chapter 4, shloka 36 – 3 kinds of manas:

  • Sattvic means Kalyana – beneficial, auspicious, beautiful, right, beneficial to all, not just self. Truly beneficial. Kalyaana buddhi – the mudra of the hand held up palm out thumb and first finger touching. Your whole life becomes an agent of right action. Beneficience.
  • Arosha – anger passion excitement, anger is the leader though. Action
  • Moha – not just attachment, but blind attachment and addictions. Sensual stickiness. Can’t get away from it. You don’t even have ability or desire to get away. Most people live in this state. Stuckedness.
  • Trividham Khalyu Sattvam– 3 conditions/dimensions, entirely of mind. No chakras, no devas, no deities come here, just these 3 conditions form the complete mind. Every mind needs all 3 but in holy person, the sattva component is very high, and the rajas and tamas are smaller but still necessary for speech and sleep.

Acharya Sushrut explains further:

Sattvic mind denoted by:

  1. Daya/compassion – kindness, ability to have pity. The person without this will hurt animals, no pity. The person who has this ability will have lots of compassion, but must have clear boundaries as well. Truthful compassion is at the bottom of their being. Forgive them for they know not what they do. Its hard for us who have all this compassion, but keep letting them be that way. Most people that are in a state of compassion come from it from a place of what is being done to them. Think for a minute of what they do to themselves. Think of how what they do affects others. To go to that darkness is the only place that real compassion comes from.
  2. Non-accumulation of material things – no obsession about material goods. Sattvic mind will stop having interest in accumulating material wealth. Want to distribute and share what they have. You can still go and buy things, but you may find you give them away. No attachment or build up around these things. Tamas people concerned with how big a car or house they have. Sattvic people may live in big house because they are abundant, but they are not about it. These so called gurus that have these huge foreign tourist ashramas, how big is their bank balance? In America there has been a huge growth in the number of gurus as well. Just sit and think for a moment. Really. A real sadhu has nothing. Any material properties is just karma. Everything you own means that it comes with more responsibility and accumulation of even more karma. How naive we are.
  3. Equitable – not homophobic or racist. Just not their nature. Can’t hurt anyone. When you become equitable, sattva increases. Must be able to see the opposite side and have discernment. Discernment is born out of knowledge. The more you know the larger the view of what life is as well as the discernment of what is beneficial and what is not. Understanding this much more subtle is to realize that a satvic person is not going to be hanging around a group of people that are excessive, rajasic and tamasic, party and do drugs and intoxicants. This is just not in anyway conducive to a life that is in a higher path. Judgement of them is not there either but discernment is. The more satvic the life, the more discernment there is.
  4. Satya – attachment to truth telling. A preference for speaking truth – not so that you hurt someone, but a calm way of expressing truth. Also will speak truth not militantly. When people tell the truth just to avoid one’s own discomfort it is not satya. Better to say I need time to think about the right words, than speak anger. Compassion and fairness coexist with truth.
  5. Titiksha – a vedantic concept of compassion, satya, desire to understand concept of dharma and then desire to live it, faith – almost a religious faith. Even to have a religious faith is better than no faith at all, because to have a belief in something outside of yourself is absolutely necessary for sattvic mind. Sattva increases the love affair with god. Sattvic people cry for God. because they have belief, in vedic sense, understanding beyond a concept in/of Moksha. People who don’t have that will have this inner guilt that causes them to attack (atheists etc.) Many times rajas tamas people will really hound the sattvic people.
  6. Faith/Belief – reincarnation. We are all here because we want the truth, and we are here to improve our karma.
  7. Grantha – attachment, joy and knowledge of the granthas. Have memory of granthas – big concepts stick with you. People who are not sattvic, are not interested in knowledge of self. Lack of emphasis around sadhu knowledge, granthas. This shows our sattva. Similarly, when you read this knowledge it increases sattva. Will never take you off the path. Will only lead you further along.
  8. Like Atmajnana – enjoy meditation, reflection, walking in nature
  9. Buddhi of special kind – investigative and interested in learning more about their buddhi.   Curious, open, investigative
  10. Good memory – memory starts increasing in Sattva. Important for smrutti – memory for discrimination. Otherwise you go on and on in the same path of rajas and tamas. Very important so that you can remember discernment. A sattva person has a memory of 10 lifetimes. Raja tamas will have short memory of immediate pleasure. No permanent memory for a tamas person
  11. Dhrutti/Endurance increases – we should endure problems. As we are learning to endure, it makes us stronger. The quality of rajas people are always complaining about body mind soul society etc. a sattvic person endures. Open your mouth like kali and eat the experience. Calmness. If something happens that is more difficult, sit with it. Not repression or suppression, but consciousness and experience.
  12. Nishkambhavana – don’t work only for the desire for phala/fruit. This is an extremely interesting one. The goals and achievement don’t exist in a stavic person. No focus on karma phala. Don’t work to receive incentive to do it. Doesn’t mean they won’t receive money for their efforts, but the state of mind is just to keep working, not to become saint or famous or rich. Desire makes it difficult to receive the knowledge that comes to you. It is a blockage. Learn with nishkambhavana/un-attachment to reward. That attachment will cause distraction.


  1. Athidukha – excessively having difficulties. Sometimes Tamas doesn’t know that there isn’t a problem but Rajas knows there is a problem – therefore they suffer more. Dukha often. A lot of time rajas feels its too much – everything. Mind fluctuating too much. Physical wandering too much – from this place to that one, from this teacher to that one. Many many workshops in different things trying to become better and so not present to them self. Like a lost soul always on the move. No stability and don’t even know what they want when rajas has increased so much. Ex. People suddenly showing up at your house and grabbing you because they don’t want to be alone. Constant visiting, constant socializing, constant movement. To another person may feel like the person is compulsive, loose, strange, suffering, sorrowful, complaining, mental wandering, physical wandering, too much change going on. Can’t master anything, cause they are going from one to another to another. Another place you find this is in the trying to fix everything world, new age healing.

Only one natural state of mind is sattva, any other state is rajas or tamas is vikruti. First we clear our minds, then we wonder why we are here. That is where the curiosity of self knowledge comes in. It takes stillness to get anywhere near that. When we diagnose we can say current start state is prakruti – sattvic, rajasic, tamasic. But when we view from a state of true health, there is only one healthy state – sattvic.

  1. Very little endurance, quickly get overwhelmed and anxious. Little endurance, can be some tendency towards lying – its necessary not because they are corrupt.
  2. Ahamkara – egotism, sense of pride, sense of ME. In advanced situations it is a bloated concept of self. These are the people who talk a lot about themselves. Too excited about country, religion etc. pride, pride, pride. Excessive commitment to self-identification. I am a yogi. My country, my husband, my religion.
  3. Excessive material desires – love, lust, money/artha, food… I want this, I want that. Even This is action-oriented desire from sense of discontentment and lack of completion. Desires are like the gnats we see in spring in summer that surround us. Let go of desires – be present in the moment. What you will see in time is that those desires are only in that moment and later there will be others and the previous ones don’t matter if even exist anymore. Desires are confusing and make us become like a blind person running all around. Followed by rosha/generic term for all rajas emotions that come up like anger – because nobody can fill all those desires. We hold onto things because we have a desire, but everything we have is by the grace of god. Have the small desire to have an open buddhi so we can connect with god. Desire can mislead us. Desires dislocate us. What we have to be, nobody can stop, but our desires lead us nowhere, only buddhi leads us anywhere. Slowly desires become weak when we focus on our discrimination and buddhi. Viveka – pravritti and nivritti marga -> towards and away from consciousness. It is interesting how everything always takes care of itself when there are no desires. Desire is also the cause for all rebirth.

If our relationships do not meet our desires then we create resentment, which creates disharmony, and then lying and so on and so forth. Krodha – anger – desires lead to this anger when they aren’t met.

Money in itself is not a bad thing – when earned in support of right action. Do it in a dharmic way. If you only obsess about money, rajas prakruti. Money for money’s sake. Overemphasis on lust, sex, money, etc.

  1. Excessive happiness – desires constantly being filled, creates temporary happiness.


  1. Mudhata – not showing intelligence or thought. Ignorant, unconsciousness – unintelligent behavior. Hurting someone knowingly or ourselves knowingly, this is unintelligent behavior and tamas is dominant.
  2. Nobody achieves moksha, no one is good, god is fake. Not intelligent enough to see the sunrise and see that there is something more to this existence. No belief in dharma. Dharma is a universal value that people all over the world understand in different words. Denying. Their excuse for not being dharmic will explain in this yuga that you can’t follow any dharmic laws due to culture or being cheated or…. The Saddhus have said that in satyoga everyone is 4/4 of dharma, now kaliyuga we are in ¼ dharma – the rajas person agrees with dharma when in satsang and not other time. But in tamas will not agree to dharma ever.
  3. Buddhi cannot differentiate between mithya and amithya – eternal and temporary. Sat/Asat – truth and untruth.
  4. Laziness – complaining
  5. Excessive sleep
  6. Agnanitam – ignorance. You could teach granthas but they wouldn’t appreciate nor understand.
  7. Cannot make decisions also. Will stay in a pattern – abuse, addiction, subjugation pattern etc. A tamas person will stay locked in those patterns.

Sushrut further clarifies the kinds of mind into 7 Sattvic categories, 6 Rajas categories, 3 Tamas categories.

For more please see


5 thoughts on “Manas – the mind

  1. What about the various indicators in the ancient texts of the physical dosha with mental characteristics? How does VPK associate with these in your opinion, as you mention there is some go between as the food-lifestyle affects dosha which affects mind. Also, what of Sushrut’s linking of sattva-rajas-tamas with the elements? (i.e. vayu=rajas,akash=sattva, prthvi=tamas,etc.). Along these lines, could one then say that more kapha dominance in body may lead to more tamasic tendencies in mind if there is increased earth element, while one may have a greater tendency to sattva with increased water element (or other elements pending on individual constitution) if properly balanced?

  2. MM…as you know translations don’t help much. My copy of that sloka goes into explaining qualities of sattva sara but little on the topics above or thier interface with doshas.

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