THE BHAGAVAD GITA: Chapter 5

Reference: The Bhagavad Gita

[NOTE: The following translation of the Sanskrit verses into English is obtained from Srimad Bhagavad Gita, SADHAKA SANJIVANI by Swami Ramsukhdas, published by Govind Bhawan Karyalaya, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, INDIA. For original comments please consult the above book. Abbreviated comments in color are provided by Vinaire.]

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Chapter 5

अर्जुनउवाच
संन्यासंकर्मणांकृष्णपुनर्योगंचशंससि।यच्छ्रेयएतयोरेकंतन्मेब्रूहिसुनिश्िचतम्।।5.1।।

Arjuna said:
Thou praisest, O Krishna, the renunciation of actions (Sāńkhyayoga) and again their unselfish performance (Karmayoga). Tell me for certain which one of the two is decidedly conducive to my good. (V-1)

श्रीभगवानुवाच
संन्यासःकर्मयोगश्चनिःश्रेयसकरावुभौ।तयोस्तुकर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगोविशिष्यते।।5.2।।

The blessed Lord said:
’Samnyāsa’ (Discipline of Knowledge) and ‘Karmayoga’ (Discipline of Action) both lead to salvation. But of the two ‘Karmayoga’ is better than ’Sānkhyayoga’. (V-2)

The discipline of Knowledge is a life essentially devoted to keen observation and contemplation. It is not so active on a physical plane, but it is very active on the mental plane. The discipline of Action, on the other hand is a life devoted to intense activity on a physical plane, that is well-guided mentally. The unselfishness of ‘discipline of action’ comes from contemplation of the ‘discipline of knowledge’.

ज्ञेयःनित्यसंन्यासीयोद्वेष्टिकाङ्क्षति।निर्द्वन्द्वोहिमहाबाहोसुखंबन्धात्प्रमुच्यते।।5.3।।

He who neither hates nor desires should be known as a Samnyāsī (renouncer); for, free from dualities (pairs of opposites) he is released easily from bondage, O mighty armed (Arjuna). (V-3)

Yoga starts with the body. Unless you take responsibility for the body, nothing else will follow. The body is designed to take care of itself. Imposing cravings and desires on it will only make it suffer. Hath Yoga is much more than exercises. It is putting discipline on how one handles the body. Body is a big part of taking care of yourself. Moksha is the ultimate in taking care of yourself.

सांख्ययोगौपृथग्बालाःप्रवदन्तिपण्डिताः।एकमप्यास्थितःसम्यगुभयोर्विन्दतेफलम्।।5.4।।

The ignorant, not the wise, speak of the Discipline of Knowledge (Sānkhyayoga), and Discipline of Action (Karmayoga) as different. He who is well established in one, gets the fruit of both. (V-4)

यत्सांख्यैःप्राप्यतेस्थानंतद्योगैरपिगम्यते।एकंसांख्यंयोगंयःपश्यतिपश्यति।।5.5।।

The supreme state which is attained by the Sānkhyayogī is reached by the Karmayogī also. He who sees the ways (as result) of Sānkhyayoga and Karmayoga are one, he sees (truly). (V-5)

संन्यासस्तुमहाबाहोदुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः।योगयुक्तोमुनिर्ब्रह्मनचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।5.6।।

But the Discipline of Knowledge, O mighty armed (Arjuna), is difficult to attain without the Discipline of Action; the sage who is earnest in Karmayoga (the Discipline of Action) quickly attains to the Absolute. (V-6)

The disciplines of knowledge and action go hand in hand. There are times in our lives when we must sit and contemplate over our experience and learn from it. Then there are other times when we must use our learning to actively handle situations.

योगयुक्तोविशुद्धात्माविजितात्माजितेन्द्रियः।सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्माकुर्वन्नपिलिप्यते।।5.7।।

The Karmayogī, whose mind is quite pure who has controlled his body who has subdued his senses and whose self is the self of all beings, is not tainted by the actions though he acts. (V-7)

नैवकिंचित्करोमीतियुक्तोमन्येततत्त्ववित्।पश्यन्श्रृणवन्स्पृशञ्जिघ्रन्नश्नन्गच्छन्स्वपन्श्वसन्।।5.8।।प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्णन्नुन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि।इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषुवर्तन्तइतिधारयन्।।5.9।।

The man who is united with the Divine and knows the truth believes, even though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking, emitting, grasping, opening and closing the eyes, that he does nothing; he holds that the senses move among the sense-objects. (V-8, 9)

ब्रह्मण्याधायकर्माणिसङ्गंत्यक्त्वाकरोतियः।लिप्यतेपापेनपद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा।।5.10।।

He who performs actions, offering them to God and abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin, just as a lotus-leaf is not tainted by water. (V-10)

As described earlier, the unselfishness of ‘discipline of action’ comes from contemplation of the ‘discipline of knowledge’. Such a discipline starts with the body and extends to the senses. It purifies the mind by extending the sense of self to all beings. It is like developing a universal viewpoint. The yogi sees that he is neither the body nor the mind. The body acts under the direction of the mind to further the evolution of the samsara. The yogi is the witness of it all. There is no sin. There is simply trial and error toward greater evolution.

कायेनमनसाबुद्ध्याकेवलैरिन्द्रियैरपि।योगिनःकर्मकुर्वन्तिसङ्गंत्यक्त्वाऽऽत्मशुद्धये।।5.11।।

The Yogīs (men of action), having abandoned attachment, perform actions merely with the body, mind, intellect or merely with the senses, for the purification of the self (heart). (V-11)

युक्तःकर्मफलंत्यक्त्वाशान्तिमाप्नोतिनैष्ठिकीम्।अयुक्तःकामकारेणफलेसक्तोनिबध्यते।।5.12।।

The earnest (devoted) soul attains to everlasting peace (God-realization), by abandoning attachment to the fruit of action; whereas he who works with a selfish motive, being attached to the fruit of action through desire, is bound. (V-12)

सर्वकर्माणिमनसासंन्यस्यास्तेसुखंवशी।नवद्वारेपुरेदेहीनैवकुर्वन्नकारयन्।।5.13।।

The embodied (soul) who has controlled his senses, having renounced the doership of all actions mentally by discrimination in the city of nine gates, neither acting nor causing others to act, rests happily in the self. (V-13)

When you put some distance between you and the mind, and between you and the body, then you are detached. You then let the mind and the body follow the natural principles to bring about continual evolution. You are primarily concerned with the continuity, harmony and consistency of those natural principles and their implementation. When you do that, the actions and their fruits take care of themselves. You have no other care and you remain forever blissful.

कर्तृत्वंकर्माणिलोकस्यसृजतिप्रभुः।कर्मफलसंयोगंस्वभावस्तुप्रवर्तते।।5.14।।

Neither agency nor actions does the Lord create for the world, nor does He connect actions with their fruits. But it is personal nature alone that acts. (V-14)

नादत्तेकस्यचित्पापंचैवसुकृतंविभुः।अज्ञानेनावृतंज्ञानंतेनमुह्यन्तिजन्तवः।।5.15।।

The All-pervading Lord takes neither the sin nor the virtue of any; knowledge is enveloped by ignorance; therefore, beings are deluded. (V-15)

ज्ञानेनतुतदज्ञानंयेषांनाशितमात्मनः।तेषामादित्यवज्ज्ञानंप्रकाशयतितत्परम्।।5.16।।

But to those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge (discrimination) that knowledge lights up the supreme self like the sun. (V-16)

Body acts under the direction of the mind. There is trial and error. The laws of nature operate and evolve as errors are corrected. The universal self simply witnesses it all. It entertains no idea of sin or virtue. There is simply ignorance and knowledge. Knowledge uncovers delusion. Beings learn from their errors.

तद्बुद्धयस्तदात्मानस्तन्निष्ठास्तत्परायणाः।गच्छन्त्यपुनरावृत्तिंज्ञाननिर्धूतकल्मषाः।।5.17।।

Those whose mind and intellect are wholly merged in God, who remain constantly established in identity with Him, and have finally become one with Him, their sins being wiped out by wisdom, reach the state from which there is no return. (V-17)

विद्याविनयसंपन्नेब्राह्मणेगविहस्तिनि।शुनिचैवश्वपाकेपण्डिताःसमदर्शिनः।।5.18।।

Sages see with an equal eye a learned and humble Brāhmana, a cow, an elephant or even a dog or pariah (outcaste) and have a vision of God in all of them. (V-18)

इहैवतैर्जितःसर्गोयेषांसाम्येस्थितंमनः।निर्दोषंहिसमंब्रह्मतस्माद्ब्रह्मणितेस्थिताः।।5.19।।

Even here the world is overcome by those whose minds are established in equality because God is flawless and equal. Therefore, they are established in God (Brahma). (V-19)

Some meaning is lost in translation. The use of the word ‘God’ can be misleading as ‘God’ is an abstract concept rather than a person. “Merged in God” simply means having a universal viewpoint that is not identified with anything in the universe. Ideas such as “sin” arise from identifications with activities in the universe. When you are not so identified, you look at everything objectively for what it is. There are no subjective opinions, biases, or preferences. You are viewing the universe from a dimension not of the universe.

प्रहृष्येत्प्रियंप्राप्यनोद्विजेत्प्राप्यचाप्रियम्।स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढोब्रह्मविद्ब्रह्मणिस्थितः।।5.20।।

He who neither rejoices in obtaining what is pleasant nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant and who is firm of understanding and unbewildered (undeluded), such a knower of God is established in God. (V-20)

बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्माविन्दत्यात्मनियत्सुखम्।ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मासुखमक्षयमश्नुते।।5.21।।

When the soul (self) is no longer attached to external contacts (objects) he finds happiness in the self. Having completely identified himself through meditation with Brahma (God) he enjoys eternal bliss. (V-21)

येहिसंस्पर्शजाभोगादुःखयोनयएवते।आद्यन्तवन्तःकौन्तेयतेषुरमतेबुधः।।5.22।।

The pleasures that are born of contacts (with objects) are only sources of pain, they have a beginning and an end, O son of Kuntī (Arjuna), no wise man delights in them. (V-22)

The traits described here come about automatically as a person’s viewpoint broadens; such traits cannot be forced. However, the awareness of these traits lets one know of the right path. One has to be thoroughly comfortable within oneself before one can be comfortable in this world. Therefore, the priority is to face what lies within and not getting distracted by what lies outside.

शक्नोतीहैवयःसोढुंप्राक्शरीरविमोक्षणात्।कामक्रोधोद्भवंवेगंयुक्तःसुखीनरः।।5.23।।

He, who is able to resist the impulse (rush) born out of desire and anger, even here before he gives up his body, is a Yogī and he is a happy man. (V-23)

A higher state of understanding exists when there is no resistance even because there is no impure (born out of desire) impulse.

योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेवयः।योगीब्रह्मनिर्वाणंब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति।।5.24।।

He who is happy within himself (God), who rejoices within himself, and who is illumined within himself, that Yogī (Sānkhyayogī) identified with Brahma attains to the beatitude of God (Brahma-nirvāna). (V-24)

लभन्तेब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषयःक्षीणकल्मषाः।छिन्नद्वैधायतात्मानःसर्वभूतहितेरताः।।5.25।।

The holy men whose sins are destroyed, whose doubts (dualities) are cut asunder, whose minds are disciplined and who rejoice in doing good to all beings attain to the beatitude of God. (V-25)

There is still some ways to go if a person is resisting the impulse born out of desire and anger. A true Yogi is not even identifying with that desire. In fact, the true Yogi is not identified with anything. He is beyond happiness and unhappiness. He is in complete harmony with the universe. What these verses are talking about is the path traveled to the state of true Yogi.

कामक्रोधवियुक्तानांयतीनांयतचेतसाम्।अभितोब्रह्मनिर्वाणंवर्ततेविदितात्मनाम्।।5.26।।

To those austere souls (the wise) who are delivered from desire and anger, who have subdued their minds and who have realized the self, the beatitude of God (Brahmic bliss) exists on all sides. (V-26)

स्पर्शान्कृत्वाबहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरेभ्रुवोः।प्राणापानौसमौकृत्वानासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ।।5.27।।यतेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिर्मुनिर्मोक्षपरायणः।विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधोयःसदामुक्तएवसः।।5.28।।

Shutting out all external objects, fixing the vision between the eye-brows, making the inward and the outward breaths moving within the nostrils, the sage, who has controlled the senses, mind and intellect, who is intent on liberation, who has cast away desire, fear and anger, is ever liberated. (V-27, 28)

भोक्तारंयज्ञतपसांसर्वलोकमहेश्वरम्।सुहृदंसर्वभूतानांज्ञात्वामांशान्तिमृच्छति।।5.29।।

He having known Me, as the enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities, the Great Lord of all the worlds and the disinterested friend of all beings, attains peace. (V-29)

A true Yogi rises above desire and anger, without feeling the need to avoid, resist, deny or suppress it. This comes from meditating with an intense longing to be liberated. He gets established in Self by separating himself from the body and the mind. All benefits talked about in Bhagavad Gita then accrue.

NOTE: “Separation from the body and the mind” simply means, “Having no fixed attention either on the body, or on the mind.”

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