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Chapter 41

Mahabharata English - BHISHMA PARVA

“Arjuna said, ‘What is the state, O Krishna, of those who abandoning theordinance of the scriptures, perform sacrifices endued with faith? It isone of Goodness, or Passion, or Darkness?’

“The Holy One said, ‘The faith of embodied (creatures) is of three kinds.It is (also) born of their (individual) natures. It is good, passionate,and dark. Hear now these. The faith of one, O Bharata, is conformable tohis own nature. A being here is full of faith; and whatever is one’sfaith, one is even that. They that are of the quality of goodness worshipthe gods; they that are of the quality of passion (worship) the Yakshasand the Rakshasas; other people that are of the quality of darknessworship departed spirits and hosts of Bhutas. Those people who practisesevere ascetic austerities not ordained by the scriptures, are given upto hypocrisy and pride, and endued with desire of attachment, andviolence,–those persons possessed of no discernment, torturing thegroups of organs in (their) bodies and Me also seated within (those)bodies,–should be known to be of demoniac resolves. Food which is dearto all is of three kinds. Sacrifice, penance, and gifts are likewise (ofthree kinds). Listen to their distinctions as follows. Those kinds offood that increase life’s period, energy, strength, health, well-being,and joy, which are savoury, oleaginous, nutritive, and agreeable, areliked by God. Those kinds of food which are bitter, sour, salted,over-hot, pungent, dry, and burning, and which produce pain, grief anddisease, are desired by the passionate. The food which is cold, withoutsavour, stinking and corrupt, and which is even refuse, and filthy, isdear to men of darkness. That sacrifice is good which, being prescribedby the ordinance, is performed by persons, without any longing for thefruit (thereof) and the mind being determined (to it under the belief)that its performance is a duty. But that which is performed inexpectation of fruit and even for the sake of ostentation, know thatsacrifice, O chief of the sons of Bharata, to be of the quality ofpassion. That sacrifice which is against the ordinance, in which no foodis dealt out, which is devoid of mantras (sacred verse), in which no feesare paid to the brahmanas assisting to it, and which is void of faith, issaid to be of the quality of darkness. Reverence to the gods, regenerateones, preceptors, and men of knowledge, purity, uprightness, thepractices of a Brahmacharin, and abstention from injury, are said toconstitute the penance of the body. The speech which causeth noagitation, which is true, which is agreeable and beneficial, and thediligent study of the Vedas, are said to be the penance of speech.Serenity of the mind, gentleness, taciturnity, self-restraint, and purityof the disposition,–these are said to be the penance of the mind. Thisthree-fold penance performed with perfect faith, by men without desire offruit, and with devotion, is said to be of the quality of goodness. Thatpenance which is performed for the sake of (gaining) respect, honour, andreverence, with hypocrisy, (and) which is unstable and transient is saidto be of the quality of passion. That penance which is performed under adeluded conviction, with torture of one’s self, and for the destructionof another, is said to be of the quality of darkness. That gift which isgiven because it ought to be given, to one who cannot return any servicefor it, in a proper time, and to a proper person, is said to be of thequality of goodness. That, however, which is given reluctantly, forreturn of services (past or expected), or even with an eye tofruit,–that gift is said to be of the quality of passion. In an unfitplace and at an unfit time, the gift that is made to an unworthy object,without respect, and with contempt, is said to be of the quality ofdarkness. OM, TAT, SAT, this is said to be the three-fold designation ofBrahma. By that (Brahma), the Brahmanas and the Vedas, and theSacrifices, were ordained of old. Therefore, uttering the syllable OM,the sacrifices, gifts, and penances, prescribed by the ordinance, of allutterers of Brahma begin. Uttering TAT, the various rites of sacrifice,penance, and gifts, without expectation of fruit, are performed by thosethat are desirous of deliverance. SAT is employed to denote existence andgoodness. Likewise, O son of Pritha, the word SAT is used in anyauspicious act. Constancy in sacrifices, in penances and in gifts, isalso called SAT, and an act, too, for the sake of That is calledSAT.[291] Whatever oblation is offered (to the fire), whatever is givenaway, whatever penance is performed, whatever is done, without faith, is,O son of Pritha, said to be the opposite of SAT; and that is nought bothhere and hereafter.[292]’

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