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Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 17: Shradha-Treye-Vibhaag-Yoga – The Three Divisions of Material Existence

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Bhagavad Gita Chapter17 Text21

Chapter 17: Shradha-Treye-Vibhaag-Yoga – The Three Divisions of Material Existence

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.

  • Section – 1 (Shloka 1-6)
    • Discussion on Faith. Fate of men performing austere penance not enjoined by scriptures
  • Section – 2 (Shloka 7-22)
    • Different kinds of food, sacrifice, penance and charity described
  • Section – 3 (Shloka 23-28)
    • Meaning and significance of uttering ‘ Om Tat Sat ‘

17.1 Arjuna said “Those who, endowed with faith, worship gods and others casting aside the injunctions of scriptures, where do they stand, Krishna,- in Sattva, Rajas or Tams.”

17.1 Arjuna uvaach “ye shaastra-vidhim-utsrijya yajante shradhaa-anvitaah; teshaam nishthaa tu kaa krishna satvamaho rajastamah”

17.2 Shree Bhagwan ” That untutored innate faith of men is of three kinds– Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika. Hear of it from Me.”

17.2 ShreeBhagwanovaach “trividhaa bhavati shradhaa dehinaam saa swabhaavjaa; satvikee raajasee chaiv taamsee cheti taam shrinu”

17.3 The faith of all men conforms to their mental constitution, Arjuna. The man consists of faith; whatever the nature of his faith, he is verily that.

17.3 satvaanurupa sarvasya shradhaa bhavati bhaarata; shradhaam-yo-ayam purusho yo yach-chchridhah sa aiv sah

17.4 Men of Sattvika disposition worship gods; those of Rajasika temperament worship demigods and demons; while others, who are men of Tamasika disposition, worship the spirits of dead and groups of ghosts.

17.4 yanjante saatvikaa devan yakhsha-rakhyansee raajsaah; pretaan-bhootganaanshcha-anye yajante taamsaa janaah

17.5 Men who practice dire penance of an arbitrary type not sanctioned by scriptures, and who are full of hypocrisy and egotism are obsessed with desire, attachment and pride of power;

17.5 ashaastravihitam ghoram tapyante ye tapo janaah; dambh-ahankaar-sanyuktaah kaam-raag-balaanvitaah

17.6 And who emaciate the elements constituting their body as well as Me, the Supreme Spirit, dwelling in their heart,- know these senseless people to have a demoniac disposition.

17.6 karshyantah shreerastham bhoot-graamam-achetasah; maam chaivantaah-shreerastham taan-vidhi-aasurnishchyan


17.7 Food also, which is agreeable to different men according to their innate disposition is of three kinds. and likewise sacrifice, penance and charity too are of three kinds each; hear their distinction as follows.

17.7 aahaarastvapi sarvasya trividho bhavati priyah; yagyas-tapastathaa daanam teshaam bhedam-imam shrinu

17.8 Foods which promote longevity, intelligence, vigor, health, happiness and cheerfulness, and which are sweet, bland, substantial and naturally agreeable, are dear to the Sattvika type of men.

17.8 aayuh satva-balaarogya-sukh-preetee-vivardhanaah; rasyah snigdhah sthirah hridya ahaaraah sattvika-priyah

17.9 Foods which are bitter, acidly, salty, over hot, pungent, dry and burning, and which cause, grief and sickness, are dear to the Rajasika type of men.

17.9 katu-amla-lavana-atiushna-teekhshan-rukhsha-vidaahinah; ahaaraa raajasasya-eshtaa dukh-shokaamaya-pradaah

17.10 Food which is half cooked or half-ripe, insipid, putrid, stale and polluted, and which is impure too, is dear to men of a Tamasika disposition.

17.10 yaat-yaamam gat-rasam pooti paryushitam cha yaat; uchchishtam-api chameghyam bhojanam taamas-priyam

17.11 The sacrifice which is offered, as ordained by scriptural injunctions, by men who expect no return and who believe that such sacrifices must be performed, is Sattvika in character.

17.11 aphala-akankhshibhir-yagyo vidhi drishto yaa ijyate; yashtavyam-aiveti manah samaadhaye saa sattvikah

17.12 That sacrifice however, which is offered for the sake of mere show or even with an eye to its fruit, know it to be Rajasika, Arjuna.

17.12 abhi-sandhaye tu phalam dambaartham-api chaiv yat; ijyate bharat-shreshtha tam yagyam vidhi raajasam

17.13 A sacrifice, which has no respect for scriptural injunctions, in which no food is offered, and no sacrificial fees are paid, which is without sacred chant and devoid of faith, is said to be Tamasika.

17.13 vidhiheenam-asrishtaanam mantra-heenam-adiakhshinam; shradha-virihtam yagyam taamasam parichakhshyate

17.14 Worship of gods, the Bahamans, one’s elders and wise men, purity, straightforwardness, continence and harmlessness–this is called bodily penance.

17.14 dev-dvij-guru-pragya-poojanam shaucham aarjwam; brahmcharmayam-ahinsaa cha shreeram tapa uchyate

17.15 Words which cause no annoyance to others and are truthful, agreeable and wholesome, as well as study of Vedas and other shastras and the practice of repetition of Divine Name— this is known as austerity of speech.

17.15 annudveg-karam vakyam satyam priye-hittam cha yat; swadhyayaa-abhyaasanam chaiv vangmeam tapa uchyate

17.16 Cheerfulness of mind, placidity, habit of contemplation on God, control of mind and perfect purity of inner feeling–all this is called austerity of mind.

17.16 manaah prasaadah saumyatvam maunam-aatma-vinigrahah; bhavsanshudhir-itee-et-tapo maansam-uchyate

17.17 This threefold penance performed with supreme faith by Yogis expecting no return is called Sattvika.

17.17 shradhyaa paryaa taptam tapas-tat-trividham naraih; aphalaa-kankhshibhir-yuktai saatvikam parichakhyate

17.18 The penance which is performed for the sake of renown, honor and worship as well as for any other selfish gain either in all sincerity or by way of ostentation, and yields an uncertain and momentary fruit, has been spoken of here as Rajasika.

17.18 satkaar-maan-poojaartham tapo dambhen chaiv yat; kriyate tadhi proktam raajsamchalama-adhruvam

17.19 Austerity which is practiced through perversity and is accompanied with self-mortification or is intended to harm others,– such austerity has been declared as Tamasika.

17.19 moorh-grahen-aatmano yat-peedia kriyate tapah; parsyotsaad-naartham vaa tat-taamsam-udharitam

17.20 A gift which is bestowed with a sense of duty, at a fit place, suitable time and to deserving person,– on one who is no benefactor,– that gift has been pronounced as Sattvika.

17.20 datvyam-iteeyad-daanam diyte-anupkaarine; deshe kale cha paatre cha tad-daanam saatvikam smritam

17.21 A gift which is bestowed in grudging spirit and with the object of getting a service in return or in the hope of obtaining a reward, is called Rajasika.

17.21 yattu pratiupkaar-aartham-phalam-udishya vaa punah; diyate chaa pariklishtam tad-daanam raajasam smritam

17.22 A gift which is made without good grace and in disdainful spirit out of time and place and to undeserving person, is said to be Tamasika.

17.22 adesh-kale yad-daanam-apatrebhyashcha diyte; asat-kritam-avagyaatam tat-taamasam-udharitam

17.23 OM, TAT, and SAT– this has been declared as the three fold appellation of the Absolute, who is Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss solidified. By that were the Brahmans and the Vedas as well as sacrifices created at the cosmic dawn.

17.23 om tat-sat-iti nirdesho brahmanastrividhah smritah; brahmanaasten vedaashcha yagyaashcha vihitaa puraa

17.24 Therefore, acts of sacrifice, charity and austerity as enjoined by sacred precepts are always commenced by noble souls -given to the recitation of Vedic chants- with utterances of divine name OM.

17.24 tasmaad-om-iti-udaarhritya yagya-daan-tapah-kriyaah; pravartante vidhaanoktaah satatam brahm-vaadinaam

17.25 With the idea that all belongs to God, who is denoted by the appellation TAT, acts of sacrifice and austerity as well as acts of charity of various kinds are performed by seekers of blessedness expecting no return for them.

17.25 tadityaanibhisandhaaye phalam yagya-tapa-kriyaah; daan-kriyaashcha vividhaah kriyante moksha-kaankhshbhih

17.26 The name of God, Sat is employed in the sense of truth and goodness. And the word SAT is also used in the sense of a praiseworthy act, Arjuna.

17.26 sadbhaave sadhubhave cha saditye-tat-prayujyate; prashaste karmaani tathaa sachchabdaa paartha yujyate

17.27 And steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and charity is likewise spoken of as ‘SAT’ and action for the sake of God is verily termed as ‘SAT’.

17.27 yagye tapasi daane cha stithih saditi chochyate; karma chaiv tadartheeyam sadityeva-abhideeyate

17.28 An oblation which is offered, a gift given, an austerity practiced, and whatever good deed is performed, without faith, it is all termed as naught; therefore, it is of no avail here or hereafter.

17.28 ashradhya hutam datam tapas-taptam kritam cha yat; asdit-uchyate paartha na cha tat-praetya no ih


Thus in the Upanishad sung by the Lord, the Science of Brahma, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Shree Krishna and Arjuna, ends the sixth chapter entitled “The Yoga of Division of Threefold Faith.”


om tat-sat-iti shree-mad-bhagwat-geetasupnishatsu

brahm-vidyaayaam yog-shastre



naam saptadasho adhyayh ||17||


 BG Chapter 16


2 thoughts on “Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 17: Shradha-Treye-Vibhaag-Yoga – The Three Divisions of Material Existence

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