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A Study of Sattvic Life


In everyday life we divide fellow human beings into different groups. We divide them into male and female on the basis of their difference in physiology, no less on the basis of their psychology. We divide persons into good and bad tempered. This division of persons into good-tempered and bad-tempered is called division into types of personality. Sciences also divide men into types. In Greece, Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, proposed that man's temperament relates to the fluids of his body. Body fluids are four in number: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. A man in whose body blood dominates is cheerful and optimistic. A man in whose body there is excess of phlegm is of calm temperament. The domination of yellow bile makes a person hot tempered and a man of black bile remains gloomy and dejected. Today Hippocrates' typology is replaced by sophisticated typology. Some psychologists like Sheildon have found direct relationship between behavioural characteristics and quantitative assessments of the structure of the body. Some psychologists like Jung, have divided human beings into introvert and extrovert types.

The division of persons into types depends on the point of view of the thinker or the scientist. A medical scientist will divide people in one way and a social psychologist will do it in another way. Persons can be divided into types on the basis of facts or values. Gita divides persons on the basis of ethical and spiritual values into three types: Some persons are 'sattvic', others are 'rajastic' and still others are 'tamasic'.

We are concerned here to define and describe the life and characteristics of 'sattvic' persons.

A person is not 'sattvic-jiwan-dhari' who has one or other altruistic feeling and serves one or other good cause. He may be a phi1anthtopist who has' given away his property for a great cause and serves it with all his heart and soul. But he may be intemperate in his food and sex habits, given to drinks and meat diet, may be lax in observing social sex ethics. He is certainly an altruist, and may even be a great altruist, if he fights ,for great causes like the freedom of the slaves, or the rights of women etc. But he is not 'sattvic-jiwan-dhari'. 'Sattvicta' is not a name for one or another altruistic virtue, it is the quality of the total personality. A 'sattvic-jiwan-dhari' is 'sattvic' in his food, in his thinking, in his feelings and in his behaviour. Every aspect of his life is characterized by the quality of 'sattvicta'. Gita considers 'sattvic-jiwan-dhari' in all aspects or life, in the aspects of knowledge, feelings and conduct.

[ The nearest translation of 'Sattvicata' is 'altruism', which lacks the comprehensiveness of the Sanskrit word. So the word 'Sattvic' is retained. A man of altruism is 'Sattvic-jiwan-dhari'. ]

A study of Sattvic Life - by S.P. Kanal  (1989)