O Kṛṣṇa! you praise renunciation of actions and also the pursuit (of them). Tell me determinately which one of these two is superior.
The Deity said:
Renunciation and pursuit of action are both instruments of happiness. But of the two, pursuit of action is superior to renunciation of action. He should be understood to be always an ascetic, who has no aversion and no desire. For, O you of mighty arms! he who is free from the pairs of opposites is easily released from (all) bonds. Children--not wise men--talk of saṅkhya and yoga as distinct. One who pursues either well obtains the fruit of both. The seat which the sāṅkhyas obtain is reached by the yogas also. He sees (truly), who sees the sāṅkhya and yoga as one. Renunciation, O you of mighty arms! is difficult to reach without devotion; the sage possessed of devotion attains Brahman without delay. He who is possessed of devotion, whose self is pure, who has restrained his self, and who has controlled his senses, and who identifies his self with every being, is not tainted though he performs (actions). The man of devotion, who knows the truth, thinks he does nothing at all, when he sees, hears, touches, smells, eats, move-b, sleeps, breathes, talks, throws out, takes, opens or closes the eyelids; he holds that the senses deal with the objects of the senses. He who, casting off (all) attachment, performs actions dedicating them to Brahman, is not tainted by sin, as the lotus-leaf (is not tainted) by water. Devotees, casting off attachment, perform actions for attaining purity of self, with the body, the mind, the understanding, or even the senses--(all) free (from egoistic notions). He who is possessed of devotion, abandoning the fruit of actions, attains the highest tranquillity. He who is without devotion, and attached to the fruit (of action), is tied down by (reason of his) acting in consequence of (some) desire. The self-restrained, embodied (self) lies at case within the city of nine portals, renouncing all actions by the mind, not doing nor causing (any thing) to be done. The Lord is not the cause of actions, or of the capacity of performing actions amongst men, or of the connexion of action and fruit. But nature only works. The Lord receives no one's sin, nor merit either. Knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, hence all creatures are deluded. But to those who have destroyed that ignorance by knowledge of the self, (such) knowledge, like the sun, shows forth that supreme (principle). And those whose mind is (centred) on it, whose (very) self it is, who are thoroughly devoted to it, and whose final goal it is, go never to return, having their sins destroyed by knowledge. The wise look upon a Brāhmaṇa possessed of learning and humility, on a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a Śvapāka, as alike. Even here, those have conquered the material world, whose mind rests in equability; since Brahman is free from defects and equable, therefore they rest in Brahman. He who knows Brahman, whose mind is steady, who is not deluded, and who rests in Brahman, does not exult on finding anything agreeable, nor does he grieve on finding anything disagreeable. One whose self is not attached to external objects, obtains the happiness that is in (one's) self; and by means of concentration of mind, joining one's self (with the Brahman), one obtains indestructible happiness. For the enjoyments born of contact (between senses and their objects) are, indeed, sources of misery; they have a beginning as well as an end. O son of Kuntī! a wise man feels no pleasure in them. He who even in this world, before his release from the body, is able to bear the agitations produced from desire and wrath, is a devoted man, he is a happy man. The devotee whose happiness is within (himself), whose recreation is within (himself), and whose light (of knowledge) also is within (himself), becoming (one with) the Brahman, obtain the Brahmic bliss. The sages whose sins have perished, whose misgivings are destroyed, who are self-restrained, and who are intent on the welfare of all beings, obtain the Brahmic bliss. To the ascetics, who are free from desire and wrath, and whose minds are restrained, and who have knowledge of the self, the Brahmic bliss is on both sides (of death). The sage who excludes (from his mind) external objects, (concentrates) the visual power between the brows, and making the upward and downward life-breaths even, confines their movements within the nose, who restrains senses, mind, and understanding, whose highest goal is final emancipation, from whom desire, fear, and wrath have departed, is, indeed, for ever released (from birth and death). He knowing me to be the enjoyer of all sacrifices and penances, the great Lord of all worlds, and the friend of all beings, attains tranquillity.
Footnotes and references:
I. e. one who has performed 'renunciation.'
Those who follow the yoga 'path.' The form is noteworthy, grammatically.
I. e. 'attains true renunciation,' says Śaṅkara; Śrīdhara says, 'attains Brahman, after becoming a "renouncer."'
Here self is explained as body; in the line which goes before it is explained as heart.
These are the various operations of the organs of perception, action, &c.
A very common simile. Cf. inter alia Chāndogya-upaniṣad, p. 276; Sutta Nipāta, pp. 107-134; and Davids' Buddhism, p. 158 note.
Body = bathing, &c.; mind = meditation, &c.; understanding = ascertainment of truth; senses = hearing and celebrating God's name.
Cf. Praśnopaniṣad, p. 202; Śvetāśvatara, p. 332; Sutta Nipāta, p. 52. The Kaṭhopaniṣad has eleven portals (p. 132). The nine are the eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, and the two for excretions.
As regards the Lord's relation to man's merit or sin.
As manifestations of Brahman, though of different qualities and classes. As to Śvapāka, a very low caste, see Sutta Nipāta, p. 36.
As stated in the preceding words.
Kathopaniṣad, p. 100.
Cf. supra, p. 44.
He is one with the Brahman as he is intent exclusively on the Brahman.
The bliss of assimilation with the Brahman, or, as Rāmānuja puts it, the bliss of direct knowledge of the self.
Sutta Nipāta, p. 39; also Davids' Buddhism, p. 109.
Cf. Sutta Nipāta, p. 3.
Cf. infra, p. 18.
p. 57 and Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 157.