Bhagavadgita !

Chapter 5

Karma Sannyasa yoga !

Sloka Text in Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, English

|| Om tat sat ||

arjuna uvāca:
sannyāsaṁ karmaṇāṁ kr̥ṣṇa punaryōgaṁca śaṁsasi |
yacchrēya ētayōrēkaṁ tanmē brūhi suniścitam ||

"Oh Krishna, you praise renunciation of all actions, and again karma yoga too. Tell me for certain that one which is better between the two"

śrīkr̥ṣṇa parabrahmaṇē namaḥ
bhagavadgīta
paṁcamō'dhyāyaḥ
karmasannyāsa yōgaḥ

Bhagavadgita
Fifth Chapter
Karma sannyasa yoga
|| om tat sat ||

The fifth chapter is Karmasanyyasa yoga or yoga of renunciation.

Krishna talked about Samkhya Yoga and Buddhi Yoga essentially teaching JnyanaYoga in the second, third and fourth Chapters. In chapter two, namely Samkhya Yoga, Krishna talked about Nishkama Karma and proposed Karma Yoga as the way. In the first sloka of the third chapter Arjuna asks - "jyāyasī cēt karmaṇastē matā buddhiḥ janārdana " (3.01) - specifically asking if Jnyana Yoga is better than Karma Yoga. Then Krishna elaborates that not a moment passes without action - (na hi kaścit kṣaṇamapi jātu tiṣṭhati akarmakr̥t :3.05)- so no one can escape doing action. Then he explains the greatness of Nishkama Karma, and says following Karma yoga great people attained Moksha. As an example he says King Janaka etc "janakādayaḥ." got Moksha following Nishkama Karma. Then he asks Arjuna too to follow his duty and fight. Krishna even says Nishkama Karma is my philosophy (yē mē mata midaṁ.3.31). Those who follow Nishkama Karma are free from the bondage of action.

Effectively saying that Karma yoga as the answer for Arjuna's query.

Then Arjuna asks how is it that people commit sin knowing very well that it is wrong (3.36). Then Krishna again elaborates on the nature of human mind, specifically the desires that drive actions of the ignorant. To control these desires the need is for Buddhi. Saying so he explains Buddhi yoga or Yoga of intellect which is JnyanaYoga. Then Krishna elaborates on the greatness of JnyanaYoga.

Then in Jnyana Yoga, the fourth chapter, Krishna elaborates on the antiquity of Nishkama Karma. He says that over the time people have forgotten Karma yoga. That is why he is teaching the same. Then he says if one does Karma while being in the state of Jnyana, then such Karma does not create bondage. Then he explains about sacrifices or Yagnyas to Arjuna. He elaborates on twelve types of sacrifices which can be easily understood and performed by common people. In that context again he elaborates that Jnyana Yagnya is better than all other Yagnyas. (nahi jñānēna sadr̥śaṁ pavitramiha vidyatē). Which very much sounds like saying JnyanaYoga is the better one!

Hearing all this Arjuna again gets a doubt as to which is better, Karma Yoga or Jnyana Yoga.
Fifth chapter starts with that doubt in Arjuna's mind and corresponding question from Arjuna.

arjuna uvāca:
sannyāsaṁ karmaṇāṁ kr̥ṣṇa punaryōgaṁ ca śaṁsasi|
yat śrēyaḥ ētayōḥ ēkaṁ tanmē brūhi suniścitam||

Meaning that -
" kr̥ṣṇa! karmaṇāṁ sannyāsaṁ" - Renunciation of action ,
" yōgaṁ ca" - and action too
"śaṁsasi"- praising "
" Tell me which is better in these two ".

Here renunciation of action means path of Jnyana or knowledge. Krishna has earlier said that for one who is aware of Self (Atma Jnyani) there is no need for action (" naiva tasya kr̥tēnārthō nākr̥tē nēha kaścana" 3.18) virtually implying that renunciation of action (for the one who knows Self) leads to liberation. In the same breath Krishna also said Nishkama karma is his philosophy (yēmē mataṁ idaṁ. 3.31). These two-statement praising both create a doubt in Arjuna's mind

Now Krishna elaborates again!

"sannyāsaḥ karmayōgaśca Òmeaning there by that both of them namely Renunciation of action and Karma yoga are -"niśśrēyasakarau"- beneficial. They ensure good, namely "liberation" or Moksha. That mean both lead to same end result. But then among these two meaning that between simple renunciation of actions and the path of action Krishna reaffirms "karmayōgō viśiṣyatē" Karma yoga is the better way. The path of action is better than the path of renunciation of action without the knowledge of Self.

The follower of the path of action - a Karma Yogi - who does not desire anything, is free from the taint of action even when he performs actions. He is indeed a man of renunciation.

To emphasize that these two are not different he says:
"sāṁkhyayōgau pr̥thak bālāḥ pravadanti na paṇḍitāḥ|" (5.04)
That these two, the path of knowledge and the path of action, are different is said by -" bālāḥ" childish one -those who do not know anything.
"na paṇḍitāḥ " -The well versed do not say that.
Why? Because the destination of the both the paths is same.

Then one more thing.
"ēkaṁ sāṁkhyaṁca yōgaṁca yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati" (5.05)
"The one who sees Jnyana Yoga and Karma Yoga as one, he is the one who has understood the truth (sa paśyati!)

Truthfully having obtained tranquility through Karma Yoga, there after attaining Jnyana yoga is an easy path. Without practicing Karma yoga attaining Jnyana Yoga is that much more difficult.

Karma Yogi who is -
pure in mind (viśuddhātma)
conquered self (vijitātma)
conquered the senses (jitēṁdriyaḥ)
who sees the self in all beings as same as the self in him (sarvabhūtātma bhūtātmā),
such a one is unaffected by the bondage of action.

One may wonder if we do Nishkama Karma what is the need for all these additional thoughts.

Nishkama karma is the first step. Performing Nishkama karma and keeping equanimity in the face of happiness and sorrow requires a pure mind (viśuddhātma).

To be able to perform Nishkama karma, one has to be free from the desire for the results. That means he has to control his mind (vijitātma) and conquer his senses (jitēṁdriya). So these are not new. For such a person performing actions do not bind him.

Having these qualities and having realized the truth will think that he is not doing any action even while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, speaking, releasing, or holding dedicating the same to God. And he is not affected by the actions too. (5.08, 5.09)

Being a person who realized Self of Brahman he is free from the taint of action.

But what about the person who has not realized Self?
Krishna has a clear answer for them too.

If one is performing actions without interest in the results of actions, and is dedicating the actions to God then he is unaffected by the actions. And like the water on lotus leaf the sins also do not get attached to him (5.10). Having given up attachment Yogis following path of action undertake work through the body, mind, and intellect for the purification of themselves. Being firm in his faith, and being free of concerns of fruits, the practicing Karma Yogi attains highest peace.

What happens to one who is not resolute in his faith?
The one who is interested in pursuit of material happiness continues his run after the pursuit of results. (5.12)

In Karma yoga Arjuna asks the question "atha kēna prayuktō'yaṁ pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ"(2.36). Arjuna asks why does one commit sin knowing full that he should not commit sin. As though recalling that question Krishan again tells Arjuna:

"nakartr̥tvaṁ na karmāṇi lōkasya sr̥jati prabhuḥ |
na karmaphala saṁyōgaṁ svabhāvastu pravartatē ||"(5.14)

That is to say -" God is not responsible for the ownership of action, the action itself or the results of the action". All these happen because of the nature of the human being which is controlled by the three Gunas namely "Rajo, Tamo and Sattvic"

nādattē kasyacit pāpaṁ nacaiva sukr̥taṁ vibhuḥ | (5.15)
meaning that - " The supreme being does not accept the sin or good deeds of anybody"

What Krishna is saying is that our sins and our good deeds are in our own hands. We are responsible for our own deeds. If we conquer the senses "jitēṁdriyaḥ" and perform Nishkama Karma then as stated "śāṁtimāpnōti naiṣṭhikīṁ," what we get is the highest peace!!

What we attain with that peace is Moksha or liberation.

Krishna gain tells what is most important for Moksha. He says:

"tadbuddhaya stadātmāna stanniṣṭhā statparāyaṇāḥ |
gacchantyapunārāvr̥ttiṁ jñānanirdhūtakalmaṣāḥ "||

tat buddhayaḥ
- having fully focused on that one (on Him)
tat ātmānaḥ
- having their mind dwelling on Him
tat niṣṭhāḥ
- having all actions fully dedicated to Him
tat parāyaṇaḥ
- having been totally immersed in him as the ultimate savior

Such people, having driven away the ignorance with their intellect, are attaining - "apunarāvr̥ttiṁ" - attaining that status of life which is without rebirth namely Moksha (5.17).

When one realizes that Paramatma and Jivatma are one and the same, then we realize that if one is focused on Self (Atma) thinking about Self and performing all actions in accordance with that enlightened self he obtains the knowledge of Self. That is Jnyana Yoga.

The most important aspect of Jnyani, the one who knows is the samatva equanimity.

The one who is able to see the same self in the Brahmin endowed with learning and humility, the cow, the elephant, the dog, and the same self in one who cooks dogs' meat and lives on the same, as the self in him is the one with equanimity and is the learned one (5.18). Whether learned or ignorant, cow or dog, Brahmin or a chandala what is seen by the learned is the is the Self in them which is same as the Self in him.

That is samatva or equanimity.

If one has samatva or that equanimity then -
"ihaiva tairjitaḥ ssargō yēṣāṁ sāmyē sthitaṁ manaḥ "(5.19)
In this world itself they would (jitaḥ sargaḥ) conquer the riddle of life!

brahma - is said to be - "nirdōṣam hi samaṁ brahma" - Not having faults and having equanimity is Brahman !. When one is able to attain a state of equanimity with no faults it is said he attained the state of Brahman

The one with knowledge of Self and equanimity he is the one who knows Brahman!

The one who is able to withstand the urges arising from anger and passion in this very life before they fall off the body that one is a poised and a happy man! (5.23).

Those whose sins have waned away, whose doubts have been dispelled, who have controlled their senses, who are devoted to the welfare of all beings - they are Sages or Rishis. Those sages with the knowledge of Self and the equanimity towards all they attain the state of Brahman. That is the ultimate liberation (5.25).

Shutting out the external sense objects, fixing the gaze between the eyebrows, controlling the outgoing and incoming breaths with senses, mind, intellect restrained and free from desire, fear and anger, the sage who has a goal of Moksha is ever free (5.27;28).

Thus Krishna starting with samatva or equanimity added that those having knowledge of Self, Rishis etc obtain Moksha. Then he says in the last Sloka of the chapter that by pure worship too they obtain Moksha

bhōktāraṁ yajñatapasāṁ sarvalōka mahēśvaraṁ|
suhr̥daṁ sarvabhūtānāṁ jñātvā māṁ śāntimr̥cchati ||5.29||

It means that " Knowing that the Bhagavan is the enjoyer of Yagnyas, Lord of all worlds, well-wisher of all, helps one attain peace. Which means that apart from the Karma yoga and Jnyana yoga - Bhakti yoga too provides one with a way to liberation (ōm tat sat!)

Arjuna's question led Krishna to insist that path of action is supreme to a path of renunciation of action without understanding that renunciation.

Clearly not performing action with the thought that such inaction will not create bond is ignorance. The point is not about renouncing actions. It is more about giving up the desire for the results of action

One should not give up action of daily life. What one should give up is the anxiety about the results of such actions or even the fruits of such action. Sometimes one is prone to blame God for his own seemingly unending problems. That is not correct. God is not responsible for the sins we commit or the good deeds we achieve. With this basic understanding one has to proceed on the right path with full faith in himself.

Controlling the interest in materialistic things one can practice control of senses. When one is trapped by the desire for a particular thing one needs to review if it is indeed necessary. This critical review of needs brings in the control of sense.

When the mind is running towards worldly affairs etc one needs to alert mind to bring in the fact that there is no permanency in the joy that one gets. The joy or happiness that is generated internally has a lasting effect. It is like the story of one who bought a dozen mangoes because he likes them. He felt good eating one or two. But by the third that happiness of eating mangoes has decreased and probably the satisfaction declines.

So it should be obvious that the happiness, satisfaction obtained an external device is limited by time or the device life. The happiness generated internally however is long lasting.

While Rishis obtain liberation through enquiry into Self, control of senses, and seeing all beings as equal, for one immersed in daily life achieving peace is through seeing Bhagavan as the benevolent friend, the leader of the three worlds and worshipping or meditating on him.

||om tat sat ||

bhōktāraṁ yajñatapasāṁ sarvalōka mahēśvaraṁ|
suhr̥daṁ sarvabhūtānāṁ jñātvā māṁ śāntimr̥cchati ||5.29||

"One attains peace by knowing Me as the lord of all worlds, the enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, and the well-wisher of all creatures"

||om tat sat||