The Bhagavadgita

Chapter XVIII: The Yoga of Liberation through the Path of Knowledge and Self-Surrender

1                    Arjuna said:  O Mighty-armed, O Knower of heart, O Slayer of Kesi, I wish to know severally the true nature of Sannyasa (Sankhyayoga) and of Tyaga (Karmayoga).

2                    Sri Bhagavan said:some men of wisdom understand Sannyasa as the renunciation of actions prompted by desire; other men of discernment define Tyaga as the relinquishing of the fruit of all actions.

3                    Some sages declare that all action is evil, and as such should be abandoned; while others say that acts of sacrifice, gift and penance should not be given up.

4                    Of these two, O best of Bharatas, hear My own conclusion about Tyaga (Relinquishment).  For relinquishment, O lion among men, is declared to be of three kinds.

5                    Acts of sacrifice, gift and penance should not be relinquished; they must be performed at all events.  For sacrifice, gift and penance performed by wise men purify the heart.

6                    Therefore, Arjuna, My considered and best opinion is that these acts of sacrifice, gift and penance, and all other duties, must be performed relinquishing attachment and fruit.

7                    (Prohibited action and action prompted by desire should no doubt be given up,) but renunciation of action prescribed by the scriptures is not proper.  Its abandonment through ignorance has been styled as partaking of Tamasa.

8                    He who forsakes his duty for fear of bodily discomfort, saying that all action is troublesome, practicing this Rajasic form of relinquishment, he does not get the fruit of relinquishment at all.

9                    An action enjoined by the scriptures, which is done as a duty, giving up attachment and fruit, that alone is regarded as a Sattvic form of relinquishment.

10               He who neither hates action, which does not lead to happiness, nor is attached to action, which is conducive to good, that person, imbued with the quality of goodness, has attained freedom from doubts; he is wise and a man of true renunciation.

11               Since it is not possible for embodied beings to renounce all action completely, hence it is said that he who renounces the fruit of action has truly renounced.

12               Good, evil and mixed – threefold is the fruit of action hereafter for those who have not renounced the fruit; but there is none ever for those who have renounced the fruit.

13               Arjuna, for the accomplishment of all actions these five contributory causes have been mentioned in the Sankhya system, which prescribes the means of eradicating all Karma.  Know them from Me.

14               The body (as the seat of all activity and the organs of action), the agent (Jivatma) and the different kinds of organs, as also the divergent activities of various kinds of the fifth, destiny – these are the causes (operating) here.

15               Whatever action man performs by his body, speech and mind, be it right or wrong, these five are the causes thereof.

16               Notwithstanding that, he who, owing to impure reason, views the absolute Self as the doer is of perverse understanding, and does not see at all.

17               He whose mind is free from the notion of doership and whose reason is not affected by worldly objects and worldly activities, even though he may kill all these people, he does not kill, nor is he bound (by sin).

18               Knowledge, the object of knowledge and knower – these are the threefold incentive to action; and the doer, the action and the organ of action – these are the threefold constituents of action.

19               Knowledge and action as well as the doer are spoken of in the system classifying the three Gunas as of three kinds due to difference of qualities.  Hear them also duly from Me.

20               That by which man sees one imperishable entity in all beings, undivided among the divided, know that knowledge to be Sattvic.

21               And that knowledge which regards the manifold existence of various kinds in all beings as separate, know that knowledge as partaking of Rajas.

22               And that knowledge which clings to one individual, as if it were the whole, which is without reason, without any real object and of little value, that is declared as Tamasic.

23               That action which is prescribed by scriptures, and which is done without the sense of doership, and without passion or prejudice, by one who does not seek its fruit is said to be Sattvic.

24               And that action, which involves much strain, and is done by one who seeks enjoyment, and is prompted by egoism, is declared to be Rajasic.

25               That action, which is undertaken through ignorance, without considering the result, loss to oneself and injury to others and one’s own capacity, is declared to be Tamasic.

26               Freed from attachment, unegoistic, endowed with firmness and vigour and unaffected by success or failure, such a doer is said to be Sattvic.

27               The doer who is passionate and greedy, seeks the fruit of action, is give to violence and of impure conduct, and is affected by joy and sorrow, is declared to be Rajasic.

28               Lacing self-control and piety, vulgar, arrogant, deceitful, inclined to rob others of their livelihood, slothful, despondent and procrastinating, such a doer is said to be Tamasic.

29               Hear now, Arjuna, the threefold division, according to the qualities, of reason as well as of firmness, which is being told by Me, unreservedly and severally.

30               Arjuna, the reason which knows what is right action and what is right cessation of action, what must be done and what ought not to be done, what is fear and what constitutes fearlessness, what is bondage and what is liberation, is Sattvic.

31               That reason by which one understands incorrectly what is right and what is wrong, what must be done and what ought not to be done, partakes of Rajas, O son of Kunti.

32               That reason which, enveloped in ignorance, thinks the wrong to be right, and regards all things contrary, is Tamasic, Arjuna.

33               The unswerving firmness by which, through the Yoga of meditation, one controls the activities of the mind, life-breaths and senses, that firmness, Arjuna, is Sattvic.

34               And the firmness by which the man, who seeks the fruit of actions, clutches with extreme fondness the first three objects of life, viz., Dharma (Virtue), Artha (Prosperity) and Kama (Pleasure), that firmness, O son of Kunti, is Rajasic.

35               And that by which a misguided fool does not abandon sleep, fear, grief, despondency and also arrogance, that firmness is Tamasic, Arjuna.

36               O chief of Bharatas, hear from Me now the three kinds of joy.  That in which one finds enjoyment only through practice (of Bhajana, meditation and worship) and whereby one reaches the end of sorrow, - nay,

37               that which appears like poison in the beginning (i.e., when the practices are started), but tastes as nectar in the end, born of the placidity of mind brought about by meditation on God, such a joy is said to be Sattvic.

38               The joy which is derived from the contact of the senses with their objects, though appearing like nectar in the beginning (at the time of enjoyment), proves to be mischievous like poison in the end.  That is why such a joy is said to be Rajasic.

39               The joy which deadens the soul, both in the beginning and in the end, and which is derived from sleep, indolence and carelessness is said to be Tamasic.

40               There is no existence here on earth, in the heavens or among the celestials, or anywhere else in creation, which is free from these three qualities born of Matter.

41               Arjuna, the duties of Brahmans, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas, as well as of Sudras, are divided according to the qualities born of their respective natures.

42               Control of mind, control of the senses, undergoing hardship for the sake of duty, purity (both internal and external), forgiveness, straightness of mind and body, belief in God the scriptures and the other world, knowledge of the sacred lore and knowledge of God based on direct experience – these are the Brahman’s duty, born of his own nature.

43               Prowess, majesty, firmness, bravery, ingenuity, not running away from battle, generosity, rulership – these are the Ksatriya’s duty, born of his own nature.

44               Cultivation, protection of cows and trade are the Vaisya’s duty, born of his own nature.  Service of all the three castes is the Sudra’s duty, born of his own nature.

45               Devoted to his own duty, man attains the highest perfection (in the shape of God-Realization).  Hear how one devoted to one’s own duty attains perfection.

46               He from whom is the emanation of all beings, by whom all this is pervaded, - by worshipping Him through the performance of his own duty, man attains perfection.

47               Better is one’s own duty, though devoid of merit, than the duty of another well-executed.  He, who performs the duty enjoined by his own nature, does not incur sin.

48               Arjuna, one should not abandon one’s duty which attaches to him from his very birth, even though defective.  All undertakings, indeed, are tainted with some blemish, just as fire is clouded by smoke.

49               He whose mind is unattached everywhere, who has subdued his self and whose thirst for enjoyment has completely disappeared, reaches through Sannyasa (the path of Knowledge) the highest perfection of actionlessness (i.e., freedom from the bondage of Karma through God-Realization).

50               Arjuna, know from Me briefly how he who has reached perfection (in the shape of purity of heart) attains Brahma, who constitutes the supreme consummation of the Yoga of Knowledge.

51               Endowed with pure reason, partaking of light and Sattvic food, having renounced sound and other objects of the senses, having restrained the mind and the senses,

52               living in a sacred and lonely place, and having controlled speech, body and mind, taking a firm stand on dispassion after eradicating passion and prejudice, constantly absorbed in the Yoga of meditation,

53               having abandoned egoism, violence, arrogance, lust, anger and greed, destitute of the feeling of meum and calm, such a one becomes qualified to be one with the Eternal.

54               Having become one with the eternal, and cheerful in mind, he neither grieves nor desires.  The same to all beings, he obtains supreme devotion to Me.

55               Through devotion he comes to know Me in reality, what I am and who I am; and thereby knowing Me in essence, he forthwith enters into Me.

56               And the Karmayogi, who has taken refuge in Me, though ever performing all actions, attains through My grace the eternal, imperishable abode.

57               Therefore, mentally surrendering all actions to Me and with Myself as your sole Object, have your mind constantly fixed on Me, resorting to the Yoga of equanimity.

58               With your mind thus fixed on Me, you shall get over all difficulties by My grace.  And if out of pride you will not listen to Me, you will be utterly destroyed.

59               If, prompted by egoism, you think ‘I will not fight’, this determination of yours is vain; nature will compel you to fight.

60               Arjuna, that which from delusion you do not want to do, bound by your own duty born of your nature, you will helplessly perform.

61               Arjuna, the Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, who are mounted on the automaton of this body, causing them by his illusive power to revolve (according to their actions).

62               Seek refuge in Him alone with all your being, Arjuna.  Through His grace you shall obtain supreme peace and the eternal abode.

63               Thus has knowledge, more secret than secrecy itself, been imparted to you by Me.  Having reflected on it fully, do as you like.

64               Hear, again, My supreme word, the most secret of all.  You are very dear to Me; therefore, I shall tender you this salutary advice.

65               Fix your mind on Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me and bow to Me; so shall you without doubt reach Me.  This I truly promise to you; for you are dear to Me.

66               Surrendering all duties to Me, seek refuge in Me alone.  I shall absolve you of all sings; grieve not.

67               This secret teaching should never be imparted to a man without austerity, nor to one without devotion; nor even to him who is unwilling to hear, nor again to him who finds fault with Me.

68               He who, having shown the highest love to Me, shall impart this most secret teaching of Mine, to My devotees, shall attain Me; there is no doubt about it.

69               Among men there is none who does Me a more loving service than he; nor shall anyone be dearer to Me than he on this earth.

70               And he who shall study this sacred dialogue of ours, by him shall I be worshipped through the sacrifice of wisdom.  Such is My mind.

71               The man who listens to it full of faith and in an uncarping spirit, freed from evil, even he shall gain the happy worlds of the virtuous.

72               Has this been heard by you with one-pointed mind, O son of Kunti?  Has your delusion, born of ignorance, been destroyed, Arjuna?

2                    Arjuna said: Krsna, my delusion is destroyed and I have gained knowledge through Your Grace.  I stand freed from doubts; I shall, therefore, carry out Your bidding.

3                    Sanjaya said:  Thus I heard the marvelous and thrilling conversation between Sri Krsna and the high-souled Arjuna.

4                    Through the grace of Vyasa I heard this supremely secret Yoga from the Lord of Yoga, Sri Krsna Himself, speaking before my very eyes.

5                    O King, recollecting, again and again, this wonderful and sacred dialogue of Sri Krsna and Arjuna, I rejoice over and over again.

6                    Lord, remembering also, over and over again, that most marvelous form of Sri Krsna, great is my wonder, and I am delighted, again and again.

7                    Wherever is Sri Krsna, the Lord of Yoga, and wherever is Arjuna, the wielder of the Gandiva bow, assured are there prosperity, victory, glory and righteousness; this is my conviction.


Thus, in the Upanisad sung by the Lord, the science of Brahma, the scripture on Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krsna and Arjuna, ends the eighteenth chapter entitled “The Yoga of Liberation through the Path of Knowledge and Self-Surrender.”

Om Tat Sat