SRIMAD BHAGAVAD-GITA: CHAPTER FIVE
The Path of Renunciation of Action
arjunah uvacha–Arjuna said: (he) krsna–O Krishna; (tvam)–You; samsasi–speak of; sannyasam–renunciation; karmanam–of actions; punah–then again; yogam cha–application, yoga (of selfless action, niskama karma-yoga). me bruhi–Please tell me; sunischitam–clearly; yat tat ekam–which one; etayoh–of the two; sreyah–is superior.
1 Arjuna said: O Krishna, you speak of renunciation of actions, and then again, You speak of the path of selfless action. Therefore, please tell me clearly which is superior.
sri-bhagavan uvacha–The Supreme Lord said: ubhau–both; sannyasah karmayogah cha–renunciation of action and the path of selfless action; nihsreyasa-karau–bring great benefit; tu–but; tayoh–of these two; karma-yoga–the path of selfless action; visisyate–is superior; karma-sannyasat–to renunciation of action.
2 The Supreme Lord said: Both renunciation of action and the path of selfless action bring great benefit. Yet, of the two, know that the way of selfless action is superior.
jneyah sa nitya-sannyasi, yo na dvesti na kanksati
(he) maha-baho–O mighty-armed one; jneyah–it is to be known that; yah–one who; na dvesti–neither resents; na kanksati–nor desires; sah–that person; nitya-sannyasi–is renounced, though performing action; hi–because; nirdvandvah–one who is free from duality; sukham–is easily; pramuchyate–liberated; bandhat–from bondage.
3 O mighty-armed Arjuna, know that one who is free from attraction and aversion is truly renounced, though performing action; for one who is free from duality easily attains liberation from bondage.
sankhya-yogau prthag balah, pravadanti na panditah
balah–The childish, the unwise; pravadanti–say that; sankhya-yogau–the paths of renunciation and (karma-) yoga; prthak–are separate; (tu)–but; panditah–the learned; na (vadanti)–do not say this. samyak asthitah–A person who adopts perfectly; ekam api–only one; vindate–attains; phalam–the result; ubhayoh–of both.
4 The path of renunciation (sankhya-yoga) and the path of selfless action (karma-yoga) are considered separate paths by the unwise, but not by the learned. One who perfectly follows either of these paths will achieve the result of both.
yat sankhyaih prapyate sthanam, tad yogair api gamyate
yat sthanam–That state which; prapyate–is obtained; sankhyaih–by renunciation (sannyasa); tat (sthanam)–that state; gamyate–is reached; yogaih api–by niskama karma-yoga, too. yah–One who; (vivekena)–by proper consideration; ekam pasyati–sees as one; sankhyam cha yogam cha–both sannyasa and karma-yoga; sah–he; pasyati–sees.
5 The state achieved by the renunciation of action is also achieved by the performance of selfless action. One who sees these two paths to be one and the same, actually sees.
sannyasas tu maha-baho, duhkham aptum ayogatah
(he) maha-baho–O best of the valiant; ayogatah–without niskama karma-yoga; sannyasah–renunciation; (bhavati)–is; duhkham aptum–the cause of sorrow; tu–but; yoga-yuktah–one who performs niskama karma-yoga; munih (san)–being a man of knowledge; na chirena–very soon; adhigachchhati–is able to attain to; brahma–the Absolute.
6 O mighty hero, without selfless action, mere renunciation of action is the cause of sorrow. But the wise man who engages in selfless action swiftly attains to the Absolute.
yoga-yukto visuddhatma, vijitatma jitendriyah
yoga-yuktah–Engaged in such a yoga process; visuddha-atma–the clean-hearted person; vijita-atma–of controlled mind; jita-indriyah–who has mastery over the senses; na lipyate–is not implicated; kurvan api–although performing action; sarva-bhuta-atmabhu ta-atma (san)–having reached the state in which his whole being is pervaded with affection and compassion for all beings.
7 The clean-hearted person thus engaged in yoga controls his mind and senses. Becoming filled with affection and compassion for all beings, although fully active, he is never implicated by any action.
naiva kinchit karomiti, yukto manyeta tattva-vit
yuktahtattva-vit–The realized karma-yogi; api–athough engaged in the functions of; pasyan–seeing; srnvan–hearing; sprsan–touching; jighran–smelling; asnan–eating; gachchhan–moving; svapan–sleeping; svasan–breathing; pralapan–speaking; visrjan–evacuating; grhnan–grasping objects in the hands; unmisan–and opening; nimisan–and closing the eyes, or blinking; dharayan–understanding; iti–that; indriyani–the senses, viz., eyes, etc.; vartante–function; indriya-arthesu–in relation to their respective sense objects of form, etc.; iti manyeta–thus considers: (aham)–"I; na karomi–do not do; kinchit eva–anything".
8-9 The realized karma-yogi performs the activities of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, speaking, evacuating, grasping objects, blinking the eyes, and so on, and he understands, "My sense organs-eyes, ears, skin, nose and tongue-function in relation to their respective objects of form, sound, touch, smell and taste." Thus, he considers, "I do not perform any action at all."
brahmany adhaya karmani, sangam tyaktva karoti yah
yah–One who; karoti–acts; adhaya–by offering; karmani–all actions; brahmani–unto the Supreme Lord; tyaktva–having given up; sangam–attachment; sah–he; na lipyate–is not affected; papena–by sin (or piety); padma-patram iva–as a lotus leaf; (na lipyate)–is not touched; ambhasa–by water.
10 One who, though living in this world, selflessly offers all his actions to the Supreme Lord, is not polluted by sin, as a lotus leaf remains on the water yet is untouched by it.
kayena manasa buddhya, kevalair indriyair api
tyaktva–By giving up; sangam–attachment (to the fruits of action); yoginah–the karma-yogis; karma kurvanti–perform action; kevalaih–merely; kayena–by the body; manasa–by the mind; buddhya–by the intelligence; api indriyaih–and even by the senses; atma-suddhaye–for purification of the heart, self-purification.
11 By giving up attachment, the karma-yogis perform action merely through the body, mind, intelligence and even the senses, for self-purification.
yuktah karma-phalam tyaktva, santim apnoti naisthikim
yuktah–A niskama karma-yogi, one engaged in the yoga of selfless action; tyaktva–giving up; karma-phalam–the fruits of action; apnoti–attains; naisthikim–uninterrupted; santim–peace, i.e. liberation; (kintu)–but; ayuktah–a sakama-karmi, fruitive worker; nibadhyate–becomes bound; saktah (san)–being attached; phale–to the fruits of action; kama-karena–by nurturing fruitive desires.
12 Giving up attachment to the fruits of his actions, the materially unmotivated (niskama) karma-yogi attains constant peace, or liberation from actions and reactions. But the fruitive worker (sakama-karmi) is attached to the fruits of his actions, and he becomes implicated by his endeavours.
sarva-karmani manasa, sannyasyaste sukham vasi
manasa–Mentally; sannyasya–renouncing; sarva-karmani–all actions; vasi–the sensecontrolled; dehi–embodied being; aste–resides; sukham–happily; nava-dvare pure–in the city of nine gates; na eva kurvan–neither acting; na karayan–nor causing work for others.
13 Mentally renouncing all actions, the sense-controlled embodied living being resides happily within the city of nine gates*, neither acting nor causing work for others.
*The body of nine gates—two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, mouth, anus and genital.
na kartrtvam na karmani, lokasya srjati prabhuh
prabhuh–The Lord; na srjati–does not generate; lokasya–anyone's; kartrtvam–ego of considering themselves 'the doer'; na karmani–nor their actions; na karma-phalasam yogam–nor their association with the fruits of actions; tu–but; svabhavah–their nature (of ignorance since time immemorial); pravartate–initiates these.
14 The Lord does not generate anyone's ego of considering themselves 'the doer', nor their actions, nor their association with the fruits of their actions. These are all a result of their external nature of ignorance since time immemorial.
nadatte kasyachit papam, na chaiva sukrtam vibhuh
vibhuh–The self-satisfied Supreme Lord; adatte–accepts; na papam–neither the sin; sukrtam cha na eva–nor the peity; kasyachit–of anyone. jnanam–Knowledge; (bhavati)–is; avrtam–covered; ajnanena–by ignorance—by the Lord's external potency (avidya-sakti), to fulfill the living being's desire to enjoy the material world; tena–thus; jantavah–the living beings (though spiritual in constitution); muhyanti–are deluded, thinking the body to be the self.
15 The Supreme Lord accepts neither the sin nor the piety of anyone. The living beings fall into illusion because their knowledge is covered by ignorance.
jnanena tu tad ajnanam, yesam nasitam atmanah
tu–But; yesam–of those for whom; tat ajnanam–that ignorance; nasitam–has been destroyed; atmanah jnanena–by self-knowledge, by the Lord's superior potency; tat jnanam–that knowledge; tesam–of those persons; prakasayati–reveals; param–the Supreme Reality; adityavat–like the sun that dispels darkness.
16 For persons whose divine knowledge has awakened, their ignorance is destroyed and their wisdom, like the shining sun, reveals the Supreme Reality.
tad-buddhayas tad-atmanas, tan-nisthas tat-parayanah
jnana-nirdhuta-kalmasah–Persons whose ignorance has been destroyed by knowledge; tat-buddhayah–who think constantly of the Supreme Lord; tat-atmanah–who meditate on Him alone; tat-nisthah–who abide in Him always; tat-parayanah–and who are devoted to hearing and singing His glories; (santah)–being so engaged; gachchhanti–they attain; apunah-avrttim–liberation.
17 Those whose illusion has been completely dispelled by knowledge always think of Me, the Supreme Lord; I am their meditation and they abide in Me alone, hearing and singing My unending glories in pure devotion. Thus, they are liberated from the mundane.
vidya-vinaya-sampanne, brahmane gavi hastini
sama-darsinah eva–Those who see with equanimity, who see Brahman, transcendence; vidya-vinaya-sampanne–in a learned and humble; brahmane–brahmana; gavi–a cow; hastini–an elephant; suni cha–and a dog; svapake cha–or a chandala (dog-eater or outcast); (kathyate)–(such seers) are to be known as; panditah–truly learned.
18 The enlightened souls see transcendence within all living beings, whether the humble and learned brahmana, the cow, the elephant, the dog, or the dog-eater. Therefore, they are to be known as pandita-men of true wisdom.
ihaiva tair jitah sargo, yesam samye sthitam manah
yesam–For those whose; manah–mind; sthitam–is situated; samye–equipoised in Brahman; sargah–the cycle of birth and death; jitah–is conquered; taih–by them; eva iha–while living within this world. brahma samam hi–Possessing spiritual equanimity; nirdosam–and being faultless (free from attachment and hatred); tasmat–thus; te–they; brahmani sthitah–are situated in Brahman.
19 Those whose minds are equipoised in Brahman have conquered the cycle of birth and death while living within this world. By their perfect spiritual equanimity, they are always situated in transcendence.
na prahrsyet priyam prapya, nodvijet prapya chapriyam
brahmani sthitah–Fully situated in Brahman; sthira-buddhih–endowed with steady intelligence; asammudhah–devoid of the delusion of considering one's body and its attachments as 'me' and 'mine'; brahma-vit–one in knowledge of Brahman; na prahrs yet–is neither elated; priyam prapya–by obtaining something desirable; na cha udvijet–nor dejected; apriyam prapya–by obtaining something undesirable.
20 Absorbed in transcendence, endowed with steady intelligence, and free from the delusion of thinking of the body and associated objects as 'me' and 'mine,' the knower of the Absolute is neither happy when pleasant things come his way nor sad when unpleasant things come his way.
bahya-sparsesv asaktatma, vindaty atmani yat sukham
asakta-atma–The person with mind detached; bahya-sparsesu–from external (sense-) enjoyment; (adau)–first; vindati–tastes; (tat) sukham–that happiness; yat atmani (anubhuyamane)–which is experienced in self-realization; (tatah)–then; brahma-yoga-yukta-atma–absorbing himself in meditation on the Absolute; sah–such a person; asnute–enjoys; aksayam–inexhaustible; sukham–bliss.
21 Detaching his mind from external pleasures, such a knower of the Absolute Truth tastes the inner joy of self-realization. Then, absorbing himself in meditation on the Absolute, he experiences inexhaustible bliss.
ye hi samsparsaja bhoga, duhkha-yonaya eva te
(he) kaunteya–O Arjuna; ye bhogah–those pleasures; samsparsa-jah–born of the senses contacting their objects; te duhkha-yonayah eva–are the origin of misery; hi–as; adi-antavantah–they begin and end. (atah)–Therefore; budhah–the wise person; na ramate–does not delight; tesu–in them.
22 O son of Kunti, the pleasures that arise from the contact of the senses with their objects are the cause of unhappiness, as they are transient. The wise never delight in such pleasures.
saknotihaiva yah sodhum, prak sarira-vimoksanat 
kama-krodhodbhavam vegam, sa yuktah sa sukhi narah
yah–One who; saknoti–is able (by the yoga of selfless action); sodhum–to check; kama-krodha-udbhavam vegam–the impulses of desire and anger; iha eva–in this life; prak–before; sarira-vimoksanat–leaving the body; sah narah–that person; yuktah–is a yogi; sah–he; sukhi–is happy.
23 Know that one who, before leaving the body, utilizes the opportunity of this life to check the impulses of desire and anger—he is a yogi who knows true happiness.
yo 'ntah-sukho 'ntar-aramas, tathantar-jyotir eva yah
yah–One who; antah-sukhah–experiences the joy of the self within; antah-aramah–who delights in the self within; tatha yah–and who; eva–in this way; antah-jyotih–sees the illumination within; sah yogi–such a (niskama karma-) yogi (follower of the yoga of selfless action); brahma-bhutah–attaining the transcendental state; adhigachchhati–achieves; brahma-nirvanam–liberation in Brahman; in the personal conception, he reaches the Supersoul, Paramatman.
24 Such a yogi sees the self within and delights in the bliss of the self within. Attaining the transcendental state, he attains liberation from matter (and entry into the abode of Brahman).
labhante brahma-nirvanam, rsayah ksina-kalmasah
ksina-kalmasah–Sinless; yata-atmanah–self-controlled; rsayah–sages; chhinnadvaidhah–with doubts destroyed; sarva-bhuta-hite-ratah–dedicated to the welfare of all; labhante–attain; brahma-nirvanam–liberation from the mundane plane.
25 Sinless, free from doubt, self-controlled and dedicated to the welfare of all living beings, the seers of truth attain such liberation.
kama-krodha-vimuktanam, yatinam yata-chetasam
yatinam–Of the sannyasis; yata-chetasam–who have controlled their thoughts (conquered the subtle body); vidita-atmanam–who are knowers of the element tvam, the soul; kama-krodha-vimuktanam–and free from desire and anger; brahma-nirvanam–liberation from matter; vartate–occurs; abhitah–either way, whether they live or die.
26 Persons of the renounced order who have controlled their thoughts, who are free from desire and anger, and who have achieved knowledge of the nature of the soul, are liberated whether they live or die.
sparsan krtva bahir bahyams, chaksus chaivantare bhruvoh
yah–That person who; bahih krtva–expelling; bahyan sparsan–external sense objects of sound, etc.; (manah pravistan)–which enter the mind; cha eva (krtva)–and concentrating; chaksuh–the eyes; antare–between; bhruvoh–the eyebrows; krtva samau–stabilizing; prana-apanau–inhalation and exhalation; nasa-abhyantara-charinau–flowing through the nostrils; (yah)–that person who; yata-indriya-manah-buddhih–is a controller of the senses, mind, and intelligence; moksa-parayanah–dedicated to liberation; vigata-ichchha-bhaya-krodhah–free from desire, fear, and anger; munih–a contemplative seeker of the self; sah–he; sada–is always; mukta eva–actually liberated.
27-28 Expelling from the mind all the external sense objects of sound, touch, form, taste, and smell; centering the concentration and stabilizing the incoming and outgoing breath; subjugating the senses, mind, and intelligence; dedicating himself to liberation; his desire, fear and anger gone, such a sage is ever liberated.
bhoktaram yajna-tapasam, sarva-loka-mahesvaram
(jivah)–The living being; rchchhati–attains; santim–the joy of his original divine identity; jnatva–by knowing; mam–Me; bhoktaram–as the maintainer, or worshippable objective; yajna-tapasam–of the karmis' sacrifices and the jnanis' austerities; sarva-loka-maha-isvaram–the worshippable Supreme Lord of all planes—Lord Narayana; suhrdam sarva-bhutanam–and the benefactor of all living beings by mercifully teaching pure devotion to Me, through My devotees, since I am the adorable friend of the devotees—Lord Krishna.
29 I am the enjoyer and objective of the sacrifices performed by persons of action, and of the austerities performed by persons of knowledge. I am Narayana, the indwelling monitor of all planes of life, the worshippable Supreme Personality who awards liberation. I am Krishna, the well-wisher of all and the dear friend of the devotees. One who knows Me thus, attains the bliss of knowing his own original divine identity.
iti sri-mahabharate sata-sahasryam samhitayam vaiyasikyam
End of Chapter Five
The Path of Renunciation of Action
from the conversation
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