Chapter 17The Threefold Divisions of Material ExistanceVerse 28


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

Now to emphasise the paramount position and fundamental importance of undertaking all Vedic activities with sraddha or resolute faith, Lord Krishna condemns offering propitiation and worship, executing austerities and giving charity without requisite faith in the activity performed. All activities performed without faith denotes nothingness for no such activity will give any results in the present life or in future reincarnations. How can any Vedic activity devoid of sraddha cause anything to manifest in the material existence or bestow anything in this life or the next life? It is not even remotely possible. Furthermore the blemish and defect accompanying asraddha or lack of faith brings with it condemnation and ill repute is known as asat the very antithesis of SAT.

So in conclusion it has been established and determined that a jiva or embodied being who completely renounces raja guna the mode of passion and tama guna the mode of ignorance and takes exclusive recourse in sattva guna the mode of goodness is qualified to realise atma tattva realisation of the immortal soul, the ultimate truth and communion with the Supreme Lord.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Since the performance of all Vedic activities are exclusively for the propitiation and worship of the Supreme Lord Krishna and any of His avatars or authorised incarnations and expansions such activities are known as SAT. The Supreme Lord is celebrated and glorified by His triplicate names of OM TAT SAT. The Vedic hymns and mantras gain power when OM TAT SAT are vibrated at their commencement and lose power if they are omitted at the end. Any hymns, chants or mantras sacred incantations recited without first uttering OM TAT SAT are known as a-sura or void of light and non- luminous. Also recitation of OM TAT SAT without comprehensively understanding its meaning bestows little faith and has meagre value. Similarly chanting Vedic mantras without knowing their meaning is worthless because Vedic mantras protect those who know the meaning reciting them as well as those who know the meaning and hear them and because of this they are known as mantras. Therefore an aspirant for advancement should always be cognizant of the meaning of the mantras during chanting and hearing. This has been revealed in the Paingi scripture. The performance of Vedic activities and the chanting of Vedic mantras while cognizant of their meaning without any expectation of reward are known as sura or luminous and enlightened. Therefore only activities performed in devotion and connected to the Supreme Lord are deemed SAT and are of the nature of perpetual goodness. All other actions contrary to this are known as asat.

Activities in raja guna the mode of passion are also included as asat due to the defect of self-motivated desires which keeps one in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Actions in tama guna the mode of ignorance are situated in asat as well due to a comatose state of nescience and causes one to descend into the inferior hellish worlds.

Only by being established and situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness is a jiva or embodied being redeemed which leads to atma tattva realisation of the immortal soul, moksa freedom from material existence and attaining communion with the Supreme Lord. Therefore to receive salvation one should eternally perform prescribed Vedic actions in sattva guna which always pleases the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Lord Krishna concludes this chapter by emphasizing that even if prescribed Vedic activities are performed meticulously according to the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures; if they are devoid of sraddha or resolute faith they have absolutely no value and are known as a-sat the antithesis of SAT or perpetual goodness. Without the prerequisite faith in the Supreme Lord Krishna, in the absolute authority of the Vedic scriptures, in the Vaisnava spiritual preceptor; the performance of prescribed Vedic activities bestow no rewards in this life or in subsequent reincarnations. For all time and energy, all efforts are wasted for nothing is obtained in the present life and nothing is attained in a future life for the practitioner of prescribed Vedic activities who is devoid of sraddha. So the indispensable value of resolute faith cannot be overestimated.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

In order to firmly establish that all Vedic activities should be performed with full faith denoting with spiritual knowledge acquired by humbly enquiring from the bonafide Vaisnava spiritual preceptor in one of the four authorised sampradayas or channels of disciplic succession revealed in Vedic scriptures. The Supreme Lord Krishna emphasises the utter futility and worthlessness of prescribed Vedic activities executed without inherent sraddha or resolute faith. Whatever is offered regardless of how perfectly, whatever is performed regardless of how austere, whatever is donated regardless how opulent; if devoid of inherent, resolute faith it has no value whatsoever in this world or the next, in the present life and in future lives and is known as a-sat the antithesis to SAT perpetual goodness. Without faith the supporting cause is absent and does not create an effect in time affecting future reincarnations.

The Vedic scriptures explicitly state that the actions of the righteous become pure by faith. Therefore meticulously eschewing all activities characterised by raja guna the mode of passion which due to self-motivated desires keeps one locked in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and fastidiously avoiding all activities characterised by tama guna the mode of ignorance which due to nescience degrades one into existence in the inferior hellish planets are the instructions one must steadfastly adhere to.

An aspirant should remain permanently situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness and with full faith in the Supreme Lord, the Vedic scriptures and the Vaisnava spiritual master, performing prescribed Vedic activities to the best of one's ability to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. The performance of all activities for sake of the Supreme Lord is designated as righteousness and bequeaths inner purity, spiritual wisdom and devotion; guiding a jiva or embodied being to atma tatvva or realisation of the immortal soul, moksa or liberation from material existence and final beatitude and communion with the Supreme Lord Krishna.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 17, verse 28 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 28

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