Chapter 5Action and RenunciationVerse 6


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 question may be raised that if persons practising karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities without desiring rewards have anyway to achieve atma tattva or realisation of the soul through renunciation it would be better to renounce actions right from the start. To alleviate this question Lord Krishna advises that it is very difficult and perilous to attempt this without performing karma yoga without desire for rewards beforehand because the mind will not have been purified. Contrarily the munir or elevated sage devoted to actions devoid of ego easily purifies their mind and realises the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence quickly in the same lifetime. This is why it is iterated that karma yoga is superior to renunciation of action because it can not be maintained without first performing karma yoga. That is why it is said by the author of the Varttika that: One even sees the minds of sannyasins or complete renunciates in abnegation agitated by material desirous and are externalised with thoughts polluted by contact with material nature, becoming careless, malicious, and quarrelsome.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Lord Krishna is reconfirming that renunciation is advisable for equanimity of mind for without it the possibility of moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death in the material existence will not manifest. The desire for sense objects and the motivation for rewards only leads to misery. Moksa itself is should be the goal of all endeavours as all other goals are of little importance as they are material and transitory and in one's possession for only a limited time. The Padma Purana states: That except for the goal of moksa all other goals are not even worthy of consideration. When an effort is able to bestow superior results, the bestowal of inferior results is of no consequence. The primary effect of equanimity is renunciation thus the word munir is given meaning one who has renounced. Thus it is said that they alone are known as renunciates who are devoid of desire and anger.

Now begins the summation.

The means of moksa or liberation is said to be the state of equanimity and its effect is renunciation. That which is always first offered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord for His pleasure is true renunciation and no other forms of renunciation are commendable. In the Agni Purana is stated: That without renouncing the desire of rewards for one's actions whatever one might offer unto the Supreme Lord has no merit and the rewards received from all forms of renunciation contrary for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord are similar to the pleasures of hell. Hence it has been declared what is called renunciation know that to be equanimity. Since equanimity has been clarified to be of such paramount importance there is no need to emphasise it further.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Lord Krishna affirms that the aspirant who performs renunciation of the rewards of actions and the aspirant who practices jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge, for both of them atma tattva or realisation of the soul is difficult to achieve without the help of karma yoga or performing prescribed Vedic activities without desire for rewards. The compound words yoga-yuktah is one who has achieved communion with the ultimate consciousness by karma yoga or performing prescribed Vedic activities without attachment. The word munir or sagacious is one who is focused on meditating on the atma or soul. Such a muni easily traverses the path of karma yoga receiving atma tattva or realisation of the soul as well as realisation of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence. But the person who is inclined to perform jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge finds this path extremely difficult and hard to maintain. Because of this it takes an exceptionally long time to attain the atma by this discipline.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

The question may be asked that if the path of karma yoga or prescibed Vedic activities without desiring rewards is anyway realised through the renunciation of action then why not start with renunciation of action in the beginning. To alleviate this doubt Lord Krishna replies that without karma yoga it is impossible to achieve purity of mind and in the absence of a pure mind it is very difficult and even perilous as the chance of disturbance and agitation are prevalent. Whereas the purified mind of the munir or elevated sage endowed with equanimity who practices karma yoga very soon perceives the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and achieves atma tattva or realisation of the soul as well.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 5, verse 6 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 6

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