Bhagavad Gita- Chap 5 (Part-1) Karma Sannyaasa Yogah- Yoga of Renunciation of Action


saankhyayogau prithagbaalaah pravadanti na panditaah
    ekam apyaasthitah samyag ubhayor vindate phalam  //5. 4 //

Children, not the wise, speak  of Sankhya (knowledge) and Yoga (Yoga of action) as distinct; he who is truly  established in one obtains the fruits of both.

This verse clarifies that there  is no contradiction between the paths of Sankhya (knowledge) and Yoga (action).

There are two ways of making an  ordinary action into a divine action of dedication and worship viz.
  1. By renouncing the idea of  agency or doership in every action or
  2. By performing actions without  any anxiety for their fruits and maintaining equanimity in success and failure.

The former is called Sankhya  method and the latter is Karma Yoga.

The Lord says that only the  ignorant people (here referred to as children) who have no knowledge of the  Self find a contradiction between the two methods.  But the wise who have lived through either of  the paths say that both the paths lead to the same goal viz. liberation or God  consciousness.

    yatsaankhyaih praapyate sthaanam tad yogair api gamyate
    ekam saankhyam cha yogam cha yah pashyati sa pashyati  // 5.5 //

The state (of liberation)  reached by the Sankhyas (Gnanis) is reached by the Yogins (Karma Yogins).  He truly `sees', who `sees' Sankhya  (knowledge) and Yoga (performance of action) as one.

Sri Krishna emphasizes that the  goal reached by the Sankhya method is also reached by those who practice Karma  technique. Those who have renounced the world and immersed themselves in the  knowledge are the Sankhyas.  Through Sravana (hearing of Vedantic texts). Manana (reflecting on what is heard) and Nidhidhyasana (profound meditation) they attain liberation directly. The Karma Yogis who  engage in selfless service, who perform their actions as offerings to The Lord,  also reach the same state as is attained by the Sankhyas indirectly through  purification of the heart, renunciation and the consequent realization of the  knowledge of the Self.

He who sees that Sankhya and Yoga  are one and that both lead to the same goal, is the one who really understands  the Truth of the Vedas.

It is to be noted that Karma  Yogins perform actions, surrendering the result to God, attain purity of mind  and thus qualify themselves for the path of knowledge i.e. Sankhya, the path of  knowledge, through which the final experience of Bliss is achieved. Thus both  ultimately produce the same result, viz. liberation through Self-Knowledge.


sannyaasastu mahaabaaho duhkham aaptumayogatah
    yogayukto munir brahma na chirenaadhigacchati  // 5.6 //

But renunciation of action, O  Mighty Armed, is hard to attain without performance of action (Yoga); the sage  purified by devotion to action, quickly reaches Brahman.

The Lord means that the method of  performance of action is easier for a beginner and qualifies him for the higher  path by purifying his mind.  Hence it is  the proper and therefore the superior course, specifically for such beginners.  Without performing action the renunciation of action is impossible.

Mind gets purified by performing  right actions which enables one to have a deeper meditation leading to  renunciation of all activities. If this process is cut short and activities are  renounced in the beginning itself it will amount to physical inactivity where  the purity of mind and meditative power cannot be gained.

One who is engaged in selfless  and unattached activities develops single pointed meditative power. He is  called a Muni (sage) who will reach the Supreme experience of the Self in him  before long. A sage, purified by the performance of selfless action, soon  attains Brahman.

The true renouncer is not he who  remains completely inactive but he whose work is done in a spirit of  detachment. Renunciation is a mental attitude, the casting off of desire in  work; true work is work with all desire renounced.
    yogayukto vishuddhaatmaa vijitaatmaa jitendriyah
    sarvabhootaatmabhootaatmaa kurvannapi na lipyate  // 5.7 //

With the mind purified by  devotion to performance of action, and the body conquered and senses subdued, he  who realizes his Self, as the Self of all beings, is not tainted though he is  acting.

Sri Krishna explains the  different stages of development and change that would take place in an  individual through Karma Yoga. One who is established in Karma Yoga gets his  intellect purified which reduces agitations caused by desires or emotions from  within. With the selfless action and no anxiety for the fruits, his intellect  becomes immune from disturbances which are reflected in his mind.

When a man gains inward peace at  intellectual and mental levels, it becomes easy for him to control his sense  organs from their tendency to run after sense objects. A seeker who controls  his body, mind and intellect in this manner is qualified for the highest  meditation because all the stumbling blocks for purposeful meditation arise  from desire-motivation and emotional agitation. If these obstacles are removed,  meditation becomes natural and the rediscovery of the Self is easier to  achieve.

This realization of the Self is  complete and not partial.  He sees the  divinity of the Self as all pervading.   He finds divinity everywhere at all times.  Hence The Lord says `realizes one’s own self  as the Self in all beings'.

When an individual after  achieving the inner change comes to realize the Infinite Divinity and performs  actions in the world, his actions cannot have any reactions on him because no  sense of ego is left in him. This verse highlights that it is the desire motivated  egocentric activities alone that create vasanas in the intellect which block  the discriminative power to experience one's own essential nature of Eternal  Divinity.

naiva kinchit karomeeti yukto manyeta tattwavit
    pashyan shrunvan sprishan jighrann ashnan gacchan swapan shwasan // 5.8  //

pralapan visrijan grihnan nunmishan nimishannapi
    indriyaaneendriyaartheshu vartanta iti dhaarayan  // 5.9   //

The knower of the Truth, being  centered in the Self, thinks `I do nothing at all' - though seeing, hearing,  touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, letting go,  seizing, opening and closing the eyes - convinced that it is the senses that  move among the sense objects.

It is explained that a man of  wisdom will not have any egoism even in the common, natural and unavoidable  activities of the world, where he happens to live, like eating, sleeping,  breathing, speaking, closing and opening of eyes etc.

He remains as a witness to all  the activities of the senses, endowed with the knowledge of the actionless  Self, with an `I do nothing at all' feeling. He identifies himself with the  Self and sees inaction in action for he realizes that in all works the senses  occupy themselves with their objects and the Self remains inactive. He may be  said to have renounced action, for he sees no action as performed by himself.

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