One morning Kaikeyi says to her husband Dasaratha, the king, “So, remember that favor you owe me? Well, instead of coronating Rama today, like you promised, give the crown to my son Bharata instead. Oh, and send Rama to the forest for fourteen years.”
Dasaratha’s is the king of Ayodhya and our ‘Mind’ where everything is manifest through thought. His wives Kaikeyi, as well as Kausalya and Sumitra are the intellect’s three influencing forces, or “gunas.”
Dasaratha’s mind is being terribly troubled, awfully influenced by those around him. In Yoga the three guna’s are the qualities of everything that influences us. We are influenced by our thoughts, our actions, people, even the food we eat. By understanding these qualities we can better provide our mind, our transcendental vehicle, the proper gas and tuning it needs to get where we want to go.
Rajas Guna (force, activity) creates our desires and need to own something. It also brings us fears of losing crap we have and people we love. Kaikeyi’s Rajas force got out of her control. She feared losing the wealth and favor of Rama if he were crowned, which made her act out of fear.
Tamas Guna (stoic, sleepy) makes our aspirations confused and distant. It may edge us toward self-destructive moods and ruinous actions. We experience a Tamas increase after a heavy meal when we want to nap on the couch in front of Oprah. Kausalya’s Tamas guna brought her into a passive state writhing and wailing on the floor when she heard the news of Rama’s exile.
Sumitra’s Sattva guna (lucidity, balance) leads to balance and consciousness. She was the first to recognise Rama (the Self) as a divine being and maintained an even temper, even when the family plunged into turmoil. Dominance of this guna usually means smiling yogis are optimistic, kind, compassionate and thoughtful.
Just as our Volkswagen runs too hot if the fuel mixture is too rich, sputters out when it doesn’t get enough, and hums along beautifully down the dirt roads of life when everything is just in tune, so do we run too hot when influenced by Kaikeyi’s Raja through work related stress, high temperatures and spicy tamales. We become Kausalya, inexplicably finding ourselves lethargic and depressed when governed by too much Tamas by not practicing our Surya Namaskaras, not getting enough sunlight and drinking pink martini’s. If I really want to hum, I need to bring myself under Sumitra’s Sattwa influence. I need to know which Sattwa qualities are good for my vehicle and I need to know what Dosha (what kind of engine) I have under my vehicle’s hood.
Remember, “As above, so below.” Human beings, just like everything else in the Universe, are made up of the Universal Soul (Rama) and the five elements; air, space, fire, water and earth. Our bodies are microcosms of the Cosmos.
The central concept of Ayurveda is that when these elements are balanced, then there is this ease. There is dis-ease when there is imbalance.
These elements, in their biological form, are known as doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is made up of a combination of Air and Space. Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water. Kapha is made up of a combination of Earth and Water.
Air pumps blood through our spacious, empty cavities of the body. Fire burns the calories in that double cheeseburger we eat to give us energy and adding water-based fat that hangs off our earthen bones.
Every action of our mind and body is influenced by the balanced or whacked out state of our doshas.
Vata-type people are the motorcycles of the dosha garage, having small gas tanks and so little mental energy reserve. They tire easily and wobble out of balance. The Vata dosha controls all movement in the body, breathing, digestion, and nerve impulses from the brain. When Vata is out of balance, anxiety and other nervous disorders may be prevelent.
Pitta-type people are sports cars. They run hot and have a medium sized gas tank of mental stamina. They take sharp turns with a sharp wit and their Pirelli tires grip the road with concentration. Pitta regulates our consumption of food, water, and air. Any toxins, such as alcohol or tobacco, show up as a Pitta imbalance. Firey emotions like jealousy are a Pitta downfall.
Kaphas are the sturdy, soccer-mom vans, equipped with extra reserve tanks of physical strength. Their slow steady motions and emotions, with kids singing in the back seat, keep them positive and grounded, like they are covered by really inclusive insurance. They are calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. Kapha dosha controls the moist tissues of the body, so a Kapha imbalance may show up as a cold, allergies, or asthma. Kaphas need stimulation to bring out their vitality.
So this is the physiological / emotional house in old Ayodhya where Rama (the Self) grows. Self is untainted, pure, cosmic, conscious energy until it becomes manifest in a physical body. Accordingly the material Self is under the universal laws of materiality, or the Dosha’s (nature). The Self uses the Mind as a vehicle to interact in this material life. So since the mind is influenced by gunas (by nurturing) the Self ‘s Doshas are influenced by the Gunas. Got it?
Rama (Self) must follow certain laws of nature and King Dasaratha, instead of making the Self the top priority, misguidedly pushes it away. How often do I do them same every day? Instead of recognizing the longing I feel inside as the distance from my pure Self, I push away these feelings that I’m missing something, drowning them in the noise of mind numbing habits; stuffing my body with cheeseburgers and chili fries, busying my mind with Jerry Springer Momma Drama, hiding my emotions and natural longings behind the facade of stoic nonchalance and sarcasm.
We need to wake up to Rama our Self, realize the effects our Dosha’s have on our vehicle and how are actions and thoughts effect our Gunas, which come back around and bite us in our Rama rump.
The Ramayana is our vehicles users manual. A D.I.Y. guide for yogis. As we follow the journey of Rama through his rana, or path through the body, we will discover how to walk through our doshas and gunas, how to reacquire and accumulate the conscious energy (Sita) we have lost and how to become our Self.