Bhagavad-Gita Summary, Chapter XVII

[For the Disciple—A Guide]

"Devotion as regards the Three Kinds of Faith."

Arjuna asks Krishna about the state of those who, while neglecting the precepts found in Scripture, yet worship in faith; Is it of the sattva, rajas, or the tamas quality?

Krishna states that the three qualities can be used to make such a classification of such faith. All faith he says, proceeds from sattva, and depends on a man's innate, spiritual nature. (Gita, p. 115)

Sattva quality faith is marked by worship of the gods. Food that is sattvic is pleasing and healthy, increasing vigor and strength, of permanent benefit and congenial. Sacrifice, directed by Scripture, performed by those who expect no reward, but are convinced they are necessary is of the quality of light and goodness. Control of body, speech and mind among those who are sattvic is marked by honor paid to the gods and Wise; by purity, rectitude, chastity, harmlessness; gentle speech, truthful and friendly; regular study, serenity of mind, mildness of temper, silence, self restraint, and absolute straightforwardness in conduct. Gifts bestowed at the right time and to the proper person, by one who has no hope for a reward are Sattvic.

Rajas quality faith is marked by a worship of the celestial powers, the Yakshas and Rakshasas. Rajasic foods are those that are over bitter, too acid, excessively salty, hot, dry and burning, and which cause unpleasantness, pain and disease. Sacrifice that is performed in the hope of a return, or as an ostentation of piety, is passionate and Rajasic. Actions performed out of hypocrisy, to obtain the respect of others, for fame or favor, and belonging to the ordinary world, are Rajasic. Gifts made in the expectation of a return favor, or with reluctance are Rajasic.

Tamas quality faith, marked by gloom and indifference, are noted for the worship of elemental powers and the ghosts of dead men. Ascetics of an infernal tendency are found torturing their body; full of hypocrisy and pride, longing for the past to return, deluded, they torture the powers and faculties and even the Higher Self, in the body. Tamasic foods are those that were cooked the day before, and are tasteless, rotting, and impure. Worship, without faith, is Tamasic. Actions, such as self-wounding, false judgment, and the hurting of others are examples of Tamasic actions. Inappropriate and untimely gifts made to the unworthy and with scorn and carelessness are Tamasic.

(Gita, pp. 100-3, 115-8), see also (WQJ Letters, pp. 100-3)

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