The three types of sacrifices, austerities and charities are Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasik. Some choose the wrong types without being aware that they are making a mistake.
The three gunas or characteristics embodying all entities and processes in the universe, according to Hindu philosophy, are Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasik.
Especially in the context of actions, the three gunas take the following definitions.
Satvik actions are those actions which are performed correctly and without the desire for any reward.
Rajasik actions are those actions which are performed correctly but with the desire for personal reward.
Tamasik actions are those actions which are performed incorrectly and with the desire for personal reward.
Sacrifice or “Yagna,” Austerity or “Tapa” and Charity or “Daan” are actions that Hindus are expected to perform in the course of their lives. Hence it is important to understand these actions in the context of the three Gunas and learn to perform them as outlined in the Scriptures.
In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna lectures Arjun about the different forms of sacrifices, austerities and charities. Jaya Row, a learned exponent of the Bhagvad Gita, in a recent lecture given in Mumbai, explained in simple terms the import of Krishna’s teachings.
Yagna Or Sacrifice
Yagna is a ritual conducted with the holy sacrificial fire as an intercessor and in accordance with a delineated procedure. This is the general concept of Yagna.
Satvik Yagna follows the procedure laid out in the Vedas and is carried out without any personal desire. The purpose of Satvik Yagna is thanksgiving. Over the ages Yagnas began to be conducted for the purposes of first common good and then personal gain. Instances of common good were prayer for adequate and timely rain for ensuring the harvest. Instances of personal gain were acquiring a progeny.
These Yagnas were conducted according to the procedures prescribed in the scriptures and were Rajasik Yagnas. Later on further deterioration of values took place. The prescribed procedures were done away with. For example it was prescribed that during a Yagna a number of poor people will be fed by the person or family organizing the Yagna. This was done away with. There was often a shift in the purpose. Instead of personal benefit Yagnas were conducted to bring about misery on others. These Yagnas are referred to as Tamasik Yagnas.
Tapa Or Austerity
The scriptures provide for three types of austerities. Austerity of the body includes simple habits, cleanliness, practicing non violence and avoiding lustful behavior. Austerity of speech includes praying, speaking the truth and not speaking ill of others. Austerity of the mind includes devotion to God and purging oneself of impious thoughts.
When the person performs these austerities without seeking personal gain but as a way of life and derives contentment by doing so then it is Satvik Tapa. If the person performs these austerities in order to prove his greatness and expects to be honored and respected because of his actions then it is Rajasik Tapa.
If the austerities are performed in order to seek boons or power that is intended for evil designs then it is Tamasik Tapa. Many demons in Hindu mythology performed Tamasik Tapa and secured boons, which they used to terrorize humanity.
Daan Or Charity
Satvik Daan is the charity given through a sense of duty, without expectation of anything in return, to deserving persons and at the right time and place. In Rajasik Daan some of the above conditions are violated. The charity may not be given with a willing disposition but may be given grudgingly. Or it may be given with the expectation of something in return.
In the contemporary context, charity given to institutions in which the donor’s name, and often the amount, is displayed on a plaque as a proclamation of the donor’s generosity is Rajasik Daan. Tamasik Daan is charity given for immoral purposes or given contemptuously with the intent to make the recipient of the charity feel under obligation. In contrast, in Satvik Daan it is the donor who feels obligated for being given an opportunity to serve.
Posted in Nature, hinduism, religion, spirituality.
Tagged with austerities, charities, desire, love, peace, Rajasik, sacrifices, Satvik, Tamasik, Yagna.
By asman hall – November 2, 2010