Monday, January 15, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What is Bhagvat Gita?

There was a king ruling Hastinapura, now known as Delhi. He had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was born blind. Therefore, Pandu became the King. Pandu had five sons. They were called the Pandavas. Dhritarshtra had one hundred sons. They were called the Kauravas.
After the death of king Pandu, his eldest son, Yudhisthira was to be the Ruler. But the Kauravas would not like it. The eldest of Kauravas, Dhuryodhana wanted the whole kingdom for himself. Through trickery and treachery, he made many attempts even to kill the Pandavas. All peace talks by Pandava Ambassador, Sri Krishna also failed. So the war between Pandavas and Kauravas could not be avoided.
Both Pandavas and Kauravas belonged to the same family and therefore many family elders were also part of this war. Arjuna, the Pandava Prince had disliked the idea of fighting against the family elders, Gurus and close relatives. Lord Krishna was the Charrioteer to Arjuna in the battle field. Arjuna communicated his hesitation to get on with the war. And it was left to Lord Krishna to respond to the hesitation of Arjuna. And this response given by Lord Kishna to Arjuna was very long and is codified in 18 chapters.

Who reported this talk taking place at the battle field? King Dhritarashtra was curious to know what was happening in the battle field. You know he was blind. He therefore asked Sanjay, his Charioteer to tell him about it and it was he who reported the entire talk verbatim to Dhritarashtra. According to Gita, Sanjay had the boon of " Divyachakshu" i.e. being able to see from the Palace as to what was happening in the battle field.

Bhagvat Gita is the actual talk between the confused Arjuna and his Charrioteer Lord Krishna in the battle field. This talk was basically a spiritual talk encompassing real truth about human life. The 18 Chapters of Bhagvat Gita can be broadly divided into three parts each dwelling about Gyana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

I had great difficulty in understanding the concepts of Gyana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga until I studied Bhagvat Gita. It is such a nice Hindu Scripture that clarifies many aspects of our lives.

Mahatma Gandhi had said: When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad Gita and find
a verse to guide me.

Albert Einstein had said: When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect, everything else seems so superfluous.

Henry David Thoreau, American Writer & Philosopher had said: In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous philosophy of Bhagavad Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet and Philosopher had said: I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books, It was as if an empire spoke to us. Nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent. The voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and disposed of the same questions which exercise us.

Aldous Huxley, English Novelist and Critic had said: The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said: The Bhagavad-Gita is a call for action to meet the obligations and duties of life.

Such is the indelible impression Bhagvat Gita had left in the minds of even the great people that we know of. And sure it would help you in your own personal life as well.

I know there are many translations available of Bhagvat Gita written by eminent persons including Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India. and I am not a scholar to attempt any Translation of this Great Spiritual Discourse between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. But yet, I take pleasure in presenting before you the Bhagvat Gita, as I understood and benefited from it. I dedicate this humble effort to my respected father, Late Shri K.S. Raghavacharya, a Great Vedic Scholar and a Religious Teacher.

I wish every reader a joyous journey through this Great Life Philosophy. ----- R. Raghunathan

Chapter 1


The war of Mahabharata was about to begin after peace talks by Lord Krishna and others failed to avoid the war.

It is at this Battle field at Kurukshetra, the great discourse called the Gita was given by the Lord Krishna to Arjuna. The counseling given by Lord Krishna is not meant for Arjun alone. It is for the entire humanity.

In this first chapter, the names of the main warriors and generals of both sides are given. However, the main event is the despondency of Arjuna.

Verse 1.01

The King inquired: Sanjaya, please now tell me, in details, what did my people (the Kauravas) and the Pandavas do in the battlefield before the war started?

1.02 – 1.11

Sanjaya said:

O King, After seeing the battle formation of the Pandava's army, your son approached his guru and spoke these words:

O Master, behold this mighty army of the Pandavas, arranged in battle formation by your other talented disciple! There are many great warriors, valiant men, heroes, and mighty archers. (1.03-06)

The List of Warriors

Pandava Army

The son of Drupada (Dhristadhyumna).
Dhristaketu, Chekitan, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Shaibya - the finest among men.
Yudhamanya, Uttamauja, Abhimanyu
Shikhandi, Dhristadyumna, Virata and Satyaki.
The five sons of Draupadi

Kaurava Army

Drona, Bhishma, Karna, Kripa, Ashvatthama, Vikarna and Bhurishrava

The leaders of my army those who are most distinguished among us. I will name them now for thy information. Yourself, Bhisma, Karna and many other heroes who have risked their lives for my sake. They are armed with many kinds of weapons and are all well skilled in war. Unlimited is this army of ours which is guarded by Bhisma, while that army of theirs which is guarded by Bhima is limited.

Our army is invincible, while their army is easy to conquer. Therefore all of you, occupying your respective positions, protect our commander-in-chief, the Bhishma.

Sounding of the Conches


Then Bhisma, the grandsire of the Kuru dynasty and the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly. It sounded like the roar of a lion. After that, the conchshells, drums, bugles, trumpets and horns were all sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous.

On the other side, both Lord Krsna and Arjuna were seated on the great chariot drawn by white horses.

Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, Pancajanya.
Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta
Bhima blew his terrific conchshell Paundra
King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya
Nakula blew the Sughosha
Sahadeva blew the Manipuspaka.
The others including Abhimanyu all blew their respective conchshells.

The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious. Vibrating both in the sky and on the earth.

Arjuna in the middle


Seeing your sons standing, and the war about to begin with the hurling of weapons; Arjuna, whose banner bore the emblem of Lord Hanumana, took up his bow and spoke these words to Lord Krishna:

O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son o Dhrtarastra and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.

Having thus been addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krsna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties in the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all the other chieftains of the world and asked Arjuna to have a look at all those Kurus assembled there.

Arjuna notices the leaders of the opposition

There Arjuna saw, in the midst of the armies of both parties, his grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends and well-wishers.

Arjuna is overtaken by emotions

Verse 1.27-39

When Arjuna, saw all elders, relatives and friends, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus:

My dear Krsna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit,

I feel the limbs of my body quivering
My mouth drying up.
My whole body is trembling
My hair is standing on end
My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand
My skin is burning
I am now unable to stand here any longer.
I am forgetting myself
My mind is reeling.

I see only causes of misfortune.
I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle
In this way, I cannot desire, victory, kingdom, or happiness

What is the use of a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all the elders, friends and relatives are dead? For whom we desire the kingdom, enjoyments and pleasures? I foresee no good by slaying my own people in the fight.

When teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me?

I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth.

What pleasure will we derive from killing these people? Sin will overcome us if we slay such people.

It is not proper for us to kill these people. How could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?


When the dynasty is killed, the entire tradition vanishes. Their ancestors suffer (fall) as the offerings of rice and water is stopped. All it means is we become irreligious.

May be these people, overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one's family or quarreling with friends. But why should we do that? I can see the crime in destroying the family and in engaging in a sinful act. If the sons of Dhritarashtra kill me in battle, while I am unarmed and not fighthing, it would be far better.

It is the custom--according to ksatriya fighting principles--that an unarmed and unwilling foe should not be attacked. Arjuna, however, decided that even if attacked by the enemy in such an awkward position, he would not fight. He was not worried about the other party being bent upon fighting. This extreme position taken by Arjuna was due to his soft heart for the elders, relatives and friends and also due to his Principles based on Dharma.


After speaking this, Arjuna put aside his bow and arrows and sat down in the back of the chariot with his mind full of sorrow and commisseration. He became reluctant to fight.

Chapter 2

Know about the human Soul

[Bodies are like bulbs and the principle of Atma is like the currentpassing through all the bulbs.]


Arjuna’s eyes were tearful and downcast. He was overwhelmed by compassion and despair. Then Lord Krishna spoke these words to Arjuna:

How has the dejection come to you at this juncture?
This is not fit for a person of noble mind and knowledge.
It is disgraceful, and it does not lead one to fame, O Arjuna.

Do not become a coward. Do not yield to this impotence. It does not befit you.
Shake off this trivial weakness of your heart and get up for the battle.


Arjuna said:

How shall I strike my grandfather, my guru, and all other relatives, who are worthy of my respect, with arrows in battle, O Krishna?

It would be better, indeed, to live on begging in this world than to win the kingdom by slaying these noble personalities. By killing them all I would get is the wealth and pleasures stained with their blood.

We should not even wish to live after killing our cousin brothers, who are standing in front of us.

I do not think that gaining an unrivaled and prosperous kingdom will remove the sin I would be committing in killing them.

I do not know which is better, i.e. to fight or to quit. My senses are overcome by confusion about duty (Dharma).

Please tell me what is better for me. I am Your disciple, and I take refuge in You.


Lord Krishna said:

You are grieving for what is not worthy of grief.

The wise people grieve neither for the living nor for the dead because there was never a time when these monarchs, you, or I did not exist; nor shall we ever cease to exist in the future.

Just as the soul acquires a childhood body, a youth body, and an old age body during this life; similarly, the soul acquires another body after death.

The contacts of the senses with the sense objects give rise to the feelings of pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent like the winter and summer. They all arise from sense perception.

While performing one’s duty, one should learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. Only persons who are not disturbed by either happiness or distress and remain balanced are fit to become immortal.


The visible physical body is perishable and transitory.

Only the invisible Spirit, Atman is eternal. This Atman is indestructible. No one can destroy the imperishable the Atman.

In this way you and the others are mere Atman. The Atman neither slays nor is slain. If you think you are slaying the others, you are ignorant.

The Spirit is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being, or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal and permanent. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.

O Arjuna, how can a person who knows that the Spirit is indestructible, eternal, unborn, and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to be killed?

Therefore fight, O Arjuna.


Just as a person puts on new garments after discarding the old ones; the living entity or the individual soul acquires new bodies after casting away the old bodies.

Weapons do not cut this Spirit, fire does not burn it, water does not make it wet, and the wind does not make it dry. It is eternal, all pervading and unchanging.

Knowing the permanence of Spirit as such you should not grieve.

Even if you think of the physical body, be aware that the death is certain for the one who is born, and birth is certain for the one who dies. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.

All beings are unmanifest, or invisible to our physical eyes before birth and after death.
They manifest between the birth and the death only. What is there to grieve about?

O Arjuna, the Spirit that dwells in the body of all beings is eternally indestructible. Therefore, you should not mourn for anybody.

Do your duty selflessly


Considering also your duty as a warrior you should not waver like this. There is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. So there is no need for hesitation.
Only the fortunate warriors get such an opportunity for an unsought war that is like an open door to heaven.

If you will not fight this righteous war, then you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation, and incur sin. People will talk about your disgrace forever. To the honored, dishonor is worse than death. The great warriors will think that you have retreated from the battle out of fear. Those who have greatly esteemed you will lose respect for you.
Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful to you than this?

You will go to heaven if killed on the line of duty, or you will enjoy the kingdom on the earth if victorious. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjuna.

Fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat--and by so doing you shall never incur sin.


So far we discussed about self realization by you. But beyond this lies the realm of selfless service (Seva) with no attachment to results. Such a self less service alone can free yourself from all Karmic bondage, or sin. A selfless service never incurs adverse effect. All selfless service protects one from repeated birth and death. Whereas, one who renders service keeping its results in mind does not get free from the birth and death.

Rise about worldliness in performance of your Duty


There are many people who consider Vedas as containing only rituals for obtaining heavenly enjoyment. They are the people who are misguided who merely chant Vedas without understanding their real purpose. They do get any self realization through ritualistic activities.

Vedas essentially deal with Satva, Rajas and Thamas, i.e. goodness, passion, and ignorance. But there is a realm even beyond Vedas making you lead a balanced life, helping you rise above thoughts of acquisition and preservation.

To a Self-realized person who has risen about the Vedas, the Vedas are as useful as a small reservoir of water when the water of a huge lake becomes available.

Become free from worldliness. Be free from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the self.


You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

You have control over doing your duty only, but no control over the results. While the fruits of work should not be your motive, yet you should never be inactive. Do your duty to the best of your ability, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. The selfless service is a yogic practice that brings peace and equanimity of mind.

A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Work done with selfish motives is inferior by far to the selfless service. Therefore be a selfless worker. Those who work only to enjoy the fruits of their labor are verily unhappy, because one has no control over the results.

Strive for selfless service. Karma-yogis are freed from the bondage of rebirth due to renouncing the selfish attachment to the fruits of all work, and attain blissful divine state of salvation or Nirvana.

When your intellect will completely pierce the veil of confusion, then you will become indifferent to what has been heard and what is to be heard from the scriptures.

When your intellect, that is confused by the conflicting opinions and the ritualistic doctrine of the Vedas, shall stay steady and firm on concentration.

Control your senses and let go of attachments

Arjuna asked

O Krishna, whom do you call as a steady person?
How does a person of steady intellect think?
How does such a person behave with others, and live in this world?


Lord Krishna said:

When one can completely withdraw the senses from the sense objects as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into the shell, then the intellect of such a person is considered steady.

But generally, the desire for sensual pleasures could fade in a person, but his craving for sense enjoyment might remains in a very subtle form, dormant. This subtle craving also need completely disappear. Anyone, who restrains the senses but mentally dwells upon the sense objects, is called a pretender. (3.06)

When one is completely free from all desires of the mind and is satisfied with the Supreme Being, then one is called an enlightened person, O Arjuna.

Thus a person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger, is a person of steady intellect. He should be a person who is neither elated by getting desired results, nor perturbed by undesired results.


The senses are so strong, impetuous and restless that they forcibly carry away the mind of even a wise person striving for perfection.

One develops attachment to sense objects by thinking about sense objects. Desire for sense objects comes from attachment to sense objects
Anger comes from unfulfilled desires.
Delusion or wild idea arises from anger.
The mind is bewildered by delusion.
Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered.
One falls down from the right path when reasoning is destroyed.

One's intellect becomes steady when one's senses are under complete control. One should therefore fix one's mind on God with loving contemplation after bringing the senses under control.


The mind, when controlled by the roving senses, steals away the intellect as a storm takes away a boat on the sea from its destination the spiritual shore of peace and happiness.
One who desires material objects is never peaceful. Only the one who abandons all desires, and becomes free from longing and the feeling of 'I' and 'my', attains peace.

Therefore, O Arjuna, one's intellect becomes steady whose senses are completely withdrawn from the sense objects.

A disciplined person with senses under control and free from attachments and aversions, attains tranquillity.
All sorrows are destroyed upon attainment of tranquillity.
The intellect of such a tranquil person soon becomes completely steady and united with the Supreme.
Therefore it is necessary for one to know who he is. He should have self knowledge and self perception.
Without Self-perception there is no peace, and without peace there can be no happiness.

A person of self knowledge and self perception is a Yogi. He remains alert and wakeful when every one is asleep. And when every one is awake, still there are asleep as far as the Yogi is concerned.

The Yogi attains peace because in his mind, all desires dissipate without creating any mental disturbance, as river waters enter the full ocean without creating any disturbance.

O Arjuna, this is the superconscious state of mind. Attaining this state, one is no longer deluded. Gaining this state, a person becomes one with the Absolute.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3
How to Work and control senses

This chapter focuses on various reasons why action is essential for the man; why should one act according to one’s caste (Varna); how should one act; which actions help take one to the path of liberation; which actions cause the bondage of life-death cycle etc.

Arjuna asked:

O Janardana, You say one should have enough intelligence to work without expecting results. If that knowledge alone is important, why should I engage in a war? I am still not clear.

Lord Krishna said:

There are two classes of people who try to realize self. One who acquires self knowledge and leads a disciplined path. The other person who does unselfish devoted work. The path of knowledge for men of contemplation and path of service for men of action.

Whatever path one may take, one has to do his duty to attain freedom from the bondage of Karma. No one can get this freedom from past Karma, by simply abstaining from work.
One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma by merely abstaining from work. One does not attain fulfillment by simple renunciation. No one can remain without doing work even for a moment and all are made to work. Even the maintenance of your body would not be possible without work.

While working is better than sitting idle, between people who work, the one who controls his emotions and feelings by training and purifying his mind and intellect and engages himself in selfless service is considered superior, because doing service free from selfish attachments to the fruits of work is a service done to the Creator.

Therefore it is necessary you perform your obligatory duty.


In the beginning the creator created human beings together with selfless service to each other. By serving each other they were supposed to prosper.

When people serve each other, each one nourishes them. And the supreme goal was to be attained by nourishing one another.

One who enjoys the gift of celestial controllers without sharing with others is, indeed, a thief. (3.12)

Every one is supposed to eat only after feeding others, including the celestial beings, the demi Gods, through Yajna. The celestial controllers, served by people’s selfless service, will help them in their prosperity. Those who eat after feeding others are freed from all sins. But the selfish who are selfish enough to take care of themselves alone without first offering to God and other celestial beings, they verily eat sin.

All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties

Grains are thus produced by sacrificial work or duty performed by farmers and other field workers. Out of their produce, other living beings are born. The living beings are born from food grains. This type of creation is designed by the Supreme being and thus God is present in this self less service.

Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.

The one who does not help to keep the wheel of creation in motion by performing one’s duties and obligations, is a selfish person rejoicing in sense pleasures and is a sinful person living in vain. One who does not follow in human life the cycle of sacrifice thus established by the Vedas certainly leads a life full of sin.

Thus there is an obligation for every one to participate in the design of the supreme Being and lead a life of content with the Supreme Being. Such a person is a self realized person with no selfish interest whatsoever in what he is doing.


Without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty. Therefore, Arjuna, always perform your duty efficiently and without any selfish attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains Supreme.

King Janaka and others attained perfection of Self-realization by selfless service (Karma-yoga) alone. You should also perform your duty for the welfare of the society. Because whatever noble persons do, others follow. Whatever standard they set up, the world follows.

O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds that should be done by Me and there is no work prescribed for Me. Nor there is anything unobtained that I should obtain. Yet I engage in action.

Because, if I do not engage in action relentlessly, O Arjuna, people would follow My path in everyway. These worlds would perish if I do not work.


As the ignorant work with attachment to the fruits of work, so the wise should work without attachment, for the welfare of the society and for the same leading people to the right path.

The wise and the enlightened should inspire others by performing all works efficiently without selfish attachment.


The forces of nature created by Me also do their duties. The one who knows the truth about the role of the forces of Nature in getting work done. Many times, it is the forces of Nature that get their work done by using our organs as their instruments. To the extent you do your duty, it is not you who is doing that, it is the forces of nature that gets the job done by you. To the extent you refuse to do your duty or do a non-duty, it is you who is acting and taking the blame.

Do your duty dedicating all works to God in a spiritual frame of mind free from desire, attachment, and mental grief.

Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.

Those who always practice this teaching of Mine with faith and are free from evil become free from the bondage of Karma. But those who carp at this teaching and do not practice it, consider them ignorant, senseless, and lost.


Do not be attached to your emotions and feelings. Your emotions and feelings remain in the senses. Your attachments and aversions are two major stumbling blocks on the path of your Self-realization.

Arise and discharge your prescribed duties.


Arjuna said:

O Krishna, what impels one to commit sin as if unwillingly and forced against one's will?

Lord Krishna said:

It is passion. From the passion, the desire is born. This desire is known variedly as lust, greed, etc. And that desire becomes anger when the desire is not fulfilled. Passion in the form of desire and anger are greatest evils. Know this as the greatest enemy.

What this desire does? . You don’t want to commit a sin, but yet you do. Because this passion and desire covers and blocks your self knowledge, as the smoke covers the fire, the dust covers the mirror and amnion covers the embryo. Thus the Self-knowledge gets covered by different degrees of this insatiable desire, the eternal enemy of the wise.

Where does this desire reside? It resides in your senses, the mind and even on the intellect. It just deludes a person by covering and hiding his self knowledge.

Therefore, O Arjuna, it is necessary to destroy this desire that destroys your Self-knowledge and Self-realization.


The senses are said to be superior to the body, the mind is superior to the senses, the intellect is superior to the mind, Soul is superior to the intellect, and the Spiritual knowledge is superior to Soul.
Thus, the important thing is to achieve spiritual knowledge. By achieving Spiritual knowledge, you can use your intellect to control your mind and the emotions arising in your senses, the most important of which is desire.

Chapter 4



Verse 4.01-04

Lord Krishna said:

I taught this Karma-yoga, the science of right and proper action, to King Vivasvan, the sun God. Vivasvan taught it to Manu. Manu taught it to Ikshvaku. Thus handed down in succession the saintly Kings knew this science of proper action. After long time this science was lost to this earth. Since you are my devotee and friend, today I am describing the same to you.

Arjuna said:

While Vivasvan was born long ago, you were born now only. How is it possible that you taught this Karma Yoga to Vivasvan?

Verse 4.05-10

Lord Krishna said:

Both you and I have taken many births. I remember them all, O Arjuna, but you do not remember. Only persons who truly understand me, take refuge in me, get free from attachment, fear, and anger and get fully absorbed in my thoughts reach my supreme abode after leading their body and they do not take rebirth.

As for me I am eternal and the Lord of all beings. Whenever there is a decline of Dharma and Adharma takes predominance, I manifest Myself. I appear from time to time for protecting the good and to establish the world order.

Verse 4.11-12

People worship me with different motives. But with whatever motive people worship Me, I accept them. .

Verse 4.13-15

Every one is created to do his assigned work. I have created the four divisions of human society based on needs of the society and make them do the tasks. I create this world with no desire for fruits. Works do not bind Me, because I have no desire for the fruits of work. The one who fully understands and practices this truth is also not bound by Karma.
The ancient seekers of salvation also performed their duties with this understanding. Therefore, do your duty without worrying about the results.

Verse 4.16-17

There are four kinds of actions. One is attached action, the second is detached action and the third is forbidden action and the fourth is inaction.

Verse 4.18-24

A person in Yoga sees action in inaction. He also sees inaction in action. A person who meditates is engaged in action, though appearing to be not doing anything. And this yogi would find no meaning in many actions that ordinary men are engaged in.

A person who does any action devoid of self gratification and is selfless is a sage. Whose total work is free from desire and not swayed by like or dislike, whose attachments to the fruits of actions are perished in the fire of knowledge, is a learned man. Such a person is a contented person. The person who does not take shelter in the worldly things, and is ever contented, abandoning the desires caused by action while engaged in work is not a doer. He does all his duties in the name of God without attachment to the results.
A hangman does his job as per the orders of the King, though kills a person, does not attract any Karmic reaction, because his actions are selfless and therefore his action is equivalent to inaction. His mind and intellect are well controlled, acts without any emotions of desires or attachment, his action is done by his body alone and is uninvolved. Thus he incurs no sin. He does his actions with equanimity unaffected by the success or failure of his effort. He himself has no jealousy or other ill feelings against the man whom he is hanging. When he does his duty, free from desires and bondage of his actions, remaining neutral and does the job only physically, he does not commit any sin.
All works of a person acts free from desire and attachment and acts in accordance with the injunctions of scriptures do not attract any sin. He does his service as service to his Lord. He considers everything as an act of God. He is a karma yogi.

Verse 4.25-32

There are kinds of Yogis as many types of spiritual disciplines are described in the Vedas.

Some observe Bhakti yoga and perform worship to Gods.

Some observe Gyan Yoga, study scriptures in pursuit of self knowledge.

Some observe Karma yoga, abandon their sensual pleasures, perform breathing and other yogic exercises, give away their wealth in charity and perform their duties.

What is common between all these is they want to purify themselves by remaining selfless and want to attain the Supreme Being. They have all understood the fact that leading an attached life does not give happiness.

Verse 4.33-37

Purification of mind and intellect makes a person transcend and Self-realization is the sole purpose of any spiritual action. This knowledge is imparted by self realized masters and students acquire this knowledge by serving the master and through sincere learning.

This knowledge makes a person transcend all the confusions and delusions of this world of attachment. It makes the person see the spirit of creation by God. Only this transcendental self-knowledge can help the person get of bonds of sins and karma and cross the ocean of life of birth and death.

Verse 4.38-40

Spiritual knowledge is pure knowledge and that alone cleanses one’s mind of selfishness and takes towards Karma Yoga. If one obtains this knowledge with faith in God and control over his mind and senses attains peace and liberation. The irrational, the faithless, and the disbeliever would never find peace and happiness.

Verse 4.41-42

One who has attained this knowledge and destroyed his worldly confusions and has renounced the fruits of his work, is a Karma Yogi and sins do not affect him. Therefore kill your confusions with the sword of self knowledge, steady yourself and get up for the war.

Chapter 5



Verse 5.01-07

Arjuna asked:

O Krishna, You praise the path of transcendental knowledge, and also the path of performance of selfless service (Karma-yoga). Tell me, definitely, which one is the better of the two paths.
Lord Krishna said:

The path of Self-knowledge and the path of selfless service both lead to the supreme goal. But, of the two, the path of selfless service is superior to path of Self-knowledge, because it is easier to practice. One who attains self knowledge also attains self less service. One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, free from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated.

One who gets self knowledge becomes a sage and one who does self less service is a karma yogi. Both reach the same goal. A sage equipped with Karma yoga attains Nirvana more quickly because both by mind and act he becomes pure and both his mind and senses are under control. And when he does his duties, he does not become tainted by his works.

Verse 5.08-09

A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always he always stands detached.

Verse 5.10-12

When doing his duties, he does all work as an offering to God - abandoning selfish attachment to results just like a lotus leaf never gets wet by water. On the contrary, those attached to fruits of work become bound by selfish work.

Verse 5.13-17

If any one feels ‘I am doing this job’ it is his ego that makes him feel so. His attachment to the results makes him feel so. The God does not create these feelings and delusions in men.

Similarly, if a man does evil deeds, it is his ignorance of self knowledge makes him commit the wrongs. The Lord does not take the responsibility for the evil deeds of anybody.

Only the transcendental knowledge can destroy this ignorance and reveal the supreme being in him, just as the sun reveals the beauty of this world to him.

Persons, whose mind and intellect are totally merged in the Supreme Being, who are firmly devoted to the Supreme, who have God as their supreme goal and sole refuge, and whose impurities are destroyed by the knowledge of the self can live happily and reach nirvana avoiding to take birth again.

Verse 5.18-26

An enlightened person perceives God in all beings whether the other is a learned or an outcast or an animal or a bird. He is the person who has realized the Supreme Being.

He neither rejoices on what is pleasant nor grieves on what is unpleasant. To him sensual pleasures are a source of misery. He withstands the impulses of lust and anger. He is a man of a steady mind. Well illuminated with self knowledge he simply is in union with the Supreme Being enjoying the transcendental bliss. Those who are free from lust and anger, who have subdued the mind and senses, and who have known the Self, easily attain Nirvana.

Self knowledge destroys doubts and disciplines people and makes them engaged in the welfare of all beings and to attain the Supreme Being. And they conquer the conditions of birth and death.

Verse 5.27-29

To free oneself from the external objects, one has to get into the mode of meditation. This meditation is achieved by keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, and thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence. This helps one to shut out all external influences. The human liberation starts from here.

And now to attain freedom from material miseries, one has to be in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me and consider Me to be the ultimate benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities.