|Chapter 18||Final Revelations of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 1|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
In order to ascertain exactly what is the final conclusion of all the teachings and instructions that have been imparted up until now; the Supreme Lord Krishna concisely summarises the entire Bhagavad-Gita in this concluding chapter by clearly distinguishing the difference between renunciation of actions caused by the impulses of desire and renunciation of the desire for rewards for one's actions. In previous chapters Lord Krishna has elaborated on the mental renunciation of all actions in chapter 5, verse 13 as well as renunciation of actions through yoga or the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness in chapter 9, verse 28. He has also explained renouncing attachment to actions while renouncing their rewards in chapter 4, verse 20 and likewise explained the renunciation of the rewards resulting from actions in chapter 12, verse 11. It should be understood that the infinitely merciful and totally omniscient Supreme Lord Krishna never teaches or exemplifies contradictory knowledge. Whatever and wherever His divine lila or pastimes are manifesting they are always perfection and the epitome of dharma or eternal righteousness. Everything He does or expounds upon whether instructional or by example is always fully harmonious with the Vedas and in completely complimentary to the conclusions of all the Vedic scriptures. So to distinctly know the difference between renunciation of performing actions and to reconcile it harmoniously with renunciation for the results of actions is the poignant and penetrating question requested to be answered here.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Hari OM! In this final chapter the Supreme Lord Krishna summarises in brief all of the perennial principles and eternal truths that were presented in the previous 17 chapters and establishes the collective conclusion to all of them.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The preceding chapters 16 and 17 elaborated the following subjects by Lord Krishna: 1) The only means of achieving the four purusarthas or goals of human existence which are kama or pleasure, artha or wealth, dharma or righteousness and moksa or liberation from material existence which is the quintessence of them all is to adhere to and follow the ordinances and injunctions of the Vedic scriptures by the performance of yagna or ritualistic propitiation and worship to the Supreme Lord Krishna, tapah or austerities and penance authorised in the Vedic scriptures and danam or charity to the Vaisnava Brahmins from one of the four bonafide sampradayas as revealed in Vedic scriptures. 2) That all Vedic rituals and observances are always predicated first with the pranava OM the transcendental sound vibration of the Supreme Lord denoting the first breath making this reverberating hum which the Sanskrit root is pranu. 3) The distinction of that representing the brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence and leading to moksa is symbolised by TAT and that representing prakriti or the material substratum pervading physical existence confering kama, artha and dharma is symbolised by SAT. 4) That yagna or ritualistic propitiation and worship performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord when devoid of any desires for rewards becomes successful 5) That those initiated Vaisnava brahmanas performing yagnas achieved their ordainment as a result of the prominence of sattva guna or mode of goodness permeating their character enhanced by the sole intake of only sattvic foods.
In this final chapter Lord Krishna concisely delineates the following subject matters: 1) Sannyasa the renunciation of action and tyaja the renunciation of actions rewards 2) The exact nature and mood of tyaja. 3) The comprehension that the Supreme Lord Krishna is the repository and agency of everything. 4) A description of the effects of the three gunas or modes of material nature illustrating that sattva guna alone leads to moksa or liberation from material existence and is thus the only guna worthy of cultivation. 5) How activities appropriated in the varnas or four caste system indicates the natural propensities of a jiva or embodied being based on karma or reactions to past actions are actually authorised acts of worship to the Supreme Lord accomplishing His attainment. 6) The quintessential conclusion of the divine discourse Srimad Bhagavad- Gita is that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations and expansions as revealed in Vedic scriptures is the paramount goal of all existence.
The question enquired about is the distinct difference between sannyasa and tyaja as well as their similarities. Both are subtle not easy to understand. Both are situated in renunciation and both lead to moksa. Literally sannyasa means putting away and literally tyaja means giving up. Sannyasa expresses abandonment of desires for actions and tyaja exhibits the abandonment for the rewards of actions. The Mundaka Upanisad III.II.VI beginning veda ta vijnano sunisch means: Those of restrained senses who lead a life of renunciation with Vedic knowledge achieve liberation. Not by action, not by wealth, not by progeny can this be achieved. Those enlightened jivas who have ascertained what is the essence of the Vedic scriptures and assimilating it within their hearts by renunciation dissolve all their karmas and achieve moksa and the final beatitude. In order to illustrate the nature of both sannyasa and tyaja and prove that they are one and the same Lord Krishna first corrects the misapprehension that they are different.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
This is the final chapter of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita and in it the Supreme Lord Krishna gives a concise synopsis of all the subjects presented in the previous 17 chapters. This He does in order to impress upon our memories the topics elaborated upon earlier and to clearly delineate how all conceptions harmoniously unite in the marvellous sublime beauty of the final conclusion. At the end of the last chapter it was explained that actions were only declared righteous if they were performed for the exclusive satisfaction of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His authorised incarnations revealed in Vedic scriptures. Such actions exclusively dedicated in chapter 17, verse 27 for His satisfaction alone are known as SAT and clearly denote that the desire for rewards is what is to be abandoned and not the activity. This was also confirmed earlier in chapter 12, verse 11 where Lord Krishna advises that controlling the mind one should relinquish the desire for the rewards of actions. Even earlier in chapter 5, verse 13 Lord Krishna had advised mentally renouncing all actions.
Why then do these two instructions seem contradictory and what is the correct understanding regarding the renunciation of all actions and the renunciation of desire for the receiving the rewards of actions? The true nature of abandonment of actions and the abandonment of the desire for rewards and the distinction between the two is what Lord Krishna will address. In this context it must be taken into consideration whether or not sannyasa or renunciation and tyaja or abandonment are actually different. The Mundaka Upanisad III.II.VI beginning veda tat vijnano sunisch meaning: Those who have purified themselves through renunciation and have ascertained and comprehended the Vedic scriptures will achieve moksa or liberation from material existence. Neither through actions, nor wealth, nor progeny but only by renunciation is immortality gained.
The evocatives mahabaho meaning mighty armed denotes Lord Krishna's indomitable might and kesinisudana refers to His destroying a mighty demon. So He is requested to by His supreme power to destroy the misunderstanding of renunciation along with destroying the enemies on the battlefield. The evocative Hrsikesa acknowledges that Lord Krishna is the inner monitor of the mind and that only He can remove all doubts.