Play of The Three Gunas


The talk on ‘Mind Management with Guna’ by Dr. Trupti Jayin was inspiring and thought-provoking. I am sharing here the insights from her talk along with the three gunas timetable which can help you to decide how your gunas are spread out during the day. 

According to Wikipedia, Guṇa (Sanskrit: गुण) is a concept in Hinduism and Sikhism, which can be translated as “quality, peculiarity, attribute, property”. The concept is originally notable as a feature of Samkhya philosophy. 

Dr. Jayin explains that “We all have the three qualities and correspondingly everything in this universe also consists of them. This means we have to utilize what exists around us to enhance or reduce our guna. Just like the tea we make has milk, water, tea, and sugar yet in every household it tastes different, similarly, we are made of the three guna or attributes and yet we behave differently. The same three guna and yet billions of differing probabilities. Isn’t it amazing?

Someone asked me a question o Karma and Guna and how the caste system is related to Guna. All human beings can be classified into four Varna- Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishyas, and Shudras. This is not a caste but a societal managerial system. The problem is people think of it as a hierarchical system that is faulty. One is better than the other, this thought has disintegrated the wisdom that this system brings.

The Brahamana are thinkers, visionaries, advisors, consultants, philosophers, researchers, scholars, planners, policymakers, teachers, artists, etc. They help society to progress and represent the Think Tank of a nation. They should have 60% Sato guna, 30 % Rajo, and 10% Tamo guna. This is how nations can truly look after their citizens. If the head ( thinking) is damaged, destructive and negative ( 60% Tamo, 30% Rajo, and 10% Sato) then there is the fabric of a nation deteriorates. The rise of capitalism, excess expenditure on defense and corruption has been rampant in the last decade and we are seeing the result where temple doors have closed to the devotee. Could we have ever expected such a thing to happen in the world? 

If the head is confused and scattered can the others work? The Kshatriya are the leaders, rulers, executives, administrators, organizers, law enforcers, defenders, patrons, social workers who get things done. How do you expect one’s back muscles or skeleton structure to work or do the right action when the head or mind is cut off?

The same will be the state of the Vaishyas who mobilize resources and represent our hands the Shudras who serve and do the running around and represent our legs. The latter Varna has actually deserted the other three. The Shudra Varna has decided to dump the other three and move its energy away. Soon the CEO of a company will be making his own coffee and washing his cup. 

This is what happens when the Varna and Karma associated with it is disrespected. The malfunction of anyone Varna disrupts society and this is what we are seeing.” 

All are equal and the job description isn’t enough to discriminate between people, the qualities in a human are of utmost importance.

She continued, “The gunas must be in balance in society. Kshatriya (60 rajo/ 30 sato/10 tamo), Vaishya ( 60 Rajo/30 tamo/10 sato) and Shudra (60 tamo/ 30 Rajo/10 sato) then the balance will be maintained. On a lighter note, today the highest paying job is of a helper, housekeeper, cook, and maid. At last, the legs are getting their due. A society that respects its grassroots workers can hope to be great one day. 

The study of the guna is vast and the deeper you understand it, one thing is clear- ‘ We have to give the rightful place to the gunas in our life, for Karma of everyone to contribute equally in nation-building.

Further, on inquiring about what is varna and who decides we belong to which varna or role per se, she elucidated, “Varna is a professional choice or better still a way in which we will contribute to society and enhance our learning virtues/ knowledge. It is also determined by our karma in previous lives. So it is also related to our svadharma.

For example, a cobbler starts off as an artist and makes super mojaris, we may think he is an artist, but he is a Vaishya and later he builds a business of it and goes on to become a leader of national cobblers association, playing the role of a Kshatriya. Now, It’s not that a Vaishya has become a Kshatriya instead, his svadharma was always to make it big and that’s what he wanted to do (freewill).
Another example can be of an IIT sweeper (Shudra) who educated his son in IIT. What Varna does he belong to? The profession only cannot determine the Varna. The gunas also must be considered to understand whether he is using his sato guna more. It is possible that if he is at a soul shift he may be able to move from a Shudra Varna to another one.
Kabir was a saint-poet though his parents were not. so your Varna could be motivated from your past life and the roles you assume in life.”

This was indeed food for thought, as I contemplated and I realized how this play of gunas affects our karma and how it influences our path of dharma (righteousness). How Varna is a mere role you play in the world and not a classs divide. How we can simply become more mindful to develop and align our gunas with our karma and create a harmonious life for ourselves and the ecology in which we live in.

 Mahatma Gandhi in the book Ashram Observances in Action, stated, “My impression is that there was no idea of high and low when the varna system was discovered. No one is high and no one is low in this world. Therefore he who thinks he belongs to high-class is never high-class and he who believes himself to be low is merely a victim of ignorance. He has been taught by his masters that he is low. If a Brahman has the knowledge, those who are without it will respect him as a matter of course. But if he is puffed up by the respect thus shown to him and imagines himself to belong to a high class he directly ceases to be a Brahman. Virtue will always command respect, but when the man of virtue thinks much of himself, his virtue ceases to have any significance for the world. Talents of all kind are a trust and must be utilized for the benefit of society.

She shared the table below to identify how we are governed by tamo, rajo or sato in our daily life.

The Three Guns Time-Table

The Guna time-table is for us to realize in which area do we spend most of our time and realign ourselves so that we can balance our life.

In this time when the world is hit by the pandemic and people are unsure about what is going to come about, it is important that we attain a balance of the three gunas by using our right understanding and spiritual practices. The solutions are not out there, they are within you, look for them and you will get your answers.

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