Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda


Bhagavad Gita - Song of God - Chapter 18: 7-8

November 25, 2021

™niyatasya tu saṁnyāsaḥ karmaṇo no ’papadyate
mohāt tasya parityāgas tāmasaḥ parikīrtitaḥ  (XVIII-7)
duḥkham ity eva yat karma kāyakleśabhayāt tyajet
sa kṛtvā rājasaṁ tyāgaṁ nai ’va tyāgaphalaṁ labhet (XVIII-8)

™XVIII-/7. Verily, the renunciation of obligatory action is not
proper; the abandonment of the same from delusion is declared
to be tāmasa.

™XVIII-/8. He who abandons action on account of the fear of
bodily trouble (because it is painful), does not obtain the merit
of renunciation by doing such rājasa renunciation.

Swamiji's Commentary

     Again, the razor’s edge of lord Krishna. Here he mentions that one should not renounce obligatory duties (including the scripturally enjoined rituals); earlier he said that the performance of all these would only gain for us a holiday in heaven; and later again he commands us; “Abandon all dharma”! Nārada, in his Bhakti Sutrā, also declares that the true devotee of the Lord has no use for worldly and scriptural duties. How does one reconcile all these?

     By practicing buddhi yoga. Turn the mirror of buddhi (the value-giving discriminative faculty) towards God. Recognize only God as the stable value, and let his light be reflected through the buddhi. Let the mind and the senses function in that reflected light. There is no need to abandon any duties, for when the time comes they will drop away. When we go to sleep, we do not abandon the world; it fades into nothingness. Let that also happen to the duties of the world.

     However, the deluded man, by prematurely abandoning the world and its duties, only strengthens egoism! ‘I am a holy man; this I shall not do, for it is beneath my dignity’ — where is holiness in this trend of thought? It is the seed of immense inner conflict.

     There is yet another type of renunciation. The man who cannot earn, renounces wealth. Even in the practice of yoga, what we feel is difficult for us, we renounce with a high- sounding philosophy to justify it. Man is unable face the problems of family life and so with great fanfare renounces it. That is not renunciation, but impotence, cowardice, and never leads one to the goal of life. This, again, should not be misunderstood; the man who refuses to renounce ‘worldly life’, even after realizing that it is painful, is attached to it! Let the inner light of wisdom decide!

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