1. What is the state of those who, neglecting the rules of scripture,
Sacrifice full of faith, O Krsna?
Is it sattva, rajas or tamas?
The Blessed One said:
2. Born of their innermost conditions (sva-bhāva),
The faith of the embodied ones is threefold:
Sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. Hear about it now.
3. The faith of each man comes in accordance to his essence, O Bhārata.
Man here is made up of his faith.
Whatever faith a man has, that he is.
4. The sattvic sacrifices to the gods,
The rajasic to the Yaksas (demigods) and Raksasas (demons) and the rest,
The tamasic sacrifice to the ghosts and spirits of natural beings.
5. Men full of the strength of passion and desire,
Full of self and hypocrisy,
Who perform cruel austerities which are not enjoined by the scriptures,
6. Who starve the collection of elements in their bodies,
And even me dwelling in their bodies:
Know that these fools are demonic in their intent.
7. But also the food dear to each man is three-fold,
And likewise the sacrifice, austerity and charity.
Hear now the distinction of these.
8. Foods increasing life, vitality, strength,
Health, happiness and joy,
Tasty, rich, lasting and agreeable:
These are dear to the sattvic.
9. Foods which are pungent, sour, salty,
Very hot, spicy, astringent, burning,
Which cause pain, grief and sickness:
These are desired by the rajasic.
10. Food which is spoiled, tasteless, foul-smelling, stale,
Which is left-over or unclean:
This is the food dear to the tamasic.
11. That sacrifice which is offered according to scriptures,
By men who do not desire fruits
But think simply that it ought to be performed, Is sattvic.
12. Know that sacrifice to be rajasic, O Best of Bhāratas,
Which is offered aiming at the fruit,
And also for the sake of appearance.
13. That sacrifice is called tamasic which is lacking faith,
Is not enjoined by scripture, is lacking in hymns,
Is lacking in distribution of the food, and fees are not paid.
14. Honor for the gods, the twice-born, to teachers and wise men;
Purity, uprightness, continence, non-violence:
This is bodily austerity.
15. Utterance which is inoffensive and truthful,
Agreeable and beneficial, and the practise of (Vedic) study:
This is austerity of speech.
16. Mental clarity, gentleness, silence,
Self-restraint, purity of being:
This is mental austerity.
17. This three-fold austerity,
Engaged in with supreme faith by men who are disciplined
And are not desirous of fruit, They call sattvic.
18. That austerity which is practised hypocritically for esteem,
Or honor or reverence, Is called rajasic:
It is unstable and fleeting.
19. The austerity which is performed with foolish stubbornness,
Or with self-torture, or is done to destroy others, Is called tamasic.
20. That gift which is given to one without expecting return
Just because it ought to be given,
And which is given at the proper time and place to a worthy person:
That gift is declared to be sattvic.
21. But that gift which is engaged in for the sake of something in return,
Or aiming at fruit,
And which is engaged in grudgingly, Is declared to be rajasic.
22. That gift which is given at the wrong time and place to an unworthy person,
Without respect and with contempt:
That is called tamasic.
23. Om, tat, sat’: this is declared as the three-fold designation of Brahman.
By this the brāhmans, the Vedas, and the sacrifices
Were ordained of old.
24. For this reason, uttering Om, the acts of sacrifice,
Giving and austerity enjoined in scripture,
Are always carried on by the knowers of Brahman.
25. (Uttering) tat, the diverse acts of sacrifice and austerity and giving
Are performed by those seeking release,
Without their aiming at the fruit.
26. Sat is used for the “real” and the “good,” O Son of Prthā,
Likewise, the word sat is used for a praise-worthy action.
27. Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and giving Is also called sat;
And action for the sake of these is called sat.
28. Whatever sacrificial offering, act of charity, austerity,
Performed without faith, is called asat, O Pārtha.
It is of no use here on earth or hereafter.
This is the seventeenth chapter, entitled “The Yoga of the Three Forms of Faith” (sraddhātrayavibhāgayoga).