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Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 18

Satkaaramaanapoojaartham tapo dambhena chaiva yat;Kriyate tadiha proktam raajasam chalamadhruvam.

The austerity which is practiced with the object of gaining good reception, honour and worship with hypocrisy, is here said to be Rajasic, unstable and transitory.

Interpretation

This shloka talks about the austerities that a Rajasic mind prefers. We have seen in the previous shloka how a steadfast mind practices Sattwik austerities. The Rajasic austerities are aimed at gaining a good reception, which actually means that whatever work the person undertakes, he is expecting an appreciation for the same. Apart from that Rajasic person’s austerities are also aimed at giving him honor and worship of people around and the person also becomes a hypocrite who in the process, says one and does another. Also, Lord tells that this Rajasic behaviour exhibited by the person is unstable and transitory.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Why is Lord Krishna saying that the Rajasic nature of an individual is unstable and transitory? Here we have to understand the true nature of a Rajasic person. A Rajasic person is someone who strives for excellence in everything he does. He is hardworking and fulfills all his responsibilities without any delay. But the problem is, as the person completes his work and achieves success and takes rewards, he starts attributing them to himself. He feels that only because of his abilities he was able to achieve success. That builds a sense of over confidence in him and gives him false sense of invincibility and superiority, which in the due course becomes the reason for his downfall.

Take a look at any businessman or a political leader or a community head, we have seen that many of them steadily rise to glory and then go through a sharp decline to depths of degradation. It happens because from a lazy and easy going and static tamasic state a person becomes dynamic and hardworking, taking him to the Rajasic state. Till that point he is alright. But one aspect of his personality has to undergo a change to take him to sattwik stage, but that doesn’t happen. That is, whatever was achieved was mandated and charted by Almighty and he is just a doer. This process gets delayed because he believes in self and becomes a hypocrite also, by saying one thing and doing another. 

All this he does only to keep his success and name and even resorts to rituals to prevent himself from any kind of a downfall to his glory. Till this feeling remains he is a Rajasic person. Lord calls it transitory because like the way he changed from tamsic to Rajasic, one day he will realise that nothing was his achievement alone, and that takes him to sattwik stage. Thus whatever he is doing in the Rajasic stage is just temporary and like the way he came from Tamasic to Rajasic, he has to one day progress from Rajasic to Sattwik.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 13

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 13

Vidhiheenam asrishtaannam mantraheenam adakshinam;Shraddhaavirahitam yajnam taamasam parichakshate.

They declare that sacrifice to be Tamasic which is contrary to the ordinances of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of Mantras and gifts, and which is devoid of faith.

Interpretation

This shloka is concentrating on the Tamasic sacrifices that a person commits. We have already seen the Sattwik and the Rajasic sacrifices in the previous two shlokas. Lord in this shloka says that Tamasic people usually undertake sacrifices which are exactly opposite to the rules and regulations specified in the Vedic scriptures. They misinterpret what is said in the scriptures and that is the reason why they do the opposite of what is mentioned. There are three points that Lord talks here. One is the absence of any kind of alms, second is the absence of any kind of offering and Vedic chants and third is the absence of any kind of faith or belief in the sacrifices being performed by Tamasic people. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The major difference between Rajasic and Tamasic people is, Rajasic people depend on their own worth and doesn’t get into any rituals for accomplishing anything, but Tamasic people resort of all sorts of rituals that are either twisted or taken out of context and perform them to get the results. Anything that gives an instant result or benefit, a tamasic person doesn’t hesitate to do. Many categories of pujas and rituals which are linked to tantra, Vashikaran and Shanti pooja that is done for the benefit of the person comes under this tamasic category. Another type of ritual that is observed in many of the households which are tamasic in nature is “drishti” or “nazar utaarna” or remedy for an “evil eye cast”.

Many people believe that we fall ill or a work that is supposed to happen does not happen or you develop a dislike or hate for a particular food or set of activities because of this “drishti” or “evil eye”. In reality, there is no such thing called an evil eye. Karma theory propounds that we reap what we sow and many of the results that come are due to the result of acts that we committed in the past. Forgetting that we blame it on evil eye cast and we do remedies for that and transfer it out so that it goes to someone else! Am sure you would have seen lemons and vermilion thrown on the roads and you get scared to cross them. How can you even think that there will be rituals for transferring your bad luck to some other person? All these are the ills that a Tamasic person follows and unless he gets out of all this, he can never understand the plan of God and the law of Karma and its effects in one’s life. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 11

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 11

Aphalaakaangkshibhiryajno vidhidrishto ya ijyate;Yashtavyameveti manah samaadhaaya sa saattwikah.

That sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for reward as enjoined by the ordinance, with a firm faith that to do so is a duty, is Sattwik.

Interpretation

After talking about the food that a person in Sattvik, Rajasic and Tamasic state of mind eat, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the sacrifices that a person who has the sattvik characteristics offers or performs. He says that a person when he is offering sacrifices should do it without any kind of a desire for any reward. He also has to do things that are prescribed in the scriptures with total and complete faith in God. The most important thing here is, he should believe that performing a particular sacrifice is his duty and that has been mandated by God, hence he has to perform it without a reward attached to it. Such kind of people are said to be of sattwik nature, tells Lord Krishna. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

We usually hear these phrases like “I have sacrificed my whole life for the sake of family”, “I have done so many sacrifices for you, is this what you give me in return”, “Life is full of sacrifices” etc etc. What is the meaning of sacrifice? English dictionary gives two meanings. In the noun form, it is “An act of surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity”, in verb form it is “giving up something valued for the sake of other considerations”. What Lord Krishna said in this shloka is the combination of both. Thus the meaning of sacrifice is “Any work/activity done for the sake of only God and giving up things that come in the way of performing such activities is considered to be sacrificed”.

Sacrifice is not a religious ritual alone. It is done for the sake of God by which the entire humanity gets benefited. Anybody who sacrifices his wealth for the sake of the poor is actually serving God. Anybody who sacrifices his own urges and wishes to work for the larger benefit of the people around him sacrifices in the name of God. Order of importance of looking at things plays a very important role in deciding for whom we are sacrificing what.  For a Tamasic and Rajasic person, the order of importance is I, we, my family, my relatives, my community, my religion, my motherland and last comes the entire humanity. 

But for a sattwik person it’s exactly the opposite. For him the entire humanity comes first, country comes next, followed by that religion, community, relatives, family, we and last comes “I”. A sattwik person gives more importance to humanity than to himself or his family. All his activities and rituals are centered around this concept only. Thus when a person works for the humanity, he never expects any reward for himself, but if he works for himself or his family, he always expects rewards and when those rewards don’t come he gets disheartened and abandons the sattwik path. But the person who is sattwik rewards for his work is never a criterion. 

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.