Thursday, 29 July 2021

Bhagavad Gita Summary - Book 5- Samnyasa (Renunciation)

5- Samnyasa
The stage of complete renunciation; sannyas is one of the four ashrams or stages of life in Hindu philosophy. It requires to renounce all worldly thoughts and desires, and spends the rest of his life in spiritual contemplation.  In the first five chapters, there has been on ongoing consideration of the relation between action and contemplation, although they are not to be understood as distinct. This chapter has some of the most pointed statements on this question.
Karma Yoga suits the ignorant better than Samnyasa. (1-3)
2. Renunciation and Yoga through action both lead to the highest bliss; but, of the two. Yoga through action is esteemed more than renunciation of action.
Sankhya and Yoga lead to the same goal. (4-5)
4. Children, not the wise, speak of Sankhya and Yoga as distinct. He who is rightly devoted to even one obtains the fruits of both.
I think such is not the meaning, but that, on the contrary, the seemingly easy alternative of performing actions properly is in reality the most difficult of all tasks. And no matter how much we may wait for a favorable birth, for a much hoped-for environment which will not only permit the new sort of life but, in fact, urge it upon us, it will never arrive for us until we have learned what is the right performance of action. This learning can never be acquired by a renunciation of works now. Indeed, it may be taken for granted that no person will be able to renounce the world unless he has passed through the other experience in some life. A few may be found who attempt to do so, but if they have not been through all action they cannot proceed. The character of the man himself inwardly is the real test. No matter how many times during countless births he has renounced the world, if his inner nature has not renounced, he will be the same man during the entire period, and whenever, in any one of his ascetic lives, the new, the appropriate temptation or circumstance arises, he will fall from his high outward asceticism.
That our view as to the extreme difficulty of right renunciation through action is correct, we may refer to what Krishna says further on in the chapter.
Yet such abstraction, Chief!
Is hard to win without much holiness. (William Q. Judge, Essays on the Gita, 5, 4)
Karma Yoga is a means to Samnyasa. (6)
6- O thou of mighty arms, it is difficult to attain true renunciation, without right performance of action; the devotee rightly performing action attains to true renunciation before long.
Here again is a higher place assigned to performance of action. It seems clear that what Krishna meant was that renunciation of action in any one life, followed by the same conduct in all the subsequent lives thereby affected, would at last lead the renouncer to see how he must begin to stop that kind of renunciation and take up the performance of actions while he renounced the fruit of them. This is thought by many occultists to be the true view
No matter in what direction we see ourselves acting, we perceive how difficult it is to be true renouncers. And we cannot hope to reach the perfection of this better sort of renunciation through action, in the present life, be it the one in which we have begun, or be it the twentieth of such effort. However, we can try, and such is our duty; if we persevere, the tendency toward the right understanding will increase with each life more rapidly than would otherwise be possible.
 (William Q. Judge, Essays on the Gita, 5, 6)
 A sage's actions do not affect him. (7)
7. He who is equipped with Yoga, whose mind is quite pure, by whom the self has been conquered, whose senses have been subdued, whose Self has become the Self of all beings,—though doing, he is not tainted.
A sage's actions are really no actions. (8-9)
8-9. 'I do nothing at all'; thus should the truth-knower think, steadfast,—though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, letting go, seizing, opening and closing the eyes,—remembering that the senses move among sense-objects.
Karma Yogin is untainted by the results of this action. (10-12)
12. The steady-minded one, abandoning the fruit of action, attains the peace born of devotion. The unsteady one, attached to the fruit through the action of desire, is firmly bound. 
The steady- minded man who, resolved that " I do actions for the sake of the Lord, not for my benefit," abandons the fruit of action attains the peace called moksha, as the result of devotion, through the following stages : first, purity of the mind ; then, attainment of knowledge ; then, renunciation of all actions ; and lastly, devotion to knowledge. But he who is unsteady is led by desire and is attached to the fruit, thinking ' I do this act for my benefit.' He is firmly bound. Therefore, be thou steady-minded.   (Baghavad Gita, with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, transl. A. Mahadeva Sastri, 1901, 151)
2- Life of the sage (13-26)
The blissful embodied life of a sage. (13)
13. Renouncing all actions by thought, and Self-controlled, the embodied one rests happily in the nine-gated city, neither at all acting nor causing to act. 
Actions are either the obligatory duties (nitya-karmani), or those arising on the occurrence of some special events (naimittika- karmani), or those intended for securing some special ends, and which are only optional (kamya-karma),or those which are forbidden (pratishiddha-karmani). The man who has subdued the senses, renounces all actions in speech, thought, and deed, by discrimination, by seeing inaction , in action, and rests happily. He rests happily because he ; has given up all action in speech, thought and deed, because he is without worry, because his mind is calm, because, excepting the Self, all interests (foreign to the Self) have departed from his mind. Where and how does he rest ? — In the body which has nine openings : seven in the head, being the organs of sensation ; two nether ones for the passage of the urine and the dung. As having these nine openings, the body is said to be a nine-gated city. It is like a city, with the Self for its Monarch, inhabited by the citizens of the senses, mind, intellect, as well as their objects,—all working for the sole benefit of their Lord and producing consciousness of various objects. In such a nine-gated city the embodied one rests, having renounced all action. (Sankara Commentary)
Nature is the source of activity. (14)
14. Neither agency nor objects does the Lord create for the world, nor union with the fruits of actions. But it is the nature that acts.
{Question):—If the Self in the body does not Himself act nor cause others to act, what then is it that acts and causes others to act ? { [Answer) :—Listen. It is Nature, Svabhava, Prakriti, \ Maya, ' the Divine Maya made up of gunas '( vii. 14 ).  (Sankara Commentary)
Wisdom and Unwisdom. (15-16) 
16. But to those whose unwisdom is destroyed by wisdom of the Self, like the sun wisdom illuminates that Supreme.
The sage has no more births. (17) 
17. With their consciousness in That, their Self being That, intent on That, with That for their supreme goal, they go never again to return, their sins shaken off by means of wisdom.
The sage sees the One in all beings. (18) 
18. In a Brahmana endued with wisdom and humility, in a cow, in an elephant, as also in a dog and in a dog-eater,'' the wise see the same. Humility is tranquillity, the condition of a well-disciplined soul. 
The sage is liberated while still on earth. (19) 
19. Even here birth is overcome by them whose mind rests on equality. Spotless, indeed, and equal is Brahman ; wherefore in Brahman they rest.
The sage is free from grief and rejoicing. (20) 
20. He who knows Brahman can neither rejoice on obtaining the pleasant, nor grieve on obtaining the unpleasant,—steady-minded, undeluded, resting in Brahman.
The sage's infinite joy. (21-22) 
22. For, those delights which arc born of contacts are only generators of pain, having a beginning and an end, O son of Kunti ; a wise man rejoices not in them. 
Seeing that there is no trace of joy in the samsara, the devotee should withdraw the senses from the mirage of sense-objects. Not only do the delights cause pain, but also they have a beginning and an end. The contact of a sense with its object marks the beginning) of a pleasure, and their separation its end. Delights are temporary, occurring in the moment of interval (between the origin and the end). (Sankara Commentary)
The path of Nirvana. (23-26) 
23. He that is able, while still here, to withstand, before liberation from the body, the impulse of desire and anger, he is a Yogin, he is a happy man. While still here : while yet living. Before liberation from the body : up to the point of death.
By thus marking death as the limit, the Lord teaches that the impulse of desire and anger is unavoidable during life, since its causes are innumerable, and that till the very moment of death it should not be trusted. Desire (Kama) is the longing for a pleasure giving agreeable object of our experience when coming within the ken of our senses, heard of, or remembered ; and anger (krodha) is the aversion for the disagreable, for the cause of pain, when being seen, heard of, or remembered. The impulse of desire (kama) is the agitation of the mind (antah-karana) as indicated by hairs standing on end and by a joyful countenance ; and the impulse of anger is the mental agitation indicated by the trembling of the body, by perspiration, lip-biting, fiery eyes, and the like. He who can withstand the impulses of desire and anger is a Yogin, and he is a happy man here on earth. (Sankara Commentary)
24. Whoso has his joy within and his pastime within, and whoso has his light within only, that Yogin attains Brahman's bliss, himself becoming Brahman. Within: in the Self. He attains the bliss (nirvana) in Brahman,—i.e. he attains moksha,—while still living here on earth. 
One who is not affected by the success or failure (or gains and losses) of his actions is a person with sense of equability. He is the Brahman personified. Due to the limitless internal bliss of the Self he is not attracted towards the external worldly pleasures. It is only those who have not experienced this internal bliss that are attracted towards the impermanent worldly pleasures. The pleasures of the sense-objects are actually miseries from the beginning to the end but ignorant people cannot do without them. It is these people who are addicted to the sense pleasures that have given the appearance of truth to this worldly delusion of Maya. (5:126). (Dnyaneshwari; 5:103-126, transl. M.R. Yardi) 
These instructions will be very difficult for all who are living for themselves and who have not in some small degree begun to believe that they are not here for their own sake. But when we feel that there is no separation between us and any other creature, and that our higher self is leading us through all the experiences of life to the end that we shall recognize the unity of all, then, instead of continually acting contrary to that object of the higher self, we try to acquire the right belief and aspiration. Nor need we be deterred, as some are, by the extreme difficulty of eliminating the selfish desire for progress. That will be the task during many lives, and we should begin it voluntarily as soon as it is known, instead of waiting for it to be forced in upon us through suffering and many defeats.
Effacement in the Supreme Spirit is gained by the right-seeing sage whose sins are exhausted, who hath cut asunder all doubts, whose senses and organs are under control, and who is devoted to the well-being of all creatures.
If the last qualification is absent, then he is not a "right-seeing sage" and cannot reach union with the Supreme. It must follow that the humblest imitator, everyone who desires to come to that condition, must try to the best of his ability to imitate the sage who has succeeded. And such is the word of the Master; for he says in many places that, if we expect to have his help, we must apply ourselves to the work of helping humanity — to the extent of our ability. No more than this is demanded.  (Judge, 5, 25)
26. To the devotees who are free from desire and anger, who have controlled their thought, and who have known the Self, Brahman's bliss exists everywhere. Those who have renounced all actions and attained right knowledge are liberated, whether living or dead.
3- Realisation of the Lord by Dhyana-Yoga. (27-29) 
It has been said that those who, renouncing all actions, remain steady in right knowledge obtain instant liberation. It has often been and will be declared by the Lord that Karma-Yoga, which is performed in complete devotion to the Lord and dedicated to Him, leads to moksha step by step: first the purification of the mind, then knowledge, then renunciation of all actions, and lastly moksha.  (Sankara Commentary)
29. On knowing Me,—the Lord of all sacrifices and austerities, the Great Lord of all worlds, the Friend of all beings,—he goes to Peace.
I am Narayana, the Lord of all sacrifices and austerities, both as their author and as their Devata (i.e, as the God whose grace is sought by their means). I am the Friend of all, doing good to them without expecting any return for it. Lying in the heart of all beings, I am the dispenser of the fruits of all actions and the witness of all cognitions. On knowing Me, they attain peace, the cessation of all samsara. (Sankara Commentary)

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