The Bhagavadgita  Chapter XVII: The Yoga of the Division of the Threefold Faith.  


1                    Arjuna said:  Those who, endowed with faith, worship the Devas, casting aside scriptural injunctions, where do they stand, Krsna, - in Sattva, Rajas, or Tamas?

2                    Sri Bhagavan said: That innate faith of men is of three kinds – Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.  Hear about it from Me.

3                    Arjuna, the faith of each is shaped to his own mental constitution.  Faith constitutes the very being of man; therefore, whatever the nature of his faith, that verily he is.

4                    Men of a Sattvic disposition worship the gods; those of a Rajasic disposition worship Yaksas and Raksasas (demons); while others of a Tamasic disposition worship spirits and ghosts.

5                    Men who perform austere penance not enjoined by the scriptures, and are full of hypocrisy and egoism, and possessed of attachment, desire and pride of power,

6                    And who torment the aggregate of elements that constitute the body, and Me, who dwell in the inner body, known those ignorant people to be of demoniacal resolve.

7                    The food also, which is dear to all, (according to their respective nature) is of three kinds, even so sacrifice, penance and charity are of three kinds; hear their distinction as follows.

8                    Foods which promote longevity, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and delight, which are sweet, bland, nourishing and agreeable, are dear to the Sattvic type of men.

9                    Foods which are bitter, acid, salted, very hot, pungent, dry, burning and giving rise to pain, grief and illness are dear to the Rajasic type of men.

10               Food which is half-cooked, insipid, putrid, stale and polluted and also impure is dear to the Tamasic type of men.

11               The sacrifice, which is offered as enjoined by scriptural ordinance, by men having no desire for fruit, under the firm belief that it is a duty which must be performed, is the Sattvic type of sacrifice.

12               That sacrifice, however, which is offered with a view to fruit and also for the sake of ostentation, know it to be Rajasic, Arjuna.

13               That sacrifice is said to be Tamasic, which is without sanction of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, no sacred formula is chanted, and no fees are paid (to the officiating priests), and which is devoid of faith.

14               The worship of gods, Brahmans, elders, and the wise, purity, straightness, continence and non-violence – these are called austerity of the body.

15               Unoffensive, truthful, agreeable and wholesome speech, and practice of study of the sacred texts and Japa of Divine Name – these are called austerity of speech.

16               Cheerfulness of mind, serenity, habit of meditation on God, self-control, and purity of heart – these are called austerity of the mind.

17               This threefold penance performed, with supreme faith, by Yogis having no desire for fruit is said to be Sattvic.

18               The penance which is performed with the object of winning respect, honour and worship, and for ostentation, which is unstable and transitory in effect, is said to be Rajasic.

19               The penance done under a deluded understanding with torture to the mind, senses and body, or with the object of causing injury to another, is said to be Tamasic.

20               The gift which is made to one who does nothing in return, with the idea that it is one’s duty to give, and with due regard to the place, time and recipient of the gift, is said to be Sattvic.

21               The gift, however, which is made in a grudging mood, with the object of getting some service in return, or with a view to gain, is said to be Rajasic.

22               The gift which is made at an improper place and time and in a disrespectful and insulting manner to undeserving persons is said to be Tamasic.

23               Om, Tat, Sat – this is declared to be the threefold designation of the Absolute.  At the beginning of creation, the Brahmans and the Vedas and sacrifices were created by it.

24               Therefore, acts of sacrifice, gift and penance as enjoined by the scriptures are always commenced with the utterance of the word ‘Om’ by those who are entitled to chant the Vedas.

25               With the idea that everything belongs to Him (Tat) the various acts of sacrifice, penance and gift are performed by the seekers of liberation without desiring any fruit in return.

26               The Divine Name “Sat” is employed in the sense of truth and goodness; even so, Arjuna, the term “Sat” is used in the sense of a praiseworthy act.

27               Steadfastness in sacrifice, penance and gift is also designated as “Sat”; and verily action for the sake of Him (the Supreme Being) is termed as “Sat”.

28               Arjuna, sacrifice, gift and penance, and any other action, done without faith, is declared as “Asat” (non-existent).  It is nought here or hereafter.

Thus, in the Upanisad sung by the Lord, the science of Brahma, the scripture on Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krsna and Arjuna, ends the seventeenth chapter entitled “The Yoga of the Division of the Threefold Faith.”