Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of self-help
by BS Murthy
to Chapter 17
This chapter of 78 slokas, known as
moksha sanyaasa yoga, Realization through Abnegation, describes such
aspects of human behaviour based on the three natures - virtue, passion and
delusion - and the path of selfless action. And in the end, the relevance
of, and the reverence to, the Gita is described.
One can note that s12 breaks the
continuity between s11 and s13 with hyperbolic averments, and s56 combines
what is stated in the preceding and the succeeding slokas, and thus
both are seemingly interpolations.
S41- s48 that describe the allotted duties
of man on the basis of his caste are clearly interpolations. In essence, the
discourse till s 40 is about the human nature and how it affects man. As can
be seen, the duties on caste lines detailed in the said interpolations have
no continuity of argument. As in earlier chapters, the text acquires
continuity if only these verses are bypassed.
S61 avers that the
Supreme dwells in humans and deludes them all by his
This is contrary to what is stated in s14, c5, ĎItís his nature, but not
Spirit / Makes man act by wants inducedí. Thus, s61 clearly is an
interpolation as it contravenes the neutrality of the Supreme Spirit in the
affairs of man affirmed throughout by Lord Krishna.
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Pray Thee tell, for my grasp
All about sanyaas, path forsake
Thus spoke the Lord:
Lack inclination, itís sanyaas
Sans wants work what makes tyaaga.
Fault some sages effort per se
Others give nod to deeds noble.
Make thee privy of three ways
By which, men all give up well.
Effort, gift ín austerity
Take men all on road forsake.
Forsake I this vouchsafe when
Acts man with no axe to grind.
Avoid obligation, itís no abnegation
Boils it down to, give up of delusion.
Forgo made easy passionate opt
Desist from duties that strain them.
Indulge virtuous in their work
With no thought of its outcome.
With no illusion but diligence
Carries renunciant his duties
Agreeable or otherwise too.
Needs one work to sustain life
Relinquients avoid, overloads all.
Factors five all deeds engulf
Know them well to free thyself.
Prone are acts to these aspects -
Body to sustain, ego that goads
Senses thy lure, life to guard
Faith in deities that tends thee.
Be well or so be ill
In word, thought ín deed as well
Sourced are acts in these aspects.
Ignoramus in vain ascribe
Acts of theirs to Spirit in them.
Itís for thee to realize now
That by killing these Kauravs
Slay thee none of them thyself.
Aspects knowable, known ín knower
Lead to duty, deed ín doer, in that order.
Knowable as well deeds ín doers
Bracket those freed in three groups.
Lay indivisible in frames divisible
Realize virtuous Spirit not perishable.
Spirit in them ín others that lies
Apart ín unique feel passionate.
Failing to see beyond the self
Deluded think like frog in well.
Illusions of life virtuous
See in light of limitations
Thus thou carry businesslike
Duties that their life ordains
In want passionate come to live
Bogged down by, what they eye.
Deluded work in reckless ways
Harm their cause ín othersí as well.
Taking well and ever at ease
Senses honed ín ego evened
Detached virtuous ever engage.
Mind as covetous ín thought impure
Crave passionate all things mundane
Which them excite as well pull down.
Verily deluded, vulgar ín vacillate
Arrogant, dishonest, ignorant ín malicious
Indolent being remain they gloomy.
By natures of these beings
Features intellect theirs vary.
Deal virtuous in measures equal
Weigh they fine all deeds their fair.
Perspective lack passionate right
In weird ways they tend their lives.
Given their state of perversion
Go all deluded in wrong path.
Virtuous ever in self-control
Steady they wavering mind of theirs.
Things that seem to bring joys
Passionate all with zeal pursue.
Proud ín arrogant, doubting ín grieving
Bog down deluded in despair.
Make a note of these three ways
Pains which banish ín fetch bliss.
What fail sprint ín serve long run
Virtuous know keep woes at bay.
Itís the way with thy passion
To jump at all that what might tempt
Which would turn sour in due course.
Ever in day-dreams
End up deluded in dreamlands.
Beyond the pale of these natures
None ever exists in three worlds.
With no want
Allegiant to none,
Freed from action
Leads how forsake to Brahman
Know that Wisdom Supreme now.
With pure mind ín will thatís strong
Wants thou void and firm thy self -
Frugal of food, thoughts reined in
Dwell in self thou sans passion Ė
Lack thou pride, wish ín wrath
Give up ego, crave not power
Be content and live in peace
Itís then thou come near Brahman.
Treat all beings ever equal
And in devotion live tranquil.
Itís thou attain State Brahman.
Itís then one would know Me true
That tends him to be one with Me.
Let thy faith in Me be strong
Take Me thou for thy shelter
And ever thee act as My agent.
Itís all smooth sail if heeded
At thy peril thou this ignore.
Itís thine ego sues for peace
But prevails what is thy nature..
Sidetrack might thine illusions
But nature thine would shape thy deeds.
Fix thy mind on Me Supreme
Find thou peace in My refuge.
That thee heard
of this wisdom
For task on hand now apply mind.
O, dear friend, let Me tell
Word My final that benefits.
If one remains to Me firm
Itís My promise I take him.
Set all aside ín have faith
Thus sans sin, reach Me thou
None of this for those who lack
Faith in Me and selfless work.
Whoso passes this secret
To devout Mine all reach Me true.
Know not I a dearer soul
None there ever a better service.
Who that studies this discourse
He Me prays in true wisdom.
Hears this whoso in good faith
Attains he the Worlds Higher.
Looks as if thou got it right
Let not delusions rule thy head.
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Glad O Lord
Gone are doubts,
Sense I gained
With Thy words.
Thus spoke Sanjaya:
Itís what Iíve heard of that stirring
Dialogue between these great souls
Krishn and Arjun as they spoke.
Itís with Vyasaís grace I've heard
This peerless art of yogic life
Which Lord Krishna taught Paartha.
Found I thrilling, dialogue stirring
Reminiscing I rejoice, again and again.
What a wondrous Form that was
Recalling I rejoice, again and again.
Wherever yogic Lord Krishna
Joins hands with great Paartha
Goddess Victory, spreads carpet
Heaven on earth to set there ever.
The Eighteenth Chapter
Of Vyasaís classic
to Chapter 17