kāryaḿ karma karoti yaḥ
sa sannyāsī ca yogī ca
na niragnir na cākriyaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 6.1
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In this chapter the Lord explains that the process of the eightfold yoga system is a means to control the mind and the senses. However, this is very difficult for people in general to perform, especially in the Age of Kali. Although the eightfold yoga system is recommended in this chapter, the Lord emphasizes that the process of karma-yoga, or acting in Krishna consciousness, is better. Everyone acts in this world to maintain his family and their paraphernalia, but no one is working without some self-interest, some personal gratification, be it concentrated or extended. The criterion of perfection is to act in Krishna consciousness, and not with a view to enjoying the fruits of work. To act in Krishna consciousness is the duty of every living entity because all are constitutionally parts and parcels of the Supreme. The parts of the body work for the satisfaction of the whole body. The limbs of the body do not act for self-satisfaction but for the satisfaction of the complete whole. Similarly, the living entity who acts for satisfaction of the supreme whole and not for personal satisfaction is the perfect sannyasi, the perfect yogi.
The sannyasis sometimes artificially think that they have become liberated from all material duties, and therefore they cease to perform agnihotra yajnas (fire sacrifices), but actually they are self-interested because their goal is to become one with the impersonal Brahman. Such a desire is greater than any material desire, but it is not without self-interest. Similarly, the mystic yogi who practices the yoga system with half-open eyes, ceasing all material activities, desires some satisfaction for his personal self. But a person acting in Krishna consciousness works for the satisfaction of the whole, without self-interest. A Krishna conscious person has no desire for self-satisfaction. His criterion of success is the satisfaction of Krishna, and thus he is the perfect sannyasi, or perfect yogi. Lord Caitanya, the highest perfectional symbol of renunciation, prays in this way:
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
“O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In the sixth chapter, the method of controlling the fickle mind, achieved by the yogi who has controlled the senses through the process of astariga yoga, is described.
In practicing astanga yoga, one should not suddenly give up niskama karma yoga, which purifies the heart. He who performs actions prescribed by the scripture as inescapable duty (karyam karma) without expectation of results (anasritah karma phalam) is called a sannyasi since he renounces the results of his actions. He is called a yogi because his mind does not dwell on the enjoyment of objects of the senses. A person who merely renounces actions such as the fire sacrifice is not called a sannyasi. Nor is one who merely half closes his eyes without external bodily activity (akriyah) called a yogi.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
6.1 The Lord said — He who, without depending on such fruits of works as heaven, etc., performs them, reflecting, ‘The performance of works alone is my duty (Karya). Works themselves are my sole aim, because they are a form of worship of the Supreme Person who is our Friend in every way. There is nothing other than Him to be gained by them’ — such a person is a Sannyasin, i.e., one devoted to Jnana Yoga, and also a Karma Yogin, i.e., one devoted to Karma Yoga. He is intent on both these, which is the means for attaining Yoga, which is of the nature of the vision of the self. ‘And not he who maintains no sacred fires and performs no works,’ i.e., not he who is disinclined to perform the enjoined works such as sacrifices, etc., nor he who is devoted to mere knowledge. The meaning is that such a person is devoted only to knowledge, whereas a person who is devoted to Karma Yoga has both knowledge and works. Now Sri Krsna teaches that there is an element of knowledge in the Karma Yoga as defined above.
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
Even if the mind has been purified it is certain that without being augmented by meditation the chance for moksa or liberation from the material existence cannot be the result by mere renunciation of action, so to remedy this situation Lord Krishna expounds the yoga of meditation in this chapter. In order to further explain the yoga or the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness by meditation as referred to briefly at the conclusion of the last chapter Lord Krishna begins this chapter. As in chapter five the performance of action preceded by renunciation of action have both been depicted in order to clear up any possible discrepancy regarding the superiority of prescribed Vedic activities over renunciation, Lord Krishna states that one who performs prescribed Vedic activities that are obligatory such as fasting from all grains on Ekadasi which is the 11th day of the waxing and waning moon without hankering for the benefits or rewards is a true renunciate and yogi and not one who has renounced the sacred fire or has renounced purta which are philanthropic activities for the benefit and welfare of society.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
Hari OM! In this verse Lord Krishna speaks about meditation which is the principle element of spiritual knowledge. He also explains the method of renunciation by meditation. Sannyasa which is the fourth stage of life and can only be accepted by a male brahmin in the renounced celibate order performs yagna or worship of offerings to the Supreme Lord are recommended along with propitiating the sacred fire. The sacred fire for a sannyasi is the Brahman or the spiritual substratum pervading all existence and the worship for a sannyasi is the performance of Vedic activities such as teaching the Vedas, chanting of mantras, developing devotion and helping the conditioned souls develop devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna. So therefore one not devoted either to yagna or the sacred fire cannot be considered a sannyasi or a yogi being one who is perfecting the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the ultimate consciousness.
Now begins the summation.
In this verse Lord Krishna speaks of meditation by such a sannyasi or yogi as a great soul who residing in the Brahman makes offerings of ghee or clarified butter into the sacred fire. By this and other references from Vedic scriptures renunciation includes even one in the sannyasi order who makes offerings of yagna in all their actions even with the offering of their very self.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
In the fifth chapter Lord Krishna described and praised the path of selfless action as well as the path of knowledge. At the very end of chapter five the procedures for meditation were introduced briefly in two verses. Here in this chapter they are elaborated further. One may hypothesise that since actions are of a lower order then renunciation must be superior. To alleviate such ideas Lord Krishna speaks the word anasritah or without expecting. Performance of obligatory prescribed Vedic activities and occasional ones like the appearance celebrations of the Supreme Lord without hankering for rewards or benefits is true renunciation and not for one who has renounced the rituals of the sacred fire and other magnanimous activities. Such a person is neither a renunciate or a yogi. Only the person who performs prescribed Vedic activities renouncing all desires for rewards is regarded as a renunciate and a yogi because they have qualified themselves as competent in both disciplines simultaneously.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
6.1 Anasritah, without depending on;-on what?-on that which is karma-phalam, the result of action- i.e. without craving for the result of action-. He who craves for the results of actions becomes dependent on the results of actions. But this person is the opposite of such a one. Hence (it is said), ‘wihtout depending on the result of action. Having become so, yah he who; karoti, performs accomplishes; (karma, an action;) which is his karyam, duty, the nityakarmas such as Agnihotra etc. which are opposed to the kamya-karmas-. Whoever is a man of action of this kind is distinguished from the other men of action. In order to express this idea the Lord says, sah, he ; is a sannyasi, monk, and a yogi. Sanyyasa, means renunciation. he who is possessed of this is a sannyasi, a monk. And he is also a yogi. Yoga means concentration of mind. He who has that is a yogi. It is to be understood that this man is possessed of these qualities. It is not to be understood that, only that person who does not keep a fire (niragnih) and who is actionless (akriyah) is a monk and a yogi. Niragnih is one from whom the fires [viz Garhapatya, Ahavaniya, Anvaharya-pacana, etc.], which are the accessories of rites, have bocome dissociated. By kriya are mean austerity, charity, etc. which are performed wityout fire. Akriyah, actionless, is he who does not have even such kriyas. Objection: Is it not only with regard to one who does not keep a fire and is acitonless that monasticsm and meditativeness are well known in the Vedas, Smrtis and scriptures dealing with meditation? Why are monasticism and meditativeness spoken of here with regard to one who keeps a fire and is a man of action-which is not accepted as a fact? Reply: This defect does not arise, because both are sought to be asserted in some secondary sense. Objection: How is that? Reply: His being monk is by virtue of his having given up hankering for the results of actions; and his being a man of meditation is from the fact of his doing actions as accesories to meditation or from his rejection of thoughts for the results of actions which cause disturbances in the mind. Thus both are used in a figurative sense. On the contrary, it is not that monasticism and meditativeness are meant in the primary sense. With a veiw to pointing out this idea, the Lord says:
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
6.1-2 The subject matter that has been thus established in the series of the preceding chapters is summarised by a couple of verses. Anasritah etc. Yam etc. Bounden : Ordained [in the law books] according to one’s caste etc. [Thus] man-lf-renunciation and man-of-Yoga are synonyms. That is why [the Lord] says, ‘what [the learned] call renunciation’ etc. Therefore, without Yoga no renunciation is possible. Similarly Yoga is not possible without renouncing the intention [for fruit]. Consequently, the Yoga and renunciation are ever interlinked. The idea, suggested by ‘not he who remains [simply] without his fires etc.’ is this : He remains neither without fires, nor without actions and yet he is man of renunciation, Hence this is strange. Of course, following the principle [involved in the statement] ‘Playing dice is the kingship, without throne’, and following logic it has been asserted already that renunciation is not possible for a person who remains simply without actions. Yet-
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
karyam karma karoti yah
sa sannyasi ca yogi ca
na niragnir na cakriyah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Lord said; anāśritaḥ — without taking shelter; karma-phalam — of the result of work; kāryam — obligatory; karma — work; karoti — performs; yaḥ — one who; saḥ — he; sannyāsī — in the renounced order; ca — also; yogī — mystic; ca — also; na — not; niḥ — without; agniḥ — ﬁre; na — nor; ca — also; akriyaḥ — without duty.