The Rajasic Intelligence and Will

The influence of Rajas on the determinations of the reasoning intelligence is a major cause of the distortion that occurs in human life and action. The rajasic reason has the ability to justify the promptings of desire and ego, and thus, creates a self-reinforcing loop for understanding and action that misleads while maintaining its own internal logic to prove that it is “right”. Clearly many instances in history illustrate the risk of rajasic distortion as we see, for instance, religions justifying torture or warfare, or even barbaric enslavement or rapine in order to bring about the “victory” of a particular religion for the “benefit” of those victimised. In our own lives we can see similar justifications brought forward by the rajasic reason. Quite a number of seekers over the years have fallen into indulgence in sex or other practices in the name of “tantric yoga” without necessarily understanding the deeper issues and considerations involved to truly transform those practices into something that is spiritually beneficial rather than a distortion or distraction. It is one of the serious spiritual problems the seeker has to identify and resolve to truly be able to let go of the ego and the desire-soul and have a pure, surrendered action take place.

Sri Aurobindo explores this question in more depth: “The rajasic understanding, when it does not knowingly choose error and evil for the sake of the error and evil, can make distinctions between right and wrong, between what should or should not be done, but not rightly, rather with a pulling awry of their true measures and a constant distortion of values. And this is because its reason and will are a reason of the ego and a will of desire, and these powers misrepresent and distort the truth and the right to serve their own egoistic purpose…. But the rajasic will fixes its persistent attention on the satisfaction of its own attached clingings and desires in its pursuit of interest and pleasure and of what it thinks or chooses to think right and justice, Dharma. Always it is apt to put on these things the construction which will most flatter and justify its desires and to uphold as right or legitimate the means which will best help it to get the coveted fruits of its work and endeavour. That is the cause of three-fourths of the falsehood and misconduct of the human reason and will. Rajas with its vehement hold on the vital ego is the great sinner and positive misleader.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 19, The Gunas, Mind and Works, pg. 486