What are these three gunas that are discussed in advaita? How are these stopping us from realizing god? How does a person attain these gunas? If the gunas are not good, does that mean we all are not good as nobody can exist without gunas? How do I know what gunas I have? Does eating veg or non-veg food decide our guna?

What decides the gunas that a newborn baby would have?

  • duplicate. also limit your questions to one question per post. you have multiple questions. Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 5:44
  • If you could clarify these questions into a central question it would be helpful. However, I agree that even with a rewrite this will likely still be a duplicate. Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 7:59
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    Please feel free to express your views on my answer ,if you think the answer is not what you are looking for and need improvement etc. pls. go ahead. I will rewrite it.:-) Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 9:14
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    Introverted, extroverted and total darkness, backwards, destructive, evil. It depends on Varna, Brahmins are sattvic, kshatriyas are rajasic, and Shudras and lower are tamasic ancestry, racial purity defines. African, other Lowe descent are tamasic.
    – Aoi. T_015
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 12:32

3 Answers 3


The entire creation/Prakriti/Maya is running on 3 gunas, but Purusha/Brahman is Nirguna and devoid of Gunas.

Here, Krishna in Geeta and in Samadhi with formless Brahman Purusha is explaining, how manifested unconscious material Prakriti, becomes movable with consciousness of Purusha.

Bhagavad Gita 14.3 – 14.4 The total material substance, prakṛiti, is the womb. I impregnate it with the individual souls, and thus all living beings are born. O son of Kunti, for all species of life that are produced, the material nature is the womb, and I am the seed-giving Father.

Bhagavad Gita 14.5 O mighty-armed Arjun, the material energy consists of three guṇas (modes)—sattva (goodness), rajas (passion), and tamas (ignorance). These modes bind the eternal soul to the perishable body.

Bhagavad Gita 14.6 Amongst these, sattva guṇa, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating and full of well-being. O sinless one, it binds the soul by creating attachment for a sense of happiness and knowledge.

Bhagavad Gita 14.7 O Arjun, rajo guṇa is of the nature of passion. It arises from worldly desires and affections, and binds the soul through attachment to fruitive actions.

Bhagavad Gita 14.8 O Arjun, tamo guṇa, which is born of ignorance, is the cause of illusion for the embodied souls. It deludes all living beings through negligence, laziness, and sleep.

Bhagavad Gita 14.9 Sattva binds one to material happiness; rajas conditions the soul toward actions; and tamas clouds wisdom and binds one to delusion.

Bhagavad Gita 14.10 Sometimes goodness (sattva) prevails over passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas), O scion of Bharat. Sometimes passion (rajas) dominates goodness (sattva) and ignorance (tamas), and at other times ignorance (tamas) overcomes goodness (sattva) and passion (rajas).

Bhagavad Gita 14.19 When wise persons see that in all works there are no agents of action other than the three guṇas, and they know me to be transcendental to these guṇas, they attain my divine nature.

Bhagavad Gita 14.20 By transcending the three modes of material nature associated with the body, one becomes free from birth, death, disease, old age, and misery, and attains immortality.

Nirguna Atma lies beyond Satva guna

Ramkrishna Paramhans

“This world itself is the forest. The three robbers prowling here are sattva, rajas, and tamas. It is they that rob a man of the Knowledge of Truth. Tamas wants to destroy him. Rajas binds him to the world. But sattva rescues him from the clutches of rajas and tamas. Under the protection of sattva, man is rescued from anger, passion, and the other evil effects of tamas. Further, sattva loosens the bonds of the world. But sattva also is a robber. It cannot give him the ultimate Knowledge of Truth, though it shows him the road leading to the Supreme Abode of God. Setting him on the path, sattva tells him: ‘Look yonder. There is your home.’ Even sattva is far away from the Knowledge of Brahman.

"The three gunas — sattva, rajas, and tamas — have men under their control. They are like three brothers. As long as sattva exists, it calls on rajas for help; and rajas can get help from tamas. The three gunas are so many robbers. Tamas kills and rajas hinds. Sattva no doubt releases man from his bondage, but it cannot take him to God."

VIJAY (smiling): "It is because sattva, too, is a robber."

MASTER (smiling): "True. Sattva cannot take man to God, but it shows him the way."

Tamas Kaali, Rajas Laxmi and Satva Saraswati is the 3 guna Maya Prakriti and is also three phases of everyone's life. In childhood, Tamas dominates a person and he spends most of time in sleeping and playing around and thats why on Durga Puja, people worship a Kumari who represents Kaali. In adulthood, Rajas dominates a person and he spends most of time in earning wealth and sensual pleasure in women and gold, thats why a Married women is always compared as Laxmi entering home. In oldage, Satva dominates and a person is taught Dharma and to accept Sanyass and study Vedas or do Bhakti, thats why an old woman is always compared to wise Saraswati.

Since, every dynamic ego/mind/moon of every soul is considered feminine in nature separated from the consciousness/intellect/sun, so the Nirguna Purusha Brahman Shiva/Vishnu is the seer of all these 3 phases of life and is the Soul/Aatma of everyone.

Dakshinamurti Strotram

बाल्यादिष्वपि जाग्रदादिषु तथा सर्वास्ववस्थास्वपि

व्यावृत्तास्वनुवर्तमानमहमित्यन्तः स्फुरन्तं सदा ।

स्वात्मानं प्रकटीकरोति भजतां यो मुद्रयाभद्रया

Salutations to Sri Dakshinamurthy Who Awakens the Glory of the Atman within us through His Profound Silence)

7.1: During all the stages of life (youth, adult and old age), during waking and other states (Dreaming, Deep Sleep, Turiya etc.,) and similarly in all conditions, the Atman always shines as the "I" within, free from all conditions but at the same time present in all conditions,

7.3: The Inner Guru awakens this Knowledge of one's own Atman to those who surrender to Him; this knowledge which is represented by auspicious Cin-Mudra,

7.4: Salutations to Him, the personification of our inner guru who awakens this knowledge through His profound silence; salutation to Sri Dakshinamurthy.

These 3 gunas also manifest as white Day, black Night and red dusk/dawn and also the three major religions of today's earth, who fight each other for the superiority.

List of religious populations

Hinduism = 22%(including Buddhism)

Christianity = 33%

Islam = 24%

These 3 are nothing but the 3 gunas of Prakriti i.e. Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Hindus(sons of Aditi) are dominated by Satva i.e. simplicity and balance and spiritual knowledge, hence most of the spiritual Gurus of world are from India. Christians(sons of Danu) are dominated by Rajas, hence most of the material knowledge and Scienctific innovations for body luxuries and sensual pleasures come from Christian nations, Muslims/Islam(sons of Diti), are dominated by Tamas(hence they reject both Moksha/Salvation(of Satvik Hindus) and Kamna/Desires(of Rajsik Christians)) and are blamed for terrorism, anger and forceful conversions to Islam(like in Mughal's period)

Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient God is beyond these 3 Gunas and is Nirguna, Nirakaar, but can be understood only by developing Satva(simplicity, purity) first. Hence, its Vedas alone of Hindus that declare Shivoham(I am Shiva)/Aham Brahmsmi(I am God) and talk of eternal nature of soul, because in reality an individual soul is same as God/Supersoul, but cant be understood as long a man is a slave of his senses and Rajas, Tamas Gunas. Hence Saffron, the color of renunciation is revered in Hinduism. Vedas-Puranas were revealed by God to ancient Satvik sages of Hindus. On the other hand, it is sinful to call oneself Allah or Jesus in Abrahamic religions and they reject the existence of soul, therefore considering body to be the soul and preserving it in graves for the day of resurrection/judgement day.

Highest Tamas is present in animals, hence animals dont worship God nor undergo self-realization, their activities are controlled by Prakriti's senses and mind. God created man in his image and gave him intellect, which separates him from the animals and allows him to control his senses and realize his true self Atma(which means without Tamas, enlightened). Hence, both man and God are called Purusha in Vedas.

  • @codeforester 3 gunas are part of everyone's life at every second and manifests as taking one decision out of 3 at anytime that is Satva working-studying, Rajas sensual gratification or Tamas sleeping. But the self alone is same and eternal in all conditions.
    – user16530
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 5:15

The theory of three Gunas is discussed in Samkhya Philosophy of Hinduism. This theory of Gunas is not only accepted by Advaita Vedanta but all other systems as well.

Prakrti which is material or root cause of this universe is made up of these three gunas. In other words all material ,each and every particle of this universe is a mixture of three gunas. The Samkhya philosophy has accepted three gunas . In samkhya system these constituents of prakriti are called gunas i.e." Sattva, Rajas and Tamas " about which you have asked.

Sattva is defined in Hinduism as which is luminous, pure and auspicious. Rajas guna which causes attachment, separatism and activity and in Tamas ignorance conquers passion and goodness, it covers one’s consciousness and makes one foolish and dull.

In his Samkhyakarika Isvarakrsna has defined the three gunas as :

sattvaguna is buoyant and illuminating, while rajoguna is stimulating and mobile. Tamoguna, on the otherhand is heavy and enveloping.

How do I know that I have which guna?

The answer is provided by Shree Krishna in 25th Chapter of eleventh canto of Shrimad Bhagvatam - "SB 11.25: The Three Modes of Nature and Beyond" . Here Shree Krishna is telling us that the charactrestics of these three gunas and how a person will become after getting associeated with each of these three gunas. From this description we can easily identify which guna is prominant in a indivisual or in ourselves.

शमो दमस्तितिक्षेक्षा तप: सत्यं दया स्मृति: ।
तुष्टिस्त्यागोऽस्पृहा श्रद्धा ह्रीर्दयादि: स्वनिर्वृति: ॥ 2 ॥
काम ईहा मदस्तृष्णा स्तम्भ आशीर्भिदा सुखम् ।
मदोत्साहो यश:प्रीतिर्हास्यं वीर्यं बलोद्यम: ॥ 3 ॥
क्रोधो लोभोऽनृतं हिंसा याच्ञा दम्भ: क्लम: कलि: ।
शोकमोहौ विषादार्ती निद्राशा भीरनुद्यम: ॥ 4 ॥
सत्त्वस्य रजसश्चैतास्तमसश्चानुपूर्वश: ।
वृत्तयो वर्णितप्राया: सन्निपातमथो शृणु ॥ 5 ॥

Mind and sense control, tolerance, discrimination, sticking to one’s prescribed duty, truthfulness, mercy, careful study of the past and future, satisfaction in any condition, generosity, renunciation of sense gratification, faith in the spiritual master, being embarrassed at improper action, charity, simplicity, humbleness and satisfaction within oneself are qualities of the mode of goodness. Material desire, great endeavor, audacity, dissatisfaction even in gain, false pride, praying for material advancement, considering oneself different and better than others, sense gratification, rash eagerness to fight, a fondness for hearing oneself praised, the tendency to ridicule others, advertising one’s own prowess and justifying one’s actions by one’s strength are qualities of the mode of passion. Intolerant anger, stinginess, speaking without scriptural authority, violent hatred, living as a parasite, hypocrisy, chronic fatigue, quarrel, lamentation, delusion, unhappiness, depression, sleeping too much, false expectations, fear and laziness constitute the major qualities of the mode of ignorance. Now please hear about the combination of these three modes.

So if a person is having control of mind and sense tolerance , discrimination and is following his own dharma , is having truthfulness , mercy , memory renunciation , faith charity , modesty and satisfactions in bliss of self , generosity , faith on guru and Ishvara etc. we can say that the person is of Sattva Guna . If a person is showing characteristics like lust after material pleasures , activity , arrogance , too much greed , pride ,quarreling , self-praise ridiculing others , show of power , hard exertion through power etc. the person is said to be of Rajas guna. A person is prominent of Tamas guna if he is showing intolerance ,deceitfulness , violence , begging , hypocrisy , sorrow , delusion , fear , chronic fatigue etc. So from judging the effects produced by each of three gunas and looking at ourselves ,we can identify our own nature.

यदा चित्तं प्रसीदेत इन्द्रियाणां च निर्वृति: ।
देहेऽभयं मनोऽसङ्गं तत् सत्त्वं विद्धि मत्पदम् ॥ SB 11.25.16

When consciousness becomes clear and the senses are detached from matter, one experiences fearlessness within the material body and detachment from the material mind. You should understand this situation to be the predominance of the mode of goodness, in which one has the opportunity to realize Me.

How can a baby born yesterday also has any of these 3 gunas?

As mentioned earlier the whole universe is made up of mixture of these three gunas , one which is born no matter when must either be born from mixture or from one of these three gunas , we can say that the root cause of birth of a baby or jiva is these 3 gunas themselves as mentioned by Shree Krishna in 11th skanda - Chapter 22 -

प्रकृतिर्गुणसाम्यं वै प्रकृतेर्नात्मनो गुणा: ।
सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति स्थित्युत्पत्त्यन्तहेतव: ॥ SB 11.22.12

prakṛtir guṇa-sāmyaṁ vai prakṛter nātmano guṇāḥ
sattvaṁ rajas tama iti sthity-utpatty-anta-hetavaḥ

Nature exists originally as the equilibrium of the three material modes, which pertain only to nature, not to the transcendental spirit soul. These modes — goodness, passion and ignorance — are the effective causes of the creation, maintenance and destruction of this universe.

So the baby born yesterday must have any of the three gunas or mixture of them.

  • A new born baby is equal to state of God. Because a new born baby top of head in center will be shivering where Cosmic Prana flows into baby until skull develops there. There is a saying Tamil thats why : Will say in English = Baby and God's Gunas are one! Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 14:10

దక్షిణామూర్తిని చూడగానే ఆయన చిన్ ముద్రలో మర్రిచెట్టు క్రింద కూర్చిని ఒక కాలు రాక్షసుణ్ణి తొక్కి ఉండగా క్రింద ఋషులు కూర్చుని ఉంటారు.ప్రశాంతంగా కనిపించే స్వామి కుడివైపు చెవికి నాగాభరణం ఉండగా ఎడమవైపు చెవికి జగన్మాత యొక్క కర్ణాభరణం ఉంటుంది. Dakshinamurthy Stotram చదవండి.

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