Chapter 17The Threefold Divisions of Material ExistanceVerse 8,9,10


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

Foods that bequeath longevity, full of energy, bestow good health and vigour with happiness and satisfaction are relished by those in sattva guna the mode of goodness. Such foods in sattva guna particularly increase life and are juicy, savoury, rich and nourishing, like invigorating serum which remains long in the body and are agreeable and pleasing to the palate. Foods of this type which are chewed, licked, sucked and drunk are relished by those situated in sattva guna.

Foods that are excessively bitter, sour, pungent, salty, spicy, dry or burning are very much liked by those situated in raja guna the mode of passion. Such foods cause pain even while eating them which leads to distress of the body, misery, depression and subsequent disease and sickness all produced by these foods.

Food cooked more than three hours before, that is cold, tasteless, without aroma, stale, decomposed and foods that are amedhyam or forbidden for offering to the Supreme Lord such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, wine, alcohol, garlic, onions and mushrooms which come from fungus and are impure are preferred by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Eating foods that are of sattva guna the mode of goodness are pleasurable. Joyfulness is the immediate result. Whatever continues to be pleasurable is joyous to hrdya the heart. Even if all foods are cooked they all do not get digested the same. Ghee and honey are absorbed into the body directly, fruits take an hour to digest and vegetables and grains up to six hours. Some foods although bitter are agreeable to health such as kerala or bitter melon and some foods although sour like yoghurt are agreeable to health if not taken at night. Both of these are of sattva or goodness. Such is the nature of the pious and the saintly and that nature is maintained by the intake of foods that are sattva. The Shabda Niranya states: Hridyam is that which is pleasing to the heart and makes one desire for more. Pleasure is what is pleasing for the moment. Sukham or happiness is that which continues to keep one joyous long after the activity has ended. That food which retains its agreeability even after consuming repeatedly is rasyam which is delicious and nutritious.

But when foods are excessively bitter, spicy, salty. sour, pungent, etc. and result in discomfort and misery culminating in sickness and disease they are of raja guna the mode of passion. The food which is eaten more than three hours after it is cooked is known as yatama. When the food is tasteless it is also called yatayama. Food that once was flavourful but later becomes later has no taste is known as gatarasyam. The Suddhasastra states that one devoted to serving the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations should thoroughly understand the nature and quality of food.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

To those who are situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness, foods that are of the nature of sattva or goodness such as milk, fruits, grains and vegetables are very dear. Such foods promote long life, invigorating the body and elevating the mind in its function of intelligence. As was confirmed earlier in chapter XIV verse XVII: From the quality of sattva guna knowledge arises. Sattva guna facilitates spiritual knowledge and likewise food that is sattva also facilitates spiritual intelligence as well as good health, strength, happiness and relish. The word sukla meaning happiness refers to the pleasure experienced while ingesting the food and afterwards when it is digesting and assimilating within the body. The word priti means satisfaction that is derived from the intake of pure foods inspiring congenial interest in spiritual activities. The word rasayam means succulent, delectable. Snigdhah means oleaginous, unctuous. Sthirah means nourishing, sustaining. Hrydha means agreeable, pleasing. These are the qualities of sattva foods which are very much appreciated by those in sattva guna.

Foods that are acidic, bitter, salty, sour, spicy, pungent, dry, hard or burning are the foods that those in raja guna are very much attracted to. The word tiksna refers to food of no value because they are either to cold or to hot. Raksa are foods which are to dry and hard. Vidhahinah are those foods that cause a burning sensation in the body. These foods produce pain, distress, sickness and misery and decreases longevity of life and increase desires for more and more rajas or passion.

The foods liked by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance are yata-yaman meaning stale, foods that are old from the previous day, foods cooked more than a yama which is literally three hours before. Gata-rasam means those foods which have lost their original flavour and have become tasteless. Puti means putrid, possessing a foul smell. Paryusitam means decomposed, unrecognisable. Ucchistam means eating the remains of others food after they have eaten. This does not apply to honouring the remnants of mahaprasadam or sanctified food first offered to Lord Krishna and then eaten by the spiritual preceptors who mercifully leaves some for their devotees which is then glorified by them as maha mahaprasadam. Amedhyam means unsanctified foods due to not having been consecrated by first offering it to the Supreme Lord and thus impure. Partaking of foods in tama guna such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, wine, alcohol, etc. breeds dark nescience and great ignorance.

So in conclusion those fortunate jivas or embodied beings with spiritual insight should absolve themselves from the intake of foods in raja guna and tama guna and resort exclusively to foods in sattva guna.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna commences with the three-fold divisions of foods with the words ayuh-sattva meaning promoting longevity. Food that promotes spiritual knowledge which is the quality of intelligence has been corroborated previously in chapter XIV.XVII stating that: Wisdom verily arises out of sattva guna the mode of goodness. Whereas greed and lust are the by products of raja guna the mode of passion and lethargy and nescience is produced by those in tama guna the mode of ignorance. The word bala meaning strength and refers to food that gives the power to perform one's duty. Foods that are pleasant to eat, that bestow mental tranquillity, that are sustaining and easily digestible, that are nourishing and their essence remains invigorating the body even after digested are the foods which are dear to those endowed with the qualities of sattva guna.

Foods which are extremely acidic, salty, spicy, pungent and bitter such as azadirachta indica or burning such as chillies which burn the mouth, throat and stomach simply bring about distress and misery which leads to sickness and disease. The prefix aty meaning extremely at the end of the word lavanaty meaning extremely bitter applies to all the descriptions up to vidadhinah which means burning. Such foods are dear to those characterised with raja guna.

Foods which are half cooked, insipid, stale, tasteless, polluting, contaminated or leftovers from someone and foods that are forbidden to offer to the Supreme Lord such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, wine, alcohol, etc. are the foods of choice for those situated in tama guna.

The obvious conclusion is that those who are spiritually motivated and desire their best self interests should conscientiously avoid all foods characterised by raja guna and tama guna and resort exclusively to foods that are of sattva guna.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 17, verse 8,9,10 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 8,9,10

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