Category Archives: Bhagavadgita

Bhagavad Gita – The Way of Life!

Bhagavad gita is the Holy book which will teach us the way to live life. I have heard it many times from my childhood. But there was always this urge in me of interpreting it myself which remained unfulfilled till now. Now I have decided to embark upon this journey of reading the Gita and interpreting it. This category I will be interpreting each sloka everyday and share the same with you all!

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 9

Katvamlalavanaatyushna teekshna rooksha vidaahinah;Aahaaraah raajasasyeshtaa duhkhashokaamayapradaah.

The foods that are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, dry, pungent and burning, are liked by the Rajasic and are productive of pain, grief and disease.

Interpretation

After talking about the type of Sattvik food one should eat, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the type of food that Rajasic people eat and the results of eating such foods. Lord talks about the taste of the food that is consumed. He says that Rajasic people like food that is bitter and sour. They also add a lot of salt and other related ingredients into the food. The third type of food that Rajasic people consume are foods that are very spicy, which are pungent in smell and those which create a burning sensation in the stomach. Rajasic people like these type of foods that usually create pain, grief and many other diseases. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

What we eat speaks about what we are. When you are suffering from some chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension or any lever and kidney related ailments there are a number of restrictions that are imposed on the food that we consume. There are foods which taste bitter and sour, there are foods which are high on salt, pepper and other spices and thirdly there are foods that have excess masala content with a spicy taste. All these types of food has to be avoided if you are intending to turn sattvik and attain enlightenment. 

The bitter foods that have excessive tamarind and other related ingredients should always be avoided. Salt is something that many doctors say to avoid. Excessive spicy foods also irritate the stomach and cause indigestion, ulcers and many other gastrointestinal problems. A person who is Rajasic is very ambitious and he loves the third variety of food that has a lot of spice and masala in them, which is mostly the non-vegetarian food. The purpose of eating is not to relish or get a happy feeling or to derive satisfaction but it is to keep the body healthy and strong. “Eat to live, do not live to eat.” Thus we should take food that only helps in maintaining good health, and has a positive impact on the mind, which is possible only through sattvik foods.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 8

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 8
Aayuh sattwabalaarogya sukha preetivi vardhanaah;
Rasyaah snigdhaah sthiraa hridyaa aahaaraah saattwikapriyaah.
Foods which increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, 
which are oleaginous and savoury, substantial and agreeable, are dear to the Sattwic people.
Interpretation

After talking about the food and its impact on a person’s faith and personality, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the food that is consumed by the Sattvik person. He says that Sattvik person likes the type of food that increases the span of his life. Next He talks about the purity. Sattvik person eats pure food which gives his strength, health, makes him feel cheeeful and joyous. Then Lord goes on to say that this sattvik food is juicy, fresh, nourishing and naturally tasteful without adding any external element to bring that taste. In short Lord is referring to fresh vegetarian food.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!
I want to start with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Vegetarianism is a greater progress. From the greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension motivated him to become a vegetarian. Flesh-eating is an unprovoked murder.” Purity and strength are the corner stones for any food we consume. Food is the source of energy and the energy should be as pure as it can be. When you eat a fruit which is fresh or drink milk both the aspects of purity and strength are fulfilled. Not only that a sattvik person according to Lord Krishna always like wholesome foods like fresh fruits, vegetables etc. He also talks about foods that are made by adding these milk products or fruits directly which are taste and substantial in quantity.
The whole point that Lord Krishna wants to make here is that Sattwik people eat food that doesnt have any spicy elements. This brings life into their personality, and they will be able to think about the bigger benefit of humanity rather than thinking about his own self. For example a sage who lives on forest food is less on ambition and more on service. Thus whenever we go on fasting etc we are prescribed to eat this of food only. Thus sattwik people et food that helps them to develop nature which is universal and for helping others. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 7

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 7
Aahaarastwapi sarvasya trividho bhavati priyah;
Yajnastapastathaa daanam teshaam bhedamimam shrinu.
The food also which is dear to each is threefold, as also sacrifice, austerity and alms-giving. Hear thou the distinction of these.
Interpretation

After talking about the person misinterpreting the scriptures and going in the wrong way, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the food that the person consumes when he belong to a particular faith. We have already discussed that there are three types of faith, sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic and Lord says that each person depending upon what guna he is dominated by, is attracted to or likes a particular type of food. The food that he consumes is getting reflected in the sacrifices that he commits, the austerities that he practices and the alms that he gives. Then Lord tells Arjuna to listen to them and starts speaking about them. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

A man’s taste for a particular food is determined according to the Guna prevalent in him. Many times it is said that what we eat decides our personality. It is quite logical because every item has a characteristic present in the nature and when it goes into your body, automatically you will see its impact of it on a person. You might have seen that a person who eats fruits and bland food is less aggressive than a person who consumes a lot of spicy food. So, Lord is going to talk about the food and its impact on the person. This if implemented in a person, can make a major impact on his life is what I feel. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 6

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 6
Karshayantah shareerastham bhootagraamamachetasah;
Maam chaivaantahshareerastham taanviddhyaasuranishchayaan.
Senseless, torturing all the elements in the body and Me also, 
who dwells in the body,—know thou these to be of demoniacal resolves.
Interpretation

This is the continuation of the previous shloka where Lord talks about how a person who for the sake of his own benefits turns the scriptures to his favour and does things so that they can work for him. Lord Krishna in this shloka is calling them senseless, as He feels that a person who has a sense of what God is and what God desires would never do such things. In the entire process he tortures all the elements of his body and also the God who is dwelling in that body as paramatma. Lord concludes the shloka by saying that these actions have a demonical resolves to them and can never bring the right kind of result to the person. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Here Lord is talking about a person who does things in the scriptures to suit to his own benefits and how it affects the body of the person as well as Him, who lives in that body. Let us take an example of a lady who for the sake of the benefit for the family or for bearing children decides to go on a fast 3 days in a week. Fasting is a ritual that was prescribed in Upanishads as a prayaschitta or penance for something wrong a person has committed. This lady who has no understanding of this and listening to a priest or a swamiji she decides to do this. Just for a second think about what she is doing and what is the purpose it is going to serve?

Prayaschitta is letting your body suffer for any mistake that you have done so that the senses and the body remembers them and will not allow the person to commit the same mistake again. Just see what happens if you take the same to fulfil your wishes. There are things that are not in our hands like success in a venture or bearing a male child only etc and when you do commit these things, thinking that they are prescribed in scriptures, will God be pleased? How can you force God to give you something by going on a fast or making your body suffer? It is equivalent to a type of black mailing, which is a sin that too when you are committing in the name of God.
Lord Krishna is calling those people senseless and He is very correct in doing so. These people cannot think anything beyond their own benefit. These rituals also include going to temples, giving offering to God, giving offering to poor etc. These are also prescribed in scriptures as things to be followed on routine basis and not expecting anything in return for God. But demonical people never think in those lines and that is what Lord Krishna is cautioning us against. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 5

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 5

Ashaastravihitam ghoram tapyante ye tapo janaah;
Dambhaahamkaarasamyuktaah kaamaraagabalaanvitaah.

Those men who practise terrific austerities not enjoined by the scriptures,  given to hypocrisy and egoism, impelled by the force of lust and attachment,

Interpretation

This is a two-part shloka where Lord Krishna is talking about what is written in the scriptures and how people deviate from it and what happens to them. It’s a very important thing that Lord is talking where He says that there are people who practice austerities that are not prescribed in the scriptures. Austerities here means spending very little money and leading a very simple way of life. Lord then goes on to say that the real motive of these austerities is many times hypocrisy and egoism. The other possible reason could be that the person might also be doing that with a hidden agenda of lust and attachment. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Why do people go for austerities? The answer is simple. When they want something in life, they go on fasting, leaving luxuries in life so that God will be pleased by their attitude and bestow them with the things that they are aspiring for. The scriptures has always said that a person should lead a simple life to go closer to God and become dearer to Him. This is interpreted differently by different people.

Take the example of a business man who wants success and wealth in life. He would be advised by a priest that if he leads a simple life as prescribed in scriptures then he will become dearer to God. This person interprets that once he gets dearer to God, then God will give him everything that he wishes for.

Many people who practice austerities do this keeping in mind the ulterior benefits or motives. They are mostly hypocritical and egoistic. You need to see a person who is leading such life. Simple life comes with a very simple attitude but this person will show a lot of pomp even in this lifestyle. He celebrates his simplicity and gives an impression to people around him that he is such a devoted person to God that he can leave anything for the sake of God. Such people, Lord Krishna say will never be dearer to Him and will never get the wisdom that is required for moksha.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 4

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 4
Yajante saattwikaa devaan yaksharakshaamsi raajasaah;
Pretaan bhootaganaamshchaanye yajante taamasaa janaah.
The Sattwik or pure men worship the gods; the Rajasic or the passionate worship the Yakshas and the Rakshasas;
the others the Tamasic or the deluded worship the ghosts and the hosts of nature-spirits.
Interpretation

This shloka has Lord Krishna talking about the worship of the people of different faith. We have understood in the previous shloka that the identity of a person is known by the faith that he carries. Faith is deeply related to the things that a person worships. We are also know that there are three kinds of faith, the sattwik, Rajasic and Tamasic. Lord says that the Sattwik people who are also called pure men worship Gods. The Rajasic people who are also called passionate people worship Yakshas or the Rakshasas. Then Lord talks about the third kind of people who are Tamasic people and they are also called deluded or wavering minds usually end up worshipping ghosts and spirits in the nature. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Why are Sattwik people are called as pure men? We have seen that before, sattwik people only think of others and their benefit. A sattwik person sees his happiness in the happiness of people around him. He sacrifices things for them and does things that pleases them. This is the natural faith of those who believe in God and thus it is quite natural that they worship God. Then if you look at the Rajasic men, they are called as passionate and we know that they are determined and attached to their goals and aims and spend their whole lives in fulfilling them. But why does Lord says that these Rajasic men worship Yakshas and Rakshasas?

Yakshas and Rakshasas are the beings who exist in the lokas below Gods and they are usually associated with power, wealth, enjoyment and revenge. Yakshas usually bestow power and wealth while Rakshasas are worshiped for revenge. When a Rajasic person has revenge in his mind, he never invokes God in him, but he becomes a demon and causes harm to his enemy. If you look at Tamasic people they are called as wavering or deluded minds, who resort to all kinds of black magic, invoking evil spirits and ghosts and believe in tantra. This is a dangerous thing and a person takes to it only because he wants to achieve success and money through short cut sand without putting any efforts which is a typical tamasic guna. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 3

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 3
Sattwaanuroopaa sarvasya shraddhaa bhavati bhaarata;
Shraddhaamayo’yam purusho yo yacchraddhah sa eva sah.
The faith of each is in accordance with his nature, O Arjuna! 
The man consists of his faith; as a man’s faith is, so is he.
Interpretation

This shloka has a description of faith which we have also seen in the previous shloka. Lord Krishna in this shloka explains us what faith actually is. He states that the faith of a person is the result of his nature. The faith develops in a person as per his nature. Lord Krishna also says that the identity of any man is completely in sync with his faith. He uses the phrase “The man consists of his faith”. Then He finally goes on to say that whatever is the type of the faith that a man possess, the nature of the man is according to that only. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Many great people in this world are known from the faith they had. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life. Dream of it. Think of it. Live on that idea. Let the brain, body, muscles, nerves and every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced”. This is the faith of Swami Vivekanada, who in the last century has influenced millions across the world and continue to inspire people of today also. “In a gentle way you can shake the World” said Mahatma Gandhi, who is considered to be the greatest man to have walked on this land in 20th Century.

When you read the faiths of these people you will be amused by their unequivocal dedication to them. We all know how Gandhiji remained stubborn and fought for the freedom of the country on his own terms and also on Hindu-Muslim unity on his own terms. He had a pay the price for it with his life. Swami Vivekananda with his faith on sticking to one idea and making it the mission of one’s life was able to inspire us. Today also we remember him as a brave man who stood by his beliefs. We all need to develop a faith for each of us which will become our identity and we will all be known by that identity alone, says Lord Krishna in this shloka. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 2

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 2

Sri Bhagavaan Uvaacha:
Trividhaa bhavati shraddhaa dehinaam saa swabhaavajaa;
Saattwikee raajasee chaiva taamasee cheti taam shrinu.

The Blessed Lord said:
Threefold is the faith of the embodied, which is inherent in their nature— the Sattwic(pure), the Rajasic (passionate), and the Tamasic (dark). Do thou hear of it.

Interpretation

After listening to the question of Arjuna, who asks about worshipping God with faith even though one does not follow scriptures, Lord Krishna starts to answer the question. Lord says that everyone in this Universe is born with a faith which is very much embodied or hidden inside them. This hidden faith usually gets observed in their nature, which is the way one speaks, acts and does different things. Lord says that the names of the threefold faith are Sattwik which is also called pure, Rajasic which is passionate in its faith and the third fold is the tamasic faith which is equated to darkness. Then He asks Arjuna to hear about them.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Here the main point we are discussing is faith. Everyone in this world will have some faith. Have you ever seen a person who is not having faith upon anyone or anything? It is impossible to find such a person.

First, many people have faith in the religion that they believe in. Then they have faith in things that they should perform within their own faith. For example, two people who have a very different way of following their religion. Faith is something which is very personal to a person that is why everyone has their own beliefs and follow certain things in life which are very different from others.

Secondly, people who do not follow any religion and are considered atheists also have faith. He might not believe in God but he might believe in his abilities, which include his positives, his nature and his strengths. That is linked to one of the faiths of sattvik, Rajasic or Tamasic. He might not be believing in any of the scriptures like Vedas or Upanishads but he might believe in science and technology which is also linked to Rajasic guna. Thus everyone who is born in this world has some faith or the other and Lord is now going to talk about each of these faiths. Let’s see what the Lord says.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 1

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 1

Arjuna Uvaacha:
Ye shaastravidhimutsrijya yajante shraddhayaanvitaah;
Teshaam nishthaa tu kaa krishna sattwamaaho rajastamah.

Arjuna said:
Those who, setting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, perform sacrifice with faith,  what is their condition, O Krishna? Is it that of Sattwa, Rajas or Tamas?

Interpretation

This is the beginning of the 17th Chapter in Gita called “Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga” or “Religion by three kinds of faith”. In the 14th Chapter which is called Guna Triya Vibhaga Yoga we have studied about the three gunas of sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic and this yoga is the extension of that where Lord talks about the thoughts, deeds and food habits of the people who are Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic in nature. The Yoga starts with Arjuna asking a question to Lord where he says, what if a person doesn’t follow the rules as listed in the scriptures, but still worships God with faith? What would be the condition of that person? Is it Sattvik, Rajasic or Tamasic is what Arjuna asks Lord Krishna. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The question that Arjuna asks Lord Krishna comes from the discourse he gave in the previous chapter about demonic people and how when they disregard the rules of the scriptures are pushed into the womb of hell by the Lord. Arjuna in a way understands the fact that he also at times had disregarded the faith and behaved opposite to what scriptures have prescribed and did things that are prohibited under the rule of scriptures. So, he is naturally worried about the results of all those actions. So, this question is a no surprise as the worry in him made him to ask this question to the Lord.

Similarly we also in our lives would have bent the rules or even would have violated them. When we don’t know the result of our actions, we would not be bothered but once we know the consequences, there is a worry that is there in our minds about the outcome of such actions. This chapter primarily deals with these kind of situations and Lord takes us back to the Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga where He talked about the nature of the Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic natured people. Arjuna himself brings back those things and asks a question that if a person after breaking the rules realises his mistakes and performs his duties and worship God, then what condition is it called is what Arjuna asks. Let us now see what Lord Krishna replies.