Chapter 5Action and RenunciationVerse 16


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

Here Lord Krishna is emphasising that persons whose spiritual knowledge has become awakened do not become deluded in the material existence. They are able to discriminate between the mundane material knowledge and the divine spiritual knowledge by knowledge of the atma or soul and knowledge of the Supreme. This spiritual knowledge destroys all ignorance and manifests illumination of the Supreme Lord within the etheric heart of a human being just as the sun destroying darkness and illuminates all things.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

Vedic knowledge alone destroys spiritual ignorance that is why Lord Krishna uses the word jnana or knowledge referring to knowledge of the Vedas which gives actual awareness of the ultimate reality. Here the word jnana denotes a supra-consciousness experience it does not mean expertise in intellectual empirical knowledge nor does it mean proficiency in mundane analytical knowledge.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Although the intelligence may be shrouded by the veil of ignorance still it has been seen that there are those whose consciousness becomes awakened upon receiving Vedic knowledge. The veil of ignorance is due to the endless mass of accumulated reactions to previous actions in incessant lifetimes since time immemorial. Atma tattva or realisation of the soul and soul related knowledge derived from the Vedic scriptures and imbibed from the teachings of the spiritual master increases virtue and quality in one's daily life and is exceedingly pure. For this it is necessary to achieve innate extraordinary intelligence or supra-consciousness which becomes resplendent like the sun unlimited and expansive, illuminating all things by the reality of their exact nature. The word jnanam meaning by knowledge and atmanah denoting plurality of souls confirms that by such knowledge one realises the Supreme Being. It should not be contended that the plurality of unlimited atmas is upadhi or limited because no trace of limitation can exist once one's ignorance has been dispelled by atma tattva. Spiritual intelligence in itself is an attribute of one who possesses and is dependent upon existence. The atma which is eternal is not an attribute and is independent in relation to existence. The analogy of the sun as an illuminator is to illustrate the relation between cognisance and cognition or the relationship between the knower and the known shown by the sun as the source of light and emanation of light. Hence it can be discerned that in samsara or the endless cycle of birth and death in the conditioned state there is extreme limitation due to karma or reactions to actions and in moksa or the emancipated state there is an absence of limitation due to a lack of karma..

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Knowledge is of two types mundane and transitory and transcendental and eternal; but why is it that all those whose minds have been enveloped in ignorance since time immemorial are so infatuated while others are able to free themselves from delusion? It is do to the Supreme Lords grace through the mercy of His devotee that those are able to free themselves from the infatuation of delusion. Only be the grace of the Supreme Lords devotee is one able to reverse the envelopment of ignorance constituted by the mindset fashioned from reactions to one's actions and flow towards the eternal nature of the atma or soul which is realised by continuous reflection, contemplation and meditation upon the teachings of the Vedic scriptures received through the mouth of the spiritual master and the following of His instructions who has himself realised the essence of the Vedic scriptures and who has achieved atma tattva or realisation of the soul and has attained the Supreme Being which is completely transcendental to all things material and is like the rising of the sun illuminating the consciousness in all directions to those who have knowledge of . This is why such beings do not get infatuated and become deluded.

With the statement in the possessive case adityavit jnanam meaning true knowledge shining like the sun and the statement prakasayati tat param meaning reveals the supreme being, Lord Krishna refutes the adherents of absolute monism because it is not possible to have even an iota of contact with it because of the plural inference of the word atmanah meaning souls even after their ignorance is dispelled. This refutes those who deny that knowledge is different from its nature and also refutes those who propound oneness of the quality and the qualified trying to establish a relation with the knower and knowledge like light and its source. Because it is known that knowledge is distinctively different from the nature of the atma or soul. This infers that gross and subtle embodied beings created in the material existence due to reactions from past life activities obscures knowledge into a lesser quality like the light of a lamp is lessened when covered by a shaded glass although it does not change its nature. Contrarily when one has achieved atma tattva then in the state of moksa or liberation the destruction of the physical and subtle bodies reveals the knowledge of the atmas quality as the light of a lamp is more illuminating when the shaded glass cover is removed; yet there is no difference in its nature but only in its perception. As by the removal of the impurities obscuring a jewel allows its radiance to be seen; in the same way when the impurity of undesirable mundane qualities like lust and fruitiveness are removed and abandoned then the transcendental qualities of wisdom, renunciation and compassion reveal themselves in all their splendour. These qualities are always present without being created because they are eternally manifest as qualities of the atma.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 5, verse 16 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 16

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