Chapter 18Final Revelations of the Ultimate TruthVerse 18


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

By revealing the threefold impulses that manifest action and the threefold agents that forms the basis of actions; Lord Krishna establishes the point that the atma or immortal soul which is of an exclusively spiritual nature without material qualities and attributes has absolutely no connection with the cause, the basis and the rewards of actions which are all by products of the three gunas or modes of material nature. Knowledge is the cognizance to obtain a desired result. The knowable is the effort that achieves the result. The knower is the one possessing such knowledge and the means to achieve it. If one translates the word codana to mean impetus then these threefold impulses are the impetus by which all actions are enacted. If the word codana is interpreted to mean scriptural injunctions as the 8th century philosopher Kumarilla Bhatta has given, then the meaning would be that all injunctions in respect to actions are enacted dependent upon the threefold basis which is derived from the three gunas. In chapter two, verse 45 Lord Krishna has already stated that the Vedic scriptures proscribe subjects that are of the three gunas. So it should be understood that the basis of actions are the instrument which is the best means for effecting knowledge, the action that achieves the goal and the agent who performs the action. The words karma sangrahah mean that which epitomises action. In other words the triad consisting of the instrument, the action and the agent form the basis of action. Knowledge, the knowable and the knower are the subsidiary factors which support the basis of action indirectly.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

It is clarified that for those who understand the purport of this verse the desire for expectation and reward would not arise due to not seeing themselves as the doer and performer. Having described the primary threefold impetus as the basis of actions, the Supreme Lord Krishna explains the consequential threefold subsequent actions. Here the word sangrahah meaning foundation infers the consequential results that accumulated from the basis of actions. This also confirms with the Rig Veda statements: Relying on knowledge, the act of knowing and the knower all scriptural injunctions and ordinances become established. The cause, the performance and the performer factually constitute what is action. Even by the non-performance of action one becomes eligible to be qualified by hearing instructions from the Vaisnava spiritual master, by study of the Vedic scriptures and by the mercy bequeathed by devotion to the Supreme Lord. Thus the intention of bhakti exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord following the ordinances of the Vedic scriptures and the instructions of the Vaisnava spiritual master is the ultimate action for as one intends even so it is performed by the Supreme Lords grace. Thus actions that are dedicated to the Spreme Lord are bhakti and such performance factually becomes nimitta a procedure. Yet even in normal circumstances no one is actually the doer and it is only due to the misconceptions of bodily identification and egoism that one erroneously assumes that they are the performer. Since humans are endowed with freewill and self determination and have more independence then all other living entities on the Earth; humans alone are eligible and capable to reflect and appropriately act upon the injunctions, ordinances and prohibitions of the Vedic scriptures. Since this reality is established by experience no additional proofs are adduced to here.

Now begins the summation.

The Supreme Lord energises the entire creation and all jivas or embodied beings by His Supreme omniscient consciousness. The jivas respective to their manifested form assume the attributes of knower, knowing and knowledge similar to the Supreme Lord. As all jivas possess an atma or immortal soul which is eternal this is the similarity to the Supreme Lord which gives them eternality. But the jiva will not be able to access this eternality and achieve moksa or liberation from material existence until they have achieved realisation of the atma existing within the etheric heart. Failing this they will not become free from samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death and must reincarnate perpetually in variegated material forms according to each jiva's individual karma or reactions to actions enacted in the previous lifetime. So in such situations there is no concluding finality.

Yet who is there in the world who does not experience that attitude of: I have done this, I have achieved that? Therefore without such conceptions how can we know that we exist? So how can there be any difference in the concepts of: I know and I exist? The answer is that when one perceives the eternal quality of the atma as distinctly different from the physical body the forms of different bodies ceases to be consequential and the essence of the atma is understood as the essential part. The words karma sangraha meaning foundation of actions refers to the fivefold factors constituting all action. The Supreme Lord by His omnipotence, by His omniscience, by His omnipresence and by His independence controls all creation through the threefold manner described. The jiva performs actions due to the influence of previous karma that determines the attributes, characteristics and form one incarnates into.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

The threefold activities that are the motivating force of all actions are itemised now. 1) Jnanam means knowledge of the activity. 2) Jneyam means knowing how the activity is to be accomplished. 3) Parijnata means the knower who performs the activity. These three activities are prerequisite and are the impetus which impels one to perform prescribed Vedic activities for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Contrarily they are also the impetus to enact mundane activities for personal gratification. Among these three activities jneyam is comprised of three subdivisions and explained in context of the Vedas are: 1) karanam how the activity becomes reality such as by donations of wealth or materials. 2) karma or engagement in the act itself such as yagna or ritualistic propitiation. 3) karta the agent who performs the action or initiates the action to be performed.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Lord Krishna reaffirms that one who is free from egoism and the notions of I did this and I did that is not bound by actions and there consequent reactions. The state of egolessness is the result of a preponderance of sattva guna the mode of goodness and such affinity is the doorway leading to spiritual knowledge. So in order to present the threefold types of action and their performance He speaks of knowledge infering about the action, the object of knowledge, the qualified agent, the prescribed procedure, the knower of the ritual to the Supreme Lord and the perfomer thereof. These threefold factors of knowledge, the knowable and the knower form the basis that motivates all actions in the form of initiating actions, instructing actions and directing actions, etc. It has been declared by the 8th century pandit Kumarila Bhatta who was responsible for defeating innumerable propounders of impersonalistic conceptions of the Supreme Lord: That directing, instructing and enjoining are all of the same idea. The action as the object of knowledge is also threefold. As mantras or sacred incantations are the most effacious means for invoking and propitaiating the Supreme Lord, ass the hands are the most effective instruments for offering oblations to the Supreme Lord and as the sruk or ladle is the most effective instrument for pouring ghees or clarified butter in the sacred fire. In the same way the Vedic ritual is accomplished by the actions of the performer of the action who is merely an instrument alsol and not the actual doer as the previously explained factors factually constitute all actions.

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

Verse 18

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