Despondency of Arjuna
Karma Yoga -
Path of Action
- Path of Wisdom
Renunciation of Action
Mystery of Mysteries
- The Path of Love
The Lord -
|EIGHTEEN: THE SPIRIT OF RENUNCIATION
Arjuna asked: O mighty One! I desire to know how relinquishment is
Lord Shri Krishna replied: The sages say that renunciation means
forgoing an action which
springs from desire; and relinquishing means the surrender of its fruit.
Some philosophers say that all action is evil and should be abandoned.
Others that acts of
sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should not be given up.
O best of Indians! Listen to my judgment as regards this problem. It has
a threefold aspect.
Acts of sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should not be given up but
performed, for they purify the aspiring soul.
But they should be done with detachment and without thought of
recompense. This is my
It is not right to give up actions which are obligatory; and if they are
misunderstood, it is
the result of sheer ignorance.
To avoid an action through fear of physical suffering, because it is
likely to be painful, is to
act from passion, and the benefit of renunciation will not follow.
He who performs an obligatory action, because he believes it to be a
duty which ought to
be done, without any personal desire to do the act or to receive any
renunciation is Pure.
The wise man who has attained purity, whose doubts are solved, who is
filled with the
spirit of self-abnegation, does not shrink from action because it brings
pain, nor does he
desire it because it brings pleasure.
But since those still in the body cannot entirely avoid action, in their
case abandonment of
the fruit of action is considered as complete renunciation.
For those who cannot renounce all desire, the fruit of action hereafter
is threefold good,
evil, and partly good and partly evil. But for him who has renounced,
there is none.
I will tell thee now, O Mighty Man, the five causes which, according to
the final decision
of philosophy, must concur before an action can be accomplished.
They are a body, a personality, physical organs, their manifold activity
Whatever action a man performs, whether by muscular effort or by speech
or by thought,
and whether it be right or wrong, these five are the essential causes.
But the fool who supposes, because of his immature judgment, that it is
his own Self alone
that acts, he perverts the truth and does not see rightly.
He who has no pride, and whose intellect is unalloyed by attachment,
even though he kill
these people, yet he does not kill them, and his act does not bind him.
Knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge, these are the three
action; and the act, the actor and the instrument are the threefold
The knowledge, the act and the doer differ according to the Qualities.
Listen to this too:
That knowledge which sees the One Indestructible in all beings, the One
Indivisible in all
separate lives, may be truly called Pure Knowledge.
The knowledge which thinks of the manifold existence in all beings as
comes from Passion.
But that which clings blindly to one idea as if it were all, without
logic, truth or insight,
that has its origin in Darkness.
An obligatory action done by one who is disinterested, who neither likes
nor dislikes it,
and gives no thought to the consequences that follow, such an action is
But even though an action involve the most strenuous endeavour, yet if
the doer is seeking
to gratify his desires, and is filled with personal vanity, it may be
assumed to originate in
An action undertaken through delusion, and with no regard to the
involved, or the real capacity of the doer, or to the injury which may
follow, such an act
may be assumed to be the product of Ignorance.
But when a man has no sentiment and no personal vanity, when he
possesses courage and
confidence, cares not whether he succeeds or fails, then his action
arises from Purity.
In him who is impulsive, greedy, looking for reward, violent, impure,
torn between joy
and sorrow,it may be assumed that in him Passion is predominant.
While he whose purpose is infirm, who is low-minded, stubborn,
indolent, despondent, procrastinating he may be assumed to be in
Reason and conviction are threefold, according to the Quality which is
explain them fully and severally, O Arjuna!
That intellect which understands the creation and dissolution of life,
what actions should
be done and what not, which discriminates between fear and fearlessness,
deliverance, that is Pure.
The intellect which does not understand what is right and what is wrong,
should be done and what not, is under the sway of Passion.
And that which, shrouded in Ignorance, thinks wrong right, and sees
perversely, O Arjuna, that intellect is ruled by Darkness.
The conviction and steady concentration by which the mind, the vitality
and the senses are
controlled O Arjuna! They are the product of Purity.
The conviction which always holds fast to rituals, to self-interest and
wealth, for the sake
of what they may bring forth that comes from Passion. And that which clings perversely to false idealism, fear, grief,
despair and vanity is the
product of Ignorance.
Hear further the three kinds of pleasure. That which increases day after
day delivers one
Which at first seems like poison but afterwards acts like nectar that
pleasure is Pure, for
it is born of Wisdom.
That which as first is like nectar, because the senses revel in their
objects, but in the end
acts like poison that pleasure arises from Passion.
While the pleasure which from first to last merely drugs the senses,
which springs from
indolence, lethargy and folly that pleasure flows from Ignorance.
There is nothing anywhere on earth or in the higher worlds which is free
from the three
Qualities for they are born of Nature.
O Arjuna! The duties of spiritual teachers, the soldiers, the traders
and the servants have
all been fixed according to the dominant Quality in their nature.
Serenity, self-restraint, austerity, purity, forgiveness, as well as
wisdom and faith in God these constitute the duty of a spiritual
Valour, glory, firmness, skill, generosity, steadiness in battle and
ability to rule these
constitute the duty of a soldier. They flow from his own nature.
Agriculture, protection of the cow and trade are the duty of a trader,
again in accordance
with his nature. The duty of a servant is to serve, and that too agrees
with his nature.
Perfection is attained when each attends diligently to his duty. Listen
and I will tell you
how it is attained by him who always minds his own duty.
Man reaches perfection by dedicating his actions to God, Who is the
source of all being,
and fills everything.
It is better to do ones own duty, however defective it may be, than to
follow the duty of
another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his
reveals it, never sins.
The duty that of itself falls to ones lot should not be abandoned,
though it may have its
defects. All acts are marred by defects, as fire is obscured by smoke.
He whose mind is entirely detached, who has conquered himself, whose
vanished, by his renunciation reaches that stage of perfect freedom
completes itself and leaves no seed.
I will now state briefly how he, who has reached perfection, finds the
Eternal Spirit, the
state of Supreme Wisdom.
Guided always by pure reason, bravely restraining himself, renouncing
the objects of
sense and giving up attachment and hatred;
Enjoying solitude, abstemiousness, his body, mind and speech under
absorbed in meditation, he becomes free always filled with the spirit
Having abandoned selfishness, power, arrogance, anger and desire,
possessing nothing of
his own and having attained peace, he is fit to join the Eternal Spirit.
And when he becomes one with the Eternal, and his soul knows the bliss
that belongs to
the Self, he feels no desire and no regret, he regards all beings
equally and enjoys the
blessing of supreme devotion to Me.
By such devotion, he sees Me, who I am and what I am; and thus realising
the Truth, he
enters My Kingdom.
Relying on Me in all his action and doing them for My sake, he attains,
by My Grace,
Eternal and Unchangeable Life.
Surrender then thy actions unto Me, live in Me, concentrate thine
intellect on Me, and
think always of Me.
Fix but thy mind on Me, and by My grace thou shalt overcome the
obstacles in thy path.
But if, misled by pride, thou wilt not listen, then indeed thou shalt be
If thou in thy vanity thinkest of avoiding this fight, thy will shall
not be fulfilled, for
Nature herself will compel thee.
O Arjuna! Thy duty binds thee. From thine own nature has it arisen, and
that which in thy
delusion thou desire not to do, that very thing thou shalt do. Thou art
God dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna! He causes them to
revolve as it were on a
wheel by His mystic power.
With all thy strength, fly unto Him and surrender thyself, and by His
grace shalt thou
attain Supreme Peace and reach the Eternal Home.
Thus have I revealed to thee the Truth, the Mystery of mysteries. Having
thought it over,
thou art free to act as thou wilt.
Only listen once more to My last word, the deepest secret of all; thou
art My beloved, thou
are My friend, and I speak for thy welfare.
Dedicate thyself to Me, worship Me, sacrifice all for Me, prostrate
thyself before Me, and
to Me thou shalt surely come. Truly do I pledge thee; thou art My own
Give up then thy earthly duties, surrender thyself to Me only. Do not be
anxious; I will
absolve thee from all thy sin.
Speak not this to one who has not practised austerities, or to him who
does not love, or
who will not listen, or who mocks.
But he who teaches this great secret to My devotees, his is the highest
devotion, and verily
he shall come unto Me.
Nor is there among men any who can perform a service dearer to Me
than this, or any
man on earth more beloved by Me than he.
He who will study this spiritual discourse of ours, I assure thee, he
shall thereby worship
Me at the altar of Wisdom.
Yea, he who listens to it with faith and without doubt, even he, freed
from evil, shalt rise
to the worlds which the virtuous attain through righteous deeds.
O Arjuna! Hast thou listened attentively to My words? Has thy ignorance
Arjuna replied: My Lord! O Immutable One! My delusion has fled. By Thy
O Changeless One, the light has dawned. My doubts are gone, and I stand
ready to do Thy will.
Sanjaya told: Thus have I heard this rare, wonderful and soul-stirring
discourse of the Lord Shri
Krishna and the great-souled Arjuna.
Through the blessing of the sage Vyasa, I listened to this secret and
noble science from the lips of its
Master, the Lord Shri Krishna.
O King! The more I think of that marvellous and holy discourse, the more
I lose myself in joy.
As memory recalls again and again the exceeding beauty of the Lord, I am
filled with amazement
Wherever is the Lord Shri Krishna, the Prince of Wisdom, and wherever is
Arjuna, the Great
Archer, I am more than convinced that good fortune, victory, happiness
and righteousness will
Thus, in the Holy Book the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Upanishads, in the
Science of the Supreme
Spirit, in the Art of Self-Knowledge, in the colloquy between the Divine
Lord Shri Krishna and the
Prince Arjuna, stands the eighteenth chapter, entitled: The Spirit of
May the Lord Shri Krishna bless you!