The three kinds of faith – Chapter 17 – Slokas 17.01 – 17.28

Arjuna said, “ye sastra-vidhim utsrjya
yajante sraddhayanvitah
tesam nistha tu ka krsna
sattvam aho rajas tamah –
But, O Krsna, what is the state of those, who, endued with faith, adore by ignoring the injunctions of the scriptures? Is it sattva, rajas or tamas?”


The Blessed Lord said, “tri-vidha bhavati sraddha
dehinam sa svabhava-ja
sattviki rajasi caiva
tamasi ceti tam srnu
– That faith of the embodied beings, born of their own nature, is threefold – born of sattvarajas and tamas. Hear about it. 


sattvanurupa sarvasya
sraddha bhavati bharata
sraddha-mayo ‘yam puruso
yo yac-chraddhah sa eva sah
– O scion of the Bharata dynasty, the faith of all beings is in accordance with their minds. This person is made up of faith as the dominant factor. He is verily what his faith is.


Those having sattva quality worship the gods; those having rajas, the demi-gods and ogres; and other people possessed of tamas worship ghosts and host of spirits.


Those persons who, given to ostentation and pride – dambh-ahankāra-samyuktāh and possessed of passion, attachment and strength – kāma-rāga-bala-anvitāh, undertake severe austerities not sanctioned in the scriptures – asāstra-vihitam.


And who being non-discriminating, torture all the organs in the body as also even Me who reside in this body, – know them as possessed of demoniacal conviction.


Food also, which is dear to all, is of three kinds; and so also are sacrifices, austerity and charity. Listen to this classification of them.


Foods that augment life, firmness of mind, strength, health, happiness and delight – āyuh-sattva-bala-ārogya-sukha-priti-vivardhanāh, and which are succulent – rasyāh, oleaginous – snigdhāh, substantial – sthirāh and agreeable – hrdyāh, are dear to one endowed with sattva.


Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, dry and burning – katu-amla-lavana-atyusna-tiksna-ruksa-vidāhinah, and which produce pain, sorrow and disease – duhkha-soka-āmaya-pradāh, are dear to one having rajas.


Food which is not properly cooked – yāta-yāmam, lacking in essence – gata-rasam, putrid – puti and stale – paryusitam and ort – ucchistam and that which is unfit for sacrifice – amedhyam; is dear to one possessed of tamas.


That sacrifice – yajnah which is in accordance with the scriptural injunctions – vidhi-drstah and is performed by persons who do not hanker after results – a-phala-ākānksibhih and with mental conviction – manah samādhāya that is surely obligatory – yastavyam eva is done through sattva.


But that sacrifice which is performed having in view a result, as also for ostentation, – know that sacrifice to be done through rajas, O greatest among the descendants of Bharata.


They declare that sacrifice as ‘done through tamas’ which is contrary to injunction – vidhi-hinam, in which food is not distributed – asrstānnam, in which mantras are not used – mantra-hinam, in which offerings are not made to priests – adaksinam, and which is devoid of faith – sraddhā-virahitam.


The worship of gods, twice-born, venerable persons and wise – deva-dvija-prājna-pujanam; purity – saucam, straightforwardness – ārjavam, celibacy – brahmacaryam, non-injury – ahimsā, – are said to be bodily austerity – tapah.


anudvega-karam vakyam
satyam priya-hitam ca yat
svadhyayabhyasanam caiva
van-mayam tapa ucyate
– That speech – vākyam which causes no pain – anudvegakaram, which is true – satyam, agreeable and beneficial – priya-hitam; as well as the practice of study of the scriptures – svādhyāya-abhyasanam, – is said to be austerity – tapah of speech – vānmayam.


manah-prasadah saumyatvam
maunam atma-vinigrahah
bhava-samsuddhir ity etat
tapo manasam ucyate
– Tranquillity of mind – manah-prasādah, gentleness – saumyatvam, reticence – maunam, withdrawal of the mind – ātma- vinigrahah, purity of heart – bhāva-samsuddhih, – these are what is called mental austerity.


sraddhaya paraya taptam
tapas tat tri-vidham naraih
aphalakanksibhir yuktaih
sattvikam paricaksate
–   When that threefold austerity is undertaken with supreme faith by people who do not hanker after the results and are self-controlled, they speak of it as born of sattva.


tapo dambhena caiva yat
kriyate tad iha proktam
rajasam calam adhruvam
– That austerity which is undertaken for earning a name, being honoured and worshipped – satkāra-māna-pujārtham, and also ostentatiously, – that is spoken of as born of rajas, belonging to this world, uncertain and transitory.


That austerity which is undertaken with a foolish intent, by causing pain to oneself, or of the destruction of others – that is said to be born of tamas.


datavyam iti yad danam
diyate ‘nupakarine
dese kale ca patre ca
tad danam sattvikam smrtam
– That gift is referred to as born of sattva which gift is given with the idea that it ought to be given, to one who will not serve in return, and at the appropriate place, appropriate time and to an appropriate person.


But the gift which is given expecting reciprocation, or again, with a desire for its result, and which is given grudgingly, – that is considered to be born of rajas.


That gift which is made at an improper place and time, and to undeserving persons, without proper treatment and with disdain, is declared to be born of tamas.


om tat sad iti nirdeso
brahmanas tri-vidhah smrtah
brahmanas tena vedas ca
yajnas ca vihitah pura 
– Om-tat-sat – this is considered to be the threefold designation of Brahman. The Brāhmanas and Vedas and the sacrifices were ordained by that in the days of yore. 


tasmad om ity udahrtya
pravartante vidhanoktah
satatam brahma-vadinam
– Therefore, acts of sacrifice, charity and austerity – yajna-dāna-tapah-kriyāh as prescribed through injunctions – vidhāna-uktāh, of those who study and expound the Vedas – brahma-vādinām, always commence after uttering the syllable OM.


tad ity anabhisandhaya
phalam yajna-tapah-kriyah
dana-kriyas ca vividhah
kriyante moksa-kanksibhih
– After uttering the word tat, acts of sacrifice and austerity – yajna-tapah-kriyāh as also the various acts of charity – dāna-kriyāh are performed without regard for results – anabhisandhāya by persons aspiring for Liberation – moksa-kānksibhih.


sad-bhave sadhu-bhave ca
sad ity etat prayujyate
prasaste karmani tatha
sac-chabdah partha yujyate
– This word sat is used or uttered with regard to – sad-bhāve, something coming into being and with regard to someone becoming good – sādhu-bhāve. So also, O son of Prthā, the word sat – sat-sabdah is used with regard to an auspicious rite – prasaste karmani.


yajne tapasi dane ca
sthitih sad iti cocyate
karma caiva tad-arthiyam
sad ity evabhidhiyate
–  And the steadfastness – sthitih in sacrifice – yajne, austerity – tapasi and charity – dāne is spoken of as sat. And even the action – karma meant for these – tad-arthiyam is, verily called as sat. 


asraddhaya hutam dattam
tapas taptam krtam ca yat
asad ity ucyate partha
na ca tat pretya no iha
– O son of Prthā, whatever is offered in sacrifice – hutam and given in charity – dattam, as also whatever austerity – tapah is undertaken or whatever is done without faith, is said to be of no avail. And it is of no consequence after death, nor here. 


[Chapter 17, Slokas 17.01 – 17.28]


Lord Krishna replies to the question posed by Arjuna which was about the faith of one who adores Lord but not in accordance to the scriptures.


Lord Krishna in the above verses reveals the food that one possessed of the three qualities in predominance consumes.


Lord Krishna in the above verses reveals the tapah of speech that is pure, truthful, honest and in the benefit of all and that which is not harsh and unkind and tapah of the body that is purity, straightforwardness, celibacy and worship of gods, wise, twice-born and venerable persons. Lord also reveals the meaning of yajnah as done by each one with a particular quality in dominance.


Lord Krishna has spoken about the threefold tapah – that is tapah of the body, tapah of speech and tapah of the mind which is undertaken by those with supreme faith and is to be of sattva. Lord also speaks of dānam given in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time at the appropriate place and to the appropriate person as born of sattva.

It is necessary to always remember that qualities and modifications thereon are born of Nature and the purusah is seated in Nature and therefore remains as the non-agent, witness and beneficiary of actions and the fruits of the actions that are born of Nature. Thus, as the Lord has said in the Thirteen Chapter, one who knows thus purusham and prakrtim along with the qualities will not be born again, in whatever way he may live.


Lord Krishna in the above verses reveals the secret of OM-TAT-SAT.


Lord Krishna reveals the meaning, importance and methodology of implementation of OM-TAT-SAT which is to be done with absolute faith and surrender in every action, charity, speech, bodily function, mind and sacrifice with steadfastness on the Supreme Goal. It must be remembered again that qualities and thereby the modifications and actions and fruits of the actions are all born of Nature and embedded in Nature with the purusah appearing to be bound to Nature but is a witness, beneficiary and non-agent.

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