This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The three gunas

We now come to a theory which has vast implications, and which we will return to occasionally. Prakriti is said to be endowed with three ‘qualities’ or gunas. In its state of primordial indifferentiation, these three are in perfect equilibrium. Every modification of Prakriti, and every manifestation that is a result, represents a rupture of this primordial equilibrium. All things, therefore, participate in these qualities to varying proportions. The first is sattva, or conformity to the essence of Being (Sat). Sattva is likened to knowledge and light, as an ascending tendency; second is rajas, which is the centripetal impulse, which represents the expansive, ‘outward’ tendency in beings and which causes them to develop themselves outward within a certain state or degree of existence; finally, tamas is ignorance or obscurity, and is represented as a downward tendency. It should be remarked here that these meanings should never be twisted into moral notions, as some have done, likening the sattva to ‘goodness’ and rajas to ‘passions,’ and so forth.

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