The Mahabharata Home
(Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVIII)
"Arjuna said, 'Of renunciation, O thou of mighty arms, I desire to know the true nature, and also of abandonment, O lord of the senses distinctly, O slayer of Kesi.' 3
"The Holy One said, 'The rejection of the works with desire is known by the learned as renunciation. The abandonment of the fruit of all work, the discerning call abandonment. Some wise men say that work (itself)
should be abandoned as evil; others (say) that the works of sacrifice, gifts, and penance, should not be abandoned. As to that abandonment, listen to my decision, O best of the sons of Bharata, for abandonment, O tiger among men, hath been declared to be of three kinds. The works of sacrifice, gifts, and penance should not be abandoned. They should, indeed, be done. Sacrifice, gift, and penance, are the purifications of the wise. But even those works should be done, abandoning attachment and fruit. This, O son of Pritha, is my excellent and decided opinion. The renunciation of an act prescribed (in the scriptures) is not proper. Its abandonment (is) from delusion, (and) is (therefore,) declared to be of the quality of darkness. 1 (Regarding it) as (a source of) sorrow, when work is abandoned from (fear of) bodily pain, one making such an abandonment which is of the quality of passion never obtaineth the fruit of abandonment. (Regarding it) as one that should be done, when 2 work that is prescribed (in the scriptures) is done, O Arjuna, abandoning attachment and fruit also, that abandonment is deemed to be of the quality of goodness. Possessed of intelligence and with doubts dispelled, an abandoner that is endowed with the quality of goodness hath no aversion for an unpleasant action and no attachment to pleasant (ones). 3 Since actions cannot be absolutely abandoned by an embodied person, (therefore) he who abandons the fruit of actions is truly said to be an abandoner. Evil, good and mixed-action hath (this) three-fold fruit hereafter for those that do not abandon. But there is none whatever for the renouncer. 4 Listen from me, O thou of mighty arms, to those five causes for the completion of all actions, declared in the Sankhya treating of the annihilation of actions. 5 (They are) substratum, agent, the diverse kinds of organs, the diverse efforts severally, and with them the deities as the fifth. 6 With body, speech, or mind, whatever work, just or the reverse, a man undertakes, these five are its causes. That being so, he that, owing to an unrefined understanding, beholdeth his own self as solely the agent, he, dull in mind,
beholdeth not. He that hath no feeling of egoism, whose mind is not sullied, he, even killing all these people, killeth not, nor is fettered (by action). 1--Knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower, form the three-fold impulse of action. Instrument, action, and the agent, form the three-fold complement of action. 2 Knowledge, action, and agent, are declared in the enumeration of qualities to be three-fold, according to the difference of qualities. Listen to those also duly. 3 That by which One Eternal Essence is viewed in all things, undivided in the divided, know that to be knowledge having the quality of goodness. That knowledge which discerneth all things as diverse essences of different kinds in consequence of their separateness, know that that knowledge hath the quality of passion. But that which is attached to (each) single object as if it were the whole, which is without reason, without truth, and mean, that knowledge hath been said to be of the quality of darkness. The action which is prescribed (by the scriptures), (done) without attachment, performed without desires and aversion, by one who longeth not for (its) fruit, is said to be of the quality of goodness. But that action which is done by one seeking objects of desire, or by one filled with egoism, and which is attended with great trouble, is said to be of the quality of passion. That action which is undertaken from delusion, without regard to consequences, loss, injury (to others), and (one's own) power also, is said to be of the quality of passion. The agent who is free from attachment, who never speaketh of himself, who is endued with constancy and energy, and is unmoved by success and defeat, is said to be of the quality of goodness. The agent who is full of affections, who wisheth for the fruit of actions, who is covetous, endued with cruelty, and impure, and who feeleth joy and sorrow, is declared to be of the quality of passion. 4 The agent who is void of application, without discernment, obstinate, deceitful, malicious, slothful, desponding, and procrastinating, is said to be of the quality of darkness. 5 Hear now, O Dhananjaya, the three-fold division of intellect and constancy, according to their qualities, which I am about to declare exhaustively and distinctly. The intellect which knoweth action and inaction, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and deliverance, is, O son of Pritha, of the quality of goodness. The intellect by which one imperfectly discerneth right and wrong, that which ought to be done and that which ought not to be done, is, O son of Pritha, of the quality of passion. That intellect which, shrouded by darkness, regardeth wrong to be right, and all things as reversed,
is, O son of Pritha, of the quality of darkness. That unswerving constancy by which one controls the functions of the mind, the life-breaths, and the senses, through devotion, that constancy, is, O son of Pritha, of the quality of goodness. 1 But that constancy, O Arjuna, by which one holds to religion, desire, and profit, through attachment, desiring fruit, that constancy, O son of Pritha, is of the quality of passion. That through which an undiscerning person abandons not sleep, fear, sorrow, despondency, and folly, that constancy is deemed to be of the quality of darkness. Hear now from me, O bull of Bharata's race, of the three kinds of happiness. That in which one findeth pleasure from repetition (of enjoyment), which bringeth an end to pain, which is like poison first but resembleth nectar in the end, that happiness born of the serenity produced by a knowledge of self, is said to be of the quality of goodness. 2 That which is from the contact of the senses with their objects which resembleth nectar first but is like poison in the end, that happiness is held to be of the quality of passion. That happiness which in the beginning and its consequences deludeth the soul, and springeth from sleep, indolence, and stupidity, that is described to be of the quality of darkness. There is not, either on earth or heaven among the gods, the entity that is free from these three qualities born of nature. The duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas, and of Sudras also, O chastiser of foes, are distinguished by (these three) qualities born of nature. Tranquillity, self-restraint, ascetic austerities, purity, forgiveness, rectitude, knowledge, experience, and belief (in an existence hereafter),--these are the duties of Brahmanas, born of (their proper) nature. Bravery, energy, firmness, skill, not flying away from battle, liberality, the bearing of a ruler,--these are the duties of Kshatriyas, born of (their proper) nature. Agriculture, tending of cattle, and trade, are the natural duties of Vaisyas. Of Sudras also, the natural duty consists in servitude. Every man, engaged in his own duties, attains to perfection. Hear now how one obtains perfection by application to his duties. Him from whom are the movements of all beings, Him by whom all this is pervaded, worshipping him by (the performance of) one's own duty, one obtaineth perfection. Better is one's own duty though performed faultily than another's duty well-performed. Performing the duty prescribed by (one's own) nature, one incurreth no sin. One must not abandon, O son of Kunti, one's natural duty though tainted with evil, for all actions are enveloped by evil like fire by smoke. He whose mind is unattached everywhere, who hath subdued his self, and whose desire hath departed, obtaineth, through renunciation, the supreme perfection of freedom from work. Learn from me, only in brief, O son of Kunti, how one, having obtained (this kind of) perfection, attaineth to Brahma which is the supreme end of knowledge. Endued with
a pure mind, and restraining his self by constancy, renouncing sound and other objects of sense, and casting off affection and aversion, he who resideth in a lonely place, eateth little, and restraineth speech, body, and mind, who is ever intent on meditation and abstraction, who hath recourse to indifference, who, abandoning egoism, violence, pride, lust, wrath, and (all) surroundings, hath been freed from selfishness and is tranquil (in mind), becometh fit for assimilation with Brahma. Becoming one with Brahma, tranquil in spirit, (such a) one grieveth not, desireth not; alike to all beings, he obtaineth the highest devotion to Me. By (that) devotion he truly understandeth Me. What I am, and who I am; then understanding Me truly, he entereth into Me forthwith. Even performing all actions at all times having refuge in Me, he obtaineth, through my favour, the seat that is eternal and imperishable. Dedicating in thy heart all actions to Me, being devoted to Me, resorting to mental abstraction, fix thy thoughts constantly on Me. Fixing thy thoughts on Me, thou wilt surmount all difficulties through my grace. But if from self-conceit thou wilt not listen, thou wilt (then) utterly perish. If, having recourse to self-conceit, thou thinkest--I will not fight,--that resolution of thine would be vain, (for) Nature will constrain thee. That which, from delusion, thou dost not wish to do, thou wilt do involuntarily, bound by thy own duty springing from (thy own) nature. The Lord, O Arjuna, dwelleth in the region of the heart of beings, turning all beings as if mounted on a machine, by his illusive power. Seek shelter with Him in every way, O Bharata. Through his grace thou wilt obtain supreme tranquillity, the eternal seat. Thus hath been declared to thee by Me the knowledge that is more mysterious than any (other) matter. Reflecting on it fully, act as thou likest. Once more, listen to my supernal words, the most mysterious of all. Exceedingly dear art thou to Me, therefore, I will declare what is for thy benefit. Set thy heart on Me, become My devotee, sacrifice to Me, bow down to Me. Then shalt thou come to Me. I declare to thee truly, (for) thou art dear to Me. Forsaking all (religious) duties, come to Me as thy sole refuge. I will deliver thee from all sins. Do not grieve. This is not to be ever declared by thee to one who practiseth no austerities, to one who is not a devotee, to one who never waiteth on a preceptor, nor yet to one who calumniateth Me. He who shall inculcate this supreme mystery to those that are devoted to Me, offering Me the highest devotion, will come to Me, freed from (all his) doubts. 1 Amongst men there is none who can do Me a dearer service than he, nor shall any other on earth be dearer to Me than he. And he who will study this holy converse between us, by him will have been offered to Me the sacrifice of knowledge. Such is my opinion. Even the man who, with faith and without cavil, will hear it (read), even he freed (from re-birth), will obtain of the blessed regions of
those that perform pious acts. Hath this, O son of Pritha, been heard by thee with mind undirected to any other objects? Hath thy delusion, (caused) by ignorance, been destroyed, O Dhananjaya?'
"Arjuna said, 'My delusion hath been destroyed, and the recollection (of what I am) hath been gained by me, O Undeteriorating one, through thy favour. I am now firm. My doubts have been dispelled. I will do thy bidding.'"
Sanjaya continued, "Thus I heard this converse between Vasudeva and the high-souled son of Pritha, (that is) wonderful and causeth the hair to stand on end. Through Vyasa's favour heard I this supreme mystery, this (doctrine of) Yoga, from Krishna himself, the Lord of Yoga, who declared it in person. O King recollecting and (again) recollecting this wonderful (and) holy converse of Kesava and Arjuna, I rejoice over and over again. Recollecting again and again that wonderful form also of Hari, great is my amazement, O king, and I rejoice ever more. Thither where Krishna, the Lord of Yoga (is), thither where the great bowman (Partha) is, thither, in my opinion, are prosperity, and victory, and greatness, and eternal justice 1'"
End of the Bhagavad Gita
93:3 Sanyasa I render Renunciation. K. T. Telang does the same. Mr. Davies renders it "abstention." So 'Tyaga' I render "abandonment." Mr. Davies renders it "renunciation." What the two words, however, mean is explained fully in the verses that follow.
94:1 Both Sankara and Sreedhara explain the second line consisting of two propositions, the connecting verb bhavet being understood.
94:2 I have used "when" for "whatever" to make the sentence grammatical.
94:3 Davies, giving the sense correctly, does not follow the true order of the subject and the predicate. Following Lassen, he renders kusala and akusala as "prosperous" and "unprosperous;" for medhabi K. T. Telang has rendered "talented" which has not the sanction of good usage.
94:4 That is, as Sreedhara explains, one who hath renounced the fruit of actions.
94:5 Kritante Sankara takes it as an adjective of Sankhye and thinks that the reference is to the Vedanta. Sreedhara also seems to be of the same opinion.
94:6 The substratum is the body. The agent is the person that thinks himself to be the actor. The organs are those of perception etc. The efforts are the actions of the vital winds--Prana, etc. The deities are those that preside over the eye and the other senses. The deities have no place in Kapila's system. Hence, if it is not the Vedanta, some system materially based upon Kapila's and recognising the interference of the deities, seems to be indicated. Atra is explained by Sreedhara as equivalent to "among" or "with these." I think, however, it means, "are here", i.e., are enumerated here, or, in this connection.
95:1 Hath no feeling of egoism, i.e., doth not regard himself as the doer, Sullied, i.e., by the taint of desire of fruit.
95:2 Mr. Davies, I think, is right in rendering Samgrahas as "complement." K. T. Telang renders it as equivalent to "in brief."
95:3 In the enunciation of qualities i.e., in the Sankhya system.
95:4 Full of affections, i.e., for children, etc., as Sreedhara.
95:5 Prakrita which I have rendered "without discernment" following Sreedhara, may be, as Mr. Davies renders it, but "malicious."
96:1 Mr. Davies makes "unswerving" an adjective of 'devotion.' This is wrong, for Avyabhicharinya (unswerving) is a feminine instrumental, and must qualify Dhritya.
96:2 Atma-budhi-prasadajam. K. T. Telang, following an alternative explanation offered by Sankara, renders it "clear knowledge of the self." Mr. Davies renders the "serenity of one's own mind." I follow Sreedhara.
97:1 Asamsayas is the reading that occurs in every text, and not Asamsayam. Mr. Davies, therefore, is incorrect in rendering it "doubtless" and making it an adverb qualifying "come to me."
Next: Section XLIII