Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) Chapter 17 Slokas 27-28

November 21, 2021

™yajñe tapasi dāne ca sthitiḥ sad iti co ’cyate
karma cai ’va tadarthīyaṁ sad ity evā ’bhidhīyate (XVII-27)
™aśraddhayā hutaṁ dattaṁ tapas taptaṁ kṛtaṁ ca yat
asad ity ucyate pārtha na ca tat pretya no iha (XVII-28)

XVII/27. Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and gift, is also
called ‘sat’; and also action in connection with these
(or for the sake of the supreme) is called ‘sat’.

XVII/27. Whatever is sacrificed, given or performed,
and whatever austerity is practised without faith,
it is called ‘sat’, O Arjuna. It is naught here or
hereafter (after death)


Swamiji's Commentary

     The discussion on faith is thus beautifully wound up. Adherence to the scripture is good. It presupposes faith in the scripture and in God. In the absence of a scripture it is permissible to pursue one’s own nature, with faith in oneself. Here it is good to bear in mind the threefold classification. Whereas sattva is ‘close to the sat or truth’, tamas is also a quality of nature; even the tāmasa man is not damned for ever.

     Since sat is the inner reality, remembrance of it helps us draw closer to it, thus increasing sattva. This is the purpose of repetition of mantra. Constant remembrance of God enables us to become godly, sāttvika. ‘Remembrance’ here is not an act of memory, for it relates to the reality which has to be discovered from moment to moment; we should remember to discover it!

     Not  only  meditating  upon  the  word  sat,  but  also  upon  its  significance  as  the unchanging reality, will enable us to imitate that changelessness in our own life and actions. This results in steadfastness – a quality which is the exact opposite of the diabolical fickleness of the hypocrite. Steadfastness is the indication and the test of inner faith.

     If there is no faith, however, the action is useless. It is good to remind ourselves repeatedly that selfless action is not soulless action, and that the desire-less man is not a robot, mechanically responding to stimuli in a pre-set routine fashion. He knows that action  is  nature’s  way  of  purifying  itself,  and  thus  life  flows  with  no  difficulty whatsoever.

     Krishna’s Gītā is the very opposite of the gospel of inert and stupid activity. It is unselfish but supreme dynamism. Only the small ego stifles life; yoga is joyous participation in the divine will.

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