The term 'sattva' literally means essence, purity, and character of mind. It is one of the three fundamental qualities (triguna). [A.S.Sutra Sthana 1/29] It is characterized by lightness, knowledge, and enlightenment. Psychological constitution, bio typology or body mind typology is an important concept of Ayurveda. Every individual has distinct physical, physiological, and psychological characteristics. Ayurveda classical texts provide a framework to help to understand an individual's mental constitution. The concept of sharira and manasa prakriti (somatic and psychic constitution) help to explain differences across individuals. The concept of the manas includes aspects of psychology, mind, and mental health. There are three characteristics of mind (mana) viz. sattva, rajas, and tamas. These represent awareness, activity, and inertia, respectively. When one of these three is dominant in a person, that reflects in his or her personality. In Shreemadbhagwat Geeta, three attributes of nature are described: Sattva, rajas, and tamas.
1) Sattva guna is the attribute of light or intelligence, which is the state of complete balance.
2) Rajas guna represents motion, ignorance, or action.
3) Tamas guna is representative of inertia and darkness.
These are the three primary and omnipresent qualities that work behind all the material substances in the universe. Sattva is the initiator of the universe as per Ayurveda [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/9] and Sankhya philosophy. It represents purity and authenticity. Hence it is quality of mind. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 1/57] [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 8/5] This article describes the concept of sattva and its importance in healthcare practices.
|Section/Chapter/topic||Concepts / Sattva|
|Authors||Bhojani M.K.1, Sharma Raksha 1, Joglekar A.A.2|
1 Department of Kriya Sharira, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India , New Delhi, India 2Department of Samhita Siddhant, All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, India, New Delhi, India 3 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.4Department of Kayachikitsa, G.J. Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand, Gujarat, India
|Correspondence firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com|
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of first publication:||August 18, 2022|
Synonyms of sattva
Mana, shuddham, kalyanam
The word sattva is derived from two terms, 'sat' and 'tva', satto bhava. Sattva refers to the existence of reality and truth. Shabdakalpadruma defines it as an attribute of prakriti. It represents light (prakasha), knowledge (dnyana) and happiness (sukha). Monnier Williams dictionary defines it as the quality of good will, purity, reality, knowledge, virtue, excellence and truth.
Sattva is buoyant/lighthearted (laghu) and illuminating (prakashaka) in nature.
Sattva as synonymous to mind:
The mind (manas) is also termed as sattva. Sattva is the purest quality of mind, and sattva guna is the highest form of excellence of manas (sattva) guna. Sattva bala (mental strength) provides an adequate status of a person's wellbeing. Thus, giving a systematic and holistic approach to understanding an individual. The normal mind without any disorder (amala sattva) is dominated by sattva (sattvagunodreka). It can be assessed by the absence of negative emotions like affection (raga) and hatred (dvesha) and presence of absolute purity of mind. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 4/8]) Three types of mental constitutions are described: shuddha/sattvika, rajasika and tamasika. [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 3/13]
- Sattva : Akasha mahabhuta
- Rajas: Agni mahabhuta and Vayu mahabhuta
- Tamas: Prithvi mahabhuta and Jala mahabhuta [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/20], [Sha.Sa. Purvakhanda 05], [A.S.Sharira Sthana 5/5]
Relationship between the sattva guna and tridosha
Food and sattva guna
Ayurveda advocates an individualistic approach to maintaining health and treating diseases. So a categorization of diet (aahara) and lifestyle (vihara) according to their properties as sattvika, rajasika and tamasika is done. 
Food that is delicious, slimy, nourishing, appetizing, and keeps the body healthy are liked by sattvika persons. In Upanishads, it is stated that the food we consume is divided into three parts. The gross part is converted into flesh and the subtle part nourishes the mind. Sattvika diet consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairies like milk and ghee. It keeps the lean body and minds calm and quiet.
Characteristics of sattvika individual
Individuals with sattva guna predominance worship God, like food which gives longevity (Ayu), promotes righteous tendencies and strengthens health and joy. These individuals are intelligent, have good memory and natural instincts for observing healthy lifestyles. They are polite and joyful and accept their status and wealth as it is. They are calm and quiet by nature. They react to pain and pleasure properly. The sattvika constitution is similar to that of the deities. Hence the nomenclature of auspicious beings or deities is given to such individuals. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/36]
Sattvika is free from vanity of being an active person who has patience and enthusiasm for his action. However, he is neither too happy with success nor too sad with the failure of his action. It represents the kalyanansha or auspiciousness due to its qualities of purity and authenticity. [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/36] The Bramha sattva is considered to be the best among all the sattvika constitutions.
The attributes of sattvika person are purity of body and mind (shoucha), faith in the god (astikya), honesty (shukla dharma), devotion (ruchi), knowledge (mati). [A.H.Sharira Sthana 3/7]
Sattvavana, or the individual with sattva predominance, has high tolerance toward physical and mental ailments. [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 35/38] The sattva dominance is devoid of sorrow (vyasana/dukkha), happiness (abhyudaya/sukha), malaise (glani), and exhilaration (harsha). Hence they are considered supreme for the promotion of health. [Dalhana on Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana 35/38]
The Sattvika individual is characterised by qualities like avoidance of violent actions (anrushanshya), sharing (samvibhagaruchita), forgiveness (kshama), truthfulness (satya), righteousness (dharma), devotion (astikya), knowledge (dnyana), intellect (buddhi), wisdom (medha), memory (smriti), detachment from the material world (anabhishanga). [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana.1/18] [A.S.Sharira Sthana 5/19] [Bp. Purvakhanda 2/95-96]
Types of sattvika constitution
The sattvika manas prakriti is termed as the gunamayi prakriti as determined by the prominence of triguna. [A.H.Sharira Sthana. 3/104] The features of the sattvika prakriti are as below: [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4]
- Brahma sattva: These types of people are free from negative emotions like anger, greed, ignorance, or jealousy. They possess sound knowledge and have excellent power of discrimination. They are highly righteous towards all beings.
- Arsha sattva: They have a good memory and like purity, love, and good self-control. They are free from pride and ego. They possess good power of understanding and retention. They engage in pure and auspicious deeds like oblation (homa), vow (vrata), adhyayana etc.
- Aindra sattva: These people have devotion to sacred books and God. Hence they study rituals and carry out oblations. They have devotion to virtuous acts and perform sacred rituals. Their behavior and speech are authoritative.
- Yamyasattva: They are free from mean and conflicting desires and acts and emotional binds, hatred, ignorance, and envy. They have an excellent memory and good qualities of leadership. These are hardworking individuals.
- Varuna sattva: They are also free from mean acts and exhibit emotion in the proper place. These love discipline and cleanliness and have hatred towards messiness.
- Kubera sattva: These types have good courage, patience, and hatred of impure thoughts. They like virtuous acts and purity. They express their emotions like anger and pleasure at the right place and time.
- Gandharva sattva: They possess good wealth and luxuries. However, they are not attached to it. They are experts in art forms or performing arts like poetry, singing, dance, etc.
When true nature is aligned with the basic personality, there is less stress and more joy and happiness at the workplace, home, and in various formal and informal relationships. This also enables an individual to better handle ethical issues and dilemmas in the workplace and many aspects of life, making it more efficient and effective.
Sushruta used the term Mahendra sattva to denote the Aindra sattva.[Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/82] Kashyapa described eight types of sattvika or kalyanajasattva. He has additionally explained the Prajapatyasattva. [Ka.Sa.Sutra Sthana 28/24]
Importance of the concept of Sattva from a Philosophical point of view
Ayurveda imbibed different schools of thought principles and concepts to put forth a holistic and complete science. The process of evolution of the universe (srishtiutpatti) is of significant similarity between the two sciences. The triguna theory is essentially the basis of evolution as per both Sankhya Philosophy and Ayurveda. The prakriti is considered astrigunatmaka. Hence its vikara or manifestations are also trigunatmaka in nature. Thus the entire universe is comprised of the derivatives of triguna. Therefore sattva guna also plays a significant role in understanding this philosophical aspect. It is therefore responsible for initiating the process of moksha or salvation. The association of Purusha with the twenty-four tattva continues so long as rajas and tamas influence it. The freedom from the influence (of rajas and tamas) by dominance of sattva leads to liberation of purusha (and free from its association with the tattva). [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/36] [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 1/142] The Sattva guna is responsible for sleeping during midnight. It occurs for a short time duration. [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/33) The tamas is responsible for sleep, while sattva is responsible for the arousal from sleep (bodhanahetu). [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 4/35] Triguna and Tridosha both form the eternal component of the marma which are exclusive seats of prana or vitality. [Su.Sa.Sharira Sthana 6/35]
Importance of the concept of sattva in the promotion of health
The optimum level or functioning of the sattva guna is necessary to maintain health. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 29/38] Presence and union with sattva guna (sattvalakshanasamyoga) is one of the signs of health (aarogya). [Cha.Sa.Indriya Sthana 12/87] Hence, sattva sampat is an essential quality in rendering physical and mental health. [Cha.Sa.Siddhi Sthana 12/9] [Cha.Sa.Sharira Sthana 6/13]
Importance of sattva in the diagnosis of diseases
The examination of sattva (pariksha) is one of the ten factors mentioned for assessing the strength of the patient (aturabala) and the dosha of every individual. Here the sattva guna predominance is essential for optimum mental strength (pravarasattva). It facilitates the response of an individual to disease affliction. The optimum sattva level promotes physical strength irrespective of body morphology. Hence, the sattva pariksha plays an integral part in the diagnosis of any condition. [Cha.Sa.Vimana Sthana 8/119]
The predominance of sattva or sattva-audarya is a factor for less sleep (nidranasha). [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 21/56] Thus, the optimum level of sattva can contribute to reducing the prominence of tamas leading to increased alertness and reduced dizziness/sleepiness.
In alcoholic intoxication (madatyaya), hampering of sattva function and vitiation of rajas and tamas is seen leading to various conditions of madavibhrama. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/39] Due to the depletion of sattvika qualities, the person becomes addicted to the liquor, also hampering his/her decision power. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/55] The consumption of madya or alcohol should be done considering the sattva of the individual. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/68] If it is consumed in proper amount and manner, it can lead to the prominence of sattva guna in the individual (sattvochraya). [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/70] Hence individuals with sattvika predominance are not affected by the ill effects or addiction tendencies related to alcohol (madya). [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/85] The individuals with sattvika predominance can regularly consume madya also in more amount as compared to rajasika and tamasika individuals. [Chakrapani on Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 24/68]
Importance in treatment of diseases
As mentioned earlier, the Sattva predominance is responsible for reducing sleep. Hence the facilitation of sattva guna is essential in the treatment of the conditions like drowsiness (tandra), excess sleep (atinidra) etc. The sattva guna should be qualitatively and quantitatively healthy to combat diseases like unmada, apasmara and other mental health conditions. The therapy to conquer mind (sattvavajaya) is directed towards enhancing the sattva guna in an individual. It ultimately balances the triguna to maintain psychosomatic health.
Previous researches done on sattva guna
- Extensive work is done to study the critical appraisal of sattva and its significance in the management of the disease.[Yogesh Pandey, Pooja Sabharwal].
- Enhancing workplace wellbeing through understanding the three personality types; sattva, rajas and tamas according to samkhya is put forth by Dr.Modh. The researcher has considered these as important measures to ensure individuals' performance at their respective workplace.
- Impact of sattva and rajas on transformational leadership and karma yoga is studied by Jayant Narayan and Venkant R. Krishnan.
- Aditi K and Venkant K discussed the impact of sattva guna on transformational leadership and its application in designing the training framework.
- A randomized control trial of the effect of yogas on gunas (personality) and self-esteem in normal healthy volunteers is conducted by Sudheer Deshpande, HR Nagendra and Raghuram Nagarathna.
- Sattva Guna is observed as a predictor of wisdom and psychological wellbeing in the extensive research work by Suhani Sharma, Abha Singh, Sakshi Mehrotra.
- Verma Y, Tiwari G have studied the relative dominance of sattva and tamas in the domains of self-compassion and human flourishing.
- Sharma M. et.al. assessed the effect of sattvika, rajasika and tamasika factors on anxiety levels in cases and controls. The rajasika and tamasika were linked to impaired quality of life in these individuals.
- Rajat Kumar Jain stated that the sattvika personality and risk-taking behavior are not correlated to each other significantly. This is observed in an observational study on correlation between triguna and risk-taking behavior.
- Das G et.al. have mentioned the correlation between the Triguna and emotional problems and psychological wellbeing, stating the factor of sattva as stability.
- Khanna et.al. have expressed a positive correlation between the triguna and psychological wellbeing, where sattva was found to be positively correlated with wellbeing.
- Nedungotti C et.al. have explained the sattva and anasakti as general personality factors and compared the Indian school of thought regarding the concept with Big 5 personality assessment scale of western science.
- R Banerjee et.al stated the correlation between the sattva guna and job satisfaction.
- Patil S, Nagendra H have stated that the yogika development camps have positive effect on the sattva guna improvement in the school-going children.
- Maika Puta has explained the role of sattva in promoting health through the dissertation work on the subject.
- Kalpana Srivastava has considered individuals with Sattvika Guna dominance to be caring, having strength respect for Gurus, nonviolence, meditation, kindliness, silence, self-control, and purity of character.
- Dr Nishi Arora has extensively studied the positive impact of sattva guna on the coping abilities of females of different ages.
- Guru Tej has explored the role of sattva guna and sattvika personality in building and nurturing a positive leadership approach.
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