Arjuna uvaacha:
ye shaastravidhimutrisrijya yajante shraddhayaanvitaahaa |
teshaam nishthaa tu kaa krishna sattvamoho rajastamaha || 1 ||

Arjuna said:
Those who, setting aside laws of scripture, perform worship endowed with faith, O Krishna, what is their position? Is it of sattva, rajas or tamas?

ye : those who
shaastravidhim : laws of scripture
utrisrijya : setting aside
yajante : perform worship
shraddhayaa : faith
anvitaahaa : endowed with
teshaam : their
nishthaa : position
tu : then
kaa : what
krishna : O Krishna
sattvam : sattva
aaho : or
rajas : rajas
tamaha : tamas
In order to prevent the prompting of actions by selfish desire, we should use the scriptures as a guide to decide what to do or what not to do. This was the concluding message of the previous chapter. Hearing this, the word “shaastra” or scripture stuck in Arjuna’s mind. Perhaps he foresaw that over the course of time, most people will not have access to scriptures. They will not be able to receive the guidance of a real guru who truly cares about their spiritual growth versus extracting money from them. He wanted to know, like all of us do, how to use our judgement without access to scriptural laws.
Let us now investigate what category of people Arjuna is speaking about. There are those who may have access to the scriptures, may even understand the scriptures, but have no inclination of following them. Such people were covered in the last chapter under the category of devilish qualities. Conversely, there are people who understand the scriptures and also conduct their life according to scriptures. These people were covered under the category of divine qualities. This chapter covers those people who do not have access to the scriptures, but yet try to lead their lives through faith, sincerity and honesty.
So then, Arjuna asks this extremely practical question on behalf of common people who have faith in some higher principle. Some may be devotees of Shri Krishna, some of Lord Shiva, some of Lord Ganesha. Some may not have faith in a deity but may have faith in a spiritual text such as the Gita. Some may have not have faith in any of these but may have faith in a friend, spouse or relative who has faith in a deity or a spiritual text. Some may have faith in their nation or in a higher cause such as improving the state of the nation’s education system.
Regardless of what their faith is, such people would like to set themselves on a path that gains them happiness in the material world, and also enables them to pursue the supreme goal of self realization or liberation. In the absence of scripture as the authority, faith determines the course of action for such people. How can they determine whether their faith is saattvic, rajasic or tamasic? How can they ensure that their faith is leading them in the right direction?