Ayurveda classifies human psychological aspects into three basic types: Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. These three types differ in moral disposition, their reaction to social, cultural and physical conditions, and by their point of view over life. There is a constant interplay of these three aspects in everyone’s consciousness, but a relative predominance of Sattva, Rajas or Tamas is responsible for an individual’s psychological constitution or condition.


Tamas is the force of passiveness, delaying, inhibiting, grounding, pulling down, heaviness, and material. Tamas creates the form and matter of perceived reality, Tamas enables us to sleep.


Rajas is the force of activeness, promoting, arousing, stimulating, stirring, initiating, regenerating. All movement and activity is due to Rajas, which propels life.


Sattva is the force of consciousness, purity and clarity of perception. Sattva enables expansion of awareness and spiritual growth. Sattva is a state of dynamic balance between Tamas and Rajas, expressed by harmonious and appropriate discretion, preventing any occurrence of exaggeration.

People in whom Sattvic qualities predominate are loving, compassionate, pure minded, following truth and righteousness. They tend to have good manners and positive behavior, and they do not easily become upset or angry. Although they work hard mentally, they are relaxed, do not get mental fatigue, and need an average of 6 hours sleep at night. They look fresh, alert, aware, and full of luster and are recognized for their wisdom, happiness and joy. They are creative, humble, and respectful to their teachers and for others in general and care for all life forms.

Rajas within Sattva reflect the aspiration for spiritual growth and is the energy of healing, propelling oneness and wholeness.

Tamas within Sattva reflects stability and resistance of Sattva against all obstacles, the power to preserve balance and reject disease.

Higher forms of Tamas and Rajas exist in the realm of Sattva, and lower forms of Sattva exist in the realms of Tamas and Rajas.

Since these aspects are relative states, what is perceived as Sattva from a certain point of view can be perceived as Tamas or Rajas from a different perspective.Anything that enlightens a person’s awareness is experienced as Sattvic, and what depresses awareness is experienced as Tamasic. As a person advances within spiritual growth, what was considered as Sattvic and helpful may become Tamasic when moving on to a higher level of consciousness.

While Sattva and Tamas are more stable states, Rajas has a quality of changeability and controls the interaction between Sattva and Tamas. Nonetheless, a person can spend many years in a Rajasic state, as this is the state most apparent in modern life and in society. For Rajas to continue steadily, a constant stream of action and stimulation must prevail.

All three psychological aspects are natural and essential for life and health.

Tamas is essential for unwinding, relaxing and retreating.

Rajas is essential for growth and development, taking action and innovation.

Sattva is a state of fine dynamic balance between contraction and expansion, moving forward and retreating. Sattva is the ability to flux between zooming in (Rajas) and zooming out (Tamas). This balance enables a flexible perspective over life, creates contentedness and happiness, a sense of balance between the individual self and the endless unity of existence, satisfaction of the personal ego and an experience of unity side by side.

Excess conditions:

In different stages and under different circumstances of life perspective of our mortality changes. This flux in perspective creates a shift from Rajas to Tamas and vice versa. Any long term loss in the ability to flux between the two will eventually create an excess at one end and a deficiency of the other end, resulting in a distorted experience of reality and some kind of suffering.

Excess Tamas(exaggerated for the sake of perceptibility)

When Tamas is excessive, it will create insensitivity, ignorance, attachment and fixation, apathy, dependency and depression.

Individuals dominated by Tamas tend towards materialism, depression, laziness, and excess sleep (night and day), excess eat, drink and sex. A little mental work tires them and they often are less intelligent. They do not take much responsibility, may be greedy, possessive, attached, irritable, and uncaring towards others, possibly willing to harm others for their own self-interest.

Sattva within Tamas features spiritualism or idealism of destruction, darkness and deception, as seen in certain cults or superstitions.

Rajas within Tamas manifest as violence and terror by the ignorant, pleasure attained by hurt and destruction to others.

Balancing excess Tamas will requires the power of rajas: stimulation, excitement, a sense of meaning for life and a purpose to accomplish. Moving from Tamas into Sattva is inclined to pass through Rajas, since Tamas is too dim and heavy a state to shift without the propelling force of Rajas.

Excess Rajas (exaggerated for the sake of perceptibility)

When Rajas is excessive it will create instability, intense excitement, agitation, restlessness, and emotional fluctuations between pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion, lust and fear, love and hate.

Individuals dominated by Rajas are loving, calm, and patient – so long as their own interests are served! All their activities are self-centered and egotistical. They are kind, friendly, and faithful only to those who are helpful to them. Rajasic individuals tend to be aggressive, proud, competitive, and have a tendency to control others. They are hardworking, restless people. Emotionally they tend to be angry, jealous and over ambitious, and have only few moments of joy. They suffer from fear of failure, are subject to stress, and are quickly drained of mental energy. They require 8 hours of sleep.

Sattva within Rajas features spiritualism or idealism of aggression, to conquer and seek power, reflected by fighting and intolerance.

Tamas within Rajas propels self-impulses and self needs with no consideration for the impact resulting from those actions, towards themselves and their surroundings.

Balancing excess Rajas can happen in two routes:

  1. When Rajas is ferocious, it will require the power of Tamas to hit the brakes and slow down the roller coaster of satisfying the need to accomplish and conquer.
  2. When Rajas is not as extreme, one can slide more easily into Sattva dynamic state without the need of experiencing temporarily profound Tamas.

The healing power of Tamas

When issues and symptoms of Rajasic restlessness prevail, foods and activities that inspire Tamas are therapeutic for the body and mind. Reflect and draw your resources inward, just as the trees pull their sap into their roots, allowing leaves to drift away. Sleep is the ultimate Tamasic activity, promoting regrowth and strength, protecting you from illness and fatigue. Heading for bed earlier and sleeping a little later into the morning is a great way to relax restless ambitions. A habitual midday break, as in a siesta, will help gain a wider perspective over reality.

Tamasic foods promote rest, sleepiness and stillness. Sleepy soups, mushrooms, stews and meats bring the body into a state of relaxed satisfaction. Snuggling on the couch with an ageless book or a movie (romantic, drama or comedy, but not an action flick or a thriller!!) is actually medicinal. So, call it an early night, curl up with comfort and indulgence and invite the healing power of stillness into your world.

Tamasic food items

Vegetables: Mushrooms, Pumpkin, sweet potato,Potato

Meats: Beef, Duck, Egg Yolk, Lamb, Pork, Salmon, Sardines, Turkey

Dairy: Blue Cheese, Cottage Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Cream Cheese, Feta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Buffalo Milk, Butter, Cream

Nuts &Seeds: Brazil Nut, Coconut Milk, Hemp Seed, Macadamia Nuts, Peanuts, Tahini

Sweeteners: Brown Sugar, White Sugar (first reaction to sugar is Rajasic, but in the long run regular sugar consumption has Tamasic effect such as dullness and lack of motivation)

Grains: wheat flour and baked goods, wheat pasta, Seitan (wheat protein),tapioca

Oils: butter, lard (pork fat),avocado, coconut oil

Spices: nutmeg, poppy seed

The healing power of Rajas

When issues and symptoms of Tamasic depression or lethargy prevail, foods and activities that inspire Rajas are therapeutic for the body and mind. Rajas creates agility and swiftness. It is the opposite of despair. Rajas is associated with enthusiasm which transcend stagnation into action. Waking up early, exercising and sweating, will feel awakening and liberating when the body is heavy and the mood dim.

Rajasic foods stimulate movement and action. High protein foods such as red meat stimulate desire. The pungent and sour taste such as in chili peppers, coffee, and lemons stimulate movement.

Rajasic food items:

Vegetables: broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato, beets, celery Root, parsley root, parsnip,turnip, garlic, onion,green Onion, horseradish, radish, arugula, rocket, celery Stalk, spinach, watercress

Meats: beef, chicken, liver, egg yolk, lobster, pork, shrimp

Dairy: fermented sour cheese, Yogurt

Nuts &Seeds: chestnuts, walnuts

Sweeteners: honey, white sugar (short term effect is Rajasic)

Grains: corn, popcorn, barley grits, buckwheat, millet, tef

Oils: corn oil, mustard mil, olive oil, sesame oil

Liquids and ferments: alcohol, dry white wine, red wine, red wine vinegar, sake, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Black Tea, cacao, coffee, kombucha, miso, umebushi, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, yeast, tobacco

Spices: black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili, ginger, fenugreek, Hing (Asafoetida), marjoram, mustard, cumin, oregano, rosemary, thyme

Fruits: grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, orange, pineapple


Sattva is not as much related to specific food items as it is concerned with a certain approach and mental state to eating, nourishment and food preparation. Sattvic qualities regard eating freshly cooked food from day to day, preparing food with attention, thought and care, an attitude of thankfulness towards food, eating relaxed and joyful, with attention, and allowing some time for the food to digest before moving on. Sattvic approach to foods promotes spiritual growth. They nourish the body without taxing the digestive tract. Sattvic flavors are sweet and bitter. Examples of Sattvic foods include ghee, milk, almonds, rice, dates and saffron. Sattvic foods do not stimulate desire or nervous energy. They create clarity instead of drowsiness or heaviness.

Sattvic food items

Beans-Legumes: Alfalfa Sprouts, Chick Pea (Garbanzo), Lima Beans, Mung Bean, Lentils,tofu,Soy Milk,

Spices: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander Seed, Cumin, Fennel Seeds, Green Tea, Mint, min), Saffron, Turmeric, Vanilla Bean

Nuts-Seeds: Almond Milk, Almonds, Coconut Butter, Coconut Cream, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Milk, Coconut Water, Pistachio, pecan, macadamia, cashew, hazelnut, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, pumpkin seeds

Fruits: Apple, Apricot, Banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Cranberry, Currants,  Dates, Figs, Grape, Grapefruit, Guava, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Melon,Orange, Papaya, Peaches, Pears, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberries, Watermelon

Greens: Arugula, Bean Sprouts, Beet Greens, Celery Stalk, Chickweed, Chicory Lettuce, Collard Greens, Dandelion Leaves, Endive, Kale, Red Leaf Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Spirulina, Stinging Nettles, Watercress

Vegetables: Asparagus, Bottle Gourd, Butternut Squash, Carrot,Fennel Stalk, Okra, Summer Squash, Sweet Potato, Sweet Peas Zucchini, potato, yam

Grains: Barley, Basmati Rice, semolina, Oats, Quinoa, Risotto, Spelt, whole Wheat, bulgur, Wild Rice

Dairy: Buffalo Milk, Butter (unsalted), Buttermilk, Cottage Cheese, Goat Cheese, Goat Milk, Homemade Yogurt, Milk, Paneer, Whey

Oils: Coconut Oil, Ghee, butter, Sesame Oil

Sweeteners: Date Sugar, Honey, Jaggery, Maple Syrup, Raisins, Raw Sugar

Meats: Eggs, Fish

Flowers: Lavender, Orange Blossom Water, Rose Petals, Rose Water


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