jñānaḿ karma ca kartā ca
yathāvac chṛṇu tāny api
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.19
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.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
No commentary by Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.19 The knowledge of action which ought to be done, the act to be performed, and the performer of the act are threefold, each of them being divided in accordance with Sattva etc., Listen about these, which are differentiated according to the Gunas.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The question of what subsequently transpires as a result is explained as knowledge. In the science of the three gunas or modes of material nature they are described according to their influence and effects. In the Sankhya philosophy of analytical reasoning by Kapila-deva an incarnation of Lord Krishna, it is declared that knowledge, action and agent are of only three types according to the distinction of whether they are situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness, raja guna the mode of passion or tama guna the mode of ignorance. Knowledge which will be described is also of only three types. The emphasis of only used twice regarding the three types negates any conceptions of the jiva or embodied being as independent from the influence of the gunas in any way. Previously the various binding nature of the three gunas has been described. The 14th chapter: verse six explains how sattva guna captivates the jiva by attachment to happiness and knowledge, verse seven explains how raja guna binds the jiva by infatuation and covetousness and verse eight explains how tama guna enslaves the jiva by slothfulness and forgetfulness. In chapter 17, verse 4 it is explained that those in sattva guna worship the demigods who are in charge of universal maintenance such as Brahma or Shiva. Those in raja guna worship Durga, Kali, yaksas which are entities extremely lusty and raksasas which are blood drinking demons. While those in tama guna worship ghosts and spirits. Later it has been declared that one should strive exclusively for sattva guna discarding raja and tama guna and that one should only partake of vegetarian foods in sattva guna which are pure, wholesome, energising and invigorating. Such foods are milk products from the cow, fruits, grains and vegetables.
In order to reinforce and emphasise that action, its factors and rewards are related explicitly in the context of the gunas as they all are totally of a material nature arising from prakriti the material substratum pervading physical existence and have no connection to the atma or immortal soul which is of an exclusive spiritual nature. This difference is to be noted.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Tere Lord Krishna reiterates the path of sadhana or spiritual development and will explains in the next three verses the distinctions between the three gunas or modes of material nature. The science of attributes is the expertise in distinguishing the attributes and is clarified in the Sankhya philosophy of analytical deduction by Kapila-deva an incarnation of Lord Krishna.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna describes the characteristics of the threefold factors of knowledge, the knowable and the knower on the basis of the three gunas or modes of material nature. Knowledge as the object of all actions can be explained as that which gives knowledge. The knowable is one who knows the means by which the action is accomplished. The knower is the one performing the action. These three are the essential elements and their characteristics and functions have been substantiated in the philosophy of Sankhya or analytical knowledge by Lord Krishna’s avatar of Kapila-deva and will be elaborated upon in the next three verses.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.19 Jnanam, knowledge; karma, action-not the objective case in the technical sense, which is defined as ‘that which is most cheirshed by the subject’; and karta, agent, the accomplisher of actions; procyate, are stated; guna-sankhyane, in the teaching about the gunas, in the philosophy of Kapila; to be eva, only (-only is used for emphasis, by way of showing that they have no classification other than that based on the gunas-); tridha, of three kinds; guna-bhedatah, according to the differences of the gunas, i.e. according to the differences of sattva etc. Even that philosophy teaching about the gunas is certainly vaild so far as it concerns the experiencer of the gunas, though it is contradictory so far as the non-duality of the supreme Reality, Brahman, is concerned. Those followers of Kapila are acknoweldge authorities in the ascertainment of the functions of the gunas and their derivatives. Hence, that scripture, too, is being referred to by way of eulogy of the subject-matter going to be spoken of. Therefore there is no contradiction. Srnu, hear; tani, about them; api, also; yathavat, as they are, as established by reason and as propounded in the scriptures. Hear about knowledge etc. and all their diversities created by the differences of the gunas. The idea is , ‘Concentrate your mind on the subject going to be taught.’ And now the threefold classification of knowledge is being stated:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.19 Jnanam etc. In enumerating the Strands : In the consdered conclusion of the Sankhya where the Strands are decided numerically, these instruments of knowledge etc., are declared to be of three types. that you must listen to. This is what is conveyed by the association of words (or ideas) here. By instrument-of-knowledge (Jnanam) the two-fold instruments viz. that of knowledge and of activity, are spoken of. Similarly object (karman) speaks of both the object of knowledge and the object of activity and agent (kartr) refers to both the knower and the performer. Now the three verses. Sarvabhutesu etc. (20-22) speak of the three-foldness of the instrument of knowledge. That is why the Instrumental Yena is employed. The nature of all the instruments of knowledge and of action is described by this much of portion. The three-foldness of object of both the types viz. the object of knowledge and the object of action is described by the tripple verses Niyatam etc. (23-25). The three-fold nature of the agent of both the categories viz. the knower and the doer is briefly explained by the three verses Muktasangah etc. (26-28). The three types of the intellect is examined by three verses, Pravrttim etc. (30-32), in order to explain the different nature of the two-fold instruments (i.e. of knowledge and of action). By this means the three-fold nature of other instrumetns is also indicated. The instrument requires technical know-how, and this technical know-how, of course, consists of the pentad that includes content and so on. However, because faith [included in this pentad] has already been dealt with (XVII, 2ff.), and because the desire to know and the aversion to know [both belonging to the pentad] are obtained by inference through the firmness and happiness [of the pentad], the three-fold division of the last two is explained by the verses Dhrtya yaya etc. (33-35) and Sukham tu idanim etc. (36-39). All this [the Lord] declares [one by one] ;-
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
jñanam karma ca karta ca
yathavac chrnu tany api
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
jñānam — knowledge; karma — work; ca — also; kartā — worker; ca — also; tridhā — of three kinds; eva — certainly; guṇa-bhedataḥ — in terms of different modes of material nature; procyate — are said; guṇa-sańkhyāne — in terms of different modes; yathā-vat — as they are; śṛṇu — hear; tāni — all of them; api — also.