mām ekaḿ śaraṇaḿ vraja
ahaḿ tvāḿ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 18.66
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
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 Krishna. 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 Krishna. 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 Krishna he is automatically freed. There is no need of strenuous effort to free oneself from sinful reactions. One should unhesitatingly accept Krishna as the supreme savior of all living entities. With faith and love, one should surrender unto Him.
The process of surrender to Krishna is described in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.676):
goptrtve varanam tatha
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 Krishna consciousness, all his activities are in vain. Anything that does not lead to the perfectional stage of Krishna consciousness should be avoided. One should be confident that in all circumstances Krishna will protect him from all difficulties. There is no need of thinking how one should keep the body and soul together. Krishna will see to that. One should always think himself helpless and should consider Krishna the only basis for his progress in life. As soon as one seriously engages himself in devotional service to the Lord in full Krishna 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 Krishna does not have to execute so many methods. That simple surrender unto Krishna 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 Krishna. His name is Krishna because He is all-attractive. One who becomes attracted by the beautiful, all-powerful, omnipotent vision of Krishna 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 Krishna Himself, is the most perfect transcendentalist. In other words, devotional service to Krishna, 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 Krishna, but such worry is useless.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
“Am I supposed to perform this meditation and offering along with my varna asrama duties or without them?” “Giving up all all duties of varna and asrama (sarva dharman parityajya), surrender only to me.”
One should not say that parityaja means sannyasya, to adopt the sannyasa order, because Arjuna was a ksatriya, not qualified for sannyasa. As well it should not be said the Lord used Arjuna just to instruct all other people who are not ksatriyas to take sannyasa, for Arjuna was qualified to be the recipient of the Lord’s instructions, which could not be taught to others. Nor should one explain the meaning of parityajya in this verse as merely “give up all the results of activities.”
For it is said:
devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam nayam kinkaro nayam rni ca raj an sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato mukundam parihrtya kartam
Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers. SB 11.5.41
martyo yada tyakta-samasta-karma
niveditatma vicikirsito me
mayatma-bhuyaya ca kalpate vai
A person who gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself entirely unto Me, eagerly desiring to render service unto Me, achieves liberation from birth and death and is promoted to the status of sharing My own opulences. SB 11.29.35
tavat karmani kurvita na nirvidyeta yavata mat-katha-sravanadau va sraddha yavan na jayate
As long as one is not satiated by fruitive activity and has not awakened his taste for devotional service by sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23] one has to act according to the regulative principles of the Vedic injunctions. SB 11.20.9
ajnayaiva gunan dosan mayadistan api svakan
dharman santyajya yah sarvan mam bhajet sa ca sattamah
He perfectly understands that the ordinary religious duties prescribed by Me in various Vedic scriptures possess favorable qualities that purify the performer, and he knows that neglect of such duties constitutes a discrepancy in one’s life. Having taken complete shelter at My lotus feet, however, a saintly person ultimately renounces such ordinary religious duties and worships Me alone. He is thus considered to be the best among all living entities. SB 11.11.37
The meaning of the word should thus be explained using all these statements of the Lord with no contradiction. The meaning can indeed be understood correctly by the prefix pan which means “completely.”
“Surrender only to me (mam ekam saranam vraja).” This means that there should be no worship of devatas, astanga yoga, jnana or dharma or other elements in that surrender.
“Previously I have said that you were not qualified for ananya bhakti, the highest type of bhakti, and that you were qualified for karma misra bhakti, when I said ‘Whatever you do, whatever you eat, do it as an offering to me.’ But now, by my great mercy, you have qualification for ananya bhakti. That ananya bhakti can only be attained by the causeless mercy of my ekantika bhakta. Though that is a rule 1 myself have made, I am now giving the mercy myself, breaking my own vow, as I did in the fight with Bhisma.
“And by following my orders you should not fear some loss on your part in giving up nitya and naimittika karmas. The order to perform these nitya karmas was given by me in the form of the Vedas. Now, I am ordering you to give them all up completely. Is there sin in not performing your nitya karmas? No, rather the opposite, in performing nitya karmas you will commit sin, because of disobeying my direct order.”
“But if someone surrenders to another person, he becomes dependent, like an animal purchased for a price. He does whatever you make him do. If you put him in one place, he stays there. If you offer him food, he eats. These are the characteristics of surrender.”
“But the Vayu Purana says:
anukulyasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam raksisyatiti visvaso goptrtve varanam tatha nihksepanam akarpanyam sad-vidha saranagatih
Anukulya means conduct pleasing to the Lord and according to the scriptures. Pratikulya means the opposite. Goptrtva means to think of the Lord and no one else as ones protector. One should have faith (visvasah) that in times when ones own existence is threatened, the Lord will give protection, as in the case of Gajendra or Draupadi. Nihksepanam means employment of ones gross and subtle bodies for Krishna’s service. Akarpanya means that one should not make a show of ones own humility.
Surrender (sarana gati) consists of performance of these six items in relation to the Lord.”
“Then starting today, if I surrender to you, I should then do whatever you say whether good or bad. If you make me perform dharma, then I will not worry at all. But if you engage me in adharma, since you are the Supreme Lord and can do what you want, then what will happen to me? Please tell me.”
“I will free you from all sinful reactions, from whichever reactions exist from the far past and recent past, and whichever ones arise from acts I will make you perform in the future. This is not impossible for me to do, though it cannot be done by anyone else you surrender to. Taking you as the means, I am giving instructions to the whole world. Do not feel grief for your own welfare or that of others. May you and all other people, giving up all dharmas, your own and everyone else’s, absorbing your thoughts and actions in me, surrendering to me, remain in contentment. I myself have accepted the burden of freeing you from sin and freeing you from samsara.”
ananyas cintayanto mam ye janah paryupasate tesam nityabhiyuktanam yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
But I carry the burden of supply and maintenance of those who desire constant association with me, and who, thinking only of me, worship only me. BG 9.22
“Do not lament thinking ‘Oh, I have thrown my own burden on my master!’ It is no strain at all for me, who am most affectionate to my devotee. Nothing else remains to be instructed.”
Thus the scripture has been concluded.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
18.66 ‘Relinquishing all Dharmas means the complete relinquishment of the sense of agency, possessiveness, fruits etc., in the practising of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yogas in the way instructed, and the realising of Me as the agent, object of worship, the means and the end. It means that relinquishment is not of all devotional duties but only of the sense of agency and the fruits. This is the Sastraic relinquishment of all Dharmas. It is firmly established in the beginning of this chapter commencing from, ‘Listen regarding My decision, O Arjuna, about abandonment; for abandonment is declared to be of three kinds’ (18.4), and ‘Renouncing attachments and also the fruit, such abandonment is regarded as Sattvika … for it is impossible for one who bears the body to abandon acts entirely. But he who gives up the fruits of works, is called the abandoner’ (18.9-11). If you practise such abandonment of the sense of agency and fruits, I will release you from all ‘sins’ — i.e., I will release you from all evil incompatible with the attainment of Myself, consisting of innumerable acts of the nature of doing what ought not to be done and not doing what ought to be done. These piled up from beginningless times from the obstruction in the way. Grieve not, you should not despair; for I shall release you from all these obstructions. Another (alternative) explanation is this: Bhakti Yoga is possible only for those people to whom the Lord is exceedingly dear and who are free from all evils. Those evils are so huge in their case that the expiatory rites which could wash them off, could not be performed in the limited time of one’s life span. Ajuna therefore thought that he was unfit for commencing Bhakti Yoga. To remove the grief of Arjuna the Lord said: ‘Completely relinquishing all Dharmas, seek Me alone for refuge.’ Expiatory rites can be taken here as what is meant by Dharma, Completely forsake these rites (Dharmas) appropriate for the removal of numerous and varied sins piled up from beginningless time and obstructing the starting of Bhakti Yoga. The expiatory rites consist of practices like Krcchra, Candrayana, Kusmanda, Vaisvanara, Vratapati, Pavitresti, Trvrit, Agnistoma etc., which are of manifold varieties, and which are difficult to perform on account of the brevity of life. So in order to succeed in commencing Bhakti Yoga, seek Me alone for refuge. I am supremely compassionate, the refuge of all without considering the differences of character among them, and am an ocean of tenderness for those dependent on Me. I will release you from all evil, the nature of which has been explained as incompatible with the commencement of Bhakti Yoga. Grieve not. [Both these interpretations of this famous verse are said to teach only Bhakti Yoga and not Prapatti. But the question will rise in one’s mind — why should it not be so taken?]
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Now the Supreme Lord Krishna reveals the conclusion to the essence of all knowledge. That which is the most confidential of all that is confidential is being revealed. Relinquishing all conceptions of religiosity by indomitable faith that complete salvation and redemption will come naturally through bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His incarnations and expansions as authorised in Vedic scriptures. By this determined conviction that nothing else is required or necessary other then surrendering totally to Him the Supreme Lord Himself personally promises moksa or liberation to such devotees.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Here Lord Krishna reveals the conclusion to the essence of all knowledge. The most confidential of all knowledge that is confidential. Sarva-dharma parityagya means renouncing all conceptions of what one thinks or imagines religiosity to be. This does not mean to renounce righteousness for righteousness to all jivas or embodied beings is always attuned and in harmony with the Supreme Lord. The ultimate goal of all religious and spiritual conceptions is communion with the Supreme Lord Krishna. To achieve this one must first have realisation of their atma or immortal soul within the etheric heart. After surrendering and taking exclusive refuge in Him alone one is blessed by the Supreme Lord and by His grace, He, Himself will accomplish this for His devotee.
Now begins the summation.
Knowing the absolute paramount position of the Supreme Lord Krishna as the creator, maintainer, protector and sustainer of all creation; one who is spiritually intelligent should incessantly attune themselves to adoring Him by bhakti or exclusive loving devotion. Then with such commitment of mind, speech and actions which is more precious and excellent than any other, one should surrender themselves completely unto Him thru the bonafide Vaisnava spiritual master in one of the four authorised sampradayas or channels of disciplic succession as revealed in Vedic scriptures. Awareness like knowing one is under the express care of the Supreme Lord and that He will always protect one in all situations, arises on its own like flowers in spring. Such awareness is known to be the result of saranagati or complete surrender.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
The essence of this instruction by Lord Krishna is to surrender all prescribed Vedic actions and duties to Him without considering merits or demerits. Actual devotion is full faith and loving devotion in the Supreme Lord. Dedicating oneself completely and all that one has unto the Supreme Lord in a continuous flow like the perpetual and powerful flow of the river Ganga fully satisfies and please the Supreme Lord. This is the most natural and effacious duty for all living entities to simply surrender all that they are, all that they have to their creator, the Supreme Lord Krishna. All actions that follow the injunctions and ordinances of the Vedic scriptures are propitiation and worship of the Supreme Lord; but to follow His direct instruction which is the conclusion of all the Vedic scriptures is the highest and most exalted form of devotion. As is confirmed in Katha Upanisad I.II.XXII beginning nayam atma pravacanena meaning: Communion with the Supreme Lord is obtained only by those who the Supreme Lord Himself chooses out of His own perogative. It is without question that such an exalted one can only be a devotee of the Supreme Lord for none other then His devotees are dearer to Him in the worlds as given in Skanda Purana, Reva-khanda. So it is adequately established with evidence thoughout Srimad Bhagavad-Gita from a multitude of Vedic scriptures that bhakti or exclusive loving devotion unto the Supreme Lord Krishna is the highest attainment and prime goal for all living entities.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
18.66 Sarva-dharman, all forms of rites and duties: Here the word dharma (righteousness) includes adharma (unrighteousness) as well; for, what is intended is total renunciation of all actions, as is enjoined in Vedic and Smrti texts like, ‘One who has not desisted from bad actions’ (Ka. 1.2.24), ‘Give up religions and irreligion’ (Mbh. Sa. 329.40), etc. Parityajya, abandoning all rites and duties; [Being a Ksatriya, Arjuna is not qualified for steadfastness in Knowledge through monasticism in the primary sense. Still, the Gita being meant for mankind as a whole, monasticism is spoken of here by accepting Arjuna as a representative man.] saranam vraja, take refuge; mam ekam, in Me alone, the Self of all, the same in all, existing in all beings, the Lord, the Imperishable, free from being in the womb, birth, old age and death-by knowing that I am verily so. That is, know it for certain that there is nothing besides Me. By revealing My real nature, aham, I; moksayisyami, shall free; tva, you, who have this certitude of understanding; sarva-papebhyah, from all sins, from all bondages in the form of righteousness and unrighteousness. It has also been stated, ‘I, residing in their hearts, destroy the dark-ness born of ignorance with the luminous lamp of Knowledge’ (10.11). Therefore, ma, do not; sucah, grieve, i.e. do not sorrow. In this scripture, the Gita, has knowledge been established as the supreme means to Liberation, or is it action, or both? Why does the doubt arise? (Because) the passages like, ‘…by realizing which one attains Immortality’ (13.12), ‘Then, having known Me in truth, he enters (into Me) immediately after that (Knowledge)’ (55), etc. point to the attainment of Liberation through Knowledge alone. Texts like, ‘Your right is for action alone’ (2.47), ‘(you undertake) action itself (4.15), etc. show that actions have to be under-taken as a matter of compulsory duty. Since both Knowledge and action are thus enjoined as duties, therefore the doubt may arise that they, in combination as well, may become the cause of Liberation. Objection: What, again, would be the result of this inquiry? Vedantin: Well, the resut will verily be this: The ascertainment of one of these as the cuase of the highest good. Hence this has to be investigated more extensively. Knowledge of the Self, however, is exclusively the cause of the highest good; for, through the removal of the idea of differences, it culminates in the result that is Liberation. The idea of distinction among action, agent and result is ever active with regard to the Self because of ignorance. This ignorance in the form, ‘My work; I am the agent; I shall do this work for that resut’, has been at work from time without beginning. The dispeller of this ignorance is this Knowledge regarding the Self-in the form, ‘I am the absolute, non agent, free from action and result; there is none else other than myself because, when it (Knowledge) arises it despels the idea of differences which is the cause of engagement in action. The word ‘however’ above is used for ruling out the other two alternatives. This refutes the two other alternative views by showing that the highest good cannot be attained through mere actions, nor by a combination of Knowledge and action. Besides, since Liberation is not a product, therefore it is illogical that it should have action as its means. Indeed, an eternal entity cannot be produced by either action of Knowledge. Objection: In that case, ever exclusive Knowledge is purposeless. Vedantin: No, since Knowledge, being the destroyer of ignorance, culminates in Liberation which is directly experienced result. The fact that Knowledge, which removes the darkness of ignorance, culminates in Liberation as its result is directly perceived in the same way as is the result of the light of a lamp which removes ignorance the form of sanke etc. and darkness from objects such as rope etc. Indeed, the result of light amounts to the mere (awareness of the) rope, free from the wrong notions of snake etc. So is the case with Knowledge. As in the case of the acts like ‘cutting down’, ‘producing fire by friction’ etc., in which accessories such as the agent and others operate, and which have perceivable results, there is no possiblity of (the agent etc.) engaging in any other activity giving some other result apart from ‘splitting into two’, ‘seeing (or lighting of) fire’ etc, similarly, in the case of the agent and the other factors engaged in the ‘act’ of steadfastness in Knowledge which has a tangible result, there is no possibility of (their) engagement in any other action which has a result different from that in the form of the sole existence of the Self. Hence, steadfastness in Knowledge combined with action is not logical. Objection: May it not be argued that this is possible like the acts of eating and Agnihotra sacrifice etc.? [As such a common action as eating can go hand in hand with such Vedic rites as the Agnihotra-sacrifice, so, actions can be combined with Knowledge.] Vedantin: No, since it is unreasonable that, when Knowledge which resutls in Liberation is attained, there can remain a hankering for results of actions. Just as there is no desire for an action or its result [Action, i.e. digging etc.; result, i.e. bathing etc.] in connection with a well, pond, etc. when there is a flood all around, similarly when Knowledge which has Liberation for its result is attained there can be no possibility of hankering for any other result or any action which leads to it. Indeed, when somebody is engaged in actions aimed at winning a kingdom, there can be no possibility of his engaging in any activity for securing a piece of land, or having a longing for it! Hence, action does not constitute the means to the highest good. Nor do Knowledge and action in combination. Further, Knowledge which has Liberation as its result can have no dependence on the assistance of action, because, being the remover of ignorance, it is opposed (to action). Verily, darkness cannot be the dispeller of darkness. Therefore Knowledge alone is the means to the highest good. Objection: Not so, because from non-performance of nityakarmas one incurs sin. Besides, freedom (of the Self) is eternal. As for the view that Liberation is attainable through Knowledge alone, it is wrong. For, if nityakarmas [As also the occasional duties (naimittika-karmas).] which are prescribed by the Vedas are not performed, then one will incur evil in the form of going to hell etc. Counter-objection: If this be so, then, since Liberation cannot come from action, will there not arise the contingency of there being no Liberation at all? Pseudo-Vedantin: Not so, for Liberation is eternal. as a result of performing nityakarmas there will not be incurring of evil, and as a result of not doing any prohibited action (nisiddha-karma) there will not be any possibility of birth in an undesirable body; from relinquishing actions meant for desired results (kamya-karmas) there will be no possibility of being born in some desirable body. Since there is no cause to produce another body when the present body falls after the results of actions that produced this body get exhausted by experiencing them, and since one does not have attachment etc., therefore Liberation consists in the mere continuance of the Self in Its own natural state. Thus, Liberation is attained without effort. Objection: May it not be argued that, since in the case of actions done in many past lives-which are calculated to yield such results as attainment of heaven, hell, etc. but have not commenced bearing results-there is no possiblity of their being experienced, therefore they cannot be exhausted? Pseudo-Vedantin: No, since the suffering of pain from the effort involved in the nityakarmas can reasonably be (considered to be) the experiencing of their [i.e. of actions done in past lives, which have not commenced bearing their fruits.-Tr.] results. Or, since the nityakarmas, like expiations, may be considered as being meant for eliminating the sins incurred earlier, and since actions that have begun bearing their fruits get exhausted merely through their being experienced, therefore Liberation is attained without effort-provided no fresh actions are performed. Vedantin: No, since there is the Upanisadic text, ‘Knowing Him alone, one goes beyond death; there is no other way to go by’ (Sv. 3.8), which states that for Liberation there is no other path but enlightenment; also because there is the Upanisadic statement that Liberation for an unenlightened person is as impossible as the rolling up of the sky like leather (Sv. 6.20); and since it is mentioned in the Puranas and the Smrtis that Liberation follows only from Knowledge. (From your view) it also follows that there is no possibility of the exhaustion of the results of virtuous deeds which have not as yet begun yielding their fruits. And, as there is the possibility of the persistence of sins which were incurred in the past but have not yet commenced yielding results, similarly there can be the possibility of the persistence of virtues which have not yet begun bearing fruits. And so, if there be no scope of their being exhausted without creating another body, then there is no possibility of Liberation. And since attachment, hatred and delusion, which are the causes of virtue and vice, cannot be eradicated through any means other than Knowledge, therefore the eradication of virtue and vice becomes impossible. Besides, since the Sruti [See Ch. .2.23.1 and Br. 1.5.16-Tr.] mentions that nityakarmas have heaven as their result, and there is the Smrti text, ‘Persons belonging to castes and stages of life, and engaged in their own duties’ [‘…attain to a high, immeasurable happiness.’-Tr.] (Ap. Dh. Su. 220.127.116.11), etc., therefore the exhaustion of (the fruits of) actions (through nityakarmas) is not possible. As for those who say, ‘The nityakarmas, being painful in themselves, must surely be the result of evil deeds done in the past; but apart from being what they are, they have no other result because this is not mentioned in the Vedas and they are enjoined on the basis of the mere fact that one is alive’-(this is) not so, because actions which have not become operative cannot yield any result. Besides, there is no ground for experiencing a particular consequence in the form of pain [Pain involved in the performance of nityakarmas.] The statement, that the pain one suffers from the effort involved in performing the nityakarmas is the result of sinful acts done in past lives, is false. Indeed, it does not stand to reason that the result of any action which did not become operative at the time of death to yield its fruit is experienced in a life produced by some other actions. Otherwise, there will be no reason why the fruit of some action that is to lead to hell should not be experienced in a life that is produced by such actions as Agnihotra etc. and is meant for enjoying the result in the form of heaven! Besides, that (pain arising from the effort in performing nityakarmas) cannot be the same as the consequence in the form of the particular suffering arising from sin. Since there can be numerous kinds of sins with results productive of various kinds of sorrows, therefore, if it be imagined that their (sins’) result will be merely in the form of pain arising from the effort in undertaking the nityakarmas, then it will certainly not be possible to suppose that they (the sins incurred in the past) are the causes of such obstacles as the pairs of opposites (heat and cold, etc.), disease etc., and that the result of sins incurred in the past will be only the pain arising from the exertion in performing nityakarmas, but not the sufferings like carrying stones on the head etc. Further, it is out of context to say this, that the pain resulting from the effort in performing nityakarmas is the result of sinful acts done in the past. Objection: How? Vedantin: What is under discussion is that the sin committed in the past, which has not begun to bear fruit, cannot be dissipated. In that context you say that pain resulting from the effort in undertaking nityakarmas is the result of action which has begun bearing fruit, not of that which has not yet commenced yielding fruit! On the other hand, if you think that all sins committed in the past have begun yielding their results, then it is unreasonable to specify that the pain resulting from the exertion in performing the nitya-karmas is their only result. And there arises the contingency of the injunction to perform nityakarmas becoming void, because the sinful deed which has begun bearing fruit can ligically be dissipated only be experiencing its result. Further, if pain be the result of nityakarmas enjoined by the Vedas, then it is seen to arise from the very effort in undertaking nityakarmas-as in the case of excercise etc. To imagine that it is the result of something else is illogical. [The pain arising from bodily excercise is the result of the excercise itself, and not the result of any past sin! Similarly, the pain resulting from undertaking nityakarmas is the consequence of that performance itself, and need not be imagined to be the result of any past sin.] And if the nityakarmas have been enjoined simply on the basis of a person’s being alive, it is unreasonable that it should be the result of sins committed in the past, any more than expiation is. An expiation that has been enjoined following a particular sinful act is not the result of that sin! On the other hand, if the suffering arising from expiation be the reslut of that very sin which is its cause, then the pain from the effort in performing nityakarmas, though prescribed merely on the fact of one’s being alive, may become the fruit of that very fact of one’s being alive-which was itself the occasion (for enjoining the nityakarmas)-, because both the nityakarmas and expiatory duties are indistinguishable so far as their being occasioned by something is concerned. Moreover, there is the other fact: There can be no such distinction that only the pain resulting from the performance of nityakarmas is the result of past sinful deeds, but not so the pain from performing kamya-karmas (rites and duties undertaken for desired results), because the pain in performing Agnihotra-sacrifice etc. is the same when it is performed as a nityakarma or as a kamya-karma. Thus the latter also may be the result of past sinful acts. This being the case, it is untenable to assume on the ground of circumstantial inference that, since no result is enjoined in the Vedas for nityakarmas and since its prescription cannot be justified on any other ground, therefore pain from the effort in performing nityakarmas is the result of sinful past deeds. Thus, the (Vedic) injunction being unjustifiable otherwise, it can be inferred that nityakarmas have got some result other than the pain arising from the effort in undertaking them. It also involves this contradiction: It is contradictory to say that through the performance of nityakarma a result of some other action is experienced. And when this is admitted, it is again a contradiction to say that that very experience is the result of the nityakarma, and yet that niyakarma has no result! Moreover, when Agnihotra and other sacrifices are performed for desirable results (Kamya-Agnihotra), then the Agnihotra etc. which are performed as nityakarma (Nitya-Agnihotra) become accomplished simultaneously (on a account of its being a part ofthe former). Hence, since the Kamya-Agnihotra (as an act) is dependent on and not different from the Nitya-Agnihotra, therefore the result of the Agnihotra and other sacrifices performed with a desire for results will get exhausted through the suffering involved in the exertion in undertaking it (the Nitya-Agnihotra). On the other hand, if the result of Kamya-Agnihotra etc. be different, viz heaven etc., then even the suffering arising from the exertion in performing them ought to be necessarily different (from the suffering involved in the Nitya-Agnihotra). And that is not the fact, because it contradicts what is directly perceived; for the pain resulting from the effort in performing only the Nitya-(-Agnihotra) does not differ from the pain resulting from the exertion in undertaking the Kamya (-Agnihotra). Besides, there is this other consideration: Actions which have not been enjoined or prohibited (by the scriptures) produce immediate results. But those enjoined or prohibited by the scriptures do not produce immediate results; were they to do so, then there would be no effort even with regard to heaven etc. and injunctions concerning unseen results. And it cannot be imagined that only the fruit of (Nitya-) Agnihotra etc. gets exhausted through the suffering arising from the effort in performing them, but the Kamya (-Agnihotra) has exalted results like heaven etc. merely as a consequence of the fact of desire for results, though as acts there is no essential difference between them (the Nitya and the Kamya) and there is no additional subsidiary part, processes of performance, etc. (in the kamya-Agnihotra). Therefore, it can never be established that nitya-karmas have no unseen results. And hence, enlightenment alone, not the performance of nityakarmas, is the cuase of the total dissipation of actions done through ignorance, be they good or bad. For, all actions have for their origin ignorance and desire. Thus has it been established (in the following passages) that action (rites and duties) is meant for the ignorant, and steadfastness in Knowledge-after renunciation of all actions-is meant for the enlightened: ‘both of them do not know’ (2.19); ‘he who knows this One as indestructible, eternal’ (2.21); ‘through the Yoga of Knowledge for the men of realization; through the Yoga of Action for the yogis’ (3.3); ‘the ignorant, who are attached to work’ (3.26); ‘But…the one who is a knower…does not become attached, thinking thus: “The organs rest on the objects of the organs”‘ (3.28); ‘The embodied man…having given up all actions mentally, continues’ (5.13); ‘Remaining absorbed in the Self, the knower of Reality should think, “I certainly do not do anything”‘ (5.8); i.e; the unenlightened person thinks, ‘I do’; ‘For (the sage) who wishes to ascend (to Dhyana-yoga), action is said to be the means…when he has ascended (when he is established in the Yoga of Meditation), inaction alone is said to be the means’ (6.3); ‘noble indeed’ are all the three (classes of) unenlightened persons, ‘but the man of Knowledge is the very Self. (This is) My opinion’ (7.18); the unenlightened who perform their rites and duties, ‘who are desirous of pleasures, attain the state of going and returning’ (9.21); ‘becoming non-different from Me and meditative’ (9.22) and endowed with steadfast devotion, they worship (Me) the Self which has been described as comparable to space and taintless; and ‘I grant that possession of wisdom by which they reach Me’ (10.10); i.e., the unenlightened persons who perform rites and duties ‘do not reach Me.’ Those who perform works for the Lord and who, though they be the most devout, are ignorant persons performing rites and duties,-they remain involved in practices which, in a descending order, culminate in giving up the fruit of actions (cf. 12.6-11). But those who meditate on the indefinable Immutable take recourse to the disciplines stated in the passages beginning with ‘He who is not hateful towards any creature’ (12.13) and ending with that Chapter, and also resort to the path of Knowledge presented in the three chapters beginning with the Chapter on the ‘field’. The three results of actions, viz the undesirable etc. (cf. 12), do not accrue only to the mendicants belonging to the Order of Paramahamsas (the highest Order of monks)-who have renounced all actions that originate from the five causes beginning with the locus (cf. 14), who possess the knowledge of the oneness and non-agentship of the Self (17,20), who continue in the supreme steadfastness in Knowledge, who know the real nature of the Lord, and who have taken refuge in the unity of the real nature of the Lord with the Self. It does accrue to the others who are not monks, the ignorant persons who perform rites and duties. Such is this distinction made in the scripture Gita with regard to what is duty and what is not. Objection: May it not be argued that it cannot be proved that all actions are due to ignorance? Reply: No, (it can be proved,) as in the case of slaying a Brahmin. Although the nityakarmas are known from the scriptures, still they are meant only for the ignorant. As such an action as killing a Brahmin, even though known to be a source of evil from the scripture prohibiting it, is still perpetrated by one who has defects such as ignorance, passion, etc.-because impulsion to any action is otherwise not possible-, so also is it with regard to the nitya, naimittika and kamya actions. Objection: May it not be held that impulsion to nityakarma etc. is not possible if the Self be not known as a distinct entity? [Unless one knows the Self to be distinct from the body etc. he will not perform the nityakarmas etc. meant for results in the other worlds, viz heaven etc. (Tr.:) In place of vyatiriktatmani, Ast. reads ‘deha-vyatiriktatmani, the Self which is distinct from the body’.] Reply: No, since it is seen that with regard to actions which are of the nature of motion and are accomplished by the not-Self, one engages in them with the idea, ‘I do.’ [The actionless Self is not the agent of the movements of the body etc. Still agentship is superimposed on It through ignorance.] Objection: Can it not be said that the notion of egoism with regard to the aggregate of body etc. occurs in a figurative sense; it is not false? Reply: No, since its effects [i.e. the effects of the notion of egoism.] also will become figurative. Objection: The notion of ‘I’ with regard to the aggregate of one’s own body etc. occurs in a figurative sense. As with regard to one’s own son it is said (in the Veda), ‘It is you yourself who is called the son’ (Sa. Br. 18.104.22.168), and in common parlance also it is said, ‘This cow is my very life’, so is the case here. [As the use of the word ‘I’ with regard to a son is figurative, so also with regard to the body.] This is certainly not a false notion. However, a false notion (of identity) occurs in the case of a stump and a man, when the distinction between them is not evident (due to darkness). Reply: A figuratively expressed notion cannot lead to an effect in the real sense, because that (notion) is used for the eulogy of its basis with the help of a word of comparison which remains understood. As for instance, such sentences as, ‘Devadatta is a lion’, ‘The boy is a fire’-implying ‘like a lion’, ‘like a fire’, on the basis of the similarity of cruelty, the tawny colour, etc.-are meant only for eulogizing Devadatta and the boy who are the basis (i.e. the subjects of the two sentences). But no action of a lion or a fire is accomplished because of the use of the figurative words or ideas. On the contrary, one experiences the evil effects of false notions. [Therefore the idea of ‘I’ with regard to one’s body etc. does not occur in a secondary sense, but it does so falsely.] And with regard to the subjects of the figurative notions, one understands, ‘This Devadatta cannot be a lion; this boy cannot be a fire.’ Similarly, actions done by the aggregate of body etc., which is the ‘Self’ in a figurative sense, cannot be held to have been done by the Self which is the real subject of the notion of ‘I’. For, actions done by the figurative lion or fire cannot be considered to have been accomplished by the real lion or fire. Nor is any action of the real lion and fire accomplished through the (figurative) cruelty or tawnyaness; for, their purpose is fully served by being used for eulogy. And those who are praised know, ‘I am not a lion; I am not fire; and neither is the work of a lion or fire mine.’ So the more ligical notion is, ‘The action of the aggregate (of body etc.) do not belong to me who am the real Self’, and not, ‘I am the agent; it is my work.’ As for the assertion made by some that the Self acts through Its own memory, deisre and effort, which are the causes of activity-that is not so, for they are based on false knowledge. Memory, desire, effort, etc. indeed follow from the tendencies born from the experience of the desirable and the undesirable results of actions (-which actions themselves arise from the notions of the ‘desirable’ and the ‘undesirable’) caused by false knowledge. [False knowledge gives rise to the ideas of the desirable and the undesirable. From these arise desire and repulsion. Actions which follow give rise to the experience of their desirable and undesirable results. Such experiences create impressions in the mind, from which are born memory etc.] Just as in this life virtue, vice and the experience of their results are cuased by the identification (of the Self) with the aggregate of body etc. and attraction, repulsion, etc., so also was it in the previous birth, and even in the life preceding that. Thus it can be inferred that past and future mundane existence is without beginning and is a product of ignorance. And from this it becomes proved that the absolute cessation of mundane existence is caused by steadfastness in Knowledge, accompanied by renunciation of all rites and duties. Besides, since self-identification with the body is nothing but ignorance, therefore, when the (ignorance) ceases, there remains so possibility of re-birth, and so, mundane existence becomes impossible. The identification of the Self with the aggregate of body etc. is nothing but ignorance, because in common life it is not seen that anybody who knows, ‘I am different from cattle etc., and the cattle etc. are different from me’, entertains the notion of ‘I’ with regard to them. However, mistaken perceiving a stump to be a man, one may out of indiscrimination entertain the idea of ‘I’ with regard to the aggregate of body etc.; not so when perceiving them as distinct. As for that notion of considering the son to be oneself-as mentioned in, ‘It is you yourself who is called the son’ (Sa. Br. 22.214.171.124)-, that is a metaphor based on the relationship between the begotten and the begetter. And no real action like eating etc.can be accomplished through something considered metaphorically as the Self, just as actions of the real lion or fire (cannot be accomplished) by someone metaphorically thought of to be a lion or fire. Objection: Since an injunction relating to an unseen result is valid, therefore, may it not be said that the purposes of the Self are accomplished by the body and organs which are figuratively considered to be the Self? Reply: No, since the thinking of them as the Self is the result of ignorance. The body, organs, etc. are not the Self in a figurative sense. Objection: How then? Reply: Although the Self is devoid of relationship, still, by an ascription of relationship (to the Self), they (body etc.) come to be regarded as the Self, verily through a false notion. For, this identification (of body etc.) with the Self exists so long as the false notion is there, and ceases to exist when it is not there. So long as ignorance lasts, identification of the Self with the aggregate of body and organs is seen only in the case of non-discriminating, immature, ignorant poeple who say, ‘I am tall’, ‘I am fair’. But in the case of discriminating persons who possess the knowledge, ‘I am different from the aggregate of body etc.’, there does not arise the idea of egoism with regard to the body etc. at that time (i.e. simultaneously with that knowledge). Hence, since it (i.e. identification of the Self with the body etc.) ceases in the absence of the false notion, therefore it is a creation of that (false notion), and not a figurative notion. It is only when the common and the uncommon features of the lion and Devadatta, or of fire and the boy, are known distinctly, that a figurative notion or verbal expression can occur; not when the common and the uncommon features are unknown. As for the argument that (the figurative notion should be accepted) on the authority of the Vedas, we say, ‘No’, because their validity concerns unseen results. The validity of the Vedas holds good only with regard to matters concerning the relation between ends and means of Agnihotra etc., which are not known through such valid means of knowledge as direct perception; but not with regard to objects of direct perception etc., because the validity of the Vedas lies in revealing what is beyond direct perception. Therefore it is not possible to imagine that the idea of egism with regard to the aggregate of body etc., arising from an obviously of false knowledge, is a figurative notion. Surely, even a hundred Vedic texts cannot become valid if they assert that fire is cold or non-luminous! Should a Vedic text say that fire is cold or non-luminous, even then one has to assume that the intended meaning of the text is different, for otherwise (its) validity cannot be maintained; but one should not assume its meaning in a way that might contradict some other valid means of knowledge or contradict its own statement. Objection: May it not be said that since actions are undertaken by one possessed of a false idea of agentship, therefore, when the agent ceases to be so [‘According to you (the Vedantin), an ignorant man alone can be an agent. Therefore, when he becomes illumined, he will cease to be ignorant and consequently the Vedas will cease to be valid for him.’] the Vedas will become invalid? Reply: No, since the Vedas become logically meaningful in respect of knowledge of Brahman. [Though the Vedic injunctions about rituals etc. be inapplicable in the case of an enlightened person, still they have empirical validity before enlightenment. Besides, the Vedas have real validity with regard to the knowledge of Brahman.] Objection: May it not be said that there arises the contingency of the Vedic texts enjoining knowledge of Brahman becoming as invalid as those texts enjoining rites and duties? Reply: No, since there cannot possibly be any notion which can remove (the knowledge of Brahman). Unlike the manner in which the idea of egoism with regard to the aggregate of body etc. is removed after the realization of the Self from hearing the Vedic injunctions regarding the knowledge of Brahman, the realization of the Self in the Self can never be removed in any way in that manner by anything whatsoever-just as the knowledge that fire is hot and luminous is irremovable-, since (Self-) realization is inseparable from its result (i.e. cessation of ignorance). Besides, the Vedic texts enjoining rites (and duties) etc. are not invalid, because they, through the generation of successively newer tendencies by eliminating the successively preceding tendencies, are meant for creating the tendency to turn towards the indwelling Self. [The Vedic injunctions make people up rituals etc. by giving up their earlier worldly tendencies. Thereby their minds become purified. The purified mind then aspires to know the indwelling Self. Thus, since the ritualistic injunctions are meant for making a person turn towards the knowledge ofthe indwelling Self, they are not invalid.] Although the means be unreal (in itself), still it may be meaningful in relation to the truth of the purpose it serves, as are the eulogistic sentences (arthavada) [See note on p. 40.-Tr.] occuring along with injunctions. Even in the world, when it becomes necessary to make to child or a lunatic drink milk etc. it is said that it will help growth of hair [Cuda, lit. hair on the top of the head; or single lock of hair left on the crown of the head after tonsure. See V.S.A.] etc.! Before the dawn of Knowledge, the (ritualistic) Vedic texts concerned with a different situation [The situation obtaining before the dawn of Self-knowledge.] are also as valid in themselves as are direct perception etc. occuring due to Self-identification with the body etc. On the other hand, as for your view ‘The Self, though inactive by Itself, acts through Its mere proximity; and that itself constitutes agentship of the Self in the primary sense. Just as it is well known that a king, though not himself engaged in a battle, is, merely by virtue of his being in charge, said to be fighting when his soldiers are fighting, and that he is victorious or defeated; similarly, as the commander of an army acts through his mere orders, and it is seen that the results of the actions accrue to the king or to the commander; or, just as the actions of the priests are ascribed to the sacrificer,-in that very manner are the actions done by the body etc. ought to be of the Self because the result of those actions accrues to the Self. And, as the agentship of a magnet which, in fact, is not active, is attributed to it in the primary sense because it causes a piece of iron to move, similar is the agentship of the Self’-that is wrong, since it will amunt to an inactive entity becoming an agent. Objection: May not agentship be of various kinds? Reply: No, for in the case of the ‘king’ and others it is seen that they have agentship even in the primary sense. As for the king, he fights even through his personal engagement. And he has agentship in the primary sense by virtue of making (his) warriors fight, distributing wealth, and also reaping the fruits of victory or defeat. Similarly, the agentship of a sacrificer is primary by virtue of his offering the main oblation and giving gifts due to the priests. Therefore it is understood that the agentship which is attributed to an inactive entity is figurative. If primary agentship consisting in their personal engagement is not perceived in the case of the king, a sacrificer and others, then it could be assumed that they have primary agentship owing to the mere fact of their presence, just as a magnet has by virtue of making the iron move. But in the case of the king and others it is not perceived that they have no personal engagement in that way. Therefore, even the agentship owing to mere presence is a figurative one. And if that be so, the connection with the result of such agentship will also be figurative. No action in the primary sense is performed by an agent figuratively thought to be so. Hence the assertion is certainly wrong that owing to the activities of the body etc. the actionless Self becomes an agent and experiencer. But everything becomes possible due to error. This is just as it happens in dream or in jugglery! Besides, in deep sleep, absorption in Brahman, etc. where the current of the mistaken idea of Self-identity with the body etc. ceases, evils like agentship, enjoyership, etc. are not perceived. Therefore this delusion of mundane existence is surely due to false knowledge; but it is not reality. Consequently, it is established that it ceases absolutely as a result of full enlightenment. Having summed up in this chapter the import of the whole of the scripture Gita, and having again summarized it specially here at the end (in verse 66) for the sake of emphasizing the purport of the Scripture, now after that, the Lord states the rules for handing down the Scripture:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
18.66 Sarvadharman etc. Abandoning all attributes : This act of slaying the kinsmen and the like that arises incidentally while fighting a war – not owning those acts as your own attribute by your thought ‘I am the doer of all these’; also giving up by mind, the notion ‘If the act of slaying the teacher etc., is avoided, merit will accrue to me’. come to Me: Come to Me alone, the Agent-of-all-actions, the Supreme Lord, the Sovereign. As your Refuge : as the Guardian of all your natural impulses. On that account I, the Omniscient, shall rescue you from all the sins. Don’t be sorrowful : Don’t get perplexed ‘What to be done’.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
sarva-dharmān — all varieties of religion; parityajya — abandoning; mām — unto Me; ekam — only; śaraṇam — for surrender; vraja — go; aham — I; tvām — you; sarva — all; pāpebhyaḥ — from sinful reactions; mokṣayiṣyāmi — will deliver; mā — do not; śucaḥ — worry.