Arjuna said: Those endowed with faith who worship gods and others disregarding the injunctions of the scriptures, where do they stand, Krishna: sattva, rajas or tamas?
Lord Krishna said: Faith of men is of three kinds: sattvika, rajasika and tamasika, hear of it from me. The faith of all men conforms to their mental disposition. Faith constitutes a man; whatever the nature of his faith, verily he is that. Food which is agreeable to different men according to their innate disposition is of three kinds. And likewise, sacrifice, penance and charity too are of three kinds each; hear their distinction as follows.
Foods which promote longevity, intelligence, vigour, health, happiness and cheerfulness and which are juicy, succulent, substantial and naturally agreeable are liked by men of sattvika nature. Foods which are bitter, sour, salty, over-hot, pungent, dry, burning and which cause suffering, grief and sickness are dear to the rajasika. Food which is ill-cooked or not fully ripe, insipid, putrid, stale and polluted and which is impure too is dear to men of tamasika disposition.
The sacrifice which is offered as ordained by scriptural injunctions by men who expect no return and who believe that such sacrifices must be performed is sattvika in character. That sacrifice, however, which is offered for the sake of mere show or even with an eye to its fruit, know it to be rajasika. A sacrifice which is not in conformity with scriptural injunctions in which no food is offered and no sacrificial fees are paid and which is without sacred chant of hymns and devoid of faith is said to be tamasika.
Worship of gods, the brahmas, one's guru, elders and great soul; purity, straight forwardness, continence and non-violence these are called penance of the body. Words which cause no annoyance to others, truthful, agreeable, beneficial, study of the vedas, study of shastras and the practice of the chanting of divine name, this is known as penance of speech. Cheerfulness of mind, placidity, habit of contemplation on god, control of the mind and perfect purity of inner feelings, all this is called austerity of the mind. This threefold penance performed with supreme faith by yogis expecting no return is called sattvika. The austerity which is performed for the sake of renown, honour or adoration as well as for any other selfish gain either in all sincerity or by way of ostentation and yields an uncertain and momentary fruit has been spoken of here as rajasika. Penance which is resorted out of foolish obstinacy and is accompanied by self-mortification or is intended to harm others, such penance has been declared as tamasika.
A gift which is bestowed with a sense of duty, from which no return is expected, at appropriate time and place and to a deserving person, that gift has been declared as sattvika. A gift which is bestowed in a grudging spirit and with the object of getting a service in return or in the hope of obtaining a reward, that gift has been declared as rajasika. A gift which is made without good grace and in a disdainful spirit out of time and place and to undeserving person, is said to be tamasika.