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 Bhagavad Gita in English >> Nirvana Through Giving Up of EGO- Chapter 18

Bhagavad Gita in English - Chapter 18
 
Threefold Faith - Chapter 18

Arjuna said: I wish to know the nature of renunciation (Samnyasa) and sacrifice (Tyaga), and the difference between the two, O Lord Krishna. (18.01)

DEFINITION OF RENUNCIATION AND SACRIFICE

Lord Krishna said: The sages define renunciation (Samnyasa) as abstaining from any work with a personal motive. The wise define sacrifice or relinquishment (Tyaga) as giving up (attachment to) the fruits of all work. (See also 5.01, 5.05, and 6.01) (18.02)

We have used the word 'renunciation' for Samnyasa, and 'sacrifice' or ‘relinquishment’ for Tyaga in this rendering. Renunciation is to be practiced not towards work or the world but to the attachment to the fruits of all works. A renunciant (Samnyasi) does not own anything. A true renunciant works for others and lives for---and not on---others. Samnyasa means complete renunciation of doership, ownership, and personal motive behind an action, whereas Tyaga means renunciation of attachment to the fruits of all work, or working just for God. A person who does sacrificial service (Seva) to God is called Tyagi or a KarmaYogi. Thus a Tyagi who thinks that he or she is doing all works just to please God will always remember Him. Therefore, it is mentioned in verse 12.12 that Tyaga is the best spiritual practice. The words ‘Samnyasa’ and ‘Tyaga’ are used interchangeably in the Gita because there is very little difference between the two (See verses 5.04, 5.05, 6.01, and 6.02). According to the Gita, Samnyasa does not mean living in the forest or any other secluded place outside society. Samnyasa is a state of mind that is completely detached from the outcome or the fruits of work.

In short, renunciation (Samnyasa) means full understanding that I own nothing; everything belongs to God or Mother Nature, including my body, mind and senses. True Samnyasa is the inner renunciation of ego and not outer renunciation of work, wealth, home etc.

Lord Krishna has mentioned renunciation of attachment to the fruits of work as well as renouncing the fruits of work at various places in the Gita. It is not possible to renounce work (Gita 3.05). Renouncing the fruits of work is like telling a farmer to give up his crop. Thus Gita teaches us not to have any attachment to the fruits of our action. Everybody desires peace of mind, but this is only possible for one who works for God without being attached to results and dedicates the results of all work to the Source.

Some philosophers say that all work is full of faults and should be given up, while others say that acts of sacrifice, charity, and austerity should not be abandoned. (18.03)

O Arjuna, listen to My conclusion about sacrifice. Sacrifice is said to be of three types. (18.04)

Acts of service, charity, and austerity should not be abandoned, but should be performed because service, charity, and austerity purify our mind. (18.05)

Even these obligatory works should be performed without attachment to the fruits. This is My definite supreme advice, O Arjuna. (18.06)

THREE TYPES OF SACRIFICE

Giving up one's duty is not proper. The aban­donment of any obligatory work is due to delusion, and is declared to be in the mode of ignorance. (18.07)

One who abandons duty merely because it is difficult or because of fear of bodily affliction, does not gain any benefit of sacrifice by performing such a sacrifice, and is in the mode of passion. (18.08)

Obligatory work performed as duty, renouncing attachment to the fruit, is alone to be regarded as sacrifice in the mode of goodness, O Arjuna. (18.09)

Renunciation of attachment to sensual pleasures is the real sacrifice (Tyaga). The perfection of Tyaga comes only after a person becomes free from the clutches of attachments and aversions (MB 12.162.17). Selfish attachment to the fruit must be first given up before giving up all attachments. There is no eye better than the eye of Self-knowledge, no austerity better than truth, no pain greater than attachment, and no pleasure greater than Tyaga (MB 12.175.35). One cannot become happy with­out Tyaga; one cannot become fearless without Tyaga; and one cannot attain God without Tyaga (MB 12.176.22). Even the bliss of trance should not be enjoyed just for the sake of enjoyment. The Gita recommends renunciation while living in the world---not renunciation of the world as commonly misinterpreted.

Christ did not hesitate to sacrifice his own life for the noble teachings. Lord Rama gave up His kingdom and even His wife for the establishment of righteousness (Dharma). Give up attachment and attain perfection by renunciation is the message of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Selfless service or ‘Tyaga’ is the essence of the Gita as given in this last chapter. A person who is Tyagi cannot com­mit sin and is released from the cycles of transmigration. One can cross the ocean of transmigration and reach the shores of salvation in this very life by the boat of Tyaga.

The Nine Types of Renunciation leading to salvation, based on the teachings of the Gita, are:

(1) Renunciation of ac­tions forbidden by the scriptures (16.23-24),

(2) Renunciation of lust, anger, greed, fear, likes and dislikes, and jealousy (3.34, 16.21);

(3) Spurning of procrasti­nation in the search of Truth (12.09),

(4) Giving up feeling pride in one’s knowledge, detachment, devotion, wealth, and charitable deeds (15.05, 16.01-04);

(5) Rejection of selfish motives and attachment to the fruits of all works (2.51, 3.09, 4.20, 6.10),

(6) Renunciation of the feeling of doership and ownership in all undertakings (12.13, 18.53),

(7) Giving up thoughts of using the Lord to fulfill material desires (2.43, 7.16);

(8) Spurning attachments to material objects, such as a house, wealth, position, and power (12.19, 13.09); and

(9) Sacrifice of wealth, prestige, and even life for a noble cause and protection of righteousness (Dharma) (2.32, 4.28).

One who neither hates a disagreeable work, nor is attached to an agreeable work, is considered a relinquisher (Tyagi), imbued with the mode of goodness, intelligent, and free from all doubts about the Supreme Being. (18.10)

Human beings cannot completely abstain from work. Therefore, one who gives up (attachment to) the fruit of work is considered a relinquisher (Tyagi). (18.11)

The threefold fruit of works---desirable, undesirable, and mixed---ac­crues after death to a non-relinquisher (non-Tyagi) but never to a renouncer (Samnyasi). (18.12)

FIVE CAUSES OF ANY ACTION

Learn from Me, O Arjuna, the five causes, as described in the Samkhya doctrine, for the accomplishment of all actions. They are: the physical body (the seat of Karma), the modes of material Nature (Gunas, the doer), the eleven organs of perception and action (the instruments), various life forces (Prana), and the fifth is the Karmic impressions (or Samskaras, fate). (18.13-14)

These are the five causes of whatever action, whether right or wrong, one performs by thought, word, and deed. (18.15)
Therefore, the one who considers one’s body or the Spirit (Atma, soul) as the sole doer, does not understand, due to imperfect knowledge. (18.16)

One who is completely free from ego and whose intellect is not tainted by the attachment to the fruit, even after killing these people, he does not kill and is not bound by the act of killing. (18.17)

Those who are free from ego, likes and dislikes for their work, and detached from the fruits of work become free from Karmic bondage even for the act of killing.

Ego is defined as the false notion that one is different from Brahma and other beings. Ego has its place in material progress of the society, because it is the mother of desire that generates action. Thus without ego material world will not function. Ego becomes an obstacle in spiritual development. Those who desire Moksha must cut the bondage of ego by the sword of Self-knowledge.

There is no bondage or liberation for Atma. Ego is the cause of attachment and desires that become bondage (VC 4.140). Desire to know and attain Brahma ends all other lower desires. Ignorance-born ego is the cause of bondage of individual soul and the absence of ego is Moksha (AVG 8.04, YVa 42.32). Bondage and liberation are both creation of mind and are not real. Mind creates an imaginary notion of bondage and tries to be liberated. Just like wind brings clouds and also removes it, similarly the power of imagination of mind creates bondage and also gets rid of it (VC 5.174). Cloud created by the heat of the Sun covers the Sun; similarly ignorance created by the power (Maya) of Brahma covers Brahma. Jiva forgets the Source and considers itself independent and different from Brahma. Moksha is attained by the knowledge of unity between Jiva and Brahma (VC 2.58).

Knowledge or the subject, the object (of knowledge), and the action of seeking the knowledge are the three­fold driving force to an action. The eleven organs, the action, and the actor or the modes of material Nature are the three mechanisms of action. (18.18)

THREE TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE


Knowledge, action, and actor are said to be of three types, according to Sankhya doctrine. Hear duly about these also. (18.19)

The knowledge by which one sees one and the same immutable, undivided divinity in all creatures---such knowledge is in the mode of goodness. (See also 11.13, and 13.16) (18.20)

The knowledge by which one sees each individual as different and separate from one another---such knowl­edge is in the mode of passion. (18.21)

The irrational, baseless, and worthless knowledge by which one clings to one single effect, such as the body, as if it is everything---such knowledge is in the mode of darkness of ignorance. (18.22)

THREE TYPES OF ACTION

Obligatory duty performed without likes and dislikes and without attachment and desire for the fruit, is in the mode of goodness. (18.23)

Action performed with ego, with personal motive, and with too much effort, is in the mode of passion. (18.24)
Action that is undertaken because of delusion, disregarding conse­quences, loss, injury to others, as well as one’s own ability, is in the mode of ignorance. (18.25)

THREE TYPES OF PEOPLE

The person who is free from attachment, is non-egotistic, endowed with willpower and enthusiasm, and unperturbed in success or failure is called good. (18.26)

The person who is impassioned, who desires the fruits of work, who is greedy, violent, impure, and affected by joy and sorrow, is called passionate. (18.27)

The person who is undisciplined, vulgar, stubborn, wicked, malicious, lazy, depressed, and procrastinating is called ignorant. (18.28)

THREE TYPES OF INTELLECT

Now hear Me explain, fully and separately, the threefold division of intellect and resolve, based on modes of material Nature, O Arjuna. (18.29)

O Arjuna, that intellect is in the mode of goodness which understands the path of work and the path of renunciation, right and wrong action, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation. (18.30)

That intel­lect is in the mode of passion which cannot distinguish be­tween righteousness (Dharma) and unrighteousness (Adharma), and right and wrong action, O Arjuna. (18.31)

That intellect is in the mode of ignorance which accepts unrighteousness (Adharma) as righteousness (Dharma) and thinks everything to be that which it is not, O Arjuna. (18.32)

THREE TYPES OF RESOLVE, AND THE FOUR GOALS OF HUMAN LIFE

That resolve or willpower is in the mode of goodness by which one manipulates the functions of the mind, Prana (Life forces, bioimpulses) and senses for God-realization only, O Arjuna. (18.33)

That resolve---by which a person hankering for the fruits of work sticks to duty, wealth, and pleasure with great attachment---is in the mode of passion. (18.34)

Doing one's duty, earning wealth, material enjoyment, and attaining salvation are the four noble goals of human life for the householder in the Vedic tradition. Lord Rama said: One who is engaged only in sense gratification, abandoning duty and earning wealth, soon gets into trouble (VR 2.53.13). One who uses duty, earning wealth, and enjoying sensual pleasure in a balanced manner without any one of the three being harmed by the other two attains salvation (MB 9.60.22). A per­son completely involved in acquiring and preserving material wealth and possessions has no time for Self-realization (MB 12.07.41). One can obtain all four noble goals by devotion to the Lord (VP 1.18.24). One should first follow Dharma by doing one’s duty righteously. Then one should earn money and make economic progress, fulfill all noble material and spiritual desires with the money earned, and progress towards salvation, the only noble goal of human birth.

As human beings are always afraid of death, a rich person is always afraid of the tax collector, thieves, relatives, and natural disasters (MB 3.02.39). There is great pain in accumulating, protecting, and losing wealth. The desire for wealth accumula­tion is never satisfied; therefore, the wise consider contentment as the supreme pleasure (MB 3.02.46). People are never satisfied with wealth and material possessions (KaU 1.27). One should always remember that we are just the trustees of all wealth and possessions.

That resolve is in the mode of ignorance by which a dull person does not give up sleep, fear, grief, despair, and carelessness, O Arjuna. (18.35)

THREE TYPES OF PLEASURE

And now hear from Me, O Arjuna, about the threefold pleasure. The pleasure that one enjoys from spiritual practice results in cessation of all sor­rows. (18.36)

The pleasure that appears as poison in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end, comes by Self-knowledge and is in the mode of goodness. (18.37)

One who enjoys the ocean of the nectar of devo­tion has no use for the sensual pleasures that are like water of a pond (BP 6.12.22). The river of material joy dries up quickly after the rainy season if there is no perennial source of spiritual water. Material objects are like straws to a Self-realized person.

Sensual pleasures that appear as nectar in the beginning, but become poi­son in the end, are in the mode of passion. (See also 5.22) (18.38)

Two paths---the beneficial spiritual path and the pleasant path of sensual pleasure---are open to us.
The wise choose the former while the ignorant chooses the latter (KaU 2.02). Sensual pleasures wear out the vigor of the senses and bring diseases in the end (KaU 1.26). Sensual pleasure is not the object of precious human birth. Even heavenly enjoyment is temporary and ends in sorrow. Those who are attached to sensual de­lights are like fools who choose poison in exchange for the nectar of devo­tion (TR 7.43.01). The ignorant ones, due to delusion, do not think that they are taking poison while drinking it. They only know after the result, and then it is too late (VR 7.15.19). It is the natural tendency of the senses to go easily toward exter­nal sensual pleasures as water flows downstream. Regrets follow the fulfillment of all sensual and material desires. There is nothing so intoxicating as the desire for sexual pleasure, which has infatuated even the mind of saints and sages. The ultimate goal of human birth lies in forsaking all sensual and worldly desires and develop knowledge of and love for the creator.

Worldly pleasure is like a mirage in the desert. Thirsty persons reckon it as water until they come to drink it and find nothing. Worldly happiness is temporary and flickering, whereas happiness derived from spiritual life is permanent and continuous. Ramakrishna said: One does not feel intensely rest­less for God until all worldly desires are satisfied. Manu is of the opinion that it may be easier to control the senses after enjoying sense pleasure and discovering its uselessness and harmfulness (MS 2.96). Desirelessness comes easily after most of our desires are fulfilled. A person may be healthy and wealthy but still unhappy without a taste of spiritual pleasure. A spiritually mature person does not miss worldly pleasures.

Pleasure that befools a person in the beginning and in the end as a result of sleep, laziness, and carelessness, is in the mode of ignorance. (18.39)

There is no being, either on the earth or among the celestial controllers in the heaven, who can remain free from these three modes of material Nature. (18.40)

The division of human labor into four categories is also based on the qualities inherent in peoples’ nature or their make up. (See also 4.13) (18.41)

In the ancient Vedic system, activities of human beings were categorized into four social orders, based on the three modes of material Nature. These four orders are often mistaken for the caste system of modern times in India and elsewhere that is based on birth only. These four, universal, social orders of human society, as described by Lord Krishna, relate to persons’ nature, quality, and work, not their birth. Those who were dominated by the mode of goodness and were peaceful and self-controlled were called Brahmanas. Those who were controlled by passion and preferred to engage in administration and protective services were labeled Kshatriyas. Those under the mixed modes of passion and ignorance, engaged in farming and trades, were called Vaishyas. Those mostly in the lowest mode of ignorance were called Shudras, and their nature was to serve the other three social orders.

The Vedas compare human society with a person whose four main limbs (head, hands, stomach and legs) represent the four broad types of work and workers in society. The Vedas also state that their words are for all mankind, for all people (YV 26.02). There are only two types (or castes) of people---the decent and the indecent (Gita 16.06).

Intellectuals who have serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, patience, hon­esty, transcendental knowledge, transcendental experience, and belief in God are labeled as intellectuals (Brahmanas). (18.42)

An intellectual is one who has the above-mentioned qualities (MB 3.180.21). Anybody may be called 'intellectual' if he or she possesses the divine gift of Self-knowledge (RV 10.125.05, AV 4.30.03). Intellectualism is an acquirement---a quality or state of mind---rather than a caste or creed. The illuminated ones who know the Absolute Truth and are in touch with the Supreme Being are the real Brahmanas and are next to God. All are born equal, but can become superior or inferior by deeds only.

Whenever a sector of any society gives predomi­nance to caste, creed, race, religion, color, gender, or place of birth over the ability of an individual, the seeds of that society’s downfall and inefficiency are planted and begin to grow. The devil of discrimina­tion knows no national boundaries. It is unfortunately practiced by ig­norant persons all over the world in one form or another. It is a hu­man temptation and a manifestation of a superiority complex. The wise should try to overcome all types and shades of bias. All are the chil­dren of God, equal in His eyes, and should be treated as such. A per­son, for the progress of society, must be judged by his or her abil­ity---not by any other standard.

Those having the qualities of heroism, vigor, firmness, dexterity, steadfastness in battle, charity, and administrative skills are called leaders or protectors (Kshatriyas). (18.43)

The ideal protector possesses uncom­promising, unrelenting opposition to evil-doers in society. The duty (Dharma) of a protector is to fight all unrighteousness (Adharma) and injustice in society.

Those who are good at cultivation, cattle rearing, and business (including trade, finance, and industry) are known as business men (Vaishyas). Those who are very good in service and labor are classed as workers (Shudras). (18.44)

A Shudra is a person who is ignorant of spiritual knowledge and identifies with the material body due to ignorance. According to Lord Krishna, these four designations or types are not determined by birth. A Shudra-type person may be born in any family. The results of one's previous activities or Karma return as one's nature and habits. People are either born with certain qualities or develop them through training and effort. One cannot be categorized improperly by virtue of birth or position only.

DUTY, DISCIPLINE, AND DEVOTION LEAD TO NIRVANA

One can attain the highest perfection by devotion to one’s natural work. Listen to Me how one attains perfection while engaged in one’s natural work. (18.45)

One attains perfection by worshipping the Supreme Being---from whom all beings originate and by whom all this universe is pervaded---through performance of one’s natural duty dedicated to God. (See also 9.27, 12.10) (18.46)
One’s defective, imperfectly performed, natural work is better than faultless, perfectly performed, unnatural work. One who does the work ordained by one’s in­herent nature incurs no sin or Karmic bondage. (See also 3.35, 5.10, 18.07, 18.09, 18.17, 18.23) (18.47)

One should not give up his duty, because it is not what we do, but how we do is important. Work that is not forbidden by the scriptures and is done without attachment to the fruits and without the notion of doership, is sinless. Work should be dedicated to God and done without any selfish motive
.
One’s natural work, even though defective, should not be abandoned because all undertakings are enveloped by defects as fire is covered by smoke, O Arjuna. (18.48)

Nothing in this world has only good or only bad qualities. There is no perfect undertaking. All ventures have both good and bad aspects (MB 12.15.50). It is not what you do---but how you do it---that is important. Work becomes worship when done with an attitude of adoration of the Lord.

KARMA YOGA AND ATTAINING PERFECTION

The person whose mind is always free from attachment, who has sub­dued the mind and senses, and who is free from desires, attains the su­preme perfection of complete freedom from the notion of doership by right knowledge or renunciation. (18.49)

Learn from Me briefly, O Arjuna, how one who has attained such per­fection, attains the Supreme Being, the noble goal of transcendental knowledge. (18.50)

Endowed with purified intellect; subduing the mind with firm resolve; turning away from sound and other objects of the senses; giving up likes and dislikes; living in solitude; eating lightly; controlling the mind, speech, and organs of action; ever absorbed in yoga of meditation; taking refuge in de­tachment; and relinquishing egotism, violence, pride, lust, anger, and proprietorship---one becomes peaceful, free from the notion of ‘I, me, and my’, and fit for attaining oneness with the Supreme Being. (18.51-53)

When the torch of meditation fuses Selfless service, Self-knowledge, and devotional love during the thoughtless state of trance, the rays of enlightenment radiate, divine communion is perfected, the fog of ignorance disappears, and all material and sensual desires evaporate from the mind. And a person obtains Supreme devotion (Para Bhakti, unswerving devotion) as a result of his spiritual practices given in verses 18.51-53 as stated below:

THE HIGHEST DEVOTIONAL LOVE

Absorbed in the Supreme Being, the serene one neither grieves nor desires. Be­coming impartial to all beings, one obtains the highest devotional love, Para Bhakti, for God. (18.54)

By Para Bhakti one truly understands what and who I am in essence. Having known Me in essence, one immediately becomes one with Me. (See also 4.39) (18.55)


There is no doubt God can be known only through faith and unswerving devotion (BP 11.14.21). There are numerous spiritual practices---not just one---prescribed in the scriptures to get that faith and unswerving devotion. The investigation of the true nature of Reality is defined as Bhakti (devotion) by Shankara (VC 1.32). The knowledge that there is no other than Brahman in the universe is also called Para Bhakti or Ananya Bhakti. Thus, Bhakti and Jnana are not different but complementary to each other. Self-knowledge and devotion are one and the same like a seed and its tree. The process of spirituality gets started by the sparks of Self-knowledge and surrender that bring faith and devotion. The law of surrender and divine grace is beyond human comprehension. Divine grace has to be earned by Seva and surrender to His Will.

Delusion of Maya prevents people from knowing and seeing God. As one cannot see the ever-existing salt in ocean water with the eye, but can taste it by the tongue, similarly the Self can be realized only by faith and devotion, not by logic and reasoning. God may be realized not only by meditation and Self-knowledge, but also through ecstatic personal love and intense devotion to one’s personal deity.

Only they know You to whom You make Yourself known; the moment one knows You, one becomes one with You (TR 2.126.02). The knower of the Spirit becomes Spirit (BrU 1.04.10, MuU 3.02.09). Knowing is becoming. To know the Self is to become the Self. No one can realize God without first realiz­ing its real identity that one is not this body, but Spirit behind the body. After realizing one’s real identity, one at once becomes Brahma. To truly understand God is to love Him and become one with Him. Liberation or Mukti is a state of mind when one does not need anything and does not want to know anything.

An enlightened devotee attains the eternal immutable abode by My grace---even while doing all duties---just by taking refuge in Me (by dedicat­ing all action to Me with loving devotion). (18.56)

Mentally offer all actions with love to Me and set Me as the highest goal. Always reflect on Me by keeping the mind ever absorbed in My thoughts. (See also 2.49, 10.10) (18.57)

Everything we use or eat should be first offered to the Lord, the giver of all things, before we put it to our own use. This includes---but is not limited to---food, a new dress, a new car, a new house, a new baby and all our work. Offering everything to the Lord is the highest form of worship that one has to learn and practice every day.

The word “BuddhiYoga” has been mentioned in six Sanskrit verses: 2.39, 2.49-51, 10.10, and 18.57. The meaning of a word depends on the context. The prime meaning of this word is the comprehension of Reality---by reflection, contemplation and maturity of intellect (Buddhi)---that all activities going on all over the universe are actually the work of the powers of the Lord. This includes our efforts, non-effort, Sadhana, ego, as well as the annihilation of ego. Lord does not need our help to improve the society! Philanthropic work could also bind us with attachment if we are not alert. All one needs to do is to remember Him and do one’s allotted duty honestly and selflessly. (See verses 3.27, 8.07). BuddhiYoga holds the key to the last gate of nirvana. Our only prayer to Lord should be for reunion with Him, and not for the welfare of the world, society or even for our own welfare.

You shall overcome all diffi­culties by My grace when your mind becomes fixed on Me. But if you do not listen to Me due to ego, you shall not attain Moksha or Nirvana. (18.58)

KARMIC BONDAGE AND THE FREE WILL

If due to ego you think: I shall not fight, your resolve is vain because your own nature will compel you to fight. (18.59)
O Arjuna, you are bound by your own nature-born Karmic impressions (Samskara). Therefore, you shall do ---even against your will---what you do not wish to do out of delusion. (18.60)

The mind often knows right and wrong, but it runs after evil ---reluctantly---by the force of Karmic footprints (Samskara). The wise should always keep this in mind before finding fault with others.


WE BECOME THE PUPPETS OF OUR OWN FREEWILL

To satisfy the free will of the ignorant, overwhelmed by the three modes of material Nature, the good Lord creates an environment conducive for engaging in unwanted actions. Our free will is like the very limited freedom of a dog on a leash. As a facilitator, God reciprocates with everyone according to their desires and allows them to fulfill desires generated by free will. Lord uses His illusory kinetic energy called Maya to engage the living entities in good and bad acts according to their desires and their previously accumulated good and bad Karma.

The Supreme Lord abides in the causal heart of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings to act (or work out their Karma) by His power of Maya as if they are (puppets of Karma) mounted on a machine. (18.61)

The Supreme Lord (Ishvara) is the reflection of the Supreme Spirit in the body. The Supreme Lord organizes, controls, supervises, and directs everything in the universe. Jiva is like a puppet of Karma mounted on a body which is the vehicle of transmigration. The word revolve refers to working out one’s Karma. Thus we become the puppet of our own Karma created by our free will.

The Lord has made Karmic laws as the controller of all living beings. Therefore, one must learn to gladly endure all that fate imposes by taking refuge in Him and following the commandments (TR 2.218.02). Vedas declare that the Lord, using Karma, makes us dance as a juggler would make his mon­key dance (TR 4.6.12). Without the laws of Karma, the scriptural in­junctions, prohibitions, as well as self-effort, would have no value at all. Karma is the eternal justice and the eternal law. As a result of the working of eternal justice, there can be no escape from the con­sequences of our deeds. We become the product of our own past think­ing and action. Therefore, we must think and act wisely at the present moment, using the scriptures as a guide.

People cannot escape from the consequences of their deeds, for as we sow, so we reap. Cause and effect cannot be separated because the effect exists in the cause as the fruit exists in the seed. Good and evil deeds follow us continually like our shad­ows.

The Bible also says: Whosoever shedeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Genesis 9.06). It is believed that all references to Karma and reincarnation were taken out of the Bible during the second century with the noble aim of encouraging people to strive hard for perfection during this very life. Those who believe in reincarnation must avoid laziness and procrastination, stress intense spiritual discipline, and try their best to get Self-realization in this very life as if there were no reincarnation. Live as though this is your last day on this earth. One cannot achieve anything through laziness and procras­tination.

One cannot take wealth, fame, and power from here to hereafter; but one can convert these into good or bad Karma and carry it to the next life. Even death cannot touch one’s Karma. Those who have acted very piously in the past life achieve fame in this life without much endeavor. A very beautiful definition of Ishvara and Jeeva is given by saint Tulasidasa: That is called Jeeva which knows not Maya nor God nor one’s own self. And He who dispenses bondage and liberation (according to one’s Karma) and controls Maya is Ishvara or God (TR 3.15.00).

Seek refuge in the Supreme Lord (Ishvara) alone, with loving devotion, O Arjuna. By His grace you shall attain supreme peace and the Eternal Abode. (18.62)

Thus I have explained the knowledge that is more secret than the secret. After fully reflecting on this, do as you wish. (18.63)

Hear once again My most secret, supreme word. You are very dear to Me; therefore, I shall tell this for your benefit. (18.64)
Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, offer service to Me, bow down to Me, and you shall certainly reach Me. I promise you because you are My very dear friend. (18.65)

THE ULTIMATE PATH TO GOD

Setting aside all Dharmas, just surrender to My Will. I shall liberate you from all sins or bonds of Karma. Do not grieve. (See also 2.07 , 3.18 , 7.01 , 7.14 , 7.15 , 7.18 , 7.19 , 7.29 , 9.32 , 15.04 , 18.17 , 18.56 and 18.62 ) (18.66)

We interpret the meaning of setting aside all ‘Dharmas’ as neither giving up various spiritual paths or practices such as service, charity, austerity, meditation, yoga, rituals, worship, efforts etc. nor giving up one’s prescribed duties in life, but embracing a spirit of renunciation in all actions. Some commentators feel it means giving up all acts of righteousness. Setting aside all ‘Dharmas’ also means perform all duties (Dharmas) setting aside doership, attachment and ego or the false notion that an individual soul (Jiva) is separate, independent and different from Brahma. Ego stands on our way to God. It is not possible to progress on our spiritual journey without first renouncing ego, the origin of doership, ownership, and attachment to all works.

Ego is very difficult to get rid off. One cannot fight ego and win, just as one cannot fight against darkness, because ego runs the show of life. Jnana or ParaBhakti is the only way to break the wall of ego that stands between Jiva and Ishvara. After this mental wall of separation is gone, “Jiva is Brahman”. It is just like when the wall of pot is broken, there is no pot space---pot space becomes free! Saint Jnaneshwar defines surrender to God as firm intellectual conviction that there is nothing but Brahman (Gita 7.07 and 7.19) and Jiva and Brahman are non-different. It is total surrender of the ego, individual existence, and individual will (Gita 6.04). Total surrender or Bhakti is ancillary for clearing Karmas. Our effort should be acquisition of Jnana which also burns all Karmas (Gita 4.37). It is well known that Jnana dawns in a man through the grace of God after sincere self-effort. And the Grace can come only after one has done selfless service or any other Sadhana such as contemplation on Brahman or devotional service in countless births with the feeling that he is an instrument of the Lord and the work is an offering to the Lord. The following discussion is a detailed elaboration of the principles of surrender that will expedite the process of surrender. Gladly bearing all that fate imposes is taking refuge in the universal laws of Karma.

When everything is surrendered to Him and one truly understands that He is the goal, the path, the traveler, as well as the obstacles on the path, vice and virtue become powerless and harmless as a cobra with fangs re­moved. The grace of God is always available---effort is needed to collect it. To win the grace is not easy. One has to earn it by sincere spiritual discipline. Surrendering is the complete renunciation of individ­ual existence or the ego. It is the feeling: O my beloved Lord, nothing is mine, everything---including my body, mind, effort and ego---is Yours. I tried to get out of the ocean of the material world using all the methods given in the scriptures, and failed. In surrender one lets the divine plan rule one’s life after putting one’s best effort.

Surrendering is giving up confidence in our own effort and depending on God. Get rid of confidence in your self-effort and replace it with confidence in divine help. It is giving up sole reliance to one’s effort alone to reach Him. God can be discovered by seeking His help in discovering Him and not by spiritual practices alone. Surrendering to Lord alone means turning only to Him for help. Give up individual will and accept the Will of God because the world is controlled by the laws or Will of God. One has to learn to abide by His Will. Be thankful in prosperity and resigned to His Will in adversity.

When we turn to Him, our responsibility ceases. Lord takes full responsibility for a person who totally depends on Him. The scripture says: The wise should not be attached even to righteous deeds for their entire life, but should engage their mind and intellect in contemplation of the Supreme Being (MB 12.290.21). One should develop a spirit of genuine self-surrender to the Lord by offering everything to Him, including the fruits of spiritual discipline. We should connect all our work with the divine. In order to be free from pious or impious results that bind one to this material world, it is necessary to offer every action to God. When a devotee sincerely works for God, God protects that devotee from the touch of Maya, the external energy of the Lord.

A true devotee perceives: O Lord, I remembered You because You remembered me first.
One breaks away every yoke of bondage and becomes free in this very life as soon as one gains the knowledge and a firm conviction that everything is done by the Will of God, that it is His world, His sport, and His battle, not ours, and regards ones­elf as a mere actor in the divine play and the Lord as the great direc­tor in the cosmic drama of the soul on the stage of creation. Surrendering of individual will to divine Will is the culmination of all spiritual practices, resulting in joyful participation in the drama of joys and sorrows of life. This is called liberation, or Mahayana in Buddhism.

When one firmly understands that there is nothing else except the Supreme Being and His sport, all Karma gets exhausted; one surrenders to His Will, and attains salvation. One cannot surrender to God as long as one does not completely get rid of the no­tion of doership or ego. The miracle of surrender is triggered when one realizes: One is not the doer, and Lord arranges for the science of Self-realization to be revealed to such a surrendered soul and the gate of Nirvana opens up.

Surrendering to God does not involve leaving the world, but realizing that everything happens in accordance with His laws and by His direction and power. To fully recognize that everyth­ing is controlled and governed by a divine plan and order is to surrender to Him. Learn to accept all results as His Will.Soul is unable to get out of the trap of Maya without help from the Source. As birds seek the shelter of a tree when tired, similarly human beings should seek the divine shelter after long spiritual journey to attain union with Him.

The process of surrender may be called the fifth or the ultimate path of yoga---the other four being the path of selfless service, metaphysical knowledge, devotion, and meditation. The Good Lord directs the mind and senses of the living entities according to their Karma-born desires. But in case of surrendered devotees, however, He controls the senses directly according to His desires and in the best interest of the devotee. Let Him be the driver of your spiritual journey and you just enjoy the ride. Muniji beautifully explains this process. He says: “Every pain, every ache, every discomfort becomes His gift when you lay it in His lap”. If you learn how to put the reins of your life-chariot in His hands---without interfering---you will be ever happy, ever peaceful. The lesson of ultimate surrender is very difficult to practice.

Yukteshwar said: Human life is beset with sorrow until we know how to surrender or tune in with the divine Will that baffles our intellect. The Lord chooses much better things for you if you let Him be your guide by completely surrendering unto His Will. If one depends on the supreme Lord under all circumstances, then the good and bad results (Karma, sins) of work automatically go to Him. After total surrender to the Will of Lord one becomes free from the bondage of Karma and Moksha is attained. Marks of a surrenderd soul are given in Gita verses: 2.55-59, 5.08-5.11, 5.18-26, 6.27-32, 12.13-20, 14.21-25, and 16.01-05.

This knowledge should never be spoken by you to one who is devoid of austerity, who is without devotion, who does not desire to listen, or who speaks ill of Me. (18.67)

To speak of wisdom to a deluded person, to glorify sacrifice to a greedy person, to advise sense control to an irascible person, and to discourse on Lord Rama’s exploits to a lecher, is as useless as sow­ing seed on barren ground (TR 5.57.01-02). One should not force others to believe. The study of Gita is meant only for sincere persons. According to Ramakrishna, one can understand Him as much as He makes one un­derstand. Guru Nanak said: O Beloved; only they to whom You give the divine knowledge, obtain it.

The re­cipient of knowledge must have spiritual inclination and sincerely seek it. Knowledge given without being asked for serves no pur­pose and should be avoided. There is a time for everything under the heaven. We cannot change the world; we can change only the lives of a few sincere souls whose time for a change has come.

THE HIGHEST SERVICE TO GOD, AND THE BEST CHARITY

One who shall study and help propagate this supreme secret philosophy amongst My devotees, shall be performing the highest devotional service (Para Bhakti) to Me and shall certainly come to Me. No other person shall do a more pleasing service to Me, and no one on the earth shall be more dear to Me. (18.68-69)

Para Bhakti, Self-knowledge and Moksha to be obtained by spiritual practices as mentioned in verses 18.54-55 can be easily obtained by propagating the Supreme philosophy of the Gita.

Ignorance is the mother of all sins. All negative qualities, such as lust, anger, and greed, are nothing but a manifestation of ignorance. The giving of the gift of knowledge is the best charity. It is equivalent to giving the whole world in charity (MB 12.209.113). The best welfare is to help others discover their real nature that is the source of everlasting happiness rather than to provide material goods and comforts for tempo­rary happiness. Happiness is not attained through wealth and sense gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy cause (Helen Keller).

GRACE OF THE GITA

Those who study our sacred dialogue shall be performing a holy act of propagation and acquisition of Self-knowledge. This is My promise. (18.70)

God and His words are one and the same. The study of the Gita is equivalent to worship of God. Life in modern society is all work and no spiritu­ality. Swami Harihar says: “Daily study of only a few verses of the Gita will recharge mental batteries and add meaning to the dull routine life of modern society.” For serious students, daily study of one chapter of the Gita or several verses from the forty selected verses in English at: www.gita-society.com/chalisa-eng.pdf is suggested.

In verses 18.68-70 Lord Krishna declares that studying, teaching, and propagating the spiritual knowledge of the Gita in any way to be the highest form of KarmaYoga, BhaktiYoga and JnanaYoga combined in one easy to practice process. This alone can take a seeker to enlightenment.

Whoever even hears this sacred dialogue with faith and without cavil becomes free from sin, and attains the higher worlds of those whose actions are pure and virtuous. (18.71)

A summary of the Glory of the Gita as elaborated in the scriptures is given below. Reading this Glory of the Gita generates faith and devotion in the heart that is essential for reaping the benefits of the study of the Gita.

The goal of human birth is to master the mind and senses and reach one’s destiny. A regular study of the Gita is sure to help achieve this noble goal. One who is regular in the study of the Gita becomes happy, peaceful, prosperous, and free from the bondage of Karma, though engaged in the performance of worldly duties. Sins do not taint those who regularly study the Gita, just as water does not stain a lotus leaf. The Gita is the best abode of Lord Krishna. The spiritual potency of the Lord abides in every verse of the Gita. The Bhagavad-Gita is the storehouse of spiritual knowledge. The Lord Himself spoke this supreme science of the Absolute containing the essence of all the scriptures for the benefit of humanity. All the Upanishads are the cows; Arjuna is the calf; Krishna is the milkman; the nectar of the Gita is the milk; and persons of purified intellects are the drinkers. One need not study any other scripture if one seriously studies the Gita, contemplates the meaning of the verses, and practices its teachings in one’s daily life. The Gita is the ripe fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge given to us by Lord Krishna for the welfare of humanity.

The affairs of the world are run by the first commandment of the Creator---the teachings of selfless service---so beautifully expounded in the Gita. The sacred knowledge of doing one’s duty without looking for a reward is the original teaching that alone can lead to salvation. The Gita is like a ship by which one can easily cross the ocean of transmigration and attain liberation. It is said that wherever the Gita is chanted or read with love and devotion, Lord makes Himself present there to listen and enjoy the company of His devotees. Going to a place where Gita is regularly chanted or taught is like going to a holy place of pilgrimage. One who regularly reads, recites to others, hears, and follows the sacred knowledge contained in the Gita is sure to attain liberation from the bondage of Karma and attain Nirvana.

Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita becomes happy and free from Karmic bondage. All the sacred centers of pilgrimage, gods, sages, and great souls dwell in the place where the Gita is kept and read. Help during troubles comes quickly where the Gita is recited, and the Lord dwells where it is read, heard, taught, and contemplated. By repeated reading of the Gita, one attains bliss and liberation. One who contemplates the teachings of the Gita at the time of death becomes free from sin and attains salvation. Lord Krishna personally comes to take such a person to His Supreme Abode---the highest transcendental plane of existence.

The grace of the Gita cannot be described. Its teachings are simple as well as abstruse and profound. New and deeper meanings are revealed to a serious student of the Gita, and the teachings remain ever inspirational. The interest in a serious study of the Gita is not available to all but only to those with good Karma. One should be very earnest in the study of the Gita.

The Gita is the heart, the soul, the breath, and the voice of the Lord. No austerity, penance, sacrifice, charity, pilgrimage, vow, fasting, or continence equals the study of the Gita. It is difficult for any ordinary person, or even for the great sages and scholars, to understand the deep, secret meaning of the Gita. To understand the Gita completely is like a fish trying to fathom the extent of the ocean, or a bird trying to measure the sky. The Gita is the deep ocean of the knowledge of the Absolute; only the Lord has a complete understanding of it. Nobody, other than Lord Krishna, should claim authority on the Gita.

O Arjuna, did you listen to this with single-minded attention? Has your identity confusion, due to delusion of Maya or ego, been completely destroyed? (18.72)


Arjuna said: By Your grace my delusion is destroyed; I have gained Self-knowledge; my confusion with regard to body and Spirit is dispelled and I shall obey Your command. (18.73)

When one realizes who we really are by His grace, the knots of ignorance are loosened, all doubts and confusions about our true nature as Spirit---that we have forgotten---are dispelled, and all Karma is ex­hausted (MuU 2.02.08). The true knowledge of the Supreme Being and one’s real identity comes after many births.

Sanjaya said: Thus, I heard this wonderful dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, causing my hair to stand on end. (18.74)

By the grace of sage Vyasa, I heard this most secret and su­preme yoga directly from Krishna, the Lord of yoga, Himself speaking to Arjuna before my very eyes of clairvoyance granted by sage Vyasa. (18.75)
O King, by repeated remembrance of this marvelous and sacred dia­logue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, I am thrilled at every moment. (18.76)

Recollecting again and again, O King, that marvelous form of Krishna, I am greatly amazed, and I rejoice over and over again. (18.77)

BOTH SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND DUTY ARE NEEDED

Wherever there will be both Krishna, the Lord of yoga (or Dharma in the form of Self-knowledge), and Arjuna with the weapons of duty and protection, there will be prosperity, victory, opulence, and firm policy. This is my opinion. (18.78)
Where there is Dharma (righteous duty), there is the grace of Lord Krishna; where there is the grace of Lord Krishna, there will be peace and victory (MB 6.23.28). Everlasting peace and prosperity in the family are possible only by performing one’s duty with full metaphysical knowledge of the Absolute. Peace and prosperity of a nation depend on mastering both the knowledge of scriptures and the knowledge of the use of weapons of protection, as well as science and technology. It is said that science and technology without spirituality are blind, and spirituality without technology is lame.


OM TAT SAT

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