Bhagwad Geeta

Chapter 18 - Moksha - Upadesha Yoga

Chapter 18, Verse 1

Lord Arjuna Shri Krishna, what is the difference between renunciation from life (sanyasa) and renunciation from fruits of action (tyaga). We usually feel that to do austerities and to be close to God we need to go to forests. We need to leave everything of this samsaric life to be closer to God. we need to be a sanyasi to be closer to God.

Alternatively, there is another approach to life. to live in this samsaric life and live with a feeling of renunciation towards things of the samsaric life. Like Mahatma Gandhiji used to live. He led a life full of action, strived hard for the freedom of India. all he did without being attached to any of the fruits of his work. His work was exclusively to get freedom for India for the masses and nothing for himself. Gandhiji led a life of Tyaga.

Arjuna gets exactly this doubt and asks Krishna what the difference between sannyasa is and tyaga. Which is better for a person.

Chapter 18, Verse 2

Lord Krishna gives the distinction between sanyasa and tyaga. sanyasa is not desiring any action. sanyasa is the renunciation of acts which stem from the desire. Where is tyaga is leaving things after performing action. Sanyasa leads to not doing the action. no action, no result and thus no attachment. Tyaga is doing action, getting results and leaving the result and not getting attached to result.

Chapter 18, Verse 3

Lord Krishna repeats what wise people say. some wise people say that renunciation of action is the best to reach God, some wise people say that renunciation of fruits of action is the best way to reach God. This is the same doubt Arjuna was asking at the start of this chapter. which path is better? renunciation of action or renunciation of fruits. Action renunciation and fruit renunciation are two words for these two paths. renunciation of action is said to be best by some wise scholars because we crush the desire to achieve anything. There is no desire towards anything. without desire for anything people will not be misled towards anything.

Chapter 18, Verse 4

In this shloka lord Krishna says that renunciation of fruits of action also called tyaga is of three kinds. We should remember that we are finding the difference between tyaga and sannyasa. Tyaga is fruit renunciation and sannyasa is action renunciation.

Chapter 18, Verse 5

In this shloka, Lord Krishna says that actions that relate to the performance of sacrifices, charity and austerity should never be given up. Lord Krishna says that these actions should never be given up because they will keep purifying the soul of the people who are in wisdom. These activities keep purifying the mind of the people so that the past kleshas will go away.

Chapter 18, Verse 6

Lord Krishna says he is giving the topmost conclusion he can give between the two pathways. He says that the path where people perform sacrifices, charity, austerities as duty and they should not be attached to the fruits of the work they do. this means people should treat it as their duty to perform yagnas, austerities, and charity. Duty is what a person bound to do.

Chapter 18, Verse 7

In this shloka, it is described that renunciation of prescribed activities is not recommended. renunciation (sanyasa) of prescribed activities is not allowed. what are the prescribed activities? The prescribed activities are those which a person has to do according to the age he is in. If a person is a student, he should follow the tenets of the studentship. if a person is assigned some work, he has to do it perfectly without leaving them.

Abandoning the works due to illusion or diversion to do some another work is equal to the tamsic quality of a person.

Chapter 18, Verse 8

Giving up actions/renunciation because it will cause discomfort to the body, will cause pain to the body is deemed to be the nature of rajasic in the person.

people who have more of the rajasic element in the person have the capability to do things. They will do only activities that will cause happiness to the person. People who are passionate if they are not doing things means the activities will cause discomfort to the body of the person.

Chapter 18, Verse 9

In this shloka Lord Krishna says that actions that are performed without any attachment to results is also deemed as sanyasa. In this shloka it is clearly stated that tyaga is equal to sanyasa. We may not leave everything in the samsara and go to forests to practice sanyasa. We may very well be within this samsara where we are, but unattached to the luxuries, unattached to the fruits of our action we perform the actions.

The modern world is quite opposite, we usually do things attached to the results of the work. Such a type of tyaga is equated with sattva.

Chapter 18, Verse 10

The really intelligent people who have taken a decision to renunciate all results of their actions do not blame the actions that are disagreeable to them or get attached to actions perform that are agreeable to them.

Chapter 18, Verse 11

The being which is having a body can never cease to do activities. one activity or another it keeps doing. there is no escape from the body for the human being and soul. as the soul is encompassed by the body it should continuously do one activity or another to survive. The best way is to renounce the fruits of activities of the body.

Chapter 18, Verse 12

The people who do activities after death goes to three types of places. I feel that in the modern world the results of the action are faced immediately, in this present life. there is no need to go the next life to face the results of our actions. The results of the actions will lead us to planets (Situations) which are like heaven, situations which are like hell and the planetary existence. if we do good deeds, we live life it is in heaven, if we do bad deeds, we live life like it’s in hell. But for a person who has renunciated the fruits of action will not go anywhere and in fact, he is least bothered as to where he has gone.

Chapter 18, Verse 13

In this shloka Lord Krishna says that he is speaking from the Saankhya philosophy. Saankhya philosophy is one of the most ancient philosophies of ancient India. Lord Krishna says that there are five ways in which actions are done by the Body.

Chapter 18, Verse 14

The five ways through which the body/Soul accomplishes action are though the body, the ego, the vital forces, various senses, and ultimate consciousness. All these are necessary for the body to live and sustain and perform actions.

Chapter 18, Verse 17

One whose mentality never considers itself as a doer, one who attaches the fruits of the work to the universal consciousness, though if he is fighting the whole world does not slay anyone or is entangled by the fruits of the work.

Chapter 18, Verse 18

The “Gnana triputi” the triad of knowledge is the one that forces/impels/induces people into action. before performing an action, the knowledge of the work, the knowledge of who will gain from the action and knowledge gained from the work: these three aspects will force a person to work. For example, if we want to watch a movie, then we should know the knowledge of how to watch a movie (Knowledge about work). then we should know who and how we will be gained by watching the movie. (knowledge of the gainer). Then we should know what knowledge is enhanced by watching the movie.

Then there are three subcomponents of work called karma tripati. They are the karma “action itself” then we have the person performing the action and the instrument of action/medium of action.

Chapter 18, Verse 19

In the earlier shlokas we have learned that there are three types of qualities in people. sattvik, rajas, and tamas. in the same way, knowledge is also known to be of three types also the karma is known to be three types and the person doing the karma is known to be of three types. Lord Krishna says these three types of knowledge, action will be explained in order.

Chapter 18, Verse 20

In this shloka the knowledge which is sattvik (goodness) is given. The type of knowledge whether we read in books or we obtain from movies or we gather from the outside environment which enables us to see the universal consciousness in all the living and non-living entities is the knowledge of goodness.

Chapter 18, Verse 21

The knowledge which will enable the person to see separateness in the universe, which will enable a person to see things as different, and separate soul existing in all the entities is called the knowledge of passion or Rajsic knowledge. With this knowledge, a person is able to see diversity in the world as all beings are differentiated. the person differentiates between universal consciousness and individual consciousness.

Chapter 18, Verse 22

That knowledge by which a person feels that the whole world is different in nature, and everything has a unique existence in the world is in nature of tamsic knowledge. for a person having the tamsic knowledge, the world is different, and he does not work for the world, he works for himself.

Chapter 18, Verse 23

In this shloka Lord Krishna talks about the action performed by the individual. That action which is devoid of fruitive desires, that action which does not look into the fruits of action and is free from attraction or repulsion, which is performed as a nature of duty is called sattvik (good) action.

Chapter 18, Verse 24

The action which is performed with fruits in mind, the action which is performed not as duty but with the final results in mind and performed with attraction and repulsion towards some people is called action of rajsic.

Chapter 18, Verse 25

That action, which is performed without any thinking, thought in mind as to what will be the consequences of action, which will ultimately lead to destruction is called as the action of tamoguna. we are all aware that our actions lead to different outcomes. we should be performing actions only after a careful thought.

Chapter 18, Verse 26

In this shloka, Krishna talks about the person who is doing the work. unattached to the work he is doing, unattached to the outcome of the work but concentrating only on the processes of work, unaffected by success and failure as to what will be the outcome of the work and showing great enthusiasm for the work is called the sattvik performer of work.

We can see that some individuals show the same amount of enthusiasm for work irrespective of the outcome. they are more wedded to work rather than the outcome of the work.

Chapter 18, Verse 27

The person who is obsessed with the fruits of the work, who is prone to the moods of the results of the work, who gets demoralized when he doesn’t get good results and who gets motivated with good results, (enthusiasm dependent on the outcome of the work) is called the rajasic performer of work.

Chapter 18, Verse 28

In this shloka, Lord Krishna describes the nature of tamas of the person who does work. The person who is fulfilled with tamas, usually keeps postponing the work. the person is lazy and is always cribbing in a sorrow mood about the work. To cover up his non-working nature he usually tells lies and becomes deceptive and not truthful.

Chapter 18, Verse 29

Lord Krishna says he will explain in clear terms what is the nature of “buddhi” and the nature of the resolve of the person. The nature of buddhi and resolve are needed for any person to carry on any activity. Buddhi helps the person to decide which course of action to take. Every moment a person is faced with two outcomes. whether to do a work or not to do a work. The decision for the person whether he should continue the activity or not to continue with the activity is taken by part of mind called “buddhi”. The next part of buddhi is resolve. With how much strength we decide to carry on activity is called as the resolve.

Lord Krishna says in coming passages he will explain this in three terms as to how this can be done.

Chapter 18, Verse 30

In this shloka, Lord Krishna says that that buddhi/ intellect is called as sattvik (good one) which clearly knows what is good for the body and mind and what is not good for the body and mind. Also, sattvik buddhi knows the difference between what action is liberating and what action is binding, also the intellect which knows for what to be feared and for not to be feared is called a sattvik buddhi.

Chapter 18, Verse 31

That Buddhi/intellect/ judgment of mind which clearly makes out the judgment that what is righteousness and what is non-righteousness. what is dharma and adharma. what is good and what is bad, what is good and what is evil. Intellect must first know what is good and bad. without the intellect knowing as to what is good and what is bad it cannot make a judgment.

Intellect should also have the knowledge as to what is duty and what is not the duty. If the intellect does not know what is good and what is bad and if it cannot distinguish between dharma and adharma then it is called as rajasic intellect/ buddhi.

Chapter 18, Verse 32

In this shloka, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna s to what is tamsic buddhi/intellect. Tamsic buddhi stems from the basic fact of ignorance and also believing in wrong things. An ignorant person/ person without proper knowledge is unable to make the right decision. even if the person has the knowledge and if he believes in the wrong things, if the person values wrong things, then the person takes wrong judgments.

A person with tamsic buddhi takes decisions out of wrong knowledge. he thinks that “adharma” is the only dharma and it has to be followed.

Chapter 18, Verse 33

Lord Krishna reveals the type of determination that is good for the person. He says that determination is good which motivates the mind towards activities that unite the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. We can observe that determination /sankalpa is the key stage for the directing all activities of a person. if a person is determined he can move mountains, in the same way if a person is determined, he can direct the actions of mind towards the endeavours which a person chooses. Hence determination is key for a person top movie forward and it is also classified into three types. The sattvik determination is one which is not interrupted, it goes on for a long time and it is directed towards uniting the individual soul with universal soul.

Chapter 18, Verse 34

The determination, which is driven by achieving worldly pursuits, to achieve worldly gains and to achieve the things for the sensual desires, such a determination is called “rajasic determination”. The basic motivation for such a type of determination is the “fruits” “results “of work.

Chapter 18, Verse 35

The determination which forces a person to be fearful of circumstances compels the person to dream and makes the person sad is called the determination of tamasic. Such persons who are fearful, dreaming, lazy in their thoughts such people are driven by the motivation of going with the nature of the world and not taking any action.

Chapter 18, Verse 36

After talking about determination, Lord Krishna talks about happiness. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna that happiness is of three kinds.

Chapter 18, Verse 37

In this shloka, Lord Krishna talks about the happiness which is sattvic in nature. The happiness which is hard to begin with but in the end gives happiness is called sattvic happiness. It is mentioned that the feeling/mood which is like poison in the beginning and in the end is like a amrutham, and the feeling emanates from deep inside the body from the level of soul and intellect. The feeling/mood is equated to poison which kills a person. If we are supposed to do any good activity, (like do yoga every day, study seriously) we may feel that initially, it is tough for most of the people. Though initially once the habit is formed it becomes easy for the person to do that activity in the long run.

Thus, we can see that initially during the habit formation any activity is tough but as the habit progresses things will become easy which will cause happiness emanating from deep inside the body.

Chapter 18, Verse 38

The happiness which is superficial and occurs by the combination of sense organs and sense objects is called as the happiness of passion. This happiness is short lived and is like nectar in the short run and poison in the long run.

Initially pursuing these activities will give a lot of kick to the person and gives happiness but in the long run, they cause distress to the person.

Chapter 18, Verse 39

That happiness which stems from laziness, not doing any activity, sleeping, being lazy which deludes the person in the beginning and also, in the end, is called as tamsic happiness. The person is happy not doing an activity and derives pleasure in staying idle. This will spoil the person in the beginning and also in the end.

Chapter 18, Verse 40

In this shloka, Lord Krishna categorically says that there is no being on this earth which is free from the three modes of existence. If we can see, all aspects of life including happiness have been classified into three types. Every aspect of life is categorized into three types. The person doing work, the intellect, the type of work, the mood of a person, the food taken inside, the charity done, the types of people, almost everything a person deals with in life has been categorized into three types.

Every person has a bit of all these three elements. All people have sattvik, rajsic, tamsic elements in them and the balance of these three will make a person balanced.

Chapter 18, Verse 41

In this shloka, the class divisions among human beings in the society are given. Based on my limited understanding I feel that Lord Krishna is conveying that human beings are divided into four classes based on their actions. The actions spring from the nature of human beings and further, these actions determine to which class the person finally belongs. The four classes of human beings are Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and shudra.

Chapter 18, Verse 42

In this shloka, the type of actions to be performed /expected out of Brahmanas is given. The actions expected out of Brahmanas are to be peaceful, maintain self-control, perform austerities for spiritual upliftment, purity, honesty, tolerance, knowledge of Vedas, wisdom and having faith in universal consciousness.

The above qualities stem from the qualities/basic nature of the person. The basic nature effects actions and actions make a human being.

Chapter 18, Verse 43

The people who have Rajsic nature in them tend to become Kshatriyas. The nature of a Kshatriya has to be daring, commanding, valour, strength and fight the war and not leave it in the middle. They are innately leaders and are prone to aggression. Thus, in people in which the nature of rajasic is more, they tend to be rajasic.

Chapter 18, Verse 44

People who are born with the elements of doing agriculture and dairy farming and commerce are deemed to be in the class of vaishyas and people who are in the working class to support these commerce activities are to be called as shudras. This class division is divided based on the intrinsic qualities of a person rather than the caste in which a person is born into.

Chapter 18, Verse 45

Here Lord Krishna says people should do duties as per the intrinsic qualities of a person. if a person has sattvic qualities he should do activities worthy of a brahmin and if a person is of rajasic qualities he should do activities fit to a kshatriya. it is always better to do activities of “swabhava” rather than try to imitate somebody.

Chapter 18, Verse 46

If a person performs activities that are closer to his inherent nature, then that person will achieve perfection in worshipping the universal consciousness. As the person keeps perfecting his naturally born, intrinsic tendencies that mean he is getting closer to the universal consciousness that created him.

Chapter 18, Verse 47

This is a repeated shloka. the earlier shloka was in 5th or 6th chapter. In this shloka Lord Krishna says that it is always better to do the activities as per our innate qualities. if our innate qualities are sattvik we should pursue wisdom seeking activities and if our innate quality is rajsic we should pursue activities of leadership. What Lord Krishna says is that it’s always good to pursue innate qualities.

Chapter 18, Verse 48

Lord Krishna says that even if we discover defects in our swadharma or our personal qualities we should not abandon our qualities. we should try to improvise them.

Chapter 18, Verse 51, 52 & 53

When we apply for a Job, we see whether the candidates have the necessary qualifications. In the same way there are certain qualifications or prerequisites to attain the supreme God. The qualifications are 1. purified intellect and restraint of senses.

The intellect can be purified by the concept of vairagya and knowing the truth of the world. if the truth is known then maya /disillusion is removed in the person. if maya is removed then intellect remains pure, and the person takes decision objectively and makes actions that will take him to eternal abode. In the field of restraining senses, Lord Krishna says that

  • The person should not be attached to sounds or any sense objects.
  • The person should cast his ego.
  • Should not have any aversion or attraction to objects and people.
  • The person enjoys solitude.
  • The person eats lightly, controls his speech and mind.
  • The person enjoys meditation.
  • Is in tranquillity /peace.
  • Do not have desires.
  • Shuns violence and is not arrogant.

Chapter 18, Verse 54

Being one with the ultimate truth, and who is joyous with the self, neither lamenting nor craving for things equipoised to all living entities one achieves transcendental devotion to the lord. Here the word equanimity is stressed. Whatever be the situation people who are in universal consciousness remain equanimous.

Chapter 18, Verse 55

Only by love one can know the real Krishna. The only method of knowing the lord is complete surrender to him and love him without any expectations. The love towards God should be truthful and without seeking any favour and expectations. As we love truthfully, we slowly and slowly come to know the universal truth.

Chapter 18, Verse 56

In this shloka Lord Krishna makes a promise to all his devotees. Though his devotees are involved in various activities (as a part of profession), but if they take refuge in Krishna , then he Guarantees that the devotees reach eternal and imperishable abode.

Chapter 18, Verse 57

Having consciousness absorbed in the supreme consciousness, if a person performs activities and dedicates those activities to the supreme God then he will definitely reach supreme consciousness. The necessary condition that is laid here is that the intellect of the person has to be united with the supreme consciousness and whatever decisions the intellect takes up is for reaching the God.

Chapter 18, Verse 58

In this verse Lord Krishna again makes a promise. He says that if a person performs all activities involved in him, remembering God then the Grace of God will be over such persons and all obstacles for the people will be removed. In fact, for people who are totally involved in God it is quite clear that even when obstacles come in life, they do not treat them as obstacles. For people involved in God the worldly comforts or discomforts doesn’t matter. Only thing that matters is whether their individual consciousness is involved with God or not.

Chapter 18, Verse 59 & 60

Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to fight the battle and does not have any ego. Here the distinction between ego (ahamkara) and nature of the person is established. we have already seen that there are three basic types of nature of a person. Sattvik, rajasic and tamasic. A person makes thoughts, actions as per his nature. Also, there is a concept called ego, which is in the mind that drives the person towards attachments and the self. In this shloka lord, Krishna clearly mentions that “nature” is the main decision-maker in the person. If the nature of a person is rajasic then the person has to fight. thus even though Arjuna does not want to fight the war because of ego (he wants to save his relatives, given in detail in chapter 1 & 2), Lord Krishna says he can never stay away from wars because of his nature.

The lesson from the shloka is to pursue our natures and do not get attached to the ego. We have to examine clearly what is our nature and what our mind wants. nature is the ultimate reality and ego is of the person/mind.

Chapter 18, Verse 61

In this Shloka Lord Krishna says that God is indwelling in all human beings whether they worship him or not. Though the people do not worship God he is indwelling in the hearts of the people. people are caged in the grace of God through their bodies. God gives the energy for the material to form into a body based on the karmic debt of the people. karma decides what type of Body a person acquires, and God infuses the energy into the material that forms the body.

Chapter 18, Verse 62

In this Lord Krishna says to attain eternal peace, surrender unto the God. If a person surrenders fully to the God, then by his grace he will attain perfect peace and eternal abode.

Chapter 18, Verse 63 & 64

In this shloka Lord Krishna says that he has revealed the most secret of all secrets because Arjuna is most dearest to him.

Chapter 18, Verse 65

In this shloka, Lord Krishna says that Arjuna/his devotees need to think of him (God) and none else. The devotees need not worry about the future or what happened in the past, they should of the God all the time. They need not waste time thinking about human beings (people in office, people at home and in society), rather they should invest time in thinking about the God. Lord Krishna also says that they should worship the God instead of be worshipping power or money. The worldly things will stay back in the world whereas the eternal worship of God will take us to the God. This is what promised by the God.

Chapter 18, Verse 66

The human being may have heard many theories about reaching God. In this shloka, God says that the only way to reach him is to surrender unto him. Surrendering to God happens when the person loses his ego, sets apart his ego and accepts God as the truth, reality. God, in turn, promises that all the past sins committed by a person will be washed away if people surrender to him completely. The only way for salvation from past sins is surrender to God.

Chapter 18, Verse 67

In this shloka, Lord Krishna reveals who are not eligible to receive the knowledge imparted in the previous shlokas to Arjuna.

  • abhaktya: who do not have a devotion to God.
  • atapaskaya: who do not have control over senses.
  • susrusave: one who is not eager to hear.
  • abhyasuyati: one who is envious of God.

Only those people/qualities in the human being are envious to God who feel that if a person is getting close to God, then the person/mind of a person will not give any importance to them. Mind/mind of a person is like an empty space. either the program of God can be written, or the program of anti-God can be written there. So, if space is filled with God, then there is no scope for anti-God. if there is space for anti-God then there is no space for God. Thus, anti-god is envious of God. to people who harbour qualities of anti-god this eternal knowledge of truth may not be imparted.

Susruva: for people who are not willing to listen /eager to hear this knowledge may not be imparted. Eagerness is the important word here. Eagerness means people showing interest. if interest is not there then people will not learn anything.

people who have bhakti towards God will mold their life towards God. Accordingly, they become receptive to God and his knowledge. They also control their mind.

Chapter 18, Verse 68

In this shloka, Lord Krishna assures eternal bliss for those who are involved in propagating the knowledge among his devotees. we should note that Lord Krishna has said this knowledge should be imparted only to his devotees. God did not say that knowledge has to be preached among all people.

Chapter 18, Verse 69

In this shloka, Lord Krishna says that the human being dearest to him is the involved in spearing the knowledge of God and way of living to people. The sacred knowledge if it is spread to the vast majority of people and if people work for the society instead of working with themselves then the world will be the happiest place to live. That’s why Lord Krishna says that they are the dearest people to him. to spread the message of God the people should live the message they are delivering.

Chapter 18, Verse 70

In this shloka, Lord Krishna says that those people who are studying the sacred knowledge will use their intellect to reach him. Intellect has a big role to play in our lives. it is the decision maker of all the options available with a person. if we have the knowledge of God, we will make decisions according to him.

Chapter 18, Verse 71

Even the person who not only studies this sacred knowledge and propagates it among the believers of the knowledge, but the person who listens to it with the full faith and without any opposition will reach the higher planetary systems.

Chapter 18, Verse 72

In this Shloka Lord Krishna asks Arjuna whether he has heard the shlokas with full attention? has the doubts of Arjuna been dispelled totally? The questions Arjuna posed at the beginning of Chapter 1; have they been successfully answered by Shri Krishna??

Chapter 18, Verse 75

He states that he has heard from Lord Krishna the most sacred secret and has narrated to Dhritarashtra as it is. Here Sanjaya is just a medium to convey the message of Lord Krishna. Sanjaya did not add anything to the secret message, the sacred knowledge of Yoga. It is a direct transmission of words from Sri Krishna to Dhritrashtra through Sanjaya.

Chapter 18, Verse 76

Sanjaya says to Dhritarashtra that he is rejoicing to recite the Geetha again and again and he is feeling very happy about it. Sanjaya might be remembering the sacred Geetha and might be feeling happy to recite it again and again.

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