eternal religion

Bhagavad Gita chapter 17

The Divisions of Faith





VERSE 1: Arjuna inquired: O Kṛṣṇa, what is the situation of those who do not follow the principles of scripture but worship according to their own imagination? Are they in goodness, in passion or in ignorance?




VERSE 2: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: According to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, one’s faith can be of three kinds – in goodness, in passion or in ignorance. Now hear about this.




VERSE 3: O son of Bharata, according to one’s existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.







VERSE 4: Men 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.



VERSES 5-6: Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride and egoism, who are impelled by lust and attachment, who is foolish and who torture the material elements of the body as well as the Supersoul dwelling within, are to be known as demons.



VERSE 7: Even the food each person prefers is of three kinds, according to the three modes of material nature. The same is true of sacrifices, austerities and charity. Now hear of the distinctions between them.



VERSE 8: Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.



VERSE 9: Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.



VERSE 10: Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness


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VERSE 11: Of sacrifices, the sacrifice performed according to the directions of scripture, as a matter of duty, by those who desire no reward, is of the nature of goodness.





VERSE 12: But the sacrifice performed for some material benefit, or for the sake of pride, O chief of the Bhāratas, you should know to be in the mode of passion.



VERSE 13: Any sacrifice performed without regard for the directions of scripture, without distribution of prasādam [spiritual food], without chanting of Vedic hymns and remunerations to the priests, and without faith is considered to be in the mode of ignorance.



VERSE 14: Austerity of the body consists in worship of the Supreme Lord, the brāhmaṇas, the spiritual master, and superiors like the father and mother, and in cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence.



VERSE 15: Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.



VERSE 16: And satisfaction, simplicity, gravity, self-control and purification of one’s existence are the austerities of the mind.



VERSE 17: This threefold austerity, performed with transcendental faith by men not expecting material benefits but engaged only for the sake of the Supreme, is called austerity in goodness.



VERSE 18: Penance performed out of pride and for the sake of gaining respect, honour and worship is said to be in the mode of passion. It is neither stable nor permanent.



VERSE 19: Penance performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others, is said to be in the mode of ignorance.



VERSE 20: 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.



VERSE 21: But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood is said to be charity in the mode of passion.



VERSE 22: And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.



VERSE 23: From the beginning of creation, the three words oṁ tat sat were used to indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth. These three symbolic representations were used by brāhmaṇas while chanting the hymns of the Vedas and during sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Supreme.



VERSE 24: Therefore, transcendentalists undertaking performances of sacrifice, charity and penance in accordance with scriptural regulations begin always with oṁ, to attain the Supreme.



VERSE 25: Without desiring fruitive results, one should perform various kinds of sacrifice, penance and charity with the word tat. The purpose of such transcendental activities is to get free from material entanglement.



VERSES 26-27: The Absolute Truth is the objective of devotional sacrifice, and it is indicated by the word sat. The performer of such sacrifice is also called sat, as are all works of sacrifice, penance and charity which, true to the absolute nature, are performed to please the Supreme Person, O son of Pṛthā.



VERSE 28: Anything did as the sacrifice, charity or penance without faith in the Supreme, O son of Pṛthā, is impermanent. It is called asat and is useless both in this life and the next.

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