Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 17

Sraddhaaraya Vibhaaga Yoga !!


||om tat sat||
अर्जुन वाच:
ये शास्त्रविधि मुत्सृज्य यजन्ते श्रद्धयाsन्विताः।
तेषां निष्ठातु का कृष्ण सत्त्वमाहो रजस्तमः॥1||
"Oh Krishna ! What is the state of those who imbued with faith adore by ignoring the injunctions of the scriptures? is it Sattva , Rajas or Tamas."

Salutations to Sri Krishna
Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 17


At the end of the sixteenth chapter Krishna says
यः शास्त्र विधि मुत्सृज्य वर्तते कामकारकः
- "the one who ignores the scriptures and वर्तते कामकारकः acts under the influence of passion"(16.23)
Such a one may not attain the desired goals. He compounds it by saying "तस्मात् शास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते"- meaning that - " therefore let scriptures be the authority for you" in case of doubt.

Hearing these statements there could be a genuine doubt whether it is sufficient if one lives a life of noble aspirations with faith or the knowledge of Sastras is a must.

This leads to the query of Arjuna which is how the seventeenth chapter starts.

अर्जुन वाच:
ये शास्त्रविधि मुत्सृज्य यजन्ते श्रद्धयाsन्विताः।
तेषां निष्ठातु का कृष्ण सत्त्वमाहो रजस्तमः॥1||

"Oh Krishna ! What is the state of those who imbued with faith adore by ignoring the injunctions of the scriptures? is it Sattva , Rajas or Tamas".

Here by "those imbued with faith" it is meant those who adore the Gods and others by merely observing the conduct of elders etc. not being specifically aware of the injunctions of Sastras. The adoration of Gods could also be understood as performance of Sacrifices with faith (Sraddha) without reference to the Sastras. So, this is certainly not about those who disregarding the Sastras act as per their whim and fancy - 'शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य ' disregarding the Sastras वर्तते कामकारतः - act as per their wish (16.23). Such people have no faith. The query is about people having faith.

The answer to this query requires full understanding of the word "faith" or "Sraddha" . Krishna goes through the same process by elaborating on the types of "faith". Krishna says the faith is of three types (त्रिविधा भवति) based on the three Gunas elaborated earlier (17.2) . They are the Sattvic ( the pure) , the Rajasik ( the passionate) and the Tamasic ( the dark or the ignorant). The faith of one is according to his nature. He is what his faith makes of him (17.3). The nature of the man is based on the preponderance of one of the other two Gunas.

The Sattvic worship the Gods , the Rajasik worship the Yakshas and Rakshasas, and the Tamasic worship ghosts and spirits. (17.4)

This threefold division permeates the food which is dearest to all as well as sacrifices ( यज्ञ) austerity ( तप) and even charity( त्याग)

"आयुः सत्त्व बलारोग्य सुखप्रीति विवर्थनाः" - the foods that "increase life, purity, strength, health , joy and cheerfulness" , which are savory and oleaginous are dear to Sattvic. (17.8)

The bitter , sour, salty, excessively hot, dry foods are dear to Rajasik nature and these are likely to be productive of pain, grief and disease. (17.9)

That which is stale tasteless , putrid and impure is the food dear to Tamasik (17.10).

The sacrifices too are three-fold.

"अफलाकांक्षिभिर्यज्ञो विधि दृष्टो" ..." That a sacrifice which is offered without desire for the fruits of the action as enjoined by scriptures and with a firm faith that sacrifice is a duty , - that sacrifice is Sattvic in nature (17.11).

The sacrifice which is offered with an eye on the fruits of action and is performed for ostentation, is the one Rajasik in nature (17.12).

The sacrifice which is not as per scriptures, devoid of faith , devoid of mantras and gifts is Tamasic in nature. (17.13)

While explaining the Sattvic Rajasik and Tamasik nature of the austerities Krishna first explains the wide variety of austerities themselves.

These are austerities of the body, of the speech, of the mind.

Worship of the Gods, the Brahmins, teachers, and the wise along with purity, straight forwardness, and nonviolence are called the austerity of the body (17.14).

Speech which causes no excitement and is truthful, pleasant and beneficial as well as the practice of study of Vedas , all of these constitute the austerity of speech (17.15)

Serenity of mind , good heartedness, silence self-control purity of nature - these constitute the austerity of mind. (17.16)

This threefold austerity namely austerity of body, speech and mind practiced by steadfast men desiring no fruit are called Sattvic (17.17).

The austerity which is practiced with the object of gaining reception, honor, and worship , practiced with hypocracy is called Rajasik (17.18).

That austerity which is practiced with self-torture, for the purpose of destroying another etc. are declared to be Tamasik (17.19).

Finally, the charity is also threefold.

That gift which is given knowing it to be a duty, at an appropriate time and place, given to a worthy person, given without expecting return is called Sattvic (17.20),

That gift which is given with a view to receiving a return or looking for a fruit or given reluctantly is called Rajasik. (17.21)

That gift given at a wrong place at wrong time, to unworthy persons, without respect or given with an insult is declared to be Tamasik. (17.22)

That the performance of the Sacrifice , performance of austerity and the giving of gifts ought to be performed properly. In that direction Krishna elaborates on "om tat sat"

ओम् तत्सदिति निर्देशो ब्रह्मणः त्रिविधः स्मृतः||23||

"ओम् तत् सत्" is the threefold designation of Brahman.
"Om" represents the pure self, the absolute and unborn supreme being
"Tat" represents that eternal goal changeless and ever perfect.
"Sat" means existence. The principle of existence functioning through all things is called sat.

The acts of Sacrifice, austerity and gifts are begun by the students of Brahman with the utterance of "om". (17.24)
The acts of sacrifice etc. are performed uttering "Tat". (17.25)

The word Sat is used in the sense of reality and of good ness. Sat is also used in the sense of an auspicious act. (17.26)

The steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and gift is also called sat. The action in these is also called Sat

Whatever sacrifice is performed without faith ; whatever austerity is performed without faith is called "a sat". It is not for here or hereafter !!(17.28)

|| om tat sat||
अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं च यत्।
असदित्युच्यते पार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्य नो इह॥28||
"Whatever is offered into the fire and whatever is given in charity as also whatever austerity is undertaken or whatever is done without faith, all that is called impious because it does not bear fruit here or in the other world."
|| om tat sat||