SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 21 – Chapter 5, Verses 21 to 29 – KARMA VAIRAGYA YOGA

SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 21

Chapter 5, Verses 21 to 29 – KARMA VAIRAGYA YOGA

In these final nine verses of Chapter 5 on Vairagya Yoga, Bhagavan Shri Krishna emphasises the need for Vairagya or self-control over sense objects while pursuing one’s actions.

Bhagavan Shri Krishna says that before giving up this body, if one is able to curb the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, such a person is a yogi, and will be happy in this world. Thosewho are always working for the welfare of all beings, whose minds are always contemplating on the Supreme, they are free from all sins, and achieve liberation.

One who is free from anger and all material desires, is self-disciplined and constantly in service Knowing Bhagavan as the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor of all sacrifices and austerities, the Ultimate Controller of all living entities and the Cosmos, and the most merciful, surrendering all actions unto Him, achieves perfect peace.

5.21      Shloka 5.21

बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत्सुखम्।

ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते।।5.21।।

Bahya-sparsesv asaktatma vindaty atmani yat sukham

Sa brahma-yoga-yuktatma sukham aksayam asnute ।।5.21।।

Meaning: Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure or external objects but is always in trance, enjoying the bliss within. In this way the self-realised person enjoys contentment, for he concentrates on the Supreme.

In this verse, Bhagavan Shri Krishna once again clarifies that constant contemplation on the Supreme leads to a state of equanimity in actions where one surrenders the fruits of action to the Lord.

If a person is attached to sensual pleasures they will never have the opportunity to experience the transcendental bliss of the realisation of the Brahman.  But what kind of happiness can one derive from life if they control their senses and avert sense objects. Lord Krishna emphasises the compound words ‘sukham-aksayam’ meaning ‘unlimited happiness’ is what one can attains by remaining detached to the senses which frees one from worldly desires allowing to focus within on the eternal Atma where one can experience the boundless joy and unlimited bliss.

5.22      Shloka 5.22

ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दुःखयोनय एव ते।

आद्यन्तवन्तः कौन्तेय तेषु रमते बुधः।।5.22।।

Ye hi samsparsa-ja bhoga duhkha-yonaya eva te

Ady-antavantah kaunteya na tesu ramate budhah ।।5.22।।

Meaning: An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures are transient and temporary, and so the wise man does not feel any delight in them.

The word ‘samsparsaja’ means contact of the senses with their objects. This precipitates anticipation for material pleasures which gives the illusion of happiness from such contacts but they are actually the source of misery, pain and suffering. Lord Krishna is stating that because they are temporary having a beginning and ending, contact with sense objects is shunned by those who have acquired spiritual intelligence as they are aware that such contacts are of a transitory nature. A liberated soul is not interested in anything that is temporary.

In the Padma Purana it is said:

Ramante yogino ‘nante satyananda-cid-atmani

Iti Rama-padenasau param brahmabhidhiyate ।।

Meaning: The yogis derive unlimited transcendental pleasures from the Absolute Truth, and therefore the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Brahman, is also known as Rama.

In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sage Rishaba says to his sons:

Nayam deho deha-bhajam nr-loke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhajam ye

Tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam ।।5.5.1।।

Meaning: My dear sons, there is no reason to labour very hard for sense pleasures while this human form of life itself is temporary.  Such pleasures are available to the even those that eat filth[hogs]. Rather, you should undergo penances in this life by which your heart will be purified, and as a result, you will be able to enjoy unlimited and eternal transcendental bliss.

Therefore, true yogis are not attracted by sense pleasures. The more one is addicted to material pleasures, the more he is entrapped by miseries and is caught in the unending cycle of birth and death.

5.23      Shloka 5.23

शक्नोतीहैव यः सोढुं प्राक्शरीरविमोक्षणात्।

कामक्रोधोद्भवं वेगं युक्तः सुखी नरः।।5.23।।

Saknotihaiva yah sodhum prak sarira-vimoksanat

Kama-krodhodbhavam vegam sa yuktah sa sukhi narah ।।5.23 ।।

Meaning: Before giving up this body, if one is able to curb the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is a yogi, and is happy in this world.

In this verse, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is encouraging renunciation of desires while emphasising that one who is capable of being equipoised and is able to resist the onslaught of the senses arising from kama (lust) and krodha (anger), such a person is a true Yogi. He also states ‘iha eva’ meaning ‘in this very life’. If human beings are able to control their mind and senses, and neutarlise the effects of kama and krodha in this very life, then there is a chance for them to achieve permanent bliss in this very life.

Thus, if one wants to make steady progress on the path of self-realisation, one should learn to control the forces of material desires. Material desires, when unsatiated, generates anger and thus the mind and the heart become agitated leading to constant agony. Therefore, one must practice self-control to enjoy absolute bliss. A person who can develop this ‘Vairagya’ (self-control) will progress towards self-realisation that will ultimately lead to eternal bliss.

One may argue that without sensual pleasures life would have no charm. To refute this and to strengthen the resolve of seekers of Moksha, Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the word “Sodhum” meaning “to tolerate or withstand”. Withstand what? Withstand the impulses arising from Kama (lust) and Krodha (anger). These impulses are very powerful and difficult like the strong current in a river. Kama is described as intense desire for sense objects which infatuate the mind due to increasing passion from seeing, hearing about or remembering objects of desire. 

Krodha is described as the modification of the mind in the form of anger caused by extreme frustration by not able to obtain the object/result of one’s desires. The person who is able to resist this impulse and subsequently neutralise them by spiritual practices even before the end of this life is a Yogi.

Such a being is spiritually situated and is undoubtedly joyful and content. One who slavishly always follows the urges of sensual pleasures, like an animal is unable to control their mind and therefore is unable to accomplish this goal.

5.24      Shloka 5.24

योऽन्तःसुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तर्ज्योतिरेव यः।

योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति।।5.24।।

Yo ‘ntah-sukho ‘ntar-aramas tathantar-jyotir eva yah

Sa yogi brahma-nirvanam brahma-bhuto ‘dhigacchati ।।5.24।।

Meaning: One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is the perfect Yogi. Such a Yogi is liberated and ultimately, he attains the Supreme.

The words ‘yo’ntah-sukho’ means one who is happy internally or one who is in touch with his soul or Atma. This happens after one has relinquished all desires for external sense objects.

The word ‘antar-aramas’ means one who enjoys within, denoting the Atma or Soul. True happiness is derived through the removal of all obstacles and impediments which obstruct access to the Atma. The word ‘antar-jyotir’ means illuminated within and while all naturally created beings have this inner light only those of spiritual intelligence are denoted here. Those who are situated in ‘Samadhi’ or in intense meditation having no influence from external matters experience the inner light.

A liberated person experiences happiness silently at any place and enjoys the activities of life from within. Such a liberated person no longer desires external material stimulus for happiness. Such a state is called ‘brahma-bhuta’ i.e., a state in which one is assured of self-realisation and union with the Supreme.

5.25      Shloka 5.25

लभन्ते ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषयः क्षीणकल्मषाः।

छिन्नद्वैधा यतात्मानः सर्वभूतहिते रताः।।5.25।।

Labhante brahma-nirvanam rsayah ksina-kalmasah

Chinna-dvaidha yatatmanah sarva-bhuta-hite ratah ।।5.25।।

Meaning:  Thosewho are always working for the welfare of all beings, whose minds are engaged within, acting without doubt or duality, they are free from all sins, and achieve liberation in the Supreme.

The spiritually knowledgeable beings engage in activities for the welfare of all being and thus are free from all sinful reactions as they practice of selfless actions without desire or attachment.  Bhagavan Shri Krishna uses the words ‘chinna-dvaitha’ meaning uprooting concepts of dualism such as pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, success and failure etc. which give rise to doubts and delusions. How are they to be uprooted? By the sword of knowledge in the form of renouncing all desires for sense gratification and perceiving the Atma’s distinctive nature.

The eternal Atma is omniscient, knowing past, present and future. Therefore, by Atma tattva or self-realisation of the Soul one is able to overcome the delusions of duality.  Such beings attain freedom from Samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

5.26      Shloka 5.26 

कामक्रोधवियुक्तानां यतीनां यतचेतसाम्।

अभितो ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं वर्तते विदितात्मनाम्।।5.26।।

Kama-krodha-vimuktanam yatinam yata-cetasam

Abhito brahma-nirvanam vartate viditatmanam ।।5.26।।

Meaning: Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realised, self-disciplined and constantly endeavouring for perfection, are assured of liberation and union with the Supreme Brahman in this very life.

In the conditioned soul, the desire to enjoy the fruitive results of work is so deep-rooted that it is very difficult even for the great sages to control such desires despite great endeavours. Whereas, a devotee of the Lord, who is constantly engaged in devotional service quickly attains liberation in the Supreme.

Srimad Bhagavatam has the following:

Yat-pada-pankaja-palasa-vilasa-bhaktya karmasayam grathitam udgrathayanti santah

Tadvan na rikta-matayo yatayo ‘pi ruddha- srotoganas tam aranam bhaja vasudevam ।।4.22.39।।

Meaning: The devotees, who are always engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Lord Narayana, can easily overcome the hard-knotted desires for fruitive activities. It is very difficult even for Jnanis and Yogis to stop the waves of sense gratification. Therefore, engaging in the devotional service can keep help overcome desire for material desires.

There is still another group of human beings who experience an even higher level of experience. They are the ‘yatis or sannyasis’ i.e., those who have given up wife, children, occupation, and everything  they have to serve the Lord. Such enlightened sages renunciate all desires and for them liberation is present everywhere they go and in everything they do.

5.27      Shloka 5.27

स्पर्शान्कृत्वा बहिर्बाह्यांश्चक्षुश्चैवान्तरे भ्रुवोः।

प्राणापानौ समौ कृत्वा नासाभ्यन्तरचारिणौ ।।5.27।।

Sparsan krtva bahir bahyams caksus caivantare bhruvoh

Pranapanau samau krtva nasabhyantara-carinau ।।5.27।।

Meaning: One who can expel all external sense objects, while keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, becomes free from desire, fear and anger. Such a person is certainly liberated.

The practice of yoga helps one become free from all kinds of fear and anger and thus help the seeker to gain control over senses.

5.28      Shloka 5.28

यतेन्द्रियमनोबुद्धिर्मुनिर्मोक्षपरायणः।
विगतेच्छाभयक्रोधो यः सदा मुक्त एव सः ।।5.28।।

Yatendriya-mano-buddhir munir moksa-parayanah

Vigateccha-bhaya-krodho yah sada mukta eva sah ।।5.28।।

Meaning: The humble sage, in control of senses, mind and by virtue of true knowledge, is dedicated to liberation.  Such a learned sage, devoid of desire, fear and anger, is free from bondage.

In this Shloka, Bhagavan Shri Krishna is once again emphasising the need to control one’s senses and conquer desires, fear and anger to make spiritual progress. One who is able to achieve this is sure to be free from all bondage.

5.29      Shloka 5.29

भोक्तारं यज्ञतपसां सर्वलोकमहेश्वरम् ।

सुहृदं सर्वभूतानां ज्ञात्वा मां शान्तिमृच्छति ।।5.29।।

Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram

Suhrdam sarva-bhutanam jnatva mam santim rcchati ।।5.29।।

Meaning:  Knowing Me as the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods and the benefactor of all sacrifices and austerities, the Ultimate Controller of all living entities and the Cosmos, and the most merciful achieves perfect peace.

Knowing Bhagavan Shri Krishna to be the bequeather of all rewards for all actions. What this means is that if karma yoga or the selfless practice of all duties are performed consciously as offerings of worship to Shri Krishna, then this in itself is enough to gain Moksha. This is the easiest and most simple and practical way of attaining liberation.

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!

Hari Om Tat Sat

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