Gita Series – 156: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. Verse 11 – 13

The sacrificial rites performed as per the scriptural directives, with a focused mind and without any attachments to the fruits of such rites are sattvic in nature and are to be performed as a duty. When sacrificial rites are performed with publicity, with an intent on the fruits of rites, belong to rajasic nature. Sacrificial rites performed in violation of śāstra-s, with no food offered in charity, without payment to those who perform such sacrificial rites, without recitation of mantras and without faith belong to tamasic nature.”

One should understand the meaning of scriptural directives. Such directives are the directives found in śrautasūtra-s(Shrauta Sutras). The sacred scriptures known as sūtra-s are based on Vedas. There are a number of such sūtra-s Āpastamba, Āśvalāyana, Kātyāyana, Drāhyāyaṇa, etc named after the respective authors. These sūtra-s elaborately explain fire rituals or sacrifices. There are a number of rituals such as haviryajña and soma yajña. For example, Āpastamba śrauta sūtra lays down guidelines for performing such rituals. While performing such rites, one should strictly follow the guidelines prescribed by this and any deviation is considered as sin. Since such scriptures are based on the precepts of Vedas, violations are considered as serious offence. When Kṛṣṇa mentions about scriptural directives, He only refers to these sūtra-s and not the śāstra-s of later origin.

The rituals prescribed in these sūtra-s should be performed with utmost faith and concentration without any attachment to the fruits of such rituals. Generally some of the elaborated rituals, extending to several days are performed for the welfare of the society as a whole. Vedas are recited during these rituals and a number of Vedic scholars participate and perform the yajna-s. They are to be adequately rewarded for their participation. As such yajna-s are rarely performed, there will be many who witness these rituals to the Vedic hymns and mantras. They are to be fed with quality food. These rituals are sattvic in nature and are bound to bring in a lot of prosperity to the region and the people who live there.

If such rituals are performed for personal gains and with motives attached, they become rajasic, irrespective of other conditions being fulfilled. If these rituals are performed without adequately rewarding Vedic scholars, helpers and others, who are closely associated with the performance of rituals, such rituals turn out to be tamasic in nature. Feeding the onlookers of these rituals is one of the important conditions for performing such rituals. Abstaining from feeding also makes such rituals into tamasic quality, yielding no benefit to the society. When such rituals are performed to satiate one’s ego and pride, naturally, no beneficial results accrue. If mantras and hymns are not recited properly, there is no point in organising such rituals. All these negative features, either independently or jointly play spoilsport of the sanctity of these rituals. Such rituals, if performed as per the directions contained in sūtra-s, bring in enormous amount of benefits to the society, as the vibratory power of the mantras generates positive energy. The sound emanating from mantras and sacred hymns has enormous capacity to produce positive vibrations resulting in all round prosperity. Only rituals performed with tamasic mentality are capable of producing positive results.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 5 - 7

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 8 - 10