Gita Series – 153: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. Verse 1 – 4

The 17th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita is known as “śrddhātrayavibhāgayogah”(Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga), known as the “yoga of three kinds of faith”. Kṛṣṇa deals in this bhagavad gita 17 chapter not only about three kinds of faith, but also talks about the importance śāstra-s. This chapter has twenty eight verses.

The Bhagavad Gita chapter 17 begins with Arjuna’s question to Kṛṣṇa. “What is the position of those, by setting aside the precepts of the Scriptures, worship gods with absolute faith? Do they belong to which of the guṇas, sattvic, rajas or tamas?”

Kṛṣṇa said, “The innate faith belongs to all the three types of guṇas, sattvic, rajas and tamas. Listen to me now. The faith of men depends on their mental attitude. The man is an embodiment of faith and whichever faith he is endowed with, he belongs to that faith. Men with sattvic guṇa worship gods, men with rajasic guṇa worship yakṣa-s and demons and those with tamo guṇa worship spirits and ghosts.”

Primarily, guṇas constitute the personality of a person. At the time of conception, all the three types of guṇas are present in equal proportion. As the foetus grows, one of the three guṇas become predominant and in association with one’s karma, decides the personality of the concerned person. The dominant guṇa in association with inner psychic apparatus viz. mind, intellect and ego (or mind, intellect, consciousness and ego) determine the character of that person.

Arjuna asks Kṛṣṇa that a person with utmost faith, worship gods of his choice, choosing to ignore the sayings of the scriptures, what would be his predominant guṇa. The question is whether following the teachings of scriptures are important or faith and devotion are important. Kṛṣṇa says that man is bound by one faith or the other. Without faith, a man cannot become an existent. The predominance of a particular guṇa depends upon one’s inner psychic apparatus. In the Lord’s act of creation, sustenance and dissolution, interdependency plays a predominant role. Not a single factor can function on its own. There is always checks and counterchecks in His creation, so that, nothing goes wrong in His administration. For example, let us take guṇa. Guṇa cannot become predominant on its own and has to depend upon mind, intellect and ego. The inner psychic apparatus cannot function independently, and it has to depend upon guṇa. Man needs oxygen for his survival that is produced by the plants and the carbon dioxide required for the plants is produced by man. Because of interdependency, and checks and counterchecks, the universe is being sustained with the highest precision. A small deviation would lead to annihilation of the universe.

The men with sattvic guṇa are mentally pure and worship gods and goddesses. The one with rajasic guṇa, resorts to the worship of demigods and goddesses. The one with tamo guṇa, invokes spirits and ghosts. One’s type of worship is based on one’s predominant guṇa. Worshipping gods and goddesses indicate the purity of one’s mind. Worshipping demigods indicate one’s moderate mental state. But those who worship spirits and ghosts remain in the realms of deep darkness, harming others. Generally spirits and ghosts are used to injure others. Their minds are totally deluded and defy all sorts of reasoning. Whatever form men worship, ultimately they become that. A person worshipping a god becomes that god as he is able to establish his consciousness with that form of god. The one who worships demigods and goddesses become celestial bodies. But, the one who are associated with spirits and ghosts become spirits and ghosts and suffer eternally through transmigrations.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVI. 17 - 24

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 5 - 7

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 8 - 10