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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. III - The Basic Works > DISCOURSES ON THE GITA > Chapter XVII
Arjuna asked, 'What happens to those who serve in faith, neglecting the prevailing code of conduct?'
The Lord replied, 'There are three kinds of faith, characterized by sattva, rajas or tamas as the case may be. As is a man's faith, so is he.
'Sattvika men worship the gods; rajasa men worship demigods and demons; and tamasa men worship the spirits of the dead.
'The nature of a man's faith cannot be ascertained Offhand. In order to assess it correctly one must know the precise nature of his food, austerity, sacrifice and alms-giving.
'Foods which make for long life and increase the vital force, energy, strength and health are said to be sattvika. Rajasa foods are violently bitter, sour, hot or pungent and give rise to disease and aches and pains. And cooked food which is stale or gives out a bad smell and the leavings of others are said to be tamasa.
'The sacrifice which is offered as a matter of duty without expecting a reward and with mental concentration is said to be sattvika. A rajasa sacrifice is that in which a reward is desired and which is offered for outward show. And a tamasa sacrifice is one in which scriptural rules are disobeyed, no eatables or alms are given away and no hymns are chanted.
'Honouring the saintly, purity, brahmacharya and non-violence constitute austerity of the body. Truthful, pleasant and beneficial speech as well as a study of the scriptures is austerity of the speech. And cheerfulness, gentleness, silence, self-control and purity of motiveó these are called the austerity of the mind. Such austerity of the mind, body and speech as is practised without desire of fruit by men with an evenness of temper is said to be sattvika. Austerity practised for ostentation and with a view to gaining honour is said to be rajasa. And austerity done by obstinate fools with self-torture or with the object of hurting others is said to be tamasa.
'A gift "made in due place, due time and to a fit recipient" without expecting a reward and with a feeling that it is right for. a man to give is said to be sattvika. A gift made grudgingly with a view to getting something in return is regarded as rajasa. And the gift which is given in a contemptuous spirit, and without honour done to the recipient and without considering the proper time and place for it is said to be tamas.
'Brahma is designated in the Vedas as Om tat sat. Therefore men of faith pronounce the sacred syllable Om when they commence any rite of sacrifice, alms giving or austerity. This single syllable stands for Brahma. Tat means that, And sat means satya, beneficent. That is to say, God is one, He alone is, He alone is truth and the benefactor of the world. He who offers a sacrifice, makes gifts or practices austerity with a realization of this truth and in a spirit of dedication is a man of sattvika faith. And he is free from blame if he knowingly or unknowingly does something different from the correct procedure in the spirit of dedication. But acts undertaken in the absence of such a spirit are said to be performed without faith and therefore are asat (unreal).'