Chapter 17

Sraddhatraya Vibhaga Yoga

The seventeenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is "Sraddhatraya Vibhaga Yoga". In this chapter, Krishna describes the three types of faith corresponding to the three modes of the material nature. Lord Krishna further reveals that it is the nature of faith that determines the quality of life and the character of living entities. Those who have faith in passion and ignorance perform actions that yield temporary, material results while those who have faith in goodness perform actions in accordance with scriptural instructions and hence their hearts get further purified.

Verse 1
Arjuna said, "What is the condition of those who, disregarding the injunctions of the scriptures, perform sacrifice with faith—is it Sattva, Rajas, or Tamas, O Krishna?"
Verse 2
The Blessed Lord said, "There are threefold faiths inherent in the nature of the embodied: the sattvic (pure), the rajasic (passionate), and the tamasic (dark). Hear of them."
Verse 3
The faith of each is in accordance with their nature, O Arjuna. People consist of their faith; as a person's faith is, so are they.
Verse 4
The sattvic, or pure, men worship the gods; the rajasic, or passionate, worship the yakshas and rakshasas; the others, the tamasic or deluded people, worship ghosts and hosts of nature-spirits.
Verse 5
Those men who practice terrific austerities not prescribed by the scriptures, given to hypocrisy and egoism, driven by the force of lust and attachment.
Verse 6
Know thou these to be of demonical resolves, senselessly torturing all the elements in the body and Me who dwell in the body.
Verse 7
The food that is dear to each is threefold, as well as sacrifice, austerity, and almsgiving. Hear the distinction of these.
Verse 8
The foods that increase life, purity, strength, health, joy, and cheerfulness (good appetite), which are savory, oily, substantial, and agreeable, are dear to the Sattvic (pure) people.
Verse 9
The foods that are bitter, sour, salty, overly hot, pungent, dry, and burning are liked by the Rajasic and are productive of pain, grief, and disease.
Verse 10
That which is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, rejected, and impure is the food liked by the Tamasic.
Verse 11
That sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for reward, as enjoined by the ordinance (scripture), with a firm faith that doing so is their duty, is Sattvic or pure.
Verse 12
The sacrifice that is offered, O Arjuna, seeking a reward and for show, know that to be a Rajasic Yajna.
Verse 13
They declare that sacrifice to be Tamasic which is contrary to the ordinances of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, and which is devoid of mantras, gifts, and faith.
Verse 14
Worship of the gods, the twice-born, the teachers, and the wise; purity, straightforwardness, celibacy, and non-injury are all called the austerities of the body.
Verse 15
Speech that causes no excitement, is truthful, pleasant, and beneficial; the practice of studying the Vedas is called austerity of speech.
Verse 16
Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, self-control, and purity of nature—this is called mental austerity.
Verse 17
This threefold austerity, practiced by steadfast men, with the utmost faith, desiring no reward, is called Sattvic.
Verse 18
The austerity that is practiced with the aim of gaining good reception, honor, and worship, and with hypocrisy, is said to be Rajasic, unstable, and transient.
Verse 19
That austerity which is practised out of a foolish notion, with self-torture, or for the purpose of destroying another, is declared to be of the Tamasic nature.
Verse 20
That gift which is given to one who does nothing in return, knowing it to be a duty to give in a suitable place and time to a worthy person, is held to be Sattvic.
Verse 21
And, that gift which is given with the intention of receiving something in return, or expecting a reward, or begrudgingly, is considered to be Rajasic.
Verse 22
The gift that is given in the wrong place and at the wrong time, to unworthy persons, without respect or with insult, is declared to be of a Tamasic nature.
Verse 23
"Om Tat Sat": This has been declared to be the triple designation of Brahman. By that, the Brahmanas, the Vedas, and the sacrifices were created formerly.
Verse 24
Therefore, with the utterance of "Om," the acts of sacrifice, gift, and austerity, as enjoined in the scriptures, are always begun by the students of Brahman.
Verse 25
Uttering "Tat," without aiming for the fruits, are the acts of sacrifice, austerity, and the various acts of gifts performed by those seeking liberation.
Verse 26
The word "Sat" is used to refer to reality and goodness; likewise, O Arjuna, the word "Sat" is used to refer to an auspicious act.
Verse 27
Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity, and gift is also called 'Sat', and action in connection with these, or for the sake of the Supreme, is also called 'Sat'.
Verse 28
Whatever is sacrificed, given, or performed, and whatever austerity is practiced without faith, it is called 'Asat', O Arjuna; it is of no value here or hereafter (after death).