Narach Philosophy


The seventeenth chapter, entitled "Sraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga" or "Yoga in relation to the Threefold Path" contains a discussion of the character of the three Gunas of Prakriti. It tells of the kinds of food associated with each of the three Gunas, examines the idea of Sacrifice, Penance and Gifts in the light of the three Gunas, and tells us how, while remaining in the world and acting in conjunction with the Gunas, one can still achieve freedom from the bondage of action. Ultimate Truth, we are told, consists in Faith, Penance, Gifts and Sacrifice.

Arjuna said:

O Krishna what's the state of those
Who set aside the scripture rules,
But offer sacrifice with faith?
Is Sattva, Rajas or Tamas theirs?

The Blessed Lord said:

The faith of all embodied ones
Is threefold, of their nature born,
Of Sattva, Rajas, Tamas all;
And do thou hear it from me now.

The faith of each, O Bharata,
Unto his nature doth conform.
A man consisteth of his faith:
But as his faith, so is the man.

The Sattvic worship but the gods;
Yakshas and demons Rajasic;
And men of Tamas multitudes
Of ghosts and spirits of the dead.

The men who practise penances,
Fierce and opposed to scripture rules,
Full of deceit and egoism,
Desire, attachment, lust and power;

And heedlessly who torture all
The organs in their bodily frame,
And myself too who dwell therein,
Know thou to be of devilish aim.

And know that food to each one dear
Is also of a threefold kind;
So penance, alms, and sacrifice:
And hear thou their distinction now.

The food, augmenting vital power,
Health, strength, and comfort, and delight,
Sweet, savoury, pleasant, and compact,
Is dear to those of Sattvic kind.

And bitter, sour, and saltish, hot,
And pungent, dry and burning food,
Producing pain, disease, and grief,
Is held by men of Rajas dear.

The food that's raw and tasteless all,
And stinking, stale, and left overnight,
And all impure, and leavings too,
Is held by men of Tamas dear.

The sacrifice, by ordinance,
Performed without desiring fruit,
For its own sake, with mind intent,
Know Sattvic is that sacrifice.

What is performed, desiring fruit,
And for the sake of outward show,
Know thou, O best of Bharata race,
Of Rajas is that sacrifice.

Devoid of gifts to Brahmans, food,
Of sacred hymns, devoid of faith,
Performed opposed to ordinance,
of Tamas is that sacrifice.

Worship of gods, of Brahmans wise,
And teacher, purity and truth,
And harmlessness and chastity,
Bodily penance is this called.

The speech that is from sorrow free,
And beneficial, pleasant, true,
And study of the Vedas, all
This is austerity of speech.

Calmness of mind and kindliness,
And silence deep and self-control,
And honesty of purpose, all
This is austerity of mind.

This threefold penance done by men
Who are imbued with perfect faith,
Steadfast, and not desiring fruit,
Sattvic penance is that called.

The penance practised with the aim
Of welcome, honour, worship, show,
Unsteady, and impermanent,
Of Rajas is that penance called.

The penance born of foolish thought,
Practised with torture of the soul,
Its object being to destroy,
Of Tamas is that penance called.

Verily Sattvic is that gift,
To proper man, who naught returns,
In proper place, at proper time,
Given because to give is right.

And what is given but with the aim
Of fruit, or service in return,
Or else is offered painfully,
Of Rajas verily is that gift.

That given to a worthless man,
In worthless place, at worthless time,
Without regard, contemptuously,
Of Tamas verily is that gift.

Threefold has Brahman been declared,
Described as Om and Tat and Sat;
All Brahman hymns were made by him,
And Vedas and all sacrifice.

Therefore those who follow Brahma,
As is enjoined in scriptures all,
Uttering Om, they do their deeds,
Of penance, gift, and sacrifice.

Seekers of final freedom too,
Renouncing all desire for fruit,
Uttering Tat, perform their deeds
Of penance, gift, and sacrifice.

The Real thing is Sat indeed,
And verily Sat is also good;
And Sat, O son of Pritha, means
A good, auspicious action done.

And Sat is also steadiness
In penance, gift, and sacrifice;
And verily Sat is action too
Performed but in the name of God.

Whatever is done, devoid of faith,
Of penance, gift, and sacrifice,
Asat it is, O Pritha's son,
It is naught on earth, and naught elsewhere.


Those who torture their bodies in doing penance, torture their God who dwells therein.

Om, Tat, Sat: Om refers to Prana or the soul, as has been explained. Tat means "all that" and refers to the manifest life that is around us, which may be so described. Hence we have the classic expression, "Tad i tvam asi", referring to God as comprehending everything we see around. Sat means "Being, life, goodness or truth".

God is made manifest in the Soul or Prana (Om); he is everything that we see around (Tat); and he exists, he is goodness, and Truth (Sat).

Om and deeds: All actions are performed by Prana or Breath, which refers also to Air, the element of action.