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Śrīmad bhagavad gītā | Sraddhatraya-Vibhaga yoga ~ Sarga 17 of 18

Bhagavad-Gītā-6-desibantu

Sarga (or) Chapter 17 of 18 : Sraddhatraya-Vibhaga yoga

śloka (verses): 28

Abstract : Krishna qualifies the three divisions of faith, thoughts, deeds, and even eating habits corresponding to the three modes (gunas).

Audio Recitals:

in Sanskrit by Sri Vidyabhushana     
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in Telugu by Ghantasala     
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in English Unknown     
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गीतोपदेश

Gitopadesh (Sanskrit: गीतोपदेश)


Introduction:

In chapter seventeen Lord Krishna classifies the three divisions of faith, revealing that it is these different qualities of faith in the Supreme that determine that character of living entities. These three types of faith determine one’s consciousness in this world. Thus this chapter is entitled: The Three Divisions of Material Existence.

Sloka 17.1 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अर्जुन उवाच |

ये शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य यजन्ते श्रद्धयान्विताः |
तेषां निष्ठा तु का कृष्ण सत्त्वमाहो रजस्तमः ||१७- १||

arjuna uvAcha |

ye shAstravidhimutsR^ijya yajante shraddhayAnvitAH .
teShA.n niShThA tu kA kR^iShNa sattvamAho rajastamaH || 17-1 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.1

Anvaya: arjunah uvaca–Arjuna said; ye–those; sastra-vidhim–the regulations of scripture; utsrjya–giving up; yajante–worship; sraddhaya–full faith; anvitah–possessed of; tesam–of them; nistha–faith; tu–but; ka–what is that; krsna–O Krsna; sattvam–in goodness; aho–said; rajah–in passion; tamah–in ignorance.

Translation: Arjuna said, O Krsna, what is the situation of one who does not follow the principles of scripture but who worships according to his own imagination? Is he in goodness, in passion or in ignorance?

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Among all the causes previously explained as initiating qualification for spiritual consciousness by the Supreme Lord Krishna, sraddha or faith is pre-eminent and the foremost among them. Therefore this chapter examines the threefold differentiations of faith of the three gunas or modes of material nature: sattva guna or mode of goodness, raja guna or mode of passion and tama guna or mode of ignorance.

At the end of chapter 16 Lord Krishna revealed that anyone who fails to follow the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and instead foolishly follows the impulses of the physical body, the whims of the mind and the dictates of their desires; will never achieve perfection, happiness or freedom from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. This confirms that those who disregard and disrespect the eternal teachings of the Vedic scriptures do not qualify for spiritual knowledge.

Now to clearly understand whether or not one who ignores the Vedic scriptures but acts with faith and is not following the dictates of desire etc. can still be qualified for spiritual knowledge is queried. This does not refer to those who have knowledge of the Vedic scriptures yet transgress them purposely and spitefully; for such sinful living entities cannot be said to possess faith or perform any spiritual activity whatsoever. This query refers specifically to all those who are ignorant of the Vedic scriptures, who have had no exposure to the Vedic scriptures, who were never instructed in sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness following the line of consciousness contained in Vedic scriptures.

Faith in the Vedic scriptures is firm belief in sacred traditions tested and proven by time to be eternal spiritually as instructed by the Vaisnava spiritual master. Those who purposely act contrary to the knowledge in the Vedic scriptures as taught by the Vaisnavas are completely incompatible with the spiritual current of bonafide disciplic succession in one of the four authorised sampradaya’s due to their belligerent transgressions. Yet these unfortunate transgressors of the Vedic scriptures is not what is indicated here. What is indicated here refers to all those who out of ignorance, laziness or indifference simply follow mere tradition and occasionally perform some religious activity with faith. The query is specifically questioning whether such actions are in sattva, raja or tama guna. Faith in the Vedic scriptures itself is sattva guna, whereas opposition to the Vedic scriptures is in raja guna and laziness and indifference is in tama guna. So if their faith however little is based on sattva guna then at least these jivas or embodied beings are entitled to knowledge of the atma or immortal soul and spiritual consciousness.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Hari OM! In this chapter the Supreme Lord Krishna explains the attributes and results of the three gunas or threefold modes of material nature: sattva guna or the mode of goodness, raja guna or the mode of passion and tama guna or the mode of ignorance. The words sastram-vidam refers to the ordinances, injunctions and prohibitions of the Vedic scriptures. An example of a prohibition is that the Vedic scriptures declare that it is forbidden to marry a virgin maiden no matter how qualified if her mother and father have a sapinda relationship with each other, meaning that the two grandmothers of the virgin are sisters. Those who disregard this rule and marry such a maiden anyway verily commit sin, as only after seven generations of sapinda free marriages are the sinful reactions of such incestuous relationships neutralized. Possessing this knowledge the Vaisnavas and the twice born Brahmins act accordingly and steadily progressing in their spiritual development advance with clarity and comprehension.

What is prescribed in the Vedic scriptures is sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness and anything contrary to this is against eternal righteousness. Those in sattva guna always acknowledge the authority of the Vedic scriptures and never act contrary to the ancient, perennial principles of sanatan dharma. So the word utsrjya meaning rejected does not refer to them. It applies to those in raja guna who belligerently and insidiously oppose the Vedic scriptures and those in tama guna who out of lack of effort and intelligence ignore and are indifferent to the Vedic scriptures. Those who were never properly taught the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures or who were never exposed and are unaware of the teachings of the Vedic scriptures or who were unqualified to learn the knowledge of the Vedic scriptures due to circumstances is what is indicated here. It is reasonable and plausible to assume that there must be some gradation in this rejection and this is the purpose of Lord Krishna delineating the three fold positions of the gunas. So such denial is the result of non- awareness of the universal values enshrined within the Vedic scriptures for the ultimate benefit of all creation.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

In chapter sixteen the Supreme Lord Krishna delineated the difference between those endowed with the divine nature and those possessing the demoniac nature. The conclusion of that chapter is that the absolute truth and highest benefit for all creation as well as the means by which to attain communion with the ultimate reality of the Supreme Lord is based exclusively on the authority of the Vedic scriptures and no other source.

In this chapter it will be illustrated that activities performed in contradiction to the Vedic scriptures actually oppose the divine will of creation and prove to be destabilising and destructive. The question involved is not concerned with contradictory activities. The question refers to religious activities performed not contradictory to the Vedic scriptures whether in sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion or tama guna the mode of ignorance corresponding to the intent and motive and if they are performed with faith what is the difference in results. If one is indifferent or not knowledgeable about the veracity of the paramount position of the Vedic scriptures and performs instead with faith the traditional rituals that one was born into, does that constitute sattva guna, raja guna or tama guna and what are the results.

Questioned in this manner Lord Krishna refrains from speaking about the utter futility of performing any activity contrary to Vedic scriptures even with faith and immediately expounds upon the relationship of the three gunas or modes of material nature.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In the preceding chapter the Supreme Lord Krishna spoke of the difference between those endowed with the divine nature and those possessing the demoniac nature. He described the qualities of each and emphasised that the divine endowments should be cultivated and embellished while the demoniac nature should be rejected and avoided by all means. This confirms the reality that to become qualified for spiritual knowledge an aspirant must be exclusively situated in sattva guna or the mode of goodness which empowers one to perform only actions that are in harmony with the Vedic scriptures. Furthermore Lord Krishna established the fact that the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures is the exclusive reference to understand what is proper and what is improper, what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and no other source is warranted. One should accept the impeccable authority of the Vedic scriptures wholeheartedly and act in accordance with the Vedic ordinances and injunctions which bestow the highest benefit for all creation while avoiding the prohibitions as they lead only to degradation and sin. Acting contradictory to any aspect of the Vedic scriptures are activities of raja guna the mode of passion while indifference to them is tama guna the mode of ignorance. Both of these modes definitely insures that one will incarnate into lower and lower species of life such as dogs, pigs and reptiles. Those who spitefully disregard the Vedic scriptures and insidiously disrespect the authorised promulgators of the Vedic scriptures are certainly of the demoniac nature and as such they degenerate into the most degraded existences.

Lord Krishna begins the seventeenth chapter explaining the three types of faith found in those possessing characteristics of each guna regarding the types of food one eats, the type of rituals one performs, the kind of austerities one undertakes etc. Any action executed with faith that is dominated by evil intentions resides in tama guna and is characterised by demoniac conceptions and activities hence enslavement and bondage in material existence. But there are some who out of ignorance, lack of exposure or unawareness do not adhere to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. Yet they also avoid indulgence in prohibited activities due to desiring respect in society. What will be the position of such a one? Occasionally they will sincerely perform some ritual or follow some austerity with faith and even though they are not engaging in sinful prohibitions because they ignore the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures they still possess demoniacal characteristics. So the query is how are they categorised?

Although they are indifferent to the Vedic scriptures such beings worship lesser gods and are following inferior conceptions. Some adhere to such conceptions due to fear of going to hell, some due to tradition, still others due to acceptance in society. They have no interest in the Vedic scriptures and have never even considered the meaning of existence having no desire to understand why they were born and in knowing the purpose of life. If they have heard about the Vedic scriptures they regard them as not applying to them or consider them to be below the level of their own scriptures which they have never adequately studied or comprehended. The irrefutable evidence is that there is extremely limited information about the atma or immortal soul in any of the religious conceptions on Earth except in the Vedic scriptures and any credible reference to the atma can only be taken from the Vedic scriptures as the source. The most important ingredient of human existence is immortality of the soul and it is completely missing in the consciousness of humanity except in the Vedic culture where it is fully comprehended. The word sraddhaya-anvitah means faithfully. Such faith arises from traditional belief in god and religious scriptures. One who is ignorant of the Vedic scriptures is different from one who is opposed to the Vedic scriptures. So what is the truth regarding those who are not opposed to the Vedic scriptures but only indifferent due to following their own traditions and what is there position? This is the question Lord Krishna will begin to fully explain in the next verse.

Sloka 17.2 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रीभगवानुवाच |

त्रिविधा भवति श्रद्धा देहिनां सा स्वभावजा |
सात्त्विकी राजसी चैव तामसी चेति तां शृणु ||१७- २||

shrIbhagavAnuvAcha |

trividhA bhavati shraddhA dehinA.n sA svabhAvajA |
sAttvikI rAjasI chaiva tAmasI cheti tA.n shR^iNu || 17-2 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.2

Anvaya: sri-bhagavan uvaca–the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; tri-vidha–three kinds; bhavati–become; sraddha–faith; dehinam–of the embodied; sa–that; sva-bhava-ja–according to his mode of material nature; sattviki–mode of goodness; rajasi–mode of passion; ca–also; eva–certainly; tamasi–mode of ignorance; ca–and; iti–thus; tam–that; srnu–hear from Me.

Translation: The Supreme Lord said, according to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, one’s faith can be of three kinds–goodness, passion or ignorance. Now hear about these.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The sraddha or faith in the Supreme Lord of one who acts in accordance with the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures is always situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness. The sraddha existing in the other two modes of raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance are the results of one’s nature by the impressions lingering in their consciousness from past life activities in such modes. Only absolute knowledge from the Vedic scriptures duly instructed by the Vaisnava spiritual master has the potency to affect change in the nature of a jiva or embodied being. But those in raja guna and tama guna who have no faith in the Vedic scriptures or who have no interest in the Vedic scriptures will not be able to change their natures to sattva guna by any other process. Hence their faith arises from whatever characteristics they possessed in the previous life and this manifests in their actions.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The gunas or three modes of material nature are sattva guna the mode of goodnes, raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance. They are singularly inherent within the faith of all mankind and they conform to the characteristics and disposition particular to each jiva or embodied being. The impressions from past life incarnations arise as tendencies pursued in a present life correspondent to one’s mood and taste and from that mood and taste ones’ faith arises. Displays of enthusiasm are indications of faith where underlying is the belief that the effort will be successfully fulfilled. Tendency, taste and faith are actually properties of the atma or immortal soul; but they are only evoked when the atma happens by chance to come in contact with the gunas. It has been deduced that when there is tranquillity in the mind there is control of the senses and peacefulness of the body and such effect manifests the chance contact between the atma and the gunas resulting in sattva guna. Agitation of the mind, unbridled senses and over indulgence of the body results in raja and tama guna. Thus effectively the experiences from past lives manifest into one of the three gunas.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now elaborates on how sraddha differentiates itself under the auspices of one of the three gunas or modes of material nature which are sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance. These three archetypes apply to all beings and all things within the material nature. Those who have no knowledge of the Vedic scriptures and are indifferent to them languish in tama guna. Those who have some knowledge of the Vedic scriptures yet chose to disrespect and oppose them due to insidious motives and nefarious intrigues are bewildered in raja guna. Those who faithfully follow the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures are safely situated in sattva guna due to having performed pious activities in innumerable past lives without selfish motivations. There faith is directed to the worship of the Supreme Lord and as such is conducive for moksa or liberation from material existence.

The inherent characteristics one possesses in present life are determined by activities performed in previous lives that were voluntarily followed. These innate characteristics catapult a jiva or embodied being into one of the three gunas and the corresponding type of faith one possesses is in accordance to the guna they are situated in. Such faith regardless of which guna gives the confidence that by it one will accomplish their desired goal. When there is confidence in accomplishing successfully any undertaking, a jiva will engage wholeheartedly in it. This is a sign of faith. But there are gradations and differences of quality in various undertakings and these distinctions are what determines whether an activity is in sattva, raja or tama guna. Those who have no knowledge of reincarnation, no knowledge of karma or reactions to actions, no knowledge of the Vedic scriptures, nor knowledge of the paramount position of the Supreme Lord Krishna; are helplessly indulging themselves only in transitory, mundane activities. Such activities no matter how great, noble and well intentioned award no opportunity to free oneself from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and achieve moksa.

Sloka 17.3 audio recital in Sanskrit     

सत्त्वानुरूपा सर्वस्य श्रद्धा भवति भारत |
श्रद्धामयोऽयं पुरुषो यो यच्छ्रद्धः स एव सः ||१७- ३||

sattvAnurUpA sarvasya shraddhA bhavati bhArata |
shraddhAmayo.ayaM puruSho yo yachchhraddhaH sa eva saH || 17-3 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.3

Anvaya: sattva-anurupa–according to the existence; sarvasya–of everyone; sraddha–faith; bhavati–becomes; bharata–O son of Bharata; sraddha–faith; mayah–full; ayam–this; purusah–living entity; yah–anyone; yat–that; sraddhah–faith; sah–that; eva–certainly; sah–he.

Translation: According to one’s existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The nature of sraddha or faith is essentially the quality of sattva guna the mode of goodness. This is confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam XI.IXX.XXXIV beginning saucam japas tapo homah sraddhatithyam where it states: Internal and external cleanliness, chanting of Lord Krishna’s holy names, propitiation to the Supreme Lord and faith. All these are all qualities of sattva or goodness Therefore the question may arise how can sraddha be considered threefold. Considering this point Lord Krishna clarifies that the faith of a person is influenced by the gunas or modes of material nature that one is situated in and it is this threefold influence that causes gradations in sraddha. Thus the faith of one either intelligent or ignorant is determined according to the quality of their consciousness. All jivas or embodied beings exist verily as what there faith is. The worldly person has faith in their possessions, the spiritual person has faith in their religion, the strong man has faith in his power, the beautiful woman has faith in her beauty, etc. One is endowed with faith in the present life that is the residue of the faith one had in previous lives. One who had a preponderance of sattva guna or raja guna or tama guna in their previous life will find themselves similarly endowed with attraction to the same preponderance in this life. The three divisions of faith applies only to the influence of the gunas which exist in every aspect of material existence for those situated in raja guna and tama guna only as they are engaged in transitory, mundane activities pertaining to the perishable physical body. But in regard to those who adhere to the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures and who are endowed with discriminative knowledge resulting from study of the Vedic scriptures as taught by the spiritual master they are exclusively situated in sattva guna naturally.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Consciousness is verily determined by faith. Hence the very nature of faith is indicative by the manner and way in which they worship. The word sattvanurupa means according to the mentality and characteristics arising from one’s faith which manifests from one of the three gunas or modes of material nature.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The word sattvanurupa means according to the mental characteristics. The qualities of the mind saturate every jiva or embodied being and correspondingly determines the of faith they are endowed with. Whatever state the mind exists in, faith naturally arises from that very state. This also implies the desires of the body and the attraction of the senses. The word sraddhamayo means inundated with one of the three types of faith situated from either sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion or tama guna the mode of ignorance. In whatever mode of faith one is united with into that mode of faith one is transformed. If such a jiva is imbued with faith for performing spiritual activities one will achieve spiritual results. Contrarily if one is attracted with faith to perform demoniac activities one will achieve demoniac results both in accordance with their faith.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The faith of everyone is dependent upon and molded to their individual mental constitution. The quality of faith is determined by one’s mental disposition which is the intellectual characteristics or lack of and the impressions that the mind is imbued with, which is the impetus which propels one into one of the three gunas or modes of material nature. Although by nature intellect is essentially of sattva guna the mode of goodness yet because intellect is a product of the ego it still promotes desires and attractions which are threefold even as are the types of food and drinks one finds appealing. All this is due to samskaras or impressions from past lives where such activities were engaged in habitually. At the very moment of birth itself, one is born with a preponderance of either sattva guna with attraction to the divine energy, raja guna or mode of passion with attraction to demoniac entities and tama guna or mode of ignorance with an attraction to ghosts and spirits. In the human race it can be seen that the intellect is mixed but still there will be a preponderance for one of the three gunas. But because the intellect of everyone is situated only in the quality of sattva guna the element of faith itself is characterised by goodness. But one who is situated in raja guna has faith but in passion and hence deluded, one who is situated in tama guna has faith but in ignorance and thus perverted. Whereas one who is situated in sattva guna has faith that is in goodness which is the natural state of the intellect and thus they are not subject to delusion and perversion. The jivas or embodied beings revolving in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death have not qualified for moksa or liberation from material existence; yet they are all constituted of faith and whatever the nature of their faith indeed that is what they verily are. In the word sraddhamaya the suffix maya meaning constitutes, expresses the preponderance towards one of the three types of faith. The qualities of sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna are discerned by the activities that a jiva engages themselves in. Those established in sattva guna advance and evolve spiritually. Those who are rooted in raja guna stay where they are unable to advance and evolve and those who are enveloped in tama guna sink deeper into lower species and existences.

Sloka 17.4 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यजन्ते सात्त्विका देवान्यक्षरक्षांसि राजसाः |
प्रेतान्भूतगणांश्चान्ये यजन्ते तामसा जनाः ||१७- ४||

yajante sAttvikA devAnyakSharakShA.nsi rAjasAH |
pretAnbhUtagaNA.nshchAnye yajante tAmasA janAH || 17-4 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.4

Anvaya: yajante–worship; sattvikah–those who are in the mode of goodness; devan–demigods; yaksa-raksamsi rajasah–those who are in the mode of passion worship demons; pretan–dead spirits; bhuta-ganan–ghosts; ca anye–and others; yajante–worship; tamasah–in the mode of ignorance; janah–people.

Translation: Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the demons; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The three fold nature of sraddha or faith can be determined by a jivas or embodied beings mode of worship. Those situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness worship the Supreme Lord Krishna and His authorised incarnations. Those situated in raja guna the mode of passion pay homage to demoniac entities for power, wealth, fame and pleasure. Those situated in tama guna the mode of ignorance pray to abstract gods with vague qualities as well as to ghosts and spirits. Thus by their actions their position and quality of faith can be clearly discerned.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Those who are imbued with sattva guna the mode of goodness become attracted to activities in purity and goodness and they are devoted to worshipping the Supreme Lord with full faith, concerned only with the transcendental bliss derived from bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna which is completely transcendental to material existence and untainted by darkness and suffering. Those in raja guna or mode of passion offer diabolical rituals to demoniac entities from the physical and astral realms to gain pleasure, power, wealth and fame. The results are bitter sweet when succeeding and bitterly painful when failing because one has to give something physical in return such as the death of a family member or one’s health. Those in tama guna or mode of ignorance pay homage to the ghosts and spirits which give no joy and is filled with pain and anguish. The results of these three gunas or modes of material nature are determined directly by whichever one is situated in along with the quality of the faith in which the worshipper is performing even if it is in accordance with the Vedic scriptures. Lord Krishna has categorically emphasised and declared that not even the most miniscule modicum of happiness is derived from any activity which is contrary and opposed to the Vedic scriptures; which embody all that is for the highest good for all. Those who are inimical to the Vedic scriptures which benefit all creation are evil and possess a demoniac nature.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna is stating that the position and status of all jivas or embodied beings and their category can be determined by understanding their sraddha or faith. The three kinds of sraddha can be observed and specifically categorised from indicatory signs in the form of their mode of worship, whom they worship, whether or not the worship is abstract or finites, etc. Those endowed with a preponderance of sattva guna or mode of goodness worship the Supreme Lord and their faith is saturated with goodness. Those possessed with a preponderance of raja guna or mode of passion pay homage to demoniac entities for power and dominion and their faith is saturated with passion. Those possessed with a preponderance of tama guna or the mode of ignorance pray to ghosts and spirits and their faith is saturated with ignorance.

Sloka 17.5 and 17.6 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अशास्त्रविहितं घोरं तप्यन्ते ये तपो जनाः |
दम्भाहंकारसंयुक्ताः कामरागबलान्विताः ||१७- ५||

कर्षयन्तः शरीरस्थं भूतग्राममचेतसः |
मां चैवान्तःशरीरस्थं तान्विद्ध्यासुरनिश्चयान् ||१७- ६||

ashAstravihitaM ghoraM tapyante ye tapo janAH |
dambhAha.nkArasa.nyuktAH kAmarAgabalAnvitAH || 17-5 ||

karShayantaH sharIrasthaM bhUtagrAmamachetasaH |
mA.n chaivAntaHsharIrastha.n tAnvid.hdhyAsuranishchayAn.h || 17-6 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.5, 17.6

Anvaya: asastra–not mentioned in the scriptures; vihitam–directed; ghoram–harmful to others; tapyante–undergo penances; ye–those; tapah–austerities; janah–persons; dambha–pride; ahankara–egoism; samyuktah–engaged; kama–lust; raga–attachment; bala–force; anvitah–impelled by; karsayantah–tormenting; sarira-stham–situated within the body; bhuta-gramam–combination of material elements; acetasah–by such a misled mentality; mam–to Me; ca–also; eva–certainly; antah–within; sarira-stham–situated in the body; tan–them; viddhi–understand; asura–demons; niscayan–certainly.

Translation: Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride, egoism, lust and attachment, who are impelled by passion and who torture their bodily organs as well as the Supersoul dwelling within are to be known as demons.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Further incriminations regarding those situated in raja guna and tama guna or the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance respectively are given here. Some jivas or embodied beings who know nothing about the Vedic scriptures are anyway endowed with the divine nature and situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness right from birth. This is due to having been attracted to spiritual activities and righteousness in previous lives. The impressions from those lifetimes gave the impetus towards the divine nature and the opportunity in the present life to attain the association of the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Others of mediocre nature in raja guna and of inferior nature in tama guna with deluded and depraved faith are extremely unfortunate. They follow pagan, heretical practices and rituals symbolising and involving blood sacrifices. They commit heinous, inerasable sins such as the slaughter of cows for which there is no atonement for. They commit cruel human sacrifices and blood drinking in their diabolical and depraved cravings and lust for power. They execute terrible inhuman deeds that are an aberration to creation. Degrading themselves and the atma or immortal soul existing within their own body and within the bodies of others. Know them to be without a doubt endowed with the demoniac nature. Without any discrimination they masochistically and sadistically execute extreme and painful rituals in their demented desire to surpass mortality. Yet they must perish and die anyway and because they executed such cruel and inhuman deeds which transgressed the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures as well as engaging in prohibitive activities without any compunction they will be forced to suffer the full consequences of their sinful misdeeds and flagrant improprieties in hell.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The Anabhimian scripture states that those unfortunate jivas or embodied beings who oppress and chastise the Resplendent Supreme Lord who dwells within as Paramatma the supreme soul which resides within the etheric heart of every living entity in existence are of miniscule consciousness with meager perception. Thus without the vision of perception they oppress Him within their hearts and the hearts of others. The word asura means without light and is in general referred to those of the demoniac nature. Those who are void of light are void of light perception and also void of the light of perceptivity. The Agniveshya scripture states that those endowed with the divine nature are exclusively in sattva guna or the mode of goodness and study the Vedic scriptures and are receptive to Lord Krishna. While those that are of the demoniac nature are a combination of raja guna or mode of passion and tama guna or mode of ignorance and they never study the Vedic scriptures and even if by chance they get an opportunity to hear from them they cannot fathom the values contained therein because they are inimical to the Supreme Lord.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The word acetasah means indiscriminate. Such indiscriminate jivas or embodied beings torture and afflict their own body and the bodies of others in the pursuit of fulfilling their depraved and macabre rituals for dominion over material existence. The words raga balanvitah means by ostentatious displays of mental control and bodily power in such extremes that even the Supreme Lord feels tormented in His all pervasive form as the atma or immortal soul within all living entities. The words mam eva ca refers specifically to His inner presence. Hence whosoever executes rituals that are contrary to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and engages in sacrifices that are prohibited in the Vedic scriptures, or practices penances which cause great pain and suffering upon themselves and others, molest the very elements contained within the body for its welfare to be abused and the atma to be disrespected are verily to be known as possessing the demoniac nature. The demoniac transgress the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and are known as asuras which means without light denoting without the light of divine consciousness. Due to their bellicose and belligerent disposition of opposing the Supreme Lords commands, the demoniac purposely act contrary in defiance. Because of this they are unable to derive even the most miniscule satisfaction and lasting happiness for their immense efforts. All they derive from their scheming conjures of evil actions is accommodation in the hellish planets direct at the conclusion of their life cycle. By their own demoniac actions and sinful activities they have voluntarily hurled themselves into such a dire predicament without relief.

Next Lord Krishna will explain how natures differ according to the qualities of the three gunas or modes of material nature that a jiva is situated in and influenced by. As the three gunas are directly affected by the food a jiva chooses to eat and helps determine their present birth. The threefold nature of foods as they are situated in one of the three gunas of sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna corresponding to the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance will be described first. This is confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.V.IV beginning anna-mayam hi sommya manah it states: The mind is verily composed of the food that is eaten is further confirmed in verse VII.XXVI.II beginning rahara shudda sattva shuddhi which states: Taking pure food in pure condition after its been first offered to the Supreme Lord. As the purity of the food eaten so is the purity of the mind for pure food enhances the mind with purity.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The ignorant who indifferently disregard the Vedic scriptures while performing their own religious rituals with faith will find such faith divided into one of the three gunas or modes of material nature as well. The gunas known as sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna correspond to the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance respectively. But because they disrespect the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures they must be excluded from those who are endowed with the divine nature and are thus unqualified for all four goals of human development which are artha or wealth, kama or pleasure, dharma or spiritual development and moksa or liberation from material existence. They are only qualified for two artha and kama; yet due to having some faith and piety they cannot be categorised as those possessing demoniac qualities; but neither can they be considered as endowed with divine qualities.

To clarify this discrepancy Lord Krishna will now answer what is the position of those such as these with misplaced faith due to ignorance of the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures. Those who practice extreme vows of self deprecation such as emaciating fasting, masochistic flagellation, sadistic tormenting of the physical body, etc. all of which are not enjoined and sanctioned by the Vedic scriptures; simply enact them out of ostentation and egoism out of delusion in an attempt for perverse material gains. Abusing and torturing the physical body containing the atma or immortal soul, they disrespect themselves and the Supreme Lord as well who abides therein and cause the atma to enter lower and lower degraded species of existence where misery and suffering are unending. Know that such living entities possess the demoniac nature and should be vigilantly avoided by all means because they flagrantly disobey the commands of the Supreme Lord by disregarding the Vedic scriptures. Because the demoniac transgress the Vedic scriptures wilfully and even spitefully they never can obtain lasting happiness because they constantly engage in activities antagonistic to the Supreme Lord. Instead they fall into the foulest and excruciating of hells to suffer interminably.

Sloka 17.7 audio recital in Sanskrit     

आहारस्त्वपि सर्वस्य त्रिविधो भवति प्रियः |
यज्ञस्तपस्तथा दानं तेषां भेदमिमं शृणु ||१७- ७||

AhArastvapi sarvasya trividho bhavati priyaH |
yaGYastapastathA dAnaM teShAM bhedamimaM shR^iNu || 17-7 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.7

Anvaya: aharah–eating; tu–certainly; api–also; sarvasya–of everyone; tri-vidhah–three kinds; bhavati–there are; priyah–dear; yajnah–sacrifice; tapah–austerity; tatha–also; danam–charity; tesam–of them; bhedam–differences; imam–thus; srnu–hear.

Translation: Even food of which all partake is of three kinds, according to the three modes of material nature. The same is true of sacrifices, austerities and charity. Listen, and I shall tell you of the distinctions of these.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

To illustrate the distinction between jivas or embodied beings in the three gunas or modes of material nature, Lord Krishna will explain in thirteen verses beginning with the threefold types of food that one is attracted to eat. Foods such as milk, fruits, rice, and vegetables are of sattva guna the mode of goodness. Foods such as garlic, onions, chillies and mushrooms are in raja guna the mode of passion. Foods such as meat, fish, fowl and eggs are in tama guna the mode of ignorance. Likewise rituals, charity and austerity are also threefold. Lord Krishna is revealing these facts so that people will give up foods in raja guna and tama guna as well as charity and austerity in such and instead fully embrace sattva guna in all activities.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now delineates that the attributes of the three gunas are commensurate with the three types of jivas or embodied beings. Those are the best who are sura or possess the light of consciousness are in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Those are the worst who are asura or without the light of consciousness and are in tama guna the mode of ignorance. Those who are intermediate are mixed with raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna. These forms continue even after achieving moksa or liberation from material existence as well as those who are forced to enter hellish existences. Quite distinct from both of these is paramatma the omnipresent Supreme Soul existing collectively with the atma or individual immortal soul which exists in all jivas and whose state of consciousness is far superior to even the mind. At least once in every human life this state of consciousness manifests and in rare circumstances is perceived within the etheric heart along with its transcendental form. This form projects luminosity and receives light from its continuous interactions with paramatma. This spiritual form should be meditated on with devotion and embraced.

Those who are of purified senses and spiritually evolved perceive that Lord Krishna is the ultimate reality and the Supreme Lord of all other lords are exclusively in sattva guna. These and only these can be considered devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna and His authorised avatars or incarnations such as Rama, Vamana, Buddha, Narasingha and His expansions such as Narayana, Vasudeva and Vishnu as revealed in Vedic scriptures. Those who perform bhakti or exclusive loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord and His incarnations pleases Him very much and delights all who are endowed also with the divine nature such as Brahma, Shiva and others. Being blest by the presiding deity of knowledge Sri Laksmi-devi who is the eternal consort and feminine shakti or potency of the supreme lord one stays firmly situated in sattva guma and engage in pure worship. They will achieve moksa in their lifetime.

Those who are in doubt about the Supremacy of Lord Krishna and are wary of surrendering to Him and do not understand thet He is the Supreme Lord, find themselves gullible to follow inferior doctrines and receptive to worshipping perishable gods without ever understanding the actual taratamya or gradations involved, are rooted in raja guna and engage in worship of demoniac entities accepting them as their supreme being. In their next life they must suffer interminably in the foulest of hells.

Those who are indifferent and consider Lord Krishna as equal to other gods of other faiths, without using their intelligence to determine that the doctrines of all other faiths are missing knowledge of the atma or immortal soul, knowledge of karma, knowledge of reincarnation, knowledge of liberation and is beyond compare are drowning in tama guna and worship ghosts and spirits, abstract conceptions along with illusory beliefs. In the next life they will take birth as animals.

Those who consider the omnipresent Supreme Lord who pervades all existence and resides within the etheric heart of all living entities as less than other gods will go to obscure worlds of darkness. They will be born as pischasas or goblins and raksasas or demons.

Those who engage in extreme austerities according to the Vedic scriptures out of pride and arrogance for the desire of obtaining material rewards such as power, wealth, fame, etc. petition the demigods for various rewards and Sri Laksmi for wealth as if they were independently awarding the boons desired. Such ones fail to realise that whatever they have received has had to be sanctioned by the Supreme Lord.

Those who refrain from performing worship according to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and yet do not engage in any activities prohibited by the Vedic scriptures will have the opportunity to achieve moksa if by the mercy of a devotee they happen to propitiate the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations and expansions. By this they will free themselves from the illusory energy and eventually attain the Supreme Lord. Thus it is clear and not necessary to elaborate that one who is worshipping the Supreme Lord in accordance with the Vedic scriptures will definitely attain Lord Krishna without a doubt.

Now begins the summation.

From observation of the food that one eats it can determined which of the three gunas a jiva is situated in. The same observation holds true for the type of worship one engages in and for all activities one’s position can be established. Those in sattva guna are observed humbly performing luminous activities in the mode of goodness. Those in raja guna can be seen ostentatiously engaging in fruitive activities for gain and profit and those in tama guna are noticed drearily enacting pagan rituals merely out of habit.

The Supreme Lord Krishna is known by the threefold symbols OM Tat Sat. His personal sound manifestation vibrates as the transcendental sound of OM. As He is omnipresent in every letter and syllable of the Vedas, OM is always chanted at the commencement of every Vedic ceremony and ritual. Therefore with the pronouncement of the word OM by the Vaisnavas and the brahmanas in salutation and glorification of Him, all rituals, ceremonies and propitiation proceed. The Vedic ordinances and injunctions are eternally established by Lord Krishna and are known as Sat denoting unlimited consciousness. Activities that do not propitiate Lord Krishna and begin with OM are practiced by the a-suras meaning those without the light of consciousness. All their efforts however prodigious are merely mundane and are known as a-sat having limited consciousness. Anyone pronouncing the word OM without initiation, without faith and without knowing the meaning thereof is also situated as an asura. Since the results of all Vedic rituals and ceremonies are allotted wholly to the Supreme Lord and moksa is awarded exclusively by the grace of His sanction, He is known as Tat and because He pervades everywhere internally and externally and possesses all auspiciousness, he is also know as Tat.

Absence of the Vedic ordinances and injunctions and avoiding recognition of the Supreme Lord have been determined to be similar. That which is practiced without recognition to the Supreme Lord is that which is practiced without following the Vedic scriptures and that which is practiced without following the Vedic scriptures is practiced without recognition of the Supreme Lord. The Shabda Nirnaya states: Making Lord Krishna the primal focus by which all activities revolve around is the method and the goal. The Paingi scripture confirms: Authentic scriptures are those that are established for the sole purpose of glorifying knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna and establishing communion with Him.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Food the support of life is also of three types by food’s relationship with the three gunas or modes of material nature. Similarly yagnas or propitiation and worship by rituals is also of three types corresponding to the three gunas; as well as austerities and charity. The distinct gradations and variances found in the quality of each and every activity commences next.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Having clearly described the demoniac characteristics to be rejected and avoided, Lord Krishna establishes the quality based gradations of activities performed in the three gunas or modes of material nature. Activities such as rituals, penance and charity if characterised with the quality of sattva guna are to be embraced but if they are contrarily characterised by the quality of raja guna the mode of passion or tama guna the mode of ignorance they are to be avoided. Lord Krishna commences with the gradations of food as food is the support of all life and the purity of the mentality is dependent upon the purity of the food. This is confirmed in Chandogya Upanisad VI.VI.III beginning apam somya piyam ananam which states: The essence of whatever food is eaten rises up and becomes the mind. From pure nourishment manifests a pure nature; for the mental disposition determines the quality of propitiation by rituals which is influenced by the guna one is situated in. The food of every human being is eaten according to circumstances regarding likes and dislikes which is governed by their innate nature corroborated by their particular preponderance to one of the three gunas only. There is no fourth choice or other alternative.

Sloka 17.8 to 17.10 audio recital in Sanskrit     

आयुःसत्त्वबलारोग्यसुखप्रीतिविवर्धनाः |
रस्याः स्निग्धाः स्थिरा हृद्या आहाराः सात्त्विकप्रियाः ||१७- ८||

कट्वम्ललवणात्युष्णतीक्ष्णरूक्षविदाहिनः |
आहारा राजसस्येष्टा दुःखशोकामयप्रदाः ||१७- ९||

यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत् |
उच्छिष्टमपि चामेध्यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम् ||१७- १०||

AyuHsattvabalArogyasukhaprItivivardhanAH |
rasyAH snigdhAH sthirA hR^idyA AhArAH sAttvikapriyAH || 17-8 ||

kaT.hvamlalavaNAtyuShNatIkShNarUkShavidAhinaH |
AhArA rAjasasyeShTA duHkhashokAmayapradAH || 17-9 ||

yAtayAmaM gatarasaM pUti paryuShita.n cha yat.h |
uchchhiShTamapi chAmedhyaM bhojanaM tAmasapriyam.h || 17-10 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.8 to 17.10

Anvaya: ayuh–duration of life; sattva–existence; bala–strength; arogya–health; sukha–happiness; priti–satisfaction; vivardhanah–increasing; rasyah–juicy; snigdhah–fatty; sthirah–enduring; hrdyah–pleasing to the heart; aharah–food; sattvika–goodness; priyah–palatable. katu–bitter; amla–sour; lavana–salty; ati-usna–very hot; tiksna–pungent; ruksa–dry; vidahinah–burning; aharah–food; rajasasya–in the mode of passion; istah–palatable; duhkha–distress; soka–misery; amaya pradah–causing disease. yata-yamam–food cooked three hours before being eaten; gata-rasam–tasteless; puti–bad smelling; paryusitam–decomposed; ca–also; yat–that which; ucchistam–remnants of food eaten by others; api–also; ca–and; amedhyam–untouchable; bhojanam–eating; tamasa–in the mode of darkness; priyam–dear.

Translation: Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fatty and palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Foods that bequeath longevity, full of energy, bestow good health and vigour with happiness and satisfaction are relished by those in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Such foods in sattva guna particularly increase life and are juicy, savoury, rich and nourishing, like invigorating serum which remains long in the body and are agreeable and pleasing to the palate. Foods of this type which are chewed, licked, sucked and drunk are relished by those situated in sattva guna.

Foods that are excessively bitter, sour, pungent, salty, spicy, dry or burning are very much liked by those situated in raja guna the mode of passion. Such foods cause pain even while eating them which leads to distress of the body, misery, depression and subsequent disease and sickness all produced by these foods.

Food cooked more than three hours before, that is cold, tasteless, without aroma, stale, decomposed and foods that are amedhyam or forbidden for offering to the Supreme Lord such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, wine, alcohol, garlic, onions and mushrooms which come from fungus and are impure are preferred by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Eating foods that are of sattva guna the mode of goodness are pleasurable. Joyfulness is the immediate result. Whatever continues to be pleasurable is joyous to hrdya the heart. Even if all foods are cooked they all do not get digested the same. Ghee and honey are absorbed into the body directly, fruits take an hour to digest and vegetables and grains up to six hours. Some foods although bitter are agreeable to health such as kerala or bitter melon and some foods although sour like yoghurt are agreeable to health if not taken at night. Both of these are of sattva or goodness. Such is the nature of the pious and the saintly and that nature is maintained by the intake of foods that are sattva. The Shabda Niranya states: Hridyam is that which is pleasing to the heart and makes one desire for more. Pleasure is what is pleasing for the moment. Sukham or happiness is that which continues to keep one joyous long after the activity has ended. That food which retains its agreeability even after consuming repeatedly is rasyam which is delicious and nutritious.

But when foods are excessively bitter, spicy, salty. sour, pungent, etc. and result in discomfort and misery culminating in sickness and disease they are of raja guna the mode of passion. The food which is eaten more than three hours after it is cooked is known as yatama. When the food is tasteless it is also called yatayama. Food that once was flavourful but later becomes later has no taste is known as gatarasyam. The Suddhasastra states that one devoted to serving the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations should thoroughly understand the nature and quality of food.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

To those who are situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness, foods that are of the nature of sattva or goodness such as milk, fruits, grains and vegetables are very dear. Such foods promote long life, invigorating the body and elevating the mind in its function of intelligence. As was confirmed earlier in chapter XIV verse XVII: From the quality of sattva guna knowledge arises. Sattva guna facilitates spiritual knowledge and likewise food that is sattva also facilitates spiritual intelligence as well as good health, strength, happiness and relish. The word sukla meaning happiness refers to the pleasure experienced while ingesting the food and afterwards when it is digesting and assimilating within the body. The word priti means satisfaction that is derived from the intake of pure foods inspiring congenial interest in spiritual activities. The word rasayam means succulent, delectable. Snigdhah means oleaginous, unctuous. Sthirah means nourishing, sustaining. Hrydha means agreeable, pleasing. These are the qualities of sattva foods which are very much appreciated by those in sattva guna.

Foods that are acidic, bitter, salty, sour, spicy, pungent, dry, hard or burning are the foods that those in raja guna are very much attracted to. The word tiksna refers to food of no value because they are either to cold or to hot. Raksa are foods which are to dry and hard. Vidhahinah are those foods that cause a burning sensation in the body. These foods produce pain, distress, sickness and misery and decreases longevity of life and increase desires for more and more rajas or passion.

The foods liked by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance are yata-yaman meaning stale, foods that are old from the previous day, foods cooked more than a yama which is literally three hours before. Gata-rasam means those foods which have lost their original flavour and have become tasteless. Puti means putrid, possessing a foul smell. Paryusitam means decomposed, unrecognisable. Ucchistam means eating the remains of others food after they have eaten. This does not apply to honouring the remnants of mahaprasadam or sanctified food first offered to Lord Krishna and then eaten by the spiritual preceptors who mercifully leaves some for their devotees which is then glorified by them as maha mahaprasadam. Amedhyam means unsanctified foods due to not having been consecrated by first offering it to the Supreme Lord and thus impure. Partaking of foods in tama guna such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, wine, alcohol, etc. breeds dark nescience and great ignorance.

So in conclusion those fortunate jivas or embodied beings with spiritual insight should absolve themselves from the intake of foods in raja guna and tama guna and resort exclusively to foods in sattva guna.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna commences with the three-fold divisions of foods with the words ayuh-sattva meaning promoting longevity. Food that promotes spiritual knowledge which is the quality of intelligence has been corroborated previously in chapter XIV.XVII stating that: Wisdom verily arises out of sattva guna the mode of goodness. Whereas greed and lust are the by products of raja guna the mode of passion and lethargy and nescience is produced by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance. The word bala meaning strength and refers to food that gives the power to perform one’s duty. Foods that are pleasant to eat, that bestow mental tranquillity, that are sustaining and easily digestible, that are nourishing and their essence remains invigorating the body even after digested are the foods which are dear to those endowed with the qualities of sattva guna.

Foods which are extremely acidic, salty, spicy, pungent and bitter such as azadirachta indica or burning such as chillies which burn the mouth, throat and stomach simply bring about distress and misery which leads to sickness and disease. The prefix aty meaning extremely at the end of the word lavanaty meaning extremely bitter applies to all the descriptions up to vidadhinah which means burning. Such foods are dear to those characterised with raja guna.

Foods which are half cooked, insipid, stale, tasteless, polluting, contaminated or leftovers from someone and foods that are forbidden to offer to the Supreme Lord such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, wine, alcohol, etc. are the foods of choice for those situated in tama guna.

The obvious conclusion is that those who are spiritually motivated and desire their best self interests should conscientiously avoid all foods characterised by raja guna and tama guna and resort exclusively to foods that are of sattva guna.

Sloka 17.11 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अफलाङ्क्षिभिर्यज्ञो विधिदृष्टो य इज्यते |
यष्टव्यमेवेति मनः समाधाय स सात्त्विकः ||१७- ११||

aphalAN^kShibhiryaGYo vidhidR^iShTo ya ijyate |
yaShTavyameveti manaH samAdhAya sa sAttvikaH || 17-11 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.11

Anvaya: aphala-akanksibhih–devoid of desire for result; yajnah–sacrifice; vidhi–accordingly; distah–direction; yah–anyone; ijyate–performs; yastavyam–must be performed; eva–certainly; iti–thus; manah–mind; samadhaya–fixed in; sah–he; sattvikah–is in the mode of goodness.

Translation: Of sacrifices, that sacrifice performed according to duty and to scriptural rules, and with no expectation of reward, is of the nature of goodness.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna confirms that yagna or propitiation and worship also corresponds to the three gunas or modes of material nature and is threefold. That yagna which is performed and offered to the Supreme Lord following the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures in the prescribed manner which is compulsory by Vaisnavas and brahmanas for the exclusive satisfaction for the Supreme Lord without any desire for rewards is known to be in sattva guna the mode of goodness. How is this enacted one may ask? It is performed out of duty for its own sake or out of bhakti which is exclusive loving devotion to Lord Krishna or any of His authorised avatars or incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna explains the three fold nature of yagna or performing rituals of propitiation and worship. He begins with sattva guna the mode of goodness. The words aphala-akariksibhih means performing yagna to the Supreme Lord without a desire for any reward. Vidhi-distah means performing it in accordance with the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. Yastavyam eveti means performed as a matter of duty or as bhakti exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised avatars or incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. Such yagnas must be performed by duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas chanting prescribed Vedic mantras for the exclusive satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. When such a resolve manifests a yagna into reality in this manner it is to be known as situated in sattva guna.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna elaborates on the threefold divisions of yagna or propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. The yagna that is performed aphala-akanksibhih meaning with no desire for any fruitive rewards and is ordained by the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. Following the prescribed procedures, chanting the prescribed mantras, utilising prescribed ingredients, sanctified by duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas who perform it as either a matter of duty or out of devotion to the Supreme Lord are known as situated in sattva guna or mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.12 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अभिसन्धाय तु फलं दम्भार्थमपि चैव यत् |
इज्यते भरतश्रेष्ठ तं यज्ञं विद्धि राजसम् ||१७- १२||

abhisandhAya tu phalaM dambhArthamapi chaiva yat.h |
ijyate bharatashreShTha taM yaGYa.n viddhi rAjasam.h || 17-12 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.12

Anvaya: abhisandhaya–desiring; tu–but; phalam–the result; dambha–pride; artham–for the sake of; api–also; ca–and; eva–certainly; yat–that which; ijyate–worship; bharata-srestha–O chief of the Bharatas; tam–that; yajnam–sacrifice; viddhi–know; rajasam–in the mode of passion.

Translation: But that sacrifice performed for some material end or benefit or preformed ostentatiously, out of pride, is of the nature of passion, O chief of the Bharatas.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The yagna or acts of propitiation and worship which may be performed according to Vedic scriptures but is enacted ostentatiously for aggrandizement and pompously for prestige with the covert, underlying desire for rewards is revealed by Lord Krishna as merely situated in raja guna the mode of passion.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

That yagna or acts of propitiation and worship which may follow the Vedic scriptures but is ostentatiously enacted out of desire for prestige with a secret, greedy longing for enjoying the effects of rewards is known to be situated in raja guna the mode of passion.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

That yagna or propitiation and worship which externally may be performed according to the Vedic scriptures but internally is plagued with desires to acquire the fruits of its rewards and is ostentatiously enacted out of pride and gregariously carried out for prestige is irascibly performed in the mode of passion.

Sloka 17.13 audio recital in Sanskrit     

विधिहीनमसृष्टान्नं मन्त्रहीनमदक्षिणम् |
श्रद्धाविरहितं यज्ञं तामसं परिचक्षते ||१७- १३||

vidhihInamasR^iShTAnnaM mantrahInamadakShiNam.h |
shraddhAvirahitaM yaGYa.n tAmasaM parichakShate || 17-13 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.13

Anvaya: vidhi-hinam–without scriptural direction; asrsta-annam–without distribution of prasadam; mantra-hinam–with no chanting of the Vedic hymns; adaksinam–with no remunerations to the priests; sraddha–faith; virahitam–without; yajnam–sacrifice; tamasam–in the mode of ignorance; paricaksate–is to be considered.

Translation: And that sacrifice performed in defiance of scriptural injunctions, in which no spiritual food is distributed, no hymns are chanted and no remunerations are made to the priests, and which is faithless–that sacrifice is of the nature of ignorance.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Furthermore Lord Krishna states that rituals contrary to the Vedic scriptures meaning those which are forbidden and prohibited in the Vedic scriptures as well as ceremonies not endorsed by the Vedic scriptures meaning all those where the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures are not observed; both are irrevocably locked in tama guna the mode of ignorance. Whatever religious activity or ritual that is enacted anywhere in creation, if it is devoid of duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas chanting prescribed Vedic mantras, if it is devoid of propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic scriptures and if it is devoid of faith in the Supreme Lord Krishna it is known to be irrefutably and irrevocably situated in the inertia of tama guna.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Any religious ritual or ceremony of any kind that is vidhi-hinam or devoid of following the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and without being conducted by Vaisnavas and brahmanas who are pre-eminent both in precept and in practice is recognizably known to be fully situated in tama guna the mode of ignorance. The words asrsta-annam means without the sanctified food and ingredients required to perform a bonafide yagna or propitiation and worship. The prohibition is that no ingredient may be acquired from those without faith in Lord Krishna; so it is a mandatory requirement that all ingredients are to be received only from devotees. Those situated in tama guna cannot fulfil this mandate. So in conclusion whatever religious activity that is performed without adhering to the authority of the Vedic scriptures, without Vaisnavas and brahmanas chanting Vedic mantras and without adoration of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions is not valid and being bogus is totally situated in tama guna. If such activities were anyway somehow or other able to be clandestinely orchestrated by unqualified schemers it would still have no efficacy due to the absence of devotion to Lord Krishna and lack of faith in the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The ritual or ceremony of any kind that is devoid of guidance of the Vedics scriptures and ignores and refrains from following the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures due to indifference or belligerence is know to be firmly situated in tama guna. Wherever no Vedic mantras are chanted by duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas, wherever there is no devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures ad wherever there is an absence of faith in Lord Krishna is always irrevocably situated in tama guna.

Sloka 17.14 audio recital in Sanskrit     

देवद्विजगुरुप्राज्ञपूजनं शौचमार्जवम् |
ब्रह्मचर्यमहिंसा च शारीरं तप उच्यते ||१७- १४||

devadvijaguruprAGYapUjanaM shauchamArjavam.h |
brahmacharyamahi.nsA cha shArIraM tapa uchyate || 17-14 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.14

Anvaya: deva–the Supreme Lord; dvija–the brahmana; guru–the spiritual master; prajna–worshipable personalities; pujanam–worship; saucam–cleanliness; arjavam–simplicity; brahmacaryam–celibacy; ahimsa–nonviolence; ca–also; sariram–pertaining to the body; tapah–austerity; ucyate–is said to be.

Translation: The austerity of the body consists in this: worship of the Supreme Lord, the brahmanas, the spiritual master, and superiors like the father and mother. Cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and nonviolence are also austerities of the body.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Tapah or austerities of the physical body in sattva guna or mode of goodness are worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorized incarnations and expansions as reveled in Vedic scriptures. Worship of the diksa guru the initiating Vaisnava spiritual master and the siksa guru the instructing Vaisnava spiritual master and worship of the brahmanas. External and internal cleanliness, celibacy and nonviolence also are included in sattva guna.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Now in order to explain the three types of austerities incorporated in and corresponding to the three gunas or modes of material nature; Lord Krishna describes their character first as that of bodily austerity, that of verbal austerity and that of mental austerity from each of the three gunas from where tapas manifests. Worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions in their installed deity forms after being duly initiated in the prescribed mantras by the Vaisnava spiritual master, worship of the Vaisnavas and brahmanas, worship of the singular diksa guru the initiating spiritual master and the elevated siksa gurus or instructing spiritual masters. The word saucam means internal and external cleanliness. Arjjavam means no duplicity, the intention of the mind and the action are not different. Brahmacaryam is celibacy the absence of thinking about engaging in sexual relations. Ahimsa is not causing harm to any living entity by thought, word or deed. All these activities constitute austerity of the physical body in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now in order to introduce the threefold divisions of austerities Lord Krishna commences with austerities which can be performed by the physical body, verbal speech as well as the mind. The worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna the origin of all creation and any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures who each far excels every other god imaginable such as Brahma and Shiva, as well as far excelling all other gods of other conceptions collectively combined are pre-eminent austerities in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Worship of the Vaisnavas and brahmanas, worship of the diksa guru the initiating spiritual master and the siksa guru the instructing spiritual master, who dispel the darkness of ignorance by revealing the eternal, spiritual truths applicable to all existences in all times and external and internal cleanliness are all in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Arjavam is acting without duplicity in thought, word or deed. Brahmacaryam is celibacy which is abstinence from all sexual activities. The Agni Purana: CCCLXX.IX.XI specifically refers to the eightfold forms of celibacy which is abstinence from all sexual activity and includes: thinking about it, talking about it, suggestively insinuating it, watching others engaging in it, affirming desire for it, wooing another for it, meeting in private for it and finally engaging oneself in it. Ahimsa is non-violence to any creature by thought, word and deed. The particle ca stands to include non-cheating and non- stealing. etc. All these activities are situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.15 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियहितं च यत् |
स्वाध्यायाभ्यसनं चैव वाङ्मयं तप उच्यते ||१७- १५||

anudvegakaraM vAkya.n satyaM priyahita.n cha yat.h |
svAdhyAyAbhyasana.n chaiva vAN^mayaM tapa uchyate || 17-15 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.15

Anvaya: anudvega–not agitating; karam–producing; vakyam–words; satyam–truthful; priya–dear; hitam–beneficial; ca–also; yat–which; svadhyaya–Vedic study; abhyasanam–practice; ca–also; eva–certainly; van-mayam–of the voice; tapah–austerity; ucyate–is said to be.

Translation: Austerity of speech consists in speaking truthfully and beneficially and in avoiding speech that offends. One should also recite the Vedas regularly.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Tapah or austerities of speech in sattva guna the mode of goodness are words that cause no worry or trepidation. Words that are truthful, encouraging and beneficial, giving an impetus for spiritual development and resulting in attraction to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as well as proper recitation of Vedic mantras are all actions of speech in sattva guna.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna states that what is known as austerity of speech is svadhaya or the recitation of Vedic mantras after first being duly initiated by the Vaisnava spiritual master. Words which consist totally of truth yet do not offend those spoken to and which are imbued with sweet and pleasing words that are inspiring and beneficial are austerities of speech in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna speaks of the austerity of speech as the recitation of the Vedas, Puranas, Upanisads, Ramayan, Mahabharata and others along with the chanting of Vedic mantras. Also speaking words that are totally truthful yet causes no offence to those addressed while speaking words that are pleasant to be heard as well as beneficial and gives satisfaction. All these are austerities of speech in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.16 audio recital in Sanskrit     

मनः प्रसादः सौम्यत्वं मौनमात्मविनिग्रहः |
भावसंशुद्धिरित्येतत्तपो मानसमुच्यते ||१७- १६||

manaH prasAdaH saumyatvaM maunamAtmavinigrahaH |
bhAvasa.nshuddhirityetattapo mAnasamuchyate || 17-16 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.16

Anvaya: manah-prasadah–satisfaction of the mind; saumyatvam–without duplicity towards others; maunam–gravity; atma–self; vinigrahah–control; bhava–nature; samsuddhih–purification; iti–thus; etat–that is; tapah–austerity; manasam–of the mind; ucyate–is said to be.

Translation: And serenity, simplicity, gravity, self-control and purity of thought are the austerities of the mind.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna states that tapah or austerities of the mind in sattva guna or mode of goodness are serenity derived from self-satisfaction, tranquillity derived from the self-control of with drawing the mind from the senses, silence derived by constant meditation within, purity of heart derived from the absence of any deceitfulness in thoughts, words and conduct are all known as austerities of the mind in sattva guna.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The word saumyatvam means tranquility, gentleness. Maunya means the silence of reflecting internally as opposed to projecting externally. After achieving eligibility and qualification by spiritual knowledge from ever reflecting one is called a muni which is derived from the word maunya. The Balava scripture states: By the power of a muni’s meditation reality is reflected and his realizations are reflected upon reality. Otherwise it would not be possible for a person to perform penance within the mind.

Now begins the summation.

By only performing authorized Vedic yagnas or acts of propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord residence is gained in the temporary heavenly worlds. These worlds are incomparably beautiful and grant unlimited pleasure without the hindrances of old age and decrepitude or any sickness and disease. The heavenly kingdoms are inhabited by jivas or embodied beings who had desires for pleasure and opulence but still lived a pious life in their previous birth. They are similar to the demigods whose limitations exceded their capabilities and failed in their attempts to be pure devotees of Lord Krishna due to cravings for pleasure and sense enjoyment. Thus they gain the heavenly worlds and due to pious activities in the previous life and are exempt from suffering in the dark, hellish planets. But the jivas who enact rituals and ceremonies not authorized by the Vedic scriptures and who perform prohibited and sinful activities will descend to suffer in the dark, hellish planet without a doubt. They are those who were born in tama guna the mode of ignorance and performed degraded activities from the very beginning or may have started their lives situated in sattva guna or the mode of goodness but later due to bad association unfortunately degraded into raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna and performed depraved activities. Others perform activities not in harmony with their natures and after some time they fall back into their old habits. Performance of activities in harmony with one’s natural attributes and nature gives the best results. Performing activities not in accordance with one’s natural attributes and contrary to one’s nature gives inferior results. That which gives the best results should be understood as being the natural attributes of a jiva and this will reflect in the inherent attributes one possesses.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The austerities of the mind are manah-prasadah or self satisfaction and serenity free from mental imbalances. The word saumyatvam means serenity and benevolence to others. Maunam is silence externally and reflecting internally. Atma-vinigrahah is self-controlling the mind to stay focused on realisation of the atma. Bhava-samsuddhih is purity within and purity of purpose. These austerities of mind are confirmed by Lord Krishna to be in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now the austerities of the mind are given by Lord Krishna beginning with manah-prasada or tranquillity due to self satisfaction. Mental purity due to the absence of lust, anger and greed. Silence is avoidance of useless mundane conversations. Self-control is directing the mind away from unrighteous activities and focusing it on spiritual activities. Purity of heart is freedom from hankerings and desires for sense gratification. All these constitute austerities of speech in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.17 audio recital in Sanskrit     

श्रद्धया परया तप्तं तपस्तत्त्रिविधं नरैः |
अफलाकाङ्क्षिभिर्युक्तैः सात्त्विकं परिचक्षते ||१७- १७||

shraddhayA parayA tapta.n tapastattrividhaM naraiH |
aphalAkAN^kShibhiryuktaiH sAttvikaM parichakShate || 17-17 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.17

Anvaya: sraddhaya–with faith; paraya–transcendental; taptam–execution; tapah–austerity; tat–that; tri-vidham–three kinds; naraih–by men; aphala-akanksibhih–without desires for fruits; yuktaih–engaged; sattvikam–in the mode of goodness; paricaksate–is called.

Translation: This threefold austerity, practiced by men whose aim is not to benefit themselves materially but to please the Supreme, is of the nature of goodness.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Thus the tapah or austerities performed through the physical body, speech and the mind have been delineated by Lord Krishna. These threefold austerities when practiced without any desire for reward or compensation with great faith and steadfast determination by those devoted to bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord are situated completely in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The words aphala-akanksibhih means those who have no desire for rewards. Those devout and evolved jivas or embodied beings with ardent faith, who are imbued with the consciousness that all their actions are humble offerings of worship rendered to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorized incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures; performing the three aforementioned types of austerity of the physical body, speech and mind are known to be in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The three fold divisions of austerity of the physical body, speech and the mind has been delineated by Lord Krishna based on the quality of sattva guna the mode of goodness. Those who expect no rewards or enumeration in return who perform the aforementioned austerities with great faith and steadfast determination in Lord Krishna, adhering to the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures are situated in sattva guna.

Sloka 17.18 audio recital in Sanskrit     

सत्कारमानपूजार्थं तपो दम्भेन चैव यत् |
क्रियते तदिह प्रोक्तं राजसं चलमध्रुवम् ||१७- १८||

satkAramAnapUjArtha.n tapo dambhena chaiva yat.h |
kriyate tadiha prokta.n rAjasa.n chalamadhruvam.h || 17-18 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.18

Anvaya: sat-kara–respect; mana–honor; puja-artham–for worship; tapah–austerity; dambhena–pride; ca–also; eva–certainly; yat–which is; kriyate–performed; tat–that; iha–in this world; proktam–is said; rajasam–in the mode of passion; calam–flickering; adhruvam–temporary.

Translation: Those ostentatious penances and austerities which are performed in order to gain respect, honor and reverence are said to be in the mode of passion. They are neither stable nor permanent.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna commences with tapah or austerities that exemplify raja guna the mode of passion. The occasional enacting of ostentatious austerities for the hope of receiving praise, salutations and acclamation with a covert desire for prestige, honour and wealth results in rewards that are temporary, unstable and transient. Even if following perfectly the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures such austerities are merely situated in raja guna.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna describes the austerities that are situated in raja guna the mode of passion are those that are enacted with the expectance of praise, prestige, acclaim and with the hope of receiving adulation and adoration from others is in raja guna along with any Vedic activity that is impelled by hidden motives of garnishing rewards or desire for recognition and worship from others even if enacted according to the Vedic scriptures.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now describes austerities characterised by raja guna the mode of passion. Austerities that are enacted for the sake of gaining recognition and garnering praise and respect from others, that are enacted to receive adulation and adoration and whose enactment is ostentatious and pretentious are situated in raja guna and whatever results derived are uncertain, unstable and temporary.

Sloka 17.19 audio recital in Sanskrit     

मूढग्राहेणात्मनो यत्पीडया क्रियते तपः |
परस्योत्सादनार्थं वा तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ||१७- १९||

mUDhagrAheNAtmano yatpIDayA kriyate tapaH |
parasyotsAdanArtha.n vA tattAmasamudAhR^itam.h || 17-19 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.19

Anvaya: mudha–foolish; grahena–with endeavor; atmanah–of one’s own self; yat–which; pidaya–by torture; kriyate–is performed; tapah–penance; parasya–to others; utsadana-artham–causing annihilation; va–or; tat–that; tamasam–in the mode of darkness; udahrtam–is said to be.

Translation: And those penances and austerities which are performed foolishly by means of obstinate self-torture, or to destroy or injure others, are said to be in the mode of ignorance.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna explains tapah or austerities that are indicative of tama guna the mode of ignorance. The austerities that consist of foolish concoctions as well as diabolical practices due to an acute lack of discrimination, which is sadistic and masochistic, which causes mental and physical anguish to oneself such as flagellation and causes acute suffering to others such as blood rituals and human and animal sacrifices are irrevocably situated completely in the darkness of tama guna.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna explains the austerities that are of tama guna or mode of ignorance. The word mudha means foolish. The word grahena means endeavour. Those who foolishly endeavour are the ignorant. Those who torture and give pain to themselves and diabolically cause injury and suffering to others are depraved and their dark resolves are at the pinnacle of nescience. Whatever activity they enact by such convoluted resolves regardless of success or failure is in the darkness of tama guna.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna explains that the austerity that is foolishly practiced because of repeated habit and useless attachment or is diabolically engaged in due to depraved perversity where one tortures oneself as in self- mortification to gain power or which causes injury, pain and suffering to other living entities such as blood rituals of animal and human sacrifices, is situated irrevocably in the inertia of darkness in tama guna the mode of ignorance.

Sloka 17.20 audio recital in Sanskrit     

दातव्यमिति यद्दानं दीयतेऽनुपकारिणे |
देशे काले च पात्रे च तद्दानं सात्त्विकं स्मृतम् ||१७- २०||

dAtavyamiti yaddAnaM dIyate.anupakAriNe |
deshe kAle cha pAtre cha taddAnaM sAttvikaM smR^itam.h || 17-20 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.20

Anvaya: datavyam–worth giving; iti–thus; yat–that which; danam–charity; diyate–given; anupakarine–to any person irrespective of doing good; dese–in place; kale–in time; ca–also; patre–suitable person; ca–and; tat–that; danam–charity; sattvikam–in the mode of goodness; smrtam–consider.

Translation: That gift which is given out of duty, at the proper time and place, to a worthy person, and without expectation of return, is considered to be charity in the mode of goodness.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The three fold divisions of danam or charity are now being delineated by Lord Krishna. To give in charity to worthy recipients is a duty. Those who give such charity without the slightest inclination for any reciprocal return are those situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Such aspirants will offer danam at an auspicious place such as Kuruksetra where Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-Gita or anywhere along the bank of the 2000 miles long sacred river Ganga. They will offer danam at an auspicious time such as during a solar eclipse or the holy day of ekadasi the 11th day preceding the new moon and the full moon. They will offer danam to auspicious personalities such as Vaisnava brahmanas endowed with wisdom in knowing the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures or they will offer danam to a temple of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic scriptures. These are all danam situated in sattva guna. The word patre means qualified person, it can also mean protector if analysed from its root pa. Who is better to protect one then the Vaisnava brahmanas who can reveal the conclusive truths of the Vedic scriptures and save one from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

It is a duty to offer danam or charity to worthy recepients. Lord Krishna explains that danam that is offered without expectation of reward, hopes for services or wishing anything in return that is offered at an auspicious place, at an auspicious time to spiritually enlightened Vaisnavas brahmanas steeped in the conclusive knowledge of the Vedic scriptures is to be understood as the best of danam and situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna describes the threefold divisions of danam or charity. It is an act of duty to give danam accordingly to one’s capability. The danam that is offered freely from the heart to Vaisnavas and brahmanas without expectation of receiving anything back in return, that is bestowed in a holy place like Navadwip Dham or Jagannatha Puri, that is bequeathed at an auspicious time such as the month of Kartika or the month of Magha is danam situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.21 audio recital in Sanskrit     

यत्तु प्रत्युपकारार्थं फलमुद्दिश्य वा पुनः |
दीयते च परिक्लिष्टं तद्दानं राजसं स्मृतम् ||१७- २१||

yattu pratyupakArArthaM phalamuddishya vA punaH |
dIyate cha parikliShTa.n taddAnaM rAjasaM smR^itam.h || 17-21 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.21

Anvaya: yat–that which; tu–but; prati-upakara-artham–for the sake of getting some return; phalam–result; uddisya–desiring; va–or; punah–again; diyate–is given in charity; ca–also; pariklistam–grudgingly; tat–that; danam–charity; rajasam–in the mode of passion; smrtam–is understood to be.

Translation: But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Continuing Lord Krishna explains that the danam or charity that is given with the intention of gaining something in return, with a desire to enjoy some benefit or to receive some service, or with the wish to achieve some goal such as the heavenly planets is said to be in raja guna the mode of passion. Also included in raja guna is danam which is given grudgingly or reluctantly.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna clarifies that danam or charity that is bequeathed with an inner desire and expectation for reward or danam that is proffered reluctantly, or danam that is inferior due to damage or spoilage, or danam that is undamaged and perfectly good and fresh unspoiled articles are stingily given grudgingly are all known to be situated in raja guna the mode of passion.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna explains the danam or charity that is given in raja guna the mode of passion. The danam that is given reluctantly, that is given grudgingly, that is given with the desire of receiving something in return or that is given with the hope of gaining a reward in the next life such as promotion to the heavenly planets is known to be firmly situated in raja guna. The particle tu meaning however indicates that this mentality is inferior to that of those situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness.

Sloka 17.22 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अदेशकाले यद्दानमपात्रेभ्यश्च दीयते |
असत्कृतमवज्ञातं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ||१७- २२||

adeshakAle yaddAnamapAtrebhyashcha dIyate |
asatkR^itamavaGYAtaM tattAmasamudAhR^itam.h || 17-22 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.22

Anvaya: adesa–unpurified place; kale–unpurified time; yat–that which; danam–charity; upatrebhyah–to unworthy persons; ca–also; diyate–is given; asat-krtam–without respect; avajnatam–without proper attention; tat–that; tamasam–in the mode of darkness; udahrtam–is said to be.

Translation: And charity performed at an improper place and time and given to unworthy persons without respect and with contempt is charity in the mode of ignorance.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Concluding this theme Lord Krishna states that the danam or charity in tama guna or the mode of ignorance is that which is given at the wrong place meaning that which is not revealed as holy or sacred in the Vedic scriptures. Danam given at the wrong time is like at sunset which is the time when ghosts and demons become active or when the astrological calculations are not favourable. Danam given to unworthy persons such as those masquerading as spiritual teachers who are not even conscious enough to be vegetarian and other charlatans who pretend they are spiritual but in reality they have no knowledge of the atma the immortal soul, they have no knowledge of how to even get themselves out of samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and have no knowledge of the Vedic scriptures or devotion to Lord Krishna. Even if accidently they are in a proper place and by chance give danam at a proper time to a worthy recipient. Those in tama guna give it without proper regard and do so without observing the proper etiquette warranted one so worthy. They will not be hospitable. They will act haughty and not bow down and offer respects. If they are rich they will disdainfully give a large amount of wealth but in a contemptuous way like they are doing the holy saint a favour. All this is danam situated in tama guna

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna states that danam or charity given at an inauspicious location such as in cities where cows are slaughtered, at inauspicious times such as dark of night and to inauspicious persons such as meat eaters are situated in tama guna the mode of darkness. Also showing disrespect by failing to properly welcome a worthy recipient such as a Vaisnava brahmana who knows atma tattva or knowledge of the immortal soul. As also showing disdain by failing to wash his feet and drink the water, showing dishonour by failing to offer ceremonial etiquette by performing arati of waving lamps, incense and flowers, etc. are all considered to be in tama guna the mode of ignorance even if accompanied with opulent gifts.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Here Lord Krishna speaks of the danam or charity characterised by tama guna the mode of ignorance. The danam which is given at an improper place such as a city where cows are slaughtered and inhabited by degraded and unrighteous people like mlecchas or meat eaters. The danam that is given at an improper time such as the 48 minutes of twilight or during the astrological influence of the nakshatras or stars Ashlesha, Jyeshtha and Mool. The danam that is given to unworthy recipients such as charlatans, fools, pretenders, entertainers, etc. The danam given in an insulting, complacent or pretentious manner even if given to a worthy recipient at a proper time and place is spoiled due to a lack of respect and regard along with the absence of etiquette in honouring such a one and lack of faith in the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures and so must languish in the mire of tama guna along with the aforementioned improprieties.

Sloka 17.23 audio recital in Sanskrit     

तत्सदिति निर्देशो ब्रह्मणस्त्रिविधः स्मृतः |
ब्राह्मणास्तेन वेदाश्च यज्ञाश्च विहिताः पुरा ||१७- २३||

AUMtatsaditi nirdesho brahmaNastrividhaH smR^itaH |
brAhmaNAstena vedAshcha yaGYAshcha vihitAH purA || 17-23 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.23

Anvaya: om–indication of the Supreme; tat–that; sat–eternal; iti–that; nirdesah–indication; brahmanah–of the Supreme; tri-vidhah–three kinds; smrtah–consider; brahmanah–the brahmanas; tena–therefore; vedah–the Vedic literature; ca–also; yajnah–sacrifice; ca–also; vihitah–used; pura–formerly.

Translation: From the beginning of creation, the three syllables–om tat sat–have been used to indicate the Supreme Absolute Truth [Brahman]. They were uttered by brahmanas while chanting Vedic hymns and during sacrifices, for the satisfaction of the Supreme.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

OM TAT SAT is renowned by the spiritually cognizant as the three fold manifestation of the brahman the spiritual substratum that pervades all existence representing potencies of the Supreme Lord Krishna. This is well established from the Vedic scriptures such as Taittiriya Upanisad I:VIII:I beginning om iti brahman om iti sarvam states: OM is synonymous with the Brahman. OM is understood to be the vibratory cause and spiritual substance of existence. OM is the transcendental sound vibration chanted before commencing every Vedic activity. TAT also is synonymous with the brahman as it signifies infallible, perfection and auspiciousness. SAT is as well synonymous with the brahman for it denotes the ultimate reality containing all realities. These three designations OM TAT SAT are profusely praised to exemplify that the have the potency to redeem and rectify any defects made while performing yagnas or acts of propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. These threefold designations were manifested by the Supreme Lord to represent the Brahmanas, the Vedas and Vedic yagnas. OM represented the Brahmanas, TAT represents the Vedic scriptures and SAT represents the performance of Vedic yagnas for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore the three words OM TAT SAT are paramount in creation and eternally praiseworthy.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Once again the Supreme Lord Krishna discourses on the modalities of performance of prescribed duties and the activities that are required to be performed by mentioning OM TAT SAT which is veritably the transcendental sound vibration and names of the Supreme Lord in His abstract form. In all creation His transcendental sound vibration OM is the root of all sounds and all pervasively always vibrating within and without. Since all the Vedic scriptures refer to the Supreme Lord with such veneration and reverence He is TAT and because the Supreme Lord is perfect without any defect and always auspicious He is SAT. In the subsidiary chapter of the Rig Veda the word OM is referred to His potency of the brahman which is the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. TAT refers to Himself as the source of the Brahman and SAT denotes that He is the original creator of all existence. The elevated Vaisnavas and Brahmins from one of the four sampradaya’s or authorised channel of disciplic succession as revealed in Vedic scriptures are ordained to vibrate these transcendental sound vibrations when commencing, executing and concluding all Vedic rites.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Up until this time Lord Krishna has elaborated upon the distinctions between yagna or propitiation, tapah or austerities and dana or charity and how they are categorised in the three gunas or modes of material nature. Now the Supreme Lord will illustrate how yagna, tapah and dana become spiritualised by being unified with the pranava OM. The term pranava refers to first breath which is first vibrated as OM commencing all Vedic rites. It is derived from the root word prana meaning breath and is properly pronounced AAH with mouth open OOH with lips puckered and MMMM by pursing them together.

The triplicate formula OM TAT SAT is used in reference to the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is the impersonal aspect of the Supreme Lord. The brahman also refers to the Vedas which also originally emanated from the Supreme Lords prana. The Vedas denote Vedically ordained activities of which yagna, tapah and dana are essential. All Vedically ordained yagnas, rituals and ceremonies are only bonafide and valid if prefaced with the pranava OM at its commencement accompanied by its auxiliaries TAT and SAT. The absence of the transcendental sound of OM vibrating from the very inception of any Vedic activity automatically disqualifies it and renders it invalid even if subsequent rituals are performed perfect and perfunctory. The pranava OM is an eternal prerequisite for every expiatory rite prescribed in the Vedic scriptures and thus indispensable. The pranava OM is the transcendental sound vibration personally representing the Supreme Lord Krishna. The auxiliary TAT denotes complete perfection and auspiciousness and the auxiliary SAT denotes the source of all creation.

The Vaisnavas and the brahmanas are those who have the sole right and exclusive authority to vibrate these transcendental sound vibrations audibly and inaudibly during all rituals prescribed in the Vedic scriptures. Brahmanas are those seminally born in India in the topmost caste of Brahmin families. Vaisnavas are devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures, who are born in any caste, in any country, in any planetary system and who are so attracted to the Supreme Lord Krishna that they make themselves available to receive twice born Brahmin initiation from a Vaisnava acarya or bonafide spiritual master from one of the four authorised sampradaya or bonafide channel of disciplic succession. Only duly initiated Vaisnavas and Brahmins are ordained to perform Vedic rites, no others have this authority and in this matter there is no exception. The Brahmins and the Vaisnavas were originally created by the Supreme Lord along with the Vedas and yagnas to harmoniously evolve and perfect all creation.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In this manner the three gunas or modes of material nature in relation to Vedic sctivities has been explained by Lord Krishna emphasising that aspirants for moksa or liberation from material existence should only perform activities characterised by sattva guna or mode of goodness and should avoid activity that is characterised by raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance. During the performance of yagna or propitiation, tapah or austerities and dana or charity; if by chance there is any mistake or error in the subservient components regarding time, place, ingredients and recitation of prescribed mantras or Vedic chants. Such qualified devotees firmly situated in sattva guna possessing purity of heart derived from eating sanctified foods situated in sattva guna and due to performing all activities with bhakti or exclusive loving devotion and also because they are not expectant of any reward for the yagnas they perform and therefore free from any karmas or reactions to actions. Even if such a one commits the sin of improper execution of Vedic rites or incurs the demerits of lapse in attention or forgetfulness of ingredients or inappropriate recitation of Vedic mantras. The most merciful Supreme Lord Krishna in order to protect and safeguard His devotees from acquiring such sins and demerits instructs the utterance of the three divine syllables OM TAT SAT which bestows all virtues and blessings and insures protection, and is glorified by the enlightened sages and liberated muni’s and by knowers of the Vedic scriptures. The enlightened agree unanimously that OM TAT SAT are threefold based on similarity of qualities and attributes related to the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence, related to the Vedic scriptures and related to the Supreme Lord.

We find that the Taittiriya Upanisad I.VIII.I beginning om iti brahman om iti sarvam states: OM is the brahman and OM is the ultimate. The Mundaka Upanisad II.II.VI beginning: om ityevam dhyavatha atmanam states: One should meditate upon OM as representing the Supreme Lord. The Chandogya Upanisad VI.VIII.I beginning sa ya esho anima itad states: That which is the fundamental cause of all existence, which is the spiritual substratum of all existence, which is referred to as Thou art that, is the brahman which manifests from OM whose source is the Supreme Lord. The pranava OM is declared to be the name for the personal aspect of the Supreme Lord. Pranava means first breath mad is the transcendental sound vibration OM commencing all Vedic rites. It is from the root prana meaning breath. TAT is declared to be perfection aspect of the brahman and SAT is declared to be the creational aspect of the brahmin. They are all supremely auspicious and all Vedic rites begin and end with OM.

At the dawn of creation the Supreme Lord emanated the Vedic scriptures, the Vaisnava and brahmanas and yagna to evolve and protect creation. All prescribed Vedic rites were originated and ordained by the Supreme Lord. By remembering the threefold syllables OM TAT SAT and by vibrating their transcendental sound frequency, the potency to neutralise and eradicate any inauspiciousness or error in the performance of any prescribed Vedic rite is activated and no sin is committed nor demerit incurred. This potency is perpetual throughout all eternity and is solely available exclusively to the duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas from one of the four authorised sampradayas or channels of disciplic succession as revealed in Vedic scriptures.

Sloka 17.24 audio recital in Sanskrit     

तस्मादोमित्युदाहृत्य यज्ञदानतपःक्रियाः |
प्रवर्तन्ते विधानोक्ताः सततं ब्रह्मवादिनाम् ||१७- २४||

tasmAdomityudAhR^itya yaGYadAnatapaHkriyAH |
pravartante vidhAnoktAH satataM brahmavAdinAm.h || 17-24 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.24

Anvaya: tasmat–therefore; om–beginning with om; iti–thus; udahrtya–indicating; yajna–sacrifice; dana–charity; tapah–penance; kriyah–performances; pravartante–begin; vidhana-uktah–according to scriptural regulation; satatam–always; brahma-vadinam–of the transcendentalists.

Translation: Thus the transcendentalists undertake sacrifices, charities, and penances, beginning always with om, to attain the Supreme.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

In order to convey the supreme, eternal auspiciousness of OM TAT SAT, Lord Krishna first glorifies the pranava OM. Pranava from the root word prana meaning breath, refers to the first breath and is the sound of OM beginning all Vedic rites. In the performance of all Vedic rites such as yagna or propitiation, tapah or austerities and danam or charity; the pranava OM is always reverently vibrated as the first audible sound. The transcendental sound of OM is the personalised vibration of the Supreme Lord, it is most auspicious and eternal. By its transcendental potency all activities performed by the Vaisnavas and brahmanas enjoined by the ordinances of the Vedic scriptures are auspiciously begun with OM exclusively and by doing so insures that whatever may be defective becomes efficacious.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Once again the Supreme Lord Krishna describes the modalities of actions that are essential to be performed by revealing OM TAT SAT. These three divine syllables headed by the transcendental sound vibration OM are all verily nomenclatures of the Supreme Lord. All over creation the Supreme Lord pervades by His internal potency with the omnipresence of OM. As the Supreme Lord is glorified with the greatest respect in all the Vedic scriptures, He is known as TAT. Since the Supreme Lord is perfect without any defects and completely auspicious, He is known as SAT. The following information is confirmed in the Rig Veda: OM TAT SAT is vibrated for propitiation to the Supreme Lord, adherence to the Vedic ordinances and injunctions and honouring creation, the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and the atma or immortal soul within all jivas or embodied beings.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna elaborates the ontology of OM TAT SAT and how they are interrelated. The words brahma-vadinam are those who follow the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures and refers to the three higher varnas or castes beginning with the brahmins or priestly class, ksatriyas the royal and warrior class and vaisyas the merchant class. Yagna or propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord is performed exclusively by the Vaisnavas and Brahmins. Tapah or austerities is performed by the Vaisnava brahmins and the ksatriyas. Danam or charity is performed by the ksatriyas and vaisyas and is offered to the Vaisnavas and brahmanas to be utilised for the service of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His avatars or authorised incarnations and expansions according to vedic scriptures. Thus the relationship between the three higher varnas has been clarified. All prescribed Vedic rituals must be performed exclusively by the Vaisnavas and brahmanas and always commence with the transcendental sound vibration OM. The Vedas begin with OM as well. Thus the eternal connection between OM and the Vedas and OM and yagnas has been demonstrated and firmly established as only in conjunction with the transcendental sound of OM at the commencement are the Vedas recited and the performance of yagnas is bonafide.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The transcendental evocation OM TAT SAT denotes the Supreme Lord Krishna through His abstract auxiliary potency the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and is all auspiciousness. Due to this interaction the recitation of OM TAT SAT by duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas at the commencement of all Vedic rites insures success and is ascertained as the cause of accomplishing all Vedic rituals successfully causing well being and attainment to the Vaisnavas and brahmanas who are the topmost members of creation. Now in order to delineate the proper actions involved with each for achieving the desired goal, Lord Krishna begins with OM explaining that it is a name for the brahman and is a potency of the Supreme Lord as it is connected to the prime source of all the Vedic scriptures. Therefore by vibrating the transcendental pranava OM at the commencement of any prescribed Vedic activity without any pause or digression stabilises the continuity and connection insuring successful accomplishment of yagna or propitiation and worship by Vaisnavas and brahmanas, tapah or austerities by the ksatriyas or royal warrior class and danam or charity by the vaisyas or merchant class.

Sloka 17.25 audio recital in Sanskrit     

तदित्यनभिसन्धाय फलं यज्ञतपःक्रियाः |
दानक्रियाश्च विविधाः क्रियन्ते मोक्षकाङ्क्षिभिः ||१७- २५||

tadityanabhisandhAya phalaM yaGYatapaHkriyAH |
dAnakriyAshcha vividhAH kriyante mokShakAN^kShibhiH || 17-25 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.25

Anvaya: tat–that; iti–they; anabhisandhaya–without fruitive result; phalam–result of sacrifice; yajna–sacrifice; tapah–penance; kriyah–activities; dana–charity; kriyah–activities; ca–also; vividhah–varieties; kriyante–done; moksa-kanksibhih–those who actually desire liberation.

Translation: One should perform sacrifice, penance and charity with the word tat. The purpose of such transcendental activities is to get free from the material entanglement.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now Lord Krishna glorifies the auspicious sound vibration TAT. The performance of yagna or propitiation, tapah or austerities and danam or charity by the pure minded aspirants in sattva guna the mode of goodness are performed without any desire for rewards. Therefore the recitation of TAT is auspicious because through the purification of the mind and the subsequent renunciation of desire for recompense one becomes motivated for spiritual goals such as moksa or liberation from material existence, atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul and communion with the Supreme Lord.

There is no commentary for this verse. Awaiting contributions.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Whatever prescribed Vedic activities performed by the Vaisnavas and brahmanas such as study of the Vedic scriptures and yagna or propitiation and worship by ritual to the Supreme Lord, tapah or austerities by the ksatriyas or royal warrior class and danam or charity by the vaisyas or merchant class are all done out of devotion and dedicated to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures without the slightest desire for material rewards. Such activities devoid of motivation for mundane results are designated as TAT signifying that such acts are for atma tattva or realisation of the immortal soul, perception of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and attaining communion with the Supreme Lord. The Vishnu Sahasrasa confirms that: sah, vah, kah, klim, and tat denote the Supreme absolute. Hence the ontology of TAT has been demonstrated to signify its connection to transcendental and eternal activities which independently bestow moksa or freedom from material existence and promotion to the eternal spiritual realms.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

The auspiciousness of resonating TAT also as a name of the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is a potency of Lord Krishna signifying that everything is under the complete control of the Supreme Lord. To perform prescribed Vedic activities without any desire for rewards is known as TAT. Such followers of the Vedic scriptures perform all activities for the Supreme Lord out of devotion or as a matter of duty with no expectation of anything in return. This is also known as TAT.

Sloka 17.26 and 17.27 audio recital in Sanskrit     

सद्भावे साधुभावे च सदित्येतत्प्रयुज्यते |
प्रशस्ते कर्मणि तथा सच्छब्दः पार्थ युज्यते ||१७- २६||

यज्ञे तपसि दाने च स्थितिः सदिति चोच्यते |
कर्म चैव तदर्थीयं सदित्येवाभिधीयते ||१७- २७||

sadbhAve sAdhubhAve cha sadityetatprayujyate |
prashaste karmaNi tathA sachchhabdaH pArtha yujyate || 17-26 ||

yaGYe tapasi dAne cha sthitiH saditi chochyate |
karma chaiva tadarthIyaM sadityevAbhidhIyate || 17-27 ||



Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.26, 17.27

Anvaya: sat-bhave–in the sense of the nature of the Supreme; sadhu-bhave–in the sense of the nature of devotion; ca–also; sat–the supreme; iti–thus; etat–this; prayujyate–is used; prasaste–bona fide; karmani–activities; tatha–also; sat-sabdah–the sound sat; partha–O son of Prtha; yujyate–is used; yajne–sacrifice; tapasi–in penance; dane–charity; ca–also; sthitih–situated; sat–the Supreme; iti–thus; ca–and; ucyate–pronounced; karma–work; ca–also; eva–certainly; tat–that; arthiyam–are meant; sat–Supreme; iti–thus; eva–certainly; abhidhiyate–is practiced.

Translation: The Absolute Truth is the objective of devotional sacrifice, and it is indicated by the word sat. These works of sacrifice, of penance and of charity, true to the absolute nature, are performed to please the Supreme Person, O son of Prtha.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

The auspiciousness of the word SAT is being glorified by Lord Krishna. SAT is the sound vibration representing the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and to exemplify eternal goodness and the purity of creation. For any Vedic rite enjoined to be performed under the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures by authorised Vaisnavas and brahmanas; SAT will also be vibrated in conjunction with OM and TAT. Steadiness and concentration in yagnas or propitiation and worship is also deemed as SAT. All activities directly performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord such as collection of articles for offering like ghee or clarified butter from a cow, sweeping and cleaning the temple of the Supreme Lord, singing devotional songs in glorification of the Supreme Lord, making flower garlands for Lord Krishna or any authorised incarnation and expansion as revealed in Vedic scriptures, etc. All these direct activities are deemed as SAT. Even indirect activities that assist in accomplishing the direct activities such as establishing flower gardens and agricultural fields, harvesting fruits, rice and grains, acquiring wealth to be donated to the Vaisnava brahmana devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna, all these indirect activities are also deemed to be SAT. Therefore since OM TAT SAT are transcendental nomenclatures connected to the Supreme Lord and eternally auspicious they are recited at all Vedic rites by duly initiated Vaisnavas and brahmanas from one of the four sampradayas or authorised channels of disciplic succession as revealed in Vedic scriptures and by their efficacy perfect any defects or errors. To consider SAT as only a mere laudatory evocation is not consistent with the ultimate reality. SAT denotes creation, the eternal existence of the atma or immortal soul and perpetual goodness. SAT is understood to be an injunction with the maxim: SAT is eternally auspicious and always to be praised, honoured and glorified.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

The word SAT denotes creation and eternal goodness. The pranava refers to the first breath OM which is vibrated at the commencement of all Vedic rites from the root word prana meaning breath. Properly pronouncing the pranava OM as AH–OOOH–MMMMM while comprehensively understanding its meaning without the slightest desire for rewards, by performing yagnas or propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord with devotion and tapah or austerities and danam or charity as matter of duty, by japa chanting the holy names of the Supreme Lord Krishna: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare With great respect and love as well as the names of any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures are all considered SAT. Thus by duly initiated Vaisnava brahmanas evoking the sacred sound vibrations OM TAT SAT, the Supreme Lord is verily propitiated and worshipped.

The Rig Veda confirms that yagnas that are performed for the exclusive satisfaction of the Supreme Lord without the slightest trace for expectation of rewards and are designated OM TAT SAT. The Vedas call these three divine sounds the performers of Vedic rites due to the fact that the potency of vibrating OM TAT SAT perfects any defects, insures success and pleases the Supreme Lord granting communion with Him.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

The Supreme Lord Krishna explains that the word SAT denotes eternal existence and perpetual goodness. The words sad-bhave exemplifies eternal existence and the words sadhu-bhave exemplifies perpetual goodness. This is the correct understanding in which SAT is to be comprehended in the Vedas as well as its utilisation by the recitation of SAT in prescribed Vedic rituals performed exclusively by the Vaisnavas and brahmanas. Similarly the transcendental sound of SAT may be evoked for any auspicious activity ordained by the Vedic scriptures by duly initiated Vaisnava brahmanas in any of the 480,000 types of humans existing throughout creation.

To follow the prescribed Vedic duties of yagna or propitiation and worship by the Vaisnava brahmanas, tapah or austerities by the ksatriyas the royal warrior class and danam or charity by the vaisyas or merchant class are all considerd in sattva guna or mode of goodness because they are conscientiously following the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures. Thus all such activities are known as SAT denoting perpetual goodness and due to being dedicated to the Supreme Lord they possess auspicious attributes of an eternal nature and for this they are also known as SAT.

Thus the relationship of OM TAT SAT to the Vedas, the performance of prescribed Vedic activities performed by Vaisnava brahmanas and protected by the ksatriyas while supported by the vaisyas clearly and succinctly demonstrates what is factually Vedic in society and what is actually situated in sattva guna while simultaneously clarifying comprehensively by the logic of opposing parallels what is not Vedic in society and thus doomed to the perdition of exclusion from the ascending orbit of sattva guna.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna now reveals the glories of the divine sound SAT which is also a name for the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence. SAT is well established throughout the Vedic scriptures as the epitome of the ultimate truth and always recited in Vedic rituals. SAT confirms the ultimate reality and extinguishes any doubt or misconception about the non- existence of that ultimate reality which manifests all realities. SAT represents perpetual goodness in the eternal spiritual worlds as well as the temporary material worlds. The performance of all prescribed Vedic activities such as marriage or birth ceremonies is known to be SAT. SAT is also devotion to the Supreme Lord in the form of planting Tulasi and offering her leaves unto the Supreme Lord, picking flowers for garlands for the Supreme Lord. Constructing temples for the Supreme Lord, collecting wealth for the Supreme Lord, cleaning the temple floor for the Supreme Lord, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments before the diety form of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His aurthorised incarnations as revealed in Vedic scriptures is all SAT as well. Any activity directly or indirectly related to the service, pleasure and satisfaction of the Supreme Lord as revealed in Vedic scriptures is also deemed as SAT. During yagna or propitiation and worship by the Vaisnavas and brahmanas the priestly class, tapah or austerities by the ksatriyas the royal warrior class and the danam or charity by the merchant class the absence of the conception of rewards for services rendered is SAT.

Here the particles sa iti ca referring to SAT is used twice. The first usage denotes limitation by the words karma ca eva meaning matter of duty. The second usage denotes unlimited by the words tad-arthyiam meaning for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. Thus it has been established by the parallel logic of opposites that activities devoted to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions always follow sanatan dharma or eternal righteousness and can never be unrighteous. Whereas activities not devoted to the Supreme Lord Krishna regardless of how noble and well meaning they may be are never situated in righteousness because they exclude Him.

The Chandogya Upanisad VIII.I.VI beginning tad yatheha karmajito lokah states: Those who at the time of death depart their bodies without realising the atma or immortal soul which is the goal of human existence for them moksa or liberation does not exist anywhere. But those who depart their physical body at the time of death having realised the atma have achieved the goal of human existence and experience moksa everywhere in all worlds. What could be more pathetic and sorrowful then performing prodigious austerities for impermanent results and wasting one’s life in the pursuit and acquisition of temporary materialistic rewards which have absolutely no value longer then the moment of death in a brief span of life not even reaching 100 years.

So even by performing prescribed Vedic activities perfectly while harbouring desires for fame, wealth, power and dominion in this life; or performed for entry into the heavenly planets in the next life to enjoy without the burdens of old age and disease and fully satisfy the senses with exquisite and beautiful heavenly maidens who want to enjoy fully as well. All these thingy are as ephemeral as mist in the sun. When the merits of such activities are exhausted such jivas or embodied beings incarnate again in the material worlds of mortals to reap what they sow. In this way addicted to the rituals of the Vedic scriptures and attached to the rewards of the heavenly planets they remain revolving in the orbit of samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death incessantly. Contrarily all activities dedicated to the Supreme Lord for His exclusive satisfaction without the slightest desire for any reward are of an eternal nature and bestow immeasurable benefit. Lord Krishna confirms in chapter 18 verse 56 beginning: sarva-karmanyapi sada meaning: Although always performing unlimited activities, by the mercy of the Supreme Lord and protected by Him one assuredly achieves the eternal, imperishable spiritual realm.

Thus it has been established that vibrating the divine and transcendental sounds of OM TAT SAT at the commencement of all Vedic activities comprised in the ordinances and injunctions prescribed in the Vedic scriptures is eternally auspicious; if performed with devotion for the exclusive satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Krishna with full faith in Him or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions. In this way by the power and potency invested in OM TAT SAT all Vedic activities are insured success and confer eternal benedictions for the highest good of creation and all living entities.

Sloka 17.28 audio recital in Sanskrit     

अश्रद्धया हुतं दत्तं तपस्तप्तं कृतं च यत् |
असदित्युच्यते पार्थ न च तत्प्रेत्य नो इह ||१७- २८||

ashraddhayA hutaM datta.n tapastapta.n kR^ita.n cha yat.h |
asadityuchyate pArtha na cha tatpretya no iha || 17-28 ||


Show Translation, Anvaya and Commentaries: Sloka 17.28

Anvaya: asraddhaya–without faith; hutam–offered in sacrifice; dattam–given; tapah–penance; taptam–executed; krtam–performed; ca–also; yat–that which; asat–false; iti–thus; ucyate–is said to be; partha–O son of Prtha; na–never; ca–also; tat–that; pretya–after death; no–nor; iha–in this life.

Translation: But sacrifices, austerities and charities performed without faith in the Supreme are nonpermanent, O son of Prtha, regardless of whatever rites are performed. They are called asat and are useless both in this life and the next.

Commentaries of the four authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

Sridhara Swami’s Commentary:

Now to emphasise the paramount position and fundamental importance of undertaking all Vedic activities with sraddha or resolute faith, Lord Krishna condemns offering propitiation and worship, executing austerities and giving charity without requisite faith in the activity performed. All activities performed without faith denotes nothingness for no such activity will give any results in the present life or in future reincarnations. How can any Vedic activity devoid of sraddha cause anything to manifest in the material existence or bestow anything in this life or the next life? It is not even remotely possible. Furthermore the blemish and defect accompanying asraddha or lack of faith brings with it condemnation and ill repute is known as asat the very antithesis of SAT.

So in conclusion it has been established and determined that a jiva or embodied being who completely renounces raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance and takes exclusive recourse in sattva guna the mode of goodness is qualified to realise atma tattva realisation of the immortal soul, the ultimate truth and communion with the Supreme Lord.

Madhvacarya’s Commentary:

Since the performance of all Vedic activities are exclusively for the propitiation and worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna and any of His avatars or authorised incarnations and expansions such activities are known as SAT. The Supreme Lord is celebrated and glorified by His triplicate names of OM TAT SAT. The Vedic hymns and mantras gain power when OM TAT SAT are vibrated at their commencement and lose power if they are omitted at the end. Any hymns, chants or mantras sacred incantations recited without first uttering OM TAT SAT are known as a-sura or void of light and non- luminous. Also recitation of OM TAT SAT without comprehensively understanding its meaning bestows little faith and has meagre value. Similarly chanting Vedic mantras without knowing their meaning is worthless because Vedic mantras protect those who know the meaning reciting them as well as those who know the meaning and hear them and because of this they are known as mantras. Therefore an aspirant for advancement should always be cognizant of the meaning of the mantras during chanting and hearing. This has been revealed in the Paingi scripture. The performance of Vedic activities and the chanting of Vedic mantras while cognizant of their meaning without any expectation of reward are known as sura or luminous and enlightened. Therefore only activities performed in devotion and connected to the Supreme Lord are deemed SAT and are of the nature of perpetual goodness. All other actions contrary to this are known as asat.

Activities in raja guna the mode of passion are also included as asat due to the defect of self-motivated desires which keeps one in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Actions in tama guna the mode of ignorance are situated in asat as well due to a comatose state of nescience and causes one to descend into the inferior hellish worlds.

Only by being established and situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness is a jiva or embodied being redeemed which leads to atma tattva realisation of the immortal soul, moksa freedom from material existence and attaining communion with the Supreme Lord. Therefore to receive salvation one shoul.

Ramanuja’s Commentary:

Lord Krishna concludes this chapter by emphasizing that even if prescribed Vedic activities are performed meticulously according to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures; if they are devoid of sraddha or resolute faith they have absolutely no value and are known as a-sat the antithesis of SAT or perpetual goodness. Without the prerequisite faith in the Supreme Lord Krishna, in the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures, in the Vaisnava spiritual preceptor; the performance of prescribed Vedic activities bestow no rewards in this life or in subsequent reincarnations. For all time and energy, all efforts are wasted for nothing is obtained in the present life and nothing is attained in a future life for the practitioner of prescribed Vedic activities who is devoid of sraddha. So the indispensable value of resolute faith cannot be overestimated.

Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary:

In order to firmly establish that all Vedic activities should be performed with full faith denoting with spiritual knowledge acquired by humbly enquiring from the bonafide Vaisnava spiritual preceptor in one of the four authorised sampradayas or channels of disciplic succession revealed in Vedic scriptures. The Supreme Lord Krishna emphasises the utter futility and worthlessness of prescribed Vedic activities executed without inherent sraddha or resolute faith. Whatever is offered regardless of how perfectly, whatever is performed regardless of how austere, whatever is donated regardless how opulent; if devoid of inherent, resolute faith it has no value whatsoever in this world or the next, in the present life and in future lives and is known as a-sat the antithesis to SAT perpetual goodness. Without faith the supporting cause is absent and does not create an effect in time affecting future reincarnations.

The Vedic scriptures explicitly state that the actions of the righteous become pure by faith. Therefore meticulously eschewing all activities characterised by raja guna the mode of passion which due to self-motivated desires keeps one locked in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and fastidiously avoiding all activities characterised by tama guna the mode of ignorance which due to nescience degrades one into existence in the inferior hellish planets are the instructions one must steadfastly adhere to.

An aspirant should remain permanently situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness and with full faith in the Supreme Lord, the Vedic scriptures and the Vaisnava spiritual master, performing prescribed Vedic activities to the best of one’s ability to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. The performance of all activities for sake of the Supreme Lord is designated as righteousness and bequeaths inner purity, spiritual wisdom and devotion; guiding a jiva or embodied being to atma tatvva or realisation of the immortal soul, moksa or liberation from material existence and final beatitude and communion with the Supreme Lord Krishna.

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