Gita essays 31
In chapter 17, Lord Krishna takes up for analysis the topic of Yajna, after the classification of faith and food into three categories as satvic, rajasic and tamasic. In the words of Dr. Radhakrishnan “The Yajna of the Gita is not the same as the ceremonial sacrifice of the Vedas. It is sacrificial action without expectation of any reward by which man dedicates his wealth and deeds to the service of the ‘One Life’ in all.” So it includes the varieties of karmas prescribed by the scriptures for human benefit as well, because in all these karmas worship of the Lord is involved, directly or indirectly. Now let us look into Lord’s classification of Yajna in verses 11, 12 & 13 which runs as:
“That Yajna which is perfomed by one without desire for reward and as enjoined by the scriptures, with a firm faith that the performance of Yajna is a duty, is satvic Yajna”. (17-11)
“The Yajna which is performed seeking a reward and for ostentation, know that to be a rajasic Yajna, O Arjuna”. (17-12)
“That Yajna is called tamasic which is performed contrary to the scriptural injunctions, without food cooked (for distribution), without proper mantras, without proper dakhshina and without faith”.(17-13)
Satvic Yajna - That which is sincerely done according to the scriptural injunctions, without expecting any personal gain or reward.
Rajasic Yajna - That which is done as a show and for the sake of reward or personal gain.
Tamasic Yajna - That which is done without observance of rules, and without proper faith, mantra, dakṣiṇā, and food-distribution.
Lord Krishna next takes up the topic of Tapas. Tapas has two meanings, one general and the second specific. The specific meaning is wilful self-denial, which is not the one employed here. The general meaning of any form of religious or spiritual discipline is used here. Further the topic is dicussed in two ways. One is based on the instrument with which it is practiced i.e physical, verbal and mental. The second is based on guna; satva, rajas or tamas. Let us first see karana drishtya tapas (classification based on instrument) i.e kayika tapas, vachika tapas and manasa tapas in Lord’s words, as discussed in verses 14,15 and16:
Worship of the Gods, the brahmins, the teachers and the wise men; purity, straightforwardness, celibacy and non-injury - these are called the austerities of the body (kayika tapas). (17-14)
The speech which does not give offence to anyone, which is truthful, pleasant and beneficial, and the regular practice of the study of scriptures is called austerity of speech (vachika tapas). (17-15)
Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, silence, purity of nature, self-control, together is called mental austerity (manasa tapas). (17-16)
Devotion and reverence to people living a vedic way of life and teachers of scriptures is as much an act of worship as the worship of Gods. Such external acts and observance of purity, internal and external, straightforwardness in relations with others, keeping free of sense attractions and avoidance of all acts of injuring others are all called austerities of the body, kayika tapas. Speech or the spoken words which cause no disturbances in others, which are true, sincere, agreeable and beneficial to others, diligent study and reflection of the scriptures are all called austerity in speech, vachika tapas. Here we can recall the words of Manu smrithi which says “One should speak what is true; one should speak what is pleasant; one should not speak what is true if it is not pleasant, nor what is pleasant if it is false”. Serenity of mind that is the result of one’s healthy relationship with outside world, a feeling of warmth towards all, an inward calmness without agitating desires or emotions, control of one’s lower nature within, honesty of motive – with the motivating factor for any action being noble and divine, constitute austerity of mind, manasa tapas
In verses 17, 18 and 19 guna drishtya tapas (guna-wise division) i.e. satvika, rajasa, and tamasa tapaha is discussed as follows:
This threefold austerity which is practised with great faith by those people who are disciplined and are not desirous of any reward is called satvic. (17-17)
That austerity which is performed with hypocrisy for the sake of praise, honour and worship is said to be rajasic, whose result is temporary and unstable. (17-18)
The austerity which is practised out of a foolish notion, with self-torture, or for the purpose of destroying another, is declared to be tamasic. (17-19)
The three –fold austerity viz. of body, speech, and mind, practiced by men of self-discipline with no attachment for the rewards and with utmost faith and sincerity is called satvic tapas. When this three-fold austerity is practiced with a view to gain respect and honour and with vanity and ostentation it is called rajasic tapas. Such a kind of tapas is unstable and transitory and will only result in unproductive and painful self-denials. Tapas undertaken with a foolish obstinacy involving self-torture or with the aim of destroying others is of the lowest kind and is called tamasic tapas.
Lord discusses daanam (charity) as the fourth topic in verses 20,21 &22 thus:
Daanam which is made (with an attitude) that giving is a duty, to a person who may not reciprocate (and which is given) at the proper place, at the proper time and to a proper person is considered to be satvic daanam. (17-20)
That daanam which is reluctantly made for the sake of something in return, or expecting a result, is considered to be rajasic daanam. (17-21)
That daanam which is made at the wrong place and time to unworthy people, without respect or with insult, is said be tamasic daanam. (17-22)
That charity which is made to someone out of conviction that it is an act that has to be done is the right kind of charity. Even if the recipient of the charity can offer no service in return, the giver of charity should not hesitate while making the gift. Charity comes from within and out of one's heart and should not be considered as an investment. That danam which is given with respect to the right person, at the right place and right time considering other’s requirement is called a satvic daanam. That charity which is made with the hope of getting some benefit in return or looking forward to some reward or given with a heavy heart is of rajasic type. Gifts which are made at the wrong place and time to an unworthy person with contempt and with no respect are said to be of tamasic type.
Satvic daanam - Daanam that is sincerely made to a deserving person at the proper time and place without expectation of any kind of return.
Rajasic daanam - Daanam which is reluctantly made or with the expectation of a future benefit or reward in return.
Tamasic daanam – Daanam which is made with contempt and disrespect to an undeserving person at an improper time and place.