Bhagavad Gita: 17. Threefold Faith


Threefold Faith

Arjuna said: What is the mode of devotion of those who perform spiritual practices with faith, but without following the scriptural injunctions, O Krishna? Is it in the mode of goodness, passion, or ignorance? (17.01)

Three types of faith
The Supreme Lord said: The natural faith of embodied beings is of three kinds: Goodness, passion, and ignorance. Now hear about these from Me. (17.02) O Arjuna, the faith of each is in accordance with one’s own natural disposition (that is governed by latent Kārmic impressions or Samskāra). One is known byone’s faith. One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates or visualizes the object of desire with deep faith in God and a burningdesire). (17.03) Persons in the mode of goodness worship celestial controllers; those in the mode of passion worship supernatural rulers and demons; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits. (17.04)Ignorant persons of demonic nature are those who practice severe austerities without following the prescription of the scriptures, who are full of hypocrisy and egotism, who are impelled by the force of desire and attachment, and who senselessly torture the elements in their body and also Me who dwells within the body. (17.05-06)

Three types of food
The food preferred by all of us is also of three types. So are the sacrifice, austerity, and charity. Now hear the distinction between them. (17.07) The foods that promote longevity, virtue, strength, health, happiness, and joy are juicy, smooth, substantial, and nutritious. Such foods are liked by persons in the mode of goodness.(17.08) People in the mode of passion like foods that are very bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry, and burning; and cause pain, grief, and disease. (17.09) People in the mode of ignorance like foods that are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, refuse, and impure (such as meat and alcohol).(17.10)

Three types of sacrifices
Selfless service, enjoined by the scriptures and performed without the desire for the fruit, with a firm belief and conviction that it is a duty, is in the mode of goodness.(17.11) Selfless service that is performed only for show and aiming for fruit, is in the mode of passion, O Arjuna. (17.12) Selfless service that is performed without following the scripture, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of mantra, faith, and gift, is said to be in the mode of ignorance. (17.13)

Austerity of thought, word, and deed
The worship of celestial controllers, the priest, the guru, and the wise; purity, honesty, celibacy, and nonviolence--- these are said to be austerity of deed. (17.14) Speech that is non-offensive, truthful, pleasant, beneficial, and is used for the regular study of scriptures is called the austerity of word. (17.15) Serenity of mind, gentleness, calmness, self-control, and purity of thought--- these are called austerity of thought. (17.16)

Three types of austerity
The above mentioned threefold austerity (of thought, word, and deed), practiced by yogis with supreme faith, without a desire for the fruit, is said to be in the mode of goodness. (17.17) Austerity that is performed for gaining respect, honor, reverence, and for the sake of show, yielding an uncertain and temporary result, is said to be in the mode of passion. (17.18) Austerity performed with foolish stubbornness or with self-torture or for harming others, is said to be in the mode of ignorance. (17.19)

Three types of charity
Charity that is given at the right place and time as a matter of duty to a deserving candidate who does nothing in return, is considered to be in the mode of goodness.(17.20) Charity that is given unwillingly, or to get something in return, or to gain some fruit, is said to be in the mode of passion. (17.21) Charity that is given at a wrong place and time to unworthy persons, or without paying respect to the receiver or with ridicule, is said to be in the mode of ignorance. (17.22)

Threefold name of God
‘OM TAT SAT’ is said to be the threefold name of the Eternal Being. Persons with good qualities, the Vedas, and selfless service were created by and from Brahma in the ancient time. (17.23) Therefore, acts of sacrifice, charity, and austerity prescribed in the scriptures are always commenced by uttering ‘OM’ by the knowers of the Supreme Being. (17.24) Various types of sacrifice, charity, and austerity are performed by the seekers of salvation (Moksha) by uttering ‘TAT’ (or He is all)without seeking a reward. (17.25) The word ‘SAT’ is used in the sense of Reality and goodness. The word ‘SAT’ is also used for an auspicious act, O Arjuna.(17.26) Faith in sacrifice, charity, and austerity is also called ‘SAT’. Selfless service for the sake of the Supreme is, in truth, termed as ‘SAT’. (17.27) Whatever is done without faith --- whether it is sacrifice, charity, austerity, or any other act --- is called ‘ASAT’. It has no value here or hereafter, O Arjuna. (17.28)