Adhyaya 18 : Mőksha Sanyăsa Yoga
In the 16th adhyăy the
discussion regarding the true nature of the world of matters and living beings ended. The
expanse of the universe and its vast variety was the product of Prakriti acting
through unseen material forces known as Gunas making various shapes, forms,
qualities and activities by different combinations. The eternal principle immanent in the
whole creation is Bramhan which is a generating as well as resting place of
everything that manifests for short period of time. The knowledge of the Absolute and the
knowledge of true nature of the manifested world is referred to as Dnyăna - ViDnyana.
The discussion on that knowledge concluded in 17th Adhyăya. Path of knowledge,
path of action and path of devotion though outwardly appear different, are in reality one
and the same and all lead to liberation called mőksha.
In the 18th Adhyaya Arjuna
asks a penetrating question. He wants to know the distinction between Sannyăsa and
tyăga since actions are inevitable for all embodied beings. 18th Adhyăya
begins with in-depth analysis of various aspects of Karma and then giving
classifications of Dnyăna, Karma, Dhriti, Sukha etc. deals
extensively with idea of swaDharma attached to the innate nature of living beings. This Adhyăya
ends with the glorification of supreme devotion which is based on total surrendering to
juna wants to know the real nature
of Sannyăsa and tyăga separately since both the
terms literally mean "renunciation." He wishes to know the difference between
When all actions motivated by derres are
completely given up the learned calls it Sanayăsa and when the fruits
of actions are given up the wise call it tyă ga
The idea of renunciation is viewed
differently by different people. The Lord refers to some of them. He explains:
Some thinkers declare that all kinds of
actions should be renounced since they always carry faults with them. Whereas others
maintain that the acts of sacrifice charity and penance are not to be given up but they
must be practised because sacrifice, charity and penance are the means of purification for
the learned people.
Even these actions are to be performed
without attachment to their fruits.
Verses 7 to 17
The Lord turns to classification of actions
in order to confirm his preference to detached action by condemning the rest.
Prescribed duties are never to be
renounced. If they are renounced out of ignorance such renunciation is said to be tămasik.
Out of fear of bodily harm when a man gives
up his duty considering it as sorrow his renunciation is răjasik and such
renunciation never gets any reward of fruits. But when one performs ones action
ordained by scriptures as a matter of duty, renouncing all attachment and fruits his
renunciation is said to be săttvik.
Intelligent renounce whose all doubts are
dispelled and whose nature is săttvik, does not hate action which is
disagreeable and does not like it because it is agreeable.
It is quite impossible for any creature who
possesses the body to give up his actions altogether. Therefore he who renounces the
fruits of action is called a true renouncer.
Those who have not given up the desires of
fruits, get after death, the threefold fruits of bondage, pleasant, unpleasant and mixed.
But those who have truly renounced do not get any fruit at all.
The Lords insistence on giving up
ones ego and sense of belonging to become a true sanyasi or tyagi is further
strengthened by metaphysical reasoning. The Lord explains:
"Oh Arjuna, according to
Sănkhya school of thought there exist five causes that bring all actions to
fruition. Learn them from me."
First is the place of action, the body,
second comes the doer, the ego, the third various instruments like sense organs etc.,
fourth, different kinds of life movements in body and the fifth one certainly is
Whatever endeavour, right or wrong, a man
undertakes through his body, speech and mind it has these five causes.
Any action initially is in a thought
form and subsequently culminates into reality taking a concrete form through these five
This being the position, one Who thinks
that he himself is the doer, that fool does not really see the truth due to his immature
But he who has no sense of ego and whose
intelligence is not tainted by any selfish motive even if he kills these men, he is not at
all a killer. Thus he is not tied up to the fruit of his action.
Such a doer being pure in heart, free from
any selfish motive and treating all living and non living creatures equally shall not be
harmful to anybody. So killing anybody for no reason remains out of question, When the
Lord says that one is not a killer even after killing men this is not to be misunderstood.
Any duty ordained by scriptures or prescribed by law or sanctioned by conscience when
performed without any attachment and ego becomes a pure action accomplished by the just
quoted five causes. The self remains above everything.
The Lord now continues his Guna
classification extending it to many more human activities starting with Dnyăna.
The knowledge, the object of knowledge and
the knower; these three inspire action (by generating a mental design) The instument, the
act and the doer; these three form the action (executing the mental design)
The sănkhya theory of Gunas
proclaims that knowledge, action and doer have three kinds each according to Guna
Knowledge By which is seen only One
Imperishable Existence in all living and non living entities, staying undivided in divided
many, is to be known as săttvik. Knowledge by which is seen difference and
multifarious forms in all creatures is to be known as răjasik.
Knowledge by which one who is ignorant
about the truth is involved in one kind of work thinking it as everything and having no
other cause that meagre knowledge is known as tămasik.
One - in all, difference
everywhere and mine everything are the three attitudes falling under sattva,
raja and tama respectively.
The action prescribed by law or innate
nature when performed by him who has no desire for fruits, having no attachment, love or
hatred is said to be săttvik.
The action performed egoistically, with
strong desire for fruits employing hard efforts is said to be răjasik.
The action performed under delusion created
by ignorance without caring for destruction, violence and other bindings and without
judging own strength is said to be tămasik.
The doer who is free from attachment, not
boasting of his deeds, who is full of courage and enthusiasm and who remains undisturbed
in the hour of success or failure is said to be săttvik.
The door who is passionately attached and
desirous of fruits of his actions, who is greedy, brutal and impure and who gets quickly
influenced by joy and sorrow is said to be răjasik.
The doer who is mentally imbalance,
uncultured, rude, arrogant, cheat, malicious, lazy, dejected and idler is said to be tămasik.
Verses 29 to 39
The Lord applies this threefold
classification to some abstract human qualities like intelligence, determination etc. and
asks Arjuna to listen to their full details being told separately.
That intellect which knows what is activity
and what is renunciation what is worthy of doing and what is unworthy, What is to be
feared and what is bondage and what is liberation is sattwik. That intellect which fails
to understand what is right and what is not, what is just and what is not, what is right
action and what is not is răjasik.
And that intellect which under the spell of
darkness of ignorance considers unrighteous to be righteous and sees all things in
distorted form is tămsik.
That determination which remains steadfast
due to Yőga practice and controls the activities of the mind, life breath
and the senses is săttvik.
That determination by which one remains
firmly attached to duty, desires and wealth expecting benefits is rajasik.
And that determination by which the fools
do not give up sleep, fear, grief, dejection and pride is tămasik.
This determination is more on mental plane
rather than physical one and it can be good, bad or worst according to the work in which
it is used. The Lord talks about the nature of happiness which is of three kinds.
That happiness in which one takes delight
by constant study and where ends the sorrow, which is like poison first but becomes nectar
in the end, and which is born out of calmness of intellect being absorbed in Ătman is săttvik:
That happiness which is born from the
contacts of the senses with the sense objects, which is like nectar first but becomes a
poison in the end is răjasik.
And that happiness which from the beginning
to the end keeps the self in delusion and which arises from sleep, laziness and folly is tămasik.
Intellect joyfully involved in search of Ătman is very important instrument in obtaining săttvik
happiness. Intellect is a powerful instrument available to a man. It can dispassionately
see the interplay of three Gunas and at the same time has the capacity to realise Ătman. Purity and transparency of the intellect being an important
power all the different paths leading to God invariably cherish its help in their
Among these threefold Guna-classifications
the Lord stresses the greatness of săttvik nature which ultimately
culminates into the state that transcends all Gunas. The discussion now
shifts to fourfold classification of the social structure which is based upon s-differenciation.
The Lord continues explaining what is innate nature i.e. swaDharma and how the society
performs its fourfold functions through swaDharma.
Neither in this world nor among gods in
heavens, there is any creature who is absolutely free from these three Gunas
that spring from Prakriti.
The duties of Brahmins, the
enlightened seers; kshatriyas, the warriors; the vaishyas, the
providers and shudras, the servers are differentiated by their nature born
of the Gunas.
Brahmins duty consists
of tranquillity, restraint, austerity, purity, patience, uprightness, knowledge of self,
knowledge of universe and faith in God. All these coming out of his nature.
consists of valour, splendour, determination, alertness fearlessness in battle,
generosity, leadership, all these coming from his nature.
Vaishyas duty consists
of farming, cattle rearing and trade, all these arising out of his nature.
And shudras duty
consists of the work of service ordained by his nature.
The four caste system in Hinduism is
thus born out of Guna-dominated variety of human nature. The Lord has not given any
gradation calling one high or the other low, one pure and other impure . No such
distinction is made. On the contrary the Lord gives equal importance to all four. To
achieve salvation each one has to perform his duty selflessly and offering it as worship
to God. One can reach perfection by following his own duty. Nothing else is required.
Thus says the Lord:
" A man engrossed in doing his work
attains perfection. I shall tell you how he gains perfection by doing his duty, please
"A man reaches perfection when he
worships God by offering his actions to Him from whom all creatures along with their
duties are born and by whom everything is pervaded."
This stanza appears to be the key verse
of the Lords teachings. The first line categorically and clearly states the
spiritual truth, and the final goal of the man and the means to be adopted are mentioned
in the second line.
The Lord further explains why one should
stick to his own duty even if it is imperfect or faulty one. Mans own duty born out
of his innate nature i.e. SwaDharma is better than the duty of others. Duty performed
according to ones own innate nature does not invite any sin.
Thus reassuring, the Lord insists on not
giving up ones duty though tainted with fault because he says all actions are some
way or the other involved in some faults just as fire is covered by smoke.
Therefore by detachment, control of the
mind, desirelessness and renunciation of fruits one attains the highest perfection of
According to the Lord all actions have
equal merit and fourfold order of social functions is an integral part of every society
all over the world. Therefore renouncement of actions is not advised.
Duty whether difficult or disagreeable
performed with non-attached mind certainly leads the doer to perfection. Such are the
experiences of saints and sages all over the world. The Lord continues explaining how does
one attain union with Brahman, the supreme state of knowledge after
achieving the perfect stage of bondage-free non - action i. e. NaishKarma.
With his intelligence purified, mind
brought under control with determination, giving up objects like sound etc. of sense
pleasures, attachment and hatred setting aside;
Living in seclusion, eating but little,
curbing his speech, body and mind always absorbed in meditation, taking the shelter of
And discarding ego, power, pride, lust,
anger and possessions he who is unselfish and tranquil, becomes fit to be one with Brahman.
Once united with Brahman and
his self becoming serene and calm he does not indulge in grief or hope. Being equal to all
creatures he attains the highest devotion of the Lord.
Through devotion he knows the Lord as He is
in his real nature. Thereafter knowing Him truly he enters into the Lord.
Love Him, know Him, and then enter into
Him, this is a step by step evolution of the self in the process of realisation. The Lord
wants Arjuna to follow that path.
Verses 57 to 66
Surrendering into Him, always doing His
activities, he obtains the eternal and changeless place through the grace of the Lord.
Thus explaining the importance of non
attached action performed with most devotion, at the end of his prolonged discourse the
Lord focuses His attention on his friend-disciple Arjuna and delivering his
final divine message concludes his teaching.
The Lord utters his guiding words:
"Mentally repose all your actions into Me, and getting absorbed in Me, practising the
Yoga discipline to stabilise the intellect, concentrate all your attention in Me.
Once your mind is full of my consciousness
you shall overcome all the obstacles by My grace. And if you do not listen to what I say
out of egoistic pride your ruin is certain.
If filled with pride you say, "I will
not fight, that resolve of yours is in vain. Your nature will compel you to fight.
Due to delusion created by your ignorance
whatever you wish to avoid, you will be helplessly doing the same, because, oh Arjuna,
you are bound by your own action born of your nature.
The Supreme Lord resides in the hearts of
all creatures and turns them who are ridden on a machine, round and round by his divine
power called Măya."
Therefore surrender yourself to Him totally
so that through His grace you shall obtain highest peace and eternal abode.
I have taught to you that knowledge which
is the secret of all secrets. Pondering over it from all sides do what you wish to do.
free but the actions are not free. They depend on many factors; the chief motivating force
being the Prakriti. Actions can be purified by pure intellect and pure devotion. Prakriti
is the power of the Supreme Lord. Ultimately He is the grand performer. So one has to
surrender fully to Him. Arjuna is granted full freedom to act.
At the close of his teaching the Lord told Arjuna
to take his own decision and again started persuading him to follow his words.
" Listen once again to my last words
that consist of the most confidential secret. Because you are so dear to me, I shall tell
you what is good for you.
"Fix your mind in Me. Be my
devotee. Always worship Me, bow down to Me. Then you shall come to Me. Really this is my
promise to you since you are so dear to me"
"Leaving aside all duties just
surrender into Me alone. I shall liberate you from all sins; worry no more."
The Lord expects that this divine knowledge
should continue flowing.
Warning Arjuna, the Lord
tells about the reward one gets by absorbing this knowledge
"This divine secret is never to be
disclosed to anyone who has no austerity and devotion, also not to him who disobeys his
teacher and who despises Me.
But he who teaches this supreme secret to
my devotees; and thus offers to Me his great devotion will certainly come to Me.
Amongst men there is no one greater than
him who is doing such a good service to Me. And in this world there can be no one dearer
And if anyone studies this holy
conversation of ours I consider as if he is worshipping Me by offering the sacrifice of
Even if a man who does listen this with
faith and without envy, he will be liberated and placed in the auspicious abode of
Finally the Lord wants to know from Arjuna
his response, so he asks: "Oh Arjuna, have you listened this with
concentrated mind? Oh Dhananjay, has your delusion created by ignorance
Without any hesitation Arjuna promptly
Oh Lord, By your grace my delusion is
destroyed. I have regained my memory, I am now firm with my doubts totally gone oh
Krishna. I shall follow your words."
Here ended the dialogue between the Lord
and Arjuna. Sanjay who was reporting this dialogue between two
great souls to king Dhirtarashtra concluded this adhyăya as
well as Gita by expressing his joyful reaction to what he heard and saw. He
"Thus I heard the dialogue between
Lord Krishna and Arjuna the great. It was so wondrous that I am extremely thrilled with my
hair getting erect.
By the grace of Vyăsa, I
heard this highly mysterious Yőga at the time when it was delivered
directly by the Lord Krishna, the master of Yoga.
0 King, recalling that wonderful and holy
dialogue held between Keshava and Arjuna, I rejoice again and
His great astonishment and joy overcoming
him again and again at the repeated remembrance of Lord Krishnas most wondrous
universal form, made Sanjaya to proclaim his judgement at the close of this
"Wherever there is Krishna,
the master of Yoga and wherever there is Arjuna, the master of
archery, only there I know for certain will be fortune, victory, welfare and morality.
Here ends the science that combines the knowledge of being
one with the Supreme Lord and the skill of active participation in the process of
evolution that keeps the Lords creation progressing.