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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'Faith evolves according to everyone's nature, o son of Bharata;
the person ýs the full of this faith and is, with such a faith endowed, thus certain of himself.'

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 17
The Yoga of the Threefold Division of Faith
'About the nature of each type of food intake, austerity and sacrifice'
Sraddātharaya Vibhāga Yoga




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      Every sloka in the Gītā is important. There are seven hundred slokas in all. A matchbox may contain as many as 50 sticks. But, a single match is enough to light a lamp for dispelling the darkness of a place. Similarly, a single sloka from the Gītā is enough to bring the light of wisdom and dispel the darkness of ignorance. But without 'sraddha' or perseverance, the Bhagavad Gītā will remain a sealed book. There is no liberation and spiritual enlightenment for the slothful. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 28.

Sraddha is earnestness, perseverance, determination, and steadfastness. Sraddha alone is not enough. It should be strengthened by nissamshaya or absence of doubt or scepticism. Sraddha and nissamshaya are the two banks of the stream of life. In other words, spiritual advancement cannot be achieved without persistence and faith.

Ganga, Yamunā and Saraswatī are the three sacred rivers of our country. They have their source in the Himalayas and flow down to the vast ocean. They are swift-flowing rivers with strong embankments. If they have no embankments they will devastate the entire country. A river must have banks to restrict its flowing water. A man's life is like a stream, whose banks are sraddha and nissamshaya. Flowing between these two banks of sraddha and nissamshaya, a man's life-stream mingles with the vast ocean of anugraha or divine grace. Perseverance and faith constitute the life-breath of man. Humanity cannot exist even for a moment without perseverance and faith. They are the two wheels of the chariot of man's life, which should proceed towards the unfathomable ocean of God's boundless grace. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 66.

Verse 1

 arjuna uvāca
ye śāstra-vidhim utsrijya
yajante śraddhayānvitāh
teshām nishthhā tu kā krishna
sattvam āho rajas tamah

      "Krishna! You say that the daivic and asuric natures of man are the consequences of acts and feelings that had impact on the individual in previous births. Since it is impossible to escape from such impacts, what is the fate of those who are condemned to carry this burden with them? Are there any means by which this can be avoided? Or can their consequences be mitigated? If such exist, please tell me these for I could save myself thereby." Arjuna asked thus, in order to draw out from the Lord the remedy for mankind. - Gītā Vahini, p. 218

Verse 2

 śrī-bhagavān uvāca
tri-vidhā bhavati śraddhā
dehinām sā svabhāva-jā
sāttvikī rājasī caiva
tāmasī ceti tām śrinu

      Krishna gave an immediate answer. "There is no paucity of means. Listen. There are three types of gunas: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. They are based on the antar-karana, the inner consciousness. That too is dependent on the intake of food. You are what you feed on; your activities shape your nature. So at least in this birth, by regulating food and activity (ahara and vihara), man can overcome the asuric tendencies that tend to prevail upon him. He can promote sattvic tendencies through planned self-effort." This advice was tendered lovingly by the Lord to the eager inquirer, Arjuna. - Gītā Vahini, p. 218

Verse 3

sattvānurūpā sarvasya
śraddhā bhavati bhārata
śraddhāmayo 'yam purusho
yo yac-chraddhah sa eva sah

      Sraddha (perseverance) is an essential precondition to the acquisition of spiritual knowledge. Nothing can be accomplished without perseverance, patience and tenacity of purpose. Students of the present day forego food and sleep, and cram guidebooks and notes for the mere passing of their examinations. This way, they do display a fair amount of sraddha in their secular studies. But, alas, as regards their spiritual program, they do not exhibit even an iota of sraddha. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, pp. 139-40

      Know the splendor of that Light, and fly unto it, as high as your wings can lift you - the wings of bhakti and sraddha (devotion and steadfastness). - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 126

Verse 4

yajante sāttvikā devān
yaksha-rakshāmsi rājasāh
pretān bhūta-ganāmś cānye
yajante tāmasā janāh

      Krishna patted Arjuna on the back. He said, "Sattvic listening is listening to the stories, experiences and messages of sages and saints who aspired after God and realized Him. Sattvic seeing is seeing the worshippers of the Lord, seeing the portraits of saints and sages, attending festivals in temples, etc. Rajasic seeing is seeing scenes of luxury, pictures of sensuous joy, of pompous pageantry, of the exhibition of power and status and display of egoistic authority. Taking delight in the description of sensuous scenes and incidents, in the demonstration of power and authority, in the assertion of might and prowess - these are to be classified as rajasic listening. Others take delight in listening to gruesome adventures, stories of wicked ogres and vicious deeds. Such are tamasic individuals. They admire cruelty and terrifying tactics and take pleasure in keeping such pictures before them. They worship demonic bloodthirsty gods and they revel in the lore of ghosts and eerie forces." - Gītā Vahini, p. 223

Verse 5-6

 aśāstra-vihitam ghoram
tapyante ye tapo janāh

 karshayantah śarīra-stham
bhūta-grāmam acetasah
mām caivāntah śarīra-stham
tān viddhy āsura-niścayān

Verse 7

āhāras tv api sarvasya
tri-vidho bhavati priyah
yaj˝as tapas tathā dānam
teshām bhedam imam śrinu

      "Arjuna! Food is the chief formative force. The soiled mind dulls the brilliance of moral excellence; how can a muddy lake reflect clearly? The divine cannot be reflected in the wicked or vicious mind. Food makes man strong in body; the body is intimately connected with the mind. Strength of mind depends upon strength of body too. Moral conduct, good habits, spiritual effort - all depend upon the quality of food; disease, mental weakness, spiritual slackness - all are produced by faulty food." "Krishna!" asked Arjuna, "Pray tell me the constituents of sattvic, rajasic and tamasic food." - Gītā Vahini, p. 219

Verse 8

sukha-prīti vivardhanāh
rasyāh snigdhāh sthirā hridyā
āhārāh sāttvika-priyāh

      "Arjuna! Food to be sattvic should be capable of strengthening the mind as well as the body. It should not be too salty, too hot, too bitter, too sweet or too sour. It should not be taken while steaming hot. Food that fans the flames of thirst should be avoided. The general principle is that there should be a limit, a restraint. Food cooked in water should not be used the next day; it becomes harmful. Even fried articles should be consumed before they develop unpleasant odors." - Gītā Vahini, p. 219

Verse 9

āhārā rājasasyeshthā

      "Rajasic food is the opposite of the sattvic. It is too salty, too sweet, too hot, too sour, too odorous. Such food excites and intoxicates." - Gītā Vahini, p. 219

Verse 10

yāta-yāmam gata-rasam
pūti paryushitam ca yat
ucchishtham api cāmedhyam
bhojanam tāmasa-priyam

      "Listen. There are three 'puritieś to be observed; purity of the provisions; purity of the vessels in which food is prepared; and purity of the persons who serve the prepared food.

"It is not enough if the provisions are pure and of good quality. They should have been procured by fair means; no unfair, unjust, untrue earnings should be used for one's maintenance. These are fouled at the very source. The source as well as the course and the goal must all be equally pure. The vessel must be clean, free from tarnish. The person who serves must not only be clean in dress, but clean in habits, character and conduct. He should be free from hate, anger, worry and indifference while serving the dishes; he should be cheerful and fresh. And he must be humble and full of love. While attending on those who are dining, he should not allow his mind to dwell on wicked or vicious ideas. Mere physical cleanliness or charm is no compensation for evil thoughts and habits. The sadhaka who has to secure concentration has to be careful about these restrictions. Otherwise, during dhyanam (meditation), the subtle influences of the wicked thoughts of the cook and the servers will haunt the sadhaka. Care should be taken to have only virtuous individuals around. Outer charm, professional excellence, reduced wages - these should not be allowed to prejudice you in favor of dangerous cooks and attendants. Examine carefully their habits and their character. The food you eat is such an important constituent of the physical and mental stuff with which you have to struggle in the spiritual field. The purity of the mind can be and has to be supplemented by the purity of the body as well as purity in its important function, speech. That is the real tapas (penance); physical, mental and vocal." - Gītā Vahini, p. 220

Verse 11

aphalākānkshibhir yaj˝o
vidhi-drishtho ya ijyate
yashthavyam eveti manah
samādhāya sa sāttvikah

      Yaj˝ah means, as you know, sacrifice, thyaga, renunciation. - Sathya Sai Speaks IX, p. 137

      Three processes go together in spiritual discipline as laid down by the sages; yaj˝a, dāna and tapas (renunciation, charity and selfcontrol). They cannot be partitioned and particularized. Thus, charity and self-control are integral parts of yaj˝a. That is why yaj˝a is translated as sacrifice, for, the process of charity or dāna is essential for yaj˝a. Also, tapas, that is to say, strict regulation of emotions and thought-processes, to ensure peace and faith. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, pp. 117-8

Verse 12

abhisandhāya tu phalam
dambhārtham api caiva yat
ijyate bharata-śreshthha
tam yaj˝am viddhi rājasam

Verse 13

vidhi-hīnam asrishthānnam
mantra-hīnam adakshinam
śraddhā-virahitam yaj˝am
tāmasam paricakshate


Verse 14

pūjanam śaucam ārjavam
brahmacaryam ahimsā ca
śarīram tapa ucyate

      Tapas means sādhana, discipline, spiritual exercise. It is through tapas that the great processes of creation, preservation and destruction are happening [see for example S.B. 2.9:6]. Tapas is the cause for the realization of the Self. That is to say, when the mind, the intellect and the senses are subjected to tapas or the crucible of disciplinary exercise, the Self will stand revealed. - Bhagavatha Vahini, ch. 33 (p. 236).

      The bodily tapas again, is five-fold: The first practice or discipline,i.e. using your body to worship God, or to go for the darshan of holy men and saints, will enable you to overcome and shed out the ego in you. Veneration shown to elders and holy people will vanquish your ego. The "God-thought" drives out other thoughts that breed ego. One should feel and think, "Oh God, I do not know, I do not seek any other help but Thine." Such a thought will root out other thoughts that bind you to the world. The attachment to the world weakens and snaps off, and attachment to God strengthens. When we try to visualize the God inherent in all beings and serving them with veneration as Gods, then only are we entering the path of true service. This is the bodily tapas. Tapas does not mean running away into forests and torturing the body. One has to live in the world, live in the community and do utmost service to promote their well-being.

The second bodily tapas is the external cleansing and internal cleansing. The external cleanliness means cleanliness of body and also of the environment (neighborhood). The inner cleanliness means cleanliness of mind, i.e. purity of thought. One should understand that to the extent one keeps one's body clean, he will enjoy good health to that extent.

The third type of tapas relating to the body is the path of truth. Harmony between thought, word and deed is truth, the pathway of truth. People could shrewdly and by devious ways pose as engaged in work and put up a show to deceive others. That is all deceit. It is untruth. Such is not the path of Sai sevaka. "Look up - aim high" -- Let this be your motto always and for ever.

The fourth type of tapas is brahmacārya or celibacy. In true celibacy, there should be no scope for any bad idea or thought to enter one's mind ... The inner meaning of brahmacārya is, whatever one may be doing, his mind should be anchored in God. "To be treading towards Brahman, mind filled with God-thought, doing whatever work one does as worship of God, that is real brahmacārya." To cultivate conviction that God is inherent in everyone is brahmacārya. In this context only it is said: sarva jīva namaskaram īśvaram pragacchati -- veneration shown to anyone is veneration shown to ╬śvara Himself.

The fifth aspect is ahimsā. It is commonly understood that cruelty shown and harm done to others is himsa. Causing bodily injury or wounding or hurting the feelings of others is generally construed as himsa. Ahimsā has a far deeper connotation and significance. ┬tmā-nigraha is ahimsā. Mastery over one's own self is ┬tmā-nigraha. Patience and forbearance is ┬tmā-nigraha. When one has cultivated forbearance, has gained mastery over his senses, that is ahimsā. When one has been able to restrain and control the senses, he will not think bad thoughts, he will not see anything bad, he will not utter anything bad. He only sees good; he thinks always good, no harsh words he utters. Control of tongue (speaking pleasantly) alone will not do. Vision should be pure and also the mind (one's thoughts).

All the above five disciplines constitute bodily tapas. - Spirituality in Day to Day Living, pp. 11-13

Verse 15

anudvega-karam vākyam
satyam priya-hitam ca yat
svādhyāyābhyasanam caiva
vānmayam tapa ucyate

      The second tapas is austerity of speech. The words you speak should be suffused with prema. Whatever we utter, it should be truthful and in harmony with our thoughts (mind). "satyam nasti parodharmaha" is the Vedic enunciation. There is no truth other than dharma, but it should be spoken sweetly. One should not utter something, even though it be truth, that will hurt others. That is why it is said in the Bhagavad Gītā "anudvega-karam vākyam..." (Your words should not injure the feelings of others ...). Excitedly you should not talk; nor should your words cause agitation in others. Your words should be filled with prema and should be good and for the good of others. No vehemence, no rhetoric, no harshness should be in your speech. Softness, gentleness, truthfulness and love should be the characteristics of what you speak. This is what is meant by austerity of speech. This should characterize whatever we speak and utter in our day-to-day life, from morning till night. - Spirituality in Day to Day Living, pp. 13-14

     Vocal tapas too has to be engaged in. Avoid talking too much; desist from false statements; do not take delight in backbiting and in scandal-mongering; never speak harshly; speak soft and sweet;speak with the memory of Mādhava ever in the background of the mind." - Gītā Vahini, p. 221

Verse 16

manah-prasādah saumyatvam
maunam ātma-vinigrahah
bhāva-samśuddhir ity etat
tapo mānasam ucyate

Verse 17

śraddhayā parayā taptam
tapas tat tri-vidham naraih
aphalākānkshibhir yuktaih
sāttvikam paricakshate

      Of these three, physical tapas, mental tapas and vocal tapas, even if one is absent, the atmic effulgence (ātmā-jyoti) cannot radiate light. The lamp, the wick and the oil are all essential for a light; the body is the lamp; the mind is the oil and the tongue is the wick. All three must be in good trim. - Gītā Vahini, p. 221


tapo dambhena caiva yat
kriyate tad iha proktam
rājasam calam adhruvam  

Verse 19

mūdha-grāhenātmano yat
pīdayā kriyate tapah
parasyotsādanārtham vā
tat tāmasam udāhritam

Verse 20

dātavyam iti yad dānam
dīyate 'nupakārine
deśe kāle ca pātre ca
tad dānam sāttvikam smritam  

      Some pious people consider that acts of charity are also physical tapas. It is good that they think so. But when doing charity, one has to do so after pondering over the place, the time and the nature of the recipient. For example, charities for schools should be given at places where there are no schools until then; hospitals have to be established in areas where diseases are rampant; the hunger of people has to be appeased where famine conditions have been caused by floods or drought. The nature or condition of the recipient has to be considered while imparting teaching of dharma and brahma-vidya, and while doing service of various kinds. The charitable act that removes from a person the deficiency most harmful to his progress is called sattvic.- Gītā Vahini, p. 221-2

Verse 21

yat tu pratyupakārārtham
phalam uddiśya vā punah
dīyate ca pariklishtham
tad dānam rājasam smritam

      Gifts made expecting something in return like fame and publicity, public esteem and power, or made in a huff or made reluctantly under pressure - these are to be classed as rajasic. - Gītā Vahini, p. 222

Verse 22

adeśa-kāle yad dānam
apātrebhyaś ca dīyate
asat-kritam avaj˝ātam-
tat tāmasam udāhritam

      Charity should be given with reverence and faith. It should not just be thrown at the face of the recipient. Nor should it be given to an undeserving person or at an inopportune moment. Food for the overfed is a burden, not a boon. Hospitals in places that are inaccessible are as good as charity thrown away. Such benefitless and wasteful charity is called tamasic.

While engaged in dāna or charity, one has to be very vigilant. You should not scatter it to whomsoever pleads for it; nor can you shower it on all kinds of places. Be careful that you remember the three types mentioned by Me and then, do as seems most proper. The gift that you make must not be for name or fame; it should have no motive of pomp or publicity; it should be purposeful and useful. In all acts, the sattvic attitude is best. This attitude must permeate all things seen, heard and spoken.

Verse 23

om-tat-sad iti nirdeśo
brahmanas tri-vidhah smritah
brāhmanās tena vedāś ca
yaj˝āś ca vihitāh purā

      Om summarizes the Vedas and their teachings. Om-tat-sat, says the Gītā. Tat (that) which sat (is) is Om, the One. All this is Brahman, the One without a second. Tat is used to indicate that the objective world is taken by the senses to be separate and afar; it means "that" and "that" is always far, and separate. Sat means "is", "the is", "this"! When you recognize the tat as "is" or sat, it becomes "this"; it is no longer object, it is subject, and the merging of object and subject manifests as the Om! - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 455

      The A U M of the OM, represents the om tat sat principle, the "That is the Truth", "I am the Truth", "the Truth is One" principle. The OM is the everpresent voice within the echo of the divine call, from the cavity of the heart. Listen to it, be thrilled by it; that is the inner adoration, of which the external puja or ritual worship is the outer symbol. With the ego rampant and rambling, how can the mind be balanced and faith be steady? Contemplate the OM, the symbol of the inner flame, which shines through the waking hours, the dream twilight and sleep night. That way you can earn grace abundantly. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, pp. 364-5

Verse 24

tasmād om ity udāhritya
pravartante vidhānoktāh
satatam brahma-vādinām

Verse 25

tad ity anabhisandhāya
phalam yaj˝a-tapah-kriyāh
dāna-kriyāś ca vividhāh
kriyante moksha-kānkshibhih

      There are two entities at first: "I" and "You". Tat and tvam, aham and brahma. But a third, this prakrīti, has come between, or rather deludes us as being in between ... When "I" and "you" have united, prakrīti, disappears. Its role is to reveal the "you" to the "I" that is all. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 291

Verse 26-27

sad-bhāve sādhu-bhāve ca
sad ity etat prayujyate
praśaste karmani tathā
sac-chabdah pārtha yujyate

 yaj˝e tapasi dāne ca
sthitih sad iti cocyate
karma caiva tad-arthīyam
sad ity evābhidhīyate

[to verse 26] Do not exaggerate the importance of things that have but material utility; they fade, even while you grasp them by the hand. Search for the sat - that which suffers no change. - Sathya Sai Speaks II, p. 39

[to verse 27] Sat is the existence principle, the IS that is the basic truth of the universe. Align with the truth, the sat in you, the sathya on which the mithya is imposed by minds that do not see the light. By dwelling on that sat, (satsang) the flame is lit, light dawns, darkness flees and the sun of realization rises (j˝āna bhaskara). - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 35

      Keep away and afar the mental reactions caused by contact with the external world. Then, you can become mere existence, sat; that is the state of the muni (wise or self-realized soul) or the state beyond the realm of the senses where their fiat does not run. - Prasanthi Vahini, pp. 68-9

      You know in the very depths of your being that "you are and will be", that is the characteristic of sat, existence. All beings have it. - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 211

Verse 28

aśraddhayā hutam dattam
tapas taptam kritam ca yat
asad ity ucyate pārtha
na ca tat pretya no iha

      Brahman alone is sat; prakrīti is a-sat, unreal. Be in this awareness always, that is the highest sādhana. - Sathya Sai Speaks III, p. 44


Dāna: non-desiring, charity. Dhana means welfare or riches.
- 1: donating, giving gifts.
- 2. sharing or communicating.
- 3. purification (sauca).
Brahmacārya: continence, celibate.
- First āśrama of spiritual life.
- Period of living celibate, self-restraint and study supervised by an authorized spiritual master.
- Student-phase, the first 20-25 years of life.
Mādhava: of Madhu (sweetness, the blooming) name for Krishna as the blooming hero, the sweet Lord, of the gopīs; or to Mā, the Goddess of Fortune, as the spouse of the Goddess of Fortune.







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