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Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

  • Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17

    Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

अर्जुन उवाच ।

ये शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य यजन्ते श्रद्धयान्विता: ।
तेषां निष्ठा तु का कृष्ण सत्त्वमाहो रजस्तम: ॥

arjuna uvāca
ye śāstra-vidhim-utsṛjya yajante śraddhayānvitā:
teṣāṃ niṣṭhā tu kā kṛṣṇa sattvam-āho rajas-tama: – 17.1

Arjuna asked: Those who offer their sacrifice with full faith, but disregarding the scriptural injunctions, of what nature is their pursuit – sāttvika, rājasa or tāmasa?

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

त्रिविधा भवति श्रद्धा देहिनां सा स्वभावजा ।
सात्त्विकी राजसी चैव तामसी चेति तां शृणु ॥

śrī bhagavān-uvāca
trividhā bhavati śraddhā dehināṃ sā svabhāvajā
sāttvikī rājasī caiva tāmasī ceti tāṃ śṛṇu – 17.2

Lord Krishna said: Śraddhā of the embodied is born of his own inherent nature; it is of three kinds – sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa. Listen about this.

सत्त्वानुरूपा सर्वस्य श्रद्धा भवति भारत ।
श्रद्धामयोऽयं पुरुषो यो यच्छ्रद्ध: स एव स: ॥

sattvānurūpā sarvasya śraddhā bhavati bhārata
śraddhāmayo’yaṃ puruṣo yo yacchraddha: sa eva sa: – 17.3

Śraddhā of all is according to the essence of their being. Man is an embodiment of his śraddhā. Whatever is one’s śraddhā, he verily is that.

सयजन्ते सात्त्विका देवान्यक्षरक्षांसि राजसा: ।
प्रेतान्भूतगणांश्चान्ये यजन्ते तामसा जना: ॥

yajante sāttvikā devān-yakṣa-rakṣāṃsi rājasā:
pretān-bhūta-gaṇāṃścānye yajante tāmasā janā: – 17.4

Those of sāttvika orientation worship devas (gods), rājasas worship yakshas and rākshasas (celestial beings and demons), and others of tāmasa temperament worship the spirits of the dead and bhūta-gaṇas (manes and ghouls).

अशास्त्रविहितं घोरं तप्यन्ते ये तपो जना: ।
दम्भाहङ्कारसंयुक्ता: कामरागबलान्विता: ॥

aśāstra-vihitaṃ ghoraṃ tapyante ye tapo janā:
dambhāhaṅkāra-saṃyuktā: kāma-rāga-balānvitā: – 17.5

Understand them to be of demonic resolve, who, contrary to scriptural direction, perform fierce austerities with hypocrisy and ego, impelled by the force of passion and desire. Such indiscreet people torture the elements in the body as well as Me, the indwelling Presence.

कर्शयन्तः शरीरस्थं भूतग्राममचेतस: ।
मां चैवान्त:शरीरस्थं तान्विद्ध्यासुरनिश्चयान् ॥

karśayanta: śarīrasthaṃ bhūta-grāmam-acetasa:
māṃ caivānta:-śarīrasthaṃ tān-viddhy-āsura-niścayān – 17.6

Understand them to be of demonic resolve, who, contrary to scriptural direction, perform fierce austerities with hypocrisy and ego, impelled by the force of passion and desire. Such indiscreet people torture the elements in the body as well as Me, the indwelling Presence.

आहारस्त्वपि सर्वस्य त्रिविधो भवति प्रिय: ।
यज्ञस्तपस्तथा दानं तेषां भेदमिमं श्रृणु ॥

āhārastvapi sarvasya trividho bhavati priya:
yajñas-tapas-tathā dānaṃ teṣāṃ bhedam-imaṃ śṛṇu – 17.7

The food relished by people is also of three kinds. Likewise, sacrifice (yajña), austerity (tapas) and charity (dāna). Now hear their differences.

आयु:सत्त्वबलारोग्यसुखप्रीतिविवर्धना: ।
रस्या: स्निग्धा: स्थिरा हृद्या आहारा: सात्त्विकप्रिया: ॥

āyu:-sattva-balārogya-sukha-prīti-vivardhanā:
rasyā: snigdhā: sthirā hṛdyā āhārā: sāttvika-priyā: – 17.8

Sāttvika food enhances longevity, spiritual strength, health, happiness and contentment. Food items that are delicious, soothing, sustaining and pleasing to the heart are dear to the sāttvikas.

कट्वम्ललवणात्युष्णतीक्ष्णरूक्षविदाहिन: ।
आहारा राजसस्येष्टा दु:खशोकामयप्रदा: ॥

kaṭvamla-lavaṇāty-uṣṇa-tīkṣṇa-rūkṣa-vidāhina:
āhārā rājasasyeṣṭā du:kha-śokāmaya-pradā: – 17.9

Rājasa people prefer food items which are excessively bitter, sour, saline, extremely hot, pungent, dry and burning, causing suffering, grief and disease.

यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत् ।
उच्छिष्टमपि चामेध्यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम् ॥

yāta-yāmaṃ gata-rasaṃ pūti paryuṣitaṃ ca yat
ucchiṣṭam-api cāmedhyaṃ bhojanaṃ tāmasa-priyam – 17.10

Food cooked unduly earlier, tasteless, stinking, stale, left over by someone after eating, impure, is relished by the people of tāmasa temperament.

अफलाकाङ्क्षिभिर्यज्ञो विधिदृष्टो य इज्यते ।
यष्टव्यमेवेति मन: समाधाय स सात्त्विक: ॥

aphalākāṅkṣibhir-yajño vidhi-dṛṣṭo ya ijyate
yaṣṭavyam-eveti mana: samādhāya sa sāttvika: – 17.11

The yajña (sacrifice) performed without desire for any result thereof, at the same time as prescribed in the scriptures, considering the performance to be noble, and fixing the mind well on its performance, is said to be sāttvika (yajña).

अभिसंधाय तु फलं दम्भार्थमपि चैव यत् ।
इज्यते भरतश्रेष्ठ तं यज्ञं विद्धि राजसम् ॥

abhisandhāya tu phalaṃ dambhārtham-api caiva yat
ijyate bharata-śreṣṭha taṃ yajñaṃ viddhi rājasam – 17.12

O best of the Bharata clan (Arjuna), know that a yajña performed specifically with the aim of personal gain, and also for ostentation, is a rājasa yajña.

विधिहीनमसृष्टान्नं मन्त्रहीनमदक्षिणम् ।
श्रद्धाविरहितं यज्ञं तामसं परिचक्षते ॥

vidhihīnam-asṛṣṭānnaṃ mantra-hīnam-adakṣiṇam
śraddhā-virahitaṃ yajñaṃ tāmasaṃ paricakṣate – 17.13

Yajña done without heeding the rules and procedures śāstras lay down, with no food distributed to those around, without reciting the necessary mantras, without giving adequate dakṣiṇā (offering to priests, etc.), lacking in attention and application, is considered tāmasa.

देवद्विजगुरुप्राज्ञपूजनं शौचमार्जवम् ।
ब्रह्मचर्यमहिंसा च शारीरं तप उच्यते ॥

deva-dvija-guru-prājña-pūjanaṃ śaucam-ārjavam
brahmacaryam-ahiṃsā ca śārīraṃ tapa ucyate – 17.14

Worshipping devas (divine beings), brāhmaṇas, Guru and the wise, cleanliness, straightforwardness, celibacy and non-hurting constitute bodily austerity.

अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियहितं च यत् ।
स्वाध्यायाभ्यसनं चैव वाङ्मयं तप उच्यते ॥

anudvega-karaṃ vākyaṃ satyaṃ priya-hitaṃ ca yat
svādhyāyābhyasanaṃ caiva vāṅmayaṃ tapa ucyate – 17.15

Using words that are non-irritating, truthful, endearing and beneficial, and studying scriptures regularly are said to be constituting austerity pertaining to speech.

मन:प्रसाद: सौम्यत्वं मौनमात्मविनिग्रह: ।
भावसंशुद्धिरित्येतत्तपो मानसमुच्यते ॥

mana:-prasāda: saumyatvaṃ maunam-ātma-vinigraha:
bhāva-saṃśuddhir-ity-etat-tapo mānasam-ucyate – 17.16

Cheerful calmness of the mind, gentleness, silence, self-control, attitudinal and emotional purity are held to constitute mental austerity.

श्रद्धया परया तप्तं तपस्तत्त्रिविधं नरै: ।
अफलाकाङ्क्षिभिर्युक्तै: सात्त्विकं परिचक्षते ॥

śraddhayā parayā taptaṃ tapas-tat-trividhaṃ narai:
aphalākāṅkṣibhir-yuktai: sāttvikaṃ paricakṣate – 17.17

This three-fold austerity, pursued with supreme attention by men, with no desire for any external reward therefrom, is held to be sāttvika.

सत्कारमानपूजार्थं तपो दम्भेन चैव यत् ।
क्रियते तदिह प्रोक्तं राजसं चलमध्रुवम् ॥

satkāra-māna-pūjārthaṃ tapo dambhena caiva yat
kriyate tad-iha proktaṃ rājasaṃ calam-adhruvam – 17.18

Austerity performed for gaining recognition, adoration and propitiation, exhibiting pomp and ostentation, is regarded here as rājasa, and is unstable and fleeting.

मूढग्राहेणात्मनो यत्पीडया क्रियते तप: ।
परस्योत्सादनार्थं वा तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ॥

mūḍha-grāheṇātmano yat-pīḍayā kriyate tapa:
parasyotsādanārthaṃ vā tat-tāmasam-udāhṛtam – 17.19

Austerity done with foolish and deluded notions, to torture oneself or destroy another, is held to be tāmasa.

दातव्यमिति यद्दानं दीयतेऽनुपकारिणे ।
देशे काले च पात्रे च तद्दानं सात्त्विकं स्मृतम् ॥

dātavyam-iti yad-dānaṃ dīyate’nupakāriṇe
deśe kāle ca pātre ca tad-dānaṃ sāttvikaṃ smṛtam – 17.20

Any gift offered considering it is noble to give, and given in the right place, on the right occasion, to the right recipient, looking for no reciprocal benefit, is deemed sāttvika dāna.

यत्तु प्रत्युपकारार्थं फलमुद्दिश्य वा पुन: ।
दीयते च परिक्लिष्टं तद्दानं राजसं स्मृतम् ॥

yat-tu pratyupakārārthaṃ phalam-uddiśya vā puna:
dīyate ca parikliṣṭaṃ tad-dānaṃ rājasaṃ smṛtam – 17.21

Whatever is given unwillingly, keeping in mind some return benefit from the receiver, or expecting some personal gain, is held as rājasa dāna.

अदेशकाले यद्दानमपात्रेभ्यश्च दीयते ।
असत्कृतमवज्ञातं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ॥

adeśa-kāle yad-dānam-apātrebhyaś-ca dīyate
asat-kṛtam-avajñātaṃ tat-tāmasam-udāhṛtam – 17.22

The dāna given in improper place and time to undeserving people, without due respect and attention, and with contempt, is considered to be tāmasa.

ॐ तत्सदिति निर्देशो ब्रह्मणस्त्रिविध: स्मृत: ।
ब्राह्मणास्तेन वेदाश्च यज्ञाश्च विहिता: पुरा ॥

OM tat-sad-iti nirdeśo brahmaṇas-trividha: smṛta:
brāhmaṇās-tena vedāś-ca yajñāś-ca vihitā: purā – 17.23

OM, TAT and SAT are spoken of as the triple attributes of Brahman, the supreme Reality. By these were ordained the Brāhmaṇas, Vedas and yajñas, in the ancient times.

तस्मादोमित्युदाहृत्य यज्ञदानतप:क्रिया: ।
प्रवर्तन्ते विधानोक्ता: सततं ब्रह्मवादिनाम् ॥

tasmād-om-ity-udāhṛtya yajña-dāna-tapa:-kriyā:
pravartante vidhānoktā: satataṃ brahma-vādinām – 17.24

For Vedic followers, therefore, yajña, dāna and tapas, as ordained by śāstras, are always commenced by reciting OM.

तदित्यनभिसन्धाय फलं यज्ञतप:क्रिया: ।
दानक्रियाश्च विविधा: क्रियन्ते मोक्षकाङ्क्षिभि: ॥

tad-ity-anabhisandhāya phalaṃ yajña-tapa:-kriyā:
dāna-kriyāś-ca vividhā: kriyante mokṣa-kāṅkṣibhi: – 17.25

By those aspiring for liberation, the various acts of yajña, dāna and tapas are performed uttering ‘Tat’, without looking for any special fruit or result.

सद्भावे साधुभावे च सदित्येतत्प्रयुज्यते ।
प्रशस्ते कर्मणि तथा सच्छब्द: पार्थ युज्यते ॥

sad-bhāve sādhu-bhāve ca sad-ity-etat-prayujyate
praśaste karmaṇi tathā sacchabda: pārtha yujyate – 17.26

The word ‘Sat’ is employed in the sense of the ultimate Truth, Reality, as well as goodness and nobility. O Partha, ‘Sat’ is also used to refer to any act esteemed for loftiness or auspiciousness (because such work helps one attain the Truth).

यज्ञे तपसि दाने च स्थिति: सदिति चोच्यते ।
कर्म चैव तदर्थीयं सदित्येवाभिधीयते ॥

yajñe tapasi dāne ca sthiti: sad-iti cocyate
karma caiva tad-arthīyaṃ sad-ityevābhidhīyate – 17.27

To be given steadily to yajña, tapas and dāna is said to be ‘Sat’. Equally so, any action done for the sake of these three is verily called ‘Sat’.

अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं च यत् ।
असदित्युच्यते पार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्य नो इह ॥

aśraddhayā hutaṃ dattaṃ tapas-taptaṃ kṛtaṃ ca yat
asad-ity-ucyate pārtha na ca tat-pretya no iha – 17.28

Whatever is offered to fire (sacrificed) or gifted to another, whatever is performed as an austerity or as a simple action – if done without proper honour and attention, is called ‘asat’ (futile, vain, not based on truth). It is of no purpose either here or elsewhere.

ओं तत्सदिति श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायां
योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे श्रद्धात्रयविभागयोगो नाम सप्तदशोऽध्याय: ।

oṃ tat-sad-iti śrīmad-bhagavad-gītāsūpaniṣatsu brahma-vidyāyāṃ yoga-śāstre śrīkṛṣṇārjuna-saṃvāde śraddhā-traya-vibhāga-yogo nāma sapta-daśo’dhyāya:

Om – the symbol of Brahman, tat – that singular Reality (Brahman), sat – the ever abiding presence (Brahman).

Thus ends the seventeenth chapter entitled Śraddhā-traya-vibhāga Yoga, during the Srikrishna-Arjuna dialogue in Śrīmad Bhagavad Gita, constituting Yoga-śāstra, which falls within Brahmavidya as presented in the Vedic Upanishads.

Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17

Swami Nirviseshananda Tirtha

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