Categories: Hindu Scripture

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 5:Karma Sanyasa Yoga

In the Bhagavad Gita‘s fifth chapter, known as “Karma Sanyasa Yoga,” Lord Krishna teaches us about two paths: one of renunciation in actions (Karma Sanyas) and another of actions with detachment (Karma Yoga). He explains that both paths lead to the same goal, and we have the choice to follow either one. This means that even if you’re living a worldly life as a householder, you can consecrate your life to God and serve Him. By replacing your ego with your eternal self and identifying with it, you can find freedom from karma, even while engaged in everyday actions.

Lord Krishna and Arjuna

Verse 1

arjuna uvaca:
samnyasam karmanam krsna punaryogam ca samsasi;
yacchreya etayorekam tanme bruhi suniscitam.

Synonyms

arjuna uvaca: Arjuna said
Samnyasam: Renunciation
Karmanam: Of actions
Krsna: Lord Krishna
Punaryogam: Of devotion again
Ca: And
Samsasi: You praise
Yacchreya: Better
Etayor: These two
Ekam: One
Tanme: To me
Bruhi: Tell
Suniscitam: Definitely

Translation: Arjuna said: O Krishna, you praise both renunciation of actions and the performance of actions. Please tell me definitively which one is better for me.

Verse 2

sribhagavanuvaca:
samnyasah karmayogasca nihsreyasakaravubhau;
tayostu karmasamnyasatkarmayogo visisyate.

Synonyms

Sribhagavanuvaca: The Supreme Lord said
Samnyasah: Renunciation
Karmayogasca: And the path of selfless action
Nihsreyasakaravubhau: Both lead to the highest good
Tayostu: But
Karmasamnyasatkarmayogo: The path of selfless action is superior to renunciation
Visisyate: It is considered greater

Translation: Sri Bhagavan said: The renunciation of works and the performance of works both lead to the highest good. But of the two, the performance of works is superior to renunciation.

Verse 3

nneyah sa nityasamnyasi yo na dvesti na kanksati;
nirdvandvo hi mahabaho sukham bandhatpramucyate.

Synonyms

Nneyah: He is not bound
Sa: That person
Nityasamnyasi: Who is always a renunciant
Yo: Who
Na: Neither
Dvesti: Hates
Na: Nor
Kanksati: Desires
Nirdvandvo: Free from dualities
Hi: Certainly
Mahabaho: O mighty-armed one
Sukham: Happiness
Bandhat: From bondage
Pramucyate: Is liberated

Translation: One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always a renouncer. Such a person, free from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

Verse 4

sankhyayogau prthagbalah pravadanti na panditah;
ekamapyasthitah samyagubhayorvindate phalam.

Synonyms

Sankhyayogau – Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge
Prthagbalah – Ignorant individuals or those lacking wisdom
Pravadanti – Proclaim or assert
Panditah – Wise or knowledgeable individuals
Ekamapyasthitah – Even a little practice
Samyagubhayorvindate – Attain the full results of both paths

Translation: Some learned men declare that the soul is the separate property of the empirical self, and others say that it is common to all. Hear now, O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], My judgment about this.

Verse 5

sankhya prapyate sthanam tadyogairapi gamyate;
ekam sankhyam ca yogam ca yah pasyati sa pasyati.

Synonyms

Sankhya – The path of knowledge or wisdom
Prapyate – Is attained
Sthanam – The goal or destination
Tadyogairapi – Through the path of yoga as well
Gamyate – Can be reached
Ekam sankhyam ca yogam ca – Both the path of knowledge and the path of yoga
Yah pasyati sa pasyati – One who perceives, truly perceives

Translation: One who can see that all activities are performed by the body, which is created of material nature, and sees that the self does nothing, actually sees.

Verse 6

samnyasastu mahabaho duhkhamaptumayogatah;
yogayukto munirbrahma nacirenadhigacchati.

Synonyms

Sannyasa – Renunciation or the path of renunciation
Tu – However
Mahabaho – O mighty-armed one
Duhkham – Suffering or misery
Aptom – To attain
Ayogatah – Without the practice of yoga
Yoga-yukto – One who is engaged in the practice of yoga
Munir – The wise person or sage
Brahma – The ultimate reality or the divine
Naciren – Not long
Adhigacchati – Attains or reaches

Translation: But renunciation, O mighty-armed Arjuna, is difficult to attain without Karma-yoga. A sage equipped with both, however, quickly attains the Supreme.

Verse 7

yogayukto visuddhatma vijitatma jitendriyah;
sarvabhutatmabhutatma kurvannapi na lipyate.

Synonyms

Yogayukto – One engaged in yoga
Visuddhatma – The purified soul or self
Vijitatma – One who has conquered the self
Jitendriyah – Conquered the senses
Sarvabhutatmabhutatma – The self who sees all beings in oneself and oneself in all beings
Kurvannapi – While performing actions
Na lipyate – Is not tainted or affected

Translation: A person who is disciplined in yoga, whose soul is purified, whose self is conquered, and who has mastered the senses, even while engaging in all kinds of actions, is not tainted.

Verse 8

naiva kincitkaromiti yukto manyeta tattvavit;
pasyansrnvansprsanjighrannasnangacchansvapansvasan.

Synonyms

Naiva kincit karomi iti – “I do nothing at all” thus
Yukto – The one who is engaged in yoga
Manyeta – Thinks
Tattvavit – The knower of the truth
Pasyan – Seeing
Srnvan – Hearing
Sprsan – Touching
Jighrann – Smelling
Asnan – Eating
Gacchan – Walking
Svapann – Sleeping
Svasan – Breathing

Translation: A person who is disciplined in yoga, whose mind is pure, whose self is conquered, whose senses are controlled, whose self is the self of all beings, even though acting, such a person is not tainted.

Verse 9

pralapanvisrjangrhnannunmisannimisannapi;
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan.

Synonyms

Pralapan – Speaking
Visrjan – Letting go
Grhnan – Holding
Unmisan – Opening
Nimi-san – Closing
Anunmisan – Blinking
Api – Also
Indriya – Senses
Indriyarthesu – In sense objects
Vartante – Are engaged
Iti – Thus
Dharayan – Keeping in mind

Translation: A person who is speaking, who is breathing, who is opening or closing the eyes, who is taking hold of or releasing, who is looking at the sense objects, thinking that the senses are moving among the sense objects.

Verse 10

brahmanyadhaya karmani sangam tyaktva karoti yah;
lipyate na sa papena padmapatramivambhasa.

Synonyms

Brahmanyadhaya – Offering to the Supreme
Karmani – Actions or duties
Sangam – Attachment
Tyaktva – Abandoning or renouncing
Karoti – Performs
Yah – Who
Lipyate – Is not tainted
Na – Not
Sa – That person
Papena – By sin
Padmapatram – Lotus leaf
Iva – Like
Ambhasa – By water

Translation: One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.

Verse 11

kayena manasa buddhya kevalairindriyairapi;
yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvatmasuddhaye.

Synonyms

Kayena – Body
Manasa – Mind
Buddhya – Intellect
Kevalaih – Only
Indriyaih – Senses
Yoginah – Yogis (those who practice yoga)
Karma – Actions
Kurvanti – Perform
Sangam – Attachment
Tyaktva – Giving up
Atma – Self
Shuddhaye – Purification

Translation: The yogis, by renouncing attachment, perform actions only with the body, mind, intellect, and even the senses, for the purification of the self.

Verse 12

yuktah karmaphalam tyaktva santimapnoti naisthikim;
ayuktah kamakarena phale sakto nibadhyate.

Synonyms

Yuktah – The one who is disciplined or connected
Karmaphalam – Fruits of actions
Tyaktva – Giving up or renouncing
Santim – Peace
Apnoti – Attains or achieves
Naisthikim – Steadfastness or devotion
Ayuktah – The one who is undisciplined or disconnected
Kamakarena – Actuated by desires
Phale – Fruits or results
Sakto – Attached
Nibadhyate – Becomes bound or entangled

Translation: The one who is disciplined in actions, having renounced the fruits of actions, attains inner peace, whereas the one who is undisciplined, being attached to the fruits of actions, becomes bound by selfish desires.

Verse 13

sarvakarmani manasa samnyasyaste sukham vasi;
navadvare pure dehi naiva kurvanna karayan.

Synonyms

Sarvakarmani – All actions
Manasa – By the mind
Samnyasya – Renouncing or relinquishing
Aste – Remains
Sukham – Happiness
Vasi – Dwells or resides
Nava-dvare – In a new body
Pure – In the city (referring to the body)
Dehi – The embodied soul
Na – Not
Eva – Certainly
Kurvan – Performing
Na – Not
Karayan – Causing or engaging in

Translation: When the embodied being consciously renounces all actions with the mind, and when the self is content within itself, then such a person is said to be in the state of perfect yoga. They do nothing, nor do they engage in activities.

Verse 14

na kartrtvam na karmani lokasya srjati prabhuh;
na karmaphalasamyogam svabhavastu pravartate.

Synonyms

Na – Not
Kartrtvam – Doer-ship
Na – Not
Karmani – Actions
Lokasya – Of the world
Srjati – Creates or induces
Prabhuh – The Supreme Lord or the Divine
Na – Not
Karma-phala-samyogam – The connection between actions and their fruits
Svabhavah – Nature
Tu – But
Pravartate – Operates or acts

Translation: The Supreme Lord neither creates the sense of doership nor the actions in the world, nor the connection between action and its fruits. Rather, these are governed by the inherent nature of beings.

Verse 15

nadatte kasyacitpapam na caiva sukrtam vibhuh;
annanenavrtam nnanam tena muhyanti jantavah.

Synonyms

Papam: Sin, wrongdoing, vice.
Sukrtam: Virtue, righteousness, good deeds.
Annanenavrtam: Nourished by food, sustained by sustenance.
Nnanam: Wisdom, knowledge, understanding.
Tena: By that, through that, thereby.
Muhyanti: Deluded, confused, misled.
Jantavah: Living beings, creatures.

Translation: The all-pervading Supreme Lord neither accepts anyone’s sinful reactions nor takes credit for anyone’s virtuous deeds. Knowledge is covered by ignorance, and thus, beings are deluded.

Verse 16

nnanena tu tadannanam yesam nasitamatmanah;
tesamadityavajnnanam prakasayati tatparam.

Synonyms

Nnanena: By knowledge, through knowledge.
Tadannanam: That wisdom, that knowledge.
Yesam: Of those, for whom.
Nasitamatmanah: There is no destruction of the soul, the self.
Tesam: For them, of them.
Adityavajnnanam: Like the sun’s knowledge, knowledge that illuminates.
Prakasayati: Illuminates, reveals.
Tatparam: That supreme, beyond that.

Translation: But for those whose ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of the self, that knowledge reveals the Supreme like the sun, illuminating the eternal truth.

Verse 17

tadbuddhayastadatmanastannisthastatparayanah;
gacchantyapunaravrttim nnananirdhūtakalmasah.

Synonyms

Tadbuddhayah: Those with that intellect, those with such understanding.
Tadatmanah: Those with that soul, those with such consciousness.
Tannisthah: Steadfast in that, firmly established in that.
Tatparayanah: Devoted to that, oriented towards that.
Gacchanti: They attain, they reach.
Apunaravrttim: No return, no recurrence.
Nnananirdhūtakalmasah: Those whose impurities are washed away by knowledge.

Translation: When the individuals have that knowledge, their intellect is steady, their self is dedicated to that knowledge, they have reached that knowledge, and they are free from all impurities of sin. Such individuals, having attained the Supreme, do not return.

Verse 18

vidyavinayasampanne brahmane gavi hastini;
suni caiva svapake ca panditah samadarsinah.

Synonyms

Vidyavinaya-sampanne: Endowed with knowledge and humility.
Brahmane: In a learned scholar, in a priest.
Gavi: In a cow.
Hastini: In an elephant.
Suni: In a dog.
Ca: And.
Eva: Indeed.
Svapake: In a dog-eater or outcaste.
Ca: And.
Panditah: The wise.
Samadarsinah: See equally, have equal vision.

Translation: The wise see with equal vision a scholar, a gentle cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eating outcaste.

Verse 19

ihaiva tairjitah sargo yesam samye sthitam manah;
nirdosam hi samam brahma tasmadbrahmani te sthitah.

Synonyms

Ihaiva: In this very world.
Taih: By them, by those individuals.
Jitah: Conquered, controlled.
Sargo: Creation, existence.
Yesam: Of those, for whom.
Samye: In equality, in equanimity.
Sthitam: Steadfast, established.
Manah: Mind.
Nirdosam: Free from fault, without blemish.
Hi: Indeed.
Samam: Equal.
Brahma: The Supreme Reality.
Tasmad: Therefore.
Brahmani: In the Supreme Reality.
Te: They.
Sthitah: Are situated, are established.

Translation: Those whose minds are established in equality, during this life, even in the midst of diverse experiences, they are situated in the transcendental Brahman. Therefore, they are situated in Brahman.

Verse 20

na prahrsyetpriyam prapya nodvijetprapya capriyam;
sthirabuddhirasammudho brahmavidbrahmani sthitah.

Synonyms

prahrsyet: Rejoices
priyam: Pleasant
prapya: Attains
nodvijet: Not disturbed
capriyam: Unpleasant
sthirabuddhi: Steady-minded
asammudha: Undeluded
brahmavid: Knower of the Absolute
brahmani: In the Supreme
sthitah: Established

Translation: Having attained the non-transitory, one should not grieve for the transient. With a steady intellect, one who is unperplexed and knows the Supreme Being to be situated in all beings, engages in devotion to the Supreme.

Verse 21

bahyasparsesvasaktatma vindatyatmani yatsukham;
sa brahmayogayuktatma sukhamaksayamasnute.

Synonyms

bahyasparsesu: External sensory experiences
asaktatma: Detached soul
vindati: Finds
atmani: Within oneself
yatsukham: That happiness
sa: That
brahmayoga-yuktatma: The soul united with Brahman (the Absolute)
sukham: Happiness
aksayam: Imperishable
asnute: Attains

Translation: One whose mind is unattached to external sensory pleasures finds the ultimate happiness within the self. Such a self-realized person, engaged in the practice of union with the Divine, enjoys inexhaustible bliss.

Verse 22

ye hi samsparsaja bhoga duhkhayonaya eva te;
adyantavantah kaunteya na tesu ramate budhah.

Synonyms

ye: Those who
hi: Indeed
samsparsaja: Arising from contact with the senses
bhoga: Sensual pleasures
duhkhayonaya: Sources of suffering
eva: Certainly
te: They
adyantavantah: Having an end
kaunteya: O son of Kunti (referring to Arjuna)
na: Not
tesu: In them
ramate: Take delight
budhah: The wise

Translation: O son of Kunti (Arjuna), those pleasures which arise from contact with the material senses are sources of suffering, and they have a beginning and an end. The wise do not delight in them.

Verse 23

saknotihaiva yah sodhum praksariravimoksanat;
kamakrodhodbhavam vegam sa yuktah sa sukhi narah.

Synonyms

saknoti: Can
iha eva: In this very life
yah: Who
sodhum: To endure
prak sarira: This body
avimoksanat: From non-liberation (from the body)
kama: Desire
krodha: Anger
udbhavam: Arising from
vegam: Urges
sah: That person
yuktah: One who is self-disciplined
sa sukhi: Is happy
narah: Person

Translation: Before giving up this body, one who is able to tolerate the urges of desire and anger is a yogi and is happy in this world.

Verse 24

yo‌ntahsukho‌ntararamastathantarjyotireva yah;
sa yogi brahmanirvanam brahmabhuto‌dhigacchati.

Synonyms

yah: Who
antah-sukhah: Happy within
antah-aramah: Finding delight within
tatha: Similarly
antah-jyotih: Inner light
eva: Certainly
sah: That person
yogi: The yogi
brahma-nirvanam: Liberation in Brahman (the Absolute)
brahma-bhutah: Being in the state of Brahman
adhigacchati: Attains

Translation: One who is joyful within, who rejoices within, and who is illumined within, such a yogi attains the ultimate liberation and becomes one with the Supreme Brahman.

Verse 25

labhante brahmanirvanamrsayah ksinakalmasah;
chinnadvaidha yatatmanah sarvabhūtahite ratah.

Synonyms

labhante: Attain
brahma-nirvanam: Liberation in Brahman (the Absolute)
rsayah: Sages
kshina-kalmasah: Free from impurities
chinna-dvaidhah: Free from duality
yata-atmanah: Self-controlled
sarva-bhuta-hite ratah: Engaged in the welfare of all beings

Translation: Sages who are free from all material desires and who have conquered their inner selves achieve the state of ultimate bliss, which is liberation in the Supreme. They remain dedicated to the welfare of all beings and are free from dualities.

Verse 26

kamakrodhaviyuktanam yatinam yatacetasam;
abhito brahmanirvanam vartate viditatmanam.

Synonyms

kama: Desire
krodha: Anger
aviyuktanam: Of those not attached
yatinam: Of ascetics
yata-cetasam: Whose minds are disciplined
abhitah: From all sides
brahma-nirvanam: Liberation in Brahman (the Absolute)
vartate: Exists
vidita-atmanam: Those who have realized the self

Translation: For those who are free from attachment and anger, who have subdued their minds, and who are dedicated to the realization of the Supreme, the state of Brahman Nirvana is ever present, both internally and externally.

Verse 27

sparsankrtva bahirbahyamscaksuscaivantare bhruvoh;
pranapanau samau krtva nasabhyantaracarinau.

Synonyms

sparsan-krtva: Keeping the sense objects out
bahihi: External
bahyam: External
caksuh: Eyes
ca: Also
eva: Indeed
antare: Between
bhruvoh: Eyebrows
prana-apanau: The incoming and outgoing breath
samau: Balanced
krtva: Making
nasabhyam: The nostrils
antar-acarinau: Situated within

Translation: Closing the doors of the senses and fixing the mind within the heart, and then directing the life force (prana) to circulate evenly between the incoming and outgoing breaths, one can control their senses and focus their consciousness inward.

Verse 28

yatendriyamanobuddhirmunirmoksaparayanah;
vigatecchabhayakrodho yah sada mukta eva sah.

Synonyms

yatendriya: One who controls the senses
manas: Mind
buddhih: Intellect
munih: Sage
moksa-parayanah: Devoted to liberation
vigata-eccha: Free from desires
bhaya: Fear
krodhah: Anger
yah: Who
sada: Always
mukta: Liberated
eva: Certainly
sah: That person

Translation: One who is free from the desires of the senses, who has control over the mind and intellect, who is devoted to liberation, who is free from attachment, fear, and anger, and who is always in a state of liberation is truly liberated.

Verse 29

bhoktaram yannatapasam sarvalokamahesvaram;
suhrdam sarvabhutanam nnatva mam santimrcchati.

Synonyms

bhoktaram: The enjoyer
yat: Of whom
na: Not
tapasam: Of sacrifices or austerities
sarva-loka: Of all worlds
mahesvaram: The Supreme Lord
suhrdam: The well-wisher
sarva-bhutanam: Of all beings
na atva: Without knowing
mam: Me (the speaker, often referring to the divine)
santim: Peace
rccati: Attains

Translation: Knowing Me as the ultimate enjoyer of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all worlds, and the dearest friend of all living beings, one attains peace.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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