Prakriti is constituted of the three Gunas of Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. It is imperceptible, not being apprehended by any organ of knowledge, but it exists eternally, as it provides the basis and substance for all objects in their causal and effectual conditions. These are described in Aswamedha Parva, Sections 34 to 39 in Mahabharata.
Brahma (the Grandsire Prajapati) said: Darkness, Passion and Goodness–these are called the three qualities. Darkness should be known to have the night (or obscurity) for its essence. It is otherwise called Delusion. It has unrighteousness (or sin) also for its indication, and it is always present in all sinful acts. This is the nature of Darkness and it appears also as confined with others.
Passion is said to have activity for its essence. It is the cause of successive acts. When it prevails, its indication, among all beings, is production. Splendour, lightness and faith – these are the form, that is light, of Goodness among all creatures, as regarded by all good men.
Tamas (Darkness) Complete delusion, ignorance, illiberality, indecision in respect of action, sleep, haughtiness, fear, cupidity, grief, censure of good acts, loss of memory, unripeness of judgment, absence of faith, violation of all rules of conduct, want of discrimination, blindness, vileness of behaviour, boastful assertions of performance when there has been no performance, presumption of knowledge in ignorance, unfriendliness (or hostility), evilness of disposition, absence of faith, stupid reasoning, crookedness, incapacity for association, sinful action, senselessness, stolidity, lassitude, absence of self-control, degradation, – all these qualities are known as belonging to Darkness (Tamas).
Rajas (Passion) Brahma said: I shall now declare to you accurately what the quality of Passion (Rajas) is. Injuring others, beauty, toil, pleasure and pain, cold and heat, lordship (or power), war, peace, arguments, dissatisfaction, endurance, might, valour, pride, wrath, exertion, quarrel, jealousy, desire, malice, battle, the sense of meum or mineness, protection of others, slaughter, bonds, and affliction, buying and selling, lopping off, cutting, piercing and cutting off the coat of mail that another has worn, fierceness, cruelty, vilifying, pointing out the faults of others, thoughts entirely devoted to worldly affairs, anxiety, animosity, reviling of others, false speech, false or vain gifts, hesitancy or doubts, boastfulness of speech, praise and criticisms, laudation, prowess, defiance, attendance (as on the weak and the sick), obedience (to the commands of preceptors and parents), service or ministrations, harbouring of thirst or desire, cleverness or dexterity of conduct, policy heedlessness, contumely, possessions, and diverse decorations that prevail in the world among men, women, animals, inanimate things, houses, grief, incredulousness, vows and regulations, actions with expectation (of good result), diverse acts of public charity, the rites in respect of Swaha salutations, rites of Swadha and Vashat, officiating at the sacrifices of others, imparting of instruction, performance of sacrifices, study, making of gifts, acceptance of gifts, rites of expiation, auspicious acts, the wish to have this and that, affection generated by the merits of the object for which or whom it is felt, treachery, deception, disrespect and respect, theft, killing, desire of concealment, vexation, wakefulness, ostentation, haughtiness, attachment, devotion, contentment, exultation, gambling, indulgence in scandal, all relations arising out of women, attachment to dancing, instrumental music and songs – all these qualities have been said to belong to the quality of Passion (Rajas).
Sattwa (Goodness) Brahma (the Grandsire Prajapati) said: Sattwa is beneficial to all creatures in the world, and unblamable, and constitutes the conduct of those that are good. Joy, satisfaction, nobility, enlightenment, and happiness, absence of stinginess, absence of fear, contentment, disposition for faith, forgiveness, courage, abstention from injuring any creature, equability, truth, straightforwardness, absence of wrath, absence of malice, purity, cleverness, prowess- these appertain to the quality of Goodness (Sattwa).
He who is devoted to the duty of Yoga, regarding knowledge to be vain, conduct to be vain, service to be vain, and mode of life to be vain, attains to what is highest in the world hereafter. Freedom from the idea of meum (mineness), freedom from egoism, freedom from expectations, looking upon all with an equal eye, and freedom from desire, – these constitute the eternal religion of the good.