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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 16

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 16

Manahprasaadah saumyatwam maunamaatmavinigrahah; Bhaavasamshuddhirityetat tapo maanasamuchyate.

Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, purity of nature, self-control—this is called mental austerity.

Interpretation

After talking about the austerities of the body and austerity of the speech, Lord Krishna in this shloka is talking about the austerity of mind. The first aspect that He is touching upon is the serenity of mind. The mind can do many things and a disturbed mind can make many things worse, thus a serene or a calm mind can prevent such damages, and channelise in doing things that are productive. Then the Lord also talks about the good-heartedness and purity of nature which is required for someone to have a serene mind. Lastly, Lord mentions self-control as an important thing for mental austerity. Self-control can prevent many wrong things from occurring and a mind which has control on itself will automatically have a serene mind, a good heart and purity of nature.  

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The most important thing that one needs to understand here is self-control. There are many things that mind wants to do, it always runs behind things which you don’t have leaving things that are within your control. We also have a saying “The grass always appears greener on the other side” which directly means that something which you don’t have always appears attractive than a much superior thing you already have. This is where the self-control of a person comes into the picture. People get bored of things easily and want newer things and newer experiences, which also comes under the realm of self-control. So, how exactly one develops this self-control?

Satisfaction and having a realistic view of one’s abilities are very important for a person to have self-control. This is where it is linked to the serenity of mind, good-heartedness and purity of nature. Good heart thinks about others and is bestowed with the ability to do things selflessly. When someone comes to you for seeking advice, do you keep them in mind or do you keep yourself in mind, while advising them? If you want to be popular as a good adviser you will promote your interest and advise him, else you will not even allow your name to appear anywhere and advise him discretly. This requires a good heart and pure nature. When you do that it gives a lot of happiness to your mind. A person who goes in that direction keeps doing things that are selfless and that according to Lord Krishna is the serenity of mind. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 12

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 12

Abhisandhaaya tu phalam dambhaarthamapi chaiva yat; Ijyate bharatashreshtha tam yajnam viddhi raajasam.

The sacrifice which is offered, O Arjuna, seeking a reward and for ostentation, know thou that to be a Rajasic Yajna!

Interpretation

The previous shloka talked about the desire-less work that people with a Sattvik mind would do. This shloka is talking about the offering that a person with a Rajasic mindset would undertake. We already know that Rajasic people are usually goal driven and are extremely ambitious. Lord Krishna says that if a Rajasic person performs any sacrifice with an intention of getting any reward or benefit out of it, it is considered to be a Rajasic Yajna. Here Lord also uses the word Ostentation, which means a blatant display of one’s wealth. Even the sacrifice that’s done displays one’s wealth is also considered to be a Rajasic act. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

If you do a survey on what people want from their jobs, the answer which 99% of the time you get is career growth and better salary package. We all work for growth and all our efforts are in that direction. But there will be a very small section of people, less than 1% who say that they work for the company’s growth which is more important for them than their growth. They won’t come under the Rajasic category. Rajasic people seek reward for everything that they do and the reward sought here is career promotion and growth. The work that you do is like your yajna and it is completely reward oriented and directed at your own benefits. But is it wrong?

When you are looking at growth of your senses and not your soul, then it is not wrong. People want to earn because they want to show off. They want to wear branded products and display their wealth in public. Another point one needs to understand here is there is nothing called pure Sattvik or pure Rajasic person existing. A sattvik person also might have some desires towards wealth and enjoyment. That is what is described in this journey towards moksha. Slowly he needs to get over them and start working towards desire-less tasks and goals. This is a very difficult process and Lord Krishna is telling Rajasic way of life so that the person can understand it and live it and slowly come out of it because the only sattvik way of life can give the salvation that he is looking for.

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 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.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 16 Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga Verse 24

Chapter 16 Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga Verse 24
Tasmaat shaastram pramaanam te kaaryaakaaryavyavasthitau;
Jnaatwaa shaastravidhaanoktam karma kartumihaarhasi.
Therefore, let the scripture be the authority in determining what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. 
Having known what is said in the ordinance of the scriptures, thou shouldst act here in this world.
Interpretation

This is a final and concluding shloka of this Yoga where Lord Krishna is concluding with what a person has to do to get over the demonic nature. He says that the authority for deciding what is demonic and what is not are only the scriptures. Everyone should follow these scriptures to do what is required to be done and should avoid what should not be done. Only after getting the knowledge of what should be done or not done, a person should act according to the ordinances of those scriptures. The ordinances given in those scriptures are only the parameters of how to act in this world on what to do and what not to do. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The most important thing that is coming from this Yoga is coming in the last shloka. If you read the interpretation you would understand one thing very clearly that Lord is asking us to follow the rules and regulations for doing anything as prescribed in the scriptures. Vedas are the rituals are also called as rule book for doing various things. Upanishad actually means “come, sit near and hear”, where a guru will call his disciple near him and teach him certain things that only this disciple should know. Vedas are taught to everyone whereas Upanishads are only taught to select set of students on select set of topics. 

These Vedas and Upanishads have the directives or rules of things to be done. We need rules because we are fickle in our thought process and we quickly waver from what we do. A very basic rule which says, as soon as you get up you need to brush your teeth and take bath, before doing anything. Why was this basic thing created as rule? The reason is simple. When food goes inside us our body, the body should be clean and we should get rid of waste inside us as well as outside us. Inside waste is cleaned through brushing and through toilet while outside waste is cleaned when we clean our body with water which we call as bath. What happens when you dont follow this rule?
Food is the source of all energy and the energy is the source of all thoughts and actions. What happens when food is consumed in impure conditions? The food that goes inside also mixes with the waste present inside and this waste has lot of toxins, which also influences our thoughts and our actions negatively. Outside when we are dirty, it gives us problems related to hygiene. So, when your body is clean from inside and outside, the thoughts and the actions resulting from them are also clean. But our mind doesnt listen to us always. We feel like taking coffee without brushing teeth or eating food without going to toilet and taking bath.
These things are regulated and modulated through the rules wherein if you frame it as a rule and follow it judiciously, you will always tend to adhere to it. Many habits that we tend to lose on day to day basis also can be made as rules and can be followed. Thus God gives us the mantra for daivic way of living and that mantra is read the scriptures, understand the do’s and dont’s and follow them judiciously. If you do that automatically, you adopt yourself to daivic way of life which is a path to salvation.