'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)


Tamas - darkness

We all of us have tamasik phases in our lives, but one notable time which can be generalised is our teenage years. Few escape it.

Rebellious to authority, indolent and entirely self-absorbed. Seeing the dark side of everything and struggling to see the positive. Seeking to live only through the senses and desires. Tamasik-dominant personalities contribute little to society. They are the vice-prone, easily-led characters who are looking for cheap thrills, to escape 'real life' and to work as little as possible to gain as much as they can. There is no caring and sharing in this personality trait. This is why it was said earlier that it is difficult to think of this as a 'virtue' as per the term 'guna'. However, it is karma at play, and the jiiva is learning lessons, experiencing consequences and furthering itself along the greater course of karma, and this is a virtue for sure. The quality of tamas is, of itself, certainly not virtuous!

To have a 'slob day' every now and then is fine. Have a weekend without showering, cooking or even getting dressed. It can relieve tension… but consider instead having a sattvik weekend, where you seek to raise vibration for release from stresses by walking in nature, reading a good book, share good conversation, instead of sinking into self-pity and sloth. The danger of tamas is that it captures us and holds and is much more difficult to withdraw from. It is easy. Sattva, on the other hand, requires discipline and effort and unless we can see the value, it does not hold us. After a sattvik weekend though, we generally find ourselves refreshed and ready for another week of whatever the world throws at us. If we have sunk into tamas, we are rarely revived, often hung-over from one thing or another. We do not feel good about ourselves.

Tamas has a propensity for foul entertainments such as 'slash movies' and horror/terror in general, "reality" tv, and disturbing music. It will look for mind-altering substances and make inferior food choices.

Any food that is stale, which is overripe or not ripe enough, food that is fermented, tasteless or rotten, 'fast' foods, supermarket ready-meals…
  • Meat
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Bread (yeasted)
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Canned foods
  • Frozen foods

Some of these look the same as for the rajo-guna. However, it is a matter of scale. In rajas, it is possible to take meat lightly, and less alcohol, for example. In tamas, these foods start to rule our lives. They are addictive, and we do not stop to assess the quantity we are consuming. We may not realise it, but a predominantly tamasik diet can make us angry and greedy, can even affect our decision-making process for the worse and compromise our judgments. 

To raise ourselves from the tamas we need to incorporate more rajas. To lift ourselves from rajas we need to integrate more sattva. Sattva and tamas, to the casual eye, can look very similar. Both will not be particularly interactive with the world. However, the difference will be that sattva sits straight and alert, even in meditation, whilst tamas stoops and sleeps in meditation. Sattva misses nothing, tamas misses much. When something needs to be done, sattva will act accordingly, tamas won't even see the need.

Tamas is represented by the colour black.


  1. Oh my goodness...this was most interesting....I for sure never seek slash movies or dark movies or tv programs. I get kinda freaked out by them no blood and gore. I do love a good mystery. I 'might' be a fraction guilty with the food end of Tamas.
    I really like mushrooms,pastries, and bread and I do eat meat.
    LOL As I've said a work in progress
    Hugs HiC

  2. Just this morning my oldest daughter and I characterized this as "being 14".

  3. Really, you would not have wanted to know the teenage me.
    Cheers! Gail (so much more at one with life as an adult).

  4. So relieved that neither coffee nor chocolate make your tamasik list, phew! :)

    If walks in nature and reading good books are sattvik, then my teenage was more sattvik than any other time...urbanised to the gills now and trapped in concrete...sigh.

    1. Hari OM
      It can happen that way - but where sattva sat, it will remain; just gets buried for a while! Yxx

  5. I have such tamas days sometimes... but I try to chase them away before they become usual... even when it is not easy sometimes ;O)

  6. Fortunately I don't see myself in this personality type at all. I'm quite relieved because I don't think I'd want to spend time with people like this and I'm glad I'm not one of them!

    Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
    T for Take Control

  7. I used to have tamas days every now and then but I realized that I felt worse after them rather than better. For the past decade or so, I get myself moving when I find myself sinking in that direction. I head outside for a hike or bike ride because being outdoors always makes me feel better.

  8. As I process your posts, I find it is all balance, is it not? It is a lot to digest, if you'll excuse the pun!
    And, before I forget, I am struck by the graphics. I keep forgetting to say so!
    It was so lovely to get outdoors yesterday and work in the garden. I am ready for the change.

  9. i wear a lot of black and i love black, love black and white for décor also. my teen years were very dark. now my dark is gone but i do love black clothes... it is rare for me to feel tamas and has been for the past 34 years, but before that i felt it

    1. Hari OM
      The colour associations of the gunas are not related to colours worn; rather, it is representative of 'mindset'. Tamas is dull and rajas is active and sattva is calm. In general terms, there is a whole field of study on the psychology of colours. Yxx

  10. Wonderful post ~ so 'right on' and lovely photography too!

    Happy Week to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  11. This was a timely post. namaste, janice xx


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