Psychology is the study of the inner modes of a person’s experience of life. Vedic Wisdom identifies three different modes of psychology:
- Sattva – The primary characteristic of this mode is clarity. This mode influences people to think clearly and calmly, “level headed”. It enables us to experience life more objectively, seeing things for what they are.
- Rajas – The primary characteristic here is passion. Passion colors the clarity of the previous mode, sattva. “See the world through rose colored glasses.” This popular saying points to a person whose emotions influence the way they experience life. Rajas is not objective or level headed, it is passionate and ambitious. It lacks patience, but has tons of drive and power. It is the fuel of creativity.
- Tamas – When the coloration becomes very thick, it becomes a cloud and creates darkness, the keyword to describe this psychological mode. This is the psychological night. It brings calmness and sleep. Relaxation. It is slow, but deep and heavy. It is very strong, so when it becomes linked with anger, destruction occurs.
I feel it is very important to eradicate the implied value judgements from the outset. May people who acquaint themselves with these Vedic psychological principles assume that clarity is better than passion, and darkness is worst of all. This is wrong.
All the modes have their important uses. Without tamas you could not sleep, for example, and you would die. Without Rajas you would not wake up in the morning. Without sattva you would just chase your passions everywhere, leading to tears in the mode of darkness. So you see, all three modes are interdependent. A lot like “Rock, Paper, Scissors” – each of the three has it’s uses as well as it’s faults.
That said, we have to acknowledge that Sattva is the ideal leader of the other modes. When a person allows the mode of clarity to lead and direct their passions and their relaxations, then this person truly enjoys long term happiness and success.
These three psychological modes almost never exist in a pure and pristine form. You rarely if ever will encounter anyone or anything which is purely and exclusively in any one of these three modes. Rather you will find infinite blends of the three. The color theory is very helpful to consider here. Think of Sattva as yellow, Rajas as red, and Tamas as Blue. These are the three primary colors. Combination of these three in different proportions results in the infinite colors of the spectrum.
Every individual you meet, every situation you are in, is a unique blend of these three primary colors – creating a unique experience in the spectrum of life.
Much like how vedic medicine (Ayurveda) defines “health” as a balance between the three principles – circulation (Vata), metabolism (Pitta), and structure (Kapha) – similarly vedic psychology defines “mental health” as the proper balance between the three modes: clarity, passion, and darkness.
However what is very important to achieve psychological health is to allow sattva – the mode of clarity – to take the role of leadership and guidance in your life. Your clear thinking will give proper direction to both your desires to succeed and your desires to relax. To put it succinctly, proper “balance” is not sustained until the mode of clarity is allowed to direct the other two modes.
It is a long, enjoyable, and gradual process for a person to learn to give his or her sattva the steering wheel. The vedic psychologist acts as a guide for this.
A vedic psychologist will assess the modality of a persons’s psyche. They will determine the current combinations of the three modes, and identifying that, will advise the individual which modes are out of balance with the other modes. Each individual will have a somewhat unique way of achieving the balance – and this is where the psychologist becomes a true artist.
To benefit from vedic psychology, your psychologist must very deeply understand the three modes and their implications and connections. To give such understanding here in a single article is beyond the scope here. But I will point you towards the 14th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita as an excellent starting point.
There are various means of assessing the inherent balance or imbalance in a persons’s psyche. Vedic medicine is very linked to vedic astrology, and so to is vedic psychology. We utilize astrology as both a diagnostic tool as well as a guide to the appropriate therapeutics.
Each planet and sign has a psychological mode. By “sign” we mean the 12 zodiac signs everyone is familiar with – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. But we also mean the 27 signs of the lunar zodiac, with which most modern westerners are not acquainted. I will list them here.
Planets and Signs
The agents of clarity (sattva) are
- The Sun, Moon and Jupiter
- Cancer, Leo, Sagittarius and Pisces
- The dvi-svabhava (dual) natured signs – Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. (Thus Sagittarius and Pisces are thoroughly sattvic, while Gemini and Virgo are partially so)
The agents of passion (rajas) are
- Venus and Mercury
- Aries, Taurus, Libra, & Scorpio
- The chara (cardinal) natured signs – Aries, Cancer, Libra & Capricorn (thus Aries and Libra are thoroughly rajasic while Cancer and Capricorn have this quality blended with another)
The agents of darkness (tamas) are
- Saturn, Mars and the two Nodes (Rahu & Ketu)
- Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn, and Aquarius
- The sthira (fixed) natured signs – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio & Aquarius (thus Aquarius is purely tamasic while the others are hybrids)
The modes of the lunar signs are more detailed and rich. Each lunar sign has three layers of modality. The deepest layer describes the core interest of the sign, the middle layer describes the flavor of that interest, and the outer layer describe how it visibly acts.
The first 9 nakshatras (lunar mansions) – the ones falling within Aries to Cancer – all have passion as their root interest. They want to create! The next 9, falling between Leo and Scorpio, all have darkness as their core interest. They want depth and strength. The final 9, falling between Sagittarius and Pisces, all have clarity as their root interest. They want to understand things for what they really are.
Within each group of 9 are subdivisions of 3. The first 3 have passion as their second layer, flavoring the way they pursue their core interest. The next three have darkness, and the final three have clarity.
Finally, each lunar mansion has it’s own modality on it’s outermost layer. The pattern repreats starting at the first lunar mansion with passion, the next being dark on it’s outer layer, the third being clear. And so on through all 27.
How to Interpret
You should evaluate two factors:
- The Ascendant (this means including the condition of the Ascendant Lord)
- The Moon
Obviously, the Ascendant will describe the psychological modalities which tangibly manifest themselves in the natives practical world – their habits of eating, sleeping, being clean, being punctual, etc. etc. The Moon, on the other hand will describe the modalities which affect the way the patient thinks and feels.
First asses the Lunar Mansions, because they are so rich in information all by themselves. My ascendant is in Uttara-Ashada. This lunar mansion is sattva at the core, rajas in the flavor, and sattva in it’s manifest expression. As you would expect I am very concerned with having a tidy, neat, orderly living environment – I live according to schedules and checklists, etc. And I do it all with a passionate flavor.
The the Lord of my Ascendant is in the lunar mansion called Krittika. This one is rajasic in it’s core and flavor, but sattvic in its outer way of going about things. So you find a rather pure blend of clarity in my outer layers. So you know that I go about my daily practicalities in a most methodical and organized fashion. The flavor of it all (2nd layer) is purely passionate – so you know I am very passionate about it. I get disturbed and upset when my organization and clarity is infringed upon. My root nature is a blend of sattva & rajas – so from this you can safely infer that the reason why I am passionate about being organized, etc. is because I feel that it will help me fulfill my passions to know things clearly for what they really are.
Looking at my Moon – she is in Rohini – which is a lunar mansion that is rajasic at its core, tamasic in flavor and rajasic again in how it appears on the surface. Sure enough my mind is very creative and passionate – and I have a sort of dark, deep, and inflexible flavor about it. Because it is rajasic on the outer level as well as the inner level it is obvious to people that I am passionate emotionally and creatively, and that is just the obvious way my mind works.
As you see, merely consulting the lunar mansions alone gives you a whole lot of very accurate information. But if you are good at astrology you can go further. Here is an outline.
- What are the signs that the Ascendant occupies, in the birth chart, in the navamsha, and in the drekkan? Consider the modal nature of those signs.
- What planets conjoin the Ascendant in the first house – what modalities to they contribute?
- What planets aspect the Ascendant, and how strongly to they do so? Consider the modal nature of those planets
- What planets are in the 10th House?
- In the 4th House?
Weight these with descending strength, moderately.
Repeat the process for the Ascendant Lord (for simplicity you can omit steps 4 and 5 here) – blend the two together, the values you have ascertained for the Ascendant and the values you ascertained for the Ascendant Lord.
Repeat the process, all 5 steps, for the Moon. (So step 4 means, what planets are in the 10th sign from the Moon? etc.)
Consider the scores you arrive at in this way alongside what the lunar mansions told you on their own.
Now you have a good psychological profile for the person whose chart you are evaluating. This is where the science sort of fades out and the art and skill fades in – now you need to help the person achieve their optimal balance based on what you have just assessed as their psychological starting point.
– Vic DiCara