Sattva 101: The Guna Of Pure Goodness Explored & How To Cultivate It

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One of the main concepts with which Hinduism explains the world is the three gunas.

These three gunas are qualities of the entire material universe, which includes both the nature surrounding us and our personalities. 

These three gunas are Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Today, we are going to talk about Sattva, the guna of stability, happiness, lightness, and bliss.

We’re going to cover:

  • Sattva Meaning
  • Sattva in Personality
  • Negative aspects of Sattva
  • Types of Sattva
  • How To Cultivate Sattva?

Read on to find out more details about the quality many of us could use more of – and also how to cultivate it in your everyday life. 

stones in calm blue water

Sattva Meaning

Sattva represents purity and light – so it is the opposite of tamas which is the quality of darkness, and rajas which is somewhere in between.

We will now further analyze this quality and its characteristics.

Sattva is an energy of equilibrium, serenity, peace, and balance

The Bhagavad Gita explains it like this (in chapter 14): 

“Amongst these, sattva guṇa, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating and full of well-being.”

Sattva Guna balances Tamas and Rajas by preventing one from being both underactive (lazy, depressed) which comes with Tamas, and overactive (passionate, ungrounded) which is common with overactive Rajas. 

Sattva Guna is the purest of all material gunas and brings one to live in a correct way. It also encourages one to increase their knowledge of themselves and the world around them. 

Sattva Guna is symbolized by white color and represents selflessness, truth, wisdom, creativity and positivity.

 For something in nature, like food, to be accepted as sattvic means it has no evil energy or disease and is natural. For example, fresh fruits are sattvic.

The text Manusmṛti says sattva is everything that is calm, pure, and full of bliss. According to this text the hunger for knowledge and Vedic study is also sattvic, and so is the practice of virtues, meditation, and purity. 

the sun shining in a blue sky

Sattva in Personality

The beauty of vedas is that they make every concept in the universe known – nothing is hidden.

For example, we can sometimes feel it is unfair that some people get quick results while others struggle. However, Vedas explain that phenomenon as a high sattvic personality.

Sattva brings luck and clarity, making it easier to get work done. It also brings a sense of bliss.

The Hinduistic text Srimad Bhagavatam explains a person with a high Sattvic personality as one with 

“Mind and sense control, tolerance, discrimination, sticking to one’s prescribed duty, truthfulness, mercy, careful study of the past and future, satisfaction in any condition, generosity, renunciation of selfishness, faith in the Guru (Master), being embarrassed at improper action, charity, simplicity, humbleness, and satisfaction within oneself.”

A person high in this quality is creative, pure, and loves to serve. They are more enthusiastic, less worried about the past and the future. 

Sattva also leads to better mental and physical health. They want to live a moral life, are non-violent, and have self-control. They are also mature, wise, and honest.

Being high in Sattva is also essential for spiritual growth. The person will naturally understand the existence of God and show respect toward divinity.

They will purify themselves and have spiritual experiences. 

two women laughing

Negative aspects of Sattva

Just like Tamas has some positive aspects, so Sattva has some negative ones. 

People high in Sattva guna are kind, polite, and generous, which without a little bit of “darker energy” can make them easy to make use of.

But even more importantly, Sattva Guna is said to “bind one to happiness and knowledge”. For full spiritual liberation, we need to let go of all attachments – including those to good things. 

7 Types of Sattva

From the Ayurvedic perspective, there are 7 types of Sattva guna. These are used to further describe different Sattvic personalities:

  • Brahma Sattva: the person shares the characteristics of Brahma. They are emotionally stable, honest, sober, intelligent, and pure. They are also not envious, angry, greedy, or lusty.
  • Arsa Sattva: the person shares the traits of Rishis. They enjoy acts of devotion, such as rituals, study of the scriptures, and vows. They are intelligent and creative. They are low in ego, hatred, envy, anger, and pride. 
  • Aindra Sattva: The person shares the traits of Indra. They are strong, brave, wealthy, authoritative, and confident. But also, they are moral and don’t behave in a mean way. 
  • Yamya Sattva: The person shares the traits of Yama and is active, assertive, and has a great memory. They are also not envious, attached, ignorant, or full of hate.
  • Varuna Sattva: Shares the traits of Varuna, and is brave, pure, patient, conservative, and clean. They steer away from addictions, anger, and uncleanliness.
  • Kauvera Sattva: The person shares the traits of Kuvera, and value honor, luxuries, riches, and dignity. They have an extrovert nature but also get irritated sometimes.
  • Gandharva Sattva: Sharing the traits of Ganharva, they are artists who love singing, dancing, and reading and writing poetry and epics. They love beautiful scents, are peaceful, and always help others. 
people sitting playing traditional instruments

8 Ways To Cultivate Sattva?

Now that you know what is Sattva – it’s natural, and healthy to want more of this energy.

And don’t worry, even if you are in a period where you feel far away from the qualities of Sattva, you can increase this quality by making a couple of changes in your everyday life.

From the yoga perspective – you need to follow the yamas and niyamas from the 8 limbs of yoga to attain higher levels of this guna. You can read our articles on that topic to achieve that.

But here we will approach this process in a more actionable way with tips that you can implement right now. 

1. Eat Sattvic Food

The food we eat (and don’t eat) has a big impact on our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

To lower other gunas and increase sattva, we need to eat less food that is too spicy, shouldn’t overeat, and should avoid junk food, alcohol, and drunks. 

To cultivate sattva, eat lighter and nutritious food. This means, fruits, grains and vegetables. You can also drink herbal teas. 

Also, try to fast sometimes and don’t overeat. 

a stall of fresh fruit and vegetables

2. Take care of your hygiene

One of the aspects of Sattva guna is cleanliness, and taking good care of oneself.

Keep your body clean, but also – keep your home clean. Living in a tidy home has a positive impact on our mood.

Also, the act of cleaning itself can help us get rid of not only physical but also mental clutter. 

3. Find Work-Life Balance

Being addicted to work is a rajasic quality, and being lazy is the quality of tamas. For Sattva – we want to find the mid-way, rather than running to any of the extremes.

Make sure you are disciplined in your work, and that you do enough to be financially stable and feel fulfilled.

But, also, take some time off, and do the things you love, just for fun. Whether it’s self-care or watching movies, do something that brings a sense of joy within. 

But also – recognize what energy you are lacking in a certain period and do the opposite to compensate. For example, you might feel sluggish during the winter, so try to do more outdoor activities to balance that energy out.

a woman laughing and typing on her laptop

4. Carefully pick your closest friends

They say we are the sum of the 5 people who are closest to us. It is true – although we are all unique, we are also social beings and shaped and influenced by others. 

Therefore, although we all should help others who are struggling, being around negative people, will also make us negative. 

Make sure the people who are close to you are not disrupting your peace, and resonate with you. 

You could also find mentors to hang out with, people who have more Sattva Guna than you – and this quality will also increase within you. 

When we talk about company we are also talking about other influences, such as people you’re following and watching online. Try to listen to only positive and uplifting people for a month – and see how that changes you for the better. 

5. Wake Up Earlier

Oversleeping is a tamasic quality, and too little sleep is in the energy of Rajas. 

Ideally – you will have a sleep schedule that is the same every day. Waking up early will make you calmer, more energetic, and stable. 

Yogis wake up before sunrise, but you don’t have to go so far. Simply rise up as early as it feels right for you, and spend the last couple of hours in the evening doing relaxing activities so you can fall asleep easier. 

a man running along a beach at sunrise

6. Spend Time In Nature

Residence in the forest is in the Sattva” – this is a quote by Krishna himself in Srimad Bhagavatam. 

Of course, not many of us can actually live in the forest, but we can definitely spend more time there.

Living in the city is in the energy of Rajas and Tamas. If you live this way, make sure you go to nature regularly, ideally every day. 

You will feel the increase of Sattva Guna almost instantly. 

7. Meditation

Meditation is also mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam by Krishna – he states that by clearing the consciousness, we are able to detach from the material world and mind, and use the power of Sattva guna to meet Him. 

Meditation removes us from the illusions of the material, physical world, and purifies our consciousness. This increases our Sattva guna. 

It would be best to practice meditation every day. Start with 15 minutes and move on up. The best times for meditation, according to Hindu beliefs, are twilight and early morning. 

a woman meditating by a window

8. Practice Bhakti Yoga

Krishna states in Srimad Bhagavatam that anything we do as an offering to Him, without expecting anything in return is in Sattva Guna.

This refers to Bhakti Yoga, or the Yoga of devotion. 

Bhakti yoga is any action we do as a celebration of God, whether it is volunteering, prayers, worship, or reading the Holy scriptures. 

We are all humans, and we are all conditioned and do most things expecting something in return, at least subconsciously. However, try to do at least one thing every day just as a service to others and God. 

Delve deeper into yoga philosophy with these articles:

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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