Chapter 18 – Mokṣa Yoga
(The Yoga of Supreme Perfection)
In Chapter 18 – Mokṣa Yoga (The Yoga of Supreme Perfection) of Swami B.G. Narasingha’s Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa teaches Arjuna about renunciation and detachment. Kṛṣṇa explains what it means to do one’s duty as well as knowledge and action in the three modes of material nature. Kṛṣṇa then describes the various roles of society according to varṇa. Ultimately Kṛṣṇa finishes his instructions to Arjuna by telling him to offer all actions unto Him (Kṛṣṇa) and to take shelter of Him alone, He will deliver Arjuna from all reaction.
Arjuna said: O Mighty-armed one, O Hṛṣīkeśa, O Killer of the Keśī demon – I wish to understand the true meaning of renunciation (sannyāsa) and detachment (tyāga) as well as the difference between them.
Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied: Those who are intelligent realise that sannyāsa means the renunciation of activities performed for personal benefit. Tyāga refers to the renunciation of all activities.
The final chapter of Bhagavad-gītā begins with an inquiry about sannyāsa and tyāga. Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that sannyāsa means to renounce activities performed for one’s own personal benefit, and tyāga means the renunciation of all activities. One at the stage of sannyāsa is called a sannyāsī. To be a sannyāsī means to act for the benefit of the complete whole, the Absolute Good, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. A sannyāsī performs all types of actions, but does so only in bhakti-yoga, in the service of Kṛṣṇa.
The social structure of the bhakti-yoga community is divided into four spiritual orders – brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. All these are to study the Vedic literature. Additionally, their duties are as follows: the brahmacārīs are the students, whose duties are service to the spiritual master and the observance of celibacy. Gṛhasthas are the householders, whose duties are to earn an honest living, to give in charity and to raise children. Vānaprasthas are those who have completed household affairs and whose duties are to relinquish their wealth, visit holy places and cultivate detachment. The sannyāsīs are the spiritual masters in the bhakti-yoga community and they are to give lessons to the brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas and vānaprasthas, to be renounced from worldly pleasure, to be detached from politics and to always be engaged in bhakti-yoga with kaya, mana, vākya, jīva – by body, mind, words and the full surrender of the self. Sannyāsa and tyāga are further described in the coming verses.
yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-karma na tyājyaṁ kāryam eva tat yajño dānaṁ tapaś caiva pāvanāni manīṣiṇām
The three types of renunciation – sacrifice, charity and austerity should never be given up. Sacrifice, charity and austerity purify even the wise.
VERSE 6 एतान्यपि तु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा फलानि च । कर्तव्यानीति मे पार्थ निश्चितं मतमुत्तमम् ॥६॥
etāny-api tu karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā phalāni ca kartavyānīti me pārtha niścitaṁ matam uttamam
However, O Pārtha, even these activities must be performed without attachment to the results. This is My definite and supreme conclusion on this matter.
There is a certain class of philosophers and spiritual seekers in India that say that the world is false and that all activities should be given up if one wants to achieve perfection in human life – but this is not the conclusion of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa says that one must act according to one’s nature and that beneficial works such as sacrifice, charity and austerity should never be abandoned for they are purifying even for the wise.
Those who give up prescribed duties because they are difficult, or through fear that they may be physically taxing, engage in renunciation in the mode of passion. Such persons never attain the benefits of true detachment.
na dveṣṭy-akuśalaṁ karma kuśale nānuṣajjate tyāgī sattva-samāviṣṭo medhāvī chinna-saṁśayaḥ
The wise tyāgī, who is absorbed in the mode of goodness, having destroyed all doubts, neither resents difficult duties nor becomes attached to pleasant ones.
VERSE 11 न हि देहभृता शक्यं त्यक्तुं कर्माण्यशेषतः । यस्तु कर्मफलत्यागी स त्यागीत्यभिधीयते ॥११॥
na hi deha-bhṛtā śakyaṁ tyaktuṁ karmāṇy-aśeṣataḥ yastu karma-phala-tyāgī sa tyāgīty-abhidhīyate
It is impossible for those who have accepted a material body to totally renounce all activities. However, one who renounces the results of his actions is known as a true renunciate.
If one gives up activities out of bewilderment, considering them to be troublesome, physically taxing or gives up activities out of laziness, then such renunciation is considered false and in the modes of passion and ignorance. Those who are embodied can never give up action. In ancient times as well as in our own, there are many examples of those who have abandoned everything, ran to the Himālayas or to the deserts to escape the world, but again returned to resume a life of sense enjoyment or to perform philanthropic activities.
When one gives up attachment to the results of one’s actions and acts with a detached heart – remembering always that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the only enjoyer and proprietor of everything – then such a person is a true tyāgī or sannyāsī. Thus, the renunciation of a tyāgī and a sannyāsī are the same.
VERSE 12 अनिष्टमिष्टं मिश्रं च त्रिविधं कर्मणः फलम् । भवत्यत्यागिनां प्रेत्य न तु संन्यासिनां क्वचित् ॥१२॥
aniṣṭam iṣṭaṁ miśraṁ ca tri-vidhaṁ karmaṇaḥ phalam bhavaty-atyāgināṁ pretya na tu sannyāsināṁ kvacit
Those who do not accept renunciation accept three kinds of results after death – good, bad and mixed. But these results never come to one who is a true sannyāsī.
pañcaitāni mahā-bāho kāraṇāni nibodha me sāṅkhye kṛtānte proktāni siddhaye sarva-karmaṇām
O mighty-armed warrior, learn from Me the five factors that accomplish all actions that are explained in the Vedānta.
VERSE 14 अधिष्ठानं तथा कर्ता करणं च पृथग्विधम् । विविधाश्च पृथक्चेष्टा दैवं चैवात्र पञ्चमम् ॥१४॥
adhiṣṭhānaṁ tathā kartā karaṇaṁ ca pṛthag-vidham vividhāś ca pṛthak ceṣṭā daivaṁ caivātra pañcamam
The basis (the body), the performer of activities (the false ego), the instrument (the senses), the different types of endeavours and the Supreme Person – these are the five factors that accomplish all actions.
VERSE 15 शरीरवाङ्मनोभिर्यत्कर्म प्रारभते नरः । न्याय्यं वा विपरीतं वा पञ्चैते तस्य हेतवः ॥१५॥
tatraivaṁ sati kartāram ātmānaṁ kevalaṁ tu yaḥ paśyaty akṛta-buddhitvān na sa paśyati durmatiḥ
Yet the fool that believes only the self is the doer, cannot understand this subject due to meagre intelligence.
VERSE 17 यस्य नाहंकृतो भावो बुद्धिर्यस्य न लिप्यते । हत्वाऽपि स इमाँल्लोकान्न हन्ति न निबध्यते ॥१७॥
yasya nāhaṅkṛto bhāvo buddhir yasya na lipyate hatvā’pi sa imāl-lokān na hanti na nibadhyate
Those who have no false ego and whose minds are detached – even if they kill everyone on this battlefield, they actually do not kill and are not bound by their actions.
Arjuna is a kṣatriya, a warrior, and he stands with Śrī Kṛṣṇa on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra between two great armies. Seeing friends and well-wishers on both sides, Arjuna initially resolved not to fight, but to throw down his weapons and renounce his duty. Śrī Kṛṣṇa herein brings our attention back to the battlefield when He says, hatvā’pi sa imāl-lokān na hanti na nibadhyate – he who kills does not actually kill and does not incur any reaction.
If Arjuna abandons his duty as a warrior, then certainly he will incur a karmic reaction for avoiding his duty. However, Arjuna will not actually ‘kill’ anyone in the truest sense of the word, because the living beings arrayed before him ready for battle are eternal parts and parcels of the Supreme Person and thus eternal. The ātmā can never be ‘killed’. And lastly, Arjuna will not incur any karmic reaction for doing his duty.
If one avoids one’s prescribed duties and renounces them out of fear, bewilderment and so forth, then one incurs a karmic reaction and has to suffer in this life or the next. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa wants Arjuna to give up his weakness of heart and perform his duty.
pṛthaktvena tu yaj jñānaṁ nānā-bhāvān pṛthag-vidhān vetti sarveṣu bhūteṣu taj jñānaṁ viddhi rājasam
However, that knowledge by which one perceives that within different bodies there is a different kind of living being, is known to be in the mode of passion.
VERSE 22 यत्तु कृत्स्नवदेकस्मिन्कार्ये सक्तमहैतुकम् । अतत्त्वार्थवदल्पं च तत्तामसमुदाहृतम् ॥२२॥
yat tu kṛtsnavad ekasmin kārye saktam ahaitukam atattvārthavad alpaṁ ca tat tāmasam udāhṛtam
That knowledge by which one is attached to one kind of activity, that is without any truth and based upon trivial pursuits is known as knowledge in the mode of ignorance.
Knowledge, as previously explained, means to understand the difference between matter and consciousness. Those whose knowledge is pure and uncontaminated see individual consciousness as parts and parcels of the undivided Super Consciousness, as present in all species and as transmigrating from one body to the next, life after life. In other words, the same ātmā may be present in one life in the body of an elephant or a tiger, and in the next life in the body of a human being. There are no elephant, tiger or animal ātmās as distinguished from human ātmās. One who says that the ātmā of an animal and that of a human or a demigod are different ātmās has knowledge influenced by the mode of passion.
One who has no proper understanding of the ātmā, who is attached to the body, the actions of the body, who is absorbed in the trivial pursuits of economic development and sense enjoyment, is said to have knowledge in the mode of ignorance.
Those who perform work in an undisciplined manner, those who are coarse, stubborn, unscrupulous, offensive, lazy, bad-tempered and procrastinate are said to be in the mode of ignorance.
Herein, actions in goodness, passion and ignorance are described. When one looks at the world today, bearing in mind the different modes of action and their characteristics, then it is no wonder that the planet is in such a state of conflict, inflation, depression, economic despair, confusion and denial.
When people are busy exercising their over-inflated egos, acting unscrupulously and violently toward their fellow human beings and animals, how are we to expect any improvement in the world? How can there be peace?
Therefore, it is the duty of every sane human being to cultivate knowledge and actions in the mode of goodness that are without attachment or aversion and are free from desire and egotism. Life is a science, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that through our actions we reap the harvest of our good or bad karma.
O Dhanañjaya, please hear as I now describe to you in detail the various mentalities and determination according to the three modes of nature.
VERSE 30 प्रवृत्तिं च निवृत्तिं च कार्याकार्ये भयाभये । बन्धं मोक्षं च या वेत्ति बुद्धिः सा पार्थ सात्त्विकी ॥३०॥
pravṛttiṁ ca nivṛttiṁ ca kāryākārye bhayābhaye bandhaṁ mokṣaṁ ca yā vetti buddhiḥ sā pārtha sāttvikī
O Pārtha, the mentality in the mode of goodness is that which can distinguish what should be done and what should not be done, duty and non-duty, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared and the nature of material bondage and liberation.
VERSE 31 यया धर्ममधर्मं च कार्यं चाकार्यमेव च । अयथावत्प्रजानाति बुद्धिः सा पार्थ राजसी ॥३१॥
yayā dharmam adharmaṁ ca kāryaṁ cākāryam eva ca ayathāvat prajānāti buddhiḥ sā pārtha rājasī
O Pārtha, the mentality in the mode of passion cannot distinguish between dharma and adharma, cannot discern what is right and what is wrong, and cannot decide what is duty and what is not duty.
O Pārtha, that determination by which one maintains a sense of dharma in order to accrue wealth and fulfil material desires is in the mode of passion.
VERSE 35 यया स्वप्नं भयं शोकं विषादं मदमेव च । न विमुञ्चति दुर्मेधा धृतिः सा पार्थ तामसी ॥३५॥
yayā svapnaṁ bhayaṁ śokaṁ viṣādaṁ madameva ca na vimuñcati durmedhā dhṛtiḥ sā pārtha tāmasī
O Pārtha, the determination of those who cannot conquer sleep, fear, lamentation, misery and pride is in the mode of ignorance.
Throughout the Bhagavad-gītā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa addresses Arjuna as Pārtha, the son of Kuntī. Kṛṣṇa also addresses him as Bhārata (best of the Bharata Dynasty), Pāṇḍava (son of Pāṇḍu), Kuru-nandana (descendant of the Kurus), Parantapa (conqueror of the enemy), Guḍākeśa (conqueror of sleep) and Dhanañjaya, (winner of wealth). Kṛṣṇa addresses Arjuna thusly to remind him of his position as a great warrior in a dynasty of warriors and to encourage him to stand and fight.
Sometimes fighting is necessary if it is for the right cause, but the problem lies herein. Who is to say which cause is just, who is right and who is wrong, what should be done and what should not be done? In the above verses, Kṛṣṇa gives some indication as to who is of the right mentality and right determination. Clearly, those in the modes of passion and ignorance are always mistaken – not being able to distinguish right from wrong, what is to be done from what is not to be done, or proper duty from dereliction of duty.
sukhaṁ tvidānīṁ tri-vidhaṁ śṛṇu me bharatarṣaba abhyāsād ramate yatra duḥkhāntaṁ ca nigacchati
yat tad agre viṣam iva pariṇāme’mṛtopamam tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam ātma-buddhi-prasāda-jam
O best of the Bharata Dynasty, now hear from Me about the three types of happiness. Happiness that leads to the end of all suffering is in the mode of goodness. Such happiness tastes bitter in the beginning, but is nectar at the end because it awakens one to self-realisation.
yad agre cānubandhe ca sukhaṁ mohanam ātmanaḥ nidrālasya-pramādotthaṁ tat tāmasam udāhṛtam
Happiness that arises from sleep, laziness and delusion and is self-deceptive in both the beginning and the end is considered to be happiness in the mode of ignorance.
VERSE 40 न तदस्ति पृथिव्यां वा दिवि देवेषु वा पुनः । सत्त्वं प्रकृतिजैर्मुक्तं यदेभिः स्यात्त्रिभिर्गुणैः ॥४०॥
na tad asti pṛthivyāṁ vādivi deveṣu vā punaḥ sattvaṁ prakṛti-jair muktaṁ yad ebhiḥ syāt tri-bhir guṇaiḥ
There is no living being, neither on Earth nor amongst the celestial beings, that is free from these three modes of material nature.
Everyone and everything in the material world is governed by the three modes of material nature. In the truest sense of the word, there is no meaning of freedom or independence unless one is free from the modes of nature. All such celebrations in the name of political emancipation are merely another form of self-deception. Where is the question of freedom when our every action is controlled by nature and we are being pushed down the highway of life to face ultimate death?
Independence from the three modes of material nature is only afforded to those who have taken shelter of a bona-fide guru, who have understood the knowledge of Bhagavad-gītā and have applied themselves to bhakti-yoga. Only the bhakti-yogī can truly celebrate freedom.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that happiness in the mode of goodness is bitter in the beginning, but nectar in the end. This means that to control the senses and perform austerities (tapasya) in the beginning may be distasteful for the novice, but in the end such austerities lead to the nectar of self-realisation.
Happiness derived from enjoying one’s senses in the mode of passion may be like nectar in the beginning, but it is bitter in the end because sense gratification ultimately ends in frustration, hatred and anger. Happiness that arises from sleep, laziness and delusion and is self-deceptive is in the mode of ignorance because it is miserable in the beginning and miserable in the end.
Real happiness only comes when one awakens to the eternal self and lives a life with one’s body, mind and senses absorbed in a higher conscious plane.
Farming, cow protection and business are the natural activities of a vaiśya. For the śūdra there is service to others.
Herein, the status of the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are described according to the qualities of their work. These are the four social orders of life and they are present in all civilised cultures in the world. Everywhere we find those that resemble the brāhmaṇas, the intellectual class. Everywhere there are those that resemble kṣatriyas, administrators and warriors, and everywhere we find the mercantile and labour class, the vaiśyas and śūdras. These are the natural divisions in society and they are determined by the quality of their work.
Unfortunately, in modern India, this social system described by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā has become corrupted and is now known as the caste system which determines one’s social status by birth. The caste system is not actually the social system described in Bhagavad-gītā known as varṇāśrama-dharma.
The caste system in India is certainly deplorable, hardly better than that of slavery, because it limits a person’s potential according to one’s birth. Kṛṣṇa clearly states that a person is to be known by his actions and not his pedigree.
Although social systems having intellectuals, administrators, mercantile and labour classes are found around the world, they are also not the same as the varṇāśrama system mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā.
In addition to being an intellectual, a brāhmaṇa must know what is Brahman. A kṣatriya must do more than just administrate and fight battles – he must be above corruption, give protection to the people and protect the principles of dharma found in Bhagavad-gītā. And above all, a kṣatriya is never to be an aggressor – he is never to invade a sovereign country.
The duty of a vaiśya, in addition to business, is farming and cow protection. Naturally, the purpose of business is to earn a living, but nowadays this has gone far beyond actual necessity as per the advice of Bhagavad-gītā. Simple business has turned into massive industry – the establishing of mega multi-national corporations, money hoarding and fractional banking. These in turn have led to the corruption of government officials around the world and ultimately to the destruction of the environment, increased poverty, and war.
Cow protection (kṛṣi-gorakṣya) is especially mentioned in verse 44 because of all animals it is the cow that is most necessary for the survival of the human being. Human bodies thrive on animal fat and the cow is the animal that provides human beings with the most milk, yogurt, butter, cheese etc. Milk and milk products, when taken in appropriate quantities, provide the human being all the necessary fat required for healthy living, thus enabling the suspension of animal slaughter. In other words, killing animals and eating meat is not necessary to obtain fat. When cows are protected then there will be plenty of whole milk available for everyone to maintain a healthy diet. The value of the cow for human society is indisputable and therefore in Vedic culture the cow is considered one of the seven natural mothers. These seven mothers are as follows:
One’s own mother, the wife of the guru, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, the king’s wife, the cow, the nurse and the Earth – these should be considered as our seven mothers. (Cāṇakya Nīti-śāstra 5.23)
Unfortunately, the business community has turned to corporate farming and mass slaughter of cows and other animals in the name of delivering health and prosperity to the people. In actuality, the people have lost their lands and the family farm that was once the backbone of societies everywhere has ceased to exist. Industrial farming has replaced organic fertilisers with chemical fertilisers that render the soil lifeless and produce food that is low in nutrition and high in toxic content. The meat from the slaughterhouse is also toxic and far less healthy than a vegetarian diet.
Society cries for the return of the vaiśya worldwide, but governments turn a deaf ear and a blind eye and it is the śūdra, the labourer class, at the tail end of the food chain who suffers the most. But change is in the air as people worldwide wake up from the nightmare that has become their reality and seek genuine answers to their problems. For such sincere persons, Bhagavad-gītā will provide much insight and guidance.
It is better to perform one’s own duty (dharma) imperfectly than to perform another’s duty perfectly. One is never subject to bad karma by performing one’s prescribed duties according to one’s own nature.
VERSE 48 सहजं कर्म कौन्तेय सदोषमपि न त्यजेत् । सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण धूमेनाग्निरिवावृताः ॥४८॥
saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya sa-doṣam api na tyajet sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛtāḥ
O son of Kuntī, one’s prescribed duties must never be abandoned. All activities are covered with some fault, just as smoke covers fire.
The stage of perfect renunciation is attained by becoming unattached to material objects, disregarding material enjoyment, by doing one’s duty and being unattached to the results.
In the above verses, Śrī Kṛṣṇa stresses to Arjuna that one’s duties or prescribed dharma according to the varṇāśrama system should never be abandoned. One may think that they are not performing their duty perfectly, but Kṛṣṇa says that one should remain steadfast and not yield to abandonment.
At the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā, Arjuna showed an inclination to abandon his duty as a kṣatriya. Arjuna was disinclined to fight and was thinking that it might be better to take up the plough or the staff of renunciation, but Kṛṣṇa did not agree.
Now the dialogue between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna is drawing to a close and we will soon see that Kṛṣṇa has revived Arjuna and with a regained heart, he will resume his duty with full enthusiasm.
VERSE 50 सिद्धिं प्राप्तो यथा ब्रह्म तथाप्नोति निबोध मे । समासेनैव कौन्तेय निष्ठा ज्ञानस्य या परा ॥५०॥
With pure intelligence, controlling the mind with determination, abandoning attachment to sense-objects, being devoid of both attachment and hatred, residing in a secluded place, eating little, controlling speech, body and mind, being constantly engaged in meditating on the Supreme Person, being renounced, free from egotism, the misuse of power, conceit, lust, anger, covetousness and being unselfish and peaceful – such a person is qualified for realisation of the Absolute Truth.
VERSE 54 ब्रह्मभूतः प्रसन्नात्मा न शोचति न काङ्क्षति । समः सर्वेषु भूतेषु मद्भक्तिं लभते पराम् ॥५४॥
brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
When such a self-satisfied person realises the Absolute Truth, he neither rejoices nor laments. Seeing all beings equally, he attains transcendental devotion unto Me.
tam eva śaraṇaṁ gaccha sarva-bhāvena bhārata tat prasādāt parāṁ śāntiṁ sthānaṁ prāpsyasi śāśvatam
O Bhārata, take shelter in Him with all your heart and by His mercy you will achieve everlasting peace and the Supreme Abode.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa now gives Arjuna an infusion of encouragement by stating that by following His instructions Arjuna will realise the Absolute Truth and will enter His Supreme Abode. By consciously offering the results of all his actions unto Kṛṣṇa, by devoting himself to Kṛṣṇa and always thinking about Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna will achieve all perfection.
The alternative, Kṛṣṇa says, is that by neglecting His instructions, Arjuna will surely perish. This is the open secret of Bhagavad-gītā – one who adheres to its message, that is free from all material defects and is delivered by the Supreme Person, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, becomes perfect in knowledge and self-realisation. Neglecting Kṛṣṇa’s instructions is however tantamount to spiritual suicide and Kṛṣṇa warns Arjuna that if he takes that path he will surely perish into the world of bewilderment, illusion and death.
VERSE 63 इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्गुह्यतरं मया । विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु ॥६३॥
iti te jñānam ākhyātaṁ guhyād guhyataraṁ mayā vimṛśyaitad aśeṣeṇa yathecchasi tathā kuru
I have thus disclosed to you that knowledge which is the most confidential. Deliberate upon it and do as you wish.
VERSE 64 सर्वगुह्यतमं भूयः शृणु मे परमं वचः । इष्टोऽसि मे दृढमिति ततो वक्ष्यामि ते हितम् ॥६४॥
sarva-guhyatamaṁ bhūyaḥ śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ iṣṭo’si me dṛḍham iti tato vakṣyāmi te hitam
Listen once again to the most confidential secret of all, My supreme instruction. Because you are very dear to Me, I am telling you this for your ultimate benefit.
VERSE 65 मन्मना भव मद्भक्तो मद्याजी मां नमस्कुरु । मामेवैष्यसि सत्यं ते प्रतिजाने प्रियोऽसि मे ॥६५॥
manmanā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo’si me
Fix your mind upon Me, devote yourself to Me, worship Me and offer your respects unto Me. By doing so you will certainly come to Me. I promise you this because you are very dear to Me.
Abandon all types of dharma – come and surrender unto Me alone! Do not fear, for I will surely deliver you from all reactions.
In verse 63 Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He has disclosed to Arjuna the most confidential knowledge and tells Arjuna to deliberate upon it and then do as he wishes. But because Arjuna is very dear to Kṛṣṇa and because Kṛṣṇa is Arjuna’s guru and well-wisher, Kṛṣṇa again gives him one last instruction and assurance.
Kṛṣṇa’s final instruction is that Arjuna should always fix his mind upon Him, he should devote himself fully to Him, worship Him and offer his respects unto Him. This is the essence of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa says that by doing this Arjuna will surely come to Him. The ultimate instruction to always remember Kṛṣṇa is also stated in Padma Purāṇa as follows:
smartavyaḥ satataṁ viṣṇur vismartavyo na jātucit sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkarāḥ
Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Viṣṇu) should always be remembered and never be forgotten at anytime. All rules and regulations mentioned in the śāstra should be subservient to these two principles. (Padma Purāṇa 6.71.100)
In verse sixty-six, we find the climax of Bhagavad-gītā, wherein the ultimate dharma of surrendering oneself fully to Kṛṣṇa is stated. Śrī Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that giving up everything to follow His instructions need not be a cause of fear because Kṛṣṇa will protect him. By such self-surrender Arjuna will come to Kṛṣṇa in His Supreme Abode.
The Supreme Abode lies beyond the material universe and is known by those who are learned as Vaikuṇṭha. Those who worship the Viṣṇu avatāras, or forms of Nārāyaṇa, will attain to the Vaikuṇṭha realm. But superior to Vaikuṇṭha are the realms of Kṛṣṇa’s avatāras such as Śrī Rāmacandra in Ayodhyā and Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā. Those who worship Śrī Rāmacandra and Kṛṣṇa’s expansion as Vāsudeva, will attain to Ayodhyā, Dvārakā and Mathurā respectively.
Superior to Dvārakā is Mathurā. Superior to Mathurā is Vṛndāvana. Govardhana is superior to Vṛndāvana and Rādhā-kuṇḍa is superior to Govardhana. Only those who worship Kṛṣṇa’s human-like form known as Śyāmasundara (Govinda) will attain to the topmost realm.
Because Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared there, Mathurā is considered to be spiritually superior to Vaikuṇṭha. Greater than Mathurā is the forest of Vṛndāvana because this was where the rāsa-līlā pastimes of Kṛṣṇa took place. Govardhana Hill is considered to be superior to Vṛndāvana because Kṛṣṇa performed wonderful pastimes there and raised it with His left hand. However, Rādhā-kuṇḍa is superior to Govardhana because it is brimming with the nectar of divine love for the Master of Gokula. Which intelligent person will not render service to this place that is situated at the feet of Govardhana? (Upadeśāmṛta 9)
The Supreme Abode of Kṛṣṇa is the land of Vraja, which includes Vṛndāvana, Govardhana and Rādhā-kuṇḍa. In verse 66, Śrī Kṛṣṇa indicates to Arjuna by the use of the verb ‘vraja’ (meaning ‘to go’) that Arjuna will come to Kṛṣṇa in the topmost realm of the spiritual world. This superior realm is also known as Goloka Vṛndāvana and is described in Brahma-saṁhitā as follows:
I worship Govinda, the Original Person, who is tending the cows, in that divine realm where the abodes are built with touchstone. He is surrounded by millions of desire trees and is constantly served with great care and attention by hundreds of thousands of goddesses of fortune. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.29)
I worship Govinda, the Original Person, who is playing His flute and has beautiful eyes like blooming lotus petals. His head is decorated with peacock feathers, and His charming form, tinged with the hue of rain clouds, is so alluring that it enchants millions of Cupids. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.30)
I worship Govinda, the Original Person, whose neck is decorated with a garland of forest flowers that swings to and fro. His hands, that hold His flute, are adorned with jewelled bracelets. His threefold bending form as Śyāmasundara is eternally manifest as He enjoys His various pastimes of divine love. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.31)
I worship the Original Person, Govinda, who is always meditated upon by those whose eyes are anointed with the salve of divine love. His eternal form as Śyāmasundara is eternally endowed with inconceivable qualities and He is always situated within the hearts of His beloved devotees. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.38)
śriyaḥ kāntāḥ kāntaḥ parama-puruṣaḥ kalpa-taravo drumā bhūmiś cintāmaṇi-gaṇa-mayi toyam amṛtam kathā gānaṁ nāṭyaṁ gamanam api vaṁśī priya-sakhi cid-ānandaṁ jyotiḥ param api tad āsvādyam api ca sa yatra kṣīrābdhiḥ sravati surabhībhyaś ca su-mahān nimeṣārdhākhyo vā vrajati na hi yatrāpi samayaḥ bhaje śvetadvīpaṁ tam aham iha golokam iti yaṁ vidantas te santaḥ kṣiti-virala-cārāḥ katipaye
I worship the divine abode of Śvetadvīpa, where the goddesses of fortune are the loving consorts to the Supreme Person Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In that place, every tree is a desire tree; the land is made of touchstone; all water is nectar; every word is a song; every step is a dance; the flute is the dearest friend; the light is full of spiritual bliss and all things there are most relishable; where vast oceans of milk continuously flow from millions of cows; where time does not pass away even for half a moment. That realm, Goloka Vṛndāvana, is only known to a very few self-realised yogīs in this world. (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.56)
VERSE 67 इदं ते नातपस्काय नाभक्ताय कदाचन । न चाशुश्रूषवे वाच्यं न च मां योऽभ्यसूयति ॥६७॥
idaṁ te nātapaskāya nābhaktāya kadācana na cāśuśrūṣave vācyaṁ na ca māṁ yo’bhyasūyati
This knowledge should never be disclosed to those who are not self-controlled, who do not perform bhakti-yoga or who are envious of Me.
śraddhāvān anasūyaś ca śṛṇuyād api yo naraḥ so’pi muktaḥ śubhāṇl-lokān prāpnuyāt puṇya-karmaṇām
Those who hear this sacred conversation with transcendental faith and without envy will achieve perfection and reach My auspicious Abode.
Herein, Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that those who are envious cannot be taught the science of the Absolute Truth. However, those with the fortitude of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, who study this sacred conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna and who teach this knowledge to the non-envious are dear to Kṛṣṇa and will achieve perfection and attain Kṛṣṇa’s abode. This is confirmed in the following verses of the Gītā-māhātmya and the Vaiṣṇavīya-tantra-sāra:
One who recites the Bhagavad-gītā, which bestows all virtue, with resolute devotion will attain to the Supreme Abode of Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa, which is always free from the mundane qualities based on fear and lamentation. (Gītā-māhātmya 1)
One who recites the Bhagavad-gītā in the presence of the Deity, śālāgrāma-śīla, or in a temple of the Supreme Person, or in a temple of Śiva, at a place of pilgrimage or on a bank of a sacred river – such a person becomes qualified to receive all good fortune. (Vaiṣṇavīya-tantra-sāra, Gītā-māhātmya 21)
Arjuna replied: O infallible one, O Kṛṣṇa, by Your mercy my delusion has been dispelled and my mental equilibrium has been restored. Now that my doubts have been removed I am steady once more and will follow Your advice.
tac ca saṁsmṛtya saṁsmṛtya rūpam atyadbhutaṁ hareḥ vismayo me mahān rājan hṛṣyāmi ca punaḥ punaḥ
O Emperor, continuously remembering this most profound conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the killer of the Keśī demon, and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again. When I remember the beautiful form of the Supreme Person Śrī Kṛṣṇa, I am struck with wonder.
yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ tatra śrīr vijayo bhūtir dhruvā nītir matir mama
Where there is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Master of yoga, and where there is Arjuna, the mighty archer, there will always be prosperity, victory, opulence and righteousness – this is my firm conviction.
The sacred conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna ends with verse seventy-three wherein Arjuna says that his delusion and doubts have all been dispelled. Thus Arjuna agrees to follow Kṛṣṇa’s instructions. This is the ideal relationship between guru and disciple. The guru must dispel the delusion and doubts of a disciple by delivering the message of Śrī Kṛṣṇa found in Bhagavad-gītā, without change or adulteration, and the disciple must be willing to follow such instructions.
The potency of hearing Kṛṣṇa’s message is also confirmed in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as follows:
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the friend of the pious. He removes all inauspiciousness from the heart of those who have developed the desire to hear His message, which is virtuous when properly heard and chanted. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.2.17)
Sañjaya has been narrating the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna to Emperor Dhṛtarāṣṭra and now he expresses his own satisfaction and ecstasy. He says that by remembering the words of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and by seeing His beautiful form, he feels great ecstasy (hṛṣya) and great wonder (vismaya). Sañjaya then concludes with the benediction that wherever there is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Master of yoga, and wherever there is Arjuna, the sincere disciple, there will always be prosperity, victory, opulence and righteousness.
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter Eighteen entitled Mokṣa Yoga from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.
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