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Adhyaya 17 : Shradhă - traya - vibhăga Yoga


In the 16th Adhaya are distinctively described the characteristics of the Divine and the Demoniac persons. But in reality barring a few examples, these states are not permanently separate affairs. Journey from the positive to the negative and vice versa is always possible. Kăm, Krodha and Lőbha - Lust, anger and greed described as the gates of the hell suggest the boundary line between positive progress and negative one. Any detached action performed either through discriminative knowledge or intense devotion takes oneself away from these gates. Such detached actions are ordained by the scriptures. At the end of 16th Adhyăya Arjuna was advised to accept authority of the scriptural laws. However Arjuna raised a pertinent question regarding faith that plays important role in one’s life even if he has no knowledge of the scriptures. The seventeen Adhyăya completes the teaching of Dyănvidyăn by extensively dealing with the basic question, why do people have so much diversity of nature?"

Verses 1 to 6

Arjuna generally observed many persons not caring for the dictates of the scriptures in their offering of sacrifice depending on their immense faith alone. He wanted to know what was the nature of such faith. Whether it belongs to sattva or rajas or tamas?

The Lord answered that faith of men is of three kinds: sattvika, rajasika and tamasika, so characterised by their nature.

Everyone’s faith is according to his temperament. Each individual is made of his faith only. Whatever his faith is he is exactly the same.

The Lord describes the resulting effects of the Gunas.

Men of sattva worship gods, men of rajas worship yakshas and demons and men of tamas worship spirits and ghosts.

But there is another category of degraded persons. The Lord clarifies:

Those people possessing ego and vanity, motivated by power of lust and attachment carry out horrible penances not prescribed by the scriptures. Out of foolishness they torture the body harming not only the elements grouped in it but also the Lord who dwells in it. Definitely these people are to be known as demons.

The Lord explains the idea of Guna - dominance by applying it to selective human activities, thus suggesting its full control over creating universal diversity.

Even the food that everyone likes is of three kinds. In the same way Yadnya, the scarifies, tapa, the penance and dan the charity have three different kinds each.

Men of sattva are fond of food that increases life, purity, strength, health, happiness and pleasure. Such foods are juicy, oily, lasting and agreeable.

Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are liked by men of rajas nature. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.

Men of tamas nature seek pleasure in foods that are spoiled being cooked long before, tasteless, rotten, stale, leftover and impure.

Here the stress is on the effects of the food on body, mind, intellect and entire personality of the eater.

The sacrifice performed according to scriptural directions considering it as a matter of duty and desiring no fruits, is of sattva nature. And the one performed for outward show, expecting benefits out of it is of rajas nature.

But the sacrifice performed not following scriptural instructions, without offering food, without singing of hymns, without any gift to the priest and devoid of any faith is of tamas nature.

Before classifying tapa, the penance according to Gunas the Lord classifies Tapa of body, mind and speech with clear cut definitions :

Penance of the body consists of reverence to gods, twice born Brahmins, the masters and the learned and covers the qualities of cleanliness, humility celibacy and harmlessness.

‘Penance of speech’ consists in speaking words which are harmless, truthful pleasant and helpful and also includes regular chanting of Vedas.

Calmness, softness, silence, self control, purity of thought are considered as penance of the mind.’

These three penance’s are further classified as per Guna influence.When these penances physical, mental and vocal... practised by men with full faith, without expecting any fruits and with mind absorbed in God, it is called săttvik.

Penance practised out of hypocrisy to gain praise, honour and worship is said to be răjasik. It is always unstable and impermanent.

Penance practised out of foolish determination by torturing own self and hoping the destruction of others is said to be tămasik.

In the same way act of charity is classified :-

Charity given out of sense of duty, without expecting any returns, to a deserving person at appropriate time and place is regarded as săttvik.

Charity given reluctantly with the hope of getting advantage in return or desiring results in future is said to be rajasik.

And charity given at the wrong place at an improper time and to unworthy person, showing no respect but humiliation, is regarded as tămsik.

While concluding this Adhyaya the Lord makes a reference to a sacred mantra "om TATSAT". These words designate the Supreme Reality Brahman. ‘om’ indicates eternal Brahman, ‘Tat’ indicates săttvik action and ‘Sat’ means pure action as prescribed by scriptures. Whatever else is Asat-evil which is to be totally discarded. The Lord making this reference wants to glorify the săttvik actions. The Lord explains:-

‘om Tat Sat’ is considered a symbol that indicates Brahman in three ways. By uttering these words Brahmanas, Vedas and Yadnyas were initiated in ancient times.

Therefore ‘om’ is always uttered by the worshippers of Brahman whenever they undertake the activities of Yandnya, Dan and Tap as prescribed by the scriptural laws.

By uttering ‘Tat’ the seekers of liberation desiring no other fruits, undertake the activities of Yadnya, Tapa and Dan.

Sat is used to denote state of existence and goodness. The word ‘Sat’ is also used to suggest good work.

‘Sat’ also indicates steadfastness in Yadnya, Tapa and Dan and therefore any act performed for their fulfilment is also referred to as ‘Sat’

Sacrifice performed, charity given, penance practised and any work done without any faith is called ‘asat’, the unreal. It is of no use here in this world nor after death.

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