The Quality of Rajas

Without action, energy, nothing is created. Rajas is the quality or mode of action in the manifested world. We look upon the world as a field of action, where each being and form is constantly pressured and forced to survive or die. “Survival of the fittest” was the summary given by the West. All energies of life impinge upon the individual form and it either surmounts the pressure, grows and thrives, or eventually succumbs to it. Sri Aurobindo describes Rajas further: This is the mode of Rajas, the way of passion and action and the thirst of desire. Struggle and change and new creation, victory and defeat and joy and suffering and hope and disappointment are its children and build the many-coloured house of life in which it takes its pleasure.”

The limitations of Rajas are on the one side, that when disappointed, frustrated or spent, it tends to fall into Tamas, inertia and weakness; and on the other side, it is limited in its ability to see clearly and dispassionately, and thus lacks true guidance or knowledge which are found with the advent of Sattva. Because of the limitations of knowledge, it is subject to a considerable amount of error and misplaced focus of its energy, and can be more easily perverted and distorted by the uprising of overwhelming desire or the mania seen in the forces that want to dominate, destroy or control.

“The arrogant ignorance of the human mind and its self-satisfied perversions and presumptuous errors, the pride and vanity and ambition, the cruelty ad tyranny and beast wrath and violence, the selfishness and baseness and hypocrisy and treachery and vile meanness, the lust and greed and rapacity, the jealousy, envy and bottomless ingratitude that disfigure the earth-nature are the natural children of this indispensable but strong and dangerous turn of Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 10, The Three Modes of Nature, pp. 221-222