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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Shrimad Bhagavad Gita > Gita Summary > Gita 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga

Title: Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga

User: Bhushan Nityananda dasa     Date: 2007-06-11 19:37:29


C H A P T E R   S E V E N T E E N

Summarized & Narrated into Question Answer Form

Based on the Commentary of Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti

By Purnachandra dasa prabhu ACBSP

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by writing to Purnacandra dasa, Radha-Krishna Temple, 10 Soho Street, London W1, U.K.




Arjuna:  I have understood the two categories, divine and demonic, but  what about people who have studied the Vedas yet do not follow them for one reason or another, although they follow common religious practices with faith.  Which category do they fall into, goodness, passion, or ignorance?




Krsna:  The people who give up sastra as troublesome are governed by the modes of nature.  These modes are acquired from conditioning and impressions from the previous life.  Therefore one's faith can be of three kinds; in goodness, in passion, or in ignorance.  According to one's existance under the various modes of nature one evolves a particular kind of faith.  Everyone's faith is based on the mind which simply reflects the modes that dominate the heart.  Therefore a person always has some faith, and that faith is designated by the modes he has acquired.  So if you want to determine a person's faith --- see who he is worshipping.




Arjuna:  Which mode is present in the various types of worship?




Krsna:  Those in the mode of goodness worship the demigods.  Those in the mode of passion worship the demons.  And those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.  They all have given up following scripture whimsically, but there are those who are directly against scriptural practices.  Such persons undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures.  They perform them out of pride and egoism, and are impelled by lust and attachment.  They torture their own bodies.  And because they do not follow My instructions they also give Me trouble because I am the Supersoul sitting in their hearts.




Arjuna:  If a person is not worshipping anyone how will I judge his nature?




Krsna:  This can be done by examining the kind of food he eats because the food that one prefers is also of three kinds, according to the three modes.  The same is true of sacrifices, austerities, and charity.  Now hear the distinctions between them.




Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existance, and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction.  Such foods are juicy, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.  They should also be pleasing to the eyes, cooked purely with pure ingredients, purchased with pure money, served in a pure place, and served by pure persons.  Foods that are too bitter, too sour, too salty, too hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion.  Such foods cause distress, misery, and disease.  Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, which has become cold, dry, and foul smelling, food that is tasteless, decomposed, and putrid, and food consisting of remnants other than that of worshipable personalities, and untouchable things like meat and eggs is dear to those in the mode of ignorance.  Those who are in the mode of goodness pay their humble obeisances to these foods from very far away.




Now of sacrifices.  The sacrifice performed according to the direction of the scripture as a matter of duty, by those who desire no reward, is of the nature of goodness.  But the sacrifice performed for some material benefit, or for the sake of pride, which is worse, is in the mode of passion.  And any sacrifice performed without the directions of the scripture, without distribution of prasadam, without the chanting of Vedic hymns, without remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.




Now of austerities. Austerity of the body consists in worship of the Supreme Lord, the brahmanas, the guru, superiors, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy, and non-violence.  Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing; beneficial; and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting the Vedas.  Austerities of the mind consist of simplicity, gravity, satisfaction and self-control.  This three-fold austerity performed by faithful men not expecting material gain, but only for the sake of the Supreme, is called austerity in goodness.  However, penance performed out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honor, or worship is said to be in the mode of passion.  It is neither stable nor permanent.  Penance performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to injure others is said to be in the mode of ignorance.




Charity is also of three kinds, Arjuna.  That charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness.  Such charity purifies the heart from possessiveness and attachment.  But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion.  And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons and without proper respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.




So far I have explained how you can see the faith of a person by seeing his worship, foodstuffs, sacrifices, austerities, and charity.  However, all these activities have defects, so in order to purify them the brahmanas in the past would chant three words --- Om, Tat, Sat --- which indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth.  They would use these three words during sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Supreme. Therefore transcendentalists undertaking performances of sacrifice, charity, and penance begin always with Om to attain the Supreme.



Of the three, Om is especially famous as a name of the Lord and is all-pervading in the Vedas.  Without selfish desires one should perform various kinds of sacrifices, penances and charity with the word Tat.  The purpose of such activities is to get free from material entanglement.  The Supreme is the objective of devotional sacrifice and is indicated by the word Sat.  My devotee who performs sacrifice is also called sat, as are all sacrifice, penance, and charity which are performed to please Me.



When one chants these three names in whatever activities he performs all discrepancies become reconciled.  These supreme words -- Om, Tat, Sat --- are therefore used to perfect all activities and make everything complete.  So Arjuna, you should perform all your activities with faith and in the mode of goodness.  Other activities are useless.  Sacrifice, penance or any other activity performed without faith is impermanent and is call asat.  It has no benefit in this life nor in the next.