Chapter 17: The Divisions of Faith

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 17.19

mūdha-grāhenātmano yat

pīdayā kriyate tapah


tat tāmasam udāhritam


mūdha — foolish; grāhena — with endeavor; ātmanah — of one's own self; yat — which; pīdayā — by torture; kriyate — is performed; tapah — penance; parasyato others; utsādana-artham — for the sake of causing annihilation; — or; tat — that; tāmasamin the mode of darkness; udāhritam — is said to be.


Penance performed out of foolishness, with self-torture or to destroy or injure others, is said to be in the mode of ignorance.


There are instances of foolish penance undertaken by demons like Hiranyakaśipu, who performed austere penances to become immortal and kill the demigods. He prayed to Brahmā for such things, but ultimately he was killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To undergo penances for something which is impossible is certainly in the mode of ignorance.

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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness