Arjuna asked his Lord, the Mighty One, that he desired to know how exactly relinquishing differs from renunciation. Shri Krishna replied, "The sages say that renunciation means forgoing an action which springs from desire; and relinquishing means the surrender of its fruit." According to Krishna Himself, some philosophers are of the view that all action is evil and should be done away with. Others again feel that acts of sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should never be given up. Krishna wished to render to Arjuna a solution to this problem of renunciation, stated in Bhagavad Gita. By him, there exists a threefold aspect. Krishna advocates that acts of sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should not be given up, but should be performed; because they act as purifier to the aspiring soul. However, they should be performed with detachment and without thought of any reward. This constituted Krishna's final judgment.
He continued to sermonise Arjuna that, "It is not right to give up actions which are obligatory; and if they are misunderstood and ignored, it is the result of sheer ignorance." To stay away from an action through fear of physical suffering, because it is expected to be give pain, is to act from passion and the good-effects of renunciation will never follow. Renunciation in Bhagavad Gita is considered Pure only when the person performing the obligatory action, performs it because he believes it to be a duty which ought to be done and without any personal desire either to do the act or to receive any return. The wise man who has achieved purity, whose doubts are resolved, who is saturated with the spirit of self-renunciation, does not shirk from action because it brings pain, nor does he hanker it because it brings pleasure. But since those still in the body cannot entirely debar action, in their case forsaking of the fruit of action is considered as complete renunciation.
For those who cannot renounce all desire, the fruit of action hereafter is threefold, good, evil and partly good and partly evil. But for him who has renounced every craving, there is none, as is laid down by renunciation in Bhagavad Gita. Krishna now wished to tell the mighty Arjuna the five causes which, according to the final decision of philosophy, must harmonise before an action can be fulfilled. These five causes comprise a body, a personality, physical organs, their manifold activity and destiny. Whatever action a man executes, whether by physical exertion or by speech or by thought and whether it be right or wrong, these five are the indispensable causes. But the fool who supposes, owing to his immature judgment, that it is his own Self alone that acts, he corrupts the truth and does not perceive rightly. He who is never proud and whose intellect is free from attachment, even though he slays these people, he does not kill them and his act does not restrain him. Knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge, these are the threefold motivators to action; and the act, the actor and the instrument are the threefold constituents.
The knowledge, the act and the doer differ according to the Three Qualities (of Purity, Passion and Ignorance). That knowledge which perceives the One Indestructible in all beings, the One Indivisible in all disconnected lives, may truly be called Pure Knowledge. The knowledge which thinks of the multiple existence within all beings as separate, comes from Passion. But that which adheres blindly to one idea as if it were all, without logic, truth or insight, that has its origin in Darkness. Renunciation in Bhagavad Gita disperses further more knowledge, when stating that an obligatory action done by one who is disinterested, who neither likes it nor dislikes it and gives no thought to the outcomes that follow, such an action is Pure. But even though an action calls for the most exhausting endeavour, yet if the doer is seeking to satiate his desires and is filled with personal vanity, it may be accepted to originate in Passion. An action undertaken through delusion, and grossly disregarding the spiritual issues involved, or to the real capacity of the doer, or to the damage which may follow, such an act may be accepted to be the product of Ignorance. But when a man possesses no sentiment and personal vanity, when he possesses courage and confidence, and cares not whether he succeeds or fails, then his action springs from Purity.
Passion predominates within him who is impulsive, greedy, looking for reward, violent, impure, torn between joy and sorrow. Whereas, he whose purpose is infirm, who is low-minded, obstinate, untruthful, malevolent, sluggish, hopeless, procrastinating, he may be assumed to be in Darkness. Reason and conviction are threefold, according to the Quality which is dominant, as is explained by philosophy of renunciation in Bhagavad Gita. That intellect which comprehends the creation and termination of life, what actions should be done and what not, which singles out between fear and fearlessness, bondage and deliverance, that is Pure. The intellect which does not comprehend what is right and what is wrong and what should be done and what not, is under the influence of Passion. And that which, enshrouded within Ignorance, thinks wrong to be right and sees everything defiantly, that intellect is ruled by Darkness. Conviction and steady concentration by which the mind, the life-force and the senses are controlled, they are the creation of Purity. Conviction which always adheres strictly to rituals, to self-centredness and wealth, for the sake of what they may bring forth, that springs from Passion. That which adheres defiantly to false romanticism, fear, anguish, despondency and vanity, it is the product of Ignorance.
There further exists three kinds of pleasure, as explained by Krishna to Arjuna in renunciation in Bhagavad Gita. Krishna says, "That which increases day after day and delivers one from misery, which at first seems like poison but afterwards acts like nectar- that pleasure is Pure, for it is born of Wisdom." That which at first feels like nectar, because the senses revel in their objects, but in the end acts like poison, that pleasure springs from Passion. While the pleasure which from first to last simply numbs the senses, that pleasure which springs from indolence, lethargy and folly, flows from Ignorance. There is nothing anywhere on earth or in the higher worlds which is free from the three Qualities, for they are born of Nature.
The duties of spiritual teachers, soldiers, traders and servants, have all been pre-ordained according to the prevailing Quality in their nature. Serenity, self-discipline, austerity, purity, forgiveness, in addition to honesty, knowledge, wisdom and faith in God, make up the duty of a spiritual Teacher. Bravery, glory, decisiveness, skill, kindness, steadiness in battle and ability to rule, constitute the duty of a soldier. They flow from within his own nature. Agriculture, safeguarding of the cow and trade make up the duty of a trader, which again has been pre-ordained in accordance with his nature. The duty of a servant is to serve and that too corresponds with his nature. Perfection is attained only when each attends industriously to his duty. However, there exists a certain chain of duty by which perfection is attained by him and who always minds his own duty. Man accomplishes perfection by devoting his actions to God, Who is the source of all being and pervades everything. Gong by Lord Krishna's sermons as he had delivered in reference to renunciation in Gita, "It is better to do one's own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins." The duty that by itself is bestowed to one's lot should never be abandoned, though it may have its shortcomings. All acts are impaired by defects, just like fire is obscured by smoke.
One whose mind is wholly detached, who has conquered himself, whose hankerings have vanished, by his renunciation reaches that stage of perfect freedom where action completes itself and leaves no source. Krishna then willed to state briefly how he, who has accomplished perfection, finds the Eternal Spirit, the state of Supreme Wisdom. Directed always by pure reason, bravely bounding himself, abdicating the objects of sense and giving up affixation and hatred; enjoying solitude, sobriety, his body, mind and speech under blissful control, absorbed in meditation, he becomes liberated, always satiated with the spirit of renunciation. Having forsaken selfishness, power, conceit, anger and desire, possessing nothing of his own and having attained peace, he is fit to unite with the Eternal Spirit. When he becomes one with the Eternal and his soul apprehends the bliss that belongs to the Self, he feels no longing and no regret; he considers all beings as equal and enjoys the blessing of supreme devotion to Him. This sums up the key fact of renunciation as explained in Bhagavad Gita, a lofty thought for a human if he follows Krishna's way of daily dwelling. By such devotion, he perceives Him, who He is and what He is; in the process, he thus realises the Truth and enters His Kingdom. Relying on Him in all his actions and doing them for His sake, he reaches, by His Grace, Eternal and Unchangeable Life.
Lord Shri Krishna at last generalises humanity, looking at the pan perspective, not for once concentrating on Arjuna only. He declares humanity to surrender one's actions unto Him, live in Him, concentrate one's intellect on Him and think always about Him. The Lord also asks humanity to fix but one's mind on Him and by His grace one is sure to overcome the hurdles in one's path. But if, misguided by pride, one denies to listen, then indeed one will be lost onto nowhere. Concept of renunciation in Bhagavad Gita states that if for once filled with vanity one contemplates of avoiding this fight, his resolve shall never be fulfilled, for Nature herself will coerce one to do so. Duty is something that always binds one to his roots. "From thine own nature has it arisen, and that which in thy delusion thou desirest not to do, that very thing thou shalt do. Thou art helpless." God resides in the hearts of all beings; He causes them to revolve on a wheel by His mystical prowess. Krishna advises man to fly to Him with all strength and surrender oneself and by His grace one shall attain Supreme Peace and reach the Eternal Home.
Having said thus, Krishna spoke to Arjuna that He had revealed to Arjuna the Truth, the Mystery of mysteries. After giving much thought over it, Arjuna was now left free to act according to his own will. Arjuna's charioteer nevertheless wished him to listen to Him once more to His last word, the deepest secret of all; touched emotionally, Krishna exclaimed that Arjuna was Krishna's beloved, the dearest friend and He always spoke about Arjuna's welfare. Krishna counselled Arjuna to dedicate himself to Him, worship Him, sacrifice all for Him, prostrate himself before Him and to Him Arjuna would definitely go. Going by Krishna's dedication and affection towards Arjuna, "Truly do I pledge thee; thou art My own beloved." Renunciation in Bhagavad Gita called for giving up one's earthly duties and surrendering oneself to Him only. It is also advised to never be anxious; the Lord is always there (Omnipresence) to absolve man from all his sin. Krishna once more counsels to not speak this to one who has not practised asceticisms, or to him who does not love, or who will not listen, or who is prone to mockery. Such renunciative philosophies need to be spoken to one who teaches this great secret to His devotees; his is the highest devotion and verily he shall reach Him.
Having reached His end of sermons and preachings which Krishna had delivered for a prolonged period of time to his beloved Arjuna, Krishna was now terminating his noble gestures. He thus spoke a bit sensitively, where he stated that there existed none in the physical universe who could do more dearer service for Him than he had said above about renunciation. And if there exists any being who is successful to perform such deeds, there would remain none on earth more beloved to Him than he. He who will study Krishna's spiritual discourse on renunciation and abdication as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, He assures that, he shall thereby worship Him at the altar of Wisdom. He who listens to it with faith and without hesitation, even he, freed from evil, 'shall rise to the worlds which the virtuous attain through righteous deeds.'
Krishna henceforth questioned Arjuna whether he had listened attentively to His words; whether his delusion and ignorance had vanished. Arjuna replied, "My Lord! O Immutable One! My delusion has fled. By Thy Grace, O Changeless One, the light has dawned. My doubts are gone, and I stand before Thee ready to do Thy will."
(Last Updated on : 06-05-2021)
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