Bhagavad Gita Teachings -Chapter 17: Have Faith

Bhagavad Gita Teachings -Chapter 17: Have Faith


Faith that is based on one’s innate nature is of 3 kinds – of Goodness, of Passion and of Ignorance (Verse 2)

Those in Mode of Goodness worship deities.

Those in Mode of Passion worship nature-spirits (Yakshas) and demons (Rakshas).

Those in Mode of Ignorance worship ghosts and spirits (Verse 4)

Those who practice strict austerities because of their hypocrisy and pride, and not because it is in accordance with scriptures;

full of desire and attachment (to attain worldly benefit), they torture their body, including me who lives within them;

know these foolish people to be of evil tendency (Verse 5 & 6)


Food that is juicy, tasty, nourishing, fresh, pleasing, and provides strength, long life, health, happiness and satisfaction, is in Mode of Goodness (Verse 8)

Food that is bitter, sour, salty, very hot, dry, spicy, has strong taste, strong smell, and results in discomfort, sorrow and ailment, is in Mode of Passion (Verse 9)

Food that is improperly cooked, tasteless, spoiled, contaminated, leftover and foul with a rancid smell, is in Mode of Ignorance (Verse 10)


A yagna done properly, unwaveringly, without expectation of reward, and performed as if it were a duty, is in Mode of Goodness (Verse 11)

Yagna symbolically is any action undertaken with hope and without expectation

A yagna motivated by results and pride, is in Mode of Passion (Verse 12)

A Yagna done with no regards to scriptures, without distribution of offering (prasad), with no chanting of hymns, without faith, without donation, and without a Yajman (enjoyer of yagna), is in Mode of Ignorance (Verse 13)

Here Yagna is referred by its literal meaning which is a ritual where offerings are made to fire while invoking God/deities and chanting hymns. Prasad is food that is offered to God and then distributed to devotees. This food is considered blessed by God. Typically, priest/s perform Yagna and are given donation for their effort.

Practice the 3 Austerities of Body, Speech and Mind

Honoring God, teachers, wise ones and elders; while practicing cleanliness, integrity, restrain and non-violence, is called austerity of body (Verse 14)

Using words that are pleasant, truthful, helpful, do not cause agitation; and reciting sacred hymns/texts/chants, is called austerity of speech (Verse 15)

Inculcating traits of contentment, calmness, equanimity, quietness, self-discipline, and good feelings for all, is called austerity of mind (Verse 16)


Austerity of body, speech and mind, performed with faith and without clamoring for rewards, is in Mode of Goodness (Verse 17)

Austerity of body, speech and mind, performed with extravagance, to attain admiration, respect and adulation, is in Mode of Passion (Verse 18)

Austerity of body, speech and mind, performed with unclear beliefs, and hurting self or others, is in Mode of Ignorance (Verse 19)


Charity given without expectation, at an appropriate place and time, to a person worthy of that charity, is in Mode of Goodness (Verse 20)

Charity given with hope of a reward, a return, an expectation, or is given with hesitation, is in Mode of Passion (Verse 21)

Charity given to undeserving, at an inappropriate place and time, with ridicule or disdain, is in Mode of Ignorance (Verse 22)

Om Tat Sat – God is the Absolute Truth

The three words “Om Tat Sat” are a symbol of eternal essence, the Supreme God (Verse 23)

OM” means “Supreme God

Sages and devotees of God, recite the sacred word OM prior to commencing any yagna, charity or penance (Verse 24)

TAT” means “that”

Those without expectation, and seeking to attain moksha, utter the word “TAT” when undertaking acts of charity, austerity and yagna (Verse 25)

moksha” is “liberation from the cycle of birth and death

SAT” means “Absolute Truth, or Eternal

SAT means good, pure feelings and intentions towards all; and an auspicious action. Acts of yagna, charity, penance or any auspicious acts or purpose is “SAT” (Verse 26 & 27)

 Charity, penance, and yagna that is undertaken without faith, is “ASAT”. It is considered untrue and perishable, in this world and the next (Verse 28)

Total Verses in this Chapter: 28

Words of Import:

I, me, Absolute Truth, Supreme Being, Supreme Soul, God, Divine, Brahman,Universal ConsciousnessShri Krishna – are all used interchangeably.


has a symbolic as well as a literal meaning. Literally it means a ritual where offerings are made to fire, hymns are chanted and deities are invoked for fulfillment of personal or community desires; or to thank God or to seek God’s blessings. Symbolically, Yagna signifies that we have to do our part (offering/action) in other to obtain something (blessing or fulfillment), with the latter not being guaranteed.


The word “Yog” is derived from a Sanskrit word “Yuj” which means to join. In Hindu scriptures, yoga means joining or uniting the soul within the individual with that of the universal soul (God). The common usage of yoga as physical exercise is just a subset of the practice of Yoga, which includes disciplines of meditation and mode of conduct among others. It is believed that practice of all these disciplines make a person ready for unification with the Supreme Being.


refers to our duty as it does to the intent behind our actions. According to Hinduism, every living being has their own personal dharma which may or may not be the same as of others. This dharma is based on one’s situation or circumstance in life. 


is action as well as the result of the action. Its meaning depends on its context.


is liberation from the cycle of birth and death.


“Bhagavad Gita As It Is” by Swami Prabhupada

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