Gita Series – 159: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. Verse 23 – 28

OM, TAT and SAT are the threefold representations of the Brahman and from That alone Vedas, Vedic scholars and sacrificial rites have originated. Hence, during the acts of sacrifices, gifts, austerities approved by Scriptures and during Vedic recitations, OM is uttered in the beginning. TAT is recited by those who aim for liberation while performing sacrificial rites, austerities and charities without intent on the fruits of these actions. SAT is recited by those who perform the above acts with faith and on behalf of the Brahman. The above acts performed without faith and devotion is termed as ASAT, which is of no use here and later.

Krishna elucidates OM TAT SAT. OM which is popularly represented as ॐ is the mystical sacred syllable representing the Brahman. Tat means that and Sat refers to the reality of the Brahman. ‘Om Tat Sat’ is a sentence with three separate words, each of them representing an aspect of the Brahman. As already discussed, the Brahman has two aspects; one is Purest form and another illusory form, often known as māyā. Purest form of the Brahman is known as Para-Brahman or the Supreme Brahman. ‘Om Tat Sat’ refers to Para-Brahman.

Om represents the Supreme Creator. Tat represents His act of creation and Sat represents existence. Everything originates from Om, the Absolute. From the Absolute arises universe or the universal truth. The Absolute, though remaining as Absolute all the time, gets universalised in the form of creation is Tat. When the creation becomes a Reality, it is known as Sat. If Om is the vibratory force of creation, Sat is the soul and Tat is the intelligence. Therefore, OM TAT SAT refers to the creative aspect of the Brahman. None of three words are associated with ego of the self. They mean only the universality, as opposed to individualism.

Out of the three, Om is used during all sacrificial rites, during sacred chants of Vedas, at the time of giving gifts, etc. Om indicates auspiciousness. Without the recitation of Om, no ritual is complete or no mantra becomes effective. When TAT is recited, it means non-attachment. When one performs an action without attachment to the fruits of his actions, Tat is uttered. Tat also means liberation of the soul freed from bondage and attachment. The egoless stage of a person is indicated by Tat. Sat refers to the Reality of the Absolute or the Supreme Brahman and His creation. When a person becomes devoid of ego, freed from attachments and bondage, he begins to act on behalf of his Creator. Sat is the stage of cosmic consciousness, the perfect platform to attain liberation.

Kṛṣṇa concludes this chapter by saying that any action, be it sacrificial rites, be it charities, be it austerities, be it penance, done without faith and devotion is called ‘asat’ Asat, the opposite of Sat, means unreal. From unreal nothing can emerge and unreal always remain as unreal only. Unreal is of no use not only in this birth, but also in the births to come, as it has karmic implications. While pursuing spiritual path one should have absolute faith coupled with determination. What is pursued without faith can never be attained. Faith and devotion get transformed into love for the Lord. Love for the Lord is an important turning point in realising the Self. Spiritual pursuit is not something that can be taken lightly. Spirituality is the only tool available to permanently exit from the pains of transmigration. One should not waste the opportunity of human birth to attain final liberation, as liberation can happen only through mind, which is a unique property of mankind alone.


Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 14 - 17

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVII. 18 - 22

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 1 - 6