Trigunas (त्रिगुणाः)

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(TBE)Bhagwadgeeta explains how the same individual’s temperament oscillates amongst the three guṇas. These 3 gunas are Satvam, Rajas and Tamas. These three guṇas are present in the material energy, and our mind is made from the same energy. These are also considered as the modes of energy. Hence, all the three guṇas are present in our mind as well. They can be compared to three wrestlers competing with each other. Each keeps throwing the others down, and so, sometimes the first is on top, sometimes the second, and sometimes the third. In the same manner, the three guṇas keep gaining dominance over the individual’s temperament, which oscillates amongst the three modes.

सत्त्वं रजस्तम इति गुणा: प्रकृतिसम्भवा: |

निबध्नन्ति महाबाहो देहे देहिनमव्ययम् || 5|| B.G 14/5

sattvaṁ rajas tama iti guṇāḥ prakṛiti-sambhavāḥ

nibadhnanti mahā-bāho dehe dehinam avyayam

the material energy consists of three guṇas (modes)—sattva (goodness), rajas (passion), and tamas (ignorance). Hence the body, mind, and intellect that are made from prakṛiti also possess these three modes. These modes bind the eternal soul to the perishable body.

Based upon one’s internal thoughts, the external circumstances, past sanskārs, and other factors, one or the other of these modes becomes dominant for that person. And the mode that predominates creates its corresponding shade upon that person’s personality. Hence, the soul is swayed by the influence of these dominating modes.

रजस्तमश्चाभिभूय सत्त्वं भवति भारत |

रज: सत्त्वं तमश्चैव तम: सत्त्वं रजस्तथा || 10|| B.G14.10

Meaning: Sometimes goodness (sattva) prevails over passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas), O scion of Bharat. Sometimes passion (rajas) dominates goodness (sattva) and ignorance (tamas), and at other times ignorance (tamas) overcomes goodness (sattva) and passion (rajas).

सत्त्वं सुखे सञ्जयति रज: कर्मणि भारत |

ज्ञानमावृत्य तु तम: प्रमादे सञ्जयत्युत || 9|| B.G 14.9

Meaning: Sattva binds one to material happiness; rajas conditions the soul toward actions; and tamas clouds wisdom and binds one to delusion.