Tamasik, Satvik – what does it all mean?

In Indian tradition, the terms Tamasik and Satvik come up every now and then. The average person may know the usage / common meaning of the terms, but the true essence of this tradition is lost, in my opinion.

It’s not just Tamasik and Satvik. There’s more ‘alignments’ – is how I call these.

Tamasik – The most base and material form, something that benefits at a physically visible level only. An example would be a crash diet or a botox treatment – it’ll make you look pretty but that’s it; there’s limited long term benefits. And no depth to it. You get what you see.

Aarthik – Things that have a deeper meaning. It’s not just what you see on the surface, but the benefits derived at a tangible, yet subtle level. A balanced diet would be an example of this – the effects are not instantly perceivable but the long term benefits of good overall health are notable. Exercise is an excellent example of a Tamasik activity which has other Aarthik benefits to it.

Satvik – A subtler, more ‘essence’ related implication. In simple terms it’s the little things that are easy to miss but are absolutely essential for existance. Vitamins, or drinking adequate water would be easily understood examples. The effect will usually not be instantly visible, but the absence thereof can result in significant side-effects.

Bramhik – Levels above Satvik in a more spiritual sense. This gets tricky to explain in a non-religious manner, but I’ll try… This has more to do with the underlying things we take for granted. It’s the core difference of ‘Life’ vs ‘Living’. Following Brahmik principles not just result in good health, but can also strongly, positively influence those around. Regular meditation (which relieves stress, reduces friction in day-to-day life) or self-enhancement through deeper learning – the benefits of these are impossible to quantify. Their absence probably wont kill you – but presence thereof can result in a huge change in quality of life.