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Conclusion—the Perfection
of Renunciation


VERSE 1 

Arjuna said: O mighty-armed one, I wish to understand the purpose of renunciation [tyaga] and of the renounced order of life [sannyasa], O killer of the Kesi demon, master of the senses.

PURPORT

Actually the Bhagavad-gita is finished in seventeen chapters. The Eighteenth Chapter is a supplementary summarization of the topics discussed before. In every chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna stresses that devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life. This same point is summarized in the Eighteenth Chapter as the most confidential path of knowledge. In the first six chapters, stress was given to devotional service: yoginam api sarvesam. .. "Of all yogis or transcendentalists, one who always thinks of Me within himself is best." In the next six chapters, pure devotional service and its nature and activity were discussed. In the third six chapters, knowledge, renunciation, the activities of material nature and transcendental nature, and devotional service were described. It was concluded that all acts should be performed in conjunction with the Supreme Lord, represented by the words om tat sat, which indicate Visnu, the Supreme Person. The third part of Bhagavad-gita has shown that devotional service, and nothing else, is the ultimate purpose of life. This has been established by citing past acaryas and the Brahma-sutra, the Vedanta-sutra. Certain impersonalists consider themselves to have a monopoly on the knowledge of Vedanta-sutra, but actually the Vedanta-sutra is meant for understanding devotional service, for the Lord Himself is the composer of the Vedanta-sutra and He is its knower. That is described in the Fifteenth Chapter. In every scripture, every Veda, devotional service is the objective. That is explained in Bhagavad-gita.

As in the Second Chapter a synopsis of the whole subject matter was described, in the Eighteenth Chapter also the summary of all instruction is given. The purpose of life is indicated to be renunciation and attainment of the transcendental position above the three material modes of nature. Arjuna wants to clarify the two distinct subject matters of Bhagavad-gita, namely renunciation (tyaga) and the renounced order of life (sannyasa). Thus he is asking the meaning of these two words.

Two words used in this verse to address the Supreme Lord—Hrsikesa and Kesi-nisudana—are significant. Hrsikesa is Krsna, the master of all senses, who can always help us attain mental serenity. Arjuna requests Him to summarize everything in such a way that he can remain equipoised. Yet he has some doubts, and doubts are always compared to demons. He therefore addresses Krsna as Kesi-nisudana. Kesi was a most formidable demon who was killed by the Lord; now Arjuna is expecting Krsna to kill the demon of doubt.

 

VERSE 2 

The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned men call the renounced order of life [sannyasa]. And giving up the results of all activities is what the wise call renunciation [tyaga].

PURPORT

The performance of activities for results has to be given up. This is the instruction of Bhagavad-gita. But activities leading to advanced spiritual knowledge are not to be given up. This will be made clear in the next verses. In the Vedic literature there are many prescriptions of methods for performing sacrifice for some particular purpose. There are certain sacrifices to perform to attain a good son or to attain elevation to the higher planets, but sacrifices prompted by desires should be stopped. However, sacrifice for the purification of one’s heart or for advancement in the spiritual science should not be given up.

 

VERSE 3 

Some learned men declare that all kinds of fruitive activities should be given up as faulty, yet other sages maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned.

PURPORT

There are many activities in the Vedic literature which are subjects of contention. For instance, it is said that an animal can be killed in a sacrifice, yet some maintain that animal killing is completely abominable. Although animal killing in a sacrifice is recommended in the Vedic literature, the animal is not considered to be killed. The sacrifice is to give a new life to the animal. Sometimes the animal is given a new animal life after being killed in the sacrifice, and sometimes the animal is promoted immediately to the human form of life. But there are different opinions among the sages. Some say that animal killing should always be avoided, and others say that for a specific sacrifice it is good. All these different opinions on sacrificial activity are now being clarified by the Lord Himself.

 

VERSE 4 

O best of the Bharatas, now hear My judgment about renunciation. O tiger among men, renunciation is declared in the scriptures to be of three kinds.

PURPORT

Although there are differences of opinion about renunciation, here the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, gives His judgment, which should be taken as final. After all, the Vedas are different laws given by the Lord. Here the Lord is personally present, and His word should be taken as final. The Lord says that the process of renunciation should be considered in terms of the modes of material nature in which they are performed.

 

VERSE 5 

Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.

PURPORT

The yogis should perform acts for the advancement of human society. There are many purificatory processes for advancing a human being to spiritual life. The marriage ceremony, for example, is considered to be one of these sacrifices. It is called vivaha-yajna. Should a sannyasi, who is in the renounced order of life and who has given up his family relations, encourage the marriage ceremony? The Lord says here that any sacrifice which is meant for human welfare should never be given up. Vivaha-yajna, the marriage ceremony, is meant to regulate the human mind so that it may become peaceful for spiritual advancement. For most men, this vivaha-yajna should be encouraged even by persons in the renounced order of life. Sannyasis should never associate with women, but that does not mean that one who is in the lower stages of life, a young man, should not accept a wife in the marriage ceremony. All prescribed sacrifices are meant for achieving the Supreme Lord. Therefore, in the lower stages, they should not be given up. Similarly, charity is for the purification of the heart. If charity is given to suitable persons, as described previously, it leads one to advanced spiritual life.

 

VERSE 6 

All these activities should be performed without attachment or any expectation of result. They should be performed as a matter of duty, O son of Prtha. That is My final opinion.

PURPORT

Although all sacrifices are purifying, one should not expect any result by such performances. In other words, all sacrifices which are meant for material advancement in life should be given up, but sacrifices that purify one’s existence and elevate one to the spiritual plane should not be stopped. Everything that leads to Krsna consciousness must be encouraged. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam also it is said that any activity which leads to devotional service to the Lord should be accepted. That is the highest criterion of religion. A devotee of the Lord should accept any kind of work, sacrifice or charity which will help him in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord.

 

VERSE 7 

Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If one gives up his prescribed duties because of illusion, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

PURPORT

Work for material satisfaction must be given up, but activities which promote one to spiritual activity, like cooking for the Supreme Lord and offering the food to the Lord and then accepting the food, are recommended. It is said that a person in the renounced order of life should not cook for himself. Cooking for oneself is prohibited, but cooking for the Supreme Lord is not prohibited. Similarly, a sannyasi may perform a marriage ceremony to help his disciple in the advancement of Krsna consciousness. If one renounces such activities, it is to be understood that he is acting in the mode of darkness.

 

VERSE 8 

Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome or out of fear of bodily discomfort is said to have renounced in the mode of passion. Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation.

PURPORT

One who is in Krsna consciousness should not give up earning money out of fear that he is performing fruitive activities. If by working one can engage his money in Krsna consciousness, or if by rising early in the morning one can advance his transcendental Krsna consciousness, one should not desist out of fear or because such activities are considered troublesome. Such renunciation is in the mode of passion. The result of passionate work is always miserable. If a person renounces work in that spirit, he never gets the result of renunciation.

 

VERSE 9 

O Arjuna, when one performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all material association and all attachment to the fruit, his renunciation is said to be in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

Prescribed duties must be performed with this mentality. One should act without attachment for the result; he should be disassociated from the modes of work. A man working in Krsna consciousness in a factory does not associate himself with the work of the factory, nor with the workers of the factory. He simply works for Krsna. And when he gives up the result for Krsna, he is acting transcendentally.

 

VERSE 10 

The intelligent renouncer situated in the mode of goodness, neither hateful of inauspicious work nor attached to auspicious work, has no doubts about work.

PURPORT

A person in Krsna consciousness or in the mode of goodness does not hate anyone or anything which troubles his body. He does work in the proper place and at the proper time without fearing the troublesome effects of his duty. Such a person situated in transcendence should be understood to be most intelligent and beyond all doubts in his activities.

 

VERSE 11 

It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. But he who renounces the fruits of action is called one who has truly renounced.

PURPORT

It is said in Bhagavad-gita that one can never give up work at any time. Therefore he who works for Krsna and does not enjoy the fruitive results, who offers everything to Krsna, is actually a renouncer. There are many members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness who work very hard in their office or in the factory or some other place, and whatever they earn they give to the Society. Such highly elevated souls are actually sannyasis and are situated in the renounced order of life. It is clearly outlined here how to renounce the fruits of work and for what purpose fruits should be renounced.

 

VERSE 12 

For one who is not renounced, the threefold fruits of action—desirable, undesirable and mixed—accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such result to suffer or enjoy.

PURPORT

A person in Krsna consciousness acting in knowledge of his relationship with Krsna is always liberated. Therefore he does not have to enjoy or suffer the results of his acts after death.

 

VERSE 13 

O mighty-armed Arjuna, according to the Vedanta there are five causes for the accomplishment of all action. Now learn of these from Me.

PURPORT

A question may be raised that since any activity performed must have some reaction, how is it that the person in Krsna consciousness does not suffer or enjoy the reactions of work? The Lord is citing Vedanta philosophy to show how this is possible. He says that there are five causes for all activities, and for success in all activity one should consider these five causes. Sankhya means the stalk of knowledge, and Vedanta is the final stalk of knowledge accepted by all leading acaryas. Even Sankara accepts Vedanta-sutra as such. Therefore such authority should be consulted.

The ultimate control is invested in the Supersoul. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah. He is engaging everyone in certain activities by reminding him of his past actions. And Krsna conscious acts done under His direction from within yield no reaction, either in this life or in the life after death.

 

VERSE 14 

The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul—these are the five factors of action.

PURPORT

The word adhisthanam refers to the body. The soul within the body is acting to bring about the results of activity and is therefore known as karta, "the doer." That the soul is the knower and the doer is stated in the sruti. Esa hi drasta srasta (Prasna Upanisad 4.9). It is also confirmed in the Vedanta-sutra by the verses jno ’ta eva (2.3.18) and karta sastrarthavattvat (2.3.33). The instruments of action are the senses, and by the senses the soul acts in various ways. For each and every action there is a different endeavor. But all one’s activities depend on the will of the Supersoul, who is seated within the heart as a friend. The Supreme Lord is the supercause. Under these circumstances, he who is acting in Krsna consciousness under the direction of the Supersoul situated within the heart is naturally not bound by any activity. Those in complete Krsna consciousness are not ultimately responsible for their actions. Everything is dependent on the supreme will, the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 

VERSE 15 

Whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors.

PURPORT

The words "right" and "wrong" are very significant in this verse. Right work is work done in terms of the prescribed directions in the scriptures, and wrong work is work done against the principles of the scriptural injunctions. But whatever is done requires these five factors for its complete performance.

 

VERSE 16 

Therefore one who thinks himself the only doer, not considering the five factors, is certainly not very intelligent and cannot see things as they are.

PURPORT

A foolish person cannot understand that the Supersoul is sitting as a friend within and conducting his actions. Although the material causes are the place, the worker, the endeavor and the senses, the final cause is the Supreme, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, one should see not only the four material causes but the supreme efficient cause as well. One who does not see the Supreme thinks himself to be the doer.

 

VERSE 17 

One who is not motivated by false ego, whose intelligence is not entangled, though he kills men in this world, does not kill. Nor is he bound by his actions.

PURPORT

In this verse the Lord informs Arjuna that the desire not to fight arises from false ego. Arjuna thought himself to be the doer of action, but he did not consider the supreme sanction within and without. If one does not know that a supersanction is there, why should he act? But one who knows the instruments of work, himself as the worker, and the Supreme Lord as the supreme sanctioner is perfect in doing everything. Such a person is never in illusion. Personal activity and responsibility arise from false ego and godlessness, or a lack of Krsna consciousness. Anyone who is acting in Krsna consciousness under the direction of the Supersoul or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even though killing, does not kill. Nor is he ever affected by the reaction of such killing. When a soldier kills under the command of a superior officer, he is not subject to be judged. But if a soldier kills on his own personal account, then he is certainly judged by a court of law.

 

VERSE 18 

Knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower are the three factors that motivate action; the senses, the work and the doer are the three constituents of action.

PURPORT

There are three kinds of impetus for daily work: knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower. The instruments of work, the work itself and the worker are called the constituents of work. Any work done by any human being has these elements. Before one acts, there is some impetus, which is called inspiration. Any solution arrived at before work is actualized is a subtle form of work. Then work takes the form of action. First one has to undergo the psychological processes of thinking, feeling and willing, and that is called impetus. The inspiration to work is the same if it comes from the scripture or from the instruction of the spiritual master. When the inspiration is there and the worker is there, then actual activity takes place by the help of the senses, including the mind, which is the center of all the senses. The sum total of all the constituents of an activity are called the accumulation of work.

 

VERSE 19 

According to the three different modes of material nature, there are three kinds of knowledge, action and performer of action. Now hear of them from Me.

PURPORT

In the Fourteenth Chapter the three divisions of the modes of material nature were elaborately described. In that chapter it was said that the mode of goodness is illuminating, the mode of passion materialistic, and the mode of ignorance conducive to laziness and indolence. All the modes of material nature are binding; they are not sources of liberation. Even in the mode of goodness one is conditioned. In the Seventeenth Chapter, the different types of worship by different types of men in different modes of material nature were described. In this verse, the Lord says that He wishes to speak about the different types of knowledge, workers and work itself according to the three material modes.

 

VERSE 20 

That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all living entities, though they are divided into innumerable forms, you should understand to be in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

A person who sees one spirit soul in every living being, whether a demigod, human being, animal, bird, beast, aquatic or plant, possesses knowledge in the mode of goodness. In all living entities, one spirit soul is there, although they have different bodies in terms of their previous work. As described in the Seventh Chapter, the manifestation of the living force in every body is due to the superior nature of the Supreme Lord. Thus to see that one superior nature, that living force, in every body is to see in the mode of goodness. That living energy is imperishable, although the bodies are perishable. Differences are perceived in terms of the body; because there are many forms of material existence in conditional life, the living force appears to be divided. Such impersonal knowledge is an aspect of self-realization.

 

VERSE 21 

That knowledge by which one sees that in every different body there is a different type of living entity you should understand to be in the mode of passion.

PURPORT

The concept that the material body is the living entity and that with the destruction of the body the consciousness is also destroyed is called knowledge in the mode of passion. According to that knowledge, bodies differ from one another because of the development of different types of consciousness, otherwise there is no separate soul which manifests consciousness. The body is itself the soul, and there is no separate soul beyond the body. According to such knowledge, consciousness is temporary. Or else there are no individual souls, but there is an all-pervading soul, which is full of knowledge, and this body is a manifestation of temporary ignorance. Or beyond this body there is no special individual or supreme soul. All such conceptions are considered products of the mode of passion.

 

VERSE 22 

And that knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of work as the all in all, without knowledge of the truth, and which is very meager, is said to be in the mode of darkness.

PURPORT

The "knowledge" of the common man is always in the mode of darkness or ignorance because every living entity in conditional life is born into the mode of ignorance. One who does not develop knowledge through the authorities or scriptural injunctions has knowledge that is limited to the body. He is not concerned about acting in terms of the directions of scripture. For him God is money, and knowledge means the satisfaction of bodily demands. Such knowledge has no connection with the Absolute Truth. It is more or less like the knowledge of the ordinary animals: the knowledge of eating, sleeping, defending and mating. Such knowledge is described here as the product of the mode of darkness. In other words, knowledge concerning the spirit soul beyond this body is called knowledge in the mode of goodness, knowledge producing many theories and doctrines by dint of mundane logic and mental speculation is the product of the mode of passion, and knowledge concerned only with keeping the body comfortable is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

 

VERSE 23 

That action which is regulated and which is performed without attachment, without love or hatred, and without desire for fruitive results is said to be in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

Regulated occupational duties, as prescribed in the scriptures in terms of the different orders and divisions of society, performed without attachment or proprietary rights and therefore without any love or hatred, and performed in Krsna consciousness for the satisfaction of the Supreme, without self-satisfaction or self-gratification, are called actions in the mode of goodness.

 

VERSE 25 

That action performed in illusion, in disregard of scriptural injunctions, and without concern for future bondage or for violence or distress caused to others is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

PURPORT

One has to give account of one’s actions to the state or to the agents of the Supreme Lord called the Yamadutas. Irresponsible work is destructive because it destroys the regulative principles of scriptural injunction. It is often based on violence and is distressing to other living entities. Such irresponsible work is carried out in the light of one’s personal experience. This is called illusion. And all such illusory work is a product of the mode of ignorance.

 

VERSE 26 

One who performs his duty without association with the modes of material nature, without false ego, with great determination and enthusiasm, and without wavering in success or failure is said to be a worker in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

A person in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental to the material modes of nature. He has no expectations for the result of the work entrusted to him, because he is above false ego and pride. Still, he is always enthusiastic till the completion of such work. He does not worry about the distress undertaken; he is always enthusiastic. He does not care for success or failure; he is equal in both distress and happiness. Such a worker is situated in the mode of goodness.

 

VERSE 27 

The worker who is attached to work and the fruits of work, desiring to enjoy those fruits, and who is greedy, always envious, impure, and moved by joy and sorrow, is said to be in the mode of passion.

PURPORT

A person is too much attached to a certain kind of work or to the result because he has too much attachment for materialism or hearth and home, wife and children. Such a person has no desire for higher elevation in life. He is simply concerned with making this world as materially comfortable as possible. He is generally very greedy, and he thinks that anything attained by him is permanent and never to be lost. Such a person is envious of others and prepared to do anything wrong for sense gratification. Therefore such a person is unclean, and he does not care whether his earning is pure or impure. He is very happy if his work is successful and very much distressed when his work is not successful. Such is the worker in the mode of passion.

 

VERSE 28 

The worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance.

PURPORT

In the scriptural injunctions we find what sort of work should be performed and what sort of work should not be performed. Those who do not care for those injunctions engage in work not to be done, and such persons are generally materialistic. They work according to the modes of nature, not according to the injunctions of the scripture. Such workers are not very gentle, and generally they are always cunning and expert in insulting others. They are very lazy; even though they have some duty, they do not do it properly, and they put it aside to be done later on. Therefore they appear to be morose. They procrastinate; anything which can be done in an hour they drag on for years. Such workers are situated in the mode of ignorance.

 

VERSE 29 

O winner of wealth, now please listen as I tell you in detail of the different kinds of understanding and determination, according to the three modes of material nature.

PURPORT

Now after explaining knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower, in three different divisions according to the modes of material nature, the Lord is explaining the intelligence and determination of the worker in the same way.

 

VERSE 30 

O son of Prtha, that understanding by which one knows what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, what is binding and what is liberating, is in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

Performing actions in terms of the directions of the scriptures is called pravrtti, or executing actions that deserve to be performed. And actions which are not so directed are not to be performed. One who does not know the scriptural directions becomes entangled in the actions and reactions of work. Understanding which discriminates by intelligence is situated in the mode of goodness.

 

VERSE 32 

That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction, O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance.

PURPORT

Intelligence in the mode of ignorance is always working the opposite of the way it should. It accepts religions which are not actually religions and rejects actual religion. Men in ignorance understand a great soul to be a common man and accept a common man as a great soul. They think truth to be untruth and accept untruth as truth. In all activities they simply take the wrong path; therefore their intelligence is in the mode of ignorance.

 

VERSE 33 

O son of Prtha, that determination which is unbreakable, which is sustained with steadfastness by yoga practice, and which thus controls the activities of the mind, life and senses is determination in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

Yoga is a means to understand the Supreme Soul. One who is steadily fixed in the Supreme Soul with determination, concentrating one’s mind, life and sensory activities on the Supreme, engages in Krsna consciousness. That sort of determination is in the mode of goodness. The word avyabhicarinya is very significant, for it indicates that persons who are engaged in Krsna consciousness are never deviated by any other activity.

 

VERSE 34 

But that determination by which one holds fast to fruitive results in religion, economic development and sense gratification is of the nature of passion, O Arjuna.

PURPORT

Any person who is always desirous of fruitive results in religious or economic activities, whose only desire is sense gratification, and whose mind, life and senses are thus engaged is in the mode of passion.

 

VERSE 35 

And that determination which cannot go beyond dreaming, fearfulness, lamentation, moroseness and illusion—such unintelligent determination, O son of Prtha, is in the mode of darkness.

PURPORT

It should not be concluded that a person in the mode of goodness does not dream. Here "dream" means too much sleep. Dreaming is always present; either in the mode of goodness, passion or ignorance, dreaming is a natural occurrence. But those who cannot avoid oversleeping, who cannot avoid the pride of enjoying material objects, who are always dreaming of lording it over the material world, and whose life, mind and senses are thus engaged, are considered to have determination in the mode of ignorance.

 

VERSE 36 

O best of the Bharatas, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness by which the conditioned soul enjoys, and by which he sometimes comes to the end of all distress.

PURPORT

A conditioned soul tries to enjoy material happiness again and again. Thus he chews the chewed. But sometimes, in the course of such enjoyment, he becomes relieved from material entanglement by association with a great soul. In other words, a conditioned soul is always engaged in some type of sense gratification, but when he understands by good association that it is only a repetition of the same thing, and he is awakened to his real Krsna consciousness, he is sometimes relieved from such repetitive so-called happiness.

 

VERSE 37 

That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.

PURPORT

In the pursuit of self-realization, one has to follow many rules and regulations to control the mind and the senses and to concentrate the mind on the self. All these procedures are very difficult, bitter like poison, but if one is successful in following the regulations and comes to the transcendental position, he begins to drink real nectar, and he enjoys life.

 

VERSE 38 

That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

PURPORT

A young man and a young woman meet, and the senses drive the young man to see her, to touch her and to have sexual intercourse. In the beginning this may be very pleasing to the senses, but at the end, or after some time, it becomes just like poison. They are separated or there is divorce, there is lamentation, there is sorrow, etc. Such happiness is always in the mode of passion. Happiness derived from a combination of the senses and the sense objects is always a cause of distress and should be avoided by all means.

 

VERSE 39 

And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance.

PURPORT

One who takes pleasure in laziness and in sleep is certainly in the mode of darkness, ignorance, and one who has no idea how to act and how not to act is also in the mode of ignorance. For the person in the mode of ignorance, everything is illusion. There is no happiness either in the beginning or at the end. For the person in the mode of passion there might be some kind of ephemeral happiness in the beginning and at the end distress, but for the person in the mode of ignorance there is only distress both in the beginning and at the end.

 

VERSE 40 

There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from these three modes born of material nature.

PURPORT

The Lord here summarizes the total influence of the three modes of material nature all over the universe.

 

VERSE 46 

By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.

PURPORT

As stated in the Fifteenth Chapter, all living beings are fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. Thus the Supreme Lord is the beginning of all living entities. This is confirmed in the Vedanta-sutra—janmady asya yatah. The Supreme Lord is therefore the beginning of life of every living entity. And as stated in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Lord, by His two energies, His external energy and internal energy, is all-pervading. Therefore one should worship the Supreme Lord with His energies. Generally the Vaisnava devotees worship the Supreme Lord with His internal energy. His external energy is a perverted reflection of the internal energy. The external energy is a background, but the Supreme Lord by the expansion of His plenary portion as Paramatma is situated everywhere. He is the Supersoul of all demigods, all human beings, all animals, everywhere. One should therefore know that as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord one has his duty to render service unto the Supreme. Everyone should be engaged in devotional service to the Lord in full Krsna consciousness. That is recommended in this verse.

Everyone should think that he is engaged in a particular type of occupation by Hrsikesa, the master of the senses. And by the result of the work in which one is engaged, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, should be worshiped. If one thinks always in this way, in full Krsna consciousness, then, by the grace of the Lord, he becomes fully aware of everything. That is the perfection of life. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (12.7), tesam aham samuddharta. The Supreme Lord Himself takes charge of delivering such a devotee. That is the highest perfection of life. In whatever occupation one may be engaged, if he serves the Supreme Lord he will achieve the highest perfection.

VERSE 47 

It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.

PURPORT

One’s occupational duty is prescribed in Bhagavad-gita. As already discussed in previous verses, the duties of a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra are prescribed according to their particular modes of nature. One should not imitate another’s duty. A man who is by nature attracted to the kind of work done by sudras should not artificially claim to be a brahmana, although he may have been born into a brahmana family. In this way one should work according to his own nature; no work is abominable, if performed in the service of the Supreme Lord. The occupational duty of a brahmana is certainly in the mode of goodness, but if a person is not by nature in the mode of goodness, he should not imitate the occupational duty of a brahmana. For a ksatriya, or administrator, there are so many abominable things; a ksatriya has to be violent to kill his enemies, and sometimes a ksatriya has to tell lies for the sake of diplomacy. Such violence and duplicity accompany political affairs, but a ksatriya is not supposed to give up his occupational duty and try to perform the duties of a brahmana.

One should act to satisfy the Supreme Lord. For example, Arjuna was a ksatriya. He was hesitating to fight the other party. But if such fighting is performed for the sake of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there need be no fear of degradation. In the business field also, sometimes a merchant has to tell so many lies to make a profit. If he does not do so, there can be no profit. Sometimes a merchant says, "Oh, my dear customer, for you I am making no profit," but one should know that without profit the merchant cannot exist. Therefore it should be taken as a simple lie if a merchant says that he is not making a profit. But the merchant should not think that because he is engaged in an occupation in which the telling of lies is compulsory, he should give up his profession and pursue the profession of a brahmana. That is not recommended. Whether one is a ksatriya, a vaisya, or a sudra doesn’t matter, if he serves, by his work, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even brahmanas, who perform different types of sacrifice, sometimes must kill animals because sometimes animals are sacrificed in such ceremonies. Similarly, if a ksatriya engaged in his own occupation kills an enemy, there is no sin incurred. In the Third Chapter these matters have been clearly and elaborately explained; every man should work for the purpose of Yajna, or for Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anything done for personal sense gratification is a cause of bondage. The conclusion is that everyone should be engaged according to the particular mode of nature he has acquired, and he should decide to work only to serve the supreme cause of the Supreme Lord.

 

VERSE 48 

Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.

PURPORT

In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. Even if one is a brahmana, he has to perform sacrifices in which animal killing is necessary. Similarly, a ksatriya, however pious he may be, has to fight enemies. He cannot avoid it. Similarly, a merchant, however pious he may be, must sometimes hide his profit to stay in business, or he may sometimes have to do business on the black market. These things are necessary; one cannot avoid them. Similarly, even though a man is a sudra serving a bad master, he has to carry out the order of the master, even though it should not be done. Despite these flaws, one should continue to carry out his prescribed duties, for they are born out of his own nature.

A very nice example is given herein. Although fire is pure, still there is smoke. Yet smoke does not make the fire impure. Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements. If one prefers to give up the work of a ksatriya and take up the occupation of a brahmana, he is not assured that in the occupation of a brahmana there are no unpleasant duties. One may then conclude that in the material world no one can be completely free from the contamination of material nature. This example of fire and smoke is very appropriate in this connection. When in wintertime one takes a stone from the fire, sometimes smoke disturbs the eyes and other parts of the body, but still one must make use of the fire despite disturbing conditions. Similarly, one should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements. Rather, one should be determined to serve the Supreme Lord by his occupational duty in Krsna consciousness. That is the perfectional point. When a particular type of occupation is performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, all the defects in that particular occupation are purified. When the results of work are purified, when connected with devotional service, one becomes perfect in seeing the self within, and that is self-realization.

 

VERSE 49 

One who is self-controlled and unattached and who disregards all material enjoyments can obtain, by practice of renunciation, the highest perfect stage of freedom from reaction.

PURPORT

Real renunciation means that one should always think himself part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and therefore think that he has no right to enjoy the results of his work. Since he is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, the results of his work must be enjoyed by the Supreme Lord. This is actually Krsna consciousness. The person acting in Krsna consciousness is really a sannyasi, one in the renounced order of life. By such a mentality, one is satisfied because he is actually acting for the Supreme. Thus he is not attached to anything material; he becomes accustomed to not taking pleasure in anything beyond the transcendental happiness derived from the service of the Lord. A sannyasi is supposed to be free from the reactions of his past activities, but a person who is in Krsna consciousness automatically attains this perfection without even accepting the so-called order of renunciation. This state of mind is called yogarudha, or the perfectional stage of yoga. As confirmed in the Third Chapter, yas tv atma-ratir eva syat: one who is satisfied in himself has no fear of any kind of reaction from his activity.

 

VERSE 50 

O son of Kunti, learn from Me how one who has achieved this perfection can attain to the supreme perfectional stage, Brahman, the stage of highest knowledge, by acting in the way I shall now summarize.

PURPORT

The Lord describes for Arjuna how one can achieve the highest perfectional stage simply by being engaged in his occupational duty, performing that duty for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One attains the supreme stage of Brahman simply by renouncing the result of his work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. That is the process of self-realization. The actual perfection of knowledge is in attaining pure Krsna consciousness; that is described in the following verses.

 

VERSE 51-53 

Being purified by his intelligence and controlling the mind with determination, giving up the objects of sense gratification, being freed from attachment and hatred, one who lives in a secluded place, who eats little, who controls his body, mind and power of speech, who is always in trance and who is detached, free from false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, and acceptance of material things, free from false proprietorship, and peaceful—such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization.

PURPORT

When one is purified by intelligence, he keeps himself in the mode of goodness. Thus one becomes the controller of the mind and is always in trance. He is not attached to the objects of sense gratification, and he is free from attachment and hatred in his activities. Such a detached person naturally prefers to live in a secluded place, he does not eat more than what he requires, and he controls the activities of his body and mind. He has no false ego because he does not accept the body as himself. Nor has he a desire to make the body fat and strong by accepting so many material things. Because he has no bodily concept of life, he is not falsely proud. He is satisfied with everything that is offered to him by the grace of the Lord, and he is never angry in the absence of sense gratification. Nor does he endeavor to acquire sense objects. Thus when he is completely free from false ego, he becomes nonattached to all material things, and that is the stage of self-realization of Brahman. That stage is called the brahma-bhuta stage. When one is free from the material conception of life, he becomes peaceful and cannot be agitated. This is described in Bhagavad-gita (2.70):

apuryamanam acala-pratistham
samudram apah pravisanti yadvat
tadvat kama yam pravisanti sarve
sa santim apnoti na kama-kami

"A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires."

 

VERSE 54 

One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.

PURPORT

To the impersonalist, achieving the brahma-bhuta stage, becoming one with the Absolute, is the last word. But for the personalist, or pure devotee, one has to go still further, to become engaged in pure devotional service. This means that one who is engaged in pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord is already in a state of liberation, called brahma-bhuta, oneness with the Absolute. Without being one with the Supreme, the Absolute, one cannot render service unto Him. In the absolute conception, there is no difference between the served and the servitor; yet the distinction is there, in a higher spiritual sense.

In the material concept of life, when one works for sense gratification, there is misery, but in the absolute world, when one is engaged in pure devotional service, there is no misery. The devotee in Krsna consciousness has nothing for which to lament or desire. Since God is full, a living entity who is engaged in God’s service, in Krsna consciousness, becomes also full in himself. He is just like a river cleansed of all dirty water. Because a pure devotee has no thought other than Krsna, he is naturally always joyful. He does not lament for any material loss or aspire for gain, because he is full in the service of the Lord. He has no desire for material enjoyment, because he knows that every living entity is a fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and therefore eternally a servant. He does not see, in the material world, someone as higher and someone as lower; higher and lower positions are ephemeral, and a devotee has nothing to do with ephemeral appearances or disappearances. For him stone and gold are of equal value. This is the brahma-bhuta stage, and this stage is attained very easily by the pure devotee. In that stage of existence, the idea of becoming one with the Supreme Brahman and annihilating one’s individuality becomes hellish, the idea of attaining the heavenly kingdom becomes phantasmagoria, and the senses are like serpents’ teeth that are broken. As there is no fear of a serpent with broken teeth, there is no fear from the senses when they are automatically controlled. The world is miserable for the materially infected person, but for a devotee the entire world is as good as Vaikuntha, or the spiritual sky. The highest personality in this material universe is no more significant than an ant for a devotee. Such a stage can be achieved by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, who preached pure devotional service in this age.

 

VERSE 55 

One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.

PURPORT

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, and His plenary portions cannot be understood by mental speculation nor by the nondevotees. If anyone wants to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has to take to pure devotional service under the guidance of a pure devotee. Otherwise, the truth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will always be hidden. As already stated in Bhagavad-gita (7.25), naham prakasah sarvasya: He is not revealed to everyone. No one can understand God simply by erudite scholarship or mental speculation. Only one who is actually engaged in Krsna consciousness and devotional service can understand what Krsna is. University degrees are not helpful.

One who is fully conversant with the Krsna science becomes eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom, the abode of Krsna. Becoming Brahman does not mean that one loses his identity. Devotional service is there, and as long as devotional service exists, there must be God, the devotee, and the process of devotional service. Such knowledge is never vanquished, even after liberation. Liberation involves getting free from the concept of material life; in spiritual life the same distinction is there, the same individuality is there, but in pure Krsna consciousness. One should not mistakenly think that the word visate, "enters into Me," supports the monist theory that one becomes homogeneous with the impersonal Brahman. No. Visate means that one can enter into the abode of the Supreme Lord in one’s individuality to engage in His association and render service unto Him. For instance, a green bird enters a green tree not to become one with the tree but to enjoy the fruits of the tree. impersonalists generally give the example of a river flowing into the ocean and merging. This may be a source of happiness for the impersonalist, but the personalist keeps his personal individuality like an aquatic in the ocean. We find so many living entities within the ocean, if we go deep. Surface acquaintance with the ocean is not sufficient; one must have complete knowledge of the aquatics living in the ocean depths.

Because of his pure devotional service, a devotee can understand the transcendental qualities and the opulences of the Supreme Lord in truth. As it is stated in the Eleventh Chapter, only by devotional service can one understand. The same is confirmed here; one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotional service and enter into His kingdom.

After attainment of the brahma-bhuta stage of freedom from material conceptions, devotional service begins by one’s hearing about the Lord. When one hears about the Supreme Lord, automatically the brahma-bhuta stage develops, and material contamination—greediness and lust for sense enjoyment—disappears. As lust and desires disappear from the heart of a devotee, he becomes more attached to the service of the Lord, and by such attachment he becomes free from material contamination. In that state of life he can understand the Supreme Lord. This is the statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam also. After liberation the process of bhakti, or transcendental service, continues. The Vedanta-sutra (4.1.12) confirms this: a-prayanat tatrapi hi drstam. This means that after liberation the process of devotional service continues. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, real devotional liberation is defined as the reinstatement of the living entity in his own identity, his own constitutional position. The constitutional position is already explained: every living entity is a part-and-parcel fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord. Therefore his constitutional position is to serve. After liberation, this service is never stopped. Actual liberation is getting free from misconceptions of life.

 

VERSE 56 

Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My pure devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.

PURPORT

The word mad-vyapasrayah means under the protection of the Supreme Lord. To be free from material contamination, a pure devotee acts under the direction of the Supreme Lord or His representative, the spiritual master. There is no time limitation for a pure devotee. He is always, twenty-four hours a day, one hundred percent engaged in activities under the direction of the Supreme Lord. To a devotee who is thus engaged in Krsna consciousness the Lord is very, very kind. In spite of all difficulties, he is eventually placed in the transcendental abode, or Krsnaloka. He is guaranteed entrance there; there is no doubt about it. In that supreme abode, there is no change; everything is eternal, imperishable and full of knowledge.

 

VERSE 57 

In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me.

PURPORT

When one acts in Krsna consciousness, he does not act as the master of the world. Just like a servant, one should act fully under the direction of the Supreme Lord. A servant has no individual independence. He acts only on the order of the master. A servant acting on behalf of the supreme master is unaffected by profit and loss. He simply discharges his duty faithfully in terms of the order of the Lord. Now, one may argue that Arjuna was acting under the personal direction of Krsna but when Krsna is not present how should one act? If one acts according to the direction of Krsna in this book, as well as under the guidance of the representative of Krsna, then the result will be the same. The Sanskrit word mat-parah is very important in this verse. It indicates that one has no goal in life save and except acting in Krsna consciousness just to satisfy Krsna. And while working in that way, one should think of Krsna only: "I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Krsna." While acting in such a way, one naturally has to think of Krsna. This is perfect Krsna consciousness. One should, however, note that after doing something whimsically he should not offer the result to the Supreme Lord. That sort of duty is not in the devotional service of Krsna consciousness. One should act according to the order of Krsna. This is a very important point. That order of Krsna comes through disciplic succession from the bona fide spiritual master. Therefore the spiritual master’s order should be taken as the prime duty of life. If one gets a bona fide spiritual master and acts according to his direction, then one’s perfection of life in Krsna consciousness is guaranteed.

VERSE 58 

If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.

PURPORT

A person in full Krsna consciousness is not unduly anxious about executing the duties of his existence. The foolish cannot understand this great freedom from all anxiety. For one who acts in Krsna consciousness, Lord Krsna becomes the most intimate friend. He always looks after His friend’s comfort, and He gives Himself to His friend, who is so devotedly engaged working twenty-four hours a day to please the Lord. Therefore, no one should be carried away by the false ego of the bodily concept of life. One should not falsely think himself independent of the laws of material nature or free to act. He is already under strict material laws. But as soon as he acts in Krsna consciousness, he is liberated, free from the material perplexities. One should note very carefully that one who is not active in Krsna consciousness is losing himself in the material whirlpool, in the ocean of birth and death. No conditioned soul actually knows what is to be done and what is not to be done, but a person who acts in Krsna consciousness is free to act because everything is prompted by Krsna from within and confirmed by the spiritual master.

 

VERSE 59 

If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then you will be falsely directed. By your nature, you will have to be engaged in warfare.

PURPORT

Arjuna was a military man, and born of the nature of the ksatriya. Therefore his natural duty was to fight. But due to false ego he was fearing that by killing his teacher, grandfather and friends he would incur sinful reactions. Actually he was considering himself master of his actions, as if he were directing the good and bad results of such work. He forgot that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present there, instructing him to fight. That is the forgetfulness of the conditioned soul. The Supreme Personality gives directions as to what is good and what is bad, and one simply has to act in Krsna consciousness to attain the perfection of life. No one can ascertain his destiny as the Supreme Lord can; therefore the best course is to take direction from the Supreme Lord and act. No one should neglect the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or the order of the spiritual master, who is the representative of God. One should act unhesitatingly to execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—that will keep one safe under all circumstances.

 

VERSE 60 

Under illusion you are now declining to act according to My direction. But, compelled by the work born of your own nature, you will act all the same, O son of Kunti.

PURPORT

If one refuses to act under the direction of the Supreme Lord, then he is compelled to act by the modes in which he is situated. Everyone is under the spell of a particular combination of the modes of nature and is acting in that way. But anyone who voluntarily engages himself under the direction of the Supreme Lord becomes glorious.

 

VERSE 61 

The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.

PURPORT

Arjuna was not the supreme knower, and his decision to fight or not to fight was confined to his limited discretion. Lord Krsna instructed that the individual is not all in all. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, or He Himself, Krsna, as the localized Supersoul, sits in the heart directing the living being. After changing bodies, the living entity forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present and future, remains the witness of all his activities. Therefore all the activities of living entities are directed by this Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves and is carried by the material body, which is created in the material energy under the direction of the Supersoul. As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular type of body, he has to work under the spell of that bodily situation. A person seated in a high-speed motorcar goes faster than one seated in a slower car, though the living entities, the drivers, may be the same. Similarly, by the order of the Supreme Soul, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity so that he may work according to his past desires. The living entity is not independent. One should not think himself independent of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual is always under the Lord’s control. Therefore one’s duty is to surrender, and that is the injunction of the next verse.

 

VERSE 62 

O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode.

PURPORT

A living entity should therefore surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in everyone’s heart, and that will relieve him from all kinds of miseries of this material existence. By such surrender, not only will one be released from all miseries in this life, but at the end he will reach the Supreme God. The transcendental world is described in the Vedic literature (Rg Veda 1.22.20) as tad visnoh paramam padam. Since all of creation is the kingdom of God, everything material is actually spiritual, but paramam padam specifically refers to the eternal abode, which is called the spiritual sky or Vaikuntha.

In the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita it is stated, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah: the Lord is seated in everyone’s heart. So this recommendation that one should surrender unto the Supersoul sitting within means that one should surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Krsna has already been accepted by Arjuna as the Supreme. He was accepted in the Tenth Chapter as param brahma param dhama. Arjuna has accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the supreme abode of all living entities, not only because of his personal experience but also because of the evidence of great authorities like Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa.

 

VERSE 63 

Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.

PURPORT

The Lord has already explained to Arjuna the knowledge of brahma-bhuta. One who is in the brahma-bhuta condition is joyful; he never laments, nor does he desire anything. That is due to confidential knowledge. Krsna also discloses knowledge of the Supersoul. This is also Brahman knowledge, knowledge of Brahman, but it is superior.

Here the words yathecchasi tatha kuru—"As you like, you may act"—indicate that God does not interfere with the little independence of the living entity. In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord has explained in all respects how one can elevate his living condition. The best advice imparted to Arjuna is to surrender unto the Supersoul seated within his heart. By right discrimination, one should agree to act according to the order of the Supersoul. That will help one become situated constantly in Krsna consciousness, the highest perfectional stage of human life. Arjuna is being directly ordered by the Personality of Godhead to fight. Surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in the best interest of the living entities. It is not for the interest of the Supreme. Before surrendering, one is free to deliberate on this subject as far as the intelligence goes; that is the best way to accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such instruction comes also through the spiritual master, the bona fide representative of Krsna.

 

VERSE 64 

Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit.

PURPORT

The Lord has given Arjuna knowledge that is confidential (knowledge of Brahman) and still more confidential (knowledge of the Supersoul within everyone’s heart), and now He is giving the most confidential part of knowledge: just surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. At the end of the Ninth Chapter He has said, man-manah: "Just always think of Me." The same instruction is repeated here to stress the essence of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. This essence is not understood by a common man, but by one who is actually very dear to Krsna, a pure devotee of Krsna. This is the most important instruction in all Vedic literature. What Krsna is saying in this connection is the most essential part of knowledge, and it should be carried out not only by Arjuna but by all living entities.

 

VERSE 65 

Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.

PURPORT

The most confidential part of knowledge is that one should become a pure devotee of Krsna and always think of Him and act for Him. One should not become an official meditator. Life should be so molded that one will always have the chance to think of Krsna. One should always act in such a way that all his daily activities are in connection with Krsna. He should arrange his life in such a way that throughout the twenty-four hours he cannot but think of Krsna. And the Lord’s promise is that anyone who is in such pure Krsna consciousness will certainly return to the abode of Krsna, where he will be engaged in the association of Krsna face to face. This most confidential part of knowledge is spoken to Arjuna because he is the dear friend of Krsna. Everyone who follows the path of Arjuna can become a dear friend to Krsna and obtain the same perfection as Arjuna.

These words stress that one should concentrate his mind upon Krsna—the very form with two hands carrying a flute, the bluish boy with a beautiful face and peacock feathers in His hair. There are descriptions of Krsna found in the Brahma-samhita and other literatures. One should fix his mind on this original form of Godhead, Krsna. One should not even divert his attention to other forms of the Lord. The Lord has multiforms as Visnu, Narayana, Rama, Varaha, etc., but a devotee should concentrate his mind on the form that was present before Arjuna. Concentration of the mind on the form of Krsna constitutes the most confidential part of knowledge, and this is disclosed to Arjuna because Arjuna is the most dear friend of Krsna’s.

 

VERSE 66

 

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

PURPORT

The Lord has described various kinds of knowledge and processes of religion—knowledge of the Supreme Brahman, knowledge of the Supersoul, knowledge of the different types of orders and statuses of social life, knowledge of the renounced order of life, knowledge of nonattachment, sense and mind control, meditation, etc. He has described in so many ways different types of religion. Now, in summarizing Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that Arjuna should give up all the processes that have been explained to him; he should simply surrender to Krsna. That surrender will save him from all kinds of sinful reactions, for the Lord personally promises to protect him.

In the Seventh Chapter it was said that only one who has become free from all sinful reactions can take to the worship of Lord Krsna. Thus one may think that unless he is free from all sinful reactions he cannot take to the surrendering process. To such doubts it is here said that even if one is not free from all sinful reactions, simply by the process of surrendering to Sri Krsna he is automatically freed. There is no need of strenuous effort to free oneself from sinful reactions. One should unhesitatingly accept Krsna as the supreme savior of all living entities. With faith and love, one should surrender unto Him.

The process of surrender to Krsna is described in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.676):

anukulyasya sankalpah
pratikulyasya varjanam
raksisyatiti visvaso
goptrtve varanam tatha
atma-niksepa-karpanye
sad-vidha saranagatih

According to the devotional process, one should simply accept such religious principles that will lead ultimately to the devotional service of the Lord. One may perform a particular occupational duty according to his position in the social order, but if by executing his duty one does not come to the point of Krsna consciousness, all his activities are in vain. Anything that does not lead to the perfectional stage of Krsna consciousness should be avoided. One should be confident that in all circumstances Krsna will protect him from all difficulties. There is no need of thinking how one should keep the body and soul together. Krsna will see to that. One should always think himself helpless and should consider Krsna the only basis for his progress in life. As soon as one seriously engages himself in devotional service to the Lord in full Krsna consciousness, at once he becomes freed from all contamination of material nature. There are different processes of religion and purificatory processes by cultivation of knowledge, meditation in the mystic yoga system, etc., but one who surrenders unto Krsna does not have to execute so many methods. That simple surrender unto Krsna will save him from unnecessarily wasting time. One can thus make all progress at once and be freed from all sinful reactions.

One should be attracted by the beautiful vision of Krsna. His name is Krsna because He is all-attractive. One who becomes attracted by the beautiful, all-powerful, omnipotent vision of Krsna is fortunate. There are different kinds of transcendentalists—some of them are attached to the impersonal Brahman vision, some of them are attracted by the Supersoul feature, etc., but one who is attracted to the personal feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and, above all, one who is attracted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Krsna Himself, is the most perfect transcendentalist. In other words, devotional service to Krsna, in full consciousness, is the most confidential part of knowledge, and this is the essence of the whole Bhagavad-gita. Karma-yogis, empiric philosophers, mystics and devotees are all called transcendentalists, but one who is a pure devotee is the best of all. The particular words used here, ma sucah, "Don’t fear, don’t hesitate, don’t worry," are very significant. One may be perplexed as to how one can give up all kinds of religious forms and simply surrender unto Krsna, but such worry is useless.

 

VERSE 67 

This confidential knowledge may never be explained to those who are not austere, or devoted, or engaged in devotional service, nor to one who is envious of Me.

PURPORT

Persons who have not undergone the austerities of the religious process, who have never attempted devotional service in Krsna consciousness, who have not tended a pure devotee, and especially those who are conscious of Krsna only as a historical personality or who are envious of the greatness of Krsna should not be told this most confidential part of knowledge. It is, however, sometimes found that even demoniac persons who are envious of Krsna, worshiping Krsna in a different way, take to the profession of explaining Bhagavad-gita in a different way to make business, but anyone who desires actually to understand Krsna must avoid such commentaries on Bhagavad-gita. Actually the purpose of Bhagavad-gita is not understandable to those who are sensuous. Even if one is not sensuous but is strictly following the disciplines enjoined in the Vedic scripture, if he is not a devotee he also cannot understand Krsna. And even when one poses himself as a devotee of Krsna but is not engaged in Krsna conscious activities, he also cannot understand Krsna. There are many persons who envy Krsna because He has explained in Bhagavad-gita that He is the Supreme and that nothing is above Him or equal to Him. There are many persons who are envious of Krsna. Such persons should not be told of Bhagavad-gita, for they cannot understand. There is no possibility of faithless persons’ understanding Bhagavad-gita and Krsna. Without understanding Krsna from the authority of a pure devotee, one should not try to comment upon Bhagavad-gita.

 

VERSE 68 

For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.

PURPORT

Generally it is advised that Bhagavad-gita be discussed amongst the devotees only, for those who are not devotees will understand neither Krsna nor Bhagavad-gita. Those who do not accept Krsna as He is and Bhagavad-gita as it is should not try to explain Bhagavad-gita whimsically and become offenders. Bhagavad-gita should be explained to persons who are ready to accept Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a subject matter for the devotees only and not for philosophical speculators. Anyone, however, who tries sincerely to present Bhagavad-gita as it is will advance in devotional activities and reach the pure devotional state of life. As a result of such pure devotion, he is sure to go back home, back to Godhead.

 

VERSE 71 

And one who listens with faith and without envy becomes free from sinful reactions and attains to the auspicious planets where the pious dwell.

PURPORT

In the sixty-seventh verse of this chapter, the Lord explicitly forbade the Gita’s being spoken to those who are envious of the Lord. In other words, Bhagavad-gita is for the devotees only. But it so happens that sometimes a devotee of the Lord will hold open class, and in that class not all the students are expected to be devotees. Why do such persons hold open class? It is explained here that although not everyone is a devotee, still there are many men who are not envious of Krsna. They have faith in Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If such persons hear from a bona fide devotee about the Lord, the result is that they become at once free from all sinful reactions and after that attain to the planetary system where all righteous persons are situated. Therefore simply by hearing Bhagavad-gita, even a person who does not try to be a pure devotee attains the result of righteous activities. Thus a pure devotee of the Lord gives everyone a chance to become free from all sinful reactions and to become a devotee of the Lord.

Generally those who are free from sinful reactions, those who are righteous, very easily take to Krsna consciousness. The word punya-karmanam is very significant here. This refers to the performance of great sacrifices, like the asvamedha-yajna, mentioned in the Vedic literature. Those who are righteous in performing devotional service but who are not pure can attain the planetary system of the polestar, or Dhruvaloka, where Dhruva Maharaja is presiding. He is a great devotee of the Lord, and he has a special planet, which is called the polestar.

 

VERSE 72 

O son of Prtha, O conqueror of wealth, have you heard this with an attentive mind? And are your ignorance and illusions now dispelled?

PURPORT

The Lord was acting as the spiritual master of Arjuna. Therefore it was His duty to inquire from Arjuna whether he understood the whole Bhagavad-gita in its proper perspective. If not, the Lord was ready to re-explain any point, or the whole Bhagavad-gita if so required. Actually, anyone who hears Bhagavad-gita from a bona fide spiritual master like Krsna or His representative will find that all his ignorance is dispelled. Bhagavad-gita is not an ordinary book written by a poet or fiction writer; it is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Any person fortunate enough to hear these teachings from Krsna or from His bona fide spiritual representative is sure to become a liberated person and get out of the darkness of ignorance.

 

VERSE 73 

Arjuna said: My dear Krsna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.

PURPORT

The constitutional position of a living entity, represented by Arjuna, is that he has to act according to the order of the Supreme Lord. He is meant for self-discipline. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that the actual position of the living entity is that of eternal servant of the Supreme Lord. Forgetting this principle, the living entity becomes conditioned by material nature, but in serving the Supreme Lord he becomes the liberated servant of God. The living entity’s constitutional position is to be a servitor; he has to serve either the illusory maya or the Supreme Lord. If he serves the Supreme Lord he is in his normal condition, but if he prefers to serve the illusory, external energy, then certainly he will be in bondage. In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion. When a person is liberated, his illusion is over, and he voluntarily surrenders unto the Supreme to act according to His desires. The last illusion, the last snare of maya to trap the living entity, is the proposition that he is God. The living entity thinks that he is no longer a conditioned soul, but God. He is so unintelligent that he does not think that if he were God, then how could he be in doubt? That he does not consider. So that is the last snare of illusion. Actually to become free from the illusory energy is to understand Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and agree to act according to His order.

The word moha is very important in this verse. Moha refers to that which is opposed to knowledge. Actually real knowledge is the understanding that every living being is eternally a servitor of the Lord, but instead of thinking oneself in that position, the living entity thinks that he is not a servant, that he is the master of this material world, for he wants to lord it over the material nature. That is his illusion. This illusion can be overcome by the mercy of the Lord or by the mercy of a pure devotee. When that illusion is over, one agrees to act in Krsna consciousness.

Krsna consciousness is acting according to Krsna’s order. A conditioned soul, illusioned by the external energy of matter, does not know that the Supreme Lord is the master who is full of knowledge and who is the proprietor of everything. Whatever He desires He can bestow upon His devotees; He is the friend of everyone, and He is especially inclined to His devotee. He is the controller of this material nature and of all living entities. He is also the controller of inexhaustible time, and He is full of all opulences and all potencies. The Supreme Personality of Godhead can even give Himself to the devotee. One who does not know Him is under the spell of illusion; he does not become a devotee, but a servitor of maya. Arjuna, however, after hearing Bhagavad-gita from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, became free from all illusion. He could understand that Krsna was not only his friend but the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And he understood Krsna factually. So to study Bhagavad-gita is to understand Krsna factually. When a person is in full knowledge, he naturally surrenders to Krsna. When Arjuna understood that it was Krsna’s plan to reduce the unnecessary increase of population, he agreed to fight according to Krsna’s desire. He again took up his weapons—his arrows and bow—to fight under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 

VERSE 74 

Sanjaya said: Thus have I heard the conversation of two great souls, Krsna and Arjuna. And so wonderful is that message that my hair is standing on end.

PURPORT

In the beginning of Bhagavad-gita, Dhrtarastra inquired from his secretary Sanjaya, "What happened on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra?" The entire study was related to the heart of Sanjaya by the grace of his spiritual master, Vyasa. He thus explained the theme of the battlefield. The conversation was wonderful because such an important conversation between two great souls had never taken place before and would not take place again. It was wonderful because the Supreme Personality of Godhead was speaking about Himself and His energies to the living entity, Arjuna, a great devotee of the Lord. If we follow in the footsteps of Arjuna to understand Krsna, then our life will be happy and successful. Sanjaya realized this, and as he began to understand it, he related the conversation to Dhrtarastra. Now it is concluded that wherever there is Krsna and Arjuna, there is victory.

 

VERSE 75 

By the mercy of Vyasa, I have heard these most confidential talks directly from the master of all mysticism, Krsna, who was speaking personally to Arjuna.

PURPORT

Vyasa was the spiritual master of Sanjaya, and Sanjaya admits that it was by Vyasa’s mercy that he could understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This means that one has to understand Krsna not directly but through the medium of the spiritual master. The spiritual master is the transparent medium, although it is true that the experience is still direct. This is the mystery of the disciplic succession. When the spiritual master is bona fide, then one can hear Bhagavad-gita directly, as Arjuna heard it. There are many mystics and yogis all over the world, but Krsna is the master of all yoga systems. Krsna’s instruction is explicitly stated in Bhagavad-gita—surrender unto Krsna. One who does so is the topmost yogi. This is confirmed in the last verse of the Sixth Chapter. Yoginam api sarvesam.

Narada is the direct disciple of Krsna and the spiritual master of Vyasa. Therefore Vyasa is as bona fide as Arjuna because he comes in the disciplic succession, and Sanjaya is the direct disciple of Vyasa. Therefore by the grace of Vyasa, Sanjaya’s senses were purified, and he could see and hear Krsna directly. One who directly hears Krsna can understand this confidential knowledge. If one does not come to the disciplic succession, he cannot hear Krsna; therefore his knowledge is always imperfect, at least as far as understanding Bhagavad-gita is concerned.

In Bhagavad-gita, all the yoga systems—karma-yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga—are explained. Krsna is the master of all such mysticism. It is to be understood, however, that as Arjuna was fortunate enough to understand Krsna directly, so, by the grace of Vyasa, Sanjaya was also able to hear Krsna directly. Actually there is no difference between hearing directly from Krsna and hearing directly from Krsna via a bona fide spiritual master like Vyasa. The spiritual master is the representative of Vyasadeva also. Therefore, according to the Vedic system, on the birthday of the spiritual master the disciples conduct the ceremony called Vyasa-puja.

 

VERSE 76 

O King, as I repeatedly recall this wondrous and holy dialogue between Krsna and Arjuna, I take pleasure, being thrilled at every moment.

PURPORT

The understanding of Bhagavad-gita is so transcendental that anyone who becomes conversant with the topics of Arjuna and Krsna becomes righteous and he cannot forget such talks. This is the transcendental position of spiritual life. In other words, one who hears the Gita from the right source, directly from Krsna, attains full Krsna consciousness. The result of Krsna consciousness is that one becomes increasingly enlightened, and he enjoys life with a thrill, not only for some time, but at every moment.

 

VERSE 77 

O King, as I remember the wonderful form of Lord Krsna, I am struck with wonder more and more, and I rejoice again and again.

PURPORT

It appears that Sanjaya also, by the grace of Vyasa, could see the universal form Krsna exhibited to Arjuna. It is, of course, said that Lord Krsna had never exhibited such a form before. It was exhibited to Arjuna only, yet some great devotees could also see the universal form of Krsna when it was shown to Arjuna, and Vyasa was one of them. He is one of the great devotees of the Lord, and he is considered to be a powerful incarnation of Krsna. Vyasa disclosed this to his disciple Sanjaya, who remembered that wonderful form of Krsna exhibited to Arjuna and enjoyed it repeatedly.

 

VERSE 78 

Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.

PURPORT

The Bhagavad-gita began with an inquiry of Dhrtarastra’s. He was hopeful of the victory of his sons, assisted by great warriors like Bhisma, Drona and Karna. He was hopeful that the victory would be on his side. But after describing the scene on the battlefield, Sanjaya told the King, "You are thinking of victory, but my opinion is that where Krsna and Arjuna are present, there will be all good fortune." He directly confirmed that Dhrtarastra could not expect victory for his side. Victory was certain for the side of Arjuna because Krsna was there. Krsna’s acceptance of the post of charioteer for Arjuna was an exhibition of another opulence. Krsna is full of all opulences, and renunciation is one of them. There are many instances of such renunciation, for Krsna is also the master of renunciation.

The fight was actually between Duryodhana and Yudhisthira. Arjuna was fighting on behalf of his elder brother, Yudhisthira. Because Krsna and Arjuna were on the side of Yudhisthira, Yudhisthira’s victory was certain. The battle was to decide who would rule the world, and Sanjaya predicted that the power would be transferred to Yudhisthira. It is also predicted here that Yudhisthira, after gaining victory in this battle, would flourish more and more because not only was he righteous and pious but he was also a strict moralist. He never spoke a lie during his life.

There are many less intelligent persons who take Bhagavad-gita to be a discussion of topics between two friends on a battlefield. But such a book cannot be scripture. Some may protest that Krsna incited Arjuna to fight, which is immoral, but the reality of the situation is clearly stated: Bhagavad-gita is the supreme instruction in morality. The supreme instruction of morality is stated in the Ninth Chapter, in the thirty-fourth verse: man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah. One must become a devotee of Krsna, and the essence of all religion is to surrender unto Krsna (sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja). The instructions of Bhagavad-gita constitute the supreme process of religion and of morality. All other processes may be purifying and may lead to this process, but the last instruction of the Gita is the last word in all morality and religion: surrender unto Krsna. This is the verdict of the Eighteenth Chapter.

From Bhagavad-gita we can understand that to realize oneself by philosophical speculation and by meditation is one process, but to fully surrender unto Krsna is the highest perfection. This is the essence of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. The path of regulative principles according to the orders of social life and according to the different courses of religion may be a confidential path of knowledge. But although the rituals of religion are confidential, meditation and cultivation of knowledge are still more confidential. And surrender unto Krsna in devotional service in full Krsna consciousness is the most confidential instruction. That is the essence of the Eighteenth Chapter.

Another feature of Bhagavad-gita is that the actual truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. The Absolute Truth is realized in three features—impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma, and ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Perfect knowledge of the Absolute Truth means perfect knowledge of Krsna. If one understands Krsna, then all the departments of knowledge are part and parcel of that understanding. Krsna is transcendental, for He is always situated in His eternal internal potency. The living entities are manifested of His energy and are divided into two classes, eternally conditioned and eternally liberated. Such living entities are innumerable, and they are considered fundamental parts of Krsna. Material energy is manifested into twenty-four divisions. The creation is effected by eternal time, and it is created and dissolved by external energy. This manifestation of the cosmic world repeatedly becomes visible and invisible.

In Bhagavad-gita five principal subject matters have been discussed: the Supreme Personality of Godhead, material nature, the living entities, eternal time and all kinds of activities. All is dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. All conceptions of the Absolute Truth—impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma and any other transcendental conception—exist within the category of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although superficially the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the living entity, material nature and time appear to be different, nothing is different from the Supreme. But the Supreme is always different from everything. Lord Caitanya’s philosophy is that of "inconceivable oneness and difference." This system of philosophy constitutes perfect knowledge of the Absolute Truth.

The living entity in his original position is pure spirit. He is just like an atomic particle of the Supreme Spirit. Thus Lord Krsna may be compared to the sun, and the living entities to sunshine. Because the living entities are the marginal energy of Krsna, they have a tendency to be in contact either with the material energy or with the spiritual energy. In other words, the living entity is situated between the two energies of the Lord, and because he belongs to the superior energy of the Lord, he has a particle of independence. By proper use of that independence he comes under the direct order of Krsna. Thus he attains his normal condition in the pleasure-giving potency.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Eighteenth Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad-gita in the matter of its Conclusion—the Perfection of Renunciation.

 


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