The inferior (tamasic) kind of service is that which is offered without respect or with disdain to an unworthy person at the wrong place and time.
The mediocre (rajasic) kind of service is offered grudgingly and with the expectation of a return of favor or the meritorious fruit of the act. (17.21)
The superior (sattvic) kind of service is offered with a feeling that it is one’s duty to give. Such an offering is made to a worthy person who can make no return and at the right time and place. (17.20)
The following factors emerge from the Gita analysis.
Service should be offered
(1) to a worthy recipient;
(2) at the right time and place;
(3) without expectation of a return of favour;
(4) without desire for the fruits of action;
and (5) with due respect to the recipient.
In the Bhagavadgita Sri Krishna gives a threefold prescription for purification:
‘Sacrifice (yajna), service (dana) and austerities (tapas) should not be relinquished, but should be performed with detachment and without craving for the fruits of action. They purify the wise. This is my best and firm conviction. (Gita 18. 4 – 5)
Source – Extracts from Prabhudha Bharata Magazine April, 2003.