The Gunas (Attributes)

In Ayurveda we say each Dravya (Matter) has Gunas in it, or characteristics which distinguish it from all others.
In Ayurveda we have many Gunas, but according to Charaka, 20 are the most important.

Every matter does not have to include all 20 gunas, but will have some which define it best. By this we can know how matter will affect the Doshas, and of course Agni, Digestion and even state of mind.

Example in order to make things simpler: Milk. Milk is pichchila, snigdha, drava and guru. This means Milk is cloudy (not clear), unctuous, liquid and heavy. In accordance to Doshas, it will be harder to digest as it is Guru (heavy), will help peristaltic motion as it is snigdha (oily), and so on.

Vagbhat who wrote Ashtanga Hridayam composed all the gunas into a shloka, so it could be easily remembered. The shloka has only 10 gunas mentioned, but when one knows their opposites, one can remember all the 20 gunas.

“Guru Manda Hima Snigdha
Slakshna Sandra Mridu Stiraha
Gunaha Susukshma Vishada
Vimshati Sa Viparya yaha”
(Ashtanga Hrydayam Sutrasthanam:1:18)

Translation: “Heavy, Slow, Cool, Unctuous, Smooth, Dense, Soft and Stable: These qualities, along with subtle and clear and their opposites comprise the 20 qualities.”

Heavy – Light
Slow – Sharp
Cold – Hot
Oily – Dry
Smooth – Rough
Dense – Liquid

Soft – Hard
Static – Mobile
Gross – Subtle
Cloudy – Clear

Guru – Laghu
Manda – Tikshna
Hima\Sheeta – Ushna
Snigdha\Sneha – Ruksha

Slakshna – khara
Sandra – Drava
Mridu – Kathina
Chala – Sthira
Sthula – Sukshma
Pichchila -Vishada

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4 Responses to The Gunas (Attributes)

  1. Yu says:

    It would have even been better if there were the 20 gunas in your article. There is only 18 listed.
    Guru – Heavy
    Laghu – Light
    Mand – Dull
    Tikshna – Sharp
    Shita/Him – Cold
    Ushna – Hot
    Snigdha\Sneha – Oily
    Ruksha – Dry
    Slaksham – Smooth
    Khara – Rough
    Sandra – Solid
    Drava – Liquid
    Mridu – Soft
    Kathina – Hard
    Sthira – Stable
    Chala – Mobile
    Sukshma – Subtle
    Sthula – Grosse
    Vishad – Clear
    Pichila – Cloudy/Murky/Slimy

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