pravṛttiḿ ca nivṛttiḿ ca
bandhaḿ mokṣaḿ ca yā vetti
buddhiḥ sā pārtha sāttvikī
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.30
O son of Pritha, 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.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The person of sattvika intelligence understands the difference between fear caused by samsara and fearlessness caused by freedom from samsara.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.30 ‘Activity’ is that Dharma which is the means for wordly prosperity. ‘Renunciation’ is that Dharma which is the means for release. The Buddhi which knows both these as they are, is Sattviki-buddhi. Further, such a Buddhi is capable of distinguishing between what ought to be done and what ought not to be done by persons of different stations in life, having as their duty activity or renunciation at particular places or times. Such a Buddhi helps them to know ‘This ought to be done and this ought not to be done.’ Such a Buddhi discerns transgression of the Sastras as the cause of fear and observance of the Sastras as the cause of fearlessness. It enables one to distinguish between bondage and release, the true nature of Samsara and deliverance from it. The Buddhi that functions in these ways is Sattvika.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna explains that those whose buddhi or intellect is situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness possess the understanding due to refined intelligence that has a natural inclination towards righteousness and abstinence from unrighteousness. They are resolute and comprehend that righteous actions lead to moksa or liberation from material existence and unrighteous actions lead to the bondage of samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death. Innately their consciousness is aware of what is to be done and what is not to be done according to time, place and circumstance. Such consciousness should be understood as the agency and the doer is but the instrument. This can be understood by the question: Is there enough wood to cook the food? Although it is not the wood that does the cooking it is the fire. So the agent is like the wood utilised as the instrument and the fire is like the consciousness represented as the agency.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Sri Madhvacharya did not comment on this sloka.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna speaks about the three types of intellect due to the influence of the three gunas or modes of material nature. He begins first by describing one situated in sattva guna the mode of goodness by explaining that buddhi or intellect that correctly determines the righteous paths of action which accomplish three of the four goals of human existence: kama or enjoyment, artha or wealth, dharma or righteousness excluding moksa or liberation which is strived for when one in the final stage of life has achieved renunciation from actions. Fear is not knowing what is to be done and fearless is knowing what is to be done according to time, place and circumstances. Samsara is bondage to the perpetual cycle of birth and death. The cause of bondage is attachment to the pleasures of sense gratification. The cause of moksa is detachment from the pleasures of sense gratification. The word buddhi meaning intellect denotes the word vetti meaning understanding by which ther is comprehension and is universally known to that effect. So there is no contradiction about the two in this light. It is like stating the sword severed the demons head but it means that someone wielding the sword severed the demons head.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.30 O Partha, sa, that; buddhih, intellect; is sattviki, born of sattva; ya, which; vetti, understands; pravrttim, action, the path of rites and duties, which is the cause of bondage; and nivrttim, withdrawal, the path of renunciation, which is the cause of Liberation-since action and withdrawal are mentioned in the same sentence along with bondage and freedom, therefore they mean ‘the path of rites and duties and of renunciation’-; karya-akarye, duty and what is not duty, i.e. what is enjoined or prohibited, [Ast. adds laukike vaidike va (ordinary or Vedic injunctions and prohibitions) after vihita-pratisiddhe; and it adds sastrabuddheh before kartavya-akartavye-what ougth to be done or ought not to be done by one who relies on the scriptures.-Tr.] what ought to be done or ought not to be done, action and inaction. With regard to what? With regard to action leading to seen or unseen, results, undertaken according to place, time, etc. Bhaya-adhaye, the sources of fear and fearlessness, i.e. the cuases of fear and fearlessness, with regard to seen or unseen objects; bandham, bondage, along with its cause; and moksam, freedom, along with its cause. In this context, knowing is a function of the intellect; but the intellect is the possesser of the function. Fortitude also is only a particular function of the intellect.
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.30-32 Pravrttim etc. upto Tamasi mata. Incorrectly ; not properly.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
pravrttim ca nivrttim ca
bandham moksam ca ya vetti
buddhih sa partha sattviki
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
pravṛttim — doing; ca — also; nivṛttim — not doing; ca — and; kārya — what ought to be done; akārye — and what ought not to be done; bhaya — fear; abhaye — and fearlessness; bandham — bondage; mokṣam — liberation; ca — and; yā — that which; vetti — knows; buddhiḥ — understanding; sā — that; pārtha — O son of Pṛthā; sāttvikī — in the mode of goodness.