Madhu Bazaz Wangu | The Seventeenth Teaching
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The Seventeenth Teaching

The Seventeenth Teaching

The Seventeenth Teaching
Faith and Its Power

1.
Arjuna:
Men who ignore the scriptures but worship with faith (shraddha), Krishna, what quality prevails in them-lucidity (sattvas), passion (rajas), or inertia (tamas)?

2-6
Krishna:
The faith is threefold. Each person is ruled by the quality predominant in him–lucidity, passion, or dark inertia.

The faith each man has, Arjuna, follows his inborn nature; a man’s faith is his core, what his faith is, so is he.

Men of lucidity worship the gods; men of passion, spirits and demons; men of dark inertia worship dark spirits and the ghosts of the dead.

Men who practice horrific penances that go against scriptures and are trapped in hypocrisy and in the sense of “I” and driven by warped desires,

without reason, they torment the parts that compose the body, and thus they torment me in the body; know them as having demonic resolve.

7-10
Food is also of three kinds, to please each type of taste; worship, control, and charity; likewise divide in three ways. Here are the distinctions among them:

Foods that please lucid men are fresh, firm savory and succulent; they promote long life, vitality, strength, health and pleasure.

Passionate men crave foods that are bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent and harsh, and they cause pain, discomfort and disease.

The food that pleases men of dark inertia is stale, unsavory, putrid, spoiled, filthy and rotten.

11-13
Lucid men worship according to scripture, for the sake of the worship, without craving for its fruit.

Passionate men offer worship out of the desire, Arjuna, when it is focused on the fruit or in order to gain respect.

Men with dark inertia violate the norms-empty of faith, omitting the scriptures with no gifts to the priests.

14-19
Honoring gods, priests, teachers, and sages, purity, uprightness, chastity and non-violent is bodily control.

Speaking the truth without offense, honesty that causes no pain and reciting sacred lore is verbal control.

Serenity, kindness, benevolence, silence, self-restraint, and purity of being, compassion is called mental control.

When this threefold control is practiced with faith and diligence and without craving for rewards, such control is called lucid.

When it is wavering and unstable and performed out of pride and to gain respect, admiration and honor it is called passionate.

When used by deluded men for self-mortification, or to gain power to cause harm to other it is called dark inertia.

20-22
When charity is given to the worthy without any advantage for the sake of giving, it is lucid charity.

When charity is given reluctantly, with the thought of securing some favor in return or to gain some spiritual merit it is charity of passion.

When charity is given to undeserving recipient, ungraciously and with contempt, at the wrong time and wrong place it is charity of dark inertia.

23-28
Om Tat Sat: “That Is the Real”-this is the symbol of the infinite spirit that gave a primordial sanctity to priests, sacred lore, and sacrifice.

Om-is chanted by those who expound the scriptures before performing, an act of charity, control or worship.

Tat-is chanted by the seekers of freedom whenever they perform right action, without concern for reward.

Sat-means “reality,” “goodness.” It is used to denote any action that merits praise.

Sat is steadfastness in worship, in charity, in control, as is all unselfish action that leads to any of the three.

But worship, charity, and control, offered without faith are called Asat, “unreal” Arjuna, and are worthless in this world and after death.
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As I Understand It:
Krishna tells Arjuna that the scriptures must guide his actions. If he follows the teachings of the scriptures, he will avoid the lower road that leads away from the spiritual goal. Then Krishna explains in greater details the three gunas-sattva, rajas and tamas.

Krishna also stresses the importance of shraddha, individual faith. Faith is the sum total of values human beings hold deep in their heart. Whatever is in the core of our hearts is what we become.

Faith is of three kinds so are spiritual discipline, food, worship and selfless service.

For the sake of spiritual growth each person must go through an ordeal. No progress is possible without strict self-discipline. When one masters certain spiritual practices they create heat in the body. This is a sign of increased spiritual potency.

Lastly, Krishna explains the ancient sacred syllable Om Tat Sat. Om is the cosmic sound of Brahman heard in the depth of meditation. Tat is the Supreme Reality. Sat is the Truth. The mantra affirms that only the Supreme Reality is the Truth. Asat, that-which-is-not-truth, is transient and therefore not ultimately real.
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Recommended Reading:
The Bhagavad Gita, Introduced and Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, California. Second Edition, 2008 (1st Pub. 1985).

The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna Counsel in Time of War, Translation and Introduction by Barbara Stoler Miller. Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, Inc. New York. Bantam Books, 1986.

Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation, Stephen Mitchell, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2000.

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