Author Topic: CHAPTER 17 - Śraddhātrayavibhāga Yoga  (Read 476 times)


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CHAPTER 17 - Śraddhātrayavibhāga Yoga
« on: April 09, 2019, 11:58:59 PM »
The ignorant, but faithful

The Lord's words (xvi. 24) having given Arjuna an occasion for a question, he said:

Arjuna said:
1. Whoso worship, setting aside the ordinance of the scripture, endued with faith, - what faith is theirs? Is it Sattva, or Rajas, or Tamas?
Whoso: not exactly specified. It must refer to those who, endued with faith, i.e., thinking that there is something beyond, on observing the conduct of the learned, worship the Gods and the like, unaware of the procedure laid down in the scriptures, the sruti and the smriti. Those, on the other hand, who, while knowing the injunctions of the scripture, set them aside and worship the Gods, etc., contrary to those injunctions, - they cannot indeed be meant here, because of the qualification that they are ‘endued with faith’. We cannot suppose that those men are endued with faith who, while knowing the scriptural injunctions about the worship of the Gods, etc., set them aside, without caring for them and engage in the worship of the Gods which is not in accordance with the injunctions. Therefore, it is only the persons of the other class described above that are here referred to. Arjuna's question may be thus stated: Is the worship offered by them to the Gods, etc., based in Sattva, or Rajas, or Tamas?

The three kinds of Faith
Seeing that such a general question cannot be answered without reference to the several particular aspects of it, the Blessed Lord said:

The Blessed Lord said:
2. Threefold is that faith born of the individual nature of the embodied, - Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. Do thou hear of it.
Faith, of which thou hast asked, is of three sorts. It is born of the individual nature (svabhava) i.e., the samskara or tendency made up of the self - reproductive latent impressions of the acts - good and bad, Dharma and Adharma - which were done in the past births and which manifested themselves at the time of death. Sattvic: faith in the worship of the Gods (Devas) which is an effect of Sattva. Rajasic: faith in the worship of the Yakshas and the Rakshasas, which is an effect of Rajas. Tamasic: faith in the worship of the Pretas and the Pisachas, which is an effect of Tamas. Do thou understand the threefold faith which is going to be described. As to this threefold Faith,

3. The faith of each is in accordance with his nature, O Bharata. The man is made up of his faith; as a man's faith is, so is he.
 Each: every living being. Nature (Sattva): the antah-karana with its specific tendencies or samskara. Man: Jiva, samsarin. So: in accordance with that faith. So the Sattvic faith or the like has to be inferred from its characteristic effects, namely, the worship of the Gods or the like. The Lord says:

4. Sattvic men worship the Gods; Rajasic, the Yakshas and the Rakshasas; the others, - Tamasic men, - the Pretas and the hosts of Bhutas.
Hosts of Bhutas: as also the seven Matrikas.

Men of Rajasic and Tamasic Faiths
Thus, by a general principle laid down in the scripture, Sattvic and other devotions have been determined through their respective effects. Now only one in a thousand is Sattvic and devoted to the worship of the Gods, while the Rajasic and Tamasic creatures form the majority. How?

5. Those men who practice terrific austerities not enjoined by the scripture, given to hypocrisy and egotism, endued with the strength of lust and passion.

6. Weakening, ‘all the elements in the body - fools they are - and Me who dwell in the body within; know thou these to be of demoniac resolves.
Terrific: causing pain to himself and to other living beings. Endued, etc: This portion of the text may also be interpreted to mean ‘possessed of lust, passion and strength. Elements: organs. Me: Narayana, the Witness of their thoughts and deeds. To weaken Me is to neglect My teaching. Know thou that they are demoniac (asuric) in their resolves, so that you may avoid them. This is a word of advice to Arjuna.

Threefold Food, Worship, Austerity and Gift
Now will be shown what sort of food - which is divided into three classes, viz., that which is savoury and oleaginous, and so on - is dear to the Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic men respectively, so that a man may know that he is one of Sattva or of Rajas or of Tamas as indicated by his own partiality for one or another particular class of food - such as the savoury and the oleaginous - and then give up the Rajasic and Tamasic food and resort to Sattvic one. Similarly, the object of the threefold division here made of sacrifice and the like according to the Sattva and other gunas is to show how a man may find out and give up the Rajasic and Tamasic ones and resort exclusively to the Sattvic ones. The Lord says:

7. The food also which is dear to each is threefold, as also worship, austerity and gift. Do thou hear of this, their distinction.
Each: Every living being that eats. This: that which is going to be described. Their: of food (ahara), etc.

The three kinds of Food

8. The foods which increase life, energy, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, which are savoury and oleaginous, substantial and agreeable, are dear to the Sattvic.
Oleaginous: oily, fatty, substantial: which can last long in the body.

9. The foods that are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and burning, are liked by the Rajasic, causing pain, grief and disease.
Excessively: should be construed. with all, thus, excessively bitter, excessively hot, etc.,

10. The food which is stale, tasteless, putrid and rotten, refuse and impure, is dear to the Tamasic.
Stale: Half - cooked. ‘Yatayama’ (Lit. cooked three hours ago) meaning ‘powerless’ is thus explained, to avoid tautology; for, the next word ‘gatarasa’(tasteless) means the same, i.e., ‘powerless. ’Rotten: the cooked food over which one night has passed. Refuse: left after a meal. Impure: unfit for offering.

The three kinds of Worship
Now the three sorts of worship will be described:

11. That worship is Sattvic which is offered by men desiring no fruit, as enjoined in the Law, with a fixed resolve in the mind that they should merely worship.
That they should merely worship: that their duty lies in the mere performance of the worship itself, that no personal end has to be achieved by that means.

12. That which is offered, O best of the Bharatas, with a view to reward and for ostentation, know it to be a Rajasic worship.

13. They declare that worship to be Tamasic which is contrary to the ordinances, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of mantras and gifts, and which is devoid of faith.
Distributed: to brahmanas. Devoid of mantras: with hymns defective in utterance and accent. Gifts: prescribed fees (to priests).

Physical Austerity
Now the three kinds of austerity will be described:

14. Worshipping the Gods, the twice - born, teachers and wise men, - purity, straightforwardness, continence, and abstinence from injury are termed the bodily austerity.
The bodily austerity: that which is accomplished by the body, i.e., in which the body is the chief of all factors of action, - the doer, etc., - of which the Lord will speak in xviii. 15.

Austerity in Speech

15. The speech which causes no excitement and is true, as also pleasant and beneficial, and also the practice of sacred recitation, are said to form the austerity of speech.
Excitement: pain to living beings. Pleasant and beneficial: having respectively to do with the seen and the unseen. ‘Speech ’is specified by the attributes of ‘causing no excitement’ and so on. An invariable combination of all these attributes is here meant. That speech addressed to others which, though causing no pain, is devoid of one, two or three of the other attributes - i.e., is not true, not pleasant and not beneficial - cannot form the austerity of speech; so, that speech which, though true, is wanting in one, two, or three of the other attributes cannot form the austerity of speech; so, an agreeable speech which is wanting in one, two or three of the other attributes cannot form the austerity of speech. So, the speech which, though beneficial, is wanting in one, two, or three of the other attributes cannot form the austerity of speech. - What forms the austerity then? The speech that is true, that causes no excitement, that is agreeable and good, forms the austerity of speech; as for example, "Be tranquil, my son, study (the Vedas) and practice yoga, and this will do thee good." Practice of sacred recitation: according to ordinances.

Mental Austerity

16. Serenity of mind, good-heartedness, silence, self-control, purity of nature, this is called the mental austerity.
Good-heartedness: the state of mind which may be inferred from its effects, such as the, brightness of the face, etc., Silence: even silence in speech is necessarily preceded by a control of thought, and thus the effect is here put for the cause, viz., the control of thought. Self-control: a general (control of the mind. This is to be distinguished from silence (mauna) which means tlie control of thought so far as it concerns speech. Purity of nature: Honesty of purpose in dealings with other people.

The three kinds of Austerity according to Gunas
The Lord proceeds to show that the foregoing austerity, - bodily, vocal and mental, - as practiced by men, is divided into classes according to Sattva and other gunas.

17. This threefold austerity, practiced by devout men with utmost faith, desiring no fruit, they call Sattvic.
Threefold: having respectively to do with the three seats - body, speech, and mind. With faith: believing in the existence of things (taught in the scriptures.)

18. That austerity which is practiced with the object of gaining good reception, honour and worship, and with hypocrisy, is said to be of this world, to be Rajasic, unstable and uncertain.
Good reception: in such words as ‘Here is a good brahmana. of great austerities.’ Honour: the act of rising to greet, of making a reverential salutation, etc., Worship: the washing of feet, adoring and feeding. Unstable: as productive of a transient effect.

19. That austerity which is practiced out of a foolish notion, with self-torture, or for the purpose of ruining another, is declared to be Tamasic.

The three kinds of Gift
Now the threefold nature of gift will be described.

20. That gift which is given - knowing it to be a duty to give - to one who does no service, in place and in time, and to a worthy person, that gift is held Sattvic.
Given to one, etc.: to one who cannot return the good, or to one from whom, though able to return the good, no such return is expected. Place: Kurukshetra etc., Time: Sankranti (passage of the sun from one Zodiacal sign to another) etc. Worthy: as learned in the six sciences (angas) etc.

21. And that gift which is given with a view to a return of the good, or looking for the fruit, or reluctantly, that gift is held to be Rajasic.
With a view etc., hoping that he (the donee) will in time return the service, or that the gift will secure for himself some (now) unseen reward.

22. The gift that is given at a wrong place or time, to unworthy persons, without respect or with insult, that is declared to be Tamasic.
At a wrong place and time: at a place which is not sacred and which is associated with mlechhas (Non-aryans), with unholy things and the like, and at a time which is not auspicious - i.e., which is not marked with any such speciality as the sun's passage from one zodiacal sign to another. Unworthy persons: such as fools or rogues. Without respect: without agreeable speech, without the washing of feet, or without worship, though the gift be made in proper time and place.

How to perfect the defective acts
The following instructions are given with a view to perfecting sacrifices, gifts, austerities, etc.

23. "Om, Tat, Sat": this has been taught to be the triple designation of Brahman. By that were created of old the, brahmanas and the Vedas and the sacrifices.
Taught: in the Vedanta by the knowers of Brahman. By that etc: by the triple designation, etc. This is said in praise of (the triple) designation.

24. Therefore, with the utterance of ‘Om,’ are the acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity, as enjoined in the scriptures, always begun by the students of Brahman.
Acts of sacrifice: acts in the form of sacrifice, etc.,

25. With ‘Tat’ without aiming at the fruits, are the acts of sacrifice and austerity and the various acts of gift performed by the seekers of moksha.
With ‘Tat’: with the utterance of ‘Tat’, which is a designation of Brahman. The fruits: of sacrifice, etc., Acts of gift: gifts of land, gold, etc., The use of ‘Om’ and of ‘Tat’ has been explained. Now the use of ‘Sat’ is given as follows:

26. The word ‘Sat’ is used in the sense of reality and of goodness; and so also, O Partha, the word ‘Sat’ is used in the sense of an auspicious act.
In expressing the reality of an object which is unreal - as for example, the birth of a son who is unreal - and in expressing that a man is one of good conduct who is not so, this designation of the Brahman, viz., the word ‘Sat,’ is employed. It is also used with reference to the act of marriage and the like.

27. Devotion to sacrifice, austerity and gift is also spoken of as 'Sat'; and even action in connection with these is called 'Sat.'
Sacrifice: the act of sacrifice. Spoken of: by the learned. These: sacrifice, gift and austerity. Or, ‘tadarthiyam karma’ may be interpreted to mean action for the sake of the Lord whose triple designation is the subject of treatment here. These acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity, - even such of them as are not of the Sattvic class and are imperfect, - turn out to be Sattvic and perfect ones, on applying to them with faith the triple designation of Brahman.

Works without faith are fruitless
Because all these acts become perfect when done in full faith, therefore,

28. Whatever is sacrificed, given, or done, and whatever austerity is practiced, without faith, it is called ’asat,’ O Partha; it is naught here or hereafter. Given: to the brahmanas. Deed: such as adoration and obeisance. Asat: as they are quite outside the path by which I (the Isvara) may be reached. It is naught: though costing much trouble, it is of no use here as it is despised by the wise; nor can it produce any effect hereafter.

The teaching of the discourse summed up
[The teaching of this discourse may be thus summed up; - There are devotees, who, though ignorant of the scriptures, are yet endued with faith, and who, according to the nature of their faith, may be classed as Sattvic, Rajasic, or Tamasic. These should cultivate pure Sattva by avoiding Rajasic and Tamasic kinds of food, worship, gift and austerity, and resorting exclusively to Sattvic ones. When their acts of worship, gift, and austerity are found defective, they may be perfected by uttering the three designations of Brahman, ’Om,’ ‘Tat,’ and ‘Sat.’ With their reason (buddhi) thus purified, they should engage in the study of scriptures and in the subsequent stages of investigation into the nature of Brahman. Thereby they attain a direct perception of Truth and are finally liberated. - A.]

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