Rajas (रजः)

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The word Rajas (रजः) in samskrit is used in multiple references. Commonly this word means dust or powder or dust particles. In Ayurveda, the word indicates menstrual blood or menses of females which is also known as Aartavam (आर्तवम्) . In this article Rajas refers to one of the Trigunas or modes of material energy. This rajas when described in reference to a human being, is considered as manas dosha (characteristic of mental faculty) as per Ayurveda. Therefore this article discusses about Rajas which is the characteristic quality of manas or mind according to Ayurveda while mode of material energy according to other bharatiya shastras.

भगवद्गीतावर्णितः रजोगुणः॥ Rajas according to Bhagvad gita

Bhagavad Gita (भगवद्गीता) is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, narrated in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. In the 14th discourse of Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna narrates the role of Trigunas in one's life. At this place, Rajas guna has been described by lord Krishna.

रजो रागात्मकं विद्धि तृष्णासङ्गसमुद्भवम् । तन्निबध्नाति कौन्तेय कर्मसङ्गेन देहिनम् ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.7)

rajo rāgātmakaṁ viddhi tr̥ṣṇāsaṅgasamudbhavam । tannibadhnāti kaunteya karmasaṅgena dehinam ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.7)

Meaning: Rajo guṇa is of the nature of passion. It arises from worldly desires and affections, and binds the soul through attachment to fruitive actions.

लोभ: प्रवृत्तिरारम्भ: कर्मणामशम: स्पृहा । रजस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे भरतर्षभ ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.12)

lobha: pravr̥ttirārambha: karmaṇāmaśama: spr̥hā । rajasyetāni jāyante vivr̥ddhe bharatarṣabha ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.12)

Meaning: Rajo guṇa excess leads to greed, inordinate activity for worldly attainments, restlessness of the mind and desires.

Rajas guna binds the soul to material existence. The way in which this bond develops is explained by describing the multiple manifestations occurring due to Rajas at the level of mind, emotions and intellect of a human being. The principal manifestation is described as attachment and desires. It promotes attachment to worldly things, fuels lust for sensual enjoyment, generates desires for physical and mental pleasures. Thus, those who are influenced by Rajas guna get engrossed in worldly pursuits of personal and professional goals to achieve status, prestige, successful career, family and home. These material possessions are looked upon as the sources of pleasure by them. All efforts are focused in a direction to fulfill these desires and this ultimately again increase the Rajas guna since the greed to get more is endless. In this way rajas guna traps the soul to it material existence and worldly life.

मनोदोषः रजः ॥ Rajas as dosha of manas

In Samskrit, guna indicates virtue while, dosha is considered its antonym which means defect in something. Although Rajas is included under Trigunas, Ayurveda identifies it as one of the doshas. Since rajas guna is responsible for development of desires, ego, greed it makes the person incapable to obtain real knowledge. Rajas disturbs the knowledge pathway and makes person vulnerable to create mistakes. Thus, Ayurveda considers it as a dosha of manas. Sattva is considered as the pure virtue of mind.

रजस्तमश्च मनसो द्वौ च दोषावुदाहृतौ॥ (Asht Hrud 1.21)[1]

rajastamaśca manaso dvau ca doṣāvudāhr̥tau॥ (Asht Hrud 1.21)[1]

Meaning: Rajas and Tamas are considered as 2 doshas of manas.

मनसि रजोबाहुल्यलक्षणानि ॥ Signs of Rajas dominance in manas

When Rajas dosha overpowers sattva guna in manas, the person shows peculiar behavior. The mind, body, emotions and behavior of the person which hints towards Rajas dominance is described by Ayurveda acharyas as below.

राजसानि दुरुपचारताऽनार्यं शौर्य्यं मात्सर्यममितभाषित्वमहङ्कारो लोलुपत्वं दम्भो मानः क्रोधो हर्षः कामश्च ॥ (Asht Sang (5.20)[2]

rājasāni durupacāratā'nāryaṁ śauryyaṁ mātsaryamamitabhāṣitvamahaṅkāro lolupatvaṁ dambho mānaḥ krodho harṣaḥ kāmaśca ॥ (Asht Sang (5.20)

Meaning: Difficulty in treatment, ill mannerism, bravery, jealousy, talkativeness, egoism, greediness, hypocrisy, arrogance, anger, excitement and lust are the peculiarities developed from Rajas guna in a human being.

राजसप्रकृतेः पुरुषस्य लक्षणानि॥ Rajas prakrti signs

Prakrti refers to the specific body type/ nature/ constitution of the individual. Guna prakrti is the type of Prakrti which is related to one's psychological status, emotions and instincts. It can be called as mind-type of an individual. On the basis of dominance of Sattva, rajas or tamas in manas of purusha, the person's Guna prakrti is considered as either Sattvik, rajas or tamas. When the Rajas overpowers sattva and/or tamas in manas of an inidividual since birth that persons mind-type is called as Rajas prakrti. Acharya Sushruta has described the characteristics of such individual as below.

राजसास्तु- दुःखबहुलताऽटनशीलताऽधृतिरहङ्कार आनृतिकत्वमकारुण्यं दम्भो मानो हर्षः कामः क्रोधश्च॥ (Sush Samh 1.18)[3]

rājasāstu- duḥkhabahulatā'ṭanaśīlatā'dhr̥tirahaṅkāra ānr̥tikatvamakāruṇyaṁ dambho māno harṣaḥ kāmaḥ krodhaśca॥ (Sush Samh 1.18)

Meaning: Excess of grief or sadness, wandering nature, unsteadiness, pride, untruthfulness, mercilessness, hypocrisy, arrogance, excitement, lust, anger are the characteristic features of Rajas prakrti purusha.

राजसप्रकृतिभेदाः॥ Sub-types of Rajas dominant psychic constitution

Rajas dominant psychic constitution is further divided into 6 sub-types. It is stated that these types are due to the anger or passions caused by rajas dominance in mind of an individual. They are as follows.

आसुरकाय ॥ Asura type of mind

All powerful beings, good or evil, are called Asuras in the oldest layer of Vedic texts. In Asura type of mind faculty human being shares traits of Asuras. The individuals of this type are brave, violent, envious, possess power or supremacy, deceptive, wild in behavior, non-compassionate, self praising in nature.

शूरं चण्डमसूयकमैश्वर्यवन्तमौपधिकं रौद्रमननुक्रोशमात्मपूजकमासुरं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

śūraṁ caṇḍamasūyakamaiśvaryavantamaupadhikaṁ raudramananukrośamātmapūjakamāsuraṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)

सर्पकाय ॥ Sarpa type of mind

Snakes are known as Sarpas in Samskrit. These are the reptile living beings with characteristic features. When the traits of human being are similar to those of Sarpas they are considered to have Sarpa type of prakruti. Such humans are brave when furious while coward when not in furious disposition. They are aggressive, extremely hard working, appear terrorizing to others, indulged in food and activities with a fearful temperament.

क्रुद्धशूरमक्रुद्धभीरुं तीक्ष्णमायासबहुलं सन्त्रस्तगोचरमाहारविहारपरं सार्पं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

kruddhaśūramakruddhabhīruṁ tīkṣṇamāyāsabahulaṁ santrastagocaramāhāravihāraparaṁ sārpaṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

शाकुनकाय ॥ Shakuni type of mind

Shakun word indicates something that is relating to birds. Thus persons with temperament similar to birds is supposed to have Shakun type mind. Such individuals are passionate or indulged in fulfilling worldly desires, constantly in the pursuit of food and pleasure trip, unstable, intolerant and un-acquisitive.

अनुषक्तकाममजस्रमाहारविहारपरमनवस्थितममर्षणमसञ्चयं शाकुनं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

anuṣaktakāmamajasramāhāravihāraparamanavasthitamamarṣaṇamasañcayaṁ śākunaṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

राक्षसकाय ॥ Rakshasa type of mind

Rakshas means demons. Persons that share similar temperament to demons are believed to have Rakshasa or demon kind of mind type. Such individuals are intolerant, constantly angry, attack at weak points of others, cruel in nature, excessively interested in food, most desirous of meat, sleep excessively, hard working and jealous.

अमर्षिणमनुबन्धकोपं छिद्रप्रहारिणं क्रूरमाहारातिमात्ररुचिमामिषप्रियतमं स्वप्नायासबहुलमीर्ष्युं राक्षसं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

amarṣiṇamanubandhakopaṁ chidraprahāriṇaṁ krūramāhārātimātrarucimāmiṣapriyatamaṁ svapnāyāsabahulamīrṣyuṁ rākṣasaṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

पैशाचकाय ॥ Pishcha type of mind

The word Pishacha is used to indicate ghost or satan. The individuals having disposition similar to that of pishacha are said to have Pishacha type of mind. Such persons are voracious eaters, excessively fond of women, show desire for staying with women in secluded place, unhygienic, have an aversion for cleanliness, fearful but possess terrifying disposition, and habitual user of abnormal diet and regimens .

महाशनं स्त्रैणं स्त्रीरहस्काममशुचिं शुचिद्वेषिणं भीरुं भीषयितारं विकृतविहाराहारशीलं पैशाचं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

mahāśanaṁ straiṇaṁ strīrahaskāmamaśuciṁ śucidveṣiṇaṁ bhīruṁ bhīṣayitāraṁ vikr̥tavihārāhāraśīlaṁ paiśācaṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

प्रैतकाय ॥ Praita type of mind

Extreme craving for food, extremely painful disposition in character, jealous nature, actions with prejudice, extremely greedy and inactive individuals are believed to possess praita type of mind.

आहारकाममतिदुःखशीलाचारोपचारमसूयकमसंविभागिनमतिलोलुपमकर्मशीलं प्रैतं विद्यात् ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

āhārakāmamatiduḥkhaśīlācāropacāramasūyakamasaṁvibhāginamatilolupamakarmaśīlaṁ praitaṁ vidyāt ॥ (Char Samh 4.38)[4]

राजस मद लक्षणानि॥ Signs when the person with Rajas dominance is intoxicated

Rajas mada is an exclusive concept in Ayurveda. Ayurveda has described effects of intoxication due to excessively taken or inappropriately taken madyam (alcohol) or any other intoxicating drug. The state of such intoxication is considered abnormal and demands medical intervention. Ayurveda acharyas have also described the symptoms of such intoxication depending upon the dominance of sattva, rajas and tamas in manas of the intoxicated individual. This helps a vaidya to decide the line of treatment specific to that patient and helps to get that individual out of that state of misery quickly. The symptoms of intoxication in a person having rajas dominance are described by acharya Sushruta as below.

राजसे दुःखशीलत्वमात्मत्यागं ससाहसम् । कलहं सानुबन्धं तु करोति पुरुषे मदः ॥ (Sush Samh 45.208)[5]

rājase duḥkhaśīlatvamātmatyāgaṁ sasāhasam । kalahaṁ sānubandhaṁ tu karoti puruṣe madaḥ ॥ (Sush Samh 45.208)[5]

Meaning: When a rajas dominant person is intoxicated he is distressed, develops suicidal thoughts, prone to take up adventures, constantly engage in quarrels.

रजोबाहुल्यजनिताः विकाराः ॥ Diseases originating from Rajas dominance

Rajas being dosha of manas it is believed to be responsible for development of various physical and psychological ailments. Acharya charaka has described various emotional and behavioral abnormalities related to excess of Rajas and tamas doshas and they are as belows.

रजस्तमश्च मानसौ दोषौ । तयोर्विकाराः कामक्रोधलोभमोहेर्ष्यामानमदशोकचित्तो(न्तो)द्वेगभयहर्षादयः|...

....तत्र खल्वेषां द्वयानामपि दोषाणां त्रिविधं प्रकोपणं; तद्यथा- असात्म्येन्द्रियार्थसंयोगः, प्रज्ञापराधः, परिणामश्चेति॥ (Char Samh 6.6.)[6]

rajastamaśca mānasau doṣau । tayorvikārāḥ kāmakrodhalobhamoherṣyāmānamadaśokacitto(nto)dvegabhayaharṣādayaḥ|...

....tatra khalveṣāṁ dvayānāmapi doṣāṇāṁ trividhaṁ prakopaṇaṁ; tadyathā- asātmyendriyārthasaṁyogaḥ, prajñāparādhaḥ, pariṇāmaśceti॥ (Char Samh 6.6.)

Meaning: Rajas and Tamas are doshas of manas. The disorders caused by them are lust, anger, greed, delusion, jealousy, ego, intoxication, grief, stress, anxiety, fear and excitement etc. ...The causes for aggravation of these doshas are 3 viz. unwholesome contact with the object of senses, intellectual errors, and seasonal vagaries.

रजस्तमसो अनुबन्धः ॥ Correlation between rajas and tamas

It is said that There exists a fixed relatioship between rajas and tamas as doshas of mind. This association or union between the 2 doshas of mind is eternal. Tamas can not manifest its actions without rajas.

नियतस्त्वनुबन्धो रजस्तमसोः परस्परं, न ह्यरजस्कं तमः प्रवर्तते॥ (Char Samh 6.9)[7]

niyatastvanubandho rajastamasoḥ parasparaṁ, na hyarajaskaṁ tamaḥ pravartate॥ (Char Samh 6.9)

मोक्ष-रजसयोः संबंधः ॥ Role of Rajas in Moksha

Moksha is considered to be state of liberation of soul from mortal body and its union with the supreme consciousness. It is believed that purusha or soul is trapped in the mortal body and suffers from karmas. This bond of atma and shareera is because of trigunas as per Bhagvad Gita.

सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणा: प्रकृतिसम्भवा: | निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.5)

sattvaṁ rajastama iti guṇā: prakr̥tisambhavā: | nibadhnanti mahābāho dehe dehinamavyayam ॥ (Bhagvad Gita 14.5)

Thus, when Ayurveda discusses about Atman, Karma and Moksha; acharyas have described the process of Moksha at the level of mind and soul. It is stated that Moksha is achieved only after annihilation of effects of potent past actions/deeds and when there is absence of rajas and tamas in the mind. At this stage there is detachment of sharira, manas, indriyas and atma.

मोक्षो रजस्तमोऽभावात् बलवत्कर्मसङ्क्षयात् | वियोगः सर्वसंयोगैरपुनर्भव उच्यते ॥ (Char. Samh. 1.142)[8]

mokṣo rajastamo'bhāvāt balavatkarmasaṅkṣayāt | viyogaḥ sarvasaṁyogairapunarbhava ucyate ॥ (Char. Samh. 1.142)

This is a state after which there is no more physical or mental contacts. Further there is no process of rebirth. Thus presence or absence of Rajas plays important role in the process of Moksha.

References