Gita Daily Readings

13th November
Chapter XVII: 11-13
That sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for reward, as enjoined by the scripture, with a firm faith that to do so is a duty, is sattvika or pure.

The sacrifice which is offered, Oh Arjuna, seeking a reward and for ostentation, know thou that to be a rajasa yajna.

They declare that sacrifice to be tamasa which is contrary to the ordinances of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of mantras and gifts, and which is devoid of faith.

 

Commentary

This covers all forms of rituals and worships and could eventually be extended to embrace all departments of life itself.

It is easy to understand who performs the sattvika and the rajasa types of sacrifices, and why. But it is difficult to understand the true significance of the tamasa type. If I had not witnessed them, I would have refused to believe such a thing possible!

The ritual lacks scriptural sanction. No one concerned with its performance knows any mantra. The whole thing is a big farce and the carnival spirit prevails; and hence no one even thinks of charity (gifts of food, etc.), which might at least provide a relieving feature. On top of it all, the performer and those concerned have not the least faith in the ritual. Result: all sorts of sacrilegious words and deeds in the name of God and dharma. If all this had been done for the sake of earning name and fame, it would at best become rajasa. But no. It is done mechanically, prompted by a nebulous idea: "My grandfather used to do something like this."

This carcass of a ritual is without justification for its existence. We should have the courage to revive the spirit of it, if at all possible, or bury it, replacing it by more meaningful rites.

Rituals have great spiritual value. They can effect a spiritual revolution within, if correctly performed.

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