The Mahabharata Home
(Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVII)
"Arjuna said, 'What is the state, O Krishna, of those who abandoning the ordinance of the scriptures, perform sacrifices endued with faith? It is one of Goodness, or Passion, or Darkness?'
"The Holy One said, 'The faith of embodied (creatures) is of three kinds. It is (also) born of their (individual) natures. It is good, passionate, and dark. Hear now these. The faith of one, O Bharata, is conformable to his own nature. A being here is full of faith; and whatever is one's faith, one is even that. They that are of the quality of goodness worship the gods; they that are of the quality of passion (worship) the Yakshas and the Rakshasas; other people that are of the quality of darkness worship departed spirits and hosts of Bhutas. Those people who practise severe ascetic austerities not ordained by the scriptures, are given up to hypocrisy and pride, and endued with desire of attachment, and violence,--those persons possessed of no discernment, torturing the groups of organs in (their) bodies and Me also seated within (those) bodies,--should be known to be of demoniac resolves. Food which is dear to all is of three kinds. Sacrifice, penance, and gifts are likewise (of three kinds). Listen to their distinctions as follows. Those kinds of food that increase life's period, energy, strength, health, well-being, and joy, which are savoury, oleaginous, nutritive, and agreeable, are liked by God. Those kinds of food which are bitter, sour, salted, over-hot, pungent, dry, and burning, and which produce pain, grief and disease, are desired by the passionate. The food which is cold, without savour, stinking and corrupt, and which is even refuse, and filthy, is dear to men of darkness. That sacrifice is good which, being prescribed by the ordinance, is performed by persons, without any longing for the fruit (thereof) and the mind being determined (to it under the belief) that its performance is a duty. But that which is performed in expectation of fruit and even for the sake of ostentation, know that sacrifice, O chief of the sons of Bharata, to be of the quality of passion. That sacrifice which is against the ordinance, in which no food is dealt out, which is devoid of mantras (sacred verse), in which no fees are paid to the brahmanas assisting to it, and which is void of faith, is said to be of the quality of darkness. Reverence to the gods, regenerate ones, preceptors, and men of knowledge, purity, uprightness, the practices of a Brahmacharin, and abstention from injury, are said to constitute the penance of the body. The speech which causeth no agitation, which is true, which is agreeable and beneficial, and the diligent study of the Vedas, are said to be the penance of speech. Serenity of the mind, gentleness, taciturnity, self-restraint, and purity of the disposition,--these are said to be the penance of the mind. This three-fold penance performed with perfect faith, by men without desire of fruit, and with devotion, is said to be of the quality of goodness. That penance which is performed for the sake of (gaining) respect, honour, and reverence, with hypocrisy,
[paragraph continues] (and) which is unstable and transient is said to be of the quality of passion. That penance which is performed under a deluded conviction, with torture of one's self, and for the destruction of another, is said to be of the quality of darkness. That gift which is given because it ought to be given, to one who cannot return any service for it, in a proper time, and to a proper person, is said to be of the quality of goodness. That, however, which is given reluctantly, for return of services (past or expected), or even with an eye to fruit,--that gift is said to be of the quality of passion. In an unfit place and at an unfit time, the gift that is made to an unworthy object, without respect, and with contempt, is said to be of the quality of darkness. OM, TAT, SAT, this is said to be the three-fold designation of Brahma. By that (Brahma), the Brahmanas and the Vedas, and the Sacrifices, were ordained of old. Therefore, uttering the syllable OM, the sacrifices, gifts, and penances, prescribed by the ordinance, of all utterers of Brahma begin. Uttering TAT, the various rites of sacrifice, penance, and gifts, without expectation of fruit, are performed by those that are desirous of deliverance. SAT is employed to denote existence and goodness. Likewise, O son of Pritha, the word SAT is used in any auspicious act. Constancy in sacrifices, in penances and in gifts, is also called SAT, and an act, too, for the sake of That is called SAT. 1 Whatever oblation is offered (to the fire), whatever is given away, whatever penance is performed, whatever is done, without faith, is, O son of Pritha, said to be the opposite of SAT; and that is nought both here and hereafter. 2'
93:1 'That' evidently refers to sacrifice, penance, and gift, in the clause before. The commentators, however, suggest that it may, besides, refer to Brahma. I am myself not sure that it does not refer to Brahma.
93:2 'What the author wishes to lay down in these verses is that the words OM, TAT, and SAT, have each their respective uses. When used as directed here, such use cures the defects of the respective actions to which they are applied, it being understood that all three denote Brahma.
Next: Section XLII (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVIII)