Ayurveda --- Gunas (An Introduction)
The term gunas is a Sanskrit term. It means qualities or you can say virtues. As we have discussed earlier also that Ayurveda lays stress on the kind, quality and environment what and where we have our meals. It also lays stress on the manner in which way the meal is prepared. According to Ayurveda the meal should be prepared with loving hands. There is one basic difference between Ayurvedic dietary guidelines and Western system of nutrition. The western system lays stress on the nutritional value of the food while Ayurveda lays stress on the quality of the food. The key concept according to Ayurveda is that there are three basic types of Gunas. These are:
1. Sattva – Sattva is considered the best attribute. It is derived from the word ‘satvik’ or sacredness. It is a calm anchor of all energies. Satvik food promotes fresh, juicy food, vegetarian and it is always easy to digest. Such food is always prepared with love. It is free from preservatives and toxic chemicals. Ayurveda always promotes sattvic food. It makes one calm and develops patience. This food includes legumes, fruits, vegetables, fresh milk, ghee, etc.
The mind in the Sattvic state shows the best traits possible: it is happy and at peace; effectively dealing with the outside world. Nature is the good source for Sattva guna. Satvic people are generally loveable, they love nature. Besides satvic food selfless service, art, spirituality, are also sources of Sattva.
2. Rajas – The Rajas people are passionate, fiery and outgoing. They usually are hard workers. They generally have good stamina. Rajasic foods usually come to play with hard labour as they support physical endurance and a resolute state of mind. They contain garlic, chile, caffeine (from coffee, black tea and chocolate), eggs, high quality meat, alcohol and fermented or freshly canned foods. Foods made in anger, fried foods or over-cooked Sattvic foods also get Rajastic qualities. Garlic , chilies, caeffiine (from coffee, black tea and chocolate), eggs, meat of high quality, etc. are included in the rajasic food. Rajas guna is mainly present in substances that cause excitement like sex-based entertainment.
3. Tamas – The people with tamasic qualities have negative traits. They are generally lethargic, depressed, or even murderous. Tamasic foods include that require a lot of energy of to digest. These foods include onions, mushrooms, meats and junk and processed foods. The long term effects of alcohol and food made with anger give rise to tamasic qualities in a person.
We have read in our previous posts about the three doshas. We have also mentioned that everyone has all these doshas – the quantity might be different. Similarly, everyone has all the three gunas. However some may have one or the other guna in excess or some in less quantity. Ayurveda lays stress on satvic or righteous life. By improving our food habits one can attain satvic way of life.