Red Green & Blue in Vedic Psychology


Vedic Psychology considers the emotional universe to be made of three building blocks. This is very similar to the theory of color, in which the infinite spectrum of colors is a result of combining just three primary ones, usually red, green and blue. This similarity between the three building blocks of Vedic Psychology and the three primary colors is a useful analogy.

The three building blocks are:

  1. Sattva: Clarity or Lucidity. It is analogous to pure bright green.
  2. Rajas: Passion. Analogous to red.
  3. Tamas: Darkness. Like a pure, deep blue.

Nothing is less useful than prejudice so let me begin by stressing that none of these three is inherently good or bad. Each have good and bad results and application. Each is useful in its own way. There is, however, a certain balance in a healthy mental state which arises when clarity becomes the primary force in our minds, and acts are the director of the other two, passion and darkness.

From passion comes creativity. If a person only has clarity – they will never do anything about what they clearly know! They will never create any result. From darkness comes destruction. Before a person can create something based on clear knowledge, they must first destroy pre-existing misconceptions which obstruct that new creation. So without darkeness both clarity and passion are crippled.

Hopefully this illustrates how all three are interdependent and no single factor is inherently good or bad.

Below is a table to help you understand, at a glance, the main effects of each mode. This information comes from the 14th chapter of Bhagavad-Gita.

Clarity Passion Darkness
Main Trait Illuminating Activating Ignoring
Immediate Effect Knowledge Action Rest
End Result Happiness Excessive Work Ignorance
Characteristic Clarity of Perception Strong Motivations Depression

The mode of clarity allows us to shine light upon things and thus see them clearly and understanding. Therefore it is “illuminating.” Once we have seen things clearly we should make plans and act upon our knowledge. Thus passion plays it’s positive role. To act correctly we must ignore incorrect things and we must also take time to rest and recuperate. This is the positive role of darkness.

This is the description of a mentally and emotionally healthy person – all the modes are working together under the guidance of clarity.

However, more often than not, our modes are out of balance. You can tell which mode is out of balance in a person by observing the adverse effect. If you see they are too interested in just being happy and having a peaceful life without responsibilities – there is something wrong with their clarity. If you see that they are working constantly and are pushed powerfully by their desires – you know there is an imbalance of passion. If you observe that they are oblivious to reality, and are unconcerned – simply wanting to sleep and dream or be intoxicated, their depression is clearly a result of a imbalance in the mode of darkness.

In a forthcoming article I will enumerate treatments.

– Vic DiCara