A Song of Fortune
- A Classical Gîtâ -




The three qualities relating to one's
austerity, sacrifice and food intake

(1) Arjuna said: 'He who abandons the scriptural regulations but, endowed with faith, is of worship, is he, oh Krishna, in goodness or else in passion or ignorance?'

The fortunate one said: 'The faith of the one embodied manifests, depending on each his birth, in the three forms of goodness, passion and ignorance; hear about this as well from me. (3) The evolution of one's faith is a matter of consciousness31 oh son of the Kuru dynasty, the person is the completeness of that faith and is, with such a faith endowed, thus certain of himself. (4) Those who are of goodness keep the godly ones in mind, in passion one bows to the demons, and people in ignorance are devoted to the spirits of the deceased and ghosts and such. (5-6) Those persons who, impelled by the force of lust, egotistically and conceited are engaged in penances executed with violence and not prescribed in the scriptures, are surely of an obscure resolve; they doing harm to the body its material integrity are mistaken about me who, next to themselves, is also situated within that body.

The way the food one prefers is also of three kinds, there are as well three kinds of charity, sacrifices and austerities; hear now about these differences.

Food which increases the duration of life, which purifies one's being, gives strength, health, happiness and satisfaction and which is juicy, rich, wholesome and a pleasure to the heart, is food preferred by the ones in goodness. (9) Bitter, sour, salty, very hot, smelly, dried out and burned is the food of those in the mode of passion; it makes unhappy, miserable and brings disease. (10) That what is cooked too long, lacks taste, smells bad, is decomposed, a leftover from a previous meal and has impurities in it, is food dear to the ignorant.

A sacrifice which according to the scriptural regulations is conducted by souls who, free from profit motives, therewith performed with an absorbed mind, is of goodness. (12) But that sacrifice which is performed out of vanity and with the desire for a certain advantage, oh leader of the Kuru line, know that sacrifice to be of the mode of passion. (13) Any sacrifice in defiance of the regulative principles, with no food distributed, with no hymns sung, without any gifts and performed without faith, must be considered a sacrifice in the mode of ignorance.

When one in cleanliness, sincerity, celibacy and nonviolence is of respect for the divinity, the twice-born ones, the spiritual teacher and the wise, one speaks of austerity in the sense of physical actions. (15) To the voice austerity is said to be of truthful, pleasing and beneficial, inoffensive words derived from studying the books of spiritual wisdom in a persistent practice. (16) Austerity of the mind pertains to a mind trained in serenity, good faith, gravity, self-control and self-correction32. (17) This threefold austerity33 which, free from desiring a certain advantage, is performed by men with faith in the transcendence, is said to be of goodness. (18) Austerity which in this world is performed for the sake of respect, honor and veneration and thus is vain, is, unstable and temporary as it is, said to be of the mode of passion. (19) Austerity foolishly performed with the intent to torture oneself or bring down others, is said to be of the mode of ignorance.

That what is given in charity as a gift without expecting anything in return, at the right place, at the right time, and to the right person is a form of charity which is considered to be of goodness. (21) But that which is given with some return in mind, and is given desiring a result, or is given with a grudge, is charity understood to be of passion. (22) Charity is said to be of ignorance when it, without respect and proper attention, is given at the wrong place, the wrong time and to persons not deserving. (23) With om tat sat34, the threefold of the spiritual supreme is indicated; these words were since time immemorial used by the twice-born ones with their sacrifices as also with the holy books of prayers and hymns. (24) For that reason the syllable om always marks the beginning of the performances of the sacrifices, the charity and the penance of the transcendentalists proceeding according to the regulations. (25) The word tat in this is used by the ones desiring liberation to refer to the fact that one is not after any result in the various activities of sacrifice, penance and charity. (26-27) The word sat is used to express the nature of the supreme as also the devotion to the supreme in the activities one agreed upon, oh son of Prithâ. Thus in case of sacrifice, penance and charity the word sat is uttered to indicate activities in question as also the absolute of the truth. (28) If one makes some sort of offering, donates this or that way, or when one is of some kind of penance, one is completely false if one proceeds without any belief, oh son of Prithâ; to act this way in disbelief is of no use here, nor in the hereafter.'

Modern version Ch 17 | Previous edition Ch 17| Download | Vedabase Ch 17


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