This article contains the verses from Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17.
Links to remaining chapters can be found at the end of the article.
Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17
O Krishna, those who worship with faith despite ignoring the teachings of the scriptures, what state do they find themselves in? What do their actions reveal about their sattva, rajas, or tamas nature?
Every living thing is conceived with some degree of faith, whether it be sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic in nature. Listen carefully, because I am going to explain each one to you.
Arjuna, our faith is consistent with who we are as people. Faith is the stuff of which human nature is made. What a person believes defines who they are.
Those who are rajasic worship power and wealth, while those who are sattvic worship the forms that God has taken. Those who adhere to the tamasic philosophy worship spectres and spirits.
Some people come up with severe punishments. Hypocrisy and egotism were the driving forces behind this.
They inflict pain and suffering on their innocent bodies, as well as on me, who reside within. They are so consumed by their power and passion that it has caused them to behave and think like demons.
The three varieties of faith each manifest themselves in their adherents’ routines, such as the kinds of food they enjoy eating, the kinds of work they engage in, the kinds of spiritual disciplines they engage in, and the kinds of charitable donations they make. Listen, and I will explain the various ways in which they behave.
Sattvic people prefer to eat food that is not overly spicy or salty, but rather food that is substantial, agreeable, and nourishing, food that helps maintain good health, a positive attitude, and a long life.
Rajasic people gravitate toward foods that are salty or bitter, hot, sour, or spicy — in other words, foods that encourage pain, discomfort, and disease.
Tamasic people enjoy eating food that has been overcooked, food that has gone stale, food that has been left over, impure food, and food that has lost its taste and its nutritional value.
When the sattvic people offer sacrifices, they do so with their full attention focused on the reason for the offering. They adhere to the teachings of the scriptures without regard to the possibility of receiving a reward.
Those who are ruled by the rajasic do sacrifices both for the sake of public display and for the benefit, it will bestow upon them.
Tamasic sacrifices are performed with complete disregard for both the letter and the spirit of the law. They don’t say the right prayers or make the right offerings or eat the right food, and they don’t have the right faith.
To render service to the gods, to those who are good, to those who are wise, and to your spiritual teacher; chastity, honesty, continence, and nonviolence: these are the disciplines of the body.
To study the scriptures, to offer reassuring words, to speak the truth in a kind and helpful manner, and to be helpful to others are all examples of speech disciplines.
The mind can be trained to be more disciplined by cultivating qualities such as calmness, gentleness, silence, self-restraint, and purity.
The sages refer to this type of practise as sattvic when all three levels of self-discipline are carried out in an attitude of great faith and without attachment to the outcomes of one’s efforts.
Rajasic disciplines are those that are practised with the intention of gaining respect, honour, or admiration; the effects of these disciplines are unreliable and fleeting.
Tamasic disciplines include any that are practised for the purpose of gaining power over others or in the mistaken belief that torturing oneself in order to reach a higher spiritual state is spiritual.
Sattvic giving entails giving because it is the moral thing to do so, giving without expecting anything in return, giving at the right time, giving in the right place, giving to a deserving person.
Acts of generosity that are tinged with remorse or that are motivated by the hope of obtaining some benefit or reward in exchange are rajasic.
Tamasic giving occurs when the gift is given at the wrong time, in the wrong circumstances, to an unworthy person, and without affection or respect for the person receiving it.
Om Tat Sat: These three words are representative of Brahman, the source from which priests, scriptures, and sacrifices originate.
Those who adhere to the teachings of the Vedas must therefore always recite the word ‘Om’ when they are offering sacrifices, engaging in spiritual disciplines, or bestowing gifts.
When participating in these acts of worship, discipline, and charity, those who are seeking liberation rather than any personal benefit are instructed to add the word ‘Tat’.
‘Sat’ is an indication of goodness in addition to meaning ‘that which is.’ As a result, it is used to characterise an act that is worthy of praise.
‘Sat’ means to be unwavering in one’s commitment to acts of self-sacrifice, self-discipline, and generosity. To conduct oneself in a manner that is consistent with these three is also ‘Sat’.
But to engage in acts of self-discipline, sacrifice, or giving without good faith is ‘Asat’, meaning it has no value or goodness in either this life or the next.