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Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 15

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 15

Anudwegakaram vaakyam satyam priyahitam cha yat;
Swaadhyaayaabhyasanam chaiva vaangmayam tapa uchyate.

Speech which causes no excitement and is truthful, pleasant and beneficial, the practice of the study of the Vedas, are called austerity of speech.


After talking about the austerity of the body in this shloka Lord Krishna narrates what exactly is declared as the austerity of speech. He says that those words that never cause any distress to others should always be spoken. Then those words have to be truthful because pleasant words that are not truthful should never be spoken. The third point that Lord mentions here is that one should always speak beneficial words and stay away from speaking harsh, negative and distressful words. Apart from all this Lord also says that those words which are spoken during the practice of Vedas also comes under the austerity of speech. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

There is this famous quote from Manusmriti which I read a few years ago, that fits aptly to interpret this shloka. Manu says “One should only speak what is true. One should only speak what is pleasant. But one should not speak the truth if it is not pleasant, nor one should speak an untruth which is pleasant. This is the ancient dharma”. This I think I read somewhere at the beginning of 2015 and from then on it has become the cornerstone of the philosophy of my speech. The purpose of our speech is to communicate and we need to always keep the purity of our communication. The austerity of speech can be attain only if you follow this philosophy. 

Lord is telling two things here. First is you should always speak good. You should always speak things that motivate others, makes them positive and brings something good out of them. Second is one should always tell the truth. If you say anything which is untrue, it takes away your credibility and makes you a person who is seen as an untrustworthy liar. The underlying thing is, we speak for our benefit and we also speak for our dharma. We need to align these two, our dharma is our benefit and thus what we speak, if we align with our dharma then automatically we get benefitted out of it. But if we look at only our benefit, side-stepping dharma, then we might end up speaking things that are lies and that if caught, will take away the trust and credibility that we carry. 

If this is about speaking good thing and things which are true, there can be a situation where we have to tell a truth which causes a lot of distress and which is unpleasant. Should you tell that truth and fulfil your dharma? This is where we are in “Dharam sankat” or “dilemma of truth”. Here, Lord says don’t speak the truth which spreads unpleasantness even if it is your dharma. Let time decide the way and means for the truth to come out. You should not be the reason for spreading that unpleasantness. The other part is people feel that they should always speak pleasant things so, in that process, they feel that speaking something pleasant but which is an untruth is allowed. But according to scriptures, it is not allowed. The question is why?

A unpleasant truth makes the person unhappy and demotivates him from the path that is why it should not be spoken. But a pleasant thing which is not a truth creates unrealistic expectation and over estimation of one’s abilities. Though it is pleasant it should never be spoken. Encourage people realistically, don’t make promises or give them something which is unrealistic and beyond their reach. Such a thing can damage them and their confidence forever. Thus we have permission to speak positive, good and motivating things, but those which are truthful only. If one takes this and practices in his life, his words will become so powerful that it will have the power to change millions of people around him. That’s the power of austerity of speech.

Bhagavadgita Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 5

Chapter 17 Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga Verse 5

Ashaastravihitam ghoram tapyante ye tapo janaah;
Dambhaahamkaarasamyuktaah kaamaraagabalaanvitaah.

Those men who practise terrific austerities not enjoined by the scriptures,  given to hypocrisy and egoism, impelled by the force of lust and attachment,


This is a two-part shloka where Lord Krishna is talking about what is written in the scriptures and how people deviate from it and what happens to them. It’s a very important thing that Lord is talking where He says that there are people who practice austerities that are not prescribed in the scriptures. Austerities here means spending very little money and leading a very simple way of life. Lord then goes on to say that the real motive of these austerities is many times hypocrisy and egoism. The other possible reason could be that the person might also be doing that with a hidden agenda of lust and attachment. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Why do people go for austerities? The answer is simple. When they want something in life, they go on fasting, leaving luxuries in life so that God will be pleased by their attitude and bestow them with the things that they are aspiring for. The scriptures has always said that a person should lead a simple life to go closer to God and become dearer to Him. This is interpreted differently by different people.

Take the example of a business man who wants success and wealth in life. He would be advised by a priest that if he leads a simple life as prescribed in scriptures then he will become dearer to God. This person interprets that once he gets dearer to God, then God will give him everything that he wishes for.

Many people who practice austerities do this keeping in mind the ulterior benefits or motives. They are mostly hypocritical and egoistic. You need to see a person who is leading such life. Simple life comes with a very simple attitude but this person will show a lot of pomp even in this lifestyle. He celebrates his simplicity and gives an impression to people around him that he is such a devoted person to God that he can leave anything for the sake of God. Such people, Lord Krishna say will never be dearer to Him and will never get the wisdom that is required for moksha.

Bhagavdgita Chapter 16 Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga Verse 23

Chapter 16 Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga Verse 23

Yah shaastravidhimutsrijya vartate kaamakaaratah;
Na sa siddhimavaapnoti na sukham na paraam gatim.

He who, casting aside the ordinances of the scriptures, acts under the impulse of desire, attains neither perfection nor happiness nor the supreme goal.


This shloka talks about the results that the demonic souls who neglect the God get. Lord Krishna starts off by talking about these demonic people who set aside the ordinances of the scriptures. Ordinances of scriptures mean the Vedas and other holy scriptures which suggest a person what to do. They do so because they are drawn by the impulses of desire. They are filled with the bodily desires and when they overpower the reasoning and logic a person becomes impulsive. Lord Krishna in the later half of the shloka goes on to say that such a person will never attain perfection nor he will attain happiness and he will never ever accomplish the Supreme goal of moksha. 

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

Vedas, Upanishads and Vedangas are considered to be the holy scriptures that give directions to an individual on the path to be followed. The scriptures usually gives two types of instructions. The first set of instructions are those rituals and other directives that an individual is supposed to perform to attain moksha. The other is the directives of what a person should not do. These directives are also called a prohibits or nishedh. A person has to always follow the instructions and do things for attaining moksha. A demonic person always disregards the instructions of the scriptures and take the opposite route. The question is why?

The answers to that are when a person reads in the scriptures what he should not do, he normally gets drawn to it. For example, scriptures say that womanizing is something which is prohibited for the one who is looking at Moksha. But the moment he reads that his senses get drawn to the pleasure of seeking multiple women and those ways he tends to follow most of the times what is prohibited. Scriptures say what should not be done, only to see how strong is the person’s will power to resist this. A person who is daivic will not fall for this, whereas a demonic person gets drawn to this and the result is he neither gets happiness or perfection or attains his goal of moksha.