The Mahagunas
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The Mahagunas

a tool to understand ourselves and our children.

What we call Sattva in the Vedic world is the harmony, bliss and purity we manifest in our lives. Sattva is one of the Mahagunas, along with Tamas and Rajas. Gunas literally means “that which binds” and Maha means “great”. These three primal energies are what we choose to manifest into our lives through our actions. Activities, food, drinks, everything that is penetrating our system through our five senses can be sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic in nature.

Rajas is the quality that represents the external world, the stimulation, turbulence, and distraction. Rajas encompasses the essence of action. When self seeking actions or ego dominated actions are present, there is too much mobilization. Too much of that outward motion eventually leads to pain. Rajas clouds the mind. An example of that rajasic energy can be found in the “mine phase”. Have you ever seen the determination of a toddler to hold on to that cherished toy when another child is trying to grab it?

Tamas is the energy of dullness, heaviness, obstruction and lethargie. Too much of that downward quality causes desillusion and materialism. Disconnection to spiritual Self is often caused by too much Tamas.

An example of too much Tamas can be seen in illnesses, we can observe our body simply shutting down to anything the world offers us. Ill people will be too weak to be active, adaptive participants in this world. That is why the quality of Tamas is degenerative. Tamas closes the mind.

Sattva is balance and harmony. It brings light and clarity to our being, it awakens the soul encouraging evolution and development of the being. With its inward motion, it cultivates higher intelligence and consciousness by broadening our perspective and opening our mind.

Children are innately in this sattvic state of being, they discover the world with that innocent curiosity. They are sattvic in nature. A simple way to recognise that purity is noticing how addictive it can be to stare blissfully at a baby’s face, it automatically softens the heart! Sattva has this incredible power. You can often see how children play the role of little Gurus - removers of darkness - in our lives. By playing, laughing, they have this ability to defuse tension and embody the energy of Sattva.

The Mahagunas

Prakruti (our constitution) is made of all the mahagunas. Meaning all the 5 elements are containers for rajas, tamas and sattva:

  • Ether comes from sattva, and embodies the clarity.
  • Air is both sattva and rajas, lightness and movement.
  • Fire comes from rajas, the mobility, the energetic.
  • Water is from both rajas and tamas, qualities of movement and density or heaviness
  • Earth is from tamas, inertia and immobilization.

From that lense, we can then understand better where that stubbornness of a two year old about holding onto a toy like he’s holding on to dear life comes from: fire. And it gets easier to determine rajasic food such as hot spicy food, caffeinated tea, coffee, chocolate, refined sugar, loud music and aggressive activities (e.g., sports, watching aggressive activities, as in video games and movies will agitate the nervous system). Rajas embodies the qualities of hot, sharp, flowy, light, cloudy, rough, hard, gross, a bit heavy and wet.

The earth and water elements bring forth the energy of tamas with the qualities of cold, heavy, dull, static, solid and cloudy. Watching television for example is a tamasic activity that breeds unconsciousness, and numbs the mind. Eating leftovers that have no prana left is tamasic in nature. Complaining and focusing on problems is another type of tamasic behaviour pattern.

Sattva is subtle, light, mobile, clear, soft, smooth, pure and neither hot nor cold, wet nor dry. These are the qualities of Air and Ether, the qualities of awareness and therefore balance. Sattvic food is fresh, whole and cooked with love and devotion. Sattva can be increased by meditation, a positive environment, being of service to others, thinking of the whole and not just yourself and living in the solutions rather than the problems. Anything that guides us to creativity, clarity, understanding, realization, forgiveness and acceptance is sattvic in nature. It allows perception to pierce through the murkiness.

The Mahagunas

Today, the pull of the external world, rajas and tamas, has never been more present. Our modern lives are filled with ‘more’ stuff to make us feel ‘happier’. The question is: is it really working? 

Tamas and rajas eventually lead to suffering and dis-ease, as it creates attachment to a certain way of being, behaving, thinking and living. It disconnects us from our boundless eternal being and Spirit. Cultivating sattva is a way to connect back to our Spirit, so we are able to operate and participate in the world from our highest Self, our truest nature made of  wisdom, clarity, unity, love and devotion.

We need sattva to infuse our rajas and tamas. When rajas is guided with a sattvic state of mind, we are proactive, warm, we keep a nice balance in between activities and rest, we have drive and enthusiasm for life. When sattva shows the way to tamas, we become stable, structured, grounded, faithful and solid in ourselves. We cultivate that sattvic energy as a caregiver by going in the direction of sattva: inward. It’ll look different for any caregivers: some might like to paint, play music, sing, write, craft, spend time in nature… And growing our sense of acceptance, forgiveness, perception, and power of realization will come with regular Sadhana/Spiritual practice and practice of meditation. Allowing ourselves to be in that contemplation state in everything we do has the power to transport us to a higher state of consciousness and to inspire young ones. Sadhana is then available to us wherever we are, whenever, in every moment of our lives, whether we’re by ourselves or taking care of children, our own or others. 

To have our lives imbued with our sadhana, setting up an intention behind anything we do is essential. We call that Sankalpa. Children are way more enthusiastic about doing something when there is intention behind it. We don’t need lengthy explanations about what we do, and why we do it… It could simply take the form of chanting a mantra before eating, singing a short song when doing something trivial (washing hands, brushing teeth, taking a bath…), setting up rituals around waking up, meal times, going to sleep, etc….

Being aware of the environment our children are evolving in and what we choose to expose them to, is another way to bring more awareness to our caregiving. It’s common these days to see children’s toys conceived to be excessively distractive, noisy, almost gaudy. We can bring that sattvic energy by keeping our child’s environment net and simple. Toys made out of natural material encourage children to connect to the textures and the gunas present in nature. Toys made out of recycled and natural materials encourage children to think creatively and to be in that renewal spirit of sattva. If we observe children closely, they are already in that state of mind and tend to make objects/toys out of a few items rather quickly.

These are not tricks to make our children do things or to behave in a certain way. This is not about controlling every aspect of their childhood and development. These are ways to transform the trivial into mundane and share the understanding of nature and natural cycles of life. Children will begin to understand important Ayurvedic principles: everything we do matters, it has a consequence— it can either take us closer to our balanced Nature or further away from it. They will learn the role of the Mahagunas and their ability to use the gunas as a tool to know themselves and maintain balance will become clear as sattva.

Mother of all healing

Aurèle Roy is an Ayurvedic Health Advisor specialised in women’s health & Early Childhood Educator. With the wisdom of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation, Aurèle has experienced tremendous healing on her digestion and hormones. She is passionate about helping woman managing their energy to release stress and anxiety and embody the sacred mother they were always meant to be. Witnessing the impact of digestive and hormonal imbalances on children she cared for and

their mothers health & wellbeing when working as an early childhood educator was the true catalyst to start her business: State of Dwanda for Mamas. Her 1:1 programs are dedicated to support mothers from conception to pregnancy, post partum and beyond. Aurèle has traveled and lived overseas for about 10 years, and is currently based in Rishikesh, India. She offers her services online to reach a broader community of mamas. She’s also a dancer, dedicated yogini, playful caregiver of children, and lover of nature, different cultures and sacred rituals.

Book an appointment with Christine HERE!
Link for our free class is HERE!

Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.

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