The Bhagavad Gita – Capsule 18 (concluding)

The Bhagavad Gita in Capsules – Chapter 18

The book “The Prasthānatraya – An Introduction” by Revered Swami Harshananda, President of Ramakrishna Math, Bengaluru was published in 2001. The Swami has bestowed on us a summary of the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita of Lord Krishna. I bow my head in reverence and in praise of Swamiji and pray for his blessings in my taking the liberty of retyping the summary from the book and posting it in my blog.

This is the Summary of the eighteenth chapter, Moksha Sanyāsa Yoga


This is the last and the longest chapter dealing with miscellaneous topics and concluding the whole discourse.

Arjuna expresses a desire to know the truth about sanyāsa and tyāga. In reply, Srīkrishna says that according to some, sanyāsa is renunciation of all desire-motivated actions; whereas tyāga is the renunciation of the fruits of all actions.

While some feel that karma or action must be given up since all karmas are defective, others feel that karmas like yajna (sacrifice), dāna (gifts) and tapas (austerity) must not be abandoned.

My own view, Srīkrishna avers, is that tyāga is of three types, and that yajna (sacrifice), dāna (gifts) and tapas (austerity) must not be abandoned. They are purifactory rites and ,ust be performed without attachment and desire for their fruits. It is not proper to give up ordained actions, out of delusion or because they are troublesome to perform. It is not possible for an embodied being to give up actions entirely.

He alone is a tyāgi who has renounced the desire for the fruits of actions. Results of karma, good or bad or mixed, will not affect the sanyāsins (men of renunciation).

Every action has five causes like the body and speech; and it is foolish to consider the ātman (the self) as the doer. One who does actions without sense of doership and with an untainted mind is never bound by them.

Then Srīkrishna proceeds to describe jnāna (knowledge), karma (action) and kartā (the doer) as per the three gunas,

Sāttvik jnāna enables one to see the same ātman (Self) in all. Sāttvik karma is that prescribed by the holy books and done without attachment and aversion. Sāttvik kartā is he who is free from egoism and attachment, is endowed with enthusiasm and is unaffected by success or failure.

Rājasik jnāna makes a person see multiplicity of souls. Rājasik karma is performed with egoism and an eye on the fruits. Rājasik kartā is full of greed, attachment, impurity and violence.

Tāmasik jnāna forces aperson to be deeply attached to one work, that btoo which is trivial, out of ignorance. Tāmasik karma entails a lot of violence, involves loss of energy and wealth, and is undertaken without proper reflection about the future results. Tāmasik kartā has no mental balance or culture, is vain and deceitful, lazy and melancholic.

Buddhi (intellect) and dhrti (fortitude) are also of three varieties.

Sāttvik buddhi is aware of bondage and liberation. Rājasik buddhi is that which is unable to understand dharma (righteousness) and adharma (unrighteousness) properly. Tāmasik buddhi understands everything in the wrong way.

Sāttvik dhrti helps in self-control. Rājasik dhrti makes one to be selfishly attached to things. Tāmasik dhrti impels one towards sleep, fear and vanity.

Then comes sukha (happiness), of three kinds.

That which appears unpleasant in the beginning but gives happiness at the end, after a long practice leading the mind being established in the ātman (Self) is Sāttvik. Happiness got by sense-contact with sense-objects, which appears pleasant in he beginning but ends up in disaster, is rājasik. Tāmasik happiness causes delusion and induces laziness.

There is nothing in the three worlds that is not free from the effect of these gunas.

Then follows a description of the four varnas or groups into which the society is divided.:brāhmanas, kshattriyas, vaishyas and sūdras. The brāhmanas are devoted to austerity and selfcontrol, acquisition of spiritual wisdom. The kashattriyas are valorous, steadfast and expert in work. They are heros in war and efficient rulers in peace.. The vaishyas take to agriculture and commerce, whereas the sūdras live by service to others. All of them have taken to these karmas or vocations in accordance with their svabhva or inborn nature. All of them, by worshipping the Lord through the devoted performance of their duties, can attain spiritual perfection. That is why one should never forsake one’s duties even if they appear to be imperfect or defective.

One who has controlled his body, speech and mind, lives in a secluded place and practises meditation on the Self, will become fit to attain the state of Brahman. Such a one, able to see the same Lord in all, obtains intense devotion to me (i.e.the Lord Srīkrishna). Through such devotion he understands me truly and enters into me.

Now Srīkrishna assures Arjuna that by doing all actions and offering them unto him, he will attain the eternal abode, after having crossed over all difficulties. In case he does not listen to this advice, he will perish. It is egoism that is prompting Arjuna to say, “I will not fight!’ However, his very nature as a kshattriya will force him to fight, falsifying his resolve.

Ĭshvara or the Supreme Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings. You better take refuge in him, says Srīkrishna, by all means, and you will get infinite peace and the highest abode.

After giving this esoteric wisdom, Srīkrishna now declares: “You do as you please!”   Then again, he urges him to be totally devoted and dedicated to him by renouncing all dharmas (merits and demerits or penances). He (the Supreme Lord) will free him from all sorrows and will take over his responsibility.

The discourse ends with the usual advice that this esoteric and sacred knowledge should not be given to unworthy persons bereft of austerity and devotion, but to those endowed with devotion to the Lord. Even a study of the discourse endears one to Him.

Now Arjuna declares that his doubts and delusion are gone and that he will implement Srīkrishna’s command.

Sanjaya confesses his great joy for having been lucky enough to hear this wondrous discourse and for having seen the cosmic form. He declares that whwrever Srīkrishna, the yogeshvara (Lord of Yoga) and Arjuna, the dhanurdhāri (wielder of the bow) are, there success, wealth and eternal good will accrue.



Courtesy: Swami Harshananda  (emphases, if any, are mine. – nytanaya)

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