Chapter 17The Threefold Divisions of Material ExistanceVerse 3


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 nature of sraddha or faith is essentially the quality of sattva guna the mode of goodness. This is confirmed in Srimad Bhagavatam XI.IXX.XXXIV beginning saucam japas tapo homah sraddhatithyam where it states: Internal and external cleanliness, chanting of Lord Krishna's holy names, propitiation to the Supreme Lord and faith. All these are all qualities of sattva or goodness Therefore the question may arise how can sraddha be considered threefold. Considering this point Lord Krishna clarifies that the faith of a person is influenced by the gunas or modes of material nature that one is situated in and it is this threefold influence that causes gradations in sraddha. Thus the faith of one either intelligent or ignorant is determined according to the quality of their consciousness. All jivas or embodied beings exist verily as what there faith is. The worldly person has faith in their possessions, the spiritual person has faith in their religion, the strong man has faith in his power, the beautiful woman has faith in her beauty, etc. One is endowed with faith in the present life that is the residue of the faith one had in previous lives. One who had a preponderance of sattva guna or raja guna or tama guna in their previous life will find themselves similarly endowed with attraction to the same preponderance in this life. The three divisions of faith applies only to the influence of the gunas which exist in every aspect of material existence for those situated in raja guna and tama guna only as they are engaged in transitory, mundane activities pertaining to the perishable physical body. But in regard to those who adhere to the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures and who are endowed with discriminative knowledge resulting from study of the Vedic scriptures as taught by the spiritual master they are exclusively situated in sattva guna naturally.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Consciousness is verily determined by faith. Hence the very nature of faith is indicative by the manner and way in which they worship. The word sattvanurupa means according to the mentality and characteristics arising from one's faith which manifests from one of the three gunas or modes of material nature.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The word sattvanurupa means according to the mental characteristics. The qualities of the mind saturate every jiva or embodied being and correspondingly determines the of faith they are endowed with. Whatever state the mind exists in, faith naturally arises from that very state. This also implies the desires of the body and the attraction of the senses. The word sraddhamayo means inundated with one of the three types of faith situated from either sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion or tama guna the mode of ignorance. In whatever mode of faith one is united with into that mode of faith one is transformed. If such a jiva is imbued with faith for performing spiritual activities one will achieve spiritual results. Contrarily if one is attracted with faith to perform demoniac activities one will achieve demoniac results both in accordance with their faith.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

The faith of everyone is dependent upon and molded to their individual mental constitution. The quality of faith is determined by one's mental disposition which is the intellectual characteristics or lack of and the impressions that the mind is imbued with, which is the impetus which propels one into one of the three gunas or modes of material nature. Although by nature intellect is essentially of sattva guna the mode of goodness yet because intellect is a product of the ego it still promotes desires and attractions which are threefold even as are the types of food and drinks one finds appealing. All this is due to samskaras or impressions from past lives where such activities were engaged in habitually. At the very moment of birth itself, one is born with a preponderance of either sattva guna with attraction to the divine energy, raja guna or mode of passion with attraction to demoniac entities and tama guna or mode of ignorance with an attraction to ghosts and spirits. In the human race it can be seen that the intellect is mixed but still there will be a preponderance for one of the three gunas. But because the intellect of everyone is situated only in the quality of sattva guna the element of faith itself is characterised by goodness. But one who is situated in raja guna has faith but in passion and hence deluded, one who is situated in tama guna has faith but in ignorance and thus perverted. Whereas one who is situated in sattva guna has faith that is in goodness which is the natural state of the intellect and thus they are not subject to delusion and perversion. The jivas or embodied beings revolving in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death have not qualified for moksa or liberation from material existence; yet they are all constituted of faith and whatever the nature of their faith indeed that is what they verily are. In the word sraddhamaya the suffix maya meaning constitutes, expresses the preponderance towards one of the three types of faith. The qualities of sattva guna, raja guna and tama guna are discerned by the activities that a jiva engages themselves in. Those established in sattva guna advance and evolve spiritually. Those who are rooted in raja guna stay where they are unable to advance and evolve and those who are enveloped in tama guna sink deeper into lower species and existences.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 17, verse 3 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 3

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