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I used to think anger is Rajasic and lust is Tamasic.But after reading much about Gunas, at many places lust is shown as Rajasic while anger is shown as Tamasic. I thought Tamas represents laziness while Rajas represents activity and passion . So Which one is true?

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According to the following verse of Manu Smriti lust is Rajasik.

आरम्भरुचिताऽधैर्यमसत्कार्यपरिग्रहः ।
विषयोपसेवा चाजस्रं राजसं गुणलक्षणम् ॥ ३२ ॥

ārambharucitā'dhairyamasatkāryaparigrahaḥ |
viṣayopasevā cājasraṃ rājasaṃ guṇalakṣaṇam || 32 ||

Proneness to undertake work, impatience, commission of improper acts, constant addiction to sensual objects are the characteristics of the quality of ‘Rajas.’—(32)

Manu Smriti 12.32

And the traits of Tamasika nature are mentioned in the very next verse:


लोभः स्वप्नोऽधृतिः क्रौर्यं नास्तिक्यं भिन्नवृत्तिता ।
याचिष्णुता प्रमादश्च तामसं गुणलक्षणम् ॥ ३३ ॥

lobhaḥ svapno'dhṛtiḥ krauryaṃ nāstikyaṃ bhinnavṛttitā |
yāciṣṇutā pramādaśca tāmasaṃ guṇalakṣaṇam || 33 ||

Avarice, drowsiness, irresolution, cruelty, disbelief, bad character, habit of begging, and inattentiveness are the characteristics of the quality of ‘Tamas.’—(33)

However, according to 12.38, constant craving of sensual pleasures is mentioned to be Tamasik in nature.

12.38. The craving after sensual pleasures is declared to be the mark of Darkness, (the pursuit of) wealth (the mark) of Activity, (the desire to gain) spiritual merit the mark of Goodness; each later) named quality is) better than the preceding one.

So, I think lust can be Tamasik as well as Rajasik depending on circumstances. Regarding anger, nothing is mentioned explicitly. But if we connect it to cruelty anger becomes Tamasik in nature by virtue of 12.33.

Devi Bhagavatam also mentions anger as a Tamasik trait. See the following verses:

7-8. The intelligent should understand that Rajas has certainly arisen in him, when his mind is filled with hatred, enmity, quarrelsome feeling, pride, stupification, uneasiness, sleeplessness, want of faith, egoism, vanity and arrogance. 9-11. The quality Tamas is of black colour. From Tamas arises laziness, ignorance, sleep, poverty, fear, quarrels, miserliness, insincerity, anger, aberration of intellect, violent atheism, and finding fault with others. The wise should think that Tamas has overpowered him when the above qualities are found to possess him. When this Tamas quality is attended with the Tâmasî faith, then it becomes the source of pain to others. 12. The well wishers should manifest in themselves the Sattva qualities, control the Râjasic qualities, and destroy the Tâmasic qualities

(from Book 3; Chapter 8)

Adding some further references from other scriptures:

Non-violence, truth, non-theft, continence and non-possession, absence of anger, service to elders, cleanliness, contentment and honesty, non-conceit, candour, faith and non-injury – are the qualities (effects) of Sattva. I am the doer, enjoyer, speaker, am conceited – these are of Rajas. Sleep, laziness, delusion, attachment, sex and theft – these are of Tamas. The person of Sattva is above, of Rajas is in the middle and of Tamas, low.

(From Sariraka Upanishad linked to Krishna Yajurveda)

So, here too sexual activity is linked with Tamas but note that semen (which is white in color) is mentioned as Sattva, blood (which is red) is mentioned as Rajas in scriptures.

But then a person may renounce, that very day on which he gets disillusioned with the world, whether he is one who observes not vows (before the stage of renunciation) or observes them, whether he has undergone the prescribed ablution on completing the disciplined studentship or not, whether he is one who has discontinued maintaining the ritual fire at the death of his wife (utsannagni) or is one who does not maintain (for other causes) the ritual fire (anagnika). Some (law-givers) prescribe the sacrifice called Prajapatya (of which god Brahma is the presiding deity, to a twice-born before he embraces renunciation). But (though thus said) he may not do so. He shall only perform the Agneyi sacrifice (whose presiding deity is Agni, the god of fire). For Agni is the vital breath (Prana). Thereby he does (strengthen) the vital breath. (Then) he shall perform the Traidhataviya sacrifice (whose presiding deity is the god Indra). By this (sacrifice) the three vital fluids (become strong like fire), namely the Sattva (semen), rajas (blood) and Tamas (the dark one).

(From Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad's Chapter 3)

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  • Excellent answer sir! One doubt in various Bhasyas of Gita Brahmin is equated with only Sattva, Kshtriyas with Rajas(Sattva subordinate), Vaishyas with Rajas(Tamas subordinate) and shudras with Tamas. If anger is tamas, why Kshtriyas are not considered tamasic?
    – RishX
    May 24 at 16:20
  • Actually even in Gita sex is mentioned. I think sex for offsprings is Sattvik, lust is rajasik, and sexual deviancy(like pedophilia,necrophilia etc) are tamasic. Is that what you meant by "lust can be tamasic as well as rajasic"?
    – RishX
    May 24 at 16:21
  • I have doubt about Vaishya's gunas but rest are correct. Either way Vaishyas are also considered to have tamas. Doesn't Kshtriyas need tamas for their anger and fighting enemies?
    – RishX
    May 24 at 16:28
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    Thanks for clearing my doubts! I "ticked" your answer
    – RishX
    May 24 at 17:00
  • 1
    underatood thanks again!
    – RishX
    May 30 at 12:49

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