Moksha - bhagvad gita chapter 18

Eighteenth chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta.

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What is the last message of Bhagavad Gita?

We now are on the eighteenth chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, which is the final chapter of the Gita.
It is the longest chapter, coming in at 78 shlokas.
It is a summary of the entire Gita teaching condensed into one chapter.
It is the most practical among all of the chapters, containing lessons applicable to every aspect of our life.
Arjun begins this chapter with a question to Shri Krishna. He wants to know what the difference between sannyaasa & tyaaga is. Basically, he wants to know when to act and when not to act.
Shri Krishna wants to give the appropriate answer to Arjun, a Kshatriya warrior. Our actions are determined by two factors: Our profession & our stage in life.
According to Shri Krishna and Gita, We can classify our actions into three types:

●      Obligatory duties towards our family, community & Ishvara

●      Desire orientated actions &

●      Prohibited actions

Shri Krishna answered by giving his views: one should give up

●      All actions arising from desire &

●      The attachment to the rewards of all types of actions

What is Sannyasa? What is the meaning of Tyaga?

In eighteenth chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta Shri Krishna says:

●      Sannyasa or solitary living is for: those who have a contemplative mind & renounced all attachment to actions.

●      Tyaaga is for those who can give sacrifice, charity and penance.

Classification of Tyaaga according to Geeta:

Shri Krishna further classifies tyaaga or giving up actions into three types, sattvic rajasic and tamasic. He says that: Do not give up duties towards society & Ishvara and Give up selfish & prohibited actions.

Satvik Tyaaga:

The wise understand that blind pursuit of material gain is not going to lead to happiness. They give up likes/dislikes & all actions are done as service & not personal gain.
Shri Krishna says that the only way to convert selfish actions into selfless actions is to give up attachment to the rewards of the action. E.g., If you are a painter & spend months creating a masterpiece.
If you were painting with a notion of how much money you were going to get, that is a selfish attitude. If you painted with your complete devotion & duty, with an attitude of selflessness, giving up attachment to the reward, that becomes svadharma.
Sattvic tyaagi is able to discriminate between-

●      What is real and what is not or

●      What is the eternal essence and what is the illusionary world.

He continues to do his duty with the aim of liberation. He has realized that he is not performing any action at all; it is Prakriti that is doing all the work.

Tamasic tyaaga

Tamasic tyaaga is one who does not carry out his every day, obligatory duties.
Karma yoga specifically states that you can give up doing your duties, otherwise its tamasic yoga.
Obligatory duties come from:

●      one’s stage in life e.g. a man has to look after his wife, children & parents

●      one’s profession e.g. a teacher has to teach children to the best of his ability

Rajasic tyaaga

Rajasic tyaaga is when a person gives up their duties simply because they will cause distress to their body. e.g.

●      If one works half-heartedly

●      We keep putting off a task which will require extra time & effort

●      Don’t help a person because it may have to send money.

Shri Krishna says that people, who abandon their duties out of fear of pain or sorrow, will not get the fruit of giving up actions, which is purity and peace of mind.

What according to Krishna is the proper mode of human action?

Shri Krishna explains the correct way, the sattvic method, of performing actions-
Step 1: is to only perform actions that are within our state or our career.
Step 2: give up attachment to the reward of the action, whether it is monetary or even praise.
Step 3: is to give up attachment to the action itself .e.g. doing an action in a particular way only.
Shri Krishna now describes the nature of the person who conducts renunciation.
Shri Krishna acknowledges that it is not easy for most us to give up all activities completely, so he advises us to just give up the fruits of the actions, because that depends on so many factors. e.g. we need to catch a train.
One of three results could happen:

1. We could catch the train, which is a desirable result.

2. We could miss the train, which is an undesirable result.

3. We could get into a packed train with no room for seating, which is a mixed result.
Every fruit that results from an action has the potential to create more desires that result in even more actions.
This infinite chain of action, reaction, fruit, desire and action is nothing but bondage or samsaara.
By practicing karmayoga, by giving up attachment to the fruit of action, we can break this chain. Unless we internalize that our “I”, our self does not perform action, we will remain attached.
Shri Krishna says that only a sanyaasi, only one who sees that Prakriti really performs actions, can destroy current, past and future fruits of action.
Us humans, we think we are responsible for initiating, executing and completing every action, from the simplest action like drinking a cup of tea, to a complex action like sending a spaceship to the moon.
We learnt earlier that all actions culminate in knowledge, which consists of:

1.     The Self, the Eternal Essence is actionless, changeless.

2.     If I, the self, am not performing action, something else must be doing so.

As long as we are not fully convinced that something else is performing actions, we will hold on to the notion that we are doing so.
Shri Krishna gives us a detailed analysis of action and its components, to illustrate the fact.
E.g. these days we use vacuum cleaners. For it to work properly, three aspects are needed:

·        The body of the cleaner, which will determine things like how fast or how powerful actions can be performed.

·        The instruments of the cleaner, such as its sensors, its hands, its wheels and so on.

·        The power system of the cleaner, which typically is electricity. 

Shri Krishna says, similarly, that whenever a human being performs an action, three factors come into play.

·        The size of our body

·   the state of our instruments (organs of action and organs of sense) 

·        our power system (our praana, our energy)

Each factor is responsible for the fate of our action. But what differentiates us from a vacuum cleaner are, two additional factors: the doer, and the divinity.


The doer, the notion of “I”.
When our hand is performing the action, we say “I am knitting a jumper” instead of “the hand is knitting a jumper”.

The divinity

Unless Ishvara supports an action, it will not result in success. Despite everything executed perfectly at the individual level, it still has to align with the action at the universal level.

Components behind our actions:

All action that we perform has five components behind it.

1.     The body provides the foundation for the action.

2.     The instruments comprise the five organs of sense and the five organs of action.

3.     The energy system of the body (prana), provides the fuel needed to perform the action.

4.     The individual notion, the ego, provides the motive behind the action.

5.     The divinity, Ishvara, ensures that the universe supports the performance of the action.

These five factors are the material cause & intelligence behind an action. The mind generates thoughts and the body performs actions.
Our true self, the eternal essence, has nothing whatsoever to do with the action.
It is the person’s nature & his intelligence, determines whether he will perform an action that’s good or sinfully.
The self or eternal essence is stationery. It’s prakriti that’s moving.
It’s like an optical illusion when we see the vehicles moving, while we are stationery.
So it’s ultimately Ishvara’s Prakriti performing all the actions. Furthermore, even the results of the actions go to the Prakriti, meaning, we are not attached to the reward of action. They do not go to the self, the aatmaa.
The aatmaa is untainted, pure, and incapable of any change, modification or action.
According to the rules of karmayoga, do your best, and leave the rest.
Slowly our selfish desires will diminish, paving the way for the knowledge of the self.
Then we will come to the realization that only the self, the aatmaa is real.
Actions are in the Prakriti, which is illusionary.
Vedas tells us, we are a jeeva that has to utilise the body & mind to perform selfless service.  In fact it says we are beyond jeeva. The sanyasi has renounced his body as the doer. The tyagi has renounced action of the body.
Shri Krishna had tried to persuade Arjuna in 2nd chapter to go to the Mahabharata war: With the words “he kills, but does not kill”.
The gist of the Gita teaching is not the realization that our true nature is the eternal essence that does not act in this world nor experiences anything in this world, since action and experience are in the realm of Prakriti.

How Prakriti (Nature) does works?

In eighteenth chapter of Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta, to explain that, Shri Krishna describes the four steps taken for a lifecycle of an action. 
Step 1Our sense organs send a report to the mind of having seen, felt, touched, tasted or smelled something.
This is the process of perception.
eg. You have seen an object, a yellow lemon. Everyone will see the same object.

Step 2Reactions: some people will:

a)    Love the lemon(attraction)

b)    Hate the lemon (repulsion)

c)     Indifferent

The difference is due to our samskaaras. We attach a certain meaning to objects, people and situations based on our sanskaaras, or our own past or present  experiences.
The intellect gives meaning of likes/dislikes to the jeeva, the individual soul.

Step 3: The intellect or “doer” gives signal to the organs of action:

a.      Get the lemon if it is attracted to it

b.     Throw away the lemon if it’s repulsed by it.

c.      No action, if indifferent

So the basis of action is from:

a)    the object (target)

b)    the organs of action

c)     the doer

Step 4: When finally, the object, the target of action is consumed by the senses, the mind becomes the “enjoyer”.
It creates the notion that “I have experienced this object, and it gave me joy/sorrow”.
These experiences are recorded in our subconscious body. This record, this samskaara, becomes the seed of future action by creating thoughts of desire in the mind, prompting further actions and experiences. This process of enjoyment of an object is the fourth step.
So these four steps taken together describe the lifecycle of an action. If the soul is attracted to the object, it will command the senses & body to get it. So by issuing instructions, the soul becomes the “doer”. While experiencing it, it becomes the enjoyer. So this is where we humans get a problem!
Each time we become the doer or the experiencer, we reinforce the notion that “I am the jeeva, the soul”, and forget our true nature as the eternal essence, who is witness to all thoughts and action.
The spiritual journey starts from our de-tanglement from action and experience, and closer towards our true nature as the unattached eternal essence.
Shri Krishna had already explained that, anything that is not the eternal essence is in the realm of Prakriti, which is nothing but the play of the three gunaas.
Once we can understand the three gunaas, we can begin to extricate ourselves from its tendency to entangle us.

What is knowledge according to Krishna?

Shri Krishna explains knowledge, this is the meaning given by an individual to information conveyed by the senses and the mind. The same object can have different reactions.

What are the 3 types of knowledge?

Knowledge can be sattvic, rajasic or tamasic, since it is a product of Prakriti or nature. Human mind likes to categorise everything, and can’t see the natural flow of the universe.

Sattvic knowledge

Sattvic knowledge is the vision that can see unity within the diverse world. They understand that the entire universe is pervaded by one single, imperishable, undivided entity.
They will realise the pure eternal essence, which is our own self.
Sattvic knowledge sees unity in diversity. We can develop such a unified vision, through karma yoga, selflessly serving ourselves; we serve our family, then our community, our nation and eventually, Ishvara.
Bollywood movies used to have a formulaic plot regarding two brothers separated at birth. Many times they would confront each other, and even try to kill each other, until the moment when someone told them that they were brothers. Within a second, the two brothers would reconcile their differences, join forces, and confront their common enemy. From an external and sensory standpoint, nothing changed. Only their knowledge became sattvic, since they now knew that they had their mother in common.

Rajasic knowledge

Rajasic knowledge is one which sees distinction between our self and the world, which sees divisions and separateness.
Everything is taken at face value.
We see our body as a unit separate and distinct from everyone else.
Each person has a different aatmaa, a different self, of name and form.
A slightly evolved version of rajasic knowledge takes the entire family unit as one entity. Whenever a good happens to our brother, it is as if that good has happened to us.

Tamasic knowledge

Tamasic knowledge is a very selfish, narrow-minded view.
e.g. a soldier could become a spy for the enemy for money. Or a doctor will give excessive medicines to a patient in order to make more money. These people will stop at nothing for self-gain.
So, to summarise, there are 3 types of knowledge:

1.     Sattvic knowledge believes that there is one eternal essence, one aatmaa, one self in all.

2.     Rajasic knowledge believes that there is a different self in each body.

3.     Tamasic knowledge believes that the body itself is the aatmaa. Furthermore, anything is justified for ensuring the integrity of the body, including causing physical harm to others.

What are the differences between the types of knowledge?

A simple way to differentiate between the three types of knowledge is to gauge the severity of the likes and dislikes, which knowledge creates.
Sattvic knowledge: When we only see unity and harmony, without any likes or dislikes

Rajasic knowledge: When we have strong likes or dislikes for an object/person/situuation

Tamasic knowledge: When we have extreme likes /dislikes

What is karma according to Geeta?

Shri Krishna says that knowledge is the main instigator of any Action or Karma.

How many types of karma described Gita?

1.     Sattvic action

So if the knowledge is sattvic, the action will be sattvic. Sattvic actions are actions performed

●      without attachment (love/hate)

●      without expectation of rewards

●      without likes/dislikes, love/hate

This can only happen if we see the world as illusionary, either through

o   Seeing everything as Ishvara’s Prakriti or

o   Meditation upon the hollowness of Maaya.

People with high degrees of sattva are the most productive, because they are performing their svadharma with no ulterior motive.

2.     Rajasic action

Rajasic knowledge presents a chopped-up version of the world.

It gives reality to the differences created by the senses and the mind, giving rise to likes/dislikes. E.g. the same lemon is either liked/disliked or indifferent.

rajasic knowledge results in rajasic action, which is in pursuit of an object/person/ situation that will give pleasure to the doer of the action.

It involves the mind of how to get the object & the body to physically get it.

From a simple action, ego also gets involved, as we feel pride in getting the object.

3.     Tamasic action

Arises out of tamasic knowledge, which is too much attachment towards certain object/person/situation.
The underlying unity of things is forgotten. Whenever we begin any action without fully understanding its impacts and consequences, that action becomes tamasic.
E.g. whenever we eat food that is tasty food but creates negative long term health impacts, is a tamasic action.

Who is the doer? Who is the doer of actions?

After Knowledge & Action Shri Krishna starts to describe three types of “Do-ers” The doer is nothing but the state of our mind from the start of an action to its end. Meaning, the same action can be performed differently by different types of the doer. We see this in our lives as well. No two people will perform a task in quite the same way.

How many types of doer described Gita 

a)   Sattvic doer

●      Prepared for any outcome of the action, success /failure.

●      They will not let external circumstances change their state of mind.

●      If the action fails, they do not dwell on it but learn from their mistakes and move on. E.g. a doctor treating a patient.

●      Possess extreme endurance to deal with these setbacks.

●      Their enthusiasm to do their duty lifts them out of any temporary sense of sorrow.

●      They are free from attachment.

●      they are not attached:

o   To the outcome of the action

o   To the action itself, or

o   To their ego.

They have achieved dispassion from the material world.

b)   Rajasic doer:

●      Is prompted to act by rajasic vision

●      Cuts up the world into pieces

●      Attaches likes/dislikes to those pieces.

●      The mind will rush to objects its attracted to & runs away from anything it doesn’t like.

●      Is attached to the reward, the action, and to the sense of individuality or “I”.

●      Is always thinking, whether to go for the reward or not.

So the action is impure because the motives are selfish.

c)    Tamasic doer:

They fail even in the material world, & are very far from any spiritualism. They:

●      cannot focus on one job

●      think illogically

●      easily distracted

●      arrogant

●      lazy


●      malicious

●      deceptive

●      fraudulent

●      depressed

●      procrastinate

●      take forever to finish a task.

Relation between knowledge, action and The Doer:

To summarise so far: Shri Krishna provided a threefold classification of:

d)   Knowledge

e)    Action 

f)      The Doer

●      The knowledge triggers an action to pursue an object/person.

●      The intellect shows how to do the action i.e. is the planner

●      The doer is the state of mind while performing the action.

What is intellect and fortitude?

Shri Krishna says that:

Intellect and fortitude are part of Prakriti’s gunaas, which are divided into three types.

1.     Some people accomplish the task with ease.

2.     Some fail at the first obstacle.

3.     Some will think outside the box & perform the task differently.

4.     Some are totally confused.

This is why you may give the same job to different people & the results will vary.


●      Our knowledge, gives us an object/person to pursue.

●      Our intellect, decides the course of action.


1)   we need to decide whether or not we want pursue the objective

2)   if we do, how should we go about doing it.

sattvic intellect, is very clear on those two factors.

Shri Krishna breaks the two factors down into four assessments: assessing

1.     one’s aptitude & stage in life, e.g. if you are a student, then the priority is studies & not raising a family; then

2.     whather an action is one’s duty or not, e.g. a policeman is meant to protect the public & not to intimidate; then

3.     whether to be fearful or not,  and lastly,

4.     whether to continue to act or not. 

Sattvic intellect 

One is aware:

●      Whether the action is motivated by personal reward, or whether it is motivated by selfless service.

●      When we perform one action, we should always examine whether these actions are taking us closer to liberation, or are further entrapments in the material world.

Knowledge can take many decades or even a lifetime, through dedicated study to reach true understanding. e.g. Surgeons take years before they perform their first operation or a musician can take a lifetime, to learn his craft.
Similarly, Shri Krishna says that the science of action, the karma yoga, needs to be studied with similar dedication and guidance-

●      what is our dharma

●      what is our duty towards this world

●      are our actions carried out for selfish reasons or are they performed selflessly?

●      are they entangling us further in worldly affairs, or are they taking us closer to liberation?

otherwise, confusion will creep in if we forget our dharma and get swayed by egoism and attachment, just like, Arjuna’s attachment to his family members, the Kauravas, triggered this confusion with regards to his duty as a warrior.

Rajasic intellect

Rajasic intellect is, whenever our intellect gets confused about whether to act or not.
Just like Arjuna was confused at the beginning of whether to act or not.
To explain it better, let’s imagine that there is a house with three rooms, each having a 100 W light bulb.

●      The 1st room is cleaned and dusted daily, so the bulb light shines brightly. All objects in this room are seen crystal clear.

●      The 2nd room is cleaned once every month, so the light from the bulb is partially covered by dust. Some objects in the room are seen clearly, but some are fuzzy.

●      The 3rd room has not been cleaned for several years, so the bulb delivers hardly any light at all, since it has acquired a thick coating of dust and dirt on it. We can barely see any object in this room. 

Similarly, our intellect, which is like a light bulb, gets covered by the dirt of selfish desires.
The Rajasic intellect is like the bulb in the second room, with partially obscured light.

Tamasic intellect

The Tamasic intellect is like the bulb in the third room. The level of selfish desires is so great that the intellect cannot shine through & behaves in an erratic manner.
These high degrees of selfishness come from impressions that have been gathered since birth, or even through several lifetimes.
It starts with the tamasic knowledge that presents one object /person /situation as the sole goal of attainment e.g attaining money/fame/power. And they will carry out activities to attain the goal at any cost. These desires form a thick coat over the intellect.
To recap, Shri Krishna classified actions into three categories: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. 

1. Knowledge, which gives us a target to act upon

2. The action

3. The doer

4. Intellect that creates the plan


Shri Krishna now describes the next aspect of action, called Fortitude. Fortitude is a quality of how strongly you can adhere to the plan.
Fortitude is an essential quality of the intellect for both material & spiritual endeavours, enables us to focus the mind on the task at hand e.g a student requires certain fortitude to complete his degree.

●      Some students will work diligently, and get the highest results.

●      Some students will get distracted and not do so well.

●      Some students will bunk college & fail miserably.

Sattvic Fortitude:

People can restrain the mind, energy and senses from straying away from the task,since it has been prompted by sattvic knowledge.
Their mind is never wandering or wavering.
So therefore, we have to learn how to master our mind by mastering our thoughts.
This type of fortitude can only be accomplished through yoga.
This is the consistent, repeated practice of keeping our mind engaged in the self.
Such strength can only be gained by:

●      daily studying of scriptures

●      daily worship of our deity

●      maintaining a good diet

●      other acts of penance

The 4 goals of human life are:

●      Dharma: Pursuit of duty

●      Artha: sensual pleasure

●      Kaama: wealth 

●      Moksha: liberation

Most of us pursue the first three goals only.

Rajasic Fortitude:

Rajasic fortitude is the will power that enables us to pursue these three goals, as there is a personal reward at the end. So we shall have thoughts in our minds. We then choose whether to act upon it or not. 
Fortitude is the quality of the intellect by which it holds on to certain thoughts, and rejects others.

●      Sattvic fortitude is focused for all tasks, and the task is completed

●      Rajasic fortitude is active only for tasks motivated by selfishness and sense enjoyment.

●      Tamasic fortitude is unfocussed & the task is never completed. 

What is joy according to Geeta?

The life cycle of an action begins with thoughts that create desires, which initiates actions.
When the action is complete and the target of the action is attained, the desire subsides, and the mind is free of desires for a split second. This stillness of the mind results in joy.
Shri Krishna says this joy can also be classified into three types, which are saattvic, raajasic and tamasic, which is related to the knowledge, doer and action behind obtaining that joy. A taamasic action will not result in saattvic joy.
Shri Krishna says that sattvic joy; the pure joy will end all our sorrows.

Sattvic joy

Just like a bitter medicine, which is unpleasant to begin with, but cures us & is beneficial in the long term, so similarly, sattvic joy is quite unpleasant, to start off with, but in the end, it is as pleasant as nectar, with long term benefits.

No spiritual path is easy to take up in the beginning. in

●      karma yoga, one has to work selflessly, chipping away at the ego.

●      bhakti yoga is difficult for people who have grown up doubting everything.

●      dhyana yoga requires a high degree of awareness, Something we are not used to in modern lives.

These paths have the same end goal. To purify the mind & remove its 3 main faults:

●      selfish desire

●      lack of focus

●      ignorance

sattvic joy has diminished these 3 faults. It is pure joy. It does not depend on any external factors such as objects, people or situations.
It comes from inside, from the intellect that has turned inward towards the self.

Rajasic Joy

As humans, we are exposed to a lot of sensory overload, e.g, continual advertisements, entertainment, cuisine, garments. Etc. It’s only during deep sleep that is brain switches off.
This sensory excitement is mistaken for joy in our world. This is called Raajasic joy.
Shri Krishna says that such sensory indulgence, or Raajasic joy generates only temporary excitement initially, but later, results in fatigue and later, ill health, as it leads to decline in

●      Strength

●      Vitality

●      Colour

●      Wisdom

●      Intellect

●      Memory

●      Wealth and most importantly

●      Energy: since energy is wasted on futile, overload of sensory perceptions.

Shri Krishna advises us to reduce this raajasic sense indulgence & replace with sattvic thoughts of good health, fitness and wellness.
Krishnaji then describes Taamasic joy.

Taamasic Joy

These are joys that result in social, physical or mental ruin. E.g. alcohol, smoking or drug dependence for very temporary pleasure, with disastrous repercussions.
He says people are deluded & in stupor created by excessive sleep, laziness and intoxication.
Once you are dependent, it is impossible to come out of this state.
The only way out is with constant awareness towards what we eat, drink, watch and think.

How do the three Gunas relate to the mind?

Shri Krishna emphasises that there is no being, object or entity, living or inert, that is beyond the influence of the gunaas.
The gunaas work throughout the universe. All of us are born with unique combination of gunaas, with certain levels of sattva, tamas and rajas.
These gunaas determine how we

●      perceive the world

●      think about the world

●      act and transact in the world

Shri Krishna says that we first need to understand our mental makeup.
Once we have studied and analyzed our mental makeup, we can channel our inherent tendencies into productive actions that contribute to the well-being society, which is a larger manifestation of Ishvara.
This analysis & system of classification the varna system, or caste system comes from the mental make-up.
The analysis of one’s gunaas has to come from within. You are not necessarily born into it.

Brahminshave a high degree of sattva &

●      all actions are come out of knowledge & discrimination

●      have faith in the teachings of the scriptures

●      lead a life of purity, austerity and penance

●      restraint of mind and senses

●      never get agitated or perturbed in any situations

●      high degree of forgiveness

●      straightforward in their dealings with the world

kshatriyahas the mental makeup to lead, administer and defend against enemies.

●      valour & courage needed to fight a war

●      fearlessness in the face of an enemy

●      fortitude is the ability to hold on to one’s mission in spite of obstacles

●      skilfulness that enables one to think on one’s feet

●      not fleeing in war

●      charity for the welfare of the community

●      ability to rule & exert one’s authority upon people

kshatriyas have a predominance of rajas, followed by a moderate degree of sattva.

Vaishyas: are guided by money

●      invest in agriculture

●      trade in capital, goods and services

●      maintaining the economy

Shoodras:have a lower proportion of rajas

●      lower tolerance for risk as compared to kshatriyas and vaishyas,

●      serve society in an individual capacity

●      the right skills for their tasks

NO one varna is better than the other.

The human body itself is said to be made up of four varnas:

●      the mind is a brahmana

●      the hands are kshatriyas

●      the thighs are vaishyas

●      the legs are shoodras

The body cannot function properly if any component is malfunctioning.

Similarly, society cannot function when one varna does not perform its natural duties.
Societies that encourage each individual to realize their full potential tend to flourish.  
The Vedas:

●      recognized the system of varna as a means for every individual to realize their potential

●      enabled everyone to contribute to society as per their mental makeup & aptitude

●      every action performed in accordance with one’s duty yielded a merit

●      every action that went against one’s duty yielded a de-merit 

The net result of merits & demerits decided the fate of every individual. One would gain a life based on their actions.

What are the ways to liberation described by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita?

Shri Krishna says that performance of duty can become the gateway towards liberation.
The Gita teaches every individual to do their duty to perfection, which can become the gateway towards liberation.
The ultimate goal of karma yoga is to purify the mind against likes/dislikes.
Shri Krishna says that we should submit the performance of our duty as an offering to Ishvara. Otherwise, mere performance of our duty will result in merits and demerits, which will further trap us in the cycle of samsaara.
We have to inject bhakti or devotion to Ishvara into all our actions.
This will reduce the ego, likes, dislikes, and fears which is an obstacle to liberation.
When we offer our actions to the creator and sustainers of the universe, we lose all fear of the future, since we accept whatever comes our way is a gift from Ishvara.
Shri Krishna emphasizes that we should do the work/duty that our mental make-up & nature is suited for e.g. some of us may be well suited for starting businesses, while others, better suited for the service sector.
But some people are fascinated by another person’s occupation since it may generate more money or fame.
However, harboring likes/dislikes towards actions, preferring someone else’s occupation to ours, has the effect of strengthening the ego, which is an entrapment.
Shri Krishna says that any undertaking, any project, any action will always have some imperfection built into it, just like any fire will have some smoke covering it.
So there is no point in giving up our actions and our duties because they contain some imperfection or the other. We have to accept this fact and continue to perform our best actions.
When we perform our duty as karma yoga perfectly, we will progress to the next stage of our spiritual journey known as sanyaasa, when all desires are renounced & one lives like a monk.

Stage of sanyaasa:

Shri Krishna lists three characteristics of a person who has reached the stage of sanyaasa:

●      his intellect is detached from all objects, people & situations.

●      his mind is under control, no joy/sorrow from external stimuli

●      devoid of desires

The end goal of:

●      karma yoga is purity of mind

●      sanyaasa is the attainment of Brahman, the Eternal Essence


The sanyasi is described as:

1.     pure intellect

2.     complete self-control over body, mind, speech

3.     no sense of love/hate

4.     contemplate in silence

5.     eat lightly

6.     will not grieve

7.     devoid of ego, power, arrogance, desire, anger & possession

8.     regulate speech & action, leading to calmnes. 

The sanyasi develops supreme devotion, towards Ishvara.
He will have complete equanimity towards everyone and everything.
This stage is reached when:

●      he has complete devotion to Ishvara,

●      his individuality has been destroyed

●      he sees Ishvara as his own self and not someone standing outside of him 

He understands what Ishvara is in his essence. When that happens, his identity merges with Ishvara’s identity. This is true jnyaana, true knowledge

He will:

●      attain calmness

●      recognize his true self as the pure witness

●      be free from identification from the mind or body.

He will then attain the eternal essence, Brahman. 
As most of us are not ready to retire & contemplate, Shri Krishna brought the discourse back to a normal man’s state.
He gave a simple practical advice to continue performing our duty with devotion, surrender the results to Ishwara, the ultimate refuge.
This is buddhi yoga, as described in the second chapter. Whatever you do, whatever you consume, whatever you offer or donate, & whatever penance you perform submit it to me.
Nothing is done for selfish ends such as wealth, power, position, vanity and so on. All is done for Ishvara only.
Shri Krishna reminded Arjuna that carrying out his duty as a warrior was the solution to his dilemma. Shri Krishna urged him to do his duty & accept the results as a divine gift.
If we listen to our ego, it will lead us to self-destruction in the form of entrapment in the material world.
As a warrior, quitting the war would temporarily have suppressed his fighter instinct.
However, in due course of time, the force of his own gunaas, (internal make-up), would have impelled him to fight the war.


Shri Krishna says that the universe is maaya (prakriti) set in motion by Ishvara.  Maaya, is comprised of the three gunaas. Maaya is inert; it cannot do anything on its own.
The Eternal Essence injects life into maaya by becoming the individual soul, the jeeva.
Jeeva loses its connection with the eternal essence, and is stuck in maaya.
If we get attached to maaya, we shall attach to worldly goods, which will take us away from liberation.
We shall get liberation when we realise that Ishwara is within us & start connecting.

There are 3 steps for any spirituality:

●      Shravana: listening to the sacred text.

●      Manana:  reflection on the teaching,

●      Nidhidhyaasana: meditation and constant contemplation.

Shri Krishna provides a four-point summary of the Gita:

1. The seeker should fix their mind on Ishvara.

2.     The seeker should become devoted to Ishvara. (through actions & speech)

3.     Dedicate all actions to Ishvara

4.     Bow to Ishvara in reverence

There are nine forms of bhakti:

1.     hearing the name of Ishvara

2.     repeating the name of Ishvara

3.     remembering Ishvara

4.     serving Isvhara

5.     worshipping Ishvara

6.     praising Ishvara

7.     looking upon Ishvara as a master

8.     treating Ishvara as a friend

9.     surrendering to Ishvara wholeheartedly.

All our thoughts, words, actions, feelings, everything should be dedicated towards Ishvara.
By doing so, we will automatically arrive at the answers to our questions regarding what to do and what not to do.
Gita teachings had begun to eliminate the cause of Arjuna’s sorrow, which is his ignorance of his true nature as the self. Shri Krishna ends this shloka with the words “do not grieve”. 

Rules for the study of Bhagavad Gita:

Shri Krishna than lays down the rules for the study of Bhagavad Gita:

1.     Should not be taught to one who has not undergone a certain degree of penance or austerity. A certain level of detachment from the material world is required.

2.     Should not be taught to someone who is not a devotee. Humility is required  to undertake spiritual inquiry.

3.     Should not be taught to one who is not interested in listening to any kind of discourse.

4.     Should not be taught to anyone who has objection to the notion that there is Ishvara, something beyond the material world.

The teacher should deliver the teaching in the spirit of karma yoga, as service to Ishvara, not for name, fame or honour.

Shri Krishna promises the teacher will go to Ishvara, he will liberated from all sorrows for their selfless service of teaching the Gita. The teacher will transcend time, past, present & future.
Shri Krishna then goes on to praise the sincere student of the Gita. Study of the Gita is the highest kind of sacrifice.
When we conduct a sacrifice of knowledge, we sacrifice our individuality, leading to merging with the infinite Ishvara.
Shri Krishna taught the fundamentals of Gita, using logic, reasoning, scriptural authority, emotion & psychology, so that Arjuna, & seekers can grasp the complex knowledge.
When one understands their true self, there is no more delusion in this world.  Everything is seen as an illusion, a superimposition by maaya on the Self. We have to stay firm in the knowledge of our true Self.
Arjuna was now convinced that performing his duty as a warrior was the right decision. He was ready to fight in the war. His sense of do-ership, had gone away. He had achieved the ultimate goal of life.
Sanjaya then conveyed his excitement to King Dhritaraashtra.
Sanjaya had been blessed with a boon by Ved Vyasa to see everything on the battlefield & was overjoyed to have witnessed the Gita updesh first hand.
He called the teachings sacred.
He had found the dialogue between Krishnaji & Arjuna fascinating.

He refered to Arjuna as a mahaatmaa, since Arjuna had realized the nature of his true self.
Arjuna & Sanjaya saw Krishnaji’s cosmic form.
Sanjay ends cryptically that when there was Krishnaji & Arjuna on one side, the Kauravs didn’t stand a chance of winning!
From the point of our own duty & actions, success is only achieved through Self-effort & Ishvara’s grace.
From the point of The Absolute, liberation & success in the spiritual journey is only possible through selfless service to Ishvara & Ishvara’s grace. And this, is the final message of Bhagavad Gita.

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