arjuna uvāca –
sannyāsaṁ karmaṇāṁ kṛṣṇa punar yogaṁ ca śaṁsasi
yacchreya etayor ekaṁ tan me brūhi suniścitam
Arjuna said – O Kṛṣṇa! You said that through yoga I should abandon action and again you said that through knowledge one should cut through all doubts and perform action in the form of fighting. Thus, tell me definitively what I should between abandoning action or engaging in karma-yoga.
śrī bhagavān uvāca –
sannyāsaḥ karma-yogaś ca niḥśreyasa karāv-ubhau
tayos tu karma-sannyāsāt karma-yogo viśiṣyate
Śrī Bhagavān said – sannyāsa and karma–yoga both produce auspiciousness. Amongst them niṣkāṁa-karma-yoga is superior. Rejecting attachment to karma is called sannyāsa. In actuality, giving up all activities is not recommended.
jñeyaḥ sa nitya-sannyāsī yo na dveṣṭi na kāṅkṣati
nirdvandvo hi mahā-bāho sukhaṁ bandhāt pramucyate
Whoever is free from duality, and neither hates or desires the results of their actions is always a sannyāsī. They attain supreme bliss due to freedom from the bondage of action.
sāṅkhya-yogau pṛthag bālāḥ pravadanti na paṇḍitāḥ
ekam apy-āsthitaḥ samyag ubhayor vindate phalam
Listen as I explain the foundational principle of sannyāsa and karma-yoga. The foolish, unwise mīmāṁsakas see the methods of sāṅkhya–yoga and karma–yoga are totally different from each other and say as much, and the wise do not say that.
yat sāṅkhyaiḥ prāpyate sthānaṁ tad yogair api gamyate
ekaṁ sāṅkhyaṁ ca yogaṁ ca yaḥ paśyati sa paśyati
Either sāṅkhya-yoga or karma-yoga, if done properly, will yield the results of both, since both methods are the same. Only the names are different. One who knows sāṅkhya and yoga to be one, understands this principle.
sannyāsas tu mahā-bāho duḥkham āptum ayogataḥ
yoga-yukto munir brahma na cireṇādhigacchati
Simply renouncing action without performing karma-yoga produces misery. A muni engaged in yoga achieves Brahman without difficulty.
yoga-yukto viśuddhātmā vijitātmā jitendriyaḥ
sarva-bhūtātmabhūtātmā kurvann-api na lipyate
There are three kinds of jñānī that engages in yoga – viśuddha-buddhi (those with purified intellect), viśuddha-citta (those with purified consciousness) and jitendriya (those who have controlled the senses). They are progressively superior. They are loved by all jīvas, and although they engage in all activities, they are not attached to them.
naiva kiñcit karomīti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
paśyañ śṛṇvan spṛśañ jighrann aśnan gacchan svapan śvasan
pralapan visṛjan gṛhṇann unmiṣan nimiṣann api
indriyāṇīndriyārtheṣu vartanta iti dhārayan
Due to his knowledge of the truth (tattva-jñāna), the karma-yogī, while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing etc. thinks, “I am doing nothing.” At the time of talking, excreting, receiving objects, opening and closing the eyes, he thinks, “I am in this material body, and it is doing everything. I am doing nothing.”
brahmaṇy-ādhāya karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ
lipyate na sa pāpena padma-patram ivāmbhasā
One who engages in action while offering his activities to Brahman and giving up any attachment to the results, is not contaminated by the pāpa of those actions – just as a lotus petal, despite being situated in water is never touched by the water.
kāyena manasā buddhyā kevalair indriyair api
yoginaḥ karma kurvanti saṅgaṁ tyaktvātma śuddhaye
For purification of the consciousness, the yogī performs actions, rejecting attachment to the results of those actions and engaging the body, mind, intelligence and sometimes only the senses.
yuktaḥ karma-phalaṁ tyaktvā śāntim āpnoti naiṣṭhikīm
ayuktaḥ kāma-kāreṇa phale sakto nibadhyate
By rejecting the results of action, the yogī, achieves secure tranquility, in other words, he attains freedom from freedom from karma. On the other hand, those persons who are not thus engaged, namely those who engage in sakāma-karmī (desiring to enjoy the results of their actions), become attached to the results due to their desirous propensity and are bound by their actions.
sarva-karmāṇi manasā sannyasyāste sukhaṁ vaśī
nava-dvāre pure dehī naiva kurvan na kārayan
Although engaging in all types of activities, the jīva residing in the body of nine gates achieves supreme bliss by gradually renouncing all action through the mind as previously explained. He does nothing, nor does he cause anyone else to do anything.
na kartṛtvaṁ na karmāṇi lokasya sṛjati prabhuḥ
na karma-phala-saṁyogaṁ svabhāvas tu pravartate
By stating that the jīva has no sense of doership, do not think that all activities are impelled by the Supreme. By saying that the people’s sense of doership and their activities occur only due to the Supreme is to accept that He is biased and cruel. He has no connection with action or its results. All this manifests due to the nature of the jīva and his beginningless ignorance (avidyā).
nādatte kasyacit pāpaṁ na caiva sukṛtaṁ vibhuḥ
ajñānenāvṛtaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ
The Supreme Controller does not accept the piety or impiety of the jīva. The jīva naturally possesses inherent knowledge (svabhāvika jñāna), but this nature is eclipsed by the avidyā-śakti and the jīva takes to a state of bondage. The jīva accepts the illusion of identifying with the material body which is the cause of his thinking that he is the doer.
jñānena tu tad ajñānaṁ yeṣāṁ nāśitam ātmanaḥ
teṣām ādityavaj jñānaṁ prakāśayati tat param
There are two kinds of knowledge – mundane and spiritual. That knowledge which is related to mundane matter is called the jīva’s ignorance, or avidyā. Transcendental knowledge is vidyā. All those jīvas within whom transcendental knowledge arises and who destroy mundane knowledge, divine knowledge emerges within them in the form of supreme wisdom which manifests the transcendental supreme reality.
tad buddhayas tad-ātmānas tan-niṣṭhās tat-parāyaṇāḥ
Those who achieve stability of intelligence, mind and faith, upon that transcendental form of the Supreme, are purified of the filth of ignorance through knowledge and are liberated from further births. Those who possess divine attachment to Me have no attachment to matter. Thus they exclusively engage in śravaṇa and kīrtana with love.
vidyā-vinaya-sampanne brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śvapāke ca paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ
The jñānī who attains spiritual attributes abandons discrimination concerning higher, intermediate and lower material qualities. A wise and humble brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a caṇḍāla (do-eater) are seen with equal vision by a wise man.
ihaiva tair jitaḥ sargo yeṣāṁ sāmye sthitaṁ manaḥ
nirdoṣaṁ hi samaṁ brahma tasmād brahmaṇi te sthitāḥ
Those whose minds are fixed in equanimity, conquer the world of material birth and death. They are without fault and are equal to Brahman. Therefore, they are situated in Brahman.
na prahṛṣyet priyaṁ prāpya nodvijet prāpya cāpriyam
sthira-buddhir asammūḍho brahma-vid brahmaṇi sthitaḥ
Those who know Brahman, being situated in Brahman, are detached from external sense-objects and possess steady intelligence. He does not become happy upon achieving objects that are dear in this material world and does not become perturbed by obtaining those things that are disliked.
bāhya-sparśeṣv-asaktātmā vindaty-ātmani yat sukham
sa brahma-yoga-yuktātmā sukham akṣayam aśnute
He achieves happiness from that which is spiritual. He is connected to Brahman and he experiences bliss which is indestructible.
ye hi saṁsparśajā bhogā duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣu ramate budhaḥ
In this way, a person with discrimination is not attached to material happiness stemming from the senses and the sense-objects. Happiness that arises from the sense-objects produces all kinds of misery. That only comes from coming in touch (with the sense-objects), thus it is said to have a beginning and an end and is not eternal. O Kaunteya! The aforementioned wise persons never attain gradual attraction for all types of transitory pleasures. They only accept all actions in relation to their journey in this physical body and engage in them a selfless manner.
śaknotīhaiva yaḥ soḍhuṁ prāk śarīra-vimokṣaṇāt
kāma-krodhodbhavaṁ vegaṁ sa yuktaḥ sa sukhī naraḥ
Knowing that one should accept mundane objects until one gives up the physical body, and tolerating the urges of desire and anger through niṣkāma-karma-yoga, they are truly blissful.
yo’ntaḥ-sukho’ntarārāmas tathāntar jyotireva yaḥ
sa yogī brahma-nirvāṇaṁ brahma-bhūto’dhigacchati
One who knows that the happiness, pleasure and awareness of this external world are temporary, and accepts the bliss, pleasure and awareness of the inner world with proper knowledge, attains the stage of Brahman. He is a yogī and he achieves brahma–nirvāṇa.
labhante brahma-nirvāṇam ṛṣayaḥ kṣīṇa-kalmaṣāḥ
chinna-dvaidhā yatātmānaḥ sarva-bhūta-hite ratāḥ
Those ṛṣis whose minds are subdued and are engaged in activities for the welfare of all living entities, are devoid of doubts and have eliminated pāpa. They achieve brahma–nirvāṇa.
kāma-krodha-vimuktānāṁ yatīnāṁ yata-cetasām
abhito brahma-nirvāṇaṁ vartate viditātmanām
Those sannyāsīs who are free from desire and greed, who have subdued the mind, who understand knowledge of the ātmā (ātma–tattva) soon attain brahma–nirvāṇa in all respects. Although such yogīs that engage in selfless activities (niṣkāma–karma) are situated in the world of repeated birth and death (saṁsāra), they properly deliberate matter (asat) and spirit (sat) and become situated in Brahman, the transcendental being (sad-vastu) who is beyond matter. They become immersed in that state where all mundane miseries cease. That is called brahma-nirvāṇa.
sparśān kṛtvā bahir bāhyāṁś cakṣuś caivāntare bhruvoḥ
prāṇāpānau samau kṛtvā nāsābhyantara-cāriṇau
yatendriya-mano-buddhir munir mokṣa-parāyaṇaḥ
vigatecchā-bhaya-krodho yaḥ sadā mukta eva saḥ
O Arjuna! Through karma-yoga offered to the Supreme, the antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intelligence and consciousness) is purified. Knowledge concerning that subject which is tvaṁ (the self) arises from purification of the antaḥkaraṇa. Bhakti, which is the intrinsic nature of tat (the Supreme), arises from that knowledge. I have gradually described all this to you. Now I will explain aṣṭāṅga-yoga, a practice meant for realising Brahman by those persons whose antaḥkaraṇa is pure. Listen as I speak about some of its indications. Removing all external contact with sound, touch, form, taste, smell etc. from the mind, in other words, by engaging in the practice of pratyāhāra, keeping the eyes fixed between both eyebrows, one should keep one’s focus on the tip of the nose. Due to the risk of sleeping by keeping the eyes completely closed and the concern of seeing external things, both eyes should be half-closed and one should fix one’s gaze between the eyebrows. One must practice inhaling and exhaling through both nostrils, controlling the upwards and downward flow of the prāṇa-vāyu and apāna-vāyu and equalise both. In this way, while sitting and using mudrās, conquering over the senses, mind and intelligence, a muni who aspires for mokṣa, giving up desire, fear and anger, practices in order to experience Brahman, and can achieve liberation from matter which is inherently beyond the modes of nature. Therefore, at the time of engaging in sādhana of niṣkāma–karma–yoga, aṣṭāṅga-yoga is performed as a limb of that.
bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram
suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
In this manner, such yogīs achieve mokṣa through knowledge of Paramātmā coming from bhakti. You should know Me as the enjoyer of the yajñas of the karmīs and the austerities of the jñānīs, in other words, I am their protector. For the yogīs, I am that worshippable Personality who is the indwelling monitor (antaryāmī-puruṣa) and the friend of all beings. I mercifully award instructions on devotion to Me through My devotees for the welfare of the jīvas. Through meditation on their worshippable Paramātmā, the yogīs attain the state of nirguṇa (transcendence) and they can then understand My bhagavat–svarūpa (the inherent nature of Bhagavān). I am the great controller of all worlds. When the yogīs understand My bhagavat–svārūpa, they achieve mokṣa.
The jñānī and the yogī attain mokṣa by realising the principle of ātmā and Paramātmā through niṣkāma-karma – that is the meaning of this chapter.
Thus ends Chapter Five entitled Jñāna-Karma Sannyāsa Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
Thus ends the translation and commentary of the Fifth chapter