Rajas (or Rajoguna)

रजस् - ruhj-uh s

The activating element of nature. (1) That which represents movement between the two opposing sides of duality. (2)

In between the darkening quality of tamas and the uplifting quality of sattwa, raja represents the middle quality or guna of the universe. The three gunas together constitute vibratory creation. Whereas tamas pulls one away from divine nature and sattwa draws one toward the one eternal spirit, rajas activates the movement. Under the influence of rajas, creation expresses itself in diverse ways, without preference for movement toward or away from spirit. (3) The mixture of rajas-tamas induces one toward ignorance and material attachments, while the mixture of rajas-sattwa brings one toward right activity and enlightenment. (4)

Rajoguna manifests in the qualities of restlessness, activity, pushiness, and ambition. (5) Rajas keeps a person involved outwardly, whether through self-debasing or self-raising actions. (6) If predominantly rajasic, the mind seeks diversity rather than definite direction of thought or energy. In people of predominantly sattwic nature, rajas pulls one downward toward material attachments, whereas in people of predominantly tamasic nature, rajas pulls one upward toward spirituality. (3)

Due to the rajasic quality of desiring objects, the soul exhibits fortitude in achieving its ends. (7) But the soul attached to objects, acting out of ego-consciousness, also suffers the emotional stresses of fear and anxiety. (8) The soul views other souls as distinct and motivated by greed and selfishness. But if the soul performs actions out of sattwa instead of ego, it experiences more ease on the path toward spiritual fulfillment. (7)

References

  1. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Glossary.
  2. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 26, “His Later Years.”
  3. a b The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda. Step 14, “1. Philosophy – The Yogic Scheme of Life.”
  4. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 41, “An Idyl in South India.”
  5. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 12, “The Nature of Right Action.”
  6. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 27, “Transcending the Three Gunas.”
  7. a b The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, explained by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 31, “You Shall Attain Me.”
  8. God Is for Everyone, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 8, “The Refinement of Awareness.”