Foods and Activities that Increase Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

Sattva is the prime quality of mind. Foods that increase Sattva are called Satvic foods. Rajas and Tamas are the two Doshas of mind, as per Ayurveda. These two need to be kept in good balance, for a healthy mind and healthy body.  


What is Sattva?
Satva is the prime quality of mind.
It is associated with truth, knowledge, purity, sanctity, harmony, courage, compassion, forgiveness, dedication and concentration.
It leads the person in the right path.


Rajas A Dosha of mind.
Attraction, desire
Drives the person to take action, to work, to make money.
Anger, hatred, jealous, lust, and aggression are its by-product.


Dosha of Mind
Sleep, lust,
Delusion, ignorance

Journey to attain Moksha
Through many births, the soul passes from Tamas to Rajas and then from Rajas to Sattva – purity.

Influencing factors

Factors that influence Sattva, Rajas and Tamas:
Mental factors – 

Things that we hear, think, see,  touch, prioritize – all these have impact over which among the three increase.

Physical factors:
Things that we do, talk, read, people with whom we engage – all these have an impact.

Dietary factors:
How we eat contributes to the variation in these three mental factors.
For example, if we are indulged in a whatsapp debate imposing our personal ego-centered opinions on others, then there are good chances of increase of Rajas (anger, hatred) and Tamas (ignorance, darkness)

From whom we eat?
This is interesting!
Suppose we are eating at a hotel and the chef / servers / manager at the hotel is indulging in anger, hatred etc qualities, those qualities are imparted upon the food that we eat. Those mental qualities will get injected into our minds when we eat that food.
Modern science is yet to wake up to this fact.

For this reason, epitome of Spirituality, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to cook his own simple food and eat. His mind was so concentrated on Goddess Kali Maa, that, he used to feel pin throbbing pain with a simple touch of money (Rajas material).

What we eat also contributes to the increase or decrease of these three mental factors.
I tried to compile a list of food etc and then finally bowed down to God Sri Krishna for the best possible way to explain foods that increase Sattva, Rajas or Tamas.
He has explained it in great detail and simplicity as follows:

Sattvik foods

Sattvik Foods: Foods that increase Sattva
Ayu Vivardhana – All foods that improve life expectancy, improve quality of life. (Eg: Amla)
Sattva Vivardhana – All foods that improve quality of mind, brain.
Foods that improve memory, concentration and such other brain powers. (Eg: ghee, Brahmi, Gotu Kola etc)
Bala Vivardhana – Foods that improve Bala – strength and immunity of the body.
Arogya Vivardhana – Foods that improve / restore health. This way, all medicines and treatments can be considered as Sattvic.
Sukha Vivardhana – Foods, after eating which, we feel comfortable and happy (sweets)
Preeti Vivardhana – Foods that increase love 🙂
Rasya – juicy, well prepared foods
Snigdha – oily and unctuous foods – Oils and fats (albeit in limited required quantities)
Sthira – Stable. Foods that can make us to sit at one place, stable foods, Guru foods – that take a bit longer time to undergo digestion
Hrudya – foods that are congenial to heart. (olive oil, anti oxidants, Vitamins etc)

Rajasik foods

Rajasik Foods: That Increase Rajas quality in the mind:
Katu – Pungent and spicy foods
Amla – sour foods
Lavana – salty foods
As per ayurveda, these three tastes increase Pitta Dosha. Increase in Pitta dosha leads to Rajas mental qualities such as anger, hatred, short tempered-ness, jealousy etc.

Ati Ushna – excessively hot and spicy – increases Pitta and Rajas
Teekshna – Strong and spicy foods
Rooksha – dry foods, that causes dryness in the mouth, in the gut system. Most of the junk foods, soda etc cause dryness in our systems.
Vidahi – foods that cause burning sensation in mouth, stomach, head and heart region.
Dukha Shoka Amaya Prada – whatever the foods that lead to misery, grief and disease.

Tamasik foods

Tamasik foods: That Increase Tamas:
Foods that are prepared 1 Yama before – three hours before – As per Ayurveda, the cooked foods should be served freshly made and in light hot condition.
Gatarasa – Foods that have lost their original natural taste (due to time, because of over cooking, half baking, with improper ingredients, under cooking etc)
Pooti – foods that have bad odour
Paryushita – decomposed food
Ucchishta – Remnants of food eaten by others
Amedhya – foods that decrease brain qualities, intelligence, memory, concentration, mental peace etc.

Seeking forgiveness from God Sri Krishna for any wrong translations and interpretations.

How to Improve Sattva Quality?

How to improve Satva quality of mind?
Dr JV Hebbar 
There are three qualities of mind. Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
Satva is the main quality of mind. More the Satva in a person, the better the intelligence, behavior, knowledge and concentration.
In our body, there are three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When they are normal, they sustain health, when they are imbalanced, they cause diseases.
Similarly, Rajas and Tamas are considered as Doshas of mind. They are easily imbalanced and cause disease.

So, for optimum mental health, we should concentrate to improve Satva, while trying to control Rajas and Tamas.
Here are ways to improve Satva quality of mind.
Charaka Samhita Sharira Sthana 4/36-39
śuciṃ – Always maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness. Stacking books in an order, keeping things in their appropriate places etc. These habits improve the clarity of our mind and remove cluttering of thoughts.
satya abhisandhaṃ – Being truthful. Avoiding lying and faking.
Jita atmānaṃ – Having a good control over sense organs. Eating as per our health than desires, controlling smartphone addiction etc. 
saṃvibhāginaṃ – Having donating, sharing and caring attitude, ability to discriminate between what is good and bad. 
jñāna vijñāna – always seeking knowledge, seeking to self improve, seeking to learn 
vacana prativacana sampannaṃ – Ability to explain concepts in your own words, ability to answer to doubts 
smṛtimantaṃ – trying to improve memory
kāma krodha lobha māna moha irṣyā harṣā marṣāpetaṃ – Freedom from passion, anger, greed, ego, ignorance, jealousy, excitement, dejection and intolerance and
samaṃ sarvabhūteṣu – considering all living beings as equal
adhyayana vrata – always studying and learning 
homa – performing sacred rituals, spiritual way of life
brahmacarya – maintaining celibacy
dīrghadarśinaṃ – having long term views, not jumping into conclusion with little information 
śūraṃ dhīraṃ – having courage, warrior attitude, fighting spirit. 

Though the above qualities look a bit difficult to adopt, the below ones are easier to adopt. 
1. Getting into the habit of reading books. Trying to finish at least a book a month 
2. Doing regular pranayama, which helps to control our mind and sense organs 
3. Keeping our rooms and surroundings clean 
4. Having a courageous mindset 
5. Dedicating at least a few minutes every day to spiritual practices – prayer, meditation, self-evaluation, self-improvement 
6. Having a control on our desires; controlling our food habits, opting for simple and healthy foods. 
7. Not intending hate or cause harm to others

Some Rajas and Tamas are required?

You talk very low of Rajas and Tamas. But don’t you think they both are required for normal life to continue? 
Dr JV Hebbar 
Satva is the prime quality of mind. It means positivity, devotion, dedication.. all positive mental things you can imagine. 
Rajas, simply put is desire and attraction 
Tamas is ignorance, sleep, darkness. 

For family people to live normal lives and for the world to go around, yes, some Rajas and Tamas will be handy. 

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, greatest spiritual seeker and Guru of the world, was attaining Samadhi at will, as and when he used to talk about higher levels of spirituality, devotion, Gods, Mother Kali etc. 

After some time, his disciples, directed by Holy Mother Sharada Devi, used to chant the names of different dishes in his ears. Sri Paramahamsa ji would then latch his mind on to the dish with desire. With that thin thread of desire towards that food, he would bring his mind back from the state of Samadhi. 

For that holy saint, it took a lot of effort to increase Rajas slightly, in those instances. 

But, he is he and we are we. For us, the common people, it is the reverse. We need a lot of effort to control our Rajas and Tamas and to increase our Sattva. 

By default, without our efforts, Sattva tends to decrease and Rajas and Tamas increases. So, though we need some Rajas and Tamas in our lives, we must put our best efforts to keep them under check, by being watchful of excess desire, anger, by focusing our mind on higher thoughts, by reading positive books, by matching our thoughts and speech with action and so on. 

Being vigilant always, with self improvements and self observation is the key. 
Read: Satva, Rajas, Tamas as per Ayurveda

3 comments on “Foods and Activities that Increase Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

  • saikrishna

    14/10/2017 - 11:31 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! jai sri Krishna

    Reply to comment
  • Kamlesh Makwana

    21/10/2017 - 11:52 pm

    Hare Krishna
    It Is Nicely Explained. Thank You To Lord SRI KRISHNA And His Followers Like You.

    Reply to comment
  • Radhavallabha Das

    09/10/2020 - 3:57 am

    Dear Sir,
    Do you have a reference that classifies onion and garlic as tāmasic? Is there a standard procedure to determine whether a food ingredient is sāttvic, rājasic or tāmasic? For example how do we understand whether tomato, which comes form a foreign country, is sāttvic or rājasic or tāmasic?

    In a same way how dp we know if tomato going to increase or decrease any particular doṣa after being consumed? Does raw and cooked tomatoes affect same way or differently?

    Sorry for such detailed questions and will really appreciate if I get the answers to these questions as I guide people in matter of sāttvic diet.

    Reply to comment

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