O you of mighty arms! O Hṛṣīkeśa! O destroyer of Keśin! I wish to know the truth about renunciation and abandonment distinctly.
The Deity said:
By renunciation the sages understand the rejection of actions done with desires. The wise call the abandonment of the fruit of all actions (by the name) abandonment. Some wise men say, that action should be abandoned as being full of evil; and others, that the actions of sacrifice, gift, and penance should not be abandoned. As to that abandonment, O best of the descendants of Bharata! listen to my decision; for abandonment, O bravest of men! is described (to be) threefold. The actions of sacrifice, gift, and penance should not be abandoned; they must needs be performed; for sacrifices, gifts, and penances are means of sanctification to the wise. But even these actions, O son of Pṛthā! should be performed, abandoning attachment and fruit; such is my excellent and decided opinion. The renunciation of prescribed action is not proper. Its abandonment through delusion is described as of the quality of darkness. When a man abandons action, merely as being troublesome, through fear of bodily affliction, he does not obtain the fruit of abandonment by making (such) passionate abandonment. When prescribed action is performed, O Arjuna! abandoning attachment and fruit also, merely because it ought to be performed, that is deemed (to be) a good abandonment. He who is possessed of abandonment, being full of goodness, and talented, and having, his doubts destroyed, is not averse from unpleasant actions, is not attached to pleasant (ones). Since no embodied (being) can abandon actions without exception, he is said to be possessed of abandonment, who abandons the fruit of action. The threefold fruit of action, agreeable, disagreeable, and mixed, accrues after death to those who are not possessed of abandonment, but never to renouncers. Learn from me, O you of mighty arms! these five causes of the completion of all actions, declared in the Sāṅkhya system. The substratum, the agent likewise, the various sorts of organs, and the various and distinct movements, and with these the deities, too, as the fifth. Whatever action, just or otherwise, a man performs with his body, speech, and mind, these five are its causes. That being so, the undiscerning man, who being of an unrefined understanding, sees the agent in the immaculate self, sees not (rightly). He who has no feeling of egoism, and whose mind is not tainted, even though he kills (all) these people, kills not, is not fettered, (by the action). Knowledge, the object of knowledge, the knower--threefold is the prompting to action. The instrument, the action, the agent, thus in brief is action threefold. Knowledge and action and agent are declared in the enumeration of qualities (to be) of three classes only, according to the difference of qualities. Hear about these also as they really are. Know that knowledge to be good, by which (a man) sees one entity, inexhaustible, and not different in all things (apparently) different (from one another). Know that knowledge to be passionate, which is (based) on distinctions (between different entities), which sees in all things various entities of different kinds. And that is described as dark, which clings to one created (thing) only as everything, which is devoid of reason, devoid of real principle, and insignificant. That action is called good, which is prescribed, which is devoid of attachment, which is not done from (motives of) affection or aversion, (and which is done) by one not wishing for the fruit. That is described as passionate, which (occasions) much trouble, is performed by one who wishes for objects of desire, or one who is full of egotism. The action is called dark, which is commenced through delusion, without regard to consequences, loss, injury, or strength. That agent is called good, who has cast off attachment, who is free from egotistic talk, who is possessed of courage and energy, and unaffected by success or ill-success. That agent is called passionate, who is full of affections, who wishes for the fruit of actions, who is covetous, cruel, and impure, and feels joy and sorrow. That agent is called dark, who is without application, void of discernment, headstrong, crafty, malicious, lazy, melancholy, and slow. Now hear, O Dhanañjaya! the threefold division of intelligence and courage, according to qualities, which I am about to declare exhaustively and distinctly. That intelligence, O son of Pṛthā! is good which understands action and inaction, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, danger and the absence of danger, emancipation and bondage. That intelligence, O son of Pṛthā! is passionate, by which one imperfectly understands piety and impiety, what ought to be done and also what ought not to be done. That intelligence, O son of Pṛthā! is dark, which shrouded by darkness, understands impiety (to be) piety, and all things incorrectly. That courage, O son of Pṛthā! is good courage, which is unswerving, and by which one controls the operations of the mind, breath, and senses, through abstraction. But, O Arjuna! that courage is passionate, by which one adheres to piety, lust, and wealth, and through attachment wishes, O son of Pṛthā! for the fruit, That courage is dark, O son of Pṛthā! by which an undiscerning man does not give up sleep, fear, sorrow, despondency, and folly. Now, O chief of the descendants of Bharata! bear from me about the three sorts of happiness. That happiness is called good, in which one is pleased after repetition (of enjoyment), and reaches the close of all misery, which is like poison first and comparable to nectar in the long run, and which is produced from a clear knowledge of the self. That happiness is called passionate, which (flows) from contact between the senses and their objects, and which is at first comparable to nectar and in the long run like poison. That happiness is described as dark, which arises from sleep, laziness, heedlessness, which deludes the self, both at first and in its consequences. There is no entity either on earth or in heaven among the gods, which is free from these three qualities born of nature. The duties of Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, and Vaiśyas, and of Śūdras, too, O terror of your foes! are distinguished according to the qualities born of nature. Tranquillity, restraint of the senses, penance, purity, forgiveness, straightforwardness, also knowledge, experience, and belief (in a future world), this is the natural duty of Brāhmaṇas. Valour, glory, Courage, dexterity, not slinking away from battle, gifts, exercise of lordly power, this is the natural duty of Kṣatriyas. Agriculture, tending cattle, trade, (this) is the natural duty of Vaiśyas, And the natural duty of Śūdras, too, consists in service. (Every) man intent on his own respective duties obtains perfection. Listen, now, how one intent on one's own duty obtains perfection. Worshipping, by (the performance of) his own duty, him from whom all things proceed, and by whom all this is permeated, a man obtains perfection. One's duty, though defective, is better than another's duty well performed. Performing the duty prescribed by nature, one does not incur sin. O son of Kuntī! one should not abandon a natural duty though tainted with evil; for all actions are enveloped by evil, as fire by smoke. One who is self-restrained, whose understanding is unattached everywhere, from whom affections have departed, obtains the supreme perfection of freedom from action by renunciation. Learn from me, only in brief, O son of Kuntī! how one who has obtained perfection attains the Brahman, which is the highest culmination of knowledge. A man possessed of a pure understanding, controlling his self by courage, discarding sound and other objects of sense, casting off affection and aversion; who frequents clean places, who eats little, whose speech, body, and mind are restrained, who is always intent on meditation and mental abstraction, and has recourse to unconcern, who abandoning egoism, stubbornness, arrogance, desire, anger, and (all) belongings, has no (thought that this or that is) mine, and who is tranquil, becomes fit for assimilation with the Brahman. Thus reaching the Brahman, and with a tranquil self, he grieves not, wishes not; but being alike to all beings, obtains the highest devotion to me. By (that) devotion he truly understands who I am and how great. And then understanding me truly, he forthwith enters into my (essence). Even performing all actions, always depending on me, he, through my favour, obtains the imperishable and eternal seat. Dedicating in thought all actions to me, be constantly given up to me, (placing) your thoughts on me, through recourse to mental abstraction. (Placing) your thoughts on me, you will cross over all difficulties by my favour. But if you will not listen through egotism, you will be ruined. If entertaining egotism, you think that you may not fight, vain, indeed, is that resolution of yours. Nature will constrain you. That, O son of Kuntī! which through delusion you do not wish to do, you will do involuntarily, tied down by your own duty, flowing from your nature. The lord, O Arjuna! is seated in the region of the heart of all beings, turning round all beings (as though) mounted on a machine, by his delusion. With him, O descendant of Bharata! seek shelter in every way; by his favour you will obtain the highest tranquillity, the eternal seat. Thus have I declared to you the knowledge more mysterious than any mystery. Ponder over it thoroughly, and then act as you like. Once more, listen to my excellent words-most mysterious of all. Strongly I like you, therefore I will declare what is for your welfare. On me (place) your mind, become my devotee, sacrifice to me, reverence me, you will certainly come to me. I declare to you truly, you are dear to me. Forsaking all duties, come to me as (your) sole refuge. I will release you from all sins. Be not grieved. This you should never declare to one who performs no penance, who is not a devotee, nor to one who does not wait on (some preceptor), nor yet to one who calumniates me. He who, with the highest devotion to me, will proclaim this supreme mystery among my devotees, will come to me, freed from (all) doubt. No one amongst men is superior to him in doing what is dear to me. And there will never be another on earth dearer to me than he. And he who will study this holy dialogue of ours, will, such is my opinion, have offered to me the sacrifice of knowledge. And the man, also, who with faith and without carping will listen (to this), will be freed (from sin), and attain to the holy regions of those who perform pious acts. Have you listened to this, O son of Pṛthā! with a mind (fixed) on (this) one point only? Has your delusion (caused) by ignorance been destroyed, O Dhanañjaya?
Thus did I hear this dialogue between Vāsudeva and the high-minded son of Pṛthā, (a dialogue) wonderful and causing the hair to stand on end. By the favour of Vyāsa, I heard this highest mystery, (this) devotion, from Kṛṣṇa himself, the lord of the possessors of mystic power, who proclaimed it in person. O king! remembering and (again) remembering this wonderful and holy dialogue of Keśava and Arjuna, I rejoice over and over again. And remembering and (again) remembering that excessively wonderful form of Hari also, great is my amazement, O king! and I rejoice over and over again. Wherever (is) Kṛṣṇa, the lord of the possessors of mystic power, wherever (is the (great) archer, the son of Prithā, there in my opinion (are) fortune, victory, prosperity, and eternal justice.
Footnotes and references:
Without delusion no such abandonment will occur.
Namely, final emancipation, by means of purity of heart.
I. e. who has the frame of mind necessary for a good abandonment.
Such as bathing at midday in summer.
Cf. p. 53 supra.
The original is sannyāsi, but Śrīdhara is probably right in taking it to mean one who has command of 'abandonment.' Śaṅkara and Madhusūdana, however, take the word in its ordinary sense of 'ascetic.' What follows explains, says Śrīdhara, why 'the fruit does not accrue to renouncers.'
Śaṅkara and Madhusūdana say this means Vedānta-śāstra. Śrīdhara suggests also the alternative Sāṅkhya-sāstra. Substratum =the body, in which desire, aversion, &c. are manifested; agent = one who egoistically thinks himself the doer of actions; organs = senses of perception, action, &c.; movements = of the vital breaths in the body; deities = the deities which preside over the eye and other senses (as to this cf. Aitareya-upaniṣad, p. 45; Praśna, pp. 216, 217; Muṇḍaka, p. 314; Aitareya-āraṇyaka. pp. 88-270: and Max Müller's Hibbert Lectures, p. 204, note).
Cf. p. 106.
Egoism = the feeling that he is the doer of the action; taint = the feeling that the fruit of the action must accrue to him.
Cf. p. 45, and Dhammapada, stanza 294.
Knowledge, i.e. that something is a means to what is desired; object is the means; the knower is he who has this knowledge. When these-co-exist we have action. The instrument = senses, &c.
The system of Kapila.
Cf. p. 104.
Cf. Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 129.
Reason = argument in support; real principle = truth, view of things as they are; insignificant, i. e. in comprehensiveness.
I. e. 'pride of learning,' &c., Śaṅkara; 'egoism,' Rāmānuga.
Consequences = good or evil resulting; loss = of wealth or strength; injury = to others; strength = one's own capacity.
I. e. 'for children,' &c., according to Śrīdhara; 'for the action,' according to others.
I. e. attention to work; melancholy = always desponding and wanting in energy.
The nature of the faculty of understanding; and courage is the firmness of that faculty.
See p. 115. Śaṅkara takes these to mean the 'paths' of action and knowledge, and Nīlakaṇṭha takes the next expression to mean that which is constant and that which is not constant--nitya, anitya.
Always co-existing with mental abstraction and supporting it.
Three of the aims of mankind, the highest being final emancipation. In the view of the Gītā, piety, leading only to heaven, is of doubtful benefit.
I. e. to the action for attaining them, in the belief that one is p. 126 the doer of it; the 'fruit' scil. of the action performed with an eye to the three things named.
Not at once, as in the case of sensuous pleasures.
Cf. p. 51. The original has also been rendered by 'tranquillity of one's own mind.'
Cf. p. 59.
I. e. resulting from control of the mind, purity here is both external and internal. And see p. 119.
I. e. in battle, Nīlakaṇṭha seems to say. Śaṅkara says it means ready resource whenever occasion arises.
I. e. 'power to restrain people from going astray.' Nīlakaṇṭha.
Eligibility for the path of knowledge.
Cf. p. 56.
Cf. p. 121; the evil appears to be the quality of 'fettering' the soul.
Śrīdhara compares p. 65 (V. 13) and distinguishes this from p. 64 (V, 8 seq.) Śaṅkara says the perfection here spoken of is emancipation, and it is obtained by true knowledge.
Abstraction is concentrated and exclusive meditation, Śaṅkara. The other commentators take dhyānayoga as meditation simply,--as treated of in chapter VI, says Nīlakaṇṭha.
See p. 52.
I. e. comprehending his identity with the Brahman.
Cf. p. 55.
Pride of learning and cleverness, or of piety. See p. 124, note .
The nature of a Kṣatriya, Śaṅkara.
Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad, pp. 333-345; Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 157.
Cf. p. 114; by thought, word, and deed.
Of caste or order, such as Agnihotra and so forth.
All that has been taught in the Gītā.
Śrīdhara renders this to mean, 'who performs no pious acts.'
I. e. of God and a preceptor. Cf. last stanza of Śvetāśvataropaniṣad.
Cf. p. 62. Śaṅkara says all these elements must co-exist to give eligibility.
I. e. belief that in disseminating it, he is serving me. Cf. Kaṭhopaniṣad, p. 120.
Which is the best of sacrifices; see p. 62.
Cf. p. 72.
I. e. understand my real essence, what I am, &c.
As to whether the battle was right or not.
The work is so called, as it refers to devotion.
Prosperity is the greater development of fortune.