Chapter 5Action and RenunciationVerse 1


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

In this chapter Lord Krishna is removing all doubts regarding the application of action and the renunciation of action. He is declaring that moksa or liberation from the material existence is attained by the renunciants who has by virtue of their austerities have conquered the influences of the senses. In the previous chapter Lord Krishna instructed to destroy all doubts by the sword of knowledge taking to the path of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities. But previous to this Lord Krishna had instructed that renunciation of actions was more appropriate for one following the path of jnana yoga or cultivation of Vedic knowledge. Then again Lord Krishna instructed that the person delighting in their atma or eternal soul needs not to perform either karma yoga or jnana yoga. Now it needs to be determined is it possible for a person to simultaneously perform the renunciation of actions while at the same time performing actions and if not what is the superior path for one to embark upon. All these questions will be answered.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Hari OM! Because the Supreme Lord Krishna performs such wonderfully phenomenal activities known as lilas or pastimes, He attracts all the worlds. Thus He is know as Krishna the all attractive one. The Kurma Purana states: Oh Lord since You attract all the worlds by your extraordinary activities, enlightened beings who have realised the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence call you Krishna the all attracting one.

In this chapter Lord Krishna explains the equanimity of actions further expounding upon the themes from chapter four, verse 24: being content with what has naturally been ordained and chapter four, verse 15: performing actions in renunciation. The word sannnyasa or renunciation is being explained to answer the question if sannyasa is more propitious then the act of war is contrary to renunciation.

Now begins the summation.

Hari OM! In this chapter the attributes of renunciation and performance of actions are delineated. The compound words sannyasyam karmanam meaning renunciation of all actions significantly contains the word nyaasa denoting equanimity. Thus all actions are recommended to be renounced with equanimity inferring that both karma or performance of prescribed Vedic activities and sannyasa or renunciation of the rewards of prescribed Vedic activities can be performed simultaneously and hence the question to Lord Krishna for clarification.

Arjuna was a prince of the highest royal order that ruled India and the entire Earth as well. He was raised meticulously and comprehensively in the science of sanatan dharma or the principles of eternal righteousness as well as all matters regarding governance and diplomacy, war and conciliation. Due to this he was an adhikari or very qualified being. If the divine discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita was meant only for Lord Krishna to remove the lamentation of Arjuna then there world have been no need for Vedavyasa to record it in the Mahabharata. But in chapter four, verse two Lord Krishna reveals that although it was transmitted by parampara or disciplic succession it was lost on the Earth over the millenniums. Therefore Lord Krishna caused Arjuna to have lamentation as a pretext to reveal the Bhagavad-Gita to the world again and He made Arjuna the symbol of the individual consciousness of everyone to achieve knowledge of the ultimate reality on their quest of attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness and thereby realising the ultimate supreme personality.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

In the fourth chapter karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities was delineated by Lord Krishna with special emphasis of it containing spiritual intelligence. In the third chapter it was shown that even those who follow the path of jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge that karma yoga when performed as a matter of duty without attachment was preferable. This is because in jnana yoga the level of atma tattva or soul realisation contained within each action determines individual success; whereas karma yoga is easy to perform and does not depend on atma tattva for success. In this chapter karma yoga is examined in its efficacy of expeditiousness in achieving atma tattva in comparison to jnana yoga. Also will be illustrated how this should be performed and the eliminating the conception that one is the performer along with how jnana yoga is perceived from this standpoint.

Renunciation and the cultivation of Vedic knowledge is jnana yoga. The performance of prescribed Vedic activities is karma yoga. In chapter two Lord Krishna declared that karma yoga was worthy to be followed by those seeking moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence and as the mind was subsequently purified of all dross then jnana yoga would naturally be embarked upon bringing about atma tattva. But in chapters three and four Lord Krishna explained that karma yoga was preferable to even for onme qualified to perform jnana yoga and futhermore that karma yoga was sufficient in and of itself to achieve atma tattva without the help of jnana yoga. So the conclusion to be given is which of the two is absolutely superior and the best means to achieve atma tattva.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna previously presented karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities without desire of rewards as a pre-eminent discipline but then stated that one in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge has no need to perform any action and then again He declared that the person who immersed in the atma or soul has no need to perform karma yoga or jnana yoga. In this situation it is difficult for an aspirant of moksa or liberation to determine if karma yoga or jnana yoga is more appropriate or is it possible to simultaneously perform both together. Lord Krishna had stated that one who performs actions as a matter of duty unattached without desire for rewards incurs no sinful reactions. Then again He had instructed that yagna or offerings of worship with spiritual intelligence is superior to yagnas performed with material ingredients because all actions culminate in knowledge. So because the paths appear conflicting and contrary to each other Lord Krishna is being requested to resolve the issue definitively.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 5, verse 1 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 1

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