Chapter 17

Sraddhatraya Vibhaga Yoga

(The Threefold Division of Faith)

1. Arjuna said: "What, O Krishna, is the position of those who do not conform to the rules of the scriptures and yet worship with faith? Do they act from Sattva, Rajas or Tamas?"

2 The Blessed Lord said: "Threefold is the faith of men, born of their intrinsic nature - it is Sattvik, Rajasik or Tamasik. Hear thou of it,

3. "The faith of every man is in accord with his nature or intrinsic disposition. Man is basically a creature of faith, and he is what his faith makes him.

4. "The Sattvik persons worship the gods 80 ; the Rajasik ones the demigods 81 and the demons 82 ; and the Tamasik ones worship the manes and the spirits.

5 "Those men, who, given to hypocrisy and arrogance, and impelled by the force of their lust and attachment practice fierce austerities not enjoined by the scriptures,

6. "Fools that they are, they, whilst emaciating their bodies torture also Me the Indweller - know them to be demonic in their disposition.

7. "Of three kinds again is the food that men enjoy, and so also are sacrifice 83 , austerity and charity. Hear now their distinctions.

8. "Foods that promote longevity, intelligence, vigor, health, happiness and cheerfulness, which are savory, sweet, soft, nourishing, besides being gentle to the stomach, are dear to Sattvik ones.

9. "The Rajasik ones relish food that is bitter, sour, salty, over-hot, spicy, pungent, dry and burning - such eatables lead to pain, sickness and disease.

10. "Food that is stale, tasteless, putrid, polluted, impure, left over and unfit for use in sacrificial offering is what is dear to the Tamasik type of people.

11. "That Yajna is Sattvik which is willingly performed, as duty ordained, and without any desire for the fruits thereof.

12. "But, O Bharatasreshta, when the sacrifice is offered with an expectation of reward or self-glorification, know it to be a Rajasik Yajna.

13. "Sacrifice that is contrary to scriptural command, which is devoid of charitable offerings of food and wealth, which is deficient in sacred Mantras, and which is performed without faith is of the Tamasik type.

14. "Worship of the gods, homage to Brahmins, to preceptors and Wise men; cleanliness, uprightness, continence 84 and non-violence - these constitute the austerity of the body.

15. "Words that cause no hurt, that are truthful, pleasant, beneficial, which are uttered during sacred recitations - these are said to form the austerity of speech.

16. "Serenity, kindness, silence, self-control and purity - these constitute the austerity of the mind.

17. "These three-fold austerities performed with total faith and without any desire for reward belong to the category of Sattvik.

18. "[Hypocritic] austerity performed with an eye to gain praise, honor, reward, and which is tainted with vanity is said to be Rajasik - and its rewards if any, are fleeting and dubious.

19. "Austerity done under delusion and accompanied by sorcery and/or torture either to one's own self or to others is of the Tamasik kind.

20. "Charity given as a matter of duty, without any expectation of return or reward, and to the right person at the right time and at the right place, is said to be of the Sattvik kind.

21. "Charity grudgingly given with expectations of benefits and other returns of a similar nature is declared to be Rajasik.

22. "And that which is given at the wrong place, at the wrong time and to the wrong person, or with contempt and disrespect, is of the Tamasik type.

23. "Aum Tat Sat has been declared to be three-fold appellation of the Absolute One 85 ; and by that chant were created at Cosmic Dawn, the Vedas, the Yajnas and the Brahmins.

24. "Therefore, noble souls always commence acts of sacrifice, charity and other austerities as enjoined in the Vedas with the sacred chant of AUM.

25. "Uttering 'Tat' and without seeking rewards, seekers of Liberation perform various sacrifices, austerities and charities.

26. "The term 'Sat' is employed in the sense of 'Real' and 'Good', and 'Sat', O Partha, is also used to describe meritorious acts.

27. "Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and charity is also called 'Sat'; so too are actions dedicated to the Lord.

28. "Contrarily, O Partha, Asat refers to seemingly good acts such as the offering of oblations, the giving of gifts and the observance of austerities but which are performed without faith. It is of no account here or hereafter.

Thus in the Bhagavad Gita, the Essence of the Upanishads, the Science of Brahman, the Scripture of Yoga, the Dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the seventeenth chapter, entitled:



84Observance of Brahmacharya.
85 Brahman.