IF men forsake the holy ordinance,

Heedless of Shastras, yet keep faith at heart

And worship, what shall be the state of those,

Great Krishna! Sattwan, Rajas, Tamas? Say!


Threefold the faith is of mankind, and springs

From those three qualities,—becoming “true,”

Or “passion-stained,” or “dark,” as thou shalt hear!

The faith of each believer, Indian Prince!

Conforms itself to what he truly is.

Where thou shalt see a worshiper, that one

To what he worships lives assimilate,

[Such as the shrine, so is the votary,]

The “soothfast” souls adore true gods; the souls

Obeying Rajas worship Rakshasas〖Rakshasas and Yakshas are unembodied but capricious beings of great power, gifts, and beauty, sometimes also of benignity.〗

Or Yakshas; and the men of Darkness pray

To Pretas and to Bhutas.〖These are spirits of evil, wandering ghosts.〗 Yea, and those

Who practise bitter penance, not enjoined

By rightful rule—penance which hath its root

In self-sufficient, proud hypocrisies—

Those men, passion-beset, violent, wild,

Torturing—the witless ones—My elements

Shut in fair company within their flesh,

(Nay, Me myself, present within the flesh!)

Know them to devils devoted, not to Heaven!

For like as foods are threefold for mankind

In nourishing, so is there threefold way

Of worship, abstinence, and almsgiving!

Hear this of Me! there is a food which brings

Force, substance, strength, and health, and joy to live,

Being well-seasoned, cordial comforting,

The “Soothfast” meat. And there be foods which bring

Aches and unrests, and burning blood, and grief,

Being too biting, heating, salt, and sharp,

And therefore craved by too strong appetite

And there is foul food—kept from over-night,〖Yâtayaman, food which has remained after the watches of the night. In India this would probably “go bad.”〗

Savorless, filthy, which the foul will eat,

A feast of rottenness, meet for the lips

Of such as love the “Darkness.”

Thus with rites;—

A sacrifice not for rewardment made,

Offered in rightful wise, when he who vows

Sayeth, with heart devout, “This I should do!”

Is “Soothfast” rite. But sacrifice for gain,

Offered for good repute, be sure that this,

O Best of Bharatas! is Rajas-rite,

With stamp of “passion.” And a scarifice

Offered against the laws, with no due dole

Of food-giving, with no accompaniment

Of hallowed hymn, nor largesse to the priests,

In faithless celebration, call it vile.

The deed of “Darkness!”—lost!

Worship of gods

Meriting worship; lowly reverence

Of Twice-borns, Teachers, Elders; Purity,

Rectitude, and the Brahmacharya's vow,

And not to injure any helpless thing,—

These make a true religiousness of Act.

Words causing no man woe, words ever true,

Gentle and pleasing words, and those ye say

In murmured reading of a Sacred Writ,—

These make the true religiousness of Speech.

Serenity of soul, benignity,

Sway of the silent Spirit, constant stress

To sanctify the Nature,—these things make

Good rite, and true religiousness of Mind.

Such threefold faith, in highest piety

Kept, with no hope of gain, by hearts devote,

Is perfect work of Sattwan, true belief.

Religion shown in act of proud display

To win good entertainment, worship, fame,

Such—say I—is of Rajas, rash and vain.

Religion followed by a witless will

To torture self, or come at power to hurt

Another,—'tis of Tamas, dark and ill.

The gift lovingly given, when one shall say

“Now must I gladly give!” when he who takes

Can render nothing back; made in due place,

Due time, and to a meet recipient,

Is gift of Sattwan, fair and profitable.

The gift selfishly given, where to receive

Is hoped again, or when some end is sought,

Or where the gift is proffered with a grudge,

This is of Rajas, stained with impulse, ill.

The gift churlishly flung, at evil time,

In wrongful place, to base recipient,

Made in disdain or harsh unkindliness,

Is gift of Tamas, dark; it doth not bless!〖I omit the concluding shlokas, as of very doubtful authenticity.〗

Here endeth Chapter XVII. of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ,

entitled “Sraddhatrayavibhâgayôg,” or

“The Book of Religion by the Threefold

Kinds of Faith”

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