Sattva (Sanskrit: सत्त्व, meaning honesty) is one of the three guṇas or "modes of existence" (tendencies, qualities, attributes), a philosophical and psychological concept understood by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. The other two qualities are rajas (passion and activity) and tamas (destruction, chaos). Sattva is the quality of goodness, positivity, truth, serenity, balance, peacefulness, and virtuousness that is drawn towards Dharma and Jnana (knowledge).
In Samkhya philosophy, a guṇa is one of three "tendencies, qualities": sattva, rajas and tamas. This category of qualities has been widely adopted by various schools of Hinduism for categorizing behavior and natural phenomena. The three qualities are:
- Sattva is the quality of balance, harmony, goodness, purity, universalizing, holistic, constructive, creative, building, positive attitude, luminous, serenity, being-ness, peaceful, virtuous.
- Rajas is the quality of passion, activity, neither good nor bad and sometimes either, self-centeredness, egoistic, individualizing, driven, moving, dynamic.
- Tamas is the quality of imbalance, disorder, chaos, anxiety, impure, destructive, delusion, negative, dull or inactive, apathy, inertia or lethargy, violent, vicious, ignorant.
In Indian philosophy, these qualities are not considered as present in either-or fashion. Rather, everyone and everything has all three, only in different proportions and in different contexts. The living being or substance is viewed as the net result of the joint effect of these three qualities.
According to the Samkhya school, no one and nothing is either purely sattvik or purely rajasik or purely tamasik. One's nature and behavior is a complex interplay of all of these, with each guna in varying degrees. In some, the conduct is rajasik with significant influence of sattvik guna, in some it is rajasik with significant influence of tamasik guna, and so on.
Sattva, or Satta in Pali language, is found in Buddhist texts, such as in Bodhi-sattva. The Sattva in Buddhism means "a living being, creature, person or sentient being".
- Gerald James Larson (2001). Classical Sāṃkhya: An Interpretation of Its History and Meaning. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 10–18, 49, 163. ISBN 978-81-208-0503-3.
- James G. Lochtefeld, Sattva, in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Vol. 2, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 9780823931798, page 608
- Ian Whicher (1998), The Integrity of the Yoga Darśana, State University of New York Press, pages 86-87, 124-125, 163-167, 238-243
- Alter, Joseph S., Yoga in modern India, 2004 Princeton University Press, p 55
- Mikel Burley (2007). Classical Samkhya and Yoga: An Indian Metaphysics of Experience. Routledge. pp. 101–105, 120–122, 167, 185. ISBN 978-1-134-15978-9.
- Alban Widgery (1930), The principles of Hindu Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 40, No. 2, pages 234-237
- Ian Whicher (1998), The Integrity of the Yoga Darśana, State University of New York Press, pages 63, 124-129, 138, 188-190
- Ian Whicher (1998), The Integrity of the Yoga Darśana, State University of New York Press, pages 63, 110-112, 124-126, 163, 188
- James G. Lochtefeld, Sattva, in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Vol. 2, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 9780823931798, page 265
- T. W. Rhys Davids; William Stede (1905). The Pali-English Dictionary. Asian Educational Services. pp. 154, 673. ISBN 978-81-206-1273-0.
- Wayman, Alex (1962). "Buddhist dependent Origination and the Samkhya Gunas". Ethnos. 27 (1–4): 14–22. doi:10.1080/00141844.1962.9980914.
- Sankhya: Sattva, Ferenc Ruzsa, IEP