naiva kiñcit karomīti
yukto manyeta tattva-vit
paśyañ śṛṇvan spṛśañ jighrann
aśnan gacchan svapañ śvasan
pralapan visṛjan gṛhṇann
unmiṣan nimiṣann api
vartanta iti dhārayan
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 5.8-9
A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, or opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
A person in Krishna consciousness is pure in his existence, and consequently he has nothing to do with any work which depends upon five immediate and remote causes: the doer, the work, the situation, the endeavor and fortune. This is because he is engaged in the loving transcendental service of Krishna. Although he appears to be acting with his body and senses, he is always conscious of his actual position, which is spiritual engagement. In material consciousness, the senses are engaged in sense gratification, but in Krishna consciousness the senses are engaged in the satisfaction of Krishna’s senses. Therefore, the Krishna conscious person is always free, even though he appears to be engaged in affairs of the senses. Activities such as seeing and hearing are actions of the senses meant for receiving knowledge, whereas moving, speaking, evacuating, etc., are actions of the senses meant for work. A Krishna conscious person is never affected by the actions of the senses. He cannot perform any act except in the service of the Lord because he knows that he is the eternal servitor of the Lord.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
The Lord teaches the method by which one is not contaminated by actions. Although the karma yogi (yukta) is engaged in seeing and other actions, by verifying with his intelligence that the senses alone are engaged in the sense objects, he thinks that “I am doing nothing at all.”
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
5.8 – 5.9 Thus he who knows the truth concerning the self should reflect in mind that the ear and the other organs of sensation (Jnanendriyas) as also organs of action (Karmendriyas) and the vital currents (the Pranas) are occupied with their own respective objects. Thus he should know, ‘I do not do anything at all.’ He should reflect, ‘My intrinsic nature is one of knowledge. The sense of agency comes because of the association of the self with the senses and the Pranas which are rooted in Karma. It does not spring from my essential nature.’
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
That there is no contradiction in the statement that the follower of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities without desire even though performing various activities is not affected or influenced is being clarified by Lord Krishna in these two verses. One engaged is this process of yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness perceives themselves as separate from the activities of the body and that the senses reside in the very sense objects desired. Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting are the functions of the organs of knowledge the eyes, ears, hands, nose and tongue. Moving is the function of legs, speaking the function of the mouth, sleeping the function of the mind, breathing the function of the vital force. So these are the distinctions which separate the body from the individual consciousness and thus it is not contradictory that one understands that one is not the doer of any action. The knowers of the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence being free from all conceptions of doership are not subject to reactions from their actions although performing so many activities. The Vedanta Sutra VI.I.XVI states that when knowledge of the Brahman is realised the result is the permanent eradication of all previous reactions and the inability to receive reactions for any subsequent actions. This is known because it is so declared many places in the Vedic scriptures one being the Mundaka Upanisad II.VIII.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Lord Krishna further clarifies renunciation in these two verses.
Now begins the summation.
How renunciation can become the form of equanimity is explained in these two verses. Energised solely by the all encompassing and pervading energy of the Supreme Lord a beings mind and body become active. The knowledge that no being is ever independent of the Supreme Lord is verily an essential and eternal truth.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
How would the performer of karma yoga or prescribed Vedic activities without attachment who has achieved atma tattva or realisation of the soul behave? Lord Krishna replies to this in these two verses. The yogi or one following the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness comprehends the reality that all bodily functions along with the senses are functioning independently and thus one is not subject to conceptions of doership. Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching are the functions of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. When the eyes open and close does one think they are the opener and closer? In this way one should think for all actions one performs. Moving is the function of the legs, speaking of the mouth, pleasure of the generating organs and so forth. Breathing is a function of the vital force and includes all others as it sustains the entire body. Lord Krishna explains this exposition in the way of artha-krama or where the order of the meaning is more potent than patha-krama or textual position. The purport is that one should live their life free from the ego of I-ness and my-ness and conceptions of doership, knowing that all actions are the functions of the organs and senses and are independent from the individual consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
5.8 Yuktah, remaining absorbed in the Self; tattva-vit, the knower of Reality-knower of the real nature of Truth, of the Self, i.e., the seer of the supreme Reality; manyeta, should think; ‘na karomi eva, I certainly do not do; kincit, anything.’ Having realized the Truth, when or how should he think? This is being answered; Api, even; pasyan, while seeing; srnvan, hearing; sprsan, touching; jighran, smelling; asnan, eating; gacchan, moving; svapan, sleeping; svasan, breathing; pralapan, speaking; visrjan, releasing; grhnan, holding; unmisan, opening; nimisan, closing the eyes. All these are to be connected with the above manyeta (should think). For the man who has known the Truth thus, who finds nothing but inaction in action-in all the movements of the body and organs-, and who has full realization, there is competence only for giving up all actions because of his realization of the nonexistence of actions. Indeed, one who proceeds to drink water in a mirage thinking that water is there, surely does not go there itself for drinking water even after knowing that no water exists there!
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
5.7-11 Yogayuktah etc. upto atma-siddhaye. He, whose (by whom) Self is [realised to be] the Self of all beings, is not stained, eventhough he performs all [sorts of] actions. For, he has undertaken neither what is enjoined nor what is prohibited. Hence, even while performing actions such as seeing and the like, he bears in mind, -i.e., he resolves with [all] firmness of observation, – that ‘If the sense-organs like eyes etc., function on their respective objects, what does it matter for me ? Indeed one is not stained by what another does’. This act is nothing but dedicating one’s actions to the Brahman. In this regard the characteristic mark is his detachment. Due to that he is not stained. Because they do not have attachment, the men of Yoga perform actions only with their body etc., that are freed from attachment and do not depend on each other.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
naiva kiñcit karomiti
yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyañ srnvan sprsañ jighrann
asnan gacchan svapañ svasan
pralapan visrjan grhnann
unmisan nimisann api
vartanta iti dharayan
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
na — never; eva — certainly; kiñcit — anything; karomi — I do; iti — thus; yuktaḥ — engaged in the divine consciousness; manyeta — thinks; tattva-vit — one who knows the truth; paśyan — seeing; śṛṇvan — hearing; spṛśan — touching; jighran — smelling; aśnan — eating; gacchan — going; svapan — dreaming; śvasan — breathing; pralapan — talking; visṛjan — giving up; gṛhṇan — accepting; unmiṣan — opening; nimiṣan — closing; api — in spite of; indriyāṇi — the senses; indriya-artheṣu — in sense gratiﬁcation; vartante — let them be so engaged; iti — thus; dhārayan — considering.