Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 17.4, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse Verse 17.4 from the chapter 17 called “Shraddha-traya-vibhaga-yoga (Yoga through discerning the three types of Faith)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 17.4:

यजन्ते सात्त्विका देवान् यक्ष-रक्षांसि राजसाः ।
प्रेतान् भूत-गणांश् चान्ये यजन्ते तामसा जनाः ॥ ४ ॥

yajante sāttvikā devān yakṣa-rakṣāṃsi rājasāḥ |
pretān bhūta-gaṇāṃś cānye yajante tāmasā janāḥ
|| 4 ||

yajante–worship; sāttvikāḥ–those in goodness; devān–the demigods; yakṣa–a type of celestial entity capable of bestowing great wealth; rakṣāṃsi–demons; rājasāḥ–those in passion; pretān–ghosts; bhūta-gaṇān–spirits; ca–and; anye–others; yajante–worship; tāmasāḥ–in darkness;janāḥ–persons.

Persons in the mode of goodness worship the demigods, whose disposition is similar to their own. Those in the mode of passion worship Yakṣas and Rākṣasas, who are of like nature, and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits, being akin to them.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

Now Śrī Bhagavān is elaborating on the subject mentioned previously. Those whose mind is in the mode of goodness are endowed with faith in that mode. They worship the demigods, who are sāttvika, or in goodness, in accordance with the injunctions of scriptures in the mode of goodness. Because their faith is in the demigods, they are also called demigods, since they develop the same nature and qualities. This principle also applies to those whose minds are rājasika and tāmasika.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

In this verse, Śrī Bhagavān is explaining the varieties of mundane faith of persons who worship the various demigods. According to scripture, Śrī Bhagavān is the only worshipable entity, but driven by various types of material desires, some people place their faith in the worship of various demigods and other entities. That faith is of three kinds: in the mode of goodness, passion or ignorance. Those whose faith is in the mode of goodness worship demigods such as Brahmā, Śiva, Indra, Candra and Sūrya. Similarly, those whose faith is in the mode of passion worship Durgā, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and so on, and those whose faith is in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.

Sometimes, one demigod is worshipped by those in the three different modes. For example, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi’s worship of Lord Śiva at the time of devastation was in the mode of goodness, as was Kāgabhuṣuṇḍi’s worship of him. As a result of their sāttvika worship, Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi remained alive for one entire day of Lord Brahmā and acquired knowledge of the creation of the universe, etc., and Kāgabhuṣuṇḍi attained bhakti to Bhagavān Śrī Rāmacandra. The worship of Lord Śiva performed by Bāṇāsura and Rāvaṇa, etc., is rājasika, and the worship of him by Bhasmāsura, etc., is tāmasika. Durgā devī is also worshipped by those with the three types of faith. By the influence of saintly association, however, faith in the mode of ignorance can transform into faith in the mode of passion. That faith can then be transformed into faith in the mode of goodness, which in turn can transform into transcendental faith, beyond the modes of nature.

The faith of nirviśeṣavādīs, those who worship the featureless aspect of the Absolute, is also in the mode of goodness. They consider brahma, the Absolute Truth, to be formless and featureless, and they imagine the forms of the five demigods to be representations of that formless reality, and thus they worship them. In this way, they endeavour to purify their heart and then attain jñāna.

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