SALVATION THROUGH RENUNCIATION
I wish to know the nature of renunciation and sacrifice, and the difference between the two, O Lord Krishna. (18.01)
DEFINITION OF RENUNCIATION AND SACRIFICE
Lord Krishna said: The sages define renunciation as abstaining from all work for personal profit. The wise define sacrifice as the sacrifice of, and the freedom from, a selfish attachment to the fruits of all work. (See also 5.01, 5.05, and 6.01) (18.02)
We have used the word ‘renunciation’ for Samnyasa, and ‘sacrifice’ for Tyaga in this rendering. A renunciant (Samnyasi) does not own anything. A true renunciant works for others and lives for – not on – others. Samnyasa means complete renunciation of doership, ownership, and personal selfish motive behind an action, whereas Tyaga means renunciation of the selfish attachment to the fruits of all work, or working just for God. A person who does sacrificial services (Seva) for God is called Tyagi or a KarmaYogi. Thus a Tyagi who thinks that he or she is doing all works just to please God will always remember Him. Therefore, it is mentioned in verse 12.12 that Tyaga is the best spiritual practice. The words “Samnyasa” and “Tyaga” are used interchangeably in the Gita because there is no real difference between the two (See verses 5.04, 5.05, 6.01, and 6.02). According to the Gita, Samnyasa does not mean living in the forest or any other secluded place outside society. Samnyasa is a state of mind that is completely detached from the outcome or the fruits of work.
Everybody desires peace of mind, but that is only possible for one who works for God without being attached to results – and dedicates the results of all work to God. This is not necessarily the same as offering all one’s material wealth and possessions to one’s guru as propagated by some sects.
Some philosophers say that all work is full of faults and should be given up, while others say that acts of sacrifice, charity, and austerity should not be abandoned. (18.03)
O Arjuna, listen to My conclusion about sacrifice. Sacrifice is said to be of three types. (18.04)
Acts of service, charity, and austerity should not be abandoned, but should be performed because service, charity, and austerity are the purifiers of the wise. (18.05)
Even these obligatory works should be performed without attachment to the fruits. This is My definite supreme advice, O Arjuna. (18.06)
THREE TYPES OF SACRIFICE
Giving up one’s duty is not proper. The abandonment of obligatory work is due to delusion and is declared to be in the mode of ignorance. (18.07)
One who abandons duty merely because it is difficult or because of fear of bodily affliction, does not get the benefits of sacrifice by performing such a sacrifice in the mode of passion. (18.08)
Obligatory work performed as duty, renouncing selfish attachment to the fruit, is alone to be regarded as sacrifice in the mode of goodness, O Arjuna. (18.09)
Renunciation of attachment to sensual pleasures is the real sacrifice (Tyaga). The perfection of Tyaga comes only after a person becomes free from the clutches of attachments and aversions (MB 12.162.17). There is no eye better than the eye of Self-knowledge, no austerity better than truth, no pain greater than attachment, and no pleasure greater than Tyaga (MB 12.175.35). One cannot become happy without Tyaga; one cannot become fearless without Tyaga; and one cannot attain God without Tyaga (MB 12.176.22). Even the bliss of trance should not be enjoyed just for the sake of enjoyment. The Gita recommends renunciation while living in the world – not renunciation of the world as commonly misinterpreted.
Christ said: If you want perfection, give away everything you have, and then follow Me (Matthew 19.21). No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and mammon – the material desires (Matthew 6.24, Luke 16.13). Christ did not hesitate to sacrifice his own life for the noble teachings. Lord Rama gave up His kingdom and even His wife for the establishment of righteousness (Dharma). Give up attachment and attain perfection by renunciation is the message of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Selfless service or “Tyaga” is the essence of the Gita as given in this last chapter. A person who is Tyagi cannot commit sin and is released from the cycles of transmigration. One can cross the ocean of transmigration and reach the shores of salvation in this very life by the boat of Tyaga.
The Nine Types of Renunciation leading to salvation, based on the teachings of the Gita, are: (1) Renunciation of actions forbidden by the scriptures (16.23-24), (2) Renunciation of lust, anger, greed, fear, likes and dislikes, and jealousy (3.34, 16.21); (3) Spurning of procrastination in the search of Truth (12.09), (4) Giving up feeling pride in one’s knowledge, detachment, devotion, wealth, and charitable deeds (15.05, 16.01-04); (5) Rejection of selfish motives and attachment to the fruits of all works (2.51, 3.09, 4.20, 6.10), (6) Renunciation of the feeling of doership in all undertakings (12.13, 18.53), (7) Giving up thoughts of using the Lord to fulfill selfish, material desires (2.43, 7.16); (8) Spurning attachments to material objects, such as a house, wealth, position, and power (12.19, 13.09); and (9) Sacrifice of wealth, prestige, and even life for a noble cause and protection of righteousness (Dharma) (2.32, 4.28).
One who neither hates a disagreeable work, nor is attached to an agreeable work, is considered a renunciant (Tyagi), imbued with the mode of goodness, intelligent, and free from all doubts about the Supreme Being. (18.10)
Human beings cannot completely abstain from work. Therefore, one who completely renounces selfish attachment to the fruits of all work is considered a renunciant. (18.11)
The threefold fruit of works — desirable, undesirable, and mixed – accrues after death to one who is not a renunciant (Tyagi), but never to a Tyagi. (18.12)
FIVE CAUSES OF ANY ACTION
Learn from Me, O Arjuna, the five causes, as described in the Sankhya doctrine, for the accomplishment of all actions. They are: The physical body, the seat of Karma; the modes of material Nature, the doer; the eleven organs of perception and action, the instruments; various life forces; and the fifth, the presiding deities of the eleven organs. (18.13-14)
These are the five causes of whatever action, whether right or wrong, one performs by thought, word, and deed. (18.15)
Therefore, the one who considers one’s body or the Spirit (Atma, soul) as the sole agent, do not understand, due to imperfect knowledge. (18.16)
One who is free from the notion of doership and whose intellect is not polluted by the desire to reap the fruit – even after slaying these people – neither slays nor is bound by the act of killing. (18.17)
Those who are free from the notion of doership, free from likes and dislikes of their work, and detached from the fruits of work become free from Karmic reactions even for the act of killing.
The subject, the object, and the knowledge of the object are the threefold driving force to an action. The eleven organs, the act, and the agent or the modes of material Nature are the three components of action. (18.18)
THREE TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE
Self-knowledge, action, and agent are said to be of three types, according to Sankhya doctrine. Hear duly about these also. (18.19)
The knowledge by which one sees one and the same immutable, undivided divinity in all creatures, such knowledge is in the mode of goodness. (See also 11.13, and 13.16) (18.20)
The knowledge by which one sees each individual as different and separate from one another; such knowledge is in the mode of passion. (18.21)
The irrational, baseless, and worthless knowledge by which one clings to one single effect – such as the body – as if it is everything, such knowledge is in the mode of darkness of ignorance (18.22)
THREE TYPES OF ACTION
Obligatory duty performed without likes and dislikes and without selfish motives and attachment to the fruit, is in the mode of goodness. (18.23)
Action performed with ego, with selfish motives, and with too much effort, is in the mode of passion. (18.24)
Action that is undertaken because of delusion, disregarding consequences, loss, injury to others, as well as one’s own ability, is in the mode of ignorance. (18.25)
THREE TYPES OF AGENT
The agent who is free from attachment, is non-egotistic, endowed with resolve and enthusiasm, and unperturbed in success or failure is called good. (18.26)
The agent who is impassioned, who desires the fruits of work, who is greedy, violent, impure, and affected by joy and sorrow, is called passionate. (18.27)
The agent who is undisciplined, vulgar, stubborn, wicked, malicious, lazy, depressed, and procrastinating is called ignorant. (18.28)
THREE TYPES OF INTELLECT
Now hear Me explain, fully and separately, the threefold division of intellect and resolve, based on modes of material Nature, O Arjuna. (18.29)
O Arjuna, that intellect is in the mode of goodness which understands the path of work and the path of renunciation, right and wrong action, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation. (18.30)
That intellect is in the mode of passion which cannot distinguish between righteousness (Dharma) and unrighteousness (Adharma), and right and wrong action, O Arjuna. (18.31)
That intellect is in the mode of ignorance which accepts unrighteousness (Adharma) as righteousness (Dharma) and thinks everything to be that which it is not, O Arjuna. (18.32)
THREE TYPES OF RESOLVE, AND THE FOUR GOALS OF HUMAN LIFE
That resolve is in the mode of goodness by which one manipulates the functions of the mind, Prana (Life forces, bioimpulses) and senses for God-realization only, O Arjuna. (18.33)
That resolve is in the mode of passion by which one, craving for the fruits of work, clings to duty, wealth, and pleasure with great attachment, O Arjuna. (18.34)
Doing one’s duty, earning wealth, material enjoyment, and attaining salvation are the four noble goals of human life for the householder in the Vedic tradition. Lord Rama said: One who is engaged only in sense gratification, abandoning duty and earning wealth, soon gets into trouble (VR 2.53.13). One who uses duty, earning wealth, and enjoying sensual pleasure in a balanced manner without any one of the three being harmed by the other two attains salvation (MB 9.60.22). A person completely involved in acquiring and preserving material wealth and possessions has no time for Self-realization (MB 12.07.41). One can obtain all four noble goals by devotion to the Lord (VP 1.18.24). One should first follow Dharma by doing one’s duty righteously. Then one should earn money and make economic progress, fulfill all noble material and spiritual desires with the money earned, and progress towards salvation, the only noble goal of human birth.
As human beings are always afraid of death, a rich person is always afraid of the tax collector, thieves, relatives, and natural disasters (MB 3.02.39). There is great pain in accumulating, protecting, and losing wealth. The desire for wealth accumulation is never satisfied; therefore, the wise consider contentment as the supreme pleasure (MB 3.02.46). People are never satisfied with wealth and material possessions (KaU 1.27). One should always remember that we are just the trustees of all wealth and possessions.
That resolve is in the mode of ignorance by which a dull person does not give up sleep, fear, grief, despair, and carelessness, O Arjuna. (18.35)
THREE TYPES OF PLEASURE
And now hear from Me, O Arjuna, about the threefold pleasure. The pleasure that one enjoys from spiritual practice results in cessation of all sorrows. (18.36)
The pleasure that appears as poison in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end, comes by the grace of Self-knowledge and is in the mode of goodness. (18.37)
One who enjoys the ocean of the nectar of devotion has no use for the sensual pleasures that are like water of a pond (BP 6.12.22). The river of material joy dries up quickly after the rainy season if there is no perennial source of spiritual water. Material objects are like straws to a Self-realized person.
Sensual pleasures that appear as nectar in the beginning, but become poison in the end, are in the mode of passion. (See also 5.22) (18.38)
Two paths – the beneficial spiritual path and the pleasant path of sensual pleasure – are open to us. The wise choose the former while the ignorant chooses the latter (KaU 2.02). Sensual pleasures wear out the vigor of the senses and bring diseases in the end (KaU 1.26). Sensual pleasure is not the object of precious human birth. Even heavenly enjoyment is temporary and ends in sorrow. Those who are attached to sensual delights are like fools who choose poison in exchange for the nectar of devotion (TR 7.43.01). The ignorant ones, due to delusion, do not think that they are taking poison while drinking it. They only know after the result, and then it is too late (VR 7.15.19). It is the natural tendency of the senses to go easily toward external sensual pleasures as water flows downstream. Regrets follow the fulfillment of all sensual and material desires.
Worldly pleasure is like a mirage in the desert. Thirsty persons reckon it as water until they come to drink it and find nothing. Worldly happiness is temporary and flickering, whereas happiness derived from spiritual life is permanent and continuous. Ramakrishna said: One does not feel intensely restless for God until all worldly desires are satisfied. Manu is of the opinion that it may be easier to control the senses after enjoying sense pleasure and discovering its uselessness and harmfulness (MS 2.96). Desirelessness comes easily after most of our desires are fulfilled. A person may be healthy and wealthy but still unhappy without a taste of spiritual pleasure. A spiritually mature person does not miss worldly pleasures.
Pleasure that confuses a person in the beginning and in the end as a result of sleep, laziness, and carelessness, is in the mode of ignorance. (18.39)
There is no being, either on the earth or among the celestial controllers in the heaven, who can remain free from these three modes of material Nature. (18.40)
DIVISION OF LABOR IS BASED ON ONE’S ABILITY
The division of human labor into four catagories is also based on the qualities inherent in peoples’ nature or their make up. (See also 4.13) (18.41)
In the ancient Vedic system, activities of human beings were categorized into four social orders, based on the three modes of material Nature. These four orders are often mistaken for the caste system of modern times in India and elsewhere that is based on birth only. These four, universal, social orders of human society, as described by Lord Krishna, relate to persons’ nature, quality, and work, not their birth. Those who were dominated by the mode of goodness and were peaceful and self-controlled were called Braahmans. Those who were controlled by passion and preferred to engage in administration and protective services were labeled Kshatriyas. Those under the mixed modes of passion and ignorance, engaged in farming and trades, were called Vaishyas. Those mostly in the lowest mode of ignorance were called Shudras, and their nature was to serve the other three social orders.
The Vedas compare human society with a person whose four main limbs represent the four broad types of works and workers in society. The Vedas also state that their words are for all mankind, for all people (YV 26.02). There are only two types (or castes) of people – the decent and the indecent (Gita 16.06).
Intellectuals who have serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, patience, honesty, transcendental knowledge, transcendental experience, and belief in God are labeled as intellectuals (Braahmans). (18.42)
An intellectual is one who has the above-mentioned qualities (MB 3.180.21). Anybody may be called ‘intellectual’ if he or she possesses the divine gift of Self-knowledge (RV 10.125.05, AV 4.30.03). Intellectualism is an acquirement – a quality or state of mind – rather than a caste or creed. The illuminated ones who know the Absolute Truth and are in touch with the Supreme Being are the real Braahmans and are next to God. All are born equal, but can become superior or inferior by deeds only.
Whenever a sector of any society gives predominance to caste, creed, race, religion, color, gender, or place of birth over the ability of an individual, the seeds of that society’s downfall and inefficiency are planted and begin to grow. The devil of discrimination knows no national boundaries. It is unfortunately practiced by ignorant persons all over the world in one form or another. It is a human temptation and a manifestation of a superiority complex. The wise should try to overcome all types and shades of bias. All are the children of God, equal in His eyes, and should be treated as such. A person, for the progress of society, must be judged by his or her ability – not by any other standard.
Those having the qualities of heroism, vigor, firmness, dexterity, steadfastness in battle, charity, and administrative skills are called leaders or protectors (Kshatriyas). (18.43)
The ideal protector possesses uncompromising, unrelenting opposition to evil-doers in society. The duty (Dharma) of a protector is to fight all unrighteousness (Adharma) and injustice in society.
Those who are good at cultivation, cattle rearing, business, trade, finance, and industry are known as business men (Vaishyas). Those who are very good in service and labor are classed as workers (Shudras). (18.44)
A Shudra is a person who is ignorant of spiritual knowledge and identifies with the material body due to ignorance. According to Lord Krishna, these four designations or types are not determined by birth. A Shudra-type person may be born in any family. The results of one’s previous activities or Karma return as one’s nature and habits.
People are either born with certain qualities or develop them through training and effort. One who does not have the requisite qualities of the four social orders of society, cannot be categorized improperly by virtue of birth or position only.
ATTAINMENT OF SALVATION THROUGH DUTY, DISCIPLINE, AND DEVOTION
One can attain the highest perfection by devotion to one’s natural work. Listen to Me how one attains perfection while engaged in one’s natural work. (18.45)
One attains perfection by worshipping the Supreme Being – from whom all beings originate and by whom all this universe is pervaded – through performance of one’s natural duty dedicated to Him. (See also 9.27, 12.10) (18.46)
One’s inferior natural work is better than superior unnatural work, even though well performed. One who does the work ordained by one’s inherent nature, without any selfish motive, incurs no sin (or Karmic reaction). (See also 3.35) (18.47)
One’s natural work, even though defective, should not be abandoned because all undertakings are enveloped by defects as fire is covered by smoke, O Arjuna. (18.48)
Nothing in this world has only good or only bad qualities. There is no perfect undertaking. All ventures have both good and bad aspects (MB 12.15.50). It is not what you do – but how you do it – that is important. Work becomes worship when done with an attitude of adoration of the Lord.
The person whose mind is always free from selfish attachment, who has subdued the mind and senses, and who is free from desires, attains the supreme perfection of freedom from the bondage of Karma by renouncing selfish attachment to the fruits of work. (18.49)
Learn from Me briefly, O Arjuna, how one who has attained such perfection, or the freedom from the bondage of Karma, attains Supreme Being, the goal of transcendental knowledge. (18.50)
Endowed with purified intellect; subduing the mind with firm resolve; turning away from sound and other objects of the senses; giving up likes and dislikes; living in solitude; eating lightly; controlling the mind, speech, and organs of action; ever absorbed in yoga of meditation; taking refuge in detachment; and relinquishing egotism, violence, pride, lust, anger, and proprietorship – one becomes peaceful, free from the notion of “I, me, and my”, and fit for attaining oneness with the Supreme Being. (18.51-53)
When the torch of meditation fuses Selfless service, Self-knowledge, and devotional love during the thoughtless state of trance, the rays of enlightenment radiate, divine communion is perfected, the fog of ignorance disappears, and all material and sensual desires evaporate from the mind.
Absorbed in the Supreme Being, the serene one neither grieves nor desires. Becoming impartial to all beings, one obtains the highest devotional love for God. (18.54)
By devotion one truly understands what and who I am in essence. Having known Me in essence, one immediately merges with Me. (See also 5.19) (18.55)
There is no doubt God can be known only through faith and unswerving devotion (BP 11.14.21). There are numerous spiritual practices – not just one – prescribed in the scriptures to get that faith and unswerving devotion. Knowledge and devotion are one and the same like a tree and its seed. The entire process of spirituality gets started by the spark of grace that comes only as faith, and not by any other method.
Delusion of Maya prevents people from knowing and seeing God. As one cannot see the ever-existing salt in ocean water with the eye, but can taste it by the tongue, similarly, the Self can be realized only by faith and devotion, not by logic and reasoning. God may be realized not only by meditation and Self-knowledge, but also through ecstatic personal love and intense devotion to one’s personal deity.
Only they know You to whom You make Yourself known; the moment one knows You, one becomes one with You (TR 2.126.02). The knower of the Spirit becomes like Spirit (BrU 1.04.10, MuU 3.02.09). The Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17.21). No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless one is born again (by realizing that one is not this body, but Spirit behind the body) (John 3.03). Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child, will never go there (Mark 10.15). The Father and I are one (John 10.30). To truly understand God is to become one with God.
A KarmaYogi devotee attains the eternal immutable abode by My grace – even while doing all duties – just by taking refuge in Me (by dedicating all action to Me with loving devotion). (18.56)
Sincerely offer all actions to Me, set Me as your supreme goal, and completely depend on Me. Always fix your mind on Me and resort to KarmaYoga. (18.57)
Everything we use or eat should be first offered to the Lord, the giver of all things, before we put it to our own use. This includes – but is not limited to – food, a new dress, a new car, a new house, and a new baby. Offering everything to the Lord is the highest form of worship that one has to learn and practice every day. According to Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji) this verse means to have His name in your heart and on your lips, and to have His work in your hands.
KarmaYoga saves one from being entangled in the wheels of transmigration and leads to liberation. KarmaYoga is recommended even for one who does not believe in God, who has no knowledge of God, who has no faith and devotion, and consequently cannot follow any other spiritual path.
You shall overcome all difficulties by My grace when your mind becomes fixed on Me. But if you do not listen to Me due to ego, you shall perish. (18.58)
KARMIC BONDAGE AND THE FREE WILL
If due to ego you think: I shall not fight, your resolve is vain because your own nature will compel you to fight. (18.59)
O Arjuna, you are controlled by your own nature-born Karmic impressions. Therefore, you shall do – even against your will – what you do not wish to do out of delusion. (18.60)
The mind often knows right and wrong, but it runs after evil – reluctantly – by the force of Karmic footprints. The wise should always keep this in mind before finding fault with others.
WE BECOME THE PUPPETS OF OUR OWN FREEWILL
To satisfy the free will of the ignorant, overwhelmed by the three modes of material Nature, the good Lord creates an environment conducive for engaging in unwanted actions. Our free will is like the very limited freedom of a dog on a leash. As a facilitator, God reciprocates with everyone according to their desires and allows them to fulfill desires generated by free will. Lord uses His illusory kinetic energy called Maya to engage the living entities in good and bad acts according to their desires and their previously accumulated good and bad Karma.
The Supreme Lord — as the controller abiding in the inner psyche of all beings — causes them to work out their Karma like a puppet (of Karma created by the free will) mounted on a machine. (18.61)
The Supreme Controller (Ishvara) is the reflection of the Supreme Spirit in the body. The Supreme Lord organizes, controls, and directs everything in the universe.
The Lord has made Karmic laws as the controller of all living beings. Therefore, one must learn to gladly endure all that fate imposes by taking refuge in Him and following the commandments (TR 2.218.02). Vedas declare that the Lord, using Karma, makes us dance as a juggler would make his monkey dance (TR 4.6.12). Without the laws of Karma, the scriptural injunctions, prohibitions as well as self-effort would have no value at all. Karma is the eternal justice and the eternal law. As a result of the working of eternal justice, there can be no escape from the consequences of our deeds. We become the product of our own past thinking and action. Therefore, we must think and act wisely at the present moment, using the scriptures as a guide.
The doctrine of Karma and reincarnation is also found in the following two verses of the Koran: Allah is He who created you and then sustained you, then causes you to die, then gives life to you again (Surah 30.40). He may reward those who believe and do good works. No one is able to escape His law of consequences (Surah 30.45). People cannot escape from the consequences of their deeds, for as we sow, so we reap. Cause and effect cannot be separated because the effect exists in the cause as the fruit exists in the seed. Good and evil deeds follow us continually like our shadows.
The Bible also says: Whosoever shedeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Genesis 9.06). It is believed that all references to Karma and reincarnation were taken out of the Bible during the second century with the noble aim of encouraging people to strive hard for perfection during this very life. Those who believe in reincarnation must avoid laziness and procrastination, stress intense spiritual discipline, and try their best to get Self-realization in this very life as if there were no reincarnation. Live as though this is your last day on this earth. One cannot achieve anything through laziness and procrastination.
One cannot take wealth, fame, and power from here to hereafter; but one can convert these into good or bad Karma and carry it into the next life. Even death cannot touch one’s Karma. Those who have acted very piously in the past life achieve fame in this life without much endeavor.
Seek refuge in the Supreme Lord alone, with loving devotion, O Arjuna. By His grace you shall attain supreme peace and the Eternal Abode. (18.62)
Thus, I have explained the knowledge that is more secret than the secret. After fully reflecting on this, do as you wish. (18.63)
PATH OF SURRENDER IS THE ULTIMATE PATH TO GOD
Hear once again My most secret, supreme word. You are very dear to Me; therefore, I shall tell this for your benefit. (18.64)
Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, offer service to Me, bow down to Me, and you shall certainly reach Me. I promise you because you are My very dear friend. (18.65)
Set aside all meritorious deeds and religious rituals, and just surrender completely to My will with firm faith and loving devotion. I shall liberate you from all sins, the bonds of Karma. Do not grieve. (18.66)
The meaning of abandoning all duties and taking refuge in the Lord is that a seeker should perform all duties without selfish attachment as an offering to the Lord and totally depend only on the Lord for help and guidance. The Lord takes full responsibility for a person who totally depends on Him. If you find a good solution and get attached to it, the solution will soon become your next problem. The scripture says: The wise should not be attached even to righteous deeds for their entire life, but should engage their mind and intellect in contemplation of the Supreme Being (MB 12.290.21). One should develop a spirit of genuine self-surrender to the Lord by offering everything to Him, including the fruits of spiritual discipline. We should connect all our work with the divine. The world is controlled by the laws or will of God. One has to learn to abide by His will. Be thankful in prosperity and resigned to His will in adversity.
In order to be free from pious or impious results that bind one to this material world, it is necessary to offer every action to God. When a devotee sincerely works for God, God protects that devotee from the touch of Maya, the external energy of the Lord. If one voluntarily depends on the supreme Lord under all circumstances, then the good and bad results (sins) of work automatically go to Him, and one is free from sin.
A true devotee perceives: O Lord, I remembered You because You remembered me first. One breaks away every yoke of bondage and becomes free in this very life as soon as one gains the knowledge and a firm conviction that everything is done by the will of God, that it is His world, His sport, and His battle, not ours, and regards oneself as a mere actor in the divine play and the Lord as the great director in the cosmic drama of the soul on the stage of creation. Surrendering of individual will to divine will is the culmination of all spiritual practices, resulting in joyful participation in the drama of joys and sorrows of life. This is called liberation, or Mahayana in Buddhism. One cannot see God as long as one does not completely get rid of the notion of doership and ownership. The grace of God is triggered when one becomes firmly convinced that one is not the doer and at once becomes free in this very life. Lord arranges for the science of Self-realization to be revealed to a surrendered soul.
Surrendering to God does not involve leaving the world, but realizing that everything happens in accordance with His laws and by His direction and power. To fully recognize that everything is controlled and governed by a divine plan is to surrender to Him. In surrender one lets the divine plan rule one’s life without giving up one’s best effort. It is the complete renunciation of individual existence or the ego. It is the feeling: O my beloved Lord, nothing is mine, everything — including my body, mind, and ego — is Yours. I am not God, but a servant of God; save me from the ocean of transmigration. I tried to get out of the ocean of the material world using all the methods given in the scriptures, and failed. Now I have discovered the ultimate process — the process of seeking divine grace through prayer and surrender. God can be discovered by seeking His help in discovering Him and not by spiritual practices alone. Thus, one should start the spiritual journey as a dualist, experience monism, and again come back to dualism. A successful journey begins and ends at the same place.
The process of surrender may be called the fifth or the ultimate path of yoga – the other four being the path of selfless service, metaphysical knowledge, devotion, and meditation. The Good Lord directs the mind and senses of the living entities according to their Karma-born desires. But in case of surrendered devotees, however, He controls the senses directly according to His desires and in the best interest of the devotee. Let Him be the driver of your spiritual journey and you just enjoy the ride. Muniji beautifully explains this process. He says: Every pain, every ache, every discomfort becomes His gift and grace when you lay it in His lap. If you put the reins of your life-chariot in His hands, you will be ever happy, ever peaceful. This is the lesson of ultimate surrender.
It is the divine grace or power that comes in the form of self-effort. The divine grace and self-effort, as well as dualism and monism, are nothing but two sides of the same coin of Reality. The grace of God is always available — one has to collect it. To win the grace is not easy. One has to earn it by sincere, spiritual discipline and effort. Grace is the cream of that effort — our own good Karma. It is said that self-effort is absolutely necessary, but the last rung of the ladder to the Supreme is not self-effort, but praying for His grace in the spirit of surrender. When everything is surrendered to Him and one truly understands that He is the goal, the path, the traveler, as well as the obstacles on the path, vice and virtue become powerless and harmless as a cobra with fangs removed.
According to Shankara, if any object other than the Supreme Being — the Cosmic Energy Field — appears to exist, it is unreal like a mirage or like the presence of a snake in the rope. When one firmly understands that there is nothing else except the Supreme Being and His sport, all Karma gets exhausted; one surrenders to His will, and attains salvation. Yukteshwar said: Human life is beset with sorrow until we know how to surrender or tune in with the divine will that baffles our intellect. The Koran says: Whoever follows My guidance, no fear shall come upon them; neither shall they grieve (Surah 2.38). The Upanishad says: The knower of the Supreme goes beyond grief.
This knowledge should never be spoken by you to one who is devoid of austerity, who is without devotion, who does not desire to listen, or who speaks ill of Me. (18.67)
To speak of wisdom to a deluded person, to glorify sacrifice to a greedy person, to advise sense control to an irascible person, and to discourse on Lord Rama’s exploits to a lecher, is as useless as sowing seed on barren ground (TR 5.57.01-02). It is not for any soul to believe, save by the permission of Allah. You should not compel one to believe (Surah 10.100-101). Anyone to whom God has not granted the light (of knowledge) will have no light (Surah 24.40). The study of Gita is meant only for sincere persons. According to Ramakrishna, one can understand Him as much as He makes one understand. Guru Nanak said: O Beloved; only they to whom You give the divine knowledge, obtain it.
According to the Bible: Do not give what is holy to dogs. Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will only trample them under their feet (Matthew 7.06). No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him or her to me (John 6.44). The recipient of knowledge must have spiritual inclination and sincerely seek it. Knowledge given without being asked for serves no purpose and should be avoided. There is a time for everything under the heaven. We cannot change the world; we can change only the lives of a few sincere souls whose time for a change has come by His grace.
THE HIGHEST SERVICE TO GOD, AND THE BEST CHARITY
One who shall propagate this supreme secret philosophy – the transcendental knowledge of the Gita – amongst My devotees, shall be performing the highest devotional service to Me and shall certainly come to Me. No other person shall do a more pleasing service to Me, and no one on the earth shall be more dear to Me. (18.68-69)
Ignorance is the mother of all sins. All negative qualities, such as lust, anger, and greed, are nothing but a manifestation of ignorance. The giving of the gift of knowledge is the best charity. It is equivalent to giving the whole world in charity (MB 12.209.113). The best welfare is to help others discover their real nature that is the source of everlasting happiness rather than to provide material goods and comforts for temporary happiness. The Bible says: Whoever obeys the law, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5.19). Happiness is not attained through wealth and sense gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy cause (Helen Keller).
GRACE OF THE GITA
Those who study our sacred dialogue shall be performing a holy act of propagation and acquisition of self-knowledge. This is My promise. (18.70)
God and His words are one and the same. The study of the Gita is equivalent to worship of God. Life in modern society is all work and no spirituality. Swami Harihar says: “Daily study of only a few verses of the Gita will recharge mental batteries and add meaning to the dull routine life of modern society.” For serious students, daily study of one chapter of the Gita or several verses from the forty selected verses given in the end of this book is highly recommended.
Whoever hears this sacred dialogue with faith and without cavil becomes free from sin, and attains heaven – the higher worlds of those whose actions are pure and virtuous. (18.71)
A summary of the “Glory of the Gita” as elaborated in the scriptures is given below. Reading this Glory of the Gita generates faith and devotion in the heart that is essential for reaping the benefits of the study of the Gita.
The goal of human birth is to master the mind and senses and reach one’s destiny. A regular study of the Gita is sure to help achieve this noble goal. One who is regular in the study of the Gita becomes happy, peaceful, prosperous, and free from the bondage of Karma, though engaged in the performance of worldly duties. Sins do not taint those who regularly study the Gita, just as water does not stain a lotus leaf. The Gita is the best abode of Lord Krishna. The spiritual potency of the Lord abides in every verse of the Gita. The Bhagavad-Gita is the storehouse of spiritual knowledge. The Lord Himself spoke this supreme science of the Absolute containing the essence of all the scriptures for the benefit of humanity. All the Upanishads are the cows; Arjuna is the calf; Krishna is the milker; the nectar of the Gita is the milk; and persons of purified intellects are the drinkers. One need not study any other scripture if one seriously studies the Gita, contemplates the meaning of the verses, and practices its teachings in one’s daily life.
The affairs of the world are run by the first commandment of the creator — the teachings of selfless service — so beautifully expounded in the Gita. The sacred knowledge of doing one’s duty without looking for a reward is the original teaching that alone can lead to salvation. The Gita is like a ship by which one can easily cross the ocean of transmigration and attain liberation. It is said that wherever the Gita is chanted or read with love and devotion, Lord makes Himself present there to listen and enjoy the company of His devotees. Going to a place where Gita is regularly chanted or taught is like going to a holy place of pilgrimage. Lord Himself comes to take the devotee to His Supreme Abode when that devotee leaves the physical body contemplating the knowledge of the Gita. One who regularly reads, recites to others, hears, and follows the sacred knowledge contained in the Gita is sure to attain liberation from the bondage of Karma and attain Nirvana.
Though engaged in the performance of worldly duties, one who is regular in the study of the Gita becomes happy and free from Karmic bondage. All the sacred centers of pilgrimage, gods, sages, and great souls dwell in the place where the Gita is kept and read. Help during troubles comes quickly where the Gita is recited, and the Lord dwells where it is read, heard, taught, and contemplated. By repeated reading of the Gita, one attains bliss and liberation. One who contemplates the teachings of the Gita at the time of death becomes free from sin and attains salvation. Lord Krishna personally comes to take such a person to His Supreme Abode – the highest transcendental plane of existence.
The grace of the Gita cannot be described. Its teachings are simple as well as abstruse and profound. New and deeper meanings are revealed to a serious student of the Gita, and the teachings remain ever inspirational. The interest in a serious study of the Gita is not available to all but only to those with good Karma. One should be very earnest in the study of the Gita.
The Gita is the heart, the soul, the breath, and the voice of the Lord. No austerity, penance, sacrifice, charity, pilgrimage, vow, fasting, or continence equals the study of the Gita. It is difficult for any ordinary person, or even for the great sages and scholars, to understand the deep, secret meaning of the Gita. To understand the Gita completely is like a fish trying to fathom the extent of the ocean, or a bird trying to measure the sky. The Gita is the deep ocean of the knowledge of the Absolute; only the Lord has a complete understanding of it. Nobody, other than Lord Krishna, should claim authority on the Gita.
O Arjuna, did you listen to this with single-minded attention? Has your delusion born of ignorance been completely destroyed? (18.72)
Arjuna said: By Your grace my delusion is destroyed; I have gained Self-knowledge; my confusion with regard to body and Spirit is dispelled; and I shall obey Your command. (18.73)
When one realizes Him by His grace, the knots of ignorance are loosened, all doubts and confusions are dispelled, and all Karma is exhausted (MuU 2.02.08). The true knowledge of the Supreme Being comes only by His grace.
Sanjaya said: Thus, I heard this wonderful dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, causing my hair to stand on end. (18.74)
By the grace of sage Vyasa, I heard this most secret and supreme yoga directly from Krishna, the Lord of yoga, Himself speaking to Arjuna before my very eyes of clairvoyance granted by sage Vyasa. (18.75)
O King, by repeated remembrance of this marvelous and sacred dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, I am thrilled at every moment, and (18.76) recollecting again and again, O King, that marvelous form of Krishna I am greatly amazed, and I rejoice over and over again. (18.77)
BOTH TRANSCENDENTAL KNOWLEDGE AND ACTION ARE NEEDED FOR A BALANCED LIVING
Wherever there will be both Krishna, the Lord of yoga (or Dharma in the form of the scriptures), and Arjuna with the weapons of duty and protection, there will be everlasting prosperity, victory, happiness, and morality. This is my conviction. (18.78)
Where there is Dharma (righteous duty), there is the grace of Lord Krishna; where there is the grace of Lord Krishna, there will be peace and victory (MB 6.43.60). Everlasting peace and prosperity in the family are possible only by performing one’s duty with full metaphysical knowledge of the Absolute. Peace and prosperity of a nation depend on mastering both the knowledge of scriptures and the knowledge of the use of weapons of protection as well as science and technology. It is said that science and technology without spirituality are blind, and spirituality without technology is lame.
The End of the Bhagavad-Gita