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Bhagavad Gita Chapter Five: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action

The Bhagavad Gita, the Song of God
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Arjuna said:

You praise renunciation of actions and again you praise karma yoga. Which one is the better of these two? Tell me definitely. (5:1)

The Holy Lord said:

Renunciation of action and karma yoga both lead to the highest happiness; of the two, however, karma yoga is superior to renunciation of action. (5:2)

He is a constant renouncer of action who neither hates nor desires, who is indifferent to the pairs of opposites–truly he is easily freed from bondage. (5:3)

“Sankhya and karma yoga are different,” the childish declare–not the wise. If one is practiced correctly, that person finds the fruit of both. (5:4)

The realization that is attained by the followers of Sankhya is also attained by the followers of karma yoga. Sankhya and karma yoga are one. He who perceives this truly perceives. (5:5)

Indeed, renunciation is difficult to attain without karma yoga. The yoga-yoked sage quickly attains Brahman. (5:6)

Yoga-yoked, with the lower self purified, with the lower self subdued, whose senses are conquered, whose Self has become the Self of all beings–he is not tainted even when acting. (5:7)

“I do not do anything;” thus thinks the steadfast knower of truth while seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, (5:8)

Speaking, releasing, and holding, opening and closing his eyes–convinced that it is the senses that move among the sense-objects. (5:9)

Offering actions to Brahman, having abandoned attachment, he acts untainted by evil as a lotus leaf is not wetted by water. (5:10)

Karma yogis perform action only with the body, mind, intellect, or the senses, forsaking attachment, performing action for self-purification. (5:11)

He who is steadfast, having abandoned action’s fruit, attains lasting peace. He who is not steadfast, attached to action based on desire, is bound. (5:12)

Renouncing all actions with the mind, the embodied one sits happily as the ruler of the city of nine gates, not acting at all, nor causing action. (5:13)

The Lord does not create either means of action or action itself in this world, nor the union of action with its fruit. On the other hand, the swabhava impels one to action. (5:14)

The Omnipresent takes note of neither demerit nor merit. Knowledge is enveloped by ignorance; as a result of that people are deluded. (5:15)

But those in whom this ignorance of the Self has been destroyed by knowledge–that knowledge of theirs, like the sun, reveals the Supreme Brahman. (5:16)

Those whose minds are absorbed in That, whose Selves are fixed on That, whose foundation is That, who hold That as the highest object, whose evils have been shaken off by knowledge, attain the ending of rebirth. (5:17)

The wise see the same Self in a wise and disciplined Brahmin, in a cow, in an elephant, in a dog, even in an eater of dogs. (5:18)

Even here on earth rebirth is conquered by those whose mind is established in evenness. Brahman is without fault and the same to all; therefore they are established in Brahman. (5:19)

One should not exult when encountering what is liked, and one should not be repulsed when encountering the disliked. With firm intellect, undeluded, the knower of Brahman is established in Brahman. (5:20)

He whose Self is unattached to external contacts, who finds happiness in the Self, whose Self is united to Brahman by yoga, reaches imperishable happiness. (5:21)

Truly, pleasures born of contact with the senses are wombs of pain, since they have a beginning and an end. The wise man is not satisfied with them. (5:22)

He who is able to endure here on earth, before liberation from the body, the agitation that arises from desire and anger is steadfast, a happy man. (5:23)

He whose happiness is within, whose delight is within, whose illumination is within: that yogi, identical in being with Brahman, attains Brahmanirvana. (5:24)

The seers whose evils have been annihilated, whose doubts have been dispelled, whose inner being is mastered, who rejoice in the welfare of all beings, attain Brahmanirvana. (5:25)

Released from desire and anger, with thoughts controlled, those ascetics who know the Self find very near to them the bliss of Brahmanirvana. (5:26)

Excluding outside contacts, turning up the eyes toward the two brows, equalizing the inhalation and exhalation moving within the nostrils, (5:27)

With his senses, mind and intellect controlled, with liberation as his highest aim, free from desire, fear, and anger: such a one is forever free. (5:28)

Having known me, the enjoyer of the tapasyas offered as sacrifice, the mighty Lord of all the world and the friend of all creatures, he attains peace. (5:29)

Om Tat Sat

Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the fifth discourse entitled: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action.

Read Chapter Six: The Yoga of Meditation

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Chapters for The Bhagavad Gita–The Song of God

Introduction: The Bhagavad Gita–The Book of Life

  1. Bhagavad Gita Chapter One: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Two: Sankhya Yoga
  3. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Three: The Yoga of Action
  4. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Four: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Five: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Six: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seven: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eight: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Nine: The Yoga of the Royal Science and Royal Secret
  10. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Ten: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eleven: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Twelve: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Thirteen: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fourteen: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Fifteen: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Sixteen: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demonic
  17. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Seventeen: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. Bhagavad Gita Chapter Eighteen: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Also: The Bhagavad Gita Arranged for Singing

  1. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 1: The Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
  2. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 2: Sankhya Yoga
  3. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 3: The Yoga of Action
  4. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 4: The Yoga of Wisdom
  5. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 5: The Yoga of Renunciation of Action
  6. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 6: The Yoga of Meditation
  7. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 7: The Yoga of Wisdom and Realization
  8. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 8: The Yoga of Imperishable Brahman
  9. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 9: The Yoga of the Kingly Science and Kingly Secret
  10. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 10: The Yoga of Divine Glories
  11. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 11: The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form
  12. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 12: The Yoga of Devotion
  13. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 13: The Yoga of the Distinction Between the Field and the Knower of the Field
  14. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 14: The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas
  15. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 15: The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit
  16. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 16: The Yoga of the Division between the Divine and the Demoniacal
  17. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 17: The Yoga of the Division of Threefold Faith
  18. The Bhagavad Gita—Chapter 18: The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation

Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary

Read the Bhagavad Gita for Awakening, a full commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri).

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