The term 'rajas' literally means the active quality of mind. It is among the triguna(three fundamental qualities). [A.S. Sutra Sthana 1/29] It is characterized by enthusiasm, activity, and interest. Intellectual constitution, bio categorization, or body-mind categorization is a fundamental concept in ayurveda. Every individual has unique physical, physiological, and psychological attributes. Ayurveda provides a structure to help understand an individual's mental composition. The differences among the individuals can be easily understood by understanding the concept of sharira and manas prakriti (somatic and psychic composition). The concept of the manas in ayurveda includes details of psychology, mind, and mental health. Characteristics of mana (mind) are three in number viz. sattva, rajas, and tamas. These three represent consciousness, activity, and inertia, respectively. When any one of these three is found dominant in an individual, that reflects the individual's nature. In Shreemad bhagwat Geeta, three character qualities or the triguna are described in detail. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are described as triguna of prakriti
- Sattva guna is the trait of intelligence or light, which is the trait of complete stability.
- Rajas guna represents action, motion or ignorance.
- Tamas guna represents inactivity and darkness.
These three initial characteristics work in unison, forming all the substances in this universe. Rajas guna is responsible for the activity of any object in the universe[Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana1/9] and Sankhya ideology. It represents action, creation, and passion. Hence it is one of the attributes of the mind.[Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/57] [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 8/5]
This article describes the concept of rajas guna and its importance in healthcare practices.
|Section/Chapter||Concepts / Rajas|
Bhojani M.K.1, |
Joglekar Aishwarya 2
1 Department of Kriya Sharira, A.I.I.A. , New Delhi, India |
2 Department of Samhita Siddhanta, D. Y. Patil college of Ayurved and research centre, Pune, India
3 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
4 Department of Kayachikitsa, G.J.Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabhvidya Nagar, Anand, Gujarat, India
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of publication:||March 02, 2023|
Shabdakalpadruma mentions multiple synonyms of the term 'raja' such as action, mutation, excitement. Some other meaning of the word rajas in other contexts are paraga (pollens), strikusuma (menstrual blood), dhuli(dust) etc., change, creation, generation, and passion. In the present context, rajas as guna of prakriti (as mentioned in Sankhya Philosophy and Bhagwadgeeta) and mana (according to ayurveda) is considered.
The word rajas is acquired from two terms, 'ranja' (means to be attached or devoted to) and 'asunnalopah' (something), rajas is bound with the sansara, it refers to attachments, desires, greed and who doesn't have satisfaction in life.
Rajas guna is the quality representing activity, variability and urgency, second of the three guna. [Monnier Williams dictionary]
- Rajas dominant individuals are bound with doshas, active, greedy, rosha amsha (anger/wrath) [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/36].
- Rajas dominant individuals have qualities such as cunningness, unhappiness (dukkha), selfishness, cruelty, self-appraisal, anger, and desirousness. [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/18]
- Ashtanga Sangraha has considered sattva, rajas, tamas as mahaguna. [A.S. Sutra Sthana 1/29]
Description of rajas dominance in Shreemad Bhagavad Geeta
Rajas dominant individuals are bound with samsara (the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery and death), attachments, desires, and greed and don't have life satisfaction. [Shreemadbhagwat Geeta, Gunatraya vibhaga Yoga, 14/7-17]
Following are the characters of rajas guna:
- Ragatmaka: leads to attachment to material happiness and sexual urges
- Trishna samudbhava: derived from excessive desire and ambition
- Karmasangena badhnati jeevam: binds the soul through attachment to actions
- Lobha: greediness
- Pravritti: excess involvement
- Arambha: commencement of different karma or actions
- Karmanamashama spruha: Excessively driven towards
- Dukkha: cause of sorrow and unhappiness
Rajas guna and panchamahabhuta relations
Vayu mahabhuta is dominant in rajas guna, with chalatva (movement) as common quality. Agni mahabhuta is dominant in sattva and rajas guna. They have common qualities like prakashatva (illumination) and chalatva (movement).[Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/20], [Dalhana on Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/20] Thus, it can be stated that the dravya with vayu and agni mahabhuta constitution dominate rajas guna.
Rajas and vata dosha
Relation between food and rajas guna
The Bhagwat Geeta mentions different types of diet preferred by individuals of sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika constitution.[Shreemadbhagwat Geeta, Gunatraya vibhaga Yoga, 14th Chapter] The individuals with rajasika constitution are fond of food with bitter (katu), sour, salty, and hot. This food is tikshna (sharp, pungent), excessively dry (ruksha), and causes a burning sensation in abdomen and gastrointestinal tract (vidahinah).These foods can cause mental suffering (dukkha, shoka) and affliction with different diseases (amayam). Thus, the rajas dominance can be determined by the type of food he prefers to eat.
Manas prakriti and types of rajasika constitution
The predominance of a particular guna in mind impacts the psychological constitution. This becomes the predominant manas prakriti or psychic trait of the person.[Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 8/5-6] Three types namely sattvika, rajasika and tamasika based on the predominance of particular guna are described.[Cha.Sa. Sharira Sthana 3/13] The rajasika constitution develops due to "roshansha" or dominance of anger, hyperactivity and negative emotions. It is broadly classified into six sub-types as follows:
- Asura (traits resembling negative personalities): This type of people are brave (shura), cruel (chanda), jealous of others (asuyaka), having prosperity (aishvaryavat), deceitful (aupadhika), having terrifying personality (rudra), merciless (ananukrosha), selfish/ self-indulged (atmapujaka) in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
- Rakshasa (traits resembling extra human characteristics): This type of person are intolerant (amarshina), show anger most of the time (anubandha kopa), aggressive or violent (chhidraharin), cruel (krura), fondness towards food (ahara atimatraruchi), love eating meat (amishapriyatama), excessive sleep (swapnabahula), hard worker (ayasabahula), jealous (irshyu) in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
- Paishacha (traits like a dead body): This individual consumes excess food (mahashana), fond of female attention (straina), love company of female (strirahaskama), have unrestricted food intake (mahashana),have unclean habits (ashuchi), don't bother about cleanliness (shuchidveshina),cowardly (bhiru), makes others frightful or intimidate others (bhishayitram), have unusual diet and lifestyle in comparison to others (vikrita vihara ahara shila), in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
- Sarpa (traits like snake): This type of people are fearless when they are angry (kruddhasura), frightful when not angry (akruddhabhiru),hard workers (ayasabahula), very sharp in activities (tikshna),always lives in fear (santrasra gochara),loves eating food and activities (ahara vihara para), in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
- Praita (traits like a dead body): This type of people love eating food a lot (aharakama),always in suffering (atidukhashil acharopachara), jealous of other people (asuyaka),have no discrimination in behavior (asamvibhagina), very greedy(atilolupa),don't like to perform any work (akarmasila) in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
- Shakuna (traits of bird): This type of person shows devotion for passion (anushaktakama), overindulge in food and activities (ajastramaharaviharapara), unstable conduct (anavasthitatva),very intolerant (amarshana), not interested in acquiring things(asamcaya), in nature. [Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 4]
Vagbhata states that rajasika individuals are characterized by bahubhashitva (excessive talkativeness), mana(excessive ego), krodha(anger), dambha (rebelness), matsar (dvesha). [A.H.Sharira Sthana 3/7]
The difference observed in an individual's activities is due to karma (previous deeds of the person).[Cha. Sa. Sharira Sthana 2/36]
Kashyapa has described seven types of rajasika or krodhaja sattva, where the yaksha sattva is additionally mentioned. [Ka.Sa. Sutra Sthana 28/24] The features of rajasika sattva, as explained by kashyapa are stated as below:
- Engaged in charity (dananityata)
- Excessive sleep (atishayana)
- Loves wearing ornaments (alankarapriyatva)
- Excess intake of food and drinks (atipanabhojana)
- Excess indulgence in sexual activity (atimaithuna)
- Loves eating (prabhakshana)
- Excessive greed (nityopetampramuditam)
|Sattva||Mid-night||Alertness of mind|
|Rajas||Day or night||Flickering (chanchala)|
|Tamas||Day and night||Excess kapha(avarana)|
Tamas guna is the leading cause of sleep, sattva guna is the cause of awakening, and rajas guna is the cause of the manifestation of dreams or a hyperactive mind. Rajas guna is responsible for the occurrence of dreams (swapna) in an individual, with either good or bad consequences.[Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/36]
Relation between prana and rajas guna
Assessment of rajas guna
Rajas guna is assessed by means of inference from anumana pramana. It can be assessed by the presence of sanga (attachment) to different situations or individuals.[Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 4/8] It is inferred as excessive sexual indulgence and other pleasures.[Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 4/8] The excessive expressions of feelings of desire in an individual can be related to rajas guna.
Importance in prevention of diseases/ maintenance of health
The dominance of rajas guna has an impact on the psyche of an individual. The individual with rajas dominant psyche needs stimulation or motivation from others to cope with the circumstances.[Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 35/38] Hence the rajas dominant individuals are termed as those with mediocre mental strength (madhyama manobala). [Dalhana on Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 35/38] Hence, like the sharira prakriti (somatic constitution), the manas prakriti (psychological constitution) also plays a vital role in determining an individual's characteristics contributing to a person's mental health status. Manas prakriti is termed as guna prakriti or maha prakriti. [Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/98-99] The assessment of rajas guna dominance in an individual can help understand the psychological status and susceptibility to mental health disorders.
Rajas guna is also a determinant of vitality seated in the marma or vital points of the body.[Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 6/35] Thus, the normalcy of rajas is essential in properly functioning the vital body organs.
An individual devoid of rajas and tamas, is called 'apta' or one with authoritative and authentic knowledge. [Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 11/18-19] Excess of rajas guna can lead to biasedness or altered knowledge in an individual. One who is vigilant towards maintaining health and consuming a beneficial diet is termed 'parikshaka'. When he is afflicted with rajas guna falls prey to various diseases. A wholesome diet and lifestyle is advised considering the status of three guna. [A.S. Sutra Sthana 3/30] If not followed, the rajas-tamas originated diseases occur in such individuals due to intellectual defects (prajnaparadha). [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 28/36-38]
Rajasika individuals tend to consume alcohol more frequently depending on mental strength and can reach the advanced states of excessive intoxication, alcohol dependency, and addiction more quickly than the sattvika individuals. Hence, one must consider the mental strength and type of alcohol (madya) before consumption.[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 24/68-69, 79]
Thus, the balance of triguna especially rajas guna, should be considered for maintaining mental health and avoiding psychological and psychosomatic disorders.
Importance in diagnosis and occurrence of diseases
Rajas and tamas guna are termed as the manas dosha. They are responsible for the occurrence of various mental disorders.[Cha.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/57, 25/11, Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/6, A.H. Sutra Sthana 1/21, Dalhana on Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 1/4]
The disorders are of two types: rajas dominant and tamas dominant. [Cha.Sa. Nidana Sthana 1/4] The flickering nature of rajas guna makes it responsible for initiating pathogenesis and stimulating tamas in the manifestation of disease. It is thus termed an initiator (pravartaka). Tamas cannot proceed without the stimulation of rajas guna.[Cha.Sa. VimanaSthana 6/9]
Rajas guna and vata dosha play an important role in the spreading stage of dosha (prasara avastha) in six stages of pathogenesis (shatkriyakala).[Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 21/28] Rajas and tamas guna work in unison (anubandha) in the occurrence of diseases.[Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/9] Rajas and tamas guna lead to the occurrence of conditions like kama(lust), krodha(anger), lobha(greed), irshya(jealousy), maana(ego), mada(intoxication), shoka(excessive sadness/ unhappiness), chittodvega(anxiety), bhaya(fear), harsha(excessive joyousness) etc. These can get afflicted along with sharira dosha to cause various diseases and psychosomatic disorders. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/8]
Vertigo occurs due to the dominance of rajas guna, pitta dosha, and vata dosha.[Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 4/56] Rajas guna is also pivotal in unmada and apasmara diseases.[Su.Sa. Uttar Tantra 61/4, Cha. Sa. Nidana Sthana 8/4, Cha.Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 10/4] Atattvabhinivesha is grave condition caused by the vitiation of rajas and tamas guna.[Cha.Sa. Chiktsa Sthana 10/59]
Similarly the rajas and tamas individuals fall prey to disease after reaching the advanced stages of intoxication (madatyaya).[A.H.Nidana Sthana 6/5] [Cha.Sa. ChikitsaSthana 24/46] Rajasika individuals are affected more quickly. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 24/55] Rajas and tamas are involved in the pathogenesis of mada (intoxication)- murccha (syncope)- sanyasa (coma) conditions.[A.H. Nidana Sthana 6/25] Similarly, in the historical description regarding the occurrence of rajayakshma, the prominence of rajas guna was observed in soma(moon).[Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 8/7] It suggests the excess indulgence in activities to affect health and can lead to degenerative diseases.
Concept of rajas from a philosophical point ofview
The theory of triguna is fundamentally based on evolution as per both ayurveda and Sankhya philosophy. The prakriti is considered trigunatmaka. Hence its 'vikara' or expressions are also 'trigunatmaka' in nature. Thus, whole universe is constituted from the derivatives of triguna (srishtiutpatti).[Su.Sa. Sutra Sthana 24/8] Rajas guna, along with sattva and tamas guna also plays a vital role in the perception of this philosophical aspect. It is responsible for the generation, creation, and mutation of the srishti or universe. Rajas being active is responsible for stimulating both sattva and tamas guna in taijasa ahankara leading to the development of different vikara or the components of the universe. [Dalhana on Su.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/4] The alliance or association of purusha with the 24tattva carries on as long as rajas and tamas are afflicted with it leading to rashipurusha (combination of 24 elements). The liberation from the effect (of rajas and tamas) by supremacy of sattva leads to freedom of purusha i.e. moksha or salvation to get freedom from its alliance with the tattva. [Cha.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/36] [Cha.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/142]. Thus, the moksha is described as a state of sattva predominance with absolute absence of rajas and tamas. [Cha.Sa. Sharira Sthana 1/142] The rajas is thus termed as karana or cause for gati (speed) and pravritti (trend).[Cha.Sa. Sharira Sthana 2/38]
Sankhya philosophy [Sankhyakarika 12-14] also focuses on the study of triguna where the rajas is representing apriti (dukkha or sorrow), pravritti (initiation, stimulation), upastambhakam (stimulator), chala (active, in motion). Thus, the study of rajas guna is necessary to understand the process of srishti utpatti, rashi-purusha, moksha which form the philosophical basis of ayurveda.
Rajas guna involvement in functioning of triguna
The working of the triguna can be easily understood by two basic laws related to manasika doshas/gunas. The three guṇa always remain in dynamic interaction (mithunavritti). These three forces remain involved (anyonyaashraya) and interact with each other in a variety of circumstances (anyonyaabhibhava). Rajas and tamas survive in the presence of sattva; tamas and sattva are put in motion in the field of rajas, while sattva and rajas blend in the field of tamas. The core of the three qualities is their interconnection. These contradictory entities also help in the functioning of one another. Rajas guna is thus the stimulator and initiator of all the actions.[Sankhyakarika13]
Treatment insights in the management of rajas dominant disorders
As mentioned earlier, the pathology of rajas guna can be an important factor in the occurrence of various mental disorders (manas vyadhi). Ayurveda focuses on a holistic approach to balance triguna and promote mental health. Following measures can be undertaken for diseases involving the pathology of rajas guna.
- Manasika vegadharana (restraining psychological urges): Psychological urges like lobha (greed), shoka (sorrow), bhaya(fright), irshya(envious), dwesha(hate), raga(infatuation), ahankara(ego), nirlajja (indecency) etc. need to be controlled for the avoidance of mental health conditions. [Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 7/25-29]
- Daivavyapashraya chikitsa (spiritual therapy): It is divine therapy. It includes chanting & listening to different types of mantras, homa-havana (rituals, offerings made to holy fire), upavasa (fasting), divya-aushadhi, mani dhaaran (use of prestigious stones), mangala(auspicious ceremony), upahara (gifts) niyama (following of auspicious and spiritual rules), pranipata (respect of almighty). This helps activate the sattva's normal functioning and alleviate the vitiated tamas and rajas.
- Sattvavajaya chikitsa(psychotherapy): Regulation of mind is the main aim of this therapy, by diversion of emotions, assurance, proper guidance, controlled thought process, patience, etc.
- Yuktivyapashraya chikitsa (medicinal and diet therapy): Use of medicines (internal and external or both) and ahara(food). This is further classified into 2 types:
- Single herbs: Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Shankhapushpi (Convolvulas pleuricaulis) etc.[Ch. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 1/30-31]
- Use of medicated ghrita(ghee) preparations: Mahapaishachika ghrita, Brahmi ghrita, Lashunadi ghrita.[Ch. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana 10/17-25] Mahakalyanaka ghrita, Kalyanaka ghrita, Purana ghrita, Prapurana ghrita etc. [Cha. Sa. Chikitsa Sthana. 9/35-61].
- Rasa aushadhi: Smritisagar rasa [Yogratnakar, Apasamara Chikitsa], Unmadagajankusha rasa [Bhaishajya Ratnavali, Unmada Rogadhikar] According to Ayurveda, the nervous system is governed by Vata dosha. An imbalance of Vata Dosha leads to poor mental alertness. These drugs alone or in combination helps to improve mental alertness when used on a regular basis. Some evidence based published research works are:
Previous researches on rajas guna
The literature review suggests that the concept of triguna is extensively studied in the light of Indian philosophy, assessment of personality, assessment of mental constitution, role of triguna in occurrence of various mental health conditions, impact of triguna in performance at workplace etc. by both ayurveda and contemporary sciences. Few such works are listed as given below:
- Enhancing workplace well-being by understanding the three personality types, sattva, rajas, and tamas, according to Samkhya is done by Dr.Modh. The researcher has considered these three important measures to determine individual performance at their workplace. It is observed that the rajasika individuals suffer from complaints of dilemma and ethical issues at the workplace compared to sattvika individuals.
- Jayant Narayan and Venkant R. Krishnan studied the impact of sattva and rajas on transformational leadership and karma yoga. The study revealed that two rajas dimensions' namely attribution and right and wrong reduce karma yoga.
- A randomized control trial of the effect of yogas on gunas (personality) and self-esteem in normal healthy volunteers is done by Sudheer Deshpande, HR Nagendra, and RaghuramNagarathna. This study showed a reduction in rajas guna in females and contrary to previous study conducted by Dasa.
- Sharma M.et.al. assessed the effect of sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika factors on anxiety levels in cases and controls. The rajasika individuals were linked to impaired quality of life in these individuals.
- A study of the relationship between triguna and cattellian factors of personality done by Lakhwinder Singh. The study shows that the rajas guna denotes passionate, excitable, and aggressive states of mind.
- A cross-sectional research study was focused on the relationship between three gunas-sattva, rajas, tamas with life satisfaction and perceived stress. This study showed individuals with rajasika personality correlated positively with perceived stress and negatively with life satisfaction.
- A study was conducted on formulating a new three-energy framework of personality for conflict analysis and resolution based on triguna concept of Bhagavad Gita It depicted rajasika energy is considered as dynamic energy. Rajasika individuals were said to have active energy, is excessively passionate, ruthless, and motivated.
|Author & Year||Qualities of Rajas Guna explained|
|Pathak et al. 1992||Activity |
Scales for assessment of rajas guna
- Triguna Scale of personality
- Advanced Triguna scale [Shilpa D., 2011] 
- Self–Rating Ayurveda Scale to Measure the Manasika Prakriti of the Children
- A Psychometric Analysis of the Three Gunas
Future scope of research
The triguna concept has immense scope for research to reveal its utility in various dimensions of health. Systematic review of the available research work can be helpful for a deeper understanding of rajas guna in different domains of mental health, personality, psychometric assessment, and philosophy.
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