Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 18.66, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse Verse 18.66 from the chapter 18 called “Moksha-yoga (the Yoga of Liberation)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 18.66:

सर्व-धर्मान् परित्यज्य माम् एकं शरणं व्रज ।
अहं त्वां सर्व-पापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥ ६६ ॥

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja |
ahaṃ tvāṃ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
|| 66 ||

sarva-dharmān–all other prescribed duties such as varṇāśrama, the four social orders and four spiritual orders; parityajya–abandoning; mām–of Me; ekam–exclusive; śaraṇam–shelter; vraja–take; aham–I; tvām–you; sarva-pāpebhyaḥ–from all sinful reactions; mokṣayiṣyāmi–shall deliver; mā śucaḥ–do not grieve.

Completely abandoning all bodily and mental dharma, such as varṇa and āśrama, fully surrender to Me alone. I shall liberate you from all reactions to your sins. Do not grieve.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

“Should I perform dhyāna, meditation on You, and also fulfil my āśrama-dharma (religious duties in accordance with a particular stage of life)? Or should I exclusively perform meditation and so forth, and not depend on any other dharma?” In response, Śrī Bhagavān speaks this verse beginning with sarva-dharmān. “Renouncing all types of varṇāśrama-dharma, take exclusive shelter of Me.”

It is incorrect to translate the word parityajya as sannyāsa (complete renunciation of karma) because as a kṣatriya, Arjuna did not have the qualification to take sannyāsa. And it is also inappropriate to say that Bhagavān made Arjuna the object of this instruction, in order to give it to all people. Although this instruction is appropriate for its intended recipient, Arjuna, it is impossible give others this same instruction. Furthermore, it is also not appropriate to translate the word parityajya as ‘renouncing the fruits of one’s activities’.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.41) states:

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṃ pitṛṇāṃ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṃ śaraṇyaṃ gato mukundaṃ parihṛtya kartam

One who gives up the false ego of being the doer and accepts, with his whole being (ātmā), the shelter of He who is the supreme shelter Śrī Mukunda, becomes free from any obligations to the demigods, sages, living entities, family members and forefathers.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.29.34) also states:

martyo yadā tyakta-samasta-karmā niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
tadāmṛtatvaṃ pratipadyamāno mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai

When a person renounces all types of karma and completely surrenders himself to Me, by My will he becomes more opulent than a yogī or a jñānī. Within no time, he attains liberation (mukti) and becomes qualified to receive opulences like My own.

Another verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.9) states:

tāvat karmāṇi kurvīta na nirvidyeta yāvatā
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā śraddhā yāvan na jāyate

Until a person develops detachment from sense objects and attains faith in hearing narrations about Me, he should continue to perform his nitya (obligatory) and naimittika (incidental) duties.

Also, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.11.32) it says:

ājñāyaivaṃ guṇān doṣān mayādiṣṭān api svakān
dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān māṃ bhajeta sa tu sattamaḥ

Those who render service to Me, having abandoned all types of religious duties, and having understood the inherent positive and negative aspects of the prescribed duties instructed by Me in the Vedas, are counted among the best of sādhus.

It is necessary to explain the meaning of this Gītā verse in accordance with the above profound statements of Śrī Bhagavān, and to reconcile their meanings. The word pari (parityajya) indicates that the highest objective of these instructions is not to renounce the fruits of one’s duties. “Rather, you should take absolute shelter of Me and not surrender to dharma, jñāna, yoga or any of the demigods. Previously, it was stated that you do not have the qualification to perform exclusive devotion (ananyā-bhakti) to Me. Therefore, in statements such as yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi (Gītā 9.27), I have explained that your qualification is to perform bhakti along with your prescribed duty (karma-miśrā-bhakti). Now, however, I am mercifully bestowing upon you the qualification to execute aikāntika-bhakti, exclusive devotion. I have solemnly declared that this exclusive devotion is attained only by the great fortune of receiving the mercy of My aikāntika-bhaktas. But just as I will break My vow for Grandsire Bhīṣma, I am breaking this vow so as to personally bestow upon you the qualification to perform exclusive devotion. If you give up your regular and occasional duties (nitya-naimittika karma) just to pursue My order, you will not have to face any reaction. I alone, in the form of the Vedas, have given the instruction to perform nitya-karma, and now I am personally ordering you to give it up. If you accept My order, where is the possibility of your incurring sin by abandoning your regular prescribed duty (nitya-karma)? On the contrary, if you choose to ignore My direct order and instead continue to perform nitya-karma, then certainly you will incur sin. Know this for certain.”

If a person surrenders to someone, he remains under that person’s ownership and control, just like a purchased animal. Whatever the master commands him to do, he does that only; wherever he keeps him, he stays there only; whatever food he gives him, he eats that only. This is the fundamental principle of dharma, the symptom of which is full surrender, or śaraṇāgati.

The Vāyu Purāṇa lists the six aspects of śaraṇāgati:

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlyasya varjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṃ tathā
ātmā-nikṣepa-kārpaṇ ye ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ

The six types of surrender: (1) to accept that which is favourable to kṛṣṇa-bhakti, (2) to reject that which is unfavourable, (3) to have the strong faith ‘Bhagavān will protect me’, (4) to feel dependent, thinking ‘Bhagavān will take care of me’, (5) to be fully self-surrendered, and (6) to be humble.

To remain devotedly engaged for the pleasure of one’s worshipable deity, as established in the bhakti-śāstras, is favourable (ānukūlya), and any acts contrary to this are unfavourable (prātikūlya). Varaṇa, choosing Him as one’s maintainer, means to feel, ‘He alone is my protector; I have no one other than Him’. Rakṣiṣyati refers to the faith seen in those such as Gajendra and Draupadī: “Whenever I am threatened by some unfavourable situation, He will surely protect me.” Nikṣepaṇa means to devote one’s gross and subtle body, as well as one’s own self, for the sole purpose of serving Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Akārpaṇya means to not express one’s humility anywhere else [but to Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone]. When these six activities are performed to attain Bhagavān, it is called śaraṇāgati.

Arjuna may doubt, “If beginning from today, I surrender to You and You alone, then my sole duty is to remain surrendered, whether I attain auspiciousness or inauspiciousness, as You have described. In this way, Your engaging me in religious activity only is no cause for anxiety. But what will my destination be if You, the supremely independent Lord, engage me in sinful acts?” In response, Śrī Bhagavān says, “I will liberate you from all your accumulated sins, past and present, as well as from any sins I may cause you to perform. I am capable of liberating you from sin, unlike any other master. Having made you My instrument, I am giving you this instruction from scripture for the benefit of every human being.”

The meaning of śucaḥ is as follows:

“Do not worry for yourself or for others. I am bound by My vow to carry the burden of freeing any person like you, who is dedicated to remembering Me, from all his sins and deliver him from the cycle of birth and death. If such a person fixes his mind upon Me, completely giving up his sva-dharma or para-dharma and if he remains happily situated, having surrendered to Me, I am also bound to carry the burden of providing him with the means to achieve Me. What more can I say? I am even ready to accept the burden of maintaining his material life, as I stated when I spoke ananyāś cintayanto mām (Gītā 9.22).

“Do not grieve by thinking, ‘Alas! I have placed such a heavy load on my Lord and master!’ For Me, there is absolutely no labour involved in accepting this burden, for I am always kindly disposed towards My devotee (bhakta-vatsala) and am satya-saṅkalpa, one whose vows always hold true. This instruction eliminates the need for any other. I therefore conclude this scripture here.”

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

In the previous verse, Śrī Kṛṣṇa gave the most confidential instruction of Bhagavad-gītā concerning pure devotion (śuddha-bhakti). Now, in this present verse, He states that to become qualified to receive this śuddha-bhakti, it is first necessary to surrender exclusively to Him. Here, the word sarva-dharmān means that the practice of varṇāśrama-dharma, prescribed action (karma), knowledge (jñana), mystic perfection (yoga), demigod worship and any bodily or mental action apart from the path of bhajana of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, are all based on the bodily or mental platform and should be abandoned. It is not correct to think that the sole meaning of parityajya is to renounce attachment to prescribed duty and its results. The innermost intention of Bhagavān’s statement is to completely give up prescribed duty altogether. This is the deeper meaning of the prefix pari.

Someone may think that sinful reaction may be incurred by one who gives up all other dharma as described above, to exclusively surrender to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This doubt may exist in the minds of common, faithful persons, so to remove it, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has made this declaration, thus bestowing fearlessness upon them: “sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ–do not grieve; I will certainly free you from all types of sins.”

eta saba chāḍi āra varṇāśrama-dharma
akiñcana haīya laya kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 22.93)

One should give up the bad association of māyāvādīs, who are bereft of bhakti, as well as karmīs, yogīs, materialists, womanisers and those who associate with such womanisers. One should even give up varṇāśrama-dharma and take full shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and become humble, meek and devoid of attachment to material possessions.

One who does not follow this instruction cannot embrace the moods described in the previous verse. As long as one falsely identifies the body as his true self, he will fear that by abandoning dharma he will incur sin. For this reason, Śrī Bhagavān has to take a vow that He will free one from any sin incurred by giving up all dharma. Even after making this promise, He again raises His hand to reassure Arjuna and make him fearless. And he tells him, “Do not grieve.”

In the conversation between Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya (Rāya Rāmānanda Saṃvāda), Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that even this stage of devotion (sarva-dharmān parityajya–abandon all other dharma) is external, since a loving relationship with Kṛṣṇa is absent. It merely gives one the qualification required to understand the mood of the previous verse (18.65). One who does not become firmly fixed in the spirit of this verse will not be able to understand the purport of the previous one. It will be impossible, like trying to catch an imaginary flower in the sky. Pure devotees naturally possess a pure ego–‘I am a servant of Kṛṣṇa’–and therefore, they naturally renounce varṇāśrama-dharma of their own accord. No sin or irregularity affects them because they are completely renounced.

Such devotees are uttama-adhikārīs, the topmost class of Vaiṣṇava.

ājñāyaivaṃ guṇān doṣān mayā diṣṭān api svakān
dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān māṃ bhajeta sa ca sattamaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.11.32)

Those who render service to Me, having abandoned all types of dharma and having understood the inherent positive and negative aspects of prescribed duties as instructed by Me in the Vedas, are counted among the best of saintly persons.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura quotes Kṛṣṇa as saying, “I have instructed you in the various types of dharmas, or religious duties, such as varṇāśrama-dharma, yati-dharma (the renounced order), vairāgya (detachment), control of the mind and senses, meditation, and the acceptance of the domination of Īśvara, the Supersoul. I gave these instructions so that you can attain brahma-jñāna and īśvara-jñāna. Now, completely give up all these religious processes and exclusively surrender to Me, the Supreme Lord. Only if you surrender in this way will I deliver you from all types of sins, whether those sins are caused by material existence or by renouncing these other dharmas. You should not lament that you are not performing these activities. The true constitutional nature of the living entity is easily awakened by the performance of that bhakti which is transcendental to the modes of nature. One is not required to perform religious duties, prescribed duties, atonements and so forth, or jñāna, mysticism, meditation or any other process. In the conditioned state, one should perform bodily, mental and spiritual activities, but he should abandon any adherence to the impersonal feature of Bhagavān and surrender to Him, being attracted by His beauty and sweetness. This means that whatever karma an embodied living entity performs to maintain his life should be executed with these higher types of resolve (niṣṭhā). Those whose niṣṭhā is on a low level perform akarma–avoidance of one’s duty; vikarma–sinful activities; and so forth, which create unwanted obstacles and desires.

“The higher niṣṭhā is of three types: brahma-niṣṭhā (devotion to the Lord’s featureless aspect), īśvara-niṣṭhā (devotion to the Supersoul) and bhagavad-niṣṭhā (devotion to the Supreme Person). All processes such as varṇāśrama and renunciation assume their respective natures by adopting one of these types of niṣṭhā.

“Action that is performed with brahma-niṣṭhā manifests karma and jñāna. Action that is performed with īśvara-niṣṭhā manifests as offering one’s prescribed action to Īśvara and meditating upon Him. And action that is performed with bhagavad-niṣṭhā transforms into exclusive, pure devotion. Therefore, bhakti alone is the most confidential truth and prema is the supreme goal of life. This, only, is the principal teaching of Bhagavad-gītā. It may seem from external observation that the lifestyle of the karmīs, jñānīs and yogīs is just like that of the bhaktas, but their method of worship, their sādhana and their ultimate goal are vastly different.”

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