The Bhagawad Geeta chapter 5 has also been mentioned as Karma Sanyasa yoga i.e. yoga of true renunciation (of action). There are 29 verses in the chapter.
Summary of Bhagawad Geeta Chapter 5
The following is a summary of the Bhagawad Geeta chapter 5 in 10 points.
- This chapter opens with a doubt raised by Arjuna. Arjuna has still not yet come to the decision whether action had any place in the life of spiritual seeking. Arjuna asks – is renunciation of action or participation in action nobler and greater?
- After describing Karma Yoga, Krishna describes how one should intelligently renounce Karma and enter a nobler spiritual technique to complete the pilgrimage to perfection.
- To whip out intertia (tamas), one has to do dynamic activity (rajas), which has to be transcended again through a process of non-ego-centric activities undertaken in a spirit of goodwill and love for all (termed in Geeta as Yajna). The individual thus reaches a state of tranquility, peace, purity, and joy (Sattva). In this frame of mind alone can one meditate properly and experience the infinite self.
- This theory of self-development is in 3 stages (1). Desire-prompted activities -> (2) Desire-less activities -> (3) Meditation
- Chapter 5 serves as a bridge between karma yoga (path of action) and pure meditation. There’s a discrepancy between Lord Krishna prescribing path of action to Arjuna and in places mentioning renunciation of action. This discrepancy is what the fifth chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta begins with (Verse 1). Lord krishna begins by saying (verse 2) “participation-in-action” (karma) is any day superior to the “renunciation-of-action” (karma-samnyasa).”
- He adds in Verse 5, “Karma Yoga purifies the Intellect and gives a greater poise for meditation (Sankhya) through which alone is the final experience achieved. Thus a combination of these two is possible serially and not simultaneously.” Krishna mentions (verse 6) Without performance of action, the renunciation of action is impossible; without having a thing we cannot renounce it; to renounce life and the world, because one has sadly been thwarted in one’s hopes and ambitions, is not renunciation.
- Lord Krisna in verse 12 adds, “The united one (the well-poised or the harmonised) , having abandoned the fruit of action, attains Eternal Peace; the non-united (the unsteady or the unbalanced) , impelled by desire and attached to the fruit, is bound.”
- Lord Krishnna goes one says, “Resting in BRAHMAN, with steady intellect and undeluded, the knower of BRAHMAN neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant, nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.” (verse 20)
- Verse 24 of the bhagwad Geeta chapter 5 says “He who is happy within, who rejoices within, who is illuminated within, that YOGI attains Absolute Freedom or MOKSHA, himself becoming BRAHMAN.“
- The fifth chapter concludes (verse 29) with Lord Krishna saying, “Knowing Me as Enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, the Great Lord of all worlds, the friend of all beings, he attains Peace“. Here knowing me has to be interpreted as knowing the self and attaining brahman.
Detailed Verses of Bhagawad Geeta Chapter 5
- Arjuna said: 1. Renunciation-of-actions, O Krishna, You praise and again YOGA — performance-of-actions. Tell me conclusively that which is the better of the two.
- The Blessed Lord said: 2. Renunciation of action and YOGA – of-action both lead to the highest bliss; but of the two , YOGA – of-action is superior to the renunciation-of-action.
In this stanza Krishna explains that both activity and the renunciation of activity can take the individual to the highest goal. But he warns his disciple that of the two, “participation-in-action” (karma) is any day superior to the “renunciation-of-action” (karma-samnyasa). Here we must understand that Krishna is not, in any sense of the term, decrying renunciation as inferior to vigilant and vigorous activity. To say so would be parading our ignorance, or at least, a lack of understanding of what the Lord has said so far, or the spirit in which he is continuing his discourses hereafter. The Geeta is given out in the form of a conversation between Krishna, the Immortal Teacher, and a particular student facing a given problem and having some definitely known mental weaknesses and intellectual debilities, Arjuna. Essentially, here the Pandava warrior is full of vasanas and for their exhaustion he has to act in the battlefield. To those of us who are psychologically in the state of Arjuna — and almost all of us are in that condition, suffering from the Arjuna-disease – the treatment is activity with the least conscious selfishness. The advice given here that the “performance-of-action” is nobler than the “renunciation-of-action” is therefore to be very carefully understood.
- He should be known as a perpetual SANYASI who neither hates nor desires; for, free from the pairs-of-opposites, O Mighty-armed, he is easily set free from bondage.
Why “participation-in-work” is said to be easier for a beginner than “renunciation-of-action” is explained here. While defining a sanyasi (ascetic), Krishna’s revolutionary statement cleanses the idea of renunciation from all its external embellishments. He gives more importance to the internal mental condition than to the external uniform. According to the Lord, he is a sanyasi (ascetic) who “neither likes nor dislikes.” Likes and dislikes, success and failure, joy and sorrow and such other pairs-of-opposites are the wheels on which the mind rolls forward earning the experiences of life. Our intellect can register a situation or a condition only with reference to the comparative estimate of its opposite. Thus, I can understand light only with reference to my knowledge of darkness. Comparison is the only way of understanding given to man. If there is no contrast for a thing, we cannot gain knowledge of that thing. This stanza is given in order to persuade Arjuna away from a hasty dash into sanyasa (asceticism).
- Children, not the wise, speak of SANKHYA (Knowledge) and YOGA (YOGA -of-action) as distinct; he who is truly established even in one, obtains the fruits of both.
- That place which is reached by the SANKHYAS (JNANIS) is also reached by the YOGINS (KARMA-YOGINS) . He “sees, ” who “sees ” SANKHYA and YOGA as one.
In thus synthesising both Sankhya and Karma, it is not meant that they together form an alloy; they both must be practised serially. We can consider them as one and the same inasmuch as Karma Yoga purifies the Intellect and gives a greater poise for meditation (Sankhya) through which alone is the final experience achieved. Thus a combination of these two is possible serially and not simultaneously.
- But renunciation, O mighty-armed, is hard to attain without YOGA; the YOGA -harmonised man of (steady) contemplation quickly goes to BRAHMAN.
Without performance of action, the renunciation of action is impossible; without having a thing we cannot renounce it; to renounce life and the world, because one has sadly been thwarted in one’s hopes and ambitions, is not renunciation. The mind can be purified only by the process of treating it with right action. When thus treated, the mind gets purified from its vasana-blemishes and with such a purified mind alone can we, during the deeper meditation hours, come to renounce all activities.
- He who is devoted to the Path-of-action, whose mind is quite pure, who has conquered the self, who has subdued his senses, who realises his Self as the Self in all beings, though acting, is not tainted.
In the previous verse, it was said in a sweeping generalisation, that he who pursues Karma Yoga along with meditation, will ere-long reach the State of Perfection in his own personal experience. He who is well-established in Karma Yoga, accomplishes purification of his intellect. Any purification in the subtle body, means a better state of quietude within. The lesser the agitations caused in us by our desires or emotions, the purer are we considered by Vedanta. When, through Karma Yoga, a man has gained inward peace, both at his mental and at his intellectual levels, it becomes child’s play for him to deny and to restrain, to control and to guide his sense organs and their never ending appetites. A seeker (Yogi), who has thus controlled his body, mind and intellect, is best fitted for the highest meditation.
- “I do nothing at all, ” thus would the harmonised knower of Truth think seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing,
- Speaking, letting go, seizing, opening and closing the eyes — convinced that the senses move among the sense-objects.
Even such a perfect one is found to live, not sitting like a stone-statue, but acting diligently, like any one else in the world. A list of these common and natural activities is indicated in these two stanzas: “seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, dropping, holding, winking,” etc. In all these unavoidable activities of life, it is explained here, a Sage or a prophet, living in the world, will not have any egoistic vanity.
- He who does actions, offering them to BRAHMAN, abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by the water on it
- YOGIS, having abandoned attachment, perform actions merely by the body, mind, intellect and senses, for the purification of the self (ego) .
- The united one (the well-poised or the harmonised) , having abandoned the fruit of action, attains Eternal Peace; the non-united (the unsteady or the unbalanced) , impelled by desire and attached to the fruit, is bound.
- Mentally renouncing all actions and fully self-controlled, the “embodied” one rests happily in the nine-gate city, neither acting nor causing others (body and senses) to act.
- Neither agency nor actions does the Lord create for the world, nor union with the fruits of actions. But it is Nature that acts.
- The Lord takes neither the demerit not even the merit of any; knowledge is enveloped by ignorance, thereby beings are deluded.
- But to those whose ignorance is destroyed by the Knowledge of the Self, like the sun, to them Knowledge reveals the Supreme (BRAHMAN) .
- Intellect absorbed in that, their Self being That, established in that, with That for their Supreme Goal, they go whence there
is no return, their sins dispelled by Knowledge.
- Sages look with an equal eye upon a BRAHMANA endowed with learning and humility, on a cow, on an elephant, and even on a dog and an outcaste.
- Even here (in this world) , birth (everything) is overcome by those whose minds rest in equality; BRAHMAN is spotless indeed and equal; therefore they are established in BRAHMAN.
- Resting in BRAHMAN, with steady intellect and undeluded, the knower of BRAHMAN neither rejoices on obtaining what is pleasant, nor grieves on obtaining what is unpleasant.
- With the self unattached to external contacts, he finds happiness in the Self; with the self engaged in the meditation of BRAHMAN, he attains endless happiness.
- The enjoyments that are born of contacts are only generators of pain, for they have a beginning and an end. O son of Kunti, the wise do not rejoice in them.
- He who is able, while still here (in this world) to withstand, before the liberation from the body (death) , the impulse born out of desire and anger, he is a YOGIN , he is a happy man.
- He who is happy within, who rejoices within, who is illuminated within, that YOGI attains Absolute Freedom or MOKSHA, himself becoming BRAHMAN.
- Those RISHIS obtain Absolute Freedom or MOKSHA — whose sins have been destroyed, whose dualities are torn asunder, who are self-controlled and intent on the welfare of all beings.
- Absolute Freedom (or BRAHMIC Bliss) exists on all sides for those self-controlled ascetics, who are free from desire and anger, who have controlled their thoughts and who have realised the Self
- Shutting out (all) external contacts and fixing the gaze (as though) between the eye-brows, equalising the outgoing and incoming breath moving within the nostrils,
- With senses, mind and intellect (ever) controlled, having liberation as his Supreme Goal, free from desire, fear and anger – — the sage is verily liberated for ever.
In these two aphoristic stanzas the Lord has hinted at the summary of the entire following chapter. This is the traditional style in Sanskrit text-books on Brahma-Vidya, wherein each section is closed, often indicating the following section. The above verses give us a complete picture of the Manof-perfection and his purposeful life at all levels of his existence. Students of Vedanta are ever anxious to live the Perfection. They are not dreamers, content with flirting with Utopian idealisms, but they are the most utilitarian, practical men of the world, who want to live a more purposeful, efficient and effective life in this world. Therefore, they are not enamoured of mere ideas, however noble they may be, unless those ideas can actually be lived in life.
How to achieve the perfect mental equipoise which has been indicated in the previous stanzas, should be the question that must agitate the minds of all true seekers. Here, as a summary, with lots of dots and dashes, Krishna is giving the scheme of practice, by which every diligent pursuer can gain a complete integration. These two stanzas become rough notes to be enlarged and exhausted with details and descriptions in the next chapter. The external world-of-objects, it has already been said, cannot by itself bring any disturbance to any one of us. It is only when we are in contact with the world-of-objects that we suffer the agitations in life. So long as we are standing on the bank of a river or on the seashore, the waves in the water cannot buffet us. It is only when we are in contact with them that we will be tossed hither and thither. Forms, sounds, tastes, smells and touches constantly bring their objects to agitate the mind, but we shall get agitated by them only when we are identifying ourselves with our mental conditions. If we, therefore, shut out the external object — not by physical methods such as plugging the ears, but by a discreet intellectual detachment from our mental reactions to the external world-of-objects — we shall discover in ourselves, the necessary tranquillity to start meditation. It is a great mistake that seekers often take the foregoing instruction too literally. They converge their eye-balls and gaze towards the space between the eye-brows for the purpose of meditation. This is an exaggeration, though it faithfully follows the instructions laid down here. It is to be understood, as Shankara says, “TO GAZE AS IT WERE” towards the point between the two eye-brows. It is psychologically very true that when we are looking “as it were towards the brow,” our gaze would be turned upward at about forty-five degrees to the vertical backbone. In that attitude of upward gaze, the human mind is held uplifted and it becomes the right vehicle for higher contemplation. There is an intimate relationship between the rhythm of the flow of breath in us and our own mental thoughtconditions. The more agitated the mind is, the more spasmodic and uncertain becomes the rhythm of our breathing. Therefore, the instructions here, which advise us to control our breath-flow to make it “EVEN WITHIN THE NOSTRILS” becomes a conducive physical practice for coaxing the mind to a relatively quieter existence. These instructions are all mainly physical adjustments for creating a conducive mental atmosphere. In the following stanza, the necessary adjustments to control the mental and the intellectual sheaths are hinted at. The tireless seeker is asked to control his sense appetites, mental oscillations and intellectual storms by dedicating all his outer and inner activities to the one great eternal goal of reaching Perfection — realizing the Self. As far as the taming of the intellect is concerned, the advice given by Krishna is that the seeker should “RENOUNCE DESIRES, FEARS AND ANGER.”
- Knowing Me as Enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities, the Great Lord of all worlds, the friend of all beings, he attains Peace.
He attains peace on knowing me — It is never to be forgotten that, in the Geeta whenever Lord Krishna uses the first person singular, he does not mean the mortal framework of the son of Devaki, but indicates the Self in the individual — the Eternal Principle, Sri Krishna Paramatman. The Self is the real vitality behind the ego (Jiva) which functions in identification with the matter envelopments and feels that it is the doer and enjoyer. The term “knowing” is not objectively knowing Krishna, in the sense in which we come to know a flower or a fruit, but here the term “knowing” is to be understood as “realising.” Spiritual experience is the realisation of the Self to be the one great ruler within, who presides over all the activities within the body-politic, who is the One, at whose altar the perfection-seeking ego surrenders all its spiritual activities, and as a tribute to Whom, the seeker brings all his self-denial and asceticism.
18 Chapters of Bhagawad Geeta
The Bhagawad Geeta is comprised of 18 chapters and each chapter is mentioned in the form of a Yoga. Following is a list of all chapter of the Bhagawad Geeta.
- Chapter 1: Yoga of Arjuna’s Grief
- Chapter 2: The Yoga of Knowledge
- Chapter 3: Karma Yoga (The Path of Action)
- Chapter 4: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge
- Chapter 5: The Yoga of True Renunciation
- Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
- Chapter 7: The Yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom
- Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
- Chapter 9: The Yoga of Royal Secret
- Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
- Chapter 11: The Yoga of Cosmic Form
- Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
- Chapter 13: The Yoga of Field and its Knower
- Chapter 14: The Yoga of Guna
- Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
- Chapter 16: The Yoga of Divine and Devilish Estates
- Chapter 17: The Yoga of Threefold Faith
- Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation through renunciation