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Adhyaya -5 : Karma SanyŃsa Y§ga

 3rd & 4th AdhyŃyas were dedicated to explain why actions are to be performed and what should be the attitude while performing them. These two AdhyŃyas laid down the basic postulates of the path of a action called KarmaY§ga. Selfless and detached actions performed as the will of God, in the spirit of worship are not only free from any bondage but are capable of liberation. But all this lastly end into the knowledge of God. The 2nd AdhyŃya had already stressed the need of discriminatory knowledge essential to know the nature of the Self and the surrounding world . At the end of 4th Adhyaya again the lord reiterated the greatness of this divine knowledge as the culminating point where all actions get burnt into it.

Arjuna was puzzled and wanted to know why the Lord is praising both the knowledge that lead to renunciation as well as the path of non attached action. The 5th Adhyaya clarifies the deeper meanings of sannayas and the action that leads to the state of inaction. This adhyaya gives beautiful description of the enlightened soul of high calibre.

Verses 1 to 3

Arjuna appears convinced about the superiority of selfless action over the egocentric one and that of God-centred knowledge over object-centred one. Still he asks a categorical question to know which of the two, whether KarmaY§ga or Renunciation of action in favour of knowledge was better.

Lord Krishna without hesitation promptly replies that both the paths lead to highest good but to work selflessly is better than renouncing action after enlightenment. It does not mean that the path of knowledge is inferior. Even from the point of view of a new student of spirituality, a metaphysical discipline is hard intellectual exercise and is almost beyond his reach. For them the path of detached action is simple and easy to follow. It too leads to liberation.

Outwardly these two paths appear to be different but in principle they are one and the same. With logical disposition the Lord proves the unity of the two. Firstly he gives the definition of the constant sanyasi.

He is said to be always in renunciation who does not hate nor does he desire. He is beyond all opposites, and is easily freed from bondage. What is important is total dissolution of one’s ‘I ness and ‘my’ ness.’

Verses 4 to 6

Only an ignorant one thinks that sŃnkhya and Yoga are different paths. But the wise knows that faithful adoption of one fetches the fruits of both. In the end they meet at the same place. The path of renunciation of actions in favour of knowledge is difficult to attain without following the Y§ga of detached action. The renunciation is knowledge - based but with detached actions becomes fruitful and KarmaY§ga is action - based but with the light of knowledge gets illuminated. This is how they merge and fuse into each other.

Verses 7 to 10

The mental equipoise is the base of action-oriented Y§ga. It makes the heart pure, senses obedient, mind stable; all of which result in realising that his Atman is the Atman in all creatures. Such enlightened soul though doing action, does not get tainted by it. While moving about in the material world seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting, grasping, even eye opening and closing, the illuminated soul absorbed in Brahman, knowing reality realises that he is not doing any of these things but the senses do all such activities resting on their objects. Remaining untouched like a water drop on the lotus leaf he is not tainted by any sin since all his actions are surrendered into Brahman. When personal ego is detached from actions the senses do not commit any evil and thus such actions have no binding effect on him.

Verses 11 to 1 3

The Lord elucidates further the nature of the detached attitude. Men of selfless detached action work only with the body, mind, intellect and the sense organs treating them as instruments but without his self involved in it in order to purify his soul. Abandoning the fruits of actions the man fixed in Brahman finds enduring peace. Whereas the man with unsteady mind, motivated by desire gets attached to fruits and is placed in bondage. Renouncing his actions mentally, mastering his nature, the dweller in the body stays happily in the city of nine gates not doing any thing nor involving others in action.

Verses 14 to 17

Lord shifts the argument to metaphysical reasoning when he proclaims:-

" Godhead produced neither the doer nor the deed nor the union of deeds and fruits. They are activated by their own nature. The Supreme Lord present every where is neither concerned with any body’s sin nor merits. Knowledge is covered by ignorance and hence the creatures get deluded." Apparent diversity in the universe appears real and the Real remains clouded under this delusion of ignorance.

But those wise whose ignorance is destroyed by divine knowledge, to them shines the splendour of the supreme, their knowledge illuminating like the sun. Their intellect and heart absorbed in the Supreme, making It their sole objective, fully devoted to It they reach that state from where they have no return . Their sins get purified by their knowledge.

Verses 18 to 21

The Lord records one significant factor in this process of self realization. The being united state of being one with Brahman is achieved in this life here on this earth itself. Karmay§gi becomes Brahmasanstha. The Lord is pleased to glorify his characteristics as he did in case of a man of steady wisdom i.e. a sthitapradnya in second Adhyaya.

Such persons of wisdom would see everything as manifestation of Brahman and separate individualistic identity would disappear for them. Learned and gentle Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, a dog-eaters all are equal to them. Their minds becoming equipoised, they have conquered this world here itself. Brahman; the Supreme Reality is blameless and equal in all manifestations; hence they are fully abiding in Brahman.

He is neither happy by getting the pleasant nor unhappy by getting the unpleasant. His intellect becoming stable without having any delusion the knower of Brahman is absorbed in Brahman.

He remains unattached to external touch of sense objects & enjoys bliss inherent in the self. Having engaged in the Y§ga of Brahman he attains eternal bliss.

Verses 22 to 28

Pleasures arising out of sense contacts with their objects really generate sorrows. They come and they go. The wise has no interest in them. Here on this earth before leaving the body, one whose perseverance easily masters lust-begotten and anger-produced impulses finds Brahman. He is a happy man. His joy, his peace, his visions all are born inwardly. Such a yogi becoming Brahman attains supreme bliss. All impurities diminished, all doubts erased, mind fully controlled and engrossed in the welfare of all beings, the holy sages attain the supreme state of union with Brahman. Self - controlled, freed from desires and anger, realising the self, the men of austerity always remain close to the state of Brahman.

Keeping off external sense contacts, concentrating his gaze at the root of the eyebrows, equalising inhaling and exhaling breathing within the nostrils, commanding the senses, mind and intellect, getting rid of desire, fear and anger, a sage who is sincerely concerned about his liberation, is really a free soul.

Verses 29

Realisation of Brahman the Godhead is the highest goal in life. Means may differ. Lord Krishna finally draws the major conclusion:

" Knowing Me to be the ultimate enjoyer of all the sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all the worlds and the friend of all creatures, that sage obtains peace.

Every soul is as great as the Supreme Lord. Because it is conditioned by various worldly factors it is under control of material nature i.e. Prakriti. The Lord is the master of everything including this nature. It follows therefore that man’s prime duty is to surrender his total existence at His feet to become free from material control.

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