Chapter 17 – The Three Divisions of Faith

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Arjuna said, Krishna, what is the position of those people who perform worship with faith but disregard the scriptural rules and regulations? Are they acting in goodness, passion or ignorance?

Lord Krishna said, Faith arises from the modes of material nature acquired by the embodied living beings. Faith can have the quality of goodness, passion or ignorance.

Faith is an element of the living beings true nature. Thus, the faith of each living being corresponds to their individual consciousness. The living beings have a particular type of faith according to the qualities of material nature they have previously acquired.

Those with faith in the mode of goodness worship the demigods, those with faith of a passionate nature worship the demons, and those with faith in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and evil spirits.

Those motivated by pride, lust and egotism perform severe penances not sanctioned by the scriptures. They torture their bodies and the Supersoul within. Such people have a demoniac faith.

Corresponding to the three modes of material nature, there are three kinds of food. There are also three types of sacrifice, austerity and charity. Now hear about these.

Food in the mode of goodness increases longevity and gives strength, vitality, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such food is nourishing, succulent, sustaining and palatable.

Food in the mode of passion is too bitter, too sour, too salty, too pungent, too dry and too hot. Such food causes pain, sorrow and disease.

Food in the mode of ignorance is tasteless, stale, decomposed and unsuitable for offering in sacrifice.

Sacrifice performed in accordance with scriptural regulations and with no expectation of reward is sacrifice in the mode of goodness.

Sacrifice performed with expectation of some material profit, or performed as a display of pride and grandeur, is sacrifice in the mode of passion.

Sacrifice performed without the distribution of spiritual food, without chanting the appropriate hymns and mantras, without presentations being made to the priests, without faith, and disregarding the scriptural injunctions, is sacrifice in the mode of ignorance

Cleanliness; simplicity; celibacy; non-violence; worship of the Supreme Lord, the priests and the spiritual teacher are austerities of the body.

Speech that does not disturb others; speech that is truthful, pleasing and beneficial to others; and regular recitation of the Vedic scriptures are verbal austerities.

Austerity of the mind consists of serenity, simplicity, stability, self-control and purity of thought.

When those who desire only to please the Supreme Lord practice this threefold austerity of thought, word and deed, it is austerity in the mode of goodness.

Austerities performed for the sake of material gain, respect or honour, are austerities in the mode of passion. Such austerities are unstable and transient.

Austerities performed foolishly, causing self-torture, or meant to injure others, are austerities in the mode of ignorance.

Charity given as a matter of duty; without expectation of any return; at the appropriate time and place; to a worthy recipient, is charity in the mode of goodness.

Charity given grudgingly, with the expectation of receiving something in return or with the desire for material rewards, is charity in the mode of passion.

Charity given scornfully or without respect, at an improper place and time, to an unworthy recipient, is charity in the mode of ignorance.

Any sacrifices, charity and austerities that are performed without faith in the ultimate goal are temporary. Such activities can never bestow a favourable result, so they are futile in this life and the next.

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