Bhagwad Geeta

Chapter 17 - Shraddhatraya - Vibhaga Yoga

Chapter 17, Verse 1

In this shloka Arjuna asks Shri Krishna to clarify whether a person who transgresses the Vedic scriptures but still follows the sacrifices with faith, can achieve the Lord? Arjuna is basically asking if a person does not follow the Vedic rules and regulations, but has faith and follows the rituals will he be able to reach the God?

Can rituals with faith save a person?

Chapter 17, Verse 2

Lord Krishna says that the shraddha (awareness) in him can be the result of three qualities. Rajsic, tamsic and sattvik and asks Arjuna to listen further.

Chapter 17, Verse 3

This is a very powerful shloka. Here Lord Krishna talks about the psychology and its influence on the person. Lord Krishna says that, the faith of a person is made up of the qualities and thoughts he has in mind. Whatever state a mind exists the faith also develops accordingly. That is why it is important to keep the mind in a cool frame. an agitated mind develops an agitated faith. A sattvik/cool mind develops a cool faith.

Chapter 17, Verse 4

Those in sattvik worship the Gods and those in rajsic frame of mind worship. Those in the rajsic frame of mind worship the Rakshas and those having tamsic frame of mind worship devils. this means to say that those people who have different frame of mind worship different Gods as per their tendencies.

Chapter 17, Verse 5 & 6

People who cannot discriminate, perform practices which are not given in the Vedic scriptures. These practices are basically out of desire to achieve some desires carried out on lust. The people carrying them usually have very high ego and are full of pride.

Such people when they do sacrifices not only torture the body but also torture the elements of the material body. in the process, they also torture the soul inside and the soul element of universal consciousness is also tortured in the process

Chapter 17, Verse 7

There are usually three kinds of food. Foods that increase the sattva guna, foods that increase the Raja guna and foods that increase the tama guna. In the same way as food there are also three kinds of practices /austerities/sacrifices for the person to perform.

Chapter 17, Verse 8

There are foods that increase the strength, vitality, happiness, and satisfaction. these foods are usually succulent, juicy (fruits) and vegetables and are naturally tasteful. these foods are called sattvik foods. They increase the sattvik nature in the persons.

Chapter 17, Verse 9

Some foods are too sour, salty, very hot, and have chillies in them. They are usually rajsic and promote the rajsic elements in the body. In the long run these foods produce pain and grief to the body.

Chapter 17, Verse 10

For people who are dominant in the tamsic guna, the foods which are fermented, stale, putrid are known to be favourites. These foods increase the tamsic guna in persons. they make a person lazy.

Chapter 17, Verse 11

Sacrifices done by people who do not have any rewards in mind, self-less (the rewards are not for the person) and in accordance with the Vedic injunctions and is done as a nature of duty is done according to the nature of goodness. Such a type of sacrifice is also called the work of the sattvik.

Chapter 17, Verse 12

Sacrifices did with the rewards in mind and for the development of a person are known to be sacrifices of the passion or the rajasic sacrifices. the sacrifices may be done according to Vedic injunctions, but the intention is for self-development. Such works yield to passion.

Chapter 17, Verse 13

Whenever any work is performed which is not in conformity with the laws and when it is carried without any faith, then such a work is deemed to be performed in tamas.

In the same way whenever any yagna(sacrifice) is performed crossing the limits of Vedic injunctions, without any faith in what is being done and when the fruits, if the yagna are not distributed then such a yagna, is said to be tamsic yagna.

if we can apply the same corollary to modern day work, any work that is carried with a lot of involvement of energy, which is within rules of society and when the fruits of work are distributed to others then such a work is sattvik work. oppositely when the work is done for the self, breaking the rules of the society, without any faith in the work then such a work is called tamsic work.

Chapter 17, Verse 14

In this shloka, the austerities/yagna performed by the body is given. whenever we take up work in the form of yagna then the body also must be properly prepared for the work. The following are given as austerities of the body:

  • Ahimsa. Non-violence to any living entity.
  • Brahmacharya: celibacy. non-involvement in sexual acts.
  • Cleanliness of the body.
  • Simplicity
  • Worship of the supreme lord.
  • Worship of the guru.

Chapter 17, Verse 15

In this shloka, the austerities performed with the speech are given. Speech is the medium in which communication is made. Messages from the mind of one person are transmitted to the other.

truthful speech which is inoffensive to others which does not bother people, and which involves recitation of Vedic scriptures are declared as austerities of speech.

Chapter 17, Verse 16

In this shloka, the austerities performed with the mind are given. The mind is the organ which is the thinking organ. it makes decisions for the welfare of a person. The serenity of thought, gentleness, silence, self-control, and purity of purpose all these are declared austerities of mind.

Chapter 17, Verse 17

Lord Krishna says that a person who is practicing the three austerities that have been mentioned above, the austerity of the body, austerity of mind and austerity of speech is said to be in sattvik mode. Added to these austerities if a person does work, not for himself but for the betterment of society then it is said that the person is dear to God and is said to be in Goodness.

Chapter 17, Verse 18

That austerity which is performed for the gain of respect, honor, and reward is unstable and unenduring. Austerities done for personal good are austerities that are in the mode of rajas or passion.

Chapter 17, Verse 19

In this shloka, it is given what is meant by austerities having the nature of Tamas. Austerities which cause harm to the person and also harm to the others are classified as tamas. activities carried out foolishly, trying to gain something for the person and not following any rules, regulations or pattern is called a tamsic activity. any activity that is done for the welfare of the society is sattvik activity and any activity done for the welfare of the person himself is rajsic activity. in both these activities, the person pursuing the activities is following a pattern. In Tamsic activity the person is not following any pattern, rules, regulations and is torturing the body.

Chapter 17, Verse 20

In this shloka Krishna talks about the nature of charity. Lord Krishna says that the charity given should be given without any second thought and without considering anything in return at a sanctified and holy place and at an auspicious time. Such a type of charity is described as the charity of the sattvik.

Chapter 17, Verse 21

The charity, which is given with expectation in mind, with the expectation of result in mind is said to be the charity of passion. In the modern day, people do a lot of things with expectations. They give charities, they help friends with the expectation that they will be benefited by it in future. The expectation that what will I get from all this deal always lingers in the mind of the person in the modern day.

Chapter 17, Verse 22

The charity, which is given with force, with a frown to people and at the unexpected place is called a tamsic donation. Some people are forced to give donations and while giving donations they usually do with a lot of hatred in their mind.

Chapter 17, Verse 23 & 24

In the earlier slokas lord Krishna described the types of charity, yagna, types of food. in this shloka he says how to sanctify the types of charity, yagna and food. By saying the word öm”, the universal sound, all the activities of a person get sanctified and we get the feeling that it is offered to the Lord.

Chapter 17, Verse 25

In this shloka, it is given that all the fruits of actions, sacrifices, austerities, charities, and food belong to God. The person should not seek the results of these actions for himself. While performing the actions of austerities, charities etc it is always better to remember the name of God in the form of “Tat”.

Chapter 17, Verse 28

Lord Krishna provides the answer to Arjuna’s question which is at the first stanza. Arjuna asks Krishna what will happen if a person performs actions, austerities, charity, eating without the faith? Lord Krishna says that even if the person performs austerities, charity, and if he does not have faith in what he is doing then all will become a waste of effort. faith is equally important in an action. without faith in the God, there is nothing. equal importance is given to an act and also the faith. faith in the work, faith in the person, faith in action are important for any endeavour to succeed.

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