Bhagavadgita: 18. The Yoga of Liberation Through Renunciation

Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita

Translated by Jayaram V

Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 |

Summary: This final chapter deals with liberation and renunciation, three types of renunciation, sacrifices, charity and austerity, which should be practiced with detachment. One should renounce desires not actions. It also speaks about knowledge, object of knowledge, and the knower, how the modes of Nature influence thinking and behavior, and how to overcome it.


Moksha Sanyasa Yoga

1. Asked Arjuna, Regarding Sanyas (renunciation), O Mighty Armed, I want to know the truth, and also about sacrifice, O Hrisikesa and Killer of Kesi.

2. Replied Lord Supreme, Renunciation of desire in the performance of actions is known as sanyas among the learned people. Renunciation of the fruit of action is declared as sacrifice by the experienced.

3. Some amongst men say that all work is evil and should be given up. But others say that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should not be renounced.

4. O Best of the Bharatas, now hear from Me with certainty about renunciation. O Tiger among men, renunciation is stated to be of three kinds.

5. Acts of charity, penance, should not be renounced, but performed. Yagna, charity and penance purify even the great men among people.

6. All these acts should be performed renouncing the attachment to the fruit of actions. They should also be done as duty. And this in my opinion, O Partha is the best.

7. Renunciation of prescribed duties is not appropriate. Renunciation of such activities due to illusion is declared as tamas (ignorance).

8. Renunciation of action due to unhappiness and the fear that they cause physical discomfort is called rajasic renunciation and he will not gain the fruit of renunciation.

9. He who performs the prescribed actions considering them as obligatory duty and renounces all attachment to the fruit of his actions, such renunciation in my opinion is sattvic in nature.

10. Without aversion to unpleasant work and without attachment to pleasant work, the renouncer is well entrenched in sattva. He is intelligent and free from all doubts.

11. For the embodied, renunciation of all actions completely is not at all possible. But he who renounces the fruit of his actions is declared as the renouncer.

12. The unpleasant, pleasant and mixture of both are the three kinds of fruits of works, which, after their death, come to the lot of people who have not renounced, but not to those who have renounced.

13. O Mighty Armed one, know from Me the five causes as declared in the Samkhya philosophy for the successful performance of all actions.

14. The field, the doer, the senses, numerous activities and the Divine, the fifth.

15. By the body and the mind whatever actions are performed by man, rightfully or wrongfully, these five are their causes.

16. The being who because of his impure reason sees the Self as the doer is of imperfect understanding and he known not.

17. Who is without the feeling of egoism, whose intelligence is not entangled, even if he has killed in this world, he has not killed and he is not bound by his actions.

18. Knowledge, the object of knowledge and the knower are the three forces of karma. The senses, the work and the doer are the three aspects of karma.

19. In the philosophy of gunas, it is said that knowledge, action and doer are also of three types, according to the threefold division of gunas. Now hear about them as they are.

20. That knowledge is called sattvic by which one sees all beings situated in one inexhaustible Being and undivided among the divided.

21. Know that knowledge as rajasic by which one sees multiple existences as different entities due to divisions.

22. Engaging oneself fully in ones work as if it is the end of all, without any specific reason, with little or without any knowledge and purpose is called tamasic knowledge.

23. Disciplined, detached, without attraction or aversion, without any desire for the fruits of actions, such actions is called sattvic in nature.

24. Without the desire for the fruits of actions, with egoism, performing the same actions again and again with great labor, such action is called rajasic in nature.

25. Actions that are binding, destructive, cruel, without regard for consequences, initiated out of price, arrogance and delusion are called tamasic in nature.

26. Freed from attachment, without any egoism, filled with firmness and enthusiasm, without any feeling towards success or failure, such a doer is said to be a sattvic doer.

27. Passionate and attached to the fruits of work, greedy, violent, impure, subject to joy and sorrow, such a doer is declared to be of rajasic in nature.

28. Inappropriate, crude, stubborn, deceitful, malicious, lazy, morose, procrastinating - such a doer is called tamasic in nature.

29. The threefold division of intelligence and stability according to the gunas as described by Me in detail, now listen O Dhananjaya.

30. What should be done and what should not be in the performance of works, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation, he who knows, his understanding, O Partha, is sattvic in nature.

31. What is dharma (righteousness), what is adharma (unrighteousness), what is work and what is not who knows it incorrectly, his intelligence, O Partha, is rajasic in nature.

32. The ignorant who considers adharma (unrighteousness) as dharma (righteousness) and in all respects is perverted, O Partha, his intelligence is tamasic in nature.

33. The firmness (will power) by which one holds the mind, prana, senses and all activities, through yoga , free from distraction, that firmness, O Partha, is sattvic in nature.

34. But for the sake of dharma, desires and wealth, O Arjuna, who wields his firmness, out of attachment, desiring the fruit of his actions, O Partha it is rajasic firmness.

35. And by which dreaming, fear, sorrow, grief, arrogance, one does not give up - the firmness of that foolish person is tamasic in nature.

36. Now hear from Me, O Best Among the Bharatas, the three kinds of happiness, by the practice of which one enjoys and also achieves the ending of sorrow.

37. That which is like poison in the beginning but in the end becomes like nectar, that happiness is said to be sattvic in nature, which gives rise to self-knowledge and bliss.

38. Born out of attachment with sense objects, which is like nectar in the beginning and becomes like poison in the end, that happiness is regarded as rajasic in nature.

39. That happiness which deludes the self from the beginning to the end, born of sleep and laziness, is quoted as tamasic happiness.

40. There is none either on earth or in the world of gods, who is free from the influence of these three gunas born of Prakriti.

41. Brahmins, kshatriyas, the vaishyas and the sudras, O Paramtapa, are divided (into these categories ) in the performance of their duties, on the basis of their in born gunas only.

42. Equanimity, self-control, austerity, purity, forgiveness, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and belief in God - are the duties of a Brahmin arising out of his nature.

43. Valor, vigor, firmness, resourcefulness, not fleeing from the battle field, generous, leadership (or lordship) , are the duties of a kshatriya arising out of his nature.

44. Cultivation, protection of cows, trade are the duties of a vaishya born out of his nature. Action involving service to others is the duty of a sudra endowed by nature.

45. By following ordained duties, man can attain perfection. How perfection can be attained through ones duty now listen.

46. From Whom arise all the beings and by Whom all this is pervaded, by worshipping Him through ones duty man can attain perfection.

47. Better is ones dharma even if devoid of merits , than another's dharma perfectly performed. By doing the works according to ones nature one is not tainted by sin.

48. O Kaunteya, one should not give up ones duty which is born out of one nature. All actions have some defect or the other just as fire is always enveloped by smoke.

49. He whose intellect is disinterested, who has subdued his self, free from desires attains through renunciation the state of freedom from action and reaction.

50. Now try to understand from Me in brief, O Kaunteya, how one who has achieved perfection can attain Brahman, the highest state of knowledge and transcendence.

51. With intelligence purified, engaged in self-control with determination, giving up the sense objects such as sound etc., setting aside hatred and attachment.

52. Residing in solitary places, eating lightly, restraining speech, the body and the mind, always engaged in transcendental meditation and sheltered in detachment.

53. Freed from egoism, force, arrogance, desire, anger and greed for material things, without possessiveness, peaceful - such a person is qualified for realization of Brahman.

54. Attaining Brahman, immersed in bliss, he neither thinks nor desires, equally disposed towards all beings, he gains My Supreme Devotion (attention).

55. Through devotion, he realizes Me, all that is to be known about Me in truth. Knowing Me thus in truth, he enters into Me.

56. Although engaged always in actions, under My protection, by My Grace, he attains the eternal and the imperishable Abode.

57. Mentally renouncing all actions to Me, under My protection, through buddhi yoga (equanimity of mind), he becomes established in My consciousness always.

58. With your mind fixed on Me, through My mercy, you will overcome all obstacles. But if you do not listen to Me due to egoism, you will perish.

59. By resorting to egoism, if you think I shall fight, your effort will be in vain. Your nature will drive you (any way) to engage yourself in warfare.

60. O Son of Kunti, your ordained duties which you would not like to perform under illusion, you will involuntarily do by the force of your own nature.

61. O Arjuna, the Supreme lord is seated in all beings and by the force of Maya, He moves all beings as if they are riding on a machine.

62. You should seek refuge in Him alone, with all your being. O Bharata, by His grace you will attain the state of Supreme and Eternal Peace.

63. Thus to you I have explained the knowledge which is the secret of all secrets. Contemplate on it deeply and then do whatever you like.

64. Hear from Me again the most confidential and supreme words. As you are very dear to Me, I am divulging it for your benefit.

65. Fix your mind on Me. Be My dear devotee and My worshipper. Offer your obeisance to Me. and certainly you will come to Me only. Truly I promise so (as ) you are dearer to Me.

66. Giving up all dharmas (ordained duties), in Me alone take refuge. I will liberate you from all sins. Do not be worried.

67. This should not be spoken to the one who is not austere, who is not My devotee at any time, who does not want to serve Me, and who is envious of Me.

68. Whoever preaches this most secret knowledge among My devotees, with supreme devotion shall come to Me only. Of this there is no doubt.

69. Never among men there is any one who is dearer than him, nor in the future will there ever be, in this world.

70. He who studies this righteous dialogue of ours, has worshipped Me through knowledge and sacrifice. This is My opinion.

71. With faith and without envy who hears thus, he thus liberated , attains the auspicious worlds which are attained through good deeds.

72. Have you heard this with the full concentration of your mind ,O Partha? Whether the delusion caused by ignorance has been dispelled, O Dhananjaya ?

73. Replied Arjuna, My illusion is destroyed and memory is regained by Your grace, O Intangible One. I am now (mentally) stable and all my doubts have vanished. I shall now act as per Your words.

74. Said Sanjaya, Thus I have heard this dialogue between Sri Vasudeva Krishna and Arjuna, the great soul. What I have heard is wonderful and extremely thrilling.

75. By the grace of sage Vyasa, I have heard this most secret and sacred yoga (mystic knowledge) directly from the Lord of Yoga, Sri Krishna Himself as He spoke personally.

76. O King, remembering again and again this wonderful and pious dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, I am rejoicing again and again.

77. O great king, remembering again and again the most wonderful form of Hari (Vishnu) , I am filled with wonder and I am rejoicing again and again.

78. Where there are Lord Krishna, the Master of all Yogas and Arjuna, the great archer, there are certainly opulence, victory, exceptional miracles and strong morality. This is my firm conviction. 

Thus ends the eighteenth chapter named the Yoga of Liberation By Renunciation in the Upanishad of the divine Bhagavad-Gita , the knowledge of the Absolute, the yogic scripture, and the debate between Arjuna and Lord Krishna.

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