Chapter 17The Threefold Divisions of Material ExistanceVerse 2


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

The sraddha or faith in the Supreme Lord of one who acts in accordance with the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures is always situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness. The sraddha existing in the other two modes of raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance are the results of one's nature by the impressions lingering in their consciousness from past life activities in such modes. Only absolute knowledge from the Vedic scriptures duly instructed by the Vaisnava spiritual master has the potency to affect change in the nature of a jiva or embodied being. But those in raja guna and tama guna who have no faith in the Vedic scriptures or who have no interest in the Vedic scriptures will not be able to change their natures to sattva guna by any other process. Hence their faith arises from whatever characteristics they possessed in the previous life and this manifests in their actions.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The gunas or three modes of material nature are sattva guna the mode of goodnes, raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance. They are singularly inherent within the faith of all mankind and they conform to the characteristics and disposition particular to each jiva or embodied being. The impressions from past life incarnations arise as tendencies pursued in a present life correspondent to one's mood and taste and from that mood and taste ones' faith arises. Displays of enthusiasm are indications of faith where underlying is the belief that the effort will be successfully fulfilled. Tendency, taste and faith are actually properties of the atma or immortal soul; but they are only evoked when the atma happens by chance to come in contact with the gunas. It has been deduced that when there is tranquillity in the mind there is control of the senses and peacefulness of the body and such effect manifests the chance contact between the atma and the gunas resulting in sattva guna. Agitation of the mind, unbridled senses and over indulgence of the body results in raja and tama guna. Thus effectively the experiences from past lives manifest into one of the three gunas.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna now elaborates on how sraddha differentiates itself under the auspices of one of the three gunas or modes of material nature which are sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance. These three archetypes apply to all beings and all things within the material nature. Those who have no knowledge of the Vedic scriptures and are indifferent to them languish in tama guna. Those who have some knowledge of the Vedic scriptures yet chose to disrespect and oppose them due to insidious motives and nefarious intrigues are bewildered in raja guna. Those who faithfully follow the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures are safely situated in sattva guna due to having performed pious activities in innumerable past lives without selfish motivations. There faith is directed to the worship of the Supreme Lord and as such is conducive for moksa or liberation from material existence.

The inherent characteristics one possesses in present life are determined by activities performed in previous lives that were voluntarily followed. These innate characteristics catapult a jiva or embodied being into one of the three gunas and the corresponding type of faith one possesses is in accordance to the guna they are situated in. Such faith regardless of which guna gives the confidence that by it one will accomplish their desired goal. When there is confidence in accomplishing successfully any undertaking, a jiva will engage wholeheartedly in it. This is a sign of faith. But there are gradations and differences of quality in various undertakings and these distinctions are what determines whether an activity is in sattva, raja or tama guna. Those who have no knowledge of reincarnation, no knowledge of karma or reactions to actions, no knowledge of the Vedic scriptures, nor knowledge of the paramount position of the Supreme Lord Krishna; are helplessly indulging themselves only in transitory, mundane activities. Such activities no matter how great, noble and well intentioned award no opportunity to free oneself from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and achieve moksa.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 17, verse 2 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 2

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