Chapter Seventeen—The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith

Arjuna said:
Those who set aside prescriptions
Of scriptures, doing sacrifice
With faith, what is their condition:
Sattwa, or rajas, or tamas? (1)

The Holy Lord said:
Threefold is the embodieds’ faith
Inherent within their nature–
The sattwic, rajasic, and the
Tamasic. Do you hear of it. (2)

Each one’s faith is according to
His natural disposition.
Yea, the man consists of his faith;
In truth, he is what his faith is. (3)

The sattwic men worship the gods;
Rajasic: Yakshas, rakshasas;
The others–the tamasic men–
The pretas1 and hosts of bhutas.2 (4)

Those of extreme austerities–
Unscriptural–given to show
And egoity, impelled by
The force of lust and attachment, (5)

Do torture, senseless as they are,
All the organs in the body,
And Me, the body’s indweller.
Know them as of demonic will. (6)

The food also liked by each one
Is threefold, as is sacrifice,
Austerity, and almsgiving.
Hear from Me now their distinction. (7)

Food building life, purity, strength,
Health, joy, cheerfulness, appetite,
Savory, agreeable, and
Substantial–such the sattwic like. (8)

Foods that are bitter, sour, salty,
Excessively hot, pungent, dry,
And burning, the rajasic like–
Producing pain, grief, and disease. (9)

That which is stale, tasteless, stinking,
Cooked overnight, refuse, impure,
Is the food the tamasic like.
This is the truth, O Arjuna. (10)

That sacrifice which is offered
Without desire for reward and
According to scriptures’ command,
Intent, as duty, is sattwic. (11)

That which is performed, Arjuna,
Seeking for fruit, and for vain show,
Know that to be a sacrifice
Rajasic in its character. (12)

Sacrifice unscriptural and
Without the offering of food,
Without mantras, or gifts,3 or faith,
Is tamasic in character. (13)

Worship of gods, twice-born, teachers,
The wise; purity, continence,
Straightforwardness, non-injury–
Are austerity of body. (14)

Unvexing speech, agreeable,
True, beneficial, practice of
Self-study–these are said to form
What is austerity of speech. (15)

Steady serenity of mind,
Kindliness, silence, self-control, Honesty of motive–all this
Is called mental austerity. (16)

This threefold austerity done
With highest faith by those without
Desire for fruit, also steadfast
Is considered to be sattwic. (17)

Austerity practiced to gain
Welcome,4 honor, worship, and with
Ostentation, is rajasic,
Unstable, and transitory. (18)

Austerity with self-torture,
Done out of a foolish notion,
Or for the purpose of harming
Another, is called tamasic. (19)

That gift which is given to one
Who does no service in return,
In a fit place, to one worthy–
That gift is held to be sattwic. (20)

And what is given with a view
To receiving in return, or
Looking for the fruit, or again
Reluctantly, is rajasic. (21)

The gift given at the wrong place
Or time, to unworthy persons,
Without respect or with disdain,
That is declared as tamasic. (22)

“Om, Tat, Sat;” this has been declared
The triple title of Brahman.
By That were created of old
Brahmins, Vedas, and Sacrifice. (23)

Sacrifice, gifts, austerities
According to the scriptures, are
Begun with utterance of “Om,”
By the expounders of Brahman. (24)

Uttering “Tat,” without desire
For fruits–thus are sacrifice, gift,
And austerity then performed
By seekers of liberation. (25)

“Sat” is used with the meaning of
Reality and of goodness;
So also the word “Sat” is used
In the sense of auspicious acts. (26)

Steadfastness in sacrifice, gift,
And austerity is called “Sat:”5
Also action in connection
With these is designated “Sat.” (27)

Whate’er is sacrificed, given,
Or done, whate’er austerity
Is practiced without faith, is known
Here or hereafter as “Asat.”6 (28)

Om Tat Sat
Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the seventeenth discourse entitled: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith.