In the philosophy of Yoga, everything in the universe arises from the fundamental substrate called “Prakriti” ( प्रकृति ). From this ethereal Prakriti the three primary gunas (qualities of energy) emerge creating the essential aspects of all nature—energy, matter, and consciousness.
Trayo Guna ( त्रयोगुण )
The These three gunas are Sattva ( सत्त्व ) – (Truth, Benigness & Harmony), Rajas ( रजस् ) – (Activity & Passion) and Tamas ( तमस् ) – (Darkness, Confusion & Chaos)
“Guna”( गुण ) is a Sanskrit word which translates as “quality, peculiarity, attribute, or tendency.” In yoga and Ayurveda, a guna is a tattva or element of reality that can affect our psychological, emotional and energetic states
aThe “Supreme GOD” represented by Lord Narayana ( श्री नारायण ) who is the Creator and manifestation of everything in the Universe symbolizes a perfect balance and Harmony between the three Gunas which are represented by the Holy Trinity of Lord Brahma ( श्री ब्रह्मा ), Lord Vishnu ( श्री विष्णु ) , Lord Shiva ( श्री शिव or श्री महेश्वर ). Lord Brahma the Creator is responsible for “Rajas” ( रजस् ) or the Creative energy, Lord Vishnu the Preserver is responsible for “Sattva” ( सत्त्व ) and represents Truth, Intelligence and Consciousness and Lord Shiva the Destroyer is responsible for “Tamas” ( तमस् )which represents ignorance, confusion, indolence and Destruction.
All the creations of “GOD” including us Human Beings are governed by these three Gunas through Maya or Illusion. The “Supreme Trinity” as mentioned above maintain the balance in the Universe whenever there is an imbalance of Gunas in the Creation and are themselves not governed by “Maayaa” (माया ) or these Gunas
Every creation by the “Supreme GOD” or “Paramatma”(परमात्मा) is governed “Maayaa”(माया )or these Three Gunas and they are constantly in flux and constantly changing or interacting with each other giving a state of illusion or “Maayaa”(माया )
Every Human Soul must transcend “Maayaa”(माया ) or three Gunas for realisation of the Soul’s purpose and to be able to connect to GOD or “Paramatma”(परमात्मा)
Rajo Guna ( रजो गुण )
“Lord Brahma”, “the Creator” represents “Rajas” (रजस् ) or Desire and thus represents Rajo Guna. The essence of entire creation is driven by desire and whenever there is an increase of Rajas , creation and action takes place. The Great Big Bang theory which is propounded by Modern science as the point of creation of the Universe was signified by Creative Desire of GOD and thus through Rajo Guna.
The effort required to complete any task or achieve a desired goal is also signified by Rajas. Rajo Guna also signifies the spiritual energy which is needed to bring in newness and change and to overcome stagnation.
However excessive of Rajas can lead to a person being too much passionate and selfish and becoming too much attached to the fruits of one’s actions and in case of failures in fulfilling one’s desires, can lead to the individual being angry, disillusioned or depressed and thus can transform into Tamasic
Sattva Guna (सत्त्व गुण)
“Lord Vishnu”, “the Preserver” represents “Sattva” (सत्त्व) which represents the consciousness, intelligence , pursuit of knowledge, imagination, initial seed, and symbolizes perfect harmony, purity and meditative state and thus represents “Sattva Guna”. The “Supreme GOD” or “Paramatma” ( परमात्मा) is intrinsically Sattvic although he maintains a complete harmony of the Three Gunas.
“Sattva Guna” is considered to be the Supreme of all the 3 Gunas as it provides the light tto be able to connect with the Supreme God. It helps the individual to be able to connect with one’s soul and helps realise the true purpose of one’s life
Excessive of “Sattva Guna” among a collective group of people, clan or nation can lead to people becoming too detached from desires and thus a overall reduction of Rajas which is necessary for creation and for discharging “Karma” (कर्म ) or performing Actions. Excessive of Sattva Guna can also make a person feel arrogant through acquisition of knowledge and thus leading to ignorance and to Tamas
Tamo Guna ( तमो गुण)
“Lord Shiva”( श्री शिव या श्री महादेव ), “the Destroyer” represents Tamas ( तमस् ) which represents ignorance, confusion, procrastrination, indolence and thus Destruction
As mentioned earlier, Excessive of Rajo Guna ( रजो गुण ) or Excessive of Sattva Guna ( सत्त्व गुण ) can eventually lead to people becoming “Tamasic” in nature due to selfishness, arrogance , ignorance and megalomania and in turn breeds anger, discontentment, hatred , anarchy and confusion leading to Adharma
Whenever there is an increase of “Tamo Guna” ( तमो गुण) in the “Creation” which leads to increase in “Adharma”(अधर्म ) as mentioned above “Prakriti” ( प्रकृति ) tries to rebalance itself through the destructive power of “Lord Shiva” ( श्री महादेव ) who is always in a mediative state and when aroused into action due to increase in “Tamas” opens his “Third Eye” ( तृतीय चक्षु ) to destroy the “Adharma” and bring in balance
In the “Horashastra” ( होरशस्त्र) scriptures as mentioned by “Maharshi Parashara” ( महर्षि पराशर) , “Maa Shree Devi” ( मा श्री देवी ) represents “Sattva Guna” ( सत्त्व गुण), “Maa Bhoo Devi” ( मा भू देवी) represents “Rajo Guna” ( रजो गुण ) and “Maa Neela Devi” ( मा नीला देवी ) represents “Tamo Guna” ( तमो गुण ) and together they represent the three strands f “Maya”
“Shrimad Bhagvad Geeta” ( श्रीमद् भगवद् गीता ) in which “Lord Krishna”( श्री कृष्ण) the supreme “GOD” ( परमात्मा) narrated to “Arjuna” ( अर्जुन ) his disciple the Supreme knowledge of “Karma Yoga” ( कर्म योग ) and explained the true purpose of the life of a “Yogi” ( योगी ) is to be able to transcend these Three “Guna” and in turn transcend “Maya” ( माया ) and thus realise “GOD” or “Paramatma” ( परमात्मा ) who represents Supreme Consciousness or the state of “Sachidanandam” ( सचिदनान्दं )
The Pancha Bhoota
The “Pancha Bhoota” ( पञ्च भूत) as the name suggests refers to the Five Primordial elements of Nature which existed before all Creation took place. Every Living Soul or Non-Living Matter is comprised of these five elements
Everything that a Human being or any other living being can sense through his or her senses is through these five primordial elements. Every Living or Human Soul feels the true nature of Prakriti ( प्रकृति) or Nature is through these elements
In the words of “Sadguru” – “Whether it is the individual human body or the larger cosmic body, essentially, they are made of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. In this, the first four elements are the active participants – space is the catalytic force. It is in the lap of this boundless space that these four elements play the game. So, the pancha bhutas are the five elements of nature.”
The “Pancha Bhoota” are namely “Agni” (अग्नि or Fire), “Prithvi” (पृथ्वी or Earth), “Vayu” ( वायु or Air), “Jal” (जल or Water), Aakaash (आकाश or Ether or Space)
Agni ( अग्नि or Fire) – Responsible for all transformation in the entire universe and is responsible for drive, passion, aggression and drive. It also represents “Pitta” ( पित्त ) in the body.
It represents all the organs and processes which produce consume food and produce energy
Prithvi ( पृथ्वी or Earth) – Prithvi is responsible for all form in the body. It shows up in all mass in existence. It represents Stability, Rigidity, Warmth and Comfort, Homeliness. It is responsible for “Kapha Dosha” ( कफ ) along with Water or “Jala” ( जल )
It represents the general body mass and the Sthula Tatva which include the Flesh, Fat and Muscle mass
Vayu ( वायु or “Air”) – Vayu is responsible for all movement and represents Creativity, Change, Expressions, Moodiness, Innovation, Fickleness. It also represents “Vata” ( वात ) in the body
It represents the subtle parts of the Human body and represent the sense organs, the respiratory system, nervous system
Jala ( जल or “Water”) – Water is responsible for everything which is flowing in nature and is mostly in a set direction or pattern and is different from Air which represents movement in all directions. Jala represents Emotions, Thoughts, Imagination, Feelings ( Both Good and Bad)
It represents the Body Fluids and all the blood vessels, semen and also the reproductive organs
Aakaash ( आकाश or “Ether”) – Ether or Aakaash represents the infinite space and in the lap of this boundless space the other elements interact and play with each other and in the process creates, transforms, nourishes and destroys all that exists in the Universe which comprise all living and non living matter. The Aakaash element represents the supreme consciousness and is closest to the “Paramatma”( परमात्मा )
These “Trayo Guna” (त्रयो गुण ) and “Pancha Bhoota” (पञ्च भूत) are the manifestations of “Maayaa” ( माया ) in this world and all creations both living andnon-living are governed by them.
We, “Human Beings” as one of the most advanced creations of “Paramatma” or “GOD” have been given the supreme ability to understand them more deeply and to be able to transcend them and reach the state of “Sachidanandam” ( Sat’ Chit’ and Anandam’ ) which refers to the state of Ultimate Truth, Consciousness and Bliss
In the next chapter, I will provide more understanding on the teachings of “Shrimad Bhagvad Gita” ( श्रीमद भगवद् गीता )”The Divine and Eternal song representing GOD” and how we can transcend the forces the “Maayaa” (माया) and initiate the process of “Self-Realization” which also means the process of understanding and realising the “Soul’s Purpose“
One Thought to “The Nature of Prakriti – The Trayo-Guna and Pancha-Bhoota”
Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! Its the little changes that make the greatest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!