Reflections on the Bhagwat Geeta – Chapter XVI, XVII

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The Saamkhya approach introduced in Chapters 13-15 is extended in Chapter 16 & Chapter 17.  We shall produce some key Verses from these Chapters to illustrate this point.

In Chapter 14, the three गुण (Gun), सत्व (Satva), रज (Raj), तम (Tam) were discussed in detail. The तम (Tam) is the most dangerous & destructive of all. How does one avoid Tam?


  • Chapter 16, Verse 21Attachment, Anger & Greed are the doors to (नरक)  Narak, or  a heinous state. They cause damage to the आत्मन (Atman). These three should be jettisoned (एतत त्रयं त्यजेत).
  • Chapter 16, Verse 22O Son of Kunti, He who frees himself from these doors of Tam and practices what is appropriate for Atman (आचरति आत्मनः श्रेयः) , He reaches the exalted stage (याति परां गतिम्).
This theme is extended in Chapter 17 with a discussion of श्रद्धा (Shraddha) or deeply held belief system.


  • Chapter 17, Verse 2The श्रद्धा (Shraddha) or belief systems of mortal people are inherent to them (श्रध्हा देहिनाम सा स्व-भाव-जा ) – they are सात्विकी (generated from Satva) राजसी (generated from Raj) & तामसी (generated from Tam).
  • Chapter 17, Verse 3People develop their belief system based on their स्व-भाव or their inherent nature. Man is essentially belief-based (श्रद्धा-मय अयं पुरुषः). Where His Shraddha or belief system resides, He becomes that (यो यत श्रध्हः स एव सः.).
यो यत श्रध्हः स एव सः – We consider this last statement as very simple and incredibly profound. The simplistic translation is that We become what we believe in. You see evidence of this all over the world every day. So the key to impact someone’s behavior, someone’s actions is to impact that person’s belief system or Shraddha. This can be used positively to generate more Satva or Saatvic Shraddha or this can be used to brainwash. This is also the key to religious conversions and mental enslavement.

The next several verses discuss how to create a Saatvic or Satva-based Shraddha in ourselves.

ॐ तत सत  is one of the most ancient and fundamental statements in Eternal Dharma. It is intended as a description of पर-ब्रह्म or the ultimate Brahma (creator or entity). In the concluding Verses of Chapter 17 (Verses 23-28), Shree Krishna places this fundamental statement in the context of the Bhagwat Geeta.

He explains to Arjun that (Om) being the Original, Pranav or Promordial expression of Creation, all followers of Brahma begin their actions with (Om). He states that तत (Tat) signifies the stand alone nature of Action without any desire for the fruits of the Action. He explains that Sat applies to good or appropriate Action in addition to the commonly understood meaning of goodness or साधु-भाव.

Finally, Shree Krishna states that establishment of Stable Buddhi or ब्राम्ही स्थिति (Braahmi State) (see last Verse of Chapter II) is also termed as Sat. And any Action for or under this Braahmee State is also called Sat.



Thus Endeth Chapter XVII named Shraddha-Traya-Vibhaag-Yog (श्रद्धा-त्रय-विभागयोग) of Shree Bhagwat Geeta, of the Upa-Nisad (उप-निसदत्सु) , of the Yog-Shaastra (योग शास्त्र) of Brahma-Vidyaa (ब्रह्म विद्या), of the dialog (संवाद) between Shree Krishna & Arjun.


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