The Essence of Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5
The Path of Renunciation
Arjuna Asked Shri Krishna, “On one hand you talk about renouncing all worldly actions and adopting the path of knowledge, and on the other hand you praise Karma Yoga, the path to achieving the Supreme Knowledge through performing actions. Please tell me which path is really beneficial to me.”
Shri Krishna said, “Renunciation of all worldly actions and Karma Yoga are both beneficial in attaining the Supreme Knowledge. But, Karma Yoga is definitely preferable for most people than the path of renunciation of all worldly actions.
A True Sanyasi:
Know that a person who desires nothing and hates nothing is a true Sanyasi (a person who has renounced everything). A Karma Yogi, through properly performing actions in the world, goes beyond the pairs of opposites, like attachment and hatred, joy and sorrows, honor and insult, praise and blame, and becomes completely free from all bondages. Thus, s/he becomes a true Sanyasi.
The Path of Knowledge and Karma Yoga lead to the same goal:
Only people with immature and undeveloped intellect think that the path of knowledge and the path of actions are different. If one is established in one path s/he attains the goal of both paths because both the paths lead to the same goal.
Without practicing Karma Yoga, it is difficult for many people to renounce all actions or the doer-ship of all actions. A Karma Yogi, by performing one’s responsibilities in an unselfish manner, easily realizes Brahman; s/he attains the Supreme Knowledge or the Ultimate Freedom.
How a Karma Yogi attains the Supreme Knowledge:
A Karma Yogi, through performance of unselfish actions purifies one’s mind, gets control over his/her mind and senses, and realizes that Self, his/her true identity, is same Self in all people. As a result, a Karma Yogi does not get deluded or get bound by performing actions.
Such a Karma Yogi realizes that the Self is the support of the body and the mind, and only in the presence of the Self do the body and the mind function. Just as people do various activities in light, which itself is inactive, so too is the Self inactive, but the body and the mind function due to the Self.
A Karma Yogi feels that as Self “I am doing nothing” even though the body and the mind perform activities like seeing, listening, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, talking, emitting, seizing, and opening or closing eyes.
A Karma Yogi working through body, mind, and intellect in a detached spirit, and offering all the results to Brahman (1) purifies oneself, (2) does not get affected by the unpleasant results of the actions just as a lotus leaf is unaffected by the water, (3) attains inner peace within due to the awareness of the Self, and (4) lives happily in the world being established in the Self.
Due to his/her worldly desires, a person who is not a Karma Yogi gets bounded by a chain of results leading to actions, and actions leading to results, and so forth
Brahman as Witness Consciousness:
The Ultimate Reality (Brahman) as a witness consciousness neither creates the doer-ship of action, nor the actions, nor the connection of the action and its results. All the actions are performed by the body-mind complex.
The Brahman as a witness consciousness does not take anyone’s sin or merit. But, the knowledge of this Ultimate Reality has been covered by ignorance. This is why people become deluded and think erroneously.
The Supreme Knowledge of Brahman shines like the sun in the hearts of those who have destroyed this ignorance of ‘I – being a separate identity with a body and mind’. Such people keep their mind and intellect focused on Brahman and makes all efforts to be aware of Brahman. Having completely removed their ignorance, they destroy all their bondages and become free.
The Knowledge of Oneness:
People with the Supreme Knowledge realizes that the same Brahman has become a wise person endowed with knowledge, an ignorant person, and an animal like a cow, or an elephant, or a dog. By remaining established in this Oneness, people with the Supreme Knowledge have conquered the whole world in this life and have attained the Ultimate Freedom.
People with Supreme Knowledge know that the worldly joy and sorrow are limited and therefore they neither get elated by worldly joy nor depressed by sorrow. Attaining this steady wisdom, removing all the delusions, and realizing Brahman, they remain established in Brahman, the highest state that a human being can attain.
Wise people know that the joy obtained by the contact of the senses and the sense-objects are limited and ultimately bring suffering. So, they work only to obtain the Supreme Knowledge and not for worldly joy.
A person who can control before death the powerful urges that arise due to lust, desire, and anger is a true Yogi, and s/he lives happily in the world.
Freedom in Brahman:
Those people who have (1) removed their impurities from their minds, (2) destroyed their doubts about the Ultimate Reality with knowledge, (3) controlled their mind and senses, (4) removed obstacles like lust, desire, anger, jealousy and others, (5) been engaged in selfless service to all, (6) focused their minds on the Self within, (7) realized the Self, enjoy inner bliss, and derive the Ultimate Knowledge which comes from the Self-awareness, become one with Brahman and attain freedom in Brahman. They are free from all bondages of the world and go beyond the Laws of Nature when their minds are one with Brahman.
Who is always free?
A contemplative person who (1) is devoid of desire, fear, and anger, (2) has achieved control over one’s mind and senses, (3) does not let the sense-pleasures enter in the mind, (4) has intense desire for Self-realization, (5) keeps the eyes focused on the goal of Self-realization, and (6) has obtained a total control on one’s breathing by fully focusing the mind on the Self is always free.
Who attains peace of mind?
A Yogi who realizes Me (an Incarnation of Brahman) as the receiver and dispenser of all spiritual practices, sacrifices, and austerities, the Lord of the universe and a loving friend of all beings, attains everlasting peace.
(Thanks to Sheela Krishnan for editing this post.)