Chapter 17The Threefold Divisions of Material ExistanceVerse 5, 6


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

Further incriminations regarding those situated in raja guna and tama guna or the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance respectively are given here. Some jivas or embodied beings who know nothing about the Vedic scriptures are anyway endowed with the divine nature and situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness right from birth. This is due to having been attracted to spiritual activities and righteousness in previous lives. The impressions from those lifetimes gave the impetus towards the divine nature and the opportunity in the present life to attain the association of the devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Others of mediocre nature in raja guna and of inferior nature in tama guna with deluded and depraved faith are extremely unfortunate. They follow pagan, heretical practices and rituals symbolising and involving blood sacrifices. They commit heinous, inerasable sins such as the slaughter of cows for which there is no atonement for. They commit cruel human sacrifices and blood drinking in their diabolical and depraved cravings and lust for power. They execute terrible inhuman deeds that are an aberration to creation. Degrading themselves and the atma or immortal soul existing within their own body and within the bodies of others. Know them to be without a doubt endowed with the demoniac nature. Without any discrimination they masochistically and sadistically execute extreme and painful rituals in their demented desire to surpass mortality. Yet they must perish and die anyway and because they executed such cruel and inhuman deeds which transgressed the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures as well as engaging in prohibitive activities without any compunction they will be forced to suffer the full consequences of their sinful misdeeds and flagrant improprieties in hell.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The Anabhimian scripture states that those unfortunate jivas or embodied beings who oppress and chastise the Resplendent Supreme Lord who dwells within as Paramatma the supreme soul which resides within the etheric heart of every living entity in existence are of miniscule consciousness with meager perception. Thus without the vision of perception they oppress Him within their hearts and the hearts of others. The word asura means without light and is in general referred to those of the demoniac nature. Those who are void of light are void of light perception and also void of the light of perceptivity. The Agniveshya scripture states that those endowed with the divine nature are exclusively in sattva guna or the mode of goodness and study the Vedic scriptures and are receptive to Lord Krishna. While those that are of the demoniac nature are a combination of raja guna or mode of passion and tama guna or mode of ignorance and they never study the Vedic scriptures and even if by chance they get an opportunity to hear from them they cannot fathom the values contained therein because they are inimical to the Supreme Lord.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The word acetasah means indiscriminate. Such indiscriminate jivas or embodied beings torture and afflict their own body and the bodies of others in the pursuit of fulfilling their depraved and macabre rituals for dominion over material existence. The words raga balanvitah means by ostentatious displays of mental control and bodily power in such extremes that even the Supreme Lord feels tormented in His all pervasive form as the atma or immortal soul within all living entities. The words mam eva ca refers specifically to His inner presence. Hence whosoever executes rituals that are contrary to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and engages in sacrifices that are prohibited in the Vedic scriptures, or practices penances which cause great pain and suffering upon themselves and others, molest the very elements contained within the body for its welfare to be abused and the atma to be disrespected are verily to be known as possessing the demoniac nature. The demoniac transgress the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures and are known as asuras which means without light denoting without the light of divine consciousness. Due to their bellicose and belligerent disposition of opposing the Supreme Lords commands, the demoniac purposely act contrary in defiance. Because of this they are unable to derive even the most miniscule satisfaction and lasting happiness for their immense efforts. All they derive from their scheming conjures of evil actions is accommodation in the hellish planets direct at the conclusion of their life cycle. By their own demoniac actions and sinful activities they have voluntarily hurled themselves into such a dire predicament without relief.

Next Lord Krishna will explain how natures differ according to the qualities of the three gunas or modes of material nature that a jiva is situated in and influenced by. As the three gunas are directly affected by the food a jiva chooses to eat and helps determine their present birth. The threefold nature of foods as they are situated in one of the three gunas of sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna corresponding to the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance will be described first. This is confirmed in the Chandogya Upanisad VI.V.IV beginning anna-mayam hi sommya manah it states: The mind is verily composed of the food that is eaten is further confirmed in verse VII.XXVI.II beginning rahara shudda sattva shuddhi which states: Taking pure food in pure condition after its been first offered to the Supreme Lord. As the purity of the food eaten so is the purity of the mind for pure food enhances the mind with purity.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

The ignorant who indifferently disregard the Vedic scriptures while performing their own religious rituals with faith will find such faith divided into one of the three gunas or modes of material nature as well. The gunas known as sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna correspond to the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance respectively. But because they disrespect the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures they must be excluded from those who are endowed with the divine nature and are thus unqualified for all four goals of human development which are artha or wealth, kama or pleasure, dharma or spiritual development and moksa or liberation from material existence. They are only qualified for two artha and kama; yet due to having some faith and piety they cannot be categorised as those possessing demoniac qualities; but neither can they be considered as endowed with divine qualities.

To clarify this discrepancy Lord Krishna will now answer what is the position of those such as these with misplaced faith due to ignorance of the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures. Those who practice extreme vows of self deprecation such as emaciating fasting, masochistic flagellation, sadistic tormenting of the physical body, etc. all of which are not enjoined and sanctioned by the Vedic scriptures; simply enact them out of ostentation and egoism out of delusion in an attempt for perverse material gains. Abusing and torturing the physical body containing the atma or immortal soul, they disrespect themselves and the Supreme Lord as well who abides therein and cause the atma to enter lower and lower degraded species of existence where misery and suffering are unending. Know that such living entities possess the demoniac nature and should be vigilantly avoided by all means because they flagrantly disobey the commands of the Supreme Lord by disregarding the Vedic scriptures. Because the demoniac transgress the Vedic scriptures wilfully and even spitefully they never can obtain lasting happiness because they constantly engage in activities antagonistic to the Supreme Lord. Instead they fall into the foulest and excruciating of hells to suffer interminably.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 17, verse 5, 6 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 5, 6

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