Bhag Gita- Ch17 Shraddhaa Traya Vibhhaaga Yogah- Yoga of the Division of the Threefold Faith


devadwijagurupraajna poojanam shauchamarjavam
    brahmacharyamahimsaa cha shaareeram tapa uchyate //  17.14 //

Worship  of the Gods, the twice born, the teachers and the wise, purity,  straightforwardness, celibacy and non-injury - these are called the austerities  of the body.

anudwegakaram vaakyam satyam priyahitam cha yat
    swaadhyaayaabhyaasanam chaiva vaangmayam tapa  uchyate // 17.15 //

Speech  which gives no offence, which is truthful, pleasant and beneficial, the  practice of the study of the Vedas is called austerity of speech.

manahprasaadah saumyatwam maunamaaatmavinigrahah
    bhaavasamshuddhirityetat tapo maanasamuchyate // 17.16  //

Serenity  of mind, good heartedness, silence, self-control, purity of nature - this is  called the mental austerity.

These  three verses explain what Tapas really means and classify Tapas pursued by  different types of people.

Devotion  and reverence to the ideals represented in the Deva, the Deity, lived by the  Twice-Born, Brahmanas and preached by the Gurus and recommended by the wise is  an act of worship. Such acts of worship, external and inward purity,  straightforwardness in the dealings with others, control of the mind from sense  enjoyments in order to concentrate on the Supreme Brahman and avoiding all acts  of injuring others are all called austerities of the body or bodily asceticism.

Here  Tapas or austerity means not merely a life of self-denial but an intelligent  method of living in the right relationship with the world of objects thereby  avoiding wastage of energies and utilizing such energy in creative fields of  spiritual enquiry.

Speech  or the spoken words which cause no disturbances in others, which are true, sincere,  agreeable and beneficial to others, careful study and reflection over the  scriptures are all called austerity in speech. This implies the investing of  the energies of speech in the study and reflection of the teachings of the  scriptures.

The  five noble values of life mentioned in verse 16 constitute austerity of the  mind. They are: 
•Serenity of mind  - this is the result of one's healthy relationship with the world outside 
•Kindness or good heartedness - a feeling of warmth towards all 
•Silence - this is not only non-speaking but an inward noiseless calm wherein no passions and desires are generated 
•Self control - controlling of lower nature within us 
•Purity of nature or honesty of motive - the motivating factor for any action should be noble and divine.

These  three verses depict the picture of what are true Tapas. Tapas pursued by people  of different Gunas give different results. In the following verses the  different kinds of Tapas based on the different Gunas of the Tapaswins are  discussed.

shraddhaayaa parayaa taptam tapastattrividham  naraih
    aphalaakaangkshibhiryuktaih saattwikam  parichakshate // 17.17 //

This  threefold austerity practiced by steadfast men with the utmost faith, desiring  no reward, they call Sattvic.

satkaaramaanapoojaartham tapo dambhena chaiva yat
    kriyate tadiha proktam raajasam chalamadhruvam // 17.18  //

The  austerity which is practiced with the object of gaining respect, honor and  reverence and with hypocrisy is said to be Rajasic, unstable and transitory.

moodhagraahenaatmano yat peedayaa kriyate tapah
    parasyotsaadanaartham vaa tattaamasamudaahritam // 17.19  //

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

These  three types of austerities viz. of body, speech, and mind if practiced by men  of harmonious nature with no attachment for their rewards and with utmost faith  and sincerity are called Sattvic type. If these austerities are practiced with  a view to gain respect, honor and reverence and with vanity and ostentation  they are called Rajasic. Sri Krishna says that such a kind of Tapas is unstable  and transitory which will only result in unproductive and painful self denials.  Tapas undertaken with a foolish obstinacy involving self torture and not  knowing its aim and indulging in destroying others is of the lowest kind. These  misconceived, wrongly practiced austerities undertaken by anyone for bringing  about sorrow and discomfort to others and to himself is considered as Tamasic.


daatavyamiti yad daanam deeyateanupakaarine
    deshe kaale cha paatre cha tad daanam saatwikam  smritam // 17.20 //

That  gift which is given to one who does nothing in return, knowing it to be a duty  to give, in a fit place and time, to a worthy person, that gift is held to be Sattvic.

yattu pratyupakaaraartham phalamuddishya vaa punah
    deeyate cha pariklishtam taddaanam raajasam smritam  // 17.21 //

And  that gift which is made with a view to receiving something in return or looking  for a reward or given reluctantly is said to be Rajasic.

adeshakaale yaddaanam apaatrebhyashcha deeyate
    asatkritamavajnaatam tattaamasamudaahritam // 17.22  //

The  gift which is given at the wrong place and time to unworthy persons, without  respect or with insult, is declared to be Tamasic.

Now  three kinds of charity are discussed. That gift which is given to some one out  of conviction that it is an act that has to be done is the right kind of  charity. Even if the recipient of the charity does no service in return, the giver  of charity does not to make any discrimination among the recipients. The gift  is to be made with a right faith, to the worthy person, in the right time and  in the right place. Charity must come from within and out of one's heart. This  is of Sattvic type.

That  gift which is given with the hope of getting some benefit in return or looking  forward to some reward or given with reluctance is Rajasic type.

Gifts  which are made at the wrong place and time to an unworthy person with contempt  and with no respect are said to be of Tamasic type.

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