Bhagavad Gita: 5. The Yoga of Renunciation of Action


Karma Sanyasa Yoga

Arjuna said: O Krishna, You praise transcendental knowledge and also performance of selfless service. Tell me, definitely, which one is the better of the two. (See also 5.05) (5.01) The Supreme Lord said: The path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service both lead to the supreme goal. But, of the two, selfless service is superior to Self-knowledge. (5.02) A person should be considered a true Samnyāsi (renunciant) who neither likes nor dislikes. One is easily liberated from Kārmic bondage by becoming free from the pairs of opposites, O Arjuna. (5.03)

Both paths lead to the Supreme
The ignorant --- not the wise --- consider the path of Self-knowledge (or renunciation) and the path of selfless service (KarmaYoga) as different from each other. The person who has truly mastered one, gets the benefits of both. (5.04) Whatever goal a Samnyāsi reaches, a KarmaYogi also reaches the same goal. Therefore, the one who sees the path of renunciation and the path of unselfish work as the same, really sees. (See also 6.01 and 6.02) (5.05)
But, true renunciation, O Arjuna, is difficult to attain without KarmaYoga. A sage equipped with KarmaYoga quickly attains Brahma. (See also 4.31, and 4.38) (5.06) A KarmaYogi whose mind is pure, whose mind and senses are under control, and who sees one and the same Eternal Being in all beings, is not bound by Karma though engaged in work. (5.07)

A KarmaYogi works for God
The wise (or Samnyāsi) who knows the truth thinks: "I do nothing at all". In seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing; and speaking, giving, taking, as well as opening and closing the eyes, a Samnyāsi believes that only the senses are operating upon their objects. (See also 3.27, 13.29, and 14.19) (5.08-09)

One who does all work as an offering to the Lord --- abandoning attachment to the results --- remains untouched by Kārmic reaction or sin as a lotus leaf never gets wet by water. (5.10) The KarmaYogis perform action ---without attachment --- with their body, mind, intellect, and senses only for the sake of selfpurification. (5.11)

A KarmaYogi attains Supreme Bliss by abandoning attachment to the fruits of work; while others, who are attached to the fruits of work, become bound by work. (5.12)

The path of Self-knowledge
A person who has completely renounced the fruits of all works, lives happily, neither performing nor directing any action. (5.13) The Lord neither creates the urge for action, nor the feeling of doership, nor the attachment to the results of action in people. All these are done by the powers of Nature. (5.14) The Lord does not take the responsibility for the good or evil deeds of anybody. The Self-knowledge becomes covered by the veil of ignorance; thereby people become deluded (and do evil deeds). (5.15) Transcendental knowledge destroys the ignorance of the Self and reveals the Supreme, just as the sun reveals the beauty of objects of the world. (5.16)

Persons whose mind and intellect are totally merged in Brahma (Eternal Being), who are firmly devoted to Brahma, who have Brahma as their supreme goal and sole refuge, and whose impurities are destroyed by the knowledge of Brahma, do not take birth again. (5.17)

Additional marks of an enlightened person

An enlightened person (by perceiving the Lord in all) looks at a learned and humble priest, an outcast, even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with an equal eye. (See also 6.29) (5.18) Everything has been accomplished in this very life by the one whose mind is set in equality. Such a person has realized the Eternal Being because the Eternal Being is flawless and impartial. (See also 18.55)
(5.19) One who neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant, nor grieves on obtaining the unpleasant, who has a steady mind, who is undeluded, and who is a knower of Eternal Being, such a person eternally abides with Eternal Being. (5.20)

Such a person who is in union with the Eternal Being becomes unattached to external sensual pleasures by discovering the joy of the Self through contemplation, and enjoys transcendental bliss. (5.21)

Sensual pleasures are, in truth, the source of misery, and have a beginning and an end. Therefore the wise, O Arjuna, do not rejoice in sensual pleasures. (See also 18.38) (5.22) One who is able to withstand the impulse of lust and anger before death is a yogi, and a happy person. (5.23) One who finds happiness with the Eternal Being, who rejoices Eternal Being (Brahma) within, and who is illuminated by Selfknowledge; such a yogi attains BrahmaNirvāna, and goes to the Supreme Being. (5.24) Seers whose sins (or imperfections) are destroyed, whose doubts have been dispelled by Self-knowledge, whose minds are disciplined, and who are engaged in the welfare of all beings, attain the Supreme Being. (5.25) They who are free from lust and anger, who have subdued the mind and senses, and who have known the Self, easily attain BrahmaNirvāna. (5.26)

The third path --- the path of devotional meditation and contemplation

A sage is, in truth, liberated by renouncing all sense enjoyments, fixing the mind between the eye brows, equalizing the breath moving through the nostrils, keeping the senses, mind, and intellect under control, having salvation (Mukti) as the prime goal, and becoming free from lust, anger, and fear. (5.27-28) My devotee attains peace by knowing Me (or Krishna, the Supreme Being) as the enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, as the great Lord of all the universe, and the friend of all beings. (5.29)