Monday, March 16, 2009


There is good interpretation of Guna is given in the Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta, Section 36,37 and 38 demonstrate the meaning of Three Gunas. Verses 1 to 4 of section 36 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta explain about the relationship of three Gunas. Roy, P.C. translates these verses as follows:
Tamas (Darkness), Rajas (Passion) and Sattva (Goodness) These are called the three qualities. These are coupled with one another. They exist, depending on one another. They take refuge in one another and follow one another. They are also joined with one another (MB-AP, 36, 1-4). Tamas should be known to have the night (or obscurity) for its essence. It has three characteristics, and is (otherwise) called Delusion. It has unrighteousness (or sin) also for its indication, and it is always present in all sinful acts. This is the nature of Tamas and it appears also as confined with others (MB-AP, 36, 8). Rajas is said to have activity for its essence. It is the cause of successive acts. When it prevails its indication, among all beings, is production (MB-AP, 36, 9). Splendour, lightness, and faith—these are the form that is light, of Sattva among all creatures, as regarded by all good men (MB-AP, 36, 10).
Characteristics of Tamas Guna:
Verses 12 to 20 section 36 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta describe the basic nature of the Tamas Guna . Translation of these verses by Roy, P. C. is given below-
Complete delusion, ignorance, illiberality, indecision in respect of action, sleep, haughtiness, fear, cupidity, grief, censure of good acts, loss of memory, unripeness of judgment, absence of faith, violation of all rules of conduct, want of discrimination, blindness, vileness of behaviour, boastful assertions of performance when there has been no performance, presumption of knowledge in ignorance, unfriendliness (or hostility), evilness of disposition, absence of faith, stupid reasoning, crookedness, incapacity for association, sinful action, senselessness, stolidity, lassitude. absence of self-control, degradation,--all these qualities are known as belonging to Tamas. Whatever other states of mind connected with delusion, exist in the world, all appertain to Tamas. Frequent ill-speaking of other people, censuring the deities and the Brahmanas, illiberality, vanity, delusion, wrath, unforgiveness, hostility towards all creatures, are regarded as the characteristics of Tamas. Whatever undertakings exist that are unmeritorious (in consequence of their being vain or useless), what gifts there are that are unmeritorious (in consequence of the unworthiness of the donees, the unreasonableness of the time, the impropriety of the object, etc.), vain eating,--these also appertain to Tamas. Indulgence in calumny unforgiveness, animosity, vanity and absence of faith are also said to be characteristics of Tamas (MB-AP, 36, 12-20) .
Characteristics of Rajas Guna:
Verses 2 to 14 section 37 of Aswamedha Parva of Mahabharta describe the basic nature of the Rajas Guna Injuring (others), beauty, toil, pleasure and pain, cold and heart, lordship (or power), war, peace, argument, dissatisfaction, endurance, might, valour, pride, wrath, exertion, quarrel (or collision), jealousy, desire, malice, battle, the sense of meum or mineness, protection (of others), slaughter, bonds, and affection. buying and selling, lopping off, cutting, piercing and cutting off the coat of mail that another has worn, fierceness, cruelty, vilifying, pointing out the faults of others thoughts entirely devoted to worldly affairs, anxiety, animosity, reviling of others, false speech, false or vain gifts, hesitancy and doubt, boastfulness of speech, dispraise and praise, laudation, prowess, defiance, attendance (as on the sick and the weak), obedience (to the commands of preceptors and parents), service or ministrations, harbouring of thirst or desire, cleverness or dexterity of conduct, policy heedlessness, contumely, possessions, and diverse decorations that prevail in the world among men, women, animals, inanimate things, houses, grief, incredulousness, vows and regulations, actions with expectation (of good result), diverse acts of public charity, the rites in respect of Swaha salutations, rites of Swadha and Vashat, officiating at the sacrifices of others, imparting of instruction, performance of sacrifices, study, making of gifts, acceptance of gifts, rites' of expiation, auspicious acts, the wish to have this and that, affection generated by the merits of the object for which or whom it is felt, treachery, deception, disrespect and respect, theft, killing, desire of concealment, vexation, wakefulness, ostentation, haughtiness, attachment, devotion, contentment, exultation, gambling, indulgence in scandal, all relations arising out of women, attachment to dancing, instrumental music and songs—all these qualities have been said to belong to Rajas (MB-AP, 37, 2-14). Those men on Earth who meditate on the past, present, and the future, who are devoted to the aggregate of three, viz., Religion, WeaIth, and Pleasure, who acting from impulse of desire, exult on attaining to affluence in respect of every desire, are said to be enveloped by Rajas .
Characteristics of Sattva Guna:
According to the 38 chapter Sattva is excellent quality. Verses 1 to 8 of this chapter explain the characteristics of Sattva Guna. Sattva is beneficial to all creatures in the world, and unblamable, and constitutes the conduct of those that are good. Joy, satisfaction, nobility, enlightenment, and happiness, absence of stinginess (or liberality), absence of fear, contentment, disposition for faith, forgiveness, courage, abstention from injuring any creature, equability, truth, straightforwardness, absence of wrath, absence of malice, purity, cleverness, prowess, (these appertain to the quality of Rajas) . He who is devoted to the duty of Yoga, regarding knowledge to be vain, conduct to be vain, service to be vain, and mode of life to be vain, attains to what is highest in the world hereafter. Freedom from the idea of meum, freedom from egoism, freedom from expectations, looking on all with an equal eye, and freedom from desire,--these constitute the eternal religion of the good. Confidence, modesty, forgiveness, renunciation, purity, absence of laziness, absence of cruelty, absence of delusion, compassion to all creatures, absence of the disposition to calumniate, exultation, satisfaction, rapture, humility, good behaviour, purity in all acts having for their object the attainment of tranquility, righteous understanding, emancipation (from attachments), indifference, Brahmacharyya, complete renunciation, freedom from expectations, unbroken observance of righteousness are said to be characteristics of Sattva (MB-AP, 38, 1-8).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Personality Inventories Based on Trigunas

The concept of the Triguna as it was elucidated in classical Indian literature seems to have implication to our understanding of human behaviour. Attempts have been made in India in recent times to develop personality inventories based on the Triguna.
One of the earliest available inventory was developed by Paramswarn (1963) and Uma, Lakshmi and Parameswaran (1971) named as ‘Guna Inventory” to assess the three Gunas. This inventory is based on the descriptions of the characteristics of the three Gunas as outline in the Sāmkhya Karika and The Bhagavadgita. It consists of 24 Sāttvic items, 27 Rājasic items and 29 Tāmasic items in the form of statements as in an attitude scale. There are three response categories (‘agree’, ‘disagree’ and ‘doubtful’) for each item. The total score on each guna is the algebraic sum of the scores on the items for that Guna. This scale considers the Gunas as three independent dimensions in a similar manner as the Eysenckian dimensions of personality (Parameswaran, 1969). Investigators do not consider interaction among Gunas and their predominance. Though they consider Triguna as three independent dimensions theoretically, the correlation obtained shows significant relation for Rajas and Tamas and not for Tamas and Sattva or Sattva and Rajas.
Mohan and Sandhu (1986, 1988) developed a Triguna personality inventory based on the Gita tyopology of personality (TGPI) to measure the three Guans as separate dimensions with one being predominant. They found that Sattva was distinct from Rajas and Tamas.
Das (1987, 1991) also developed an inventory based on description of the characteristics of the three Gunas as outlined in the Bhagavadgita and envisaged of one guna as being predominant. He has found that Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are negatively correlated at significant levels and Rajas is closer to Sattva than Tamas in the hierarchy.
Another psychometric means to identity the type of personality on the Guan system developed by Pathak, Bhatt and Sharma (1992) gives categorized norms and percentiles by which a person’s relative position in a hierarchy could be established. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas scales show low correlation with each other, indicating independence among the three dimensions.
Mathew (1995) developed IAS Rating Scale. This inventory was standardized on Kerala population. The instrument measures three broad behavioral tendencies: inertia, activation and stability. The IAS Rating Scale has 35 sub-scales of personality or for “other rating” (rating the personality of another person). IAS Rating Scale has high reliability and construct validity.
Kapur et al (1997) attempt to provide a throretical model of infant temperament based on ancient Indian thought with special focus on the resilient or competent child. Most of the items of the checklist are drawn from the items of the inventory developed by Marutham (1992) for adult population, along with some items from the standard checklist used in studies on temperament in the west.
Marutham et al (1998) consider the three factors as independent of each other. The inventory is constructed on views depicted in Sāmkhya Karika and Bhagavadgita. However, correlations between Sattva and Rajas, and Sattva and Tamas are significant though not high. This shows low independence among the three factors.
Wolf (1998) developed Vedic Personality Inventory (VPI) to assesses the validity of the Vedic concept of three Gunas- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, or modes of nature. The items of this inventory are derived from a Vaishnava tests. Description of each Guna were compiled from the chapters 14, 17 and 18 of the Bhagavadgita. Inter sub-scale correlation shows positive association between items of Tamas and Rajas sub-scales.
Das, R.C. (1987). The Gita Typology of Personality-An Inventory. Journal of Indian Psychology, 6 (1&2), 7-12.
Das. R.C. (1991). Standardization of the Gita Inventory of Personality. Journal of Indian Psychology, 9 (1&2), 47-54.
Kapur, M., Hirisava, U., Reddy, M.V., Barnabas, I., & Singhal, D. (1997). Study of Infant Temperament: An Indian Perspective. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology, 24 (2), 171-177.
Marutham, P., (1992). ‘Sattva’, ‘Rajas’ and ‘Tamas’ factors among college students. Unpublished M.Phil Dessertation, Banglore University.
Marutham, P., Balodhi, J.P., & Mishra, H. (1998). Sattva, Rajas, Tamas (SRT) Inventory. NIHHANS Journal, 15-19.
Mathew, V.G. (1995). Mathew IAS Rating Scale Manual. University of Kerala, Kerala.
Mohan, V., & Sandhu, S. (1986). Development of scale to measure Sattvic, Rajaic and Tamasic Guna. Journal of Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 12, 46-52.
Parameswaran, E.G. (1969). Indian Psychology-The Need for Break Through, An Attempt. Research Bulletin, 5, 75-80.
Uma, K., Lakshmi, Y.S., & Parameshwaran, E.G. (1971). Construction of a Personality Inventory based on Doctrine of Three Gunas. Research Bulletin, 6. 49-58.
Wolf, D.B. (1998). The Vedic Personality Inventory: A Study of Gunas. Journal of Indian Psychology, 16 (1), 26-43.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Triguna Theory of Personality in Shrimad Bhagvadgita

The Gita view is that human nature consists of three Gunas or qualities, viz., sattva, rajas, and tamas. Each individual has all the three quality’s in his nature. Sometimes one of these qualities overpowers the other two and becomes predominant. Though the three qualities vary at times in the same person, one of the qualities tends to be usually more dominant in him. A person may be sattvika, rajasika, or tamasika according to pre dominance of the corresponding quality in his nature. However, one may also go beyond all the three qualities by unflinching effort, through a sort of gradual internal elevation and finally attain a state of perfect liberation.
Sattva implies purity, wisdom, bliss; rajas implies hankering, attachment, and action; and tamas implies bias, heedlessness, and inertia. Essentially the sattvikas (Ss) are illuminous, the rajasikas (Rs) are passionate, and the tamasikas (Ts) are inert.
He who goes beyond the three qualities does not get affected by joys and sorrows, censure and praise, love and hatred. For him there is no different between a piece of log and a piece of gold. He looks upon honour and dishonour, friendship and enmity as the same, and shuns initiative in all matters, for he has nothing to ask for. This state of perfect liberation is hard to attain. It can be achieved only through long-sustained endeavour and a strong sense of detachment.
Sattvikas worship gods, Rajasikas gnomes and giants, and Tamasikas ghosts and evil spirits.
Sattvikas are fond of foods that are pure, soothing, and delicious, and contribute to vitality, vigour, and health. Foods that are bitter, over-hot. sour, saline, pungent dry and burning, i.e., foods which produce pain, grief, and sickness are dear to Rajasikas . On the other hand, Tamasikas like foods which ale state, unclean and putrid. They also like the remnants of others' meals.
Sattvikas offer sacrifices from a sheer sense of duty without any desire for fruit. Rajasikas offer sacrifices for self-glorification, and fulfilment of specific missions. The sacrifices offered by Tamasikas are devoid of faith.
Austerity is practised by Sattvikas not for any return, yet with utmost devotion; by Rajasikas with a view to commanding respect and honour; while by Tamasikas for causing self-torture, or with a view to bringing about destruction of a particular person.
Charity, typical of Sattvikas, is done, as a duty, unto proper persons at proper moments; that, typical of Tamasikas, is done grudgingly, with expectation of a profitable return; while charity, typical of Tamasikas, is done unto unfit persons at unfit moments, and, that again, with contempt and disrespect.
Sattvikas reasoning helps them distinguish between what tempts and what refrains, what should be done and what should not be done, what should be feared and what should not be feared, and what binds and what liberates. Rajasikas reasoning does not help them differentiate right from wrong, things to be done from things not to be done. On the contrary, Ts' reasoning is such that it induces them to take the wrong for the right and, in all cases the bad for the good.
Sattvikas are firm in self-control. They can control their mind, respiration, and sense organs through yoga or practice. Rajasikas are firmly attached to duty, desire, and wealth. Tamasikas, on the other hand. are firmly seized by sleep, fear, grief, despair, and vanity.
Things in which Sattvikas find pleasure first taste like poison but ultimately turn into nectar-such pleasure is born of the bliss of self-knowledge. Things which are dear to Rajasikas initially taste like nectar as they come in contact with the sense organs, but in fine they appear to be as distasteful as poison. Tamasikas, on the other hand, find pleasure in things which, though tasteful at the beginning, finally become objects of addiction, and such pleasure is caused by sleep, lethargy, and illusion.
This is, in brief, the Gita Typology of personality. lt seems no significant study has been so far made to evaluate the validity of this concept.