The word Tamas is commonly used to indicate Darkness in samskrit. Tamas (तमः) is one of the Trigunas. It is also believed to be one of the doshas of manas (mind). Commonly, this term refers to not just the absence of light in external environment but some obstruction in mind or senses that inhibits an individual to gain real knowledge of the situation either internal or external. Therefore it is also used as synonym for terms that indicate ignorance or error. However it is the characteristic quality of manas or mind according to Ayurveda while mode of material energy according to other bharatiya shastras.
- 1 भगवद्गीतावर्णितः तमोगुणः॥ Tamas according to Bhagvad gita
- 2 मनोदोषः तमः ॥ Tamas as dosha of manas
- 3 मनसि तमोबाहुल्यलक्षणानि ॥ Signs of Tamas dominance in manas
- 4 तामसप्रकृतिपुरुषस्य लक्षणानि॥ Tamasika prakrti signs
- 5 तामस मद लक्षणानि॥ Signs when the person with Tamas dominance is intoxicated
- 6 तमोबहुल्यजनिताः विकाराः ॥ Diseases originating from Tamas dominance
- 7 रजस्तमसो अनुबन्धः ॥ Correlation between rajas and tamas
- 8 मोक्ष-तमसयोः संबंधः ॥ Role of Tamas in Moksha
- 9 References
भगवद्गीतावर्णितः तमोगुणः॥ Tamas 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, Tamas guna has been described by lord Krishna.
तमस्त्वज्ञानजं विद्धि मोहनं सर्वदेहिनाम्। प्रमादालस्यनिद्राभिस्तन्निबध्नाति भारत॥14- 8॥
tamastvajñānajaṁ viddhi mohanaṁ sarvadehinām। pramādālasyanidrābhistannibadhnāti bhārata॥14- 8॥
Meaning: Tamas guṇa, is born of ignorance. It is the cause of illusion for the embodied souls. It deludes all living beings through errors or negligence, laziness, and sleep.
अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च। तमस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे कुरुनन्दन ॥14- 13॥
aprakāśo'pravr̥ttiśca pramādo moha eva ca। tamasyetāni jāyante vivr̥ddhe kurunandana ॥14- 13॥
Meaning: Tamo guṇa results in delusion of the intellect, laziness, errors in decision making and inappropriate understanding of the situation.
Tamas guna obstructs the pathways of knowledge. It clouds wisdom and binds one to delusion. This makes one lose discrimination of what is right and what is wrong. Thus when such tamas guna overpowers Sattva and rajas guna in an individual, the person resorts to immoral behavior for full-filling the self will without hesitation. They tend to neglect their duties as the duties appear burdensome. The person becomes lazy, sleepy, negligent and commit mistakes repeatedly. Tamas guna makes person get pleasure through sleep, laziness, intoxication, violence, and gambling. Ultimately the person becomes incapable to understand the real purpose of life, the goal in life, its spiritual identity and also fails to follow dhrama or the right path to live. Thus that Purusha goes deeper into the darkness due to its mode of ignorance and loses the opportunity for progress that human form can provide.
मनोदोषः तमः ॥ Tamas as dosha of manas
In Samskrit guna indicate virtue while dosha is considered its antonym which refers to defect in something. Although Tamas is included under Trigunas, Ayurveda identifies it as one of the doshas. Since tamas guna is antithesis to Sattva guna and causes obstruction to real knowledge, Ayurveda considers it as a dosha of manas. Tamas obstructs the knowledge pathway and makes person create mistakes thus it is referred to as Dosha of manas along with Rajas. Sattva is considered as the pure virtue of mind.
रजस्तमश्च मनसो द्वौ च दोषावुदाहृतौ॥ (Asht Hrud 1.21)
rajastamaśca manaso dvau ca doṣāvudāhr̥tau॥
Meaning: Rajas and Tamas are considered as 2 doshas of manas.
मनसि तमोबाहुल्यलक्षणानि ॥ Signs of Tamas dominance in manas
When Tamas dosha overpowers sattva and rajas in manas, the person shows peculiar behavior. The mind, body, emotions and behavior of the person which hints towards Tamas predominance is described by Ayurveda acharyas as below.
तामसान्यज्ञानं विषादः प्रमादो निद्राऽऽलस्यं क्षुत्तृष्णाशोको मात्सर्यं विप्रतिपत्तिः परातिसन्धानं सत्त्वगुण वैपरीत्यं च॥ (Asht Samg 5.21)
tāmasānyajñānaṁ viṣādaḥ pramādo nidrā''lasyaṁ kṣuttr̥ṣṇāśoko mātsaryaṁ vipratipattiḥ parātisandhānaṁ sattvaguṇa-vaiparītyaṁ ca॥ (Asht Samg 5.21)
Meaning: Delusion, Depression, errors or wrong decisions, sleepiness, laziness, excess hunger, excess thirst, grief, jealousy, erroneous perception, cheating behavior and everything that is opposite to virtue sattva in a human being is caused by Tamas dosha of mind.
तामसप्रकृतिपुरुषस्य लक्षणानि॥ Tamasika 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 Tamas overpowers sattva and rajas in manas of an inidividual since birth that persons mind-type is called as Tamas prakrti. Acharya Sushruta has described the characteristics of such individual as below.
तामसास्तु- विषादित्वं नास्तिक्यमधर्मशीलता बुद्धेर्निरोधोऽज्ञानं दुर्मेधस्त्वमकर्मशीलता निद्रालुत्वं चेति॥ (Sush Samh 1.18)
tāmasāstu- viṣāditvaṁ nāstikyamadharmaśīlatā buddhernirodho'jñānaṁ durmedhastvamakarmaśīlatā nidrālutvaṁ ceti॥ (Sush Samh 1.18)
Meaning: Depression, atheism, unrighteousness, inability to discriminate between what is right and what is wrong, delusion, foolishness, laziness and sleepiness are the characteristic features of Tamasika prakrti purusha.
तामस प्रकृतिभेदाः॥ Sub-types of Tamas dominant psychic constitution
Tamas dominant psychic constitution is further divided into 3 types. It is stated that these types are due to the delusions caused by tamas dominance in mind of an individual. They are as follows.
पाशवकाय॥ Pashava type mind
The word Pashav comes from the original term Pashu which means animal. In this type of mind faculty, human being shares the traits of animals. The individuals of this type has forbidding disposition, lack of intelligence, terrible conduct and food habit, excessive sexual indulgence and sleep.
निराकरिष्णुममेधसं जुगुप्सिताचाराहरं मैथुनपरं स्वप्नशीलं पाशवं विद्यात् । (Char Samh 4.39)
nirākariṣṇumamedhasaṁ jugupsitācārāharaṁ maithunaparaṁ svapnaśīlaṁ pāśavaṁ vidyāt । (Char Samh 4.39)
मत्स्यकाय॥ Matsya type mind
Matsya is the samskrit term used for fish. In this type of mind consitution an individual shows traits similar to those of fish thus this type of constitution is called as Mastya type. This personality possess timidity, lack of intelligence, greediness for food, unsteadiness, constantly passionate and wrathful disposition, fondness for constant movement and desire for water.
भीरुमबुधमाहारलुब्धमनवस्थितमनुषक्तकामक्रोधं सरणशीलं तोयकामं मात्स्यं विद्यात्। (Char Samh 4.39)
bhīrumabudhamāhāralubdhamanavasthitamanuṣaktakāmakrodhaṁ saraṇaśīlaṁ toyakāmaṁ mātsyaṁ vidyāt। (Char Samh 4.39)
वानस्पत्यकाय॥ Vanaspati type mind
In samskrit vanaspati means trees or vegetation. The fact that tree or vegetation is a type of living beings but with peculiar features was well known to Ayurveda acharyas. They have described features of Tamasa prakrti sub type which show similarity with life traits of trees as below.
अलसं केवलमभिनिविष्टमाहारे सर्वबुद्ध्यङ्गहीनं वानस्पत्यं विद्यात् । (Char Samh 4.39)
alasaṁ kevalamabhiniviṣṭamāhāre sarvabuddhyaṅgahīnaṁ vānaspatyaṁ vidyāt । (Char Samh 4.39)
Meaning: Sluggishness, indulgence only in food, and deficiency of all the intellectual faculties are the personality traits for Tamasa prakrti purusha with Vanaspatya subtype.
तामस मद लक्षणानि॥ Signs when the person with Tamas dominance is intoxicated
Tamas 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 tamas dominance are described by acharya Sushruta as below.
अशौचनिद्रामात्सर्यागम्यागमनलोलताः। असत्यभाषणं चापि कुर्याद्धि तामसे मदः॥ (Sush Samh 45.209)
aśaucanidrāmātsaryāgamyāgamanalolatāḥ। asatyabhāṣaṇaṁ cāpi kuryāddhi tāmase madaḥ॥ (Sush Samh 45.209)
Meaning: Uncleanliness, sleepiness, jealousy, incest, greed, lying behavior is observed in intoxication in Tamasika individual or in Tamas mada.
तमोबहुल्यजनिताः विकाराः ॥ Diseases originating from Tamas dominance
Tamas 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.)
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)
niyatastvanubandho rajastamasoḥ parasparaṁ, na hyarajaskaṁ tamaḥ pravartate॥ (Char Samh 6.9)
मोक्ष-तमसयोः संबंधः ॥ Role of Tamas in Moksha
Moksha is considered to be 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 Atma, 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)
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 Tamas plays important role in the process of Moksha.
- Ashtang Hrudayam (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 1 Sutram 121)
- Ashtang Samgraha (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 5 Sutram 21)
- Sushruta Samhita (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 1 sutram 18)
- Charaka Samhita (Shareersthanam Adhyayam 4 Sutram 39)
- Sushrut Samhita (Sutrasthanam Adhyaya 45 Sutram 209)
- Charak Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyayam 6 Sutram 6)
- Charak Samhita (Vimanasthanam Adhyayam 6 Sutram 9)
- Charaka Samhita (Sharirsthanam Adhyaya 1 Sutram 142)