|Chapter 18||Final Revelations of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 2|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The Supreme Lord Krishna replied: Sages and those proficient in learning understand that renouncing and abandoning actions that fulfil desires found in the Vedic scriptures such as prescribed procedures for getting a son, or prescribed rituals for entering the heavenly planets is known as sannyasa and this includes renouncing all actions as well as their rewards. The spiritually enlightened declare that renouncing and relinquishing the desire for rewards of actions although performing daily and occasional prescribed duties and not renouncing the actions themselves is known as tyaja.
The question may arise that since no rewards are mentioned for regular and occasional prescribed duties how can there be renunciation of rewards that do not exist. It is as if a barren woman could give up her child. The answer to such a query is that although no specific rewards are declared in the Vedic scriptures, ordinances and injunctions such as: The sandhya vrata which is the chanting of sacred incantations three times daily must always duly be performed by initiated Vaisnava Brahmins and the Ekadasi vrata which is fasting from all grains and beans on the 11th day of the waxing and waning moon must always be observed by all human beings. Although ordinances and injunctions cannot inspire a undiscerning person to perform an activity which seems to have no purpose; yet if they are omitted or ignored it will be a cause for sinfulness and demerit. So according to the rule of parallel opposites it is understood that some merit must also be present in performing prescribed Vedic activities. It would not be reasonable to follow Prabhakara's opinion that the injunction itself is self-sufficient and requires no result because that would be contrary to the law of karma or that of there is an equal reaction comprised from every action. Further more Vedic scriptures such as the Chandogya Upanisad II.XXIII.I beginning trayo dharma skandha yagno confirms that: Those who perform sacred Vedic rites attain to immortality. The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad I.V.XVI beginning atha trayo vai a loka confirms that: By performing Vedic rituals and knowledge the higher realms are gained and the Maha Narayana Upanidad XXII.I declares that: By performance of Vedic rituals one is absolved from sins. This is why the spiritually evolved agree that the abandoning of the desire for rewards of actions is renunciation known as tyaja.
But then an argument could be raised that if one were to relinquish the desire for any reward there would be no inclination to perform the action. But this thinking is faulty and not accurate because all Vedic activities are for the general evolution of society and are meant to gradually produce the impulse for atma tattva or self-realisation. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad IV.IV.XXII beginning sa va esa mahanaja atma states: Vaisnava brahmanas realise the atma or immortal soul by study of the Vedic scriptures, through ritualistic propitiation and worship and by austerities which is renunciation of the objects of sense enjoyment. Hence it has been clarified that renunciation for the desires of rewards is what is to be abandoned as they keep one revolving in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and thus it is possible to perform all actions in such a renounced state and achieve moksa or liberation from material existence. Moksa may also be considered a desire but it is the internal desire of the intellect for a spiritual result and not the mundane desire for a material reward. Moksa is achieved by inclination of the intellect, by inspired faith, by reflection, introspection and meditation, by the cessation of identifying with the physical body, by discrimination between matter and spirit. Until one has reached this point, the relegation of prescribed duties for purification of the mind which are not antagonistic to devotion to the Supreme Lord while relinquishing the desire for rewards is essential and not the actual abandonment of actions. The Iso Upanisad verse II beginning kurvan neve ha karmani states: By performing Vedic activities one should not mind to live 100 years. That is because during this time the cessation of activities without the desire for rewards will manifest automatically as a natural process due to the internal inclination of the purified intellect which dissolves all impurities as the spring rain clouds depart after fulfilling their purpose. Lord Krishna has stated earlier in chapter 3, verse 17 that: One who delights in the atma, who is satisfied with the atma, who is content in the atma has no need to perform any duties. The great sage Vasisitha has explained that: The enlightened make no effort to renounce actions yet actions renounce them for the root of all actions is desire and desire is non-existent in the enlightened ones. One may also renounce actions due to the fact that actions impede and hinder the practice of meditation.
One should perform mundane actions until one develops distaste and then disgust for them. In the Srimad Bhagavatam XI.XIV.XXVIII beginning tasmad aswad abbhidhyanam Lord Krishna Himself explains that: One should give up all material processes for elevation which are like the meanderings of a dream and purify themselves by focusing the mind completely in the Supreme Lord. The precise reason for this instruction was given by Lord Krishna earlier in Srimad Bhagavatam XI.XIV.XXII beginning dharmah satya-dayopeto means: Righteous and spiritual activities performed sincerely as well as esoteric knowledge obtained by prodigious austerities cannot completely purify the consciousness if they are not endowed with devotion to the Supreme Lord. In this light even moksa is insignificant and never pursued or even thought about by the surrendered devotees of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures. So we have presented various examples from diverse angles of vision to answer this question adequately.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains that the absence of prescribed Vedic actions which hold even a miniscule residue for rewards is renunciation known as sannyasa or relinquishing of actions. Tyaja is renunciation by abandoning the desire for rewards and not the prescribed actions themselves. Both sannyasa and tyaja are considered renunciation.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Some learned philosophers contend that sannyasa or renunciation is the abstention from performing activities for rewards. Other sophisticated sages assert that in sections of the Vedic scriptures pertaining to moksa or liberation from material existence that tyaja or renunciation means abandoning the rewards attached to Vedic activities whether they are namittika or regular duties or kamya or specific activities prescribed for specific results. The contention here is the predominance of one or the other points of view when in contradiction. Is sannyasa or abandonment of the activities for rewards alone sufficient or is tyaja the abandonment of desires for rewards the essential attribute to be embraced? Both appear to be plausible and both are situated in renunciation and both may be used synonymously and considered as renunciation. More clarity concerning this topic is presented by Lord Krishna in verses four, seven and twelve.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains that some learned men of knowledge propound renunciation as sannyasa or abandoning all activities prescribed or otherwise motivated by desire for rewards. While other men of wisdom maintain that renunciation is tyaja or abandoning the desire for rewards and not relinquishing the prescribed Vedic activitiy.