Prakriti or constitution is a very basic and original concept of Ayurveda. It refers to the inborn set of physical and psychological properties, which are decided at the time of conception. The moment of conception is very important as the individual comes into being as a homogeneous, whole entity from six diverse entities, namely the soul, mind, the maternal and paternal seeds, the Rasa and a congenial internal milieu, which is conducive for the conception, called Saatmya (homologation).
The event is characterized by a concurrent convergence of all these six to form the foetus, which exhibits the following features.
- The Deha Prakriti The Physical constitution This determines the growth and life span of a person to a large extent and the psychological behaviour to a lesser extent. It includes the physique, build, complexion, voice, gait, nature, hair, colour, appetite / digestive capacity, proneness to various disorders etc. This is a result of a heightened activity of one or more of the Dosha_s predominant in S`hukra (sperm) and S`hon`ita (ovum) at the time of conception.
- The Manasika Prakriti the Psychological Constitution. This is a result of the activity of the three Gun`a_s at the time of conception. The mental state of the parents predisposes the foetus. These mental states have been divided into three main categories, namely Sattva, Raajas and Taamas, which are further classified into sixteen subtypes. They mainly describe the persons psychological build up and the physique is not of much concern in this.
- The Para Ojas :- After fertilization the remaining part of the S`hukra which resembles to Ojas very closely, is retained as Para Ojas. This amount sees the foetus through the initial seven-month period of the intrauterine growth, at the end of which the Garbha (foetus) can start manufacturing its own Apara Ojas.
- Kaala (Individual time) This factor is responsible for the progression of the life. We shall now discuss the roles played by the three Mahaa Gun`a_s namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in the manifestation of an individual characterized by various attributes and functions .Based on this background we shall try and understand the sixteen subtypes of Maanasika Prakriti.
The nature of Sattva Rajas and Taamas
Sattva is considered blemish less and healthy. It leads one to attachment of the knowledge. Sattva gives rise to happiness. When Sattva predominates, it leads to correct knowledge. Saattvika mentality leads to actions performed with selflessness noble motives, to actions, which are non-egoistic, performed with firmness and enthusiasm. The doer is unaffected by the success or the failure of his efforts .He retains the sense of balance.
Raajas gives rise to passion and the source of feeling of longings and attachment. It leads one to attachment with action when Rajas predominates; it leads to hasty initiation of action restlessness and longing. Raajasika mentality leads one to action that is performed for specific effects and performed ostentatiously. Raajasika acts are driven by strong passion to see results and they may be harmful. The doer is swayed intensely by joy or sorrow depending on the result of the action.
Taamasa gives rise to indolence and sleep. It leads to inertia. When Taamasa predominates, it leads to heedlessness and delusion. Taamasika mentality leads to action performed in lackadaisical manner without sincerity of purpose and devotion. Taamasika actions are unsteady. They may be malicious and may involve despondency and procrastination.
Sattva is of high quality and tends to be uplifting in nature Raajasa has high quality of movement and energy. Taamasa has high quality of heaviness and inertia. However all three of them can do act in conjunction and combination.
The Saatvika temperament is free from defects and it is endowed with good effects. The Raajasika type is defective since it promotes wrathful disposition hastiness in action anger etc. Similarly, the Taamasika disposition is defective since it represents ignorance inertia etc.
Each of these three types of mind can occur in an infinite numbers of variations on account of differentiating factors like the degree origin, body and the mutual concomitance of the body and mind. Thus, we commonly find that a particular type of body goes well with a particular type of mental setup and conversely a particular mental setup would go well, with a particular type of physical body. In order to illustrate this point further we shall enumerate various sub-divisions of the three major types listed.
Types of Sattva
- Braahma Type : A person who is pure, devoted to truth, self controlled, has a discriminating mind endowed with knowledge understanding, reasoning, power of exposition and reply, a very good unfailing memory and is free from desire, anger, greed, conceit, infatuation, envy, dejection and intolerance. He is equanimous in his attitude to all creatures. Looking at the set of mental properties we can visualize a person who loves teaching, has an open, mind, who does not give in to any emotion, whose every act is calculated, thought out and planned, who does not believe in holding anything back when teaching; when he is not teaching he would be continually thinking of his branch of science, art of craft in an effort to make it better, more robust, sturdy more user friendly. He has a balanced frame of mind, his judgement is not clouded by emotions and respected by all ,he would not cheat or lie even if it means discomfort and people tend to confide in him. He also does not divulge their secrets, his demeanour inspires confidence. He may not be liked by one and all, but is respected by everyone; even the most difficult student would defer to him, show respect to him.
- Aarsha Type: A person who is devoted to sacrifice, study, vows, Yagnas (offerings to deities through fire) celibacy, who is hospitable and is devoid of pride, conceit, attachments, hate, infatuation, greed and anger, is endowed with genius, eloquence, understanding and unfailing retentive power is to be known as the Aarsha type. Aarsha_s have written down various texts of sciences in ancient times on architecture, polity, Vedas, music, Yoga etc. They were the people, who continually engaged themselves in mediation, pursuit of knowledge, establishing centres of knowledge dissemination, where students could come, stay study and acquire mastery over their chosen subjects. The student was sure to be imparted the knowledge he craved, and would be encouraged to write down his own version of his study, thereby giving a new dimension to the pre-existent knowledge base and inculcating the habit of documentation, right from the beginning of his career. Aarsha type people are very meticulous in recording their findings for the sake of posterity, since writing anything requires a clear understanding of the subject they have studied.
- Aindra Type: One, who is endowed with lordship, is of authoritative speech, assertive, performs sacrifices, is brave, energetic, endowed with splendour, given to clear uncomplicated actions, forthright, possessed of foresight, devoted in the pursuit of virtue, wealth and sensual pleasure is known as the Aindra type. Indra is a deity who is lord / king of Gods a position he has achieved by sheer determination, perseverance and by defending his goal with fervor. One attains this post of Aindra after performing 100 Ashwamedha Yajna_s (an elaborate sacrificial ritual). Therefore a person who harbors such an ambition and is sure of attaining it in his lifetime, definitely has very long and clear foresight, a clear idea of what is involved in the chosen task. He is ready to pay the price for his goal and will not let anyone or anything come in his way. He will not tolerate any insubordination in this endeavour and will rule with an iron hand, but he will not exceed the limits laid down by Dharma. Hence, when we come across a person who is ambitious but believes in fair play, is forthright in his expression, has clearly defined ideas about his goals and how to achieve them, we can be sure that we are dealing with an Aindra type of mental constitution.
- Yaamya Type : A person whose conduct is governed by a sense of propriety, who does a right thing ,who does not believe in overstepping his authority, is unassailable, is constantly alert, industrious, has excellent memory, who sets store by authority and power and is free from feelings of attachment, envy, hate and infatuation is of Yaamya type. In Indian mythology, Yama is the lord of death. Everyone who is born has to succumb to death it is inevitable, terminal and final. This is essential to maintain the balance and keep the life cycle going and emotions have precious little to do with it. Therefore it this is a person who will do his job because it has got to be done and he is trained to do it. He will do it devoid of emotional attachments. Others might find this detachment frightening. His boss can be sure that the assigned work would be meticulously done, without even expectation of gratitude. He is a workaholic, but with an acute sense of propriety, and he will not indulge or step out of authority.
- Vaarun`a Type : A person who is valiant, courageous, intolerant of uncleanness, given to performing sacrifices, fond of water aquatic sports, of clean and clear cut actions, expresses displeasure, anger, pleasure or appreciation on the spot and in an articulate manner, is known to be of Vaarun`a type. A water-loving person, transparent in his actions, not afraid to be angry or to declare his pleasure if the cause is just, is clean himself and abhors uncleanness is of Varun`a type. Varun`a is a deity who governs water and water being a universal solvent is extensively used as a purifying agent.
- Kaubera Type : A person who commands status, honour, luxuries attendants, is a believer in practice of virtue, pursuit of wealth and pleasures, is clean, who is easy going and loves sensual pleasure, who is forthright in expressing either his anger or pleasure is known to be of the Kaubera type. Lord Kubera is the treasurer of the Gods. Therefore, he is looked after very well by attendant. All these qualities described above can ruin a person if the inherent strength of the person is lacking. Since this is a Sattva predominant individual, the status, honour etc. do not allow him to deviate from his duties as a treasurer. He behaves as a keeper and any lapse in carrying out duties invites his wrath. A job well done, commands his pleasure instantaneously. He carries himself well and with confidence.
- Gaandharva Type: One who is fond of dancing, song, music, praise, is well versed in poetry, anecdotes, ballads, history, legends, who loves various fragrances, scents, garlands, ornaments, fine raiment, women and recreation and is free from envy is known to be of Gaandharva type. Gandharva_s are not Gods in themselves, but along with others of their type, they attend to their various needs. They are superiors to mortals, as they are in contact with the Gods. Looking at the qualities we should find a person loving the good life in a benign way, colourful and bright clothes, scents, company of the opposite sex with good music and a generally congenial outlook to life. There are no complications due to jealousy or envy as the individual is an extrovert, a happy go lucky type.
These seven types of mental constitutions are mainly Sattvika in nature and we see a gradual dilution from a serene, type devoted to knowledge acquisition and dissemination, in an unattached objective manner to a happy go luckily, indulgent type of person. However, this toning down is still in the purview of Sattva and therefore it is benign and not harmful to others.
Types of Raajas
Due to the predominance of Raajas we have six psychological constitutions. As we have seen before, Raajas is responsible for activity, initiation of movement etc. The persons are more active, emotional and generally are impatient.
- 1. Aasura Type: A person who is violent, short-tempered, volatile, envious, wields authority is terrifying, pitiless, and ruthless, indulges in self-adulation, has one heavy meal a day and has a prominent belly is known to be of Aasura type.
These persons cannot tolerate prosperity, growth of others, are envious of the same, do not have any scruples or qualms about others feelings. Cheating and lying come easily to them. They would be magnanimous to a person accepting their superiority. The mind is continuously occupied with scheming, therefore the Aasura type does not eat properly and has only one square meal, a substantial meal a day. In the matter of his survival, he is merciless. He gives into anger very soon because of this, people tend to avoid confronting him and he enjoys a position of authority.
- 2. Raakshasa Type: A person who is intolerant, has long drawn anger, bides for time, seeks an opportunity and strikes when the opponent is most vulnerable, is cruel, a longer, doesnt believe in a code of conduct, is gluttonous, loves meat, loves sleep, doesnt tire easily is known to be of Raakshasa type.
These persons wait for an opportunity to strike, they are revengeful, they love their own sleep and food, they hate to be disturbed while asleep and during meals and they do not believe in ethics. If objected to they let their anger take over. This makes them not very popular and they do not like and are not comfortable in the company of normal people.
- 3. Pais`haachcha Type: A Pis`hachcha type is one who devours large amount of food, is of easy virtue, loves to be in the company of the opposite sex, loves loneliness, is unclean and hates cleanliness in any form, hence is obnoxious to others, is a coward and bully, has unnatural and out of the ordinary like for food or whose behaviour is abnormal and is shameless.
- 4. Sarpa Type: A person who is brave when angry or incited but a coward normally, touchy, doesnt tire easily, arouses few in his opponent, loves food, indulges in gratification of various desires and is a fast eater is known to be of the Sarpa type.
These people normally tend to avoid confrontation but if provoked they would be really angry and would not retire easily, would successfully induce fear into the minds of their opponents. Normally they do not like any attention focused on to them. They prefer to be inconspicuous and tend to gulp their food down. They are industrious in nature and they see the job through.
- 5. Preta Type: A person who lives for his food, whose every act ends up being painful for him, who is envious, who hates sharing his things, is very possessive, covetous, who hates work, is said to belong to the Preta type.
These persons are immature, lack motive and self-confidence their actions end up causing sorrow to them. The lack of ingenuity makes them hold on to their possessions with all their might and this makes them envious of others, who are prosperous and confident. This envy is not converted to any revengeful action due to lack of initiative and action
- 6. S`haakuna Type : Persons who are preoccupied with gratification of sexual desire, have short relationships, who enjoy their food, drink and various desires, are fickle, intolerant, live for the moment, do not like to acquire and provide for the future owing to lack of foresight are said to belong to the S`hakuna type.
These type of persons are like birds, they are of fickle mind, they do not tend to learn from the experience of the past, have a very dim vision of the present, are concerned with baser instincts like hunger and procreation. Hence, they do not plan for the future and should an emergency arise they do not have contingency plans with them.
Types of Taamas
A predominance of Taamas at the time of conception in varying degrees gives rise to three psychological constitutions. They are as follows:
- 1. Paas`hava Type: A person who is disrespectful, unintelligent, dull, disgusting in his behaviour and eating habits, abundant in his sexual behaviour and somnolent in his habits. These persons like animals are devoid of normal feelings of propriety, respect, cleanliness etc. They are obnoxious, dull in their intellect, sense, actions and unfit for any responsible post. They prove to be good manual workers where no decision, responsibilities, or managerial skills are required of them. They do well under a strict ruthless supervisor. This is known as Paas`hava type of psychological constitution.
- 2. Maatsya Type: One who constantly lives in fear, is stupid, unintelligent, greedy for food, has an unstable mind, strong and persistent likes and dislikes, likes to move constantly, cover long distances, who is fond of water is said to belong to Maatsya type.
Since these persons enjoy mobility they work well as travelling salespersons, but because of their lack of intelligence their liking for food and bickering nature, they should not be allowed to work, as a team and a strict schedule should be assigned to them without much margin and with a deadline and an incentive. The incentive should preferably be in the form of food.
- 3. Vaanaspatya Type: People who are lazy, whose whole purpose of life seems to be confined to eating and who are completely devoid of all the higher mental faculties are known as the Vaanaspatya type.
These persons due to extreme lack of motive, initiative, intelligence, have no desire to learn or better their lot and being devoted only to food are the worst of the lot. Their extreme reluctance to move makes it impossible for them to be gainfully employed anywhere. They would be total misfits for anything and everything without their being aware of their fate
These sixteen types are what are known as psychological constitutions. If we are interested enough and keen in our observation, we are sure to find people around us who fit into one of these categories. If taken into account while considering prospective candidates for a particular job the problems arising out of a wrong selection could be avoided to a large extent resulting in increased productivity and efficiency and a more congenial atmosphere at the place of work.
Mental disposition forms a continuum with innumerable varieties and what we have described here are only certain ideal forms. These mentalities are perhaps best understood by citing examples of well-known characters. For example it is said that in the Raamayana, the three brothers Vibheesan`a, Raavan`a and Kumbhakarn`a epitomize the three qualities of Sattva,Raajas and Taamas. Vibheeshan`a who is virtuous in thoughts, speech and action gives sound advice to his brother Raavan`a and then he surrenders to Lord Rama. This is an example of Saatvika behaviour Raavan`a acts under the forces of lust and uncontrolled passion. His actions are ill considered and his behaviour haughty and arrogant. His behaviour is controlled by Raajas. The third brother Kumbhakarn`a has an extraordinary quality. He sleeps for six months at a time. The Yuddha Kan`d`a of Ramayana describes at great length the extraordinary efforts that have to be made to wake up the sleeping Kumbhakarn`a. They use elephants and spears to pound on him and blow the sound of trumpets and conches at his ears to wake him up. This is a typical quality of Taamas inertia, excessive sleep, sloth and ignorance.
Assessment of Manasika Prakriti
The assessment of mental Prakriti is an involved and sophisticated task. A protocol for the assessment of mental constitution in given in Prakriti Vichaya.
Last updated on May 11th, 2021 at 04:40 am