Chapter 3The Eternal Duties of a Human BeingsVerse 20


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

Here Lord Krishna follows the approved adage of citing previous historical examples such as King Janaka the father of Sita who was Rama's wife. King Janaka by prescribed Vedic activities purified his mind and consciousness and achieved perfection; but after becoming situated in atma-tattva or soul realisation still King Janaka performed prescribed Vedic activities for the purification of the world and felt bliss. So one should not think that after realisation it is not worthy to purify others for the welfare of all created beings as it is still beneficial. Also people seeing such a great king as Janaka performing sacred actions also became inspired to follow his example. To the contrary those wallowing in material nature in the mode of ignorance fail to perform Vedic actions are ruined in this life and the next..

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

For further emphasis to the previous verse Lord Krishna now gives historical references of men of actions who attained atma-tattva or soul realisation while performing actions. It also infers that by performing prescribed actions of the Vedic scriptures in an unattached manner one gains wisdom. It should not be assumed that actions alone are sufficient without possessing wisdom. King Janaka was reknown throughout Bharata now known as India as a king of great wisdom. He and others were very well established in spiritual intelligence.

Even in other instances there exists no disparity for the path of atma- tattva. Wherever it has been stated that for liberation visits to sacred rivers and holy tirthas or by leaving one' body in Prayag or by taking bath at Kuruksetra during the solar eclipse. When these places are praised the liberation referred to is solely for the absolution of one's sins and demerits only. Because whenever any of these famous places are mentioned then atma-tattva must be mentioned as well because it is the primary basis for liberation. Without atma-tattva the state of moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death is not possible. Liberation in places like Prayag is recommended because a holy place can greatly assist one in achieving the ultimate attainment; but still the foundation of spiritual wisdom is essential. So the statements eulogising the Ganges and other holy rivers and places are not in any way contradictory to the reality required of achieving atma-tattva for the attainment of moksa. This information has also been confirmed by Vedavyasa in the Narada Purana where it is written that visits to sacred rivers and holy places for the performance of rituals is for the simple minded people and also to attract those who are bewildered; but liberation is possible only by realising the Supreme Lord as Paramatma the supersoul within and not otherwise, there is no other path. Therefore atma-tattva or soul realisation is the only path to moksa and there is no other way possible.

Now begins the summation.

King Janaka and other great men renowned for their wisdom performed countless prescribed Vedic activities according to their status in society yet still reached perfection in atma-tattva and attained moksa in their lives. Even after attaining moksa they performed Vedic activities for the benefit and welfare of the world and to inspire others to also perform prescribed Vedic actions for the balance and maintenance of the world. For one who is not a person of wisdom such activities performed leads to purification and for one who is a person of wisdom such activities lead to the bliss of pleasing the Supreme Lord and the fulfilment of the bliss of moksa.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:

There is no commentary for this verse.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

If the counterpoint is posed to the previous verse that desireless unattachment should be performed for the purity of the mind and that when spiritual knowledge arises one may abandon prescribed Vedic activities; because otherwise there will be no chance for liberation to one always engaged in actions as stated in the Mundakaya Upanisad I.II.XII: One will be bound by the very actions they perform.

In anticipation of such a counterpoint Lord Krishna confirms the authority of previous examples. By referring to King Janaka and by using in the instrumental case the words karmana eva meaning solely by performing actions as given in Panini I:II:LXV it clearly indicates that it is through actions and not by abandoning actions that King Janaka and others like Asvapati achieved the highest goal of moksa or liberation. So one who is knowledgeable of these things must perform their duties to achieve the goal.

If another counterpoint is posed that a person devoted to spiritual knowledge duly purifies their mind and then attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation is free from rebirth and is liberated; so what is the necessity to perform further prescribed Vedic injunctions. Lord Krishna anticipating this point replies that one should consider the welfare of the people in general and perform prescribed actions to protect and inspire them as well as for the maintenance of world order and the preservation of creation. That is why one should still perform prescribed Vedic activities.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 3, verse 20 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 20

Copyright © Bhagavad-Gita Trust 1998-2015