Sattva Guna -- The Mode of Goodness

The term gunas is a Sanskrit term. It means qualities or you can say virtues. 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.  


  1. 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


  1. Tamas – The people with tamasic qualities have negative traits. They are generally lethargic, depressed, or even murderous.


Now we shall discuss sattva guna in detail. Ayurveda always lays stress on satvic mode of life. We have already mentioned that sattva guna means pure, is illuminating and its free from all sort of bad deeds. Sattva means control on mind and senses, tolerance, and sticking to one’s duty. Sattva guna lays stress on truthfulness, mercy, generosity, charity, simplicity and humbleness.


In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna classifies foods, activities, mindsets, etc. in terms of  the gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. Now we shall discuss in detail what should be done to increase satvic qualities in ourselves:

  1. Spend lonely hours with nature: Today’s life is full of hustle and bustle. There is no time for anyone to spend in leisure.  Spending leisurely time in  the lap of nature helps us know ourselves. Therefore to know about ourselves we must go to the mountains and the forests to spend time and meditate. All these help develop satavic qualities in ourselves.

  1. Go to bed early, rise early: An age old English dictum ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise. This is true in Ayurveda also.

Avoid working late at night, especially during midnight. It develops Tamasic attributes in human beings. Our body is also not biologically fit to work at night. Since time immemorial our ancient rishis and sages have mentioned the demons; an attribute of evil the nishachars – (one who roams during the night).

  1. Stay away from intoxicants, and adopt vegetarian way of life : Intoxicants develop tamasic attributes in ourselves. Similarly we should avoid non-vegetarian food as far as possible. Onion and garlic, even though belonging to the vegetable kingdom, are known to increase tamas guna; avoid them along with other non-vegetarian food.

Sattvic is a way of life. It depends on our daily routine.  Though during the modern life it is not possible to lead a pure sattvic life yet it is important that we should lead a righteous life and strive to lead a sattvic life as far as possible.

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