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#Gita Chapter 18 (English translation)

November 13, 2017

Introduction, Acknowledgements, Translation notes

 

Chapter 18

 

YOGA OF LIBERATION THROUGH RENUNCIATION

MOKSHA SANNYAASA YOGA

 

Arjuna speaks:

I wish to know the truth of sannyaasa (renunciation) and tyaaga (abandonment), Mahabaaho, Hrishikesha, Keshisudhana (mighty-armed, the Lord of all senses, killer of the demon Keshi, Sri Krishna). II18.1II

 

Sri Krishna Bhagavan speaks:

The sages understand sannyaasa to be renunciation of desire-prompted actions (which take place in the present); and tyaaga to be abandonment of the fruits of the action (which are anticipated in the future). II18.2II

(Note: Abandonment is the means. Renunciation is the goal.)

 

Some philosophers (referring to Saankhya philosophy) declare that all actions should be abandoned as evil; while others say that acts of sacrifice, charity, and austerity should not be given up. II18.3II

 

Bharatasattama (the best of the Bharata dynasty, Arjuna), hear conclusively from Me about the three kinds of abandonment that have been declared, Purushavyaagraha (the best of men, Arjuna). II18.4II

 

Acts of sacrifice, charity, and austerity should not be abandoned. Sacrifice, charity, and austerity should surely be undertaken as a means of purification even of the wise. II18.5II

 

But these actions should be undertaken surrendering the fruits of the action. This is My firm and best resolve, Partha (Arjuna). II18.6II

 

Giving up of nityakarma (obligatory duties) is not right. Abandoning them is the result of taamasic delusion. II18.7II

 

Giving up action because it is inconvenient does not obtain the merit of renunciation. This arises out of rajas. II18.8II

 

Giving up all personal desire for the fruits of the action, performing the action as an obligatory duty without attachment is considered saatvic. II18.9II

 

The wise man who has attained purity is free from doubts and is intelligent; he does not avoid action because it disagreeable nor does he desire action because it is agreeable. II18.10II

 

It is not really possible for an embodied being to completely avoid action. In this case, he who abandons of the fruits of the action is considered a renunciate. II18.11II

 

The three distinct kinds of the fruit of action–unpleasant, pleasant, and mixed (both pleasant and unpleasant)–continue to accrue even after death for those who do not renounce, but not for those who do resort to renunciation. II18.12II

 

Learn from Me, Mahabaaho (Arjuna), these five causes for the accomplishment of all actions, as declared in the Saankhya (Upanishadic) system–Vedanta, which imparts to us the knowledge that is the end of all actions: II18.13II

(Refer to Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Geeta)

 

  • The body (which is the locus of desire)

  • The agent (the doer of the action – the ego) …

  • the organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin)

  • the organs of action (hands, feet, tongue, organs of excretion and reproduction)

  • The divine (the five elemental forces that preside over the organs of perception) II18.14II

(Refer to Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Geeta)

 

Whatever action a man performs using his body, speech, and mind–whether it is a right action or not–these five are the cause. II18.15II

 

This being the case, whoever sees the Supreme Self (which is indwelling in the body) as the agent has a warped view due to his untrained understanding. II18.16II

 

He who is free from the egotistical notion (that he is the doer), whose intelligence is not tainted, he is not bound by his action–though he kills, he does not kill. II18.17II

 

Knowledge, the known, and the knower form the three-fold ‘impulse to action’; the organs, the action, the agent, form the three-fold ‘basis of action’. II18.18II

(Verbatim from Swami Chinmayananda, The Holy Geeta)

 

Knowledge, the action, and the actor (the agent) are declared in the study of the gunas (temperaments) to be of three kinds based on the difference in temperament. Hear of them: 18.19II

 

That knowledge is saatvic which perceives in all beings a single, indestructible, undivided Reality. II18.20II

 

That knowledge is raajasic which sees in all beings distinct entities of various kinds, different from one another. II18.21II

 

That knowledge is taamasic which clings blindly to one idea as if it were the whole, without reason, trivial, and without foundation in truth. II18.22II

 

That action is saatvic which is performed without like or dislike, or without expectation for the result. II18.23II

 

That action is raajasic which is performed with desire for the result, or by one who is egotistical, and involves much effort. II18.24II

 

That action is taamasic which is performed out of delusion, without regard for the consequence, the loss (of energy), the harm it may cause others, or the ability (of the actor). II18.25II

 

That actor (agent) is saatvic who is free from attachment, non-egotistic, endowed with firmness and enthusiasm, unaffected in success or failure. II18.26II

 

That actor (agent) is raajasic who desires the fruit of his actions, is greedy, who is cruel by nature, is impure, and is overpowered by the pairs of opposites (likes and dislikes). II18.27II

 

That actor (agent) is taamasic, who is unsteady, vulgar, stubborn, deceitful, malicious, lazy, despondent, and procrastinating. II18.28II

 

Dhananjaya (Arjuna), listen to the three kinds of understanding (buddhi) and of determination (dhrithi), according to the dominant temperament. I will explain them fully and distinctly. II18.29II

 

That understanding is saatvic, Partha, which knows the path of work and of renunciation, what actions should be done and not be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation. II18.30II

 

That understanding is raajasic, Partha, which wrongly understands the scriptural injunctions of right and wrong and what is duty and what is not duty. II18.31II

 

That understanding is taamasic, Partha, which enveloped in darkness, perceives wrong as right, and all things contrary to what they are. II18.32II

 

That determination is saatvic, Partha, which–through effort–holds firm the functions of the mind, the vital breath, and the senses. II18.33II

 

That determination is raajasic, Arjuna, which–due to attachment and desire for the fruits of the action–holds firm to duty, desire, and wealth. II18.34II

 

That determination is taamasic, Partha, which–due to a corrupt understanding–holds firm to sleep, fear, sorrow, despair, and sense gratification. II18.35II

 

And now hear the three distinct kinds of pleasure (the purpose of all action), Bharatarshabha (Arjuna). Through practice you can rejoice in pleasure and end all sorrows. II18.36II

 

That pleasure is saatvic which–born of the serenity of the soul and intellect–is like poison in the beginning, but nectar at the end. II18.37II

 

That pleasure is raajasic which–arising from contact of the sense organs with the object–is like nectar in the beginning, but poison at the end. II18.38II

 

That pleasure is taamasic which–arising from sleep, laziness, and heedlessness–is deluding both in the beginning and at the end. II18.39II

 

There is nothing anywhere on earth or in the higher worlds which is free from these three temperaments because they are born of matter. II18.40II

 

According to the temperaments born of their own nature, the duties of the thinkers (Brahmanas), the leaders (Kshatriyas), the traders (Vaishyas), and the laborers (Shudras) are distributed. II18.41II

 

The duties arising from a Brahmana-nature are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, forgiveness, uprightness, knowledge, wisdom, and belief in God as well. II18.42II

 

The duties arising from a Kshatriya-nature are prowess, splendor, determination, and vigilance, never-retreating in battle, generosity, and the ability to rule. II18.43II

 

The duties arising from a Vaishya-nature are agriculture, cattle-rearing, and trade. The duties arising from a Shudra-nature are service and work. II18.44II

 

Man gains perfection when he is devoted to his own duty. Listen, I will tell you how you find this (perfection). II18.45II

 

Man attains perfection by dedicating his actions to God, the Source of all beings, the All-pervading. II18.46II

 

It is better to do your own duty, however defective it may be, than to do the duty of another, however well it may be performed. He who does his duty according to his own nature never incurs sin. II18.47II

 

You should not give up the duty to which you are born, even though it is flawed, Kaunteya (Arjuna). All undertakings are marred by defects, just like fire is obscured by smoke. II18.48II

 

He whose intellect is completely detached, who has controlled his internal organs, and who has no desires, through renunciation he attains the Supreme perfection of freedom in action. II18.49II

 

Having attained this success (freedom in action), hear from Me the process by which he attains Brahman, the Supreme consummation of knowledge. II18.50II

 

Endowed with a pure intellect, controlling yourself with determination, rejecting the senses, and eliminating attachment and hatred … II18.51II

 

… dwelling in solitude, eating minimally, subduing speech, body, and mind, engaged in meditation and concentration, always taking shelter in dispassion … II18.52II

 

… giving up the ego, force, arrogance, desire, anger, and the need to acquire, minus the “I”-ness, at peace, he is capable of being Brahman. II18.53II

 

Being the bliss of Brahman, he does not grieve nor desire. Remaining the same to all beings, devoted to Me, he gains the Supreme. II18.54II

 

Devoted to Me, he knows in truth what and who I am. Consequently, knowing this, he enters Me. II18.55II

 

Performing his actions always taking refuge in Me, he attains the Indestructible, Eternal Abode by My grace.  II18.56II

 

Mentally surrendering all actions in Me, having Me as the highest goal, with the yoga of discrimination, let your mind be fixed on Me always. II18.57II

 

With your mind fixed on Me, you will overcome all obstacles. Now, if you will not listen because of your ego, you will be destroyed. II18.58II

 

If, having taken refuge in your ego, you think ‘I will not fight’, this resolve of yours is in vain. Your nature impels you (to fight). II18.59II

 

Being securely bound by your own duty born of your nature, Kaunteya (Arjuna), you are helpless. Owing to the lack of discrimination, you will do that very duty that you do not wish to do. II18.60II

 

The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, Arjuna, whirling by Maaya all beings (as if) mounted on a machine. II18.61II

(Verbatim from Alladi Mahadeva Sastry)

 

Take refuge in Him alone, with your whole being, Bhaarata (Arjuna). Through His grace you will attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode. II18.62II

 

I have imparted this knowledge to you which is more secret than any secret. Comprehend it fully and then act as you wish. II18.63II

 

Listen again to the most secret of all–My Supreme Word. Beloved as you are to Me, I will tell you what is good. II18.64II

 

With your mind fixed on Me, devoted to Me, offering to Me, bowing down to Me, you will come to Me alone. This truth I do promise you, for you are dear to Me. II18.65II

 

"Renouncing all works," take refuge in Me alone. I will liberate you from all your sins. Grieve not. II18.66II

(Quote from Alladi Mahadeva Sastry's translation of Adi Shankaracharya's Sankara Bhashya)

 

This (that I have taught you) should not be taught to one who is devoid of austerities or one who is not devoted; not to one who does not render service or one who does not want to listen; or one who doubts. II18.67II

 

He who teaches with supreme devotion this highest secret to My devotees, he will no doubt come to Me. II18.68II

 

There is none among men who does dearer service than him, nor any man on earth dearer to Me than him. II18.69II

 

He who studies this spiritual dialogue of ours that is conducive to virtue worships Me in the form of knowledge. Such is My conviction. II18.70II

 

He who listens to it with faith and without doubt, even he, freed from evil, will rise to the worlds which the virtuous attain through righteous deeds. II18.71II

(Closely verbatim to Purohit Swami)

 

Partha (Arjuna), you have listened with a single-pointed mind. Dhananjaya (Arjuna), has your strong delusion born of ignorance been dispelled? II18.72II

 

Arjuna speaks:

Achyutha (Sri Krishna), my delusion has been destroyed and my memory regained by Your grace. I stand firm, free from doubt. I will follow Your word. II18.73II

 

Sanjaya speaks:

Thus I have heard this wonderful and unique dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna that makes my hair stand on end. II18.74II

 

Through the grace of Vyasa (author of the Mahabharata in which the Bhagavad Gita is expounded) I have heard this supreme and most secret yoga direct from Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, Himself declaring it. II18.75II

(Verbatim from Alladi Mahadeva Sastry)

 

King (referring to the blind King Dhritarashtra), by remembering and repeating this wonderful and pious dialogue of Keshava (Sri Krishna) and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again. II18.76II

 

King, repeatedly recollecting that extraordinary form (The Cosmic Form) of Hari (Sri Krishna), I am wonder-struck and rejoice again and again. II18.77II

 

Where Sri Krishna, the Lord of Wisdom is, where the great archer Partha (Arjuna) is, prosperity, victory, happiness, and statesmanship are established. This is my conviction. II18.78II

 

Concluding verse:

Om! Such is the Truth in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. This is the knowledge of Supreme Consciousness. It is a scripture of union; a dialogue between Sri Krishna (the teacher) and Arjuna (the student). The eighteenth discourse ends, titled “Yoga of Liberation through Renunciation–Moksha Sannyaasa Yoga”.

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