On being asked to consider SHASTRA (conduct of the worthy) as the authority, Arjuna is faced with a difficulty. What is the position of those who may not be able to accept the authority of SHASTRA but who may act in faith? An answer to the question is attempted in this discourse. Krishna rests content with pointing out the rocks and shoals on the path of the one who forsakes the beaconlight of SHASTRA (conduct of the worthy). In doing so he deals with the faith and sacrifice, austerity and charity, performed with faith, and their divisions according to the spirit in which they are performed. He also sings the greatness of the mystic syllables Aum Tat Sat-a formula of dedication of all work to God.
1. What, then, O Krishna, is the position of those who forsake the rule of SHASTRA and yet worship with faith? Do they act from sattvaor rajas or tamas?
तेषांनिष्ठातुकाकृष्णसत्वमाहोरजस्तम: || 1||
The Lord Said:
2. Threefold is the faith of men, an expression of their nature in each case; it is sattvika, rajas or tamasa. Hear thou of it.
सात्विकीराजसीचैवतामसीचेतितांशृणु || 2||
3. The faith of every man is in accord with his innate character; man is made up of faith; whatever his object of faith, even so is he.
श्रद्धामयोऽयंपुरुषोयोयच्छ्रद्ध: स एव स: || 3||
8. Victuals that add to one’s years, vitality, strength, health, happiness and appetite; are savoury, rich, substantial and inviting, are dear to the sattvika.
रस्या: स्निग्धा: स्थिराहृद्याआहारा: सात्विकप्रिया: || 8||
9. Victuals that are bitter, sour, salty, over-hot, spicy, dry, burning, and causing pain, bitterness and disease, are dear to rajasa.
आहाराराजसस्येष्टादु:खशोकामयप्रदा: || 9||
10. Food which has become cold, insipid, putrid, stale, discarded and unfit for sacrifice, is dear to the tamasa.
यातयामंगतरसंपूतिपर्युषितं च यत् |
उच्छिष्टमपिचामेध्यंभोजनंतामसप्रियम् || 10||
15. Words that cause no hurt, that are true loving and helpful, and spiritual study constitute austerity of speech.
अनुद्वेगकरंवाक्यंसत्यंप्रियहितं च यत् |
स्वाध्यायाभ्यसनंचैववाङ्मयंतपउच्यते || 15||
16. Serenity, benignity, silence, self-restraint, and purity of the spirit - these constitute austerity of the mind.
मन: प्रसाद: सौम्यत्वंमौनमात्मविनिग्रह: |
भावसंशुद्धिरित्येतत्तपोमानसमुच्यते || 16||
21. Charity, which is given either in hope of receiving in return, or with a view of winning merit, or grudgingly, is declared to be rajasa.
दीयते च परिक्लिष्टंतद्दानंराजसंस्मृतम् || 21||
27. Constancy in sacrifice, austerity and charity, is called sat; and all work for those purposes is also sat.
यज्ञेतपसिदाने च स्थिति: सदितिचोच्यते |
कर्मचैवतदर्थीयंसदित्येवाभिधीयते || 27||
The substance of the last four shlokas is that every action should be done in a spirit of complete dedication to God. For aumalone is the only Reality. That only which is dedicated to It counts.
28. Whatever is done, O Partha, by way of sacrifice, charity or austerity or any other work, is called Asat if done without faith. It counts for naught hereafter as here.
अश्रद्धयाहुतंदत्तंतपस्तप्तंकृतं च यत् |
असदित्युच्यतेपार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्यनोइह || 28||
Thus ends the seventeenth discourse, entitled ‘ShraddhatrayaVibhaga Yoga’ in the converse of Lord Krishna and Arjuna, on the science of Yoga, as part of the knowledge of Brahman in the Upanishad called the Bhagavad Gita.