Chapter 18Final Revelations of the Ultimate TruthVerse 3


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

The unintelligent propound that abandoning actions is what is meant by sannyasa or renunciation. The intelligent maintain that abandoning the desire for the rewards of actions is renunciation. In order to establish these two diverging views firmly the Supreme Lord Krishna states the word manisinah means the wise, the conscientious. The learned philosophers from the Sankhya philosophy which is based on mundane analysis are of the opinion that all defective actions are to be abandoned because they are produced by the agency of desire which promotes bondage in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and because they are contaminated by mundane impulses such as lust and violence. Even ritualistic actions accomplished by material means although without violence are prone to the possibility of causing some injury in some way.

The Vedic scriptures declare that: One should never kill a cow under any circumstances. This is an infallible prohibition. If one does so unlimited sins and immeasurable demerits are accrued and one will be forced to suffer in hell for as many millions of years as there are hairs on the physical body of every cow killed. Yet again there are references in the Vedic scriptures explaining how an animal may be slain, yet as the explanations pertain to two different subject matters they are not in confliction as cow killing is an all inclusive prohibition involving all cows, bulls and calves whereas the slaying of animals is a specific injunction of another type and does not annul the former. What is spoken by the Supreme Lord is anusvarava or infallible. What is revealed in the Vedic scriptures is anusvarava and the knowledge transmitted from the Vedic scriptures by the Vaisnava spiritual master is anusvarava.

The injunctions and ordinances prescribed in the Vedic scriptures although giving protection in temporal things and halt accruing demerits by abstaining from prohibited activities but this is quite ineffectual for achieving moksa or liberation from material existence because of being used in banal and mundane situations. The method of dissolving sins by various procedures such as the jytishtoma yagna or rituaistic propitiation and fire worship or candrayama fasting by the cycles of the moon is temporal, solely for physical and material gain and is accompanied by impurity, selfish motives and evil actions. There is also some gradation in the heavenly planets for one resulting from sinful actions that were absolved compared to one who never committed sinful actions at all.

Other learned philosophers such as those of the Mimamsaka philosophy or mundane rationalist declare that prescribed Vedic activities should never be abandoned. A Vedic injunction enjoins the performance of what has been prescribed for a particular aim to insure a specific result and benefits all involved. But a prohibition does not similarly denote that such action serves the purpose of something else but only that abstaining from such an act insures that no demerits will be accrued if the act is not committed. If this was true then even prohibited actions performed inadvertently or in ignorance would cease to be sinful and that is erroneous and not reality. Therefore among these two philosophies there is some contradiction. The Mimamsakas have a rule that when there is contradiction between two Vedic injunctions the specific one is more prominent then the general one and therefore annuls it. The Sankhyas analyse that there should be discrimination in interpreting the Vedic scriptures and although one injunction forbids killing and the another injunction permits killing they relate to different subject matter and there is no verification that sins are absent in ritualistic killing and following their rule of interpreting the Vedic texts the general rule is more prominent and annuls the specific rule.

It has been established that impurities and contamination are contained in killing; so for the Sankhyas although the performer of the action may receive some benefit such as gaining entry to the heavenly spheres it will shorten the duration of enjoying there due to the sin incurred of the slaying and soon afterwards one takes birth again in the worldly planets. Such reactions are also understood to be major impediments in the achievement of moksa or liberation from material existence. There is also a gradation in the results of different Vedic rituals. Some result in promotion to the heavenly spheres, some award kingship in the human spheres, some give sovereignty in the demoniac spheres but in all cases the results are only temporary and not permanent.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The word manisinah refers to the scholars of the sankhya or analytical school of thought who propound that renunciation is the abandonment of unrighteous actions due to possessing defects such as promoting desires or instigating violence. While others denoted by the words apare ca maintain the understanding that only the abandonment of the desire for rewards is renunciation. Both opinions have relevance and both opinions have been accepted as reasonable.

Now begins the summation.

Having referred to them as manisinah it is not appropriate to minimise their views but if inferior they should be given up. Thus a breach of etiquette is averted. The purport is to abandon actions with desires for rewards and all attachment to them. In the next verse Lord Krishna gives His absolute conclusion on this subject.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Kapila Muni the founder of the Sankhya philosophy which is based on analytical reason declares that since even prescribed Vedic activities have an aroma of desire for rewards attached to them and the resultant reactions keep one enslaved in samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death in material existence. So even prescribed Vedic activities are fit to be abandoned by those aspirants striving for moksa or liberation from material existence. But those of the Mimamsaka philosophy who adhere to rationalistic thinking in interpreting the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures maintain that prescribed Vedic duties are not to be abandoned only the desires for rewards from such duties are in fact to be renounced.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Other erudite men of knowledge assert that since all activities contain an element of desire which are producive of bondage they should all be given up. While other wise men of discernment declare that prescribed Vedic duties such as yagna or ritualistic worship and propitiation, tapah or austerities and penance and danam or charity should never to be abandoned.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 18, verse 3 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 3

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