THE FOOD WE EAT CONDITIONS OUR MIND.                     Pictoral representation                               

The operation of the world is made possible by the interplay of three gunas or attributes:

     (1)   Sattva, the quality of goodness, peace, beauty, rhythm, and harmony.

     (2)    Rajas, the quality of action, achievement, passion and pride .

     (3)    Tamas,  the quality of darkness, inertia and ignorance.

All three attributes or gunas are present in human nature, varying in degree according to individuals, and each can be enhanced by providing conditions conducive to its growth and development.  The Three gunas are personified as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva or Mahadev--  the creator, the preserver and the destroyer of the physical universe.

from Philosophy of the Masters Vol. III, p, 227 

Food can be divided into three kinds:  (1) Satvik, (2) Rajasik, and (3) Tamasik.

Satvik food produces pure feelings.  Butter, milk, rice, pulses and vegetables come under this category.  Food that is full of pungent spices, is hot and has a heating effect on the system is Rajasik.  Stale, raw, over-ripe food, eggs, meat, fish, wine, etc. are Tamasik foods. But even Satvik food sometimes turns into Tamasik if taken in excessive quantity.

A pictoral representation of the characteristics of the three gunas or attributes can be seen here.

One can change one's nature by changing one's diet.  By changing one's diet, one changes the nature of one's mind.  One can progressively eliminate the Tamasik and Rajasik qualities of one's mind by replacing food that is Tamasik and Rajasik with food that is Sattvik.

BACK

Within the classic Indian scripture TheBhagavad Gita there is insightful discussion on the qualities of forces that make up nature and creation.  These forces are called gunas (pronounced gun-a), a term defined as strand, thread, rope.  They are the intertwining forces that weave together to make material nature, including human consciousness.  These forces are divided into three categories, whose qualities are tabulated below, yet the Gita points out that it is possible to go beyond the gunas, to transcend their characteristics. He who endeavors to do so creates ultimate freedom by balancing their essence in their true, authentic Self which goes beyond the forces of nature and resides in non-dualistic divinity.

     Listed below are the three gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. According to Yogic philosophy, everything is made up of the gunas in different proportions.

 

Raja

Sattva

Tamas

Activity Truth / Goodness Inertia
Passion / desire Light / illumination Darkness
Energy Spiritual Essence Mass / matter / heaviness 
Expansion Upward flow Downward flow
Movement Intelligence / Consciousness Sloth / dullness
Binds by passion born of craving and attachment. Binds by means of attachment to knowledge and joy. Binds by means of ignorance and obstruction.
Is the ruling trait when greed, excessive projects, cravings and restlessness arise. Is the ruling trait when the light of knowledge shines forth. Is the ruling trait when darkness, dullness, stagnation, indolence, confusion, torpor, and inertia appear.

He who faithfully serves me
with the yoga of devotion, going
beyond the three gunas, is ready
to attain the ultimate freedom.

            Bhagavad Gita, A New Translation, 14.22 26
            Translation by Stephen Mitchell, 2000