Chapter 17: The Divisions of Faith
sraddha bhavati bharata
sraddha-mayo 'yam puruso
yo yac-chraddhah sa eva sah
sattva-anurūpā—according to the existence; sarvasya—of everyone; śraddhā—faith; bhavati—becomes; bhārata—O son of Bhārata; śraddhā—faith; mayaḥ—full; ayam—this; puruṣaḥ—living entity; yaḥ—anyone; yat—that; śraddhaḥ—faith; saḥ—that; eva—certainly; saḥ—he.
According to one's existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired.
Everyone has a particular type of faith, regardless of what he is. But his faith is considered good, passionate or ignorant according to the nature he has acquired. Thus, according to his particular type of faith, one associates with certain persons. Now the real fact is that every living being, as is stated in the Fifteenth Chapter, is originally the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Therefore one is originally transcendental to all the modes of material nature. But when one forgets his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead and comes into contact with the material nature in conditional life, he generates his own position by association with the different varieties of material nature. The resultant artificial faith and existence are only material. Although one may be conducted by some impression, or some conception of life, still, originally, he is nirguṇa, or transcendental. Therefore one has to become cleansed of the material contamination that he has acquired in order to regain his relationship with the Supreme Lord. That is the only path back without fear: Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one is situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then that path is guaranteed for his elevation to the perfectional stage. If one does not take to this path of self-realization, then he is surely to be conducted by the influence of the modes of nature.
The word sattva, or faith, is very significant in this verse. Sattva or faith always comes out of the works of goodness. One's faith may be in a demigod or some created God or some mental concoction. It is supposed to be one's strong faith in something that is productive of the works of material goodness. But in material conditional life, no works of material nature are completely purified. They are mixed. They are not in pure goodness. Pure goodness is transcendental; in purified goodness one can understand the real nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As long as one's faith is not completely in purified goodness, the faith is subject to contamination by any of the modes of material nature. The contaminated modes of material nature expand to the heart. Therefore according to the position of the heart in contact with a particular mode of material nature, one's faith is established. It should be understood, that if one's heart is in the mode of goodness, his faith is also in the mode of goodness. If his heart is in the mode of passion, his faith is also in the mode of passion. And if his heart is in the mode of darkness, illusion, his faith is also thus contaminated. Thus we find different types of faith in this world, and there are different types of religions due to different types of faith. The real principle of religious faith is situated in the mode of pure goodness, but because the heart is tainted, we find different types of religious principles. Thus according to different types of faith, there are different kinds of worship.