Bhagavad-Gita Summary, Chapter V

[For the Disciple—A Guide]


"Devotion by means of Renunciation of Action."

Arjuna asks Krishna to resolve the paradox of His recommending both methods of progress: of action (followed by the Yoga School), or, of abstaining from action (followed by the Sankhya—the speculative School).

Krishna indicates that these two methods form a pair, they cannot be detached from each other. He adds that although both methods lead to the final goal: liberation from the sweet-sour bonds of material existence, "devotion through action is better than renunciation." The attitude of detachment, or freedom from the influence of the "pairs of opposites," can make an ascetic free of the karma that follows all acts. Perfect action and perfect abstinence from action produce the same ultimate fruit. The capacity of being fair, or "equal minded" is esteemed by all.

"Renunciation of action and devotion through action are both means of final emancipation, but of these two devotion through action is better than renunciation. He is considered to be an ascetic [that is, one who has really renounced] who seeks nothing and nothing rejects, being free from the influence of the 'pairs of opposites,' O thou of mighty arms; without trouble he is released from the bonds forged by action. Children only and not the wise speak of renunciation of action [Sankhya school] and of right performance of action [Yoga school] as being different. He who perfectly practices the one receives the fruits of both, and the place [Nirvana, or emancipation] which is gained by the renouncer of action is also attained by him whom is devoted in action." (Gita, pp. 38-9)

Setting aside any self-interest in action gives freedom from the bonds of desire. The Lord of the World (the Spirit) is detached from his creation (and although resident in every creature, yet He is "separate"). If this truth is not grasped, the consequent ignorance leads creatures astray.

A knowledge of the Self within disperses all the mists of confusion. Regardless of their external appearance, the illiminated Sage is able to perceive the One Self present in every form.

The great secret, that gives the bliss of true understanding is: to prevent the "heart" from becoming attached to "objects of sense." Contact with and adopting "objects of sense" can only give fleeting pleasure. Such delights, when they end, produce pain and suffering. Any impulse arising from desire or anger should be resisted. (Gita, pp. 40-1) Krishna observes:

"The man who is happy within himself, who is illuminated within, is a devotee, and partaking of the nature of the Supreme Spirit, he is merged in it. Such illuminated Sages...devoted to the good of all creatures, obtain assimilation with the Supreme Spirit...on both sides of death..." (Gita, p. 42)

The true devotee cannot be selfish or detach himself from other "creatures." But, in himself, he must be free of desire and anger, temperate, with thoughts restrained and have a secure knowledge of the true Self. His heart and understanding are to be brought under his control, and he is to be determined to attain liberation from the world of sense-attachments. By adopting this attitude, he becomes emancipated, even in his present life, and shares consciously, in the wider life of the Supreme Spirit.

"Knowing that I, the great Lord of all worlds, am the enjoyer of all sacrifices and penances and the friend of all creatures, he shall obtain me and be blessed." (Gita, p. 43)





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