Ordained by the Sastras, that action, performed by one not desirous of the fruit, without attachment, free from love and hate, is called Sattvic. (BG 18.23)
That action which is done by one longing for desires, or again with egotism, or with much effort, is declared to be Rajasic. (BG 18.24)
Actions are but events without any colour. They become good or bad, right or wrong, kind or cruel depending upon our attitude while doing the actions. Every action can be tamasic, rajasic, or sattvic, depending upon our mental makeup. Heedless of the consequences, if actions are performed, they are tamasic. Cleverly for gain and to escape the evil consequences, if we do anything it is Rajasic. Whatever we do for the welfare of others is Sattvic.
A man was growing a beautiful garden. One day a cow entered it and ate a few plants. The man was angry with the animal. So he gave it blows and the poor cow was killed. The man knew it was a sin to kill a cow. The moment the incident took place, a Sin came to catch him since it was the fruit of his cruel action. Like a devil citing the scriptures, the clever man recited a stanza from the sastras to prove that it was Indra who killed the cow, not himself. The cow was beaten by the hand, which according to the scriptures, is governed by Indra. The eyes are governed by the Sun and the mind is governed by Moon. Every limb is but an instrument in the hands of the respective deities. Now, the Sin proceeded to Indra to catch him because he is the one only responsible for the death of the cow through the man’s hands. Indra requested the Sin to wait for a while so that he could have time to make enquiries.
Indra went in the disguise of an old person and asked the man,. “Sir, your garden is beautiful, who developed it?.” The man replied, “Sir, I with all care grew the plants myself”. Later Indra asked “Sir, who killed the cow?” The man was caught. He could not answer. When it is a bad action or a crime we throw it on others. When it is good, we claim it for ourselves. We don’t want to own the responsibility when the fruits are not favourable to our taste. Either accept all or withdraw from all.
Let us understand the scriptures in the right spirit. Let us not misinterpret them. Let us use them and use them only for our evolution to higher levels.
That action which is undertaken through delusion, without regard to consequence, loss, hurtfulness and capacity, is declared to be Tamasic. (BG 18.25)
Actions should be noble and good. No action should be performed without enough preparation and precision. And above all, we have to be cautious with regard to the consequences while performing an action. If actions are undertaken from delusion, heedless of consequences, then we call them tamasic actions.
On the last day of Mahabharata war, in the midnight, Aswatthama mercilessly massacred the sleeping Pandava warriors and the Upapandavas for no fault of theirs. And Arjuna taught him a lesson. Intoxicated with wealth and excessive pleasure, the Yadava descendants in Dwaraka insulted the rishis. A lad was dressed as pregnant woman and taken to the rishis with a request to predict whether a male or female child would be born to the ‘lady’. The rishis cursed and the Yadu dynasty was destroyed.
Unmindful of the consequences and out of sheer ignorance and delusion, King Parikshit placed dead snake round the neck of Samika Maharshi. And Sringi, the son of the sage cursed the king to the effect that the king would die of snake bite on the seventh day.
Tamasic actions are always disastrous.
The attempt to remove evil from the world by killing a thousand evil-doers only adds to the evil in the world. But if the people can be made to desist from evil doing, by means of spiritual instruction, there is no more evil in the world.
It is the nature of the brute to remain where he is (not to progress); it is the nature of man to seek good and avoid evil; it is the nature of God to seek neither but just to be externally blissful. Let us be God!
Do not say, “You are bad”; say only, “You are good, but be better.”—Swami Vivekananda