Sannyasa Yoga

discourse v

This discourse is devoted to showing that renunciation of action as such is impossible without the discipline of selfless action and that both are ultimately one.

Arjuna Said:
1.Thou laudest renunciation of actions, O Krishna, whilst at the same time thou laudest performance of action; tell me for a certainty which is the better.

अर्जुनउवाच |
संन्यासंकर्मणांकृष्णपुनर्योगं च शंससि |
यच्छ्रेयएतयोरेकंतन्मेब्रूहिसुनिश्चितम् || 1||


The Lord Said:
2. Renunciation and performance of action both lead to salvation; but of the two, karmay­oga (performance) is better than sannyasa(renunciation).

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
संन्यास: कर्मयोगश्चनि:श्रेयसकरावुभौ |
तयोस्तुकर्मसंन्यासात्कर्मयोगोविशिष्यते || 2||


3. Him one should know as ever renouncing who has no dislikes and likes; for he who is free from the pairs of opposites is easily released from bondage.

ज्ञेय: स नित्यसंन्यासीयो न द्वेष्टि न काङ्क्षति |
निर्द्वन्द्वोहिमहाबाहोसुखंबन्धात्प्रमुच्यते || 3||

That is, not renunciation of action but of attachment to the pairs determines true renunciation. A man who is always in action may be a good sannyasi(renouncer) and another who may be doing no work may well be a hypocrite. See III. 6.


4. It is the ignorant who speak of sankhya and yoga as different, not so those who have knowl­edge. He who is rightly established even in one wins to the fruit of both.

साङ्ख्ययोगौपृथग्बाला: प्रवदन्ति न पण्डिता: |
एकमप्यास्थित: सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दतेफलम् || 4||

The yogi engrossed in sankhya (knowledge) lives even in thought for the good of the world and attains the fruit of karmayoga by the sheer power of his thought. The karmay­ogi ever engrossed in unattached action nat­urally enjoys the peace of the jnanayogi.


9.Talking, letting go, holding fast, opening or closing the eyes-in the conviction that is the senses that are moving in their respective spheres.

प्रलपन्विसृजन्गृह्ण्न्नुन्मिषन्निमिषन्नपि |
इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषुवर्तन्तइतिधारयन् || 9||

So long as ‘self’ endures, this detachment cannot be achieved. A sensual man therefore may not shelter himself under the pretence that it is not he but his senses that are acting. Such a mischievous interpretation betrays a gross ignorance of the Gita and right con­duct. The next shloka makes this clear.


10. He who dedicates his actions to Brahman and performs them without attachment is not smeared by sin, as the lotus-leaf by water.

ब्रह्मण्याधायकर्माणिसङ्गंत्यक्त्वाकरोति य: |
लिप्यते न स पापेनपद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा || 10||

11. Only with the body, mind and intellect and also with the senses, do the yogis perform action without attachment for the sake of self- purification.

कायेनमनसाबुद्ध्याकेवलैरिन्द्रियैरपि |
योगिन: कर्मकुर्वन्तिसङ्गंत्यक्त्वात्मशुद्धये || 11||


12. A man of yoga obtains everlasting peace by abandoning the fruit of action; the man ignorant of yoga, selfishly attached to fruit, remains bound.

युक्त: कर्मफलंत्यक्त्वाशान्तिमाप्नोतिनैष्ठिकीम् |
अयुक्त: कामकारेणफलेसक्तोनिबध्यते || 12||

13. Renouncing with the mind all actions, the dweller in the body, who is master of himself, rests happily in his city of nine gates, neither doing nor getting anything done.

सर्वकर्माणिमनसासंन्यस्यास्तेसुखंवशी |
नवद्वारेपुरेदेहीनैवकुर्वन्नकारयन् || 13||

The principal gates of the body are the two eyes, the two nostrils, the two ears, the mouth, and the two organs of excretion-though really speaking the countless pores of the skin are no less gates. If the gatekeeper always remains on the alert and performs his task, letting in or out only the objects that deserve ingress or egress, then of him it can truly be said that he has no part in the ingress or egress, but that he is a passive witness. He thus does nothing nor gets anything done.


26. Rid of lust and wrath, masters of themselves, the ascetics who have realized atman find one­ness with Brahman everywhere around them.

कामक्रोधवियुक्तानांयतीनांयतचेतसाम् |
अभितोब्रह्मनिर्वाणंवर्ततेविदितात्मनाम् || 26||


27-28. That ascetic is ever free-who, having shut out the outward sense- contacts, sits with his gaze fixed between the brows, outward and inward breathing in the nostrils made equal; his senses, mind, and reason held in check; rid of longing, fear and wrath; and intent on Freedom.

स्पर्शान्कृत्वाबहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरेभ्रुवो: |
प्राणापानौसमौकृत्वानासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ || 27||
यतेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिर्मुनिर्मोक्षपरायण: |
विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधो य: सदामुक्तएव स: || 28||

These shlokas refer to some of the yogic practices laid down in the Yoga-sutras. A word of caution is necessary regarding these practices. They serve for the yogi the same purpose as athletics and gymnastics do for the bhogin (who pursues worldly pleasures). His physical exercises help the latter to keep his senses of enjoyment in full vigour. The yogic practices help the yogi to keep his body in condition and his senses in subjec­tion. Men versed in these practices are rare in these days, and few of them turn them to good account. He who has achieved the pre­liminary stage on the path to self-discipline, he who has a passion for Freedom, and who having rid himself of the pairs of opposites has conquered fear, would do well to go in for these practices which will surely help him. It is such a disciplined man alone who can, through these practices, render his body a holy temple of God. Purity both of the mind and body is a sine qua non, without which these processes are likely, in the first instance, to lead a man astray and then drive him deeper into the slough of delusion. That this has been the result in some cases many know from actual experience. That is why that prince of yogis, Patanjali gave the first place to yamas (cardinal vows) and niyamas (casual vows), and held as eligible for yogic practices only those who have gone through the preliminary discipline.

The five cardinal vows are: non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, nonpossession. The five casual vows are: bodily purity, con­tentment, the study of the scriptures, auster­ity, and meditation of God.

29. Knowing Me as the Acceptor of sacrifice and austerity, the great Lord of all the worlds, the Friend of all creation, the yogi attains to peace.

भोक्तारंयज्ञतपसांसर्वलोकमहेश्वरम् |
सुहृदंसर्वभूतानांज्ञात्वामांशान्तिमृच्छति || 29||

This shloka may appear to be in conflict with shlokas 14 and 15 of this discourse and sim­ilar ones in other discourses. It is not really so. Almighty God is Doer and non-Doer, Enjoyer and non-Enjoyer both. He is inde­scribably, beyond the power of human speech. Man somehow strives to have a glimpse of Him and in so doing invests Him with diverse and even contradictory attributes.

Thus ends the fifth discourse, entitled ‘Sann­yasa Yoga’ in the converse of Lord Krishna and Arjuna, on the science of Yoga, as part of the knowledge of Brahman, in the Upan­ishad called the Bhagavad Gita.