Bh Gita- Chapter 18(Pt-1) Moksha Sannyaasa Yogah- Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation


The  closing Chapter is a summary of the entire Gita. If the 2nd Chapter  is its Profile, the 18th is its Review. This is the longest Chapter  in the Gita having 78 Verses.

Moksha  consists in securing lasting freedom from the bondage of mundane existence in  the form of birth and death and realizing God who is no other than Bliss.  Summing up the substance of all the previous Chapters, the present one  discusses in detail, under the terms of ‘Sannyasa’  and ‘Tyaga’ respectively the paths of  Knowledge and Action, both of which are the means to the attainment of Moksha.
It  was explained that there are three types of personalities depending on their  temperaments or Gunas. They are Sattwic-good, Rajasic-passionate and  Tamasic-dull. This Chapter discusses how these Gunas create differences among  individuals in their capacity to sacrifice, in their wisdom, in their actions,  fortitude and happiness.

The  teaching of the Gita has been wound up in Verse 66 of this Chapter with an  exhortation to offer all actions to God who is the same as Moksha. It is for  these reasons that this Chapter has been entitled “Moksha Sannyaasa Yoga” or  Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation.

The  Text


arjuna uvaacha
    sannyaasasya   mahaabaaho tattwam icchaami veditum
    tyaagasya cha hrisheekesha prithak keshinishoodana  // 18.1  //

Arjuna  said
    I  desire to know the true nature of sannyaasa and tyaga as distinguished from  each other,
    O  mighty Hrishikesa, O Slayer of Kesi.

This  Chapter begins with Arjuna's question seeking the precise definition of  Sannyasa - renunciation and Tyaga - relinquishment. These terms are used in  many places in different contexts in the Gita with apparent varying meanings.  Sri Krishna replies this question exhaustively.

The  central theme of this discourse revolves around the meanings of these two  words. It guides us what types of tendencies, urges, impulses and motives are  to be relinquished or abandoned so that true renunciation of the non-divinity  in oneself can take place.

sri bhagavaan uvaacha
    kaamyaanaam karmanaam nyaasam sannyaasam  kavayoviduh
    sarvakarmaphalatyaagam praahustyaagam  vichakshanaah  // 18.2 //

Sri  Bhagavan said
The  renunciation of works induced by desire is understood by the sages to be Sannyasa  while the surrender of the fruits of all works is called tyaga by the wise.

Total  giving up all desire-prompted activities is renunciation while giving up of the  fruits of actions is relinquishment. On the face of it these two statements  appear to have the same implication because desires are always for the fruits  of actions. Although both mean giving up of desire, Sannyasa is giving up of  desire motivated action while Tyaga is giving up of desire for the fruits of  actions.

Action  is the effort put forth at present to attain its fruit in future. The fruit is  a culmination in future of the present action. A desire-prompted action relates  to the present while anxiety to enjoy its reward which is a mental disturbance  relates to the future in the time-frame. A disturbed mind cannot execute any  action with efficiency. Thus renunciation is the goal to be reached through  abandoning the anxiety for the enjoyment of the fruits of actions.

Both  Sannyasa and Tyaga are disciplines in our activities. These terms do not  indicate that work should be ignored. On the other hand Gita insists that we  must always work. But work can be executed with efficiency if these two factors  viz. desire prompted action and desire for its reward are eliminated in which  case the work becomes an inspired and noble action.

Inertia  or non-action is not the ideal. Action without any selfish desires or  expectation of gain, performed in the spirit that `I am not the doer, I am  surrendering myself to the Universal Self' is the ideal set before us. The Gita  does not teach the complete renunciation of works but the conversion of all  works into nishkama karma or  desireless action.

tyaajyam doshavadityeke karma praahurmaneeshinah
    yajnadaanatapahkarma na tyaajyamiti chaapare // 18.3  //

Some  philosophers declare that all works should be relinquished as evil; others  declare that acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be given up.

As  against the principles of work stated in the previous verse, some philosophers  (Sankhyas) declare that action itself should be abandoned as an evil because  they produce Vasanas obstructing the realization of the Self while some others  say that acts of sacrifice (Yajna), charity (Dana) and austerity (Tapas) should  never be given up.

However  the imports of Sri Krishna’s teachings in the Gita is that only evil activities  are to be renounced and that all the spiritual activities and one’s own duties should  be pursued in a spirit of dedicated selfless devotion and thus transform the  work itself as a homage to the Supreme.

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