Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 18 Summary

Moksha Sannyasa Yoga !!

Sanskrit text in Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, English, Telugu
||om tat sat||
अर्जुन उवाच:
सन्न्यासस्य महाबाहो तत्त्वमिच्छामि वेदितुम्।
त्यागस्य च हृष्केश पृथक्केसि निषूदन ॥1||
"O Mahabaho, O Slayer of Kesi, O Hrishikesa, I want to know severally the essence of renunciation as well as tyaga or abandonment "
श्रीकृष्णपरब्रह्मने नमः

This chapter is called Moksha Sannyasa Yoga.

Shankaracharya in his Bhashyam viewed this chapter as summation of all that is said in the previous chapters.

Shankaracharya says "Whatever has been told in the past chapters is seen in this chapter," ("सर्वेषु हि अतीत्येषु अध्यायेषु उक्तः अर्थः अस्मिन् अध्याये अवगम्यते"). So, this chapter in a way recapitulates what has been told in the earlier chapters. In that sense this is the concluding chapter wherein one necessarily looks at the summation too. So, we would be seeing the culmination of thoughts on the three principal streams namely Karma Yoga, Jnyana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

In the earlier chapters we heard about Moksha, the liberation following the path of knowledge, path of action and path of devotion. This chapter titled Moksha Sannyasa Yoga, is about attaining Moksha through renunciation that leads to liberation. This chapter is about liberation through renunciation, offering everything the lord, and giving up all attachments which is in line with the tittle of the chapter

Moksha means being free form all bonds. Such freedom from all bonds is possible only through renunciation or giving up. The idea of renunciation or giving up are one and the same. Once the mind, which is always running after the visible world, stops its wandering and remains focused on Self, what is left is Self only directing the soul. That state is liberation.

There is another strand of thought about the tittle of the chapter Moksha Sannyasa.

Etymologically Moksha Sannyasa - means Sannyasa or renunciation of Moksha. Giving up on Moksha as a goal. Who can give up Moksha? The one who realized Self, who has no attachments and that includes attachment to Moksha. Having absorbed the spiritual discourse through seventeen chapters, one is already enlightened. So, where is the question of attachment even to Moksha? So in this chapter we come to understand the renunciation of Moksha itself. Hence it is called Moksha Sannyasa Yoga.

The final discourse starts on renunciation which has been referred to as Sannyasa and Tyaga at different points in the long discourse. Arjuna asks Krishna to elaborate about Sannyasa and Tyaga as distinguished from each other. Both having virtually same connotation.

Krishna has referred to sannyasa and tyaga at a number of places almost synonymously during this discourse. Some of those references are as follows.

सन्न्यास योग युक्तात्मा विमुक्तो मामुपैष्यसि ( 9.28) referring to renunciation (Sannyasa) of fruits of Karma thus attaining Him
येतु सर्वाणी कर्माणि मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्पराः (12.6) referring again all karmas being dedicated to "Him" or effectively renunciated (Sannyasa) in favor of Him ;
सर्वकर्म फलत्यागं ततः कुरु (12.11) referring to Tyaga or renunciation of fruits of all actions ;
ध्यानात्कर्म फलत्यागं त्यागात् शान्ति रनन्तरम् (12.12) referring to the peace one obtains after Tyaga or renunciation ;
सर्वारन्भ परित्यागी यो मद्भक्तः स मे प्रियः (12.16) referring to renouncing or Tyaga of all undertakings ;
सर्वारम्भ परित्यागी गुणातीतः स उच्यते (14.25) again referring to renouncing ( or Tyaga) of all undertakings.

So, this question of Arjuna wanting to know the difference between Tyaga and Sannyasa starts Krishna on the final and concluding discourse:

काम्यानां कर्मणां न्यासं संन्यासं कवयो विदुः|
सर्वकर्म फलत्यागं प्राहुः त्यागं विचक्षणाः॥

'काम्यानां कर्मणां' Works of desire - renouncing these works of desire like Ashvamedha yaga is called Sannyasa according to the learned!
'सर्वकर्म फलत्यागं,' Renunciation of fruits of "all action" is called Tyaga according to learned.

Here a distinction is brought out that even " नित्य नैमित्तिक" or the daily actions also yield fruits and renouncing all that, including the works of desire (काम्यानां कर्मणां) is Tyaga.

Krishna states all this as the view of learned without clearly endorsing any.

Then Krishna goes on to add that some philosophers (Samkhya) advocate abandonment of "all action" as action is termed evil. Whereas others declare that acts of worship such as यज्ञ दान तपः कर्म namely the worship charity and austerity should not be given up. Thus, highlighting the confusion in people's mind.

So Arjuna's question is quite valid, and Krishna says, "I will tell you my view".

Like the elaboration on Sraddha or "faith" in the Sraddhatraya Vibhaga yoga (chapter 17), here too Krishna first elaborates on what is Tyaga. Krishna says Tyaga is of three kinds - the Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic.

Then he says:

Bhagavan said
यज्ञदान तपः कर्म न त्याज्यं कार्यमेवतत् ।
यज्ञोदानं तपश्चैव पावनानि मनीषिणाम्॥5||

That is यज्ञदान तपः कर्म namely the worship charity and the austerities are, "न त्याज्यं", "not to be given up". The worship, charity and austerity are not to be given up. They should be performed as they lead to the purification of the person. But this action should be performed without attachment to fruits.

On occasions to emphasize a point Krishna states that this is my firm belief (निश्चितम् परममुत्तमम्) etc., Here he states the following as his firm belief. The worship charity and austerity are to be performed without attachment to the fruits of action, and that this will lead to purification of the person too.

Krishna goes on to add that not doing what is to be done is not proper. And puts a stamp on such abandonment of duties as Tamasic Tyaga.

That sets the stage for defining Sattvic Tyaga.
Bhagavan said
कार्यमित्येव यत्कर्म नियतं क्रियतेsर्जुन।
सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलं चैव त्यागः सात्त्विकोमतः॥9||

Whatever obligatory works that are there to be done when performed without attachment and without desire for fruits that Tyaga is deemed to be Sattvic.
One may also abandon some works for fear of bodily pain or other difficulties. That is also a type of Tyaga. But such Tyaga or abandonment is called Rajasic. And in this type of tyaga one will not attain any fruits for such action.

The man of renunciation who has fully become imbued with Sattvic Tyaga, who is enlightened, who is freed from doubts, does not hate the action nor does he become attached to such action.

The giving up of actions in its totality is possible only for one who is a holder of the body and who visualized the Supreme reality, and he alone becomes a man of renunciation.

For those who are not involved in renunciation (अत्यागिनम्; a-tyaginam) the result can be three-fold अनिष्टम्, इष्टं, मिश्रम् च - undesirable, desirable, and the mixed. All these results lead to a life, bound by birth and death cycle. All such people are the unenlightened persons.

So, one would want to know the reasons for the impossibility of giving up actions by the unenlightened person.

Krishna elaborates on the root causes of actions as five elements.

पञ्चैतानि महाबाहो कारणानि निबोधमे।- 'learn from me these five causes of action'.

So, what are these five?
अधिष्टानं - the body
कर्ता - the doer
करणं च पृथग्विधम् - the various organs
विविधाश्च पृथक्चेष्टा- the various actions
दैवं - The divinity

Whatever action a man does these five remain the causes. Anyone who owing to the imperfections of his intellect sees the self as the agent does not see the reality and thus has polluted intellect दुर्मतिः| On the other hand the one who has no ego he does not kill, nor does he become bound even by killing.

The point highlighted here is as follows:

In the absence of egoistic feelings of embodied existence, the Sannyasins can and will renounce all actions generated by avidya or ignorance. It is therefore right to say that the three-fold fruit of action namely " evil, good, and mixed" does not accrue to the Sannyasins. Further conclusion is also inevitable that reverse is the case for the others (not sannyasins), namely that all others will accrue "evil, good or mixed" results resulting in their continued suffering. This in effect is the essence of Gita.

It is very interesting to read what Shankara has written in this regard in his Bhashyam.

नायं हंति न हन्यते इति प्रतिज्ञाय
-having stated "He slays not nor is he slain (2.19)
नजायते इति हेतुवचनेन अविक्रियत्व आत्मनः उक्त्वा
- saying self is not born nor does it die (2.19) and establishing self as immutable
वेद अविनाशिनं इति विदुषः कर्माधिकार निवृत्तिं शास्त्रादौ संक्षेपतः उक्त्वा
- saying the one who knows Him cannot kill etc thus making him free of action (bondage)
तत्र तत्र प्रसंगं कृत्वा
-bringing up the topic at places and expounding the same
इह संहरति शास्त्रार्थ पिंडीकरणाय "विद्वान् न हंति न निबध्यते" इति
- here it is being concluded that a wiseman "kills not nor is bound"

This is at once a sweep across Gita bringing to conclusion a topic started in the second Chapter.
This is a summary of Karma Yoga and an important summary as stated by Shankaracharya.

Then Krishna continues with three inducements for action as
ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं परिज्ञाता त्रिविधा कर्म चोदना |
the three impulses are:

ज्ञानं - the knowledge , the object of knowledge (action) and the knower (agent).
ज्ञेयं - the object of knowledge (action)
परिज्ञाता - the knower (or the agent).

The three are also differentiated by the Gunas namely Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic

This division is elaborated here.

To start with the three types of knowledge (ज्ञानं) are as follows:
सर्वभूतेषु यैनैकं भावमव्ययमीक्षते।
अविभक्तं विभक्तेषु तत् ज्ञानं विद्धि सात्त्विकम्॥20||
Krishna says: "That knowledge by which a man sees the one indestructible reality in all beings, undivided among the divided - that knowledge is known it as Sattvic".

The knowledge that sees separate entities in separate forms is the Rajasic knowledge and the knowledge that clings to one single effect, all without reason that is treated as Tamasic knowledge.

The three-fold nature of action is described next:
नियतं सङ्गरहितम् अरागद्वेषतः कृतम्।
अफलप्रेप्सुना कर्मयत् तत् सात्त्विकमुच्यते॥23||

Krishna says: "An action which is ordained, and which is free from attachment which is done without love or hate by one who is not desirous of fruits of that action is called Sattvic action".

The action which is done by one longing for pleasures, or an action done by egoistic person causing much trouble is called Rajasic action. The action, which is undertaken from delusion without regard to consequences, that action is declared to be Tamasic.

The three-fold nature of Karta the agent is now explained:

मुक्तसङ्गोsनहं वादी धृत्साहसमन्वितः।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योर्निविकारः कर्ता सात्त्विक मुच्यते॥26||

The Karta who is
मुक्तसङ्गो - freed from attachments
न अहं वादी - freed from – 'aham' - or Ego
धृति उत्साह समन्वितः-equipped with firmness and vigor
र्निविकारः- unaffected by success (सिद्धि) or failure (असिद्धि)
He is a positive person of immense faith.

That positive person is called a Sattvic Karta

The Rajasic Karta is evident. He is the one who egoistic, desirous of attaining fruits, subject to joy and sorrow, greedy cruel and impure.

The unsteady, unbending, vulgar, deceptive, wicked, indolent, and procrastinating agent or Karta is a Tamasic agent.

Then Krishna explains the intellect (बुद्धि) too classified by the three Gunas:

प्रवृत्तिंच निवृत्तिंच कार्याकार्ये भयाभये।
बन्धं मोक्षं च या वेत्ति बुद्धिः सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी॥30||

The Sattvic intellect is that which understands
प्रवृत्तिंच निवृत्तिंच - action and withdrawal
कार्याकार्ये - duty and that which is not duty
भयाभये- fear and fearlessness
बन्धं मोक्षं च - bondage and liberation

Correspondingly the Rajasic intellect is that one which wrongly understands धर्म and अधर्म as also कार्यं which is to be done and अकार्यं which ought not be done.

The Tamasic intellect is one which is enveloped in darkness sees धर्म as अधर्म and sees all things perverted.

Then comes the category धृति or "firmness".

श्री भगवानुवाच
धृत्या यया धारयते मनः प्राणेन्द्रियक्रियाः।
योगेनाव्यभिचारिण्या धृतिः सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी॥33||

The fortitude or firmness which is ever accompanied by Yoga and by which the activities of thought, of life breath, and sense organs are held fast, that firmness is called Sattvic firmness.

The firmness with which one holds fast to dharma, pleasures, wealth, and desires of fruits called Rajasic firmness.
That firmness with which the ignorant one does not give up sleep fear, grief depression and lust is called Tamasic firmness

Last comes the category of pleasure or सुखं:

That pleasure which is
अग्रे in the beginning
विषमिव like a poison
परिणामे in the end
अमृतोपमम् like nectar

and is born of purity of one's own mind, that pleasure is called Sattvic.

But the same joy born out of contact of objects and the organs and unaware of self, which is like a nectar in the beginning and poison in the end is called Rajasic pleasure.

That pleasure which both in the beginning and in the end delusive of oneself and arises from sleep laziness and intoxication is called Tamasic pleasure.

Krishna concludes the discussion of the three Gunas saying that there is nothing in the three worlds that is not affected by the three Gunas.

This is summation of what has been started in the fourteenth Chapter as Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga- The summary being that the entire creation is made up of Gunas namely Sattva, Rajo and Tamas. It is also characterized by the action, instrument of action and the result. And it is set up by ignorance. This Samsara is bound by three Gunas and set up by ignorance. It is imagined in the form of a Asvattha tree and can only be overcome by cutting it asunder with the sword of detachment to reach the Supreme being (15.1 to 15.4).

But if everything is made up three Gunas how would one break this bond, how would one get the sword of detachment would be a legitimate concern. This sword of detachment is obtained from the Supreme God through one's own performance in his own duties assigned according to one's own abilities.

It is in this context Krishna brings up the topic of duties of the four castes.

Classification of nature of the four castes is stated as follows:
Bhagavan said, "Oh Parantapa! The duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas Vaisyas and Sudras are divided according to the qualities born of nature".

Krishna makes it clear that this division of duties is based on the Gunas controlling that person. The source of disposition of Brahmanas is Sattva Guna. the Source of disposition of Kshatriya is Rajas with Sattva playing a secondary role. The source of disposition of Vaishya is Rajas with Tamas playing a secondary Role and in Sudra the source of disposition is Tamo Guna with Rajas playing a secondary role

The natural duties of Brahmin are control of internal and external organs, austerity, purity, cleanliness, forgiveness, straightforwardness, proficiency of Vedic ritual and experience of Brahman.

The natural duties of Kshatriya are heroism, boldness, fortitude, capability and not retreating in battle.

The natural duties of a Vaishya are agriculture, cattle rearing and trade. The natural duties of Sudra being service.

These duties are born of the three Gunas which are universal.

So then with these varied duties and nature how does one proceed to cut down the bondage.

The answer follows from Krishna.

"Being devoted to his own duty man attains complete success. As to how one achieves success following his own duty please hear."

"A human being achieves success by adoring Him through his own duties. He, being the one from whom is the origin of entities, and by whom is all this pervaded".

Krishna firmly states the appropriateness of following one's own duty as opposed to following some other duty.
Bhagavan said
श्रेयान् स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्।
स्वभावनियतं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम्॥47||

"One's own duty though defective is superior to another's duty well performed. By performing one's own duty dictated by one's own nature one does not incur sin".

Krishna adds logic to this assertion saying
सर्वारम्भहि दोषेण धूमेनाग्निरिवावृताः॥48||
All undertakings are surrounded by evil as fire is with smoke.

All action being evil (if the fruits are not renounced), there is no need to perform somebody else's duty however profound it may be sounding. One may as well perform one's own duty renouncing its fruits, and that is the way forward.

This elaboration of सर्वारम्भहि दोषेण- namely that all action being evil, harmonizes the duties of all castes, though the classification castes and duties itself is an evil. This makes the path to reach Him as equally feasible for all castes.

Now out of these persons traying to attain liberation, who will be the one who will reach that goal? That is described in the following verses.

असक्त बुद्धिः सर्वत्र जितात्मा विगतस्पृहः।
नैष्कर्म्यसिद्धिं परमां सन्न्यासेनाधि गच्छति॥49||
He whose reason is not attached anywhere, whose self is subdued, from whom desire has fled, such a one attains supreme state of freedom from action.

Having reached the state of freedom from action how does he reach the Brahman.
बुद्ध्या विशुद्धया युक्तो धृत्या ऽऽत्मानं नियम्य च।
शब्दादीन् विषयां स्त्यक्त्वा रागद्वेषौ व्युदस्य च॥51||

First Krishna explains how he is equipped (युक्त:):
बुद्ध्या विशुद्धया - with pure reason- a reason that is free form illusion or doubt or misconception
धृत्याssत्मानं - controlling self with firmness
शब्दादीन् विषयां - (abandoning) Sound and other objects
रागद्वेषौ - (laying aside) love and hatred.

What does he do? Again, Krishna explains:

विविक्तसेवी लघ्वाशी यतवाक्कायमानसः।
ध्यानयोगपरो नित्यं वैराग्यं समुपाश्रितः॥52||
विविक्तसेवी - places himself in a lonely place
लघ्वाशी - eating very little
यतवाक्कायमानसः - speech body and mind under control
ध्यानयोगपरो - engaged in Meditation and concentration
वैराग्यं समुपाश्रितः- gathering himself with dispassion

Thus, that person having abandoned egotism (अहङ्कारं) strength (बलं), arrogance (दर्पं), desire(कामं), anger (क्रोधं), property (परिग्रहम्), becoming free from the notion of mine etc(निर्ममः), and peaceful (शान्तो) he becomes fit for becoming Brahman.

Becoming Brahman of serene self, he neither grieves nor desires. Treating all beings alike he attains supreme devotion (भक्तिम्) to the Lord.

Having traversed the path of Knowledge (ज्ञान) he finally attains supreme (भक्ति) devotion on the path to Moksha.

Having concluded on ज्ञान Yoga culminating in Bhakti, Krishna moves on to talk about Bhakti:

भक्त्यामामभिजानाति यावान्यश्चास्मि तत्त्वतः।
ततो मां तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा विशते तदनन्तरम्॥55||
भक्त्यामामभिजानाति - By devotion he knows me
यावान्यश्चास्मि - what and who I am
तत्त्वतः- in reality ( the knowledge)
तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा - knowing the reality
विशत- enters
तदनन्तरम् - thereafter.

Krishna says - "Through devotion he knows Me in reality, as to what and who I am. Then having known me he enters (into Me) immediately after that. (18.55)

Here, Krishna says through Bhakti the knowledge is generated and then he attains the Moksha. That is the path of Bhakti leads to Jnyana and then Moksha.

Bhagavan said
सर्वकर्माण्यपि सदा कुर्वाणो मद्व्यपाश्रयः।
मत्प्रसादादवाप्नोति शाश्वतं पदमव्ययम्॥56||

Then Krishna talks of persons engaged in all action (सर्वकर्माण्यपि) all the time (सदा कुर्वाणो) but taking refuge (मद्व्यपाश्रयः) in the Lord, he attains the moksha through his grace (मत्प्रसादात्) (18.56)

Then Krishna coming to the final stage exhorts Arjuna,
Bhagavan said
चेतसा सर्व कर्माणी मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्परः।
बुद्धियोगमुपाश्रित्य मच्चित्तः सततं भव॥57||
मच्चित्तसर्वदुर्गाणि मत्प्रसादात्तरिष्यसि।|( 58-1)

"Mentally dedicating all actions in Me and accepting me as the Supreme, have your mind ever fixed in me by resorting to Yoga of wisdom. Having fixed your mind on Me you will cross over all difficulties through my grace"

Krishna says -"If out of ego you do not listen then your nature will drive you to do what you do not want to do, that being indiscriminate "

As a final exhortation Krishna says
Bhagavan said
ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽर्जुन तिष्टति।
भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया॥61||

"O Arjuna, the Lord resides in the region of heart of all creatures, whirling all creatures as though they are mounted on a machine by Maya".

Bhagavan said
तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत।
तत् प्रासादात्परं शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम्॥62||

"Take refuge in Him alone with your whole being. Through his grace you will attain supreme Peace and eternal state".

Thus, wisdom of highest order has been imparted by Krishna, wherein Krishna tells Arjuna:

विमृश्यैतत् अशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु॥63||
Ponder over it and then do as you please.

That is indeed the way the gurus of the yore taught their students and asked them to do as they please after understanding what has been taught to them.

Repeating his teaching (मे परमं वचः- my profound words) which is (ते हितम्) beneficial to him. Krishna says

मन्मनाभव मद्भक्तो मद्याजीमां नमस्कुरु।
मामे वैष्यसि सत्यं ते प्रतिजाने प्रियोsसि मे॥65||
सर्वधर्मान् परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः॥66||

'Fix your thoughts on Me; be devoted to Me, worship Me, do homage to Me. Then you will reach Me. I declare this to you. You are dear to Me. Abandoning all righteous acts seek me as your sole refugee. I will liberate you from all sins. Do not grieve'.

While this is a commitment to Arjuna in the dialog between Krishna and Arjuna, this is more like a universal commitment.

These two statements are treated as a pinnacle of salvation for all who not be able to traverse the various paths elucidated by the Krishna as part of this discourse.

Krishna there upon describes those who cannot receive this teaching.

It is all those who are
ना तपस्काय - devoid of austerities
ना भक्ताय - not devoted
न चाsशुश्रूषवे - not involved in service
न च मां योsभ्यसूयति - not for one who speaks ill of him.

Then those with supreme devotion to Him who teaches this secret will doubtless get Moksha. Anyone reading this dialog is deemed to have performed sacrifice of wisdom. Anyone hearing this with full faith will also attain liberation.

Finally, we have the word from Arjuna saying that indeed his delusion is removed.

Arjuna said, "The delusion is destroyed. memory has been regained through your grace. I stand with my doubts removed. I shall follow your instruction"

Thus ends the dialog of Krishna and Arjuna.

It is a dialog that took us through the path of Action, path of wisdom, Path of Knowledge, and the path of devotion. Each of these paths is applicable to a set of people. The pinnacle of this teaching is the statement
Bhagavan said
सर्वधर्मान् परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः॥66||
That is a universal assurance that is applicable to all bhaktas.

This is the dialog seen overheard and conveyed by Sanjaya to the King Dhritarashtra.

The delight of Sanjay in remembering every moment again and again can be seen in his final summation:

Sanjaya said
यत्र योगेश्वरः कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनुर्धरः ।
तत्रश्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्ध्रुवान् इति मतिर्मम॥78||
"Wherever is Krishna the lord of Yoga, wherever is Arjuna the archer, there the fortune victory prosperity and polity I deem are established".

Thus ends chapter 18 of Bhagavadgita.
That is also the summation of Gita
||om tat sat||