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The Characteristics of Rajas

We have already considered the tamas quality which binds you to your lower nature. Now, let us examine the characteristics of the rajas quality, which also locks you into the lower realms of being and keeps you from expressing your true human potential. A person who is filled with rajas will always be hasty in everything; he will have no patience or forbearance. He cannot be steady for even a moment. And he will exhibit a great deal of anger. Not only this, he will also have unlimited desires. These are all characteristics of the rajas quality. This becomes clear when you go to watch animals in a zoo. Be it a cheetah, a tiger or a fox, they will not be quiet and steady for even a moment. The reason is that they are filled with an excess of rajas.

When rajas enters your heart it makes you unsteady in body and mind; you will be restless all the while. Not only does it make you unsteady, it also keeps you in delusion. When you are deluded, you have strong desires for the objects of the world. As these desires manifest in your heart, you take action to procure these different things for yourself. In that way, delusion leads to desire, and desire leads to action. These three, delusion, desire and action are the powerful qualities which are the characteristic features of rajas.

It is because of rajas that you constantly move about. For example, when you sit in a particular place, you find you will not be steady for very long; some part of the body or other will always be moving. This may be compared to the aspen tree. Even if there is no breeze or wind, the leaves in such a tree will always be moving. The same applies to a horse. The word for horse in Sanskrit refers to that which has no steadiness. Whenever you see a horse, whether it be the head, the tail or the legs, some part of it will always be moving. That is why in ancient times, a sacrifice called the sacrifice of the horse, was performed as a symbolic ritual to elicit the help of the gods, in the practice of steadying the mind.