Adhyaya 17 : Shradhă - traya -
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 ones 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.
Everyones 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
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
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
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 penances 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
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
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
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
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.