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(Chapter-wise Summary)



This last chapter is supposed to contain the entire wisdom of the Dnyaneshwari.  Dnyaneshwar Maharaj says,  “This eighteenth chapter is like the pinnacle of a temple.  Once one sees it from a distance then he knows that the goal is near and it gives a feeling as if one has actually met the deity inside.  In the same way the eighteenth chapter brings the whole essence of the Gita in perspective.  It reviews the entire Gita from the beginning to the end.”


At the end of the seventeenth chapter it was mentioned that actions done without any faith in Aum-Tat-Sat, the name of the Brahman, are evil and wrong. On hearing this Arjuna thought that Shri Krishna was faulting persons who follow the ritualistic path (path of actions) and many doubts of practical nature arose in his mind.  He thought,
“An individual being ignorant does not really understand the nature of God.  Then how can we expect him to know anything about Aum-Tat-Sat, i.e. Brahman?

“Besides, as long as Raja and Tama have not gone from within him, his faith also would remain impure, then how would he have faith in the name of the Brahman?

“Doing actions is very tricky.  Many impediments are faced by the time an action is completed.  If actions are completed successfully then the doer becomes worthy of attaining knowledge otherwise the same actions can cause his downfall and entangle him in birth and death cycles.  When would then a follower of the path of action get his turn to be liberated?

“Therefore it is better not to follow the path of actions and instead adopt the path of renunciation (sanyas), which has no such shortcomings.  Renunciation and abandonment are not known to be affected by karmas, and with their help the attachment to the material world can break and Self-realisation can be attained.”

With these doubts in mind, Arjuna asked Shri Krishna to explain if there was any difference between renunciation (Sanyas) and abandonment.  This eighteenth chapter contains the reply given by Shri Krishna


Though the words Renunciation (Sanyas) and abandonment both outwardly signify abandonment, there is a basic difference in their meanings.  The difference involves what it is that has to be abandoned.

Actions are of two types namely, routine (habitual) and wilful.  Routine actions are done naturally.  Wilful actions are done with a desire behind them and require will.

Renunciation (Sanyas)

Wilful actions e.g. yajnas, rituals with a lot of formality etc. and charitable works like digging wells, making gardens, establishing new towns, gifting away lands etc., binds the doer to the fruits of enjoyment from them.

Once a desire-based action is done, whether deliberately or inadvertently, the fruits thereof remain in waiting to make the doer enjoy or suffer for them, whether he likes it or not.  Therefore a seeker should be careful not to do such actions even in fun.  They should be abandoned like poison.  This abandoning (of desire-based actions) is called Sanyas or renunciation.  It implies a complete destruction of passions in one’s mind.

Routine actions

Duties (ritualistic actions like washing mouth, taking bath, eating meals, daily worship, study, recitation of mantras etc.) that are to be done daily at appropriate times are the daily routine actions (Nityakarma).  This performance of routine actions is, like the fragrance within sandalwood, intrinsically virtuous and cannot be avoided.

Incidental actions

Some ritualistic actions are required to be done only on certain occasions though they are part of the routine duties as per Swadharma.  In this class fall the rituals required to be done at the time of an eclipse (like taking bath, charity, recitation of mantras etc.) and for welcoming rituals a guest.  These are called incidental (Naimittic) actions because they are to be performed only when the occasion arises.


Because these routine and incidental actions must be done anyway some people think there is nothing to be gained by doing them and are useless.  But that is not correct because they remove the blemishes from one’s mind, raise one’s worth and lead one to a good state in the after-world.  But however good the fruits of routine and incidental actions may be, one should abandon them totally.  This is called abandonment..

Trick of abandonment

When one adopts renunciation, one need not bother about actions done with desire (because there are no actions).

Prohibited actions are not done because they are prohibited and the routine and incidental actions are automatically nullified when their fruits are abandoned.  By this trick, those who abandon the fruits of the routine and incidental actions and renounce the desire-based actions acquire the knowledge of the Self, which comes when the account of all the actions (karmas) is nullified.

But those who do not adopt this trick and try instead to practice abandonment by guesswork, do not at all achieve it and get into more complications.

Proper righteous actions should not be abandoned, while improper or prohibited actions should be abandoned and not coveted.  If one misses the trick of abandonment then that abandonment becomes a burden.  But a truly detached person does not even think about the prohibited actions.

On the other hand, people who are not able to free themselves of the desire of fruits of their actions charge that all actions are binding.  Persons having desire for fruits and incapable of abandoning them blame the actions themselves and choose to abandon them.  Some others think that only rituals like yajna etc.  purify the mind and should be performed ardently to purify it quickly.  Unfortunately, many people turn to ritualistic actions because they think actions are arduous.  Thus, there are different opinions about what abandonment is.

Having explained what Sanyas and abandonment are, Shri Krishna goes to explain the real nature of abandonment and to remove any disparity in thinking regarding it.


There are three types of abandonment the essence of which has already been explained.  Shri Krishna avers that what he is going to tell is the truth since He is all-knowing.

In order to make a steady progress towards liberation, one should not abandon the essential actions like yajna, charity and tapas until one is certain about attaining Self-realisation.  One should actually perform them with more attention.  When actions (rituals) are performed with faith and according to the prescribed rules, the Raja and Tama attributes are destroyed completely and the importance of the purity of the Sattva attribute is brought out.  Such actions remove the internal impurities in a person and liberate a seeker from the binding.

Performing more rituals is helpful for achieving the state of non-action.  There is a trick in doing actions by which the binding actions nullify themselves and lead to liberation.  The trick is to perform the actions (like yajnas etc.) properly but without carrying the ego about being the doer, giving up the desire for fruits and also giving up I-am-the-body consciousness.  He who does actions adopting this trick encounters the Self.

Tamasic abandonment

Abandoning all actions, thinking that they bind, is a Tamasic abandonment.  Because of this confusion, the Tamasic person does not understand the trick explained above.  Therefore he abandons the duties themselves that have come to his lot by his Swadharma.

Rajas abandonment

A Rajas person knows fully what his entitlements and duties are but avoids them because of lethargy.  He does not like to toil and make efforts.  Even if he undertakes an action, he abandons it in the middle as soon as it becomes laborious.  He thinks that it is by great fortune that he has gained the human body and he does not wish to subject it to the pains of hard work.  Instead, he wants to let it enjoy the luxuries now rather than enjoy them in the future.  Abandoning actions because they are laborious is called Rajas abandonment. Though this is also an abandonment, it does not give the fruits of one because he forgoes actions due to of his attachment to the body.  Such abandonment of actions out of ignorance does not lead to liberation therefore the Rajas abandonment should not at all be considered as an abandonment.

Sattvic abandonment

A person who practices Sattvic abandonment performs systematically and with love, whichever prescribed actions that have come to his lot.  He does them without the attitude of being the doer and without the desire of their fruits, the attitude and desire that make actions binding and come in the way of liberation.  Abandoning them leads to liberation, therefore this abandonment is known as Sattvic abandonment.  Abandoning the fruits of actions destroy the Raja and Tama attributes, after which the pure Sattvic attribute causes the light of Self-realisation to shine and removes the illusion about the reality of the world.

A person of Sattvic attributes has the attitude of a Sthitapradnya (See Ch 2).  He does not harbour thoughts like a particular duty being auspicious or inauspicious and does carry feelings of happiness or otherwise about  it.  The feelings of duality that “This is the duty” and “I am the doer of that duty”, which separate the duty and the doer do not enter his mind and the abandonment becomes of Sattvic type. Actions then get completely abandoned with such abandonment.  If they are abandoned in any other manner then they bind you more.


Those who are apathetic to their duties once they are born on this earth are not better than rustic simpletons.  It is foolish to try to abandon actions as long as Self-realisation is not achieved and I-am-the-body feeling persists.  Certain natural actions such as those associated with the body cannot be abandoned e.g. even if a person is asleep or sits doing nothing, his breathing action continues automatically.  But when the actions are done without the desire of the fruits thereof and the fruits are offered to God then by His benevolence one attains Self-realisation and that destroys all actions as well as the ignorance.  Abandoning actions in this manner is the real abandonment.  It turns the actions into non-actions.

Unfavourable, favourable and mixed actions

Rebirth is the consequence of only the fruits of actions.  Therefore, there is no rebirth if the fruits are abandoned after doing the actions.  All life, including deities, humans and immovable life (trees etc.) occurring in this world are the result of fruits of actions.
The fruits of actions are of three types, namely unfavourable, favourable and mixed.

Nullifying the fruits of actions

Individuals who get entrapped in the desire of the fruits of actions must enjoy or suffer them. It may appear that some individuals are fortunate or blessed to have advanced materially through their actions.  But after death they have to undergo the enjoyment or suffering for those actions.

When a grain from an ear of corn falls on ground it sprouts and gives rise to another ear of corn.  The grain from that ear again falls on ground and again sprouts to give another ear and this cycle goes on.  Similarly, new fruits of actions are created while undergoing effects of the fruits of earlier actions.  The burden of the fruits increases in the order of the goal and the means and those who do not give up the desire of the fruits of actions get entangled in the material world.  On the other hand, the effects of the fruits cease in the case of those who nullify actions even while doing them by giving up the desire of the fruits thereof.

When Self-realisation is achieved by means of pure moral behaviour and by Guru’s benevolence, the attitude of duality ends.  The three types of fruits of actions that are responsible for the creation of illusion of this universe being real, vanish.   In this state, when the material knowledge vanishes (and the seeker attains unity with the Brahman), the deeds are not different from the doer.  The fruits and their enjoyer both dissolve.  Those who have been successful in adopting knowledge-based renunciation (sanyas) of actions are liberated from the troubles of birth and death arising from the fruits of actions.  Therefore in the case of a renunciate (Sanyasi) the talk of actions is not at all applicable.

[NOTE: In summary, the type of actions decide what the next birth should be, whether as a god in heaven, or a human being or a creature of lower species or in plant kingdom, as mentioned earlier. Doing actions but abandoning the fruits thereof is abandonment, while abandoning of ritualistic actions is Sanyas.  Not all actions can be abandoned in either case e.g. actions related to the sustenance of the body.   Actions done without the desire for fruits thereof turn actions into non-actions and do not make them binding to the birth-death cycle.  A Sanyasi may perform actions but those are done without desire and are effectively non-actions.  Thus, the desire behind the actions is what decides whether an action is an action or non-action].


There are five basic causes for actions by an individual as described in Sankhya philosophy.  The five causes together give a shape to the actions.  The very same five causes are also the purpose of the actions.

Soul is not connected to any action by an individual.  It neither does actions nor assist in leading the action to completion.  Actually they occur without his knowledge.  Thus the Soul itself is detached and does not constitute a cause or an incidental motive for any action, whether good or evil.

First cause

Body is the first cause (of actions) and is the base cause.  It is called base cause because the enjoyer along with the (sense) objects to be enjoyed is based inside it.  There is no other place for an individual to experience the pleasures and sorrows created due to the I-am-the–body ego by using the ten organs.  The question as to which actions are binding or liberating is resolved here.

[NOTE: Re the last statement: Whether an action is binding or not depends upon whether it is done with detachment towards the fruits thereof or not.  Detachment is an attitude of mind and mind is part of the body being its eleventh organ.  Hence whether an action is binding or not is decided in the body].

Second cause

Second cause of actions is the doer.  This doer is the projection of the Consciousness.  It resides in the body under the illusion “I am the body”, forgetting its own real nature of the Self.  Under the influence of this illusion this consciousness is known as an individual.  The individual is pledged to live with the body in every way and claims that all actions done by the body are actually done by him.  Therefore that individual is called the doer.

Third cause

The power of the intellect to understand is manifested differently through different sense organs i.e. eyes, ears etc.  This is called manifold distinct functions (Prithagvidha Karan).  It is the third cause of actions.

Fourth cause

The vital air (prana) has ceaseless power of action.  It manifests itself differently in different places.  When it appears through the tongue, it is known as speech, when expressed through hands it is called give-and-take transaction, when manifested through feet it is called walking and when it goes through urine and faeces it is called cleansing.  It is called vital air (Pranavayu) when it gives rise to the Aum sound while moving from navel to the heart.  The same vital air when it moves around in the upper parts is called Udana, when it comes out through the lower end it is called Apana and when it occupies the whole body it is called Vyana.  When it supplies the alimentary juices to all corners of the body and fills in all the joints then it is called Samana.  Actions like yawning, sneezing, burping etc.  are the manifestations of the minor aspects of the vital energy namely Naga, Kurma, Krikal etc.  Thus, the power of action of the vital air, which has different names according to its behaviour in different places, is the fourth cause of action.

Fifth cause

The intellect is uniquely the best inner element in an individual.  It excels by support from the organs.  The functioning of different organs is supported by the group of the presiding deities.  The presiding deities like Sun etc. give strength to respective organs like eyes etc.  This group of presiding deities is the fifth cause of actions.

[NOTE: Bhagvadgita (Shloka 14) uses the term Daivam  which is interpreted by Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj as referring to deities presiding and controlling the various organs.  Others e.g. Saint Mukteshwar and Dr S Radhakrishnan interpret it as (unforeseen) providence.  In both interpretations a supernatural hand is indicated but in the latter case it is implied that there is always an element of providence and luck in all actions.  Some actions are inspired by the past karmas and by the will of God.  This is in conformity with the principle of desireless actions in which one is entitled only to do actions but not to its fruits as mentioned in Chap. 2].

Thus, these are the root causes of all actions and lead to countless actions.  There are five purposes (Hetu) due to which this happens as explained below.


Mind generates the intent to act and once that intent is born it finds its expression through speech.  Speech makes the path of action clear and the doer begins the task of doing the action.  These actions of mind, speech and body become the purpose of mind, speech and body because they (mind, speech and body) are involved in the actions by them.

Actions are born when body, speech and mind join the five causes (body etc.).

Thus, the actions that take place due to the five causes have also five purposes and the soul is also involved in them due to its being in contact.  The soul makes the actions discernible without himself becoming an action and without being the doer.  The Soul is only a witness to everything.

But when the intellect of an individual is limited by I-am-the-body illusion he is in dark about the Self and considers the body itself as the Soul, God and Brahman.  He has never heard that he himself is the Soul and is beyond actions, being only a witness to them.  He has come to the conclusion that the body is the doer but for him body and soul are not different.  Such a person who ignores Shastras or Guru can only be called a fool.  He has effectively imprisoned himself within the body with the strong walls of actions and has to account for them for millions of aeons.


A person who is not attached to his actions is a liberated person.  Not only that he himself  is liberated but even thinking of such a person can liberate others.   Therefore, one should think of saints and sing and hear their praise in order to achieve Self-realisation.  Characteristics that would help recognise such a person are discussed below.
Sees Brahman in everything

By close association with one’s Guru and by his grace a seeker realises  “I am that” (i.e. the Soul) and attains Self-realisation.  The feeling of  “I” and “mine” disappears from his mind.  Whatever visible object he sees merges together with himself into the Self.  The knower and the knowable are now united within him and having lost the I-am-the-body feeling he lives only in the state of the Self.

Does actions but is not the doer

He continues doing actions as long as he has his body but without the ego of being the doer because nature, having created the body, gets the actions performed by that body.  The five causes (body etc.) make him do the actions naturally without any involvement of the Soul.  The karmas of the earlier births induce him to do these actions.  Though the rest of the world considers him as the doer, he himself is not aware of it.

He himself is action, doer and cause

His intellect is not affected by the thoughts of sin and merit.  He himself has become the triad namely, action, doer and the cause and therefore he does not get bound by the actions done by the triad.  But in persons with the I-am-the-body ignorance the same triad is responsible for improper type of knowledge and hence binding to the birth-death cycle.


Knowledge, knower and the knowable

There is another triad namely, knowledge, knower and the knowable that is the root of the universe.  The inclination to act comes from it.  These three are explained in the following.


Knowledge is what an individual gets by experiencing pleasure and pain.  This knowledge vanishes while in deep sleep.  (This knowledge is material knowledge and not the Knowledge of the Self. See below).


The individual is the knower who experiences the knowledge.  This knowledge, gained by the individual through sense organs, is born of ignorance of the Self.  It distributes itself in three parts as soon as it is created.  It keeps the knowable in its front and knower at its back and connecting them creates interaction between the two.  This knowledge, the reach of which is limited only up to the boundary of the knowable and which gives different names to different things is only ordinary knowledge.


Sound, touch, form, smell and taste are the five ways through which knowable becomes known.  Just as the same mango is known by taste, colour, smell and touch, similarly even though the knowable is one it is known through five organs.  Therefore knowledge is of five types.  The place where knowledge obtained through organs ends is the knowable or the sense object. This knowable becomes the cause of three types of actions (unfavourable, favourable and mixed).

The knowable, classified as of five types depending on the five senses viz.  sound, touch, form, smell and taste, may be either liked or disliked by the knower.  When the knower knows even a little about a knowable object he tends to either accept it or reject it and act accordingly.  Therefore, all actions originate from knowledge, knowable and knower.

The doer

The knower, by using his organs for doing actions, develops the ego of being the doer.

The doer uses the four internal organs viz.  intellect, mind, awareness (Chitta) and ego and the five external sense organs skin, ears, eyes, tongue and nose to decide on the actions as follows.

He uses his inner organs to decide whether a particular action would give pleasure or pain.  (Thus he becomes the knower).  If he thinks that the action is going to give him pleasure then he makes the five sense organs (eyes, ears, skin etc) and five organs of action (hands, feet etc.) work until he gets the outcome.  On the other hand if he thinks that the action would result in pain or unhappiness then he inspires the ten organs to abandon it.  When the knower thus engages the organs to accept or abandon the action he is called the doer and becomes responsible for the actins.

The organs are the means of action because the doer engages them to do actions.  That which encompasses the acts done using these means is what is meant by action.  Such are the characteristics of action, doer and the means of action.  Here, the knower, knowledge and knowable are the provokers of actions while the doer, the means and the deed are the aggregation of actions.  The triad of the doer, means and the act of doing are the lifeline of action.  Therefore, wherever there is an ego of  “I am the doer of this deed" the Soul keeps away from such actions, which makes the Soul different from actions.


The three attributes (Sattva, Raja and Tama) cause each of the entities: knowledge, action and the doer to become of three kinds.  Of these, the Sattva attribute alone is capable of leading to liberation. The other two attributes, namely Raja and Tama, lead to binding to the birth and death cycles.

The features of Sattva attribute are clearly explained in the Sankhya doctrine.  This doctrine is an ocean of thoughts, leads to Self-realisation and is the best among the knowledge-giving doctrines.  By its light one can distinguish between Prakriti and Purusha (Nature and the Supreme Self) who are enmeshed together like the day and the night.  This doctrine gauges the immeasurable ignorance by means of twenty-four principles (cf. Ch 13) and leads one to the experience of the bliss of the Supreme Principle.  The features of the three attributes described by the Sankhya doctrine are as follows.

These three attributes have turned all things in the world into three types by their power and consequently everything from Brahmadeo to a tiny insect has been transformed to the three types of attributes.  Shri Krishna now goes to tell about the principle by which this entire universe has come into the clutches of these three attributes.  But just as eyesight has to be clear first to see anything clearly, the knowledge has to be pure in order to understand the real nature of things.  Shri Krishna tells about Sattvic knowledge first because the pure Knowledge is connected to the Sattva attribute.

Three Types Of Knowledge

Sattvic knowledge

Sattvic knowledge is that into which, once obtained,  the knowable merges together with the knower and  no difference is perceptible any more between the three viz. the knower, the knowledge and the knowable.

One sees no difference between different entities, not even between Lord Shiva and a blade of grass and tends to ignore worldly matters.  The knower sees knowable as knowledge (which is also himself).  This Sattvic knowledge is the temple of liberation.

Rajas knowledge

The knowledge that considers things as different from each other and distinguishes them as big and small is the Rajas knowledge. Rajas knowledge fosters duality due to which one sees diversity and differences among creatures.  Thus, it distances an individual from the non-duality.  The knower is tricked into supposing that this world is real and he is different from the soul.  Thus, it screens him from Self-realisation and individual sees the play of the three states of wakefulness, dream and sleep.

Tamas knowledge

Tamas knowledge does not fit in the framework of the Shastras (scriptural rules).  Shastras consider this knowledge as despicable and not belonging to Vedic culture.  Such knowledge does not follow any rules in corporal relations, nor does it find any object objectionable.
A person with this type of knowledge rushes to enjoy whatever sense pleasures he comes across.  Without bothering about what should be eaten or avoided, what is proper or improper, he thinks that only what he likes is sacred.  He thinks that women are for sexual enjoyment only and is eager to keep relation with them.  He keeps friendship only with those whose contact is profitable to his selfish motives and not with his kin.

A person with Tamas knowledge thinks that the whole world is meant for his benefit, something that should be enjoyed; and that all actions are for filling the belly.  He is ignorant about what actions are proper and what should be avoided.  His intellect does not go beyond the thinking that body is the soul and God is nothing better than a stone idol.  He thinks that after death the soul is destroyed along with actions and no one is left to experience the fruits of action.  He says, “If God watches a person’s actions and makes him experience the fruits thereof then why not sell away the idol of God and spend the money.  If the village (local) deities control people in the village then why do the hills from where stones were used to make the idols keep quiet about it?“ He thinks that the concept of sin and merit is false and one should enjoy the sense pleasures avidly.  He is certain that what is visible and what pleases the sense organs is the only reality.

The Tamas knowledge is meaningless and useless.  It is called knowledge in the same way as an undrinkable liquid is called a drink.  Actually, instead of knowledge it should be considered as Tama attribute itself.

Three Types Of Actions

The doer does actions based knowledge, which is of three kinds, and accordingly the same action becomes of three kinds.

Sattvic actions

The action that comes to one’s lot according to his entitlement is the proper routine action.  When regularly performed it gives decorum to the entitlement itself.  When perchance, incidental action also is done with the routine action, the two together make a benign combination.  But whatever actions one does, they should be performed with complete dedication of one’s mind and heart, making an offering of it to God without desire for fruits thereof and with the attitude of equability towards success or failure of the action.  Actions done in this skilful way may be called Sattvic actions.

Rajas actions

A Rajas doer prefers actions of pleasure and lust for which he goes to any extent.  But when it comes to the essential routine and incidental actions he is not prepared even to get up from his seat to do them.  He is disrespectful to his parents but like a fool shows respect to everybody else.

Such a Rajas doer does not spare any amount of labour in order to gain the fruits of his efforts.  Towards this end he does many actions systematically as prescribed but because of his ego he publicises his actions to the world distributing gifts to establish that he is religious.  A Rajas doer likes to labour but with the attraction of the pleasures in heaven.  The action, which is thus laborious and done with desire of fruits, is Rajas action.

Tamas action

Tamas actions are prohibited actions worth only of slander.  Such actions done by toiling the valuable body and spending wealth are a waste because they do not yield any good fruits but only destroy the happiness of the world.  A Tamas action not only destroys everything belonging to the doer and injures him as well as others.

While doing an action, a Tamas doer, due to indiscretion and ego, sets upon the work without bothering about his own capability, propriety of the occasion, whether he will gain anything by it, or the propriety of the means and the action itself.

This is how action has become of three types due to the differences in the three attributes.

Three Types Of Doers

The doer also becomes of three types due to the three types of actions.

Sattvic doer

A Sattvic doer performs his routine and incidental acts willingly.  His actions are themselves fruits hence they never go waste.  He does his actions with sincerity but never keeps ego of being the doer.  His acts are worthy of offering to God and for this he selects proper time and place and chooses his acts as per the Shastras.  Throughout his life he takes care to develop excellent courage in order to be able to control his organs.  He follows proper rules and uses his organs for the actions without bothering about the fruits thereof.  He does not feel sorry if his actions remain incomplete nor feel victorious if he has finished his duty successfully.  He performs his duties only for his love for Self-realisation without bothering about physical happiness.  He does them with single mindedness without bothering about sleep, hunger or any bodily pleasures or even his life.  He in whom such qualities are found should really be called a Sattvic doer.

Rajas doer

A Rajas doer is full of worldly desires and failings.  He goes for acts that can be done easily and he will try to get maximum benefits from them even at the cost of his life.  He is after amassing wealth and is ready to swallow other people’s property while guarding his own.  He works for his own gains without bothering about the welfare of others and uses all his faculties to give trouble to them He does not mind doing any kind of work even if he is incompetent to do it.  He has no sense of sanctity about anything in this world.  If he is successful then he mocks at the world in the surge of happiness and if he is unsuccessful then he denounces it, stricken with grief.  Such a person is a Rajas doer.

Tamas doer

A Tamas doer is like a repository of evil deeds.  He is inclined to do evil deeds that can destroy others and while doing them he is not aware of what he is doing.  This Tamas doer surpasses a madman; there is no relation between his acts and his intentions.  His behaviour is unrestrained and being controlled by nature he does not know what is proper or improper.  He swells by the satisfaction of his own evil acts and under the influence of pride he does not bow even before God.
He lives by enjoying the pleasures of the organs.  He is always deceitful about enjoying the sense pleasures.  His behaviour is stealthy and his looks shifty.  In other words, his whole body is made up of falsehoods and his life is like a gambler’s den and should be considered as the home of a selfish robber.  Nobody should get involved with him because by his involvement the good deeds of others turn into bad deeds.  He gets enraged when he sees good deeds of others.  He considers good qualities of others as bad qualities and he turns nectar into poison.  When it is time to do beneficial deeds he feels lethargic and contrarily when evil deeds are to be done he controls his lethargy.  He burns with jealousy when he sees the advancement of others and remains jealous throughout his life.  Such a person, who is definitely a pile of sin, may be considered as a Tamas doer.


The intellect, which is the mirror through which an individual sees himself, also becomes of three types (due to the three attributes) when shadowed by delusion and doubt.  Fortitude is also similarly divided.  Shri Krishna now goes to explain about the three divisions of intellect first.

He begins by first explaining about the three types of behaviours namely, superior, medium and inferior that lead a creature to be reborn in this world.  These three types of behaviour are respectively,

(i) Doing prescribed acts - superior,

(ii) Doing fruit motivated acts  - medium, and

(iii) Doing forbidden acts - inferior.

These three ways lead a creature into this fearsome world.  Superior way is doing the prescribed routine acts according to one’s entitlement.  It should be practised with the aim of attaining Self-realisation.  This practice frees one from the fear of this world and facilitates liberation.  It should be the basis of renunciation of the routine actions.

Sattvic intellect

Sattvic intellect is that which has the inclination towards doing the prescribed routine deeds.  It knows which deeds are proper and which are not proper.  It does not turn towards fruit-motivated deeds that cause fear of the world.  It is also afraid of forbidden deeds because they entangle one in the birth-death cycles and keeps away from it.

Rajas intellect

Rajas intellect does not understand which a good deed conforming to the code of Dharma is and which is not, missing the latter only by good luck.  It considers both good and evil kind of deeds as alike.

Tamas intellect

Tamas intellect considers all religious deeds as sinful, good qualities as bad, real things as false and interprets the meaning of the Shastras and Vedas in a perverse manner.  It is improper in the context of any religious deeds.


Now, when the intellect decides to perform a deed, fortitude supports it. Fortitude is also of three types.

Sattvic fortitude

When the Sattvic fortitude is created, the activities of the mind, the life-force and the organs come to a stop, the association of the ten organs with the sense-objects breaks.  They turn inwards towards the mind instead of towards sense objects.  The life force, the upper and the lower pathways of which are now blocked, brings together its nine aspects and goes to the Sushumna Nadi.  Mind is freed of will and doubt and the intellect rests quietly in its rear.  Thus, when one meditates, the fortitude that has stopped the activities of mind, life-force and the organs keeps them so during meditation.  And when the Supreme Soul is realised, they no longer disturb the seeker.

Rajas fortitude

An individual who gets engrossed in gaining happiness on this earth and in heaven by means of righteous ways of living, earning and family life, attains his ambitions on the strength of the Rajas fortitude. Rajas fortitude is the fortitude with which he puts in efforts making certain that they would give four times as many gains.

Tamas fortitude

This fortitude is made up of all mean qualities.  It shelters lethargy and sleep.  A person with Tamas fortitude loves his body and wealth therefore he always has fear in his mind.  He befriends everything and everybody and hence he always has grief in his heart for one reason or other.  Perpetual dissatisfaction put him constantly in the grips of sorrow.  And he always harbours arrogance because attraction for youth, wealth and lust grow within him.  The fortitude that has clutched these five failings of lethargy, sleep, fear, grief and arrogance should be considered as Tamas fortitude.

Fortitude necessary for completion of tasks

Intellect decides about the three kinds of actions. Fortitude takes the actions to completion.  For example, after sunrise one may see the path clearly but  an individual has to walk on the path with his own feet and for that walking also fortitude, i.e. the determination of mind is necessary.  The fruit of this action is called happiness.  Because actions are of three types,  happiness -  their fruit, is also of three types.  Shri Krishna now explains how this happiness in the form of fruit becomes of three types due to the three attributes.


An individual feels a little happiness when he starts experiencing the self.  This happiness grows by proper practice until he realises the self and he no longer feels sorrow for being in a body.  That happiness is the bliss of the Self.  That bliss of the Self also has become of three types because of the three attributes.

Sattvic bliss

In order to achieve the bliss of the Self one has to first suffer the pains of observing self-restraints, rules etc. in the beginning itself (Yama-Niyama – see Notes in Ch 13 under the Paragraph :Ignorance about the Field).  The strong detachment that then develops, removes all the likes and dislikes and subsequently also removes any liking for worldly affairs and for acts which can merely lead to heaven.  Practice of strict discretion and observing of strict austerities strengthens the intellect.  Through the practice of  Yoga the vital airs Prana and Apana are routed through the Sushumna Nadi.  In this process the organs suffer and it is very difficult to ignore the sense objects but these pains are to be faced with courage and detachment.  By suffering the pains in the beginning itself one achieves the highest kind of bliss.  After the detachment gets matured by the knowledge of the Self, all sorrows originating in ignorance, including the detachment vanish.  Intellect becomes one with the Soul and non-duality is automatically experienced.  This is the Sattvic bliss, which is rooted in detachment and ends in the peace of the Self-realisation.

[NOTE: This implies that Yoga path is necessary for  experiencing the Sattvic bliss. But elsewhere it has also been said that the path of devotion also leads to Sattvic bliss].

Rajas happiness

Rajas happiness comes through sense-pleasures.  Such happiness does not last, it destroys life and does not add to merit.  Towards the end, all sense pleasures enjoyed earlier look like a dream and what remains is only sorrow.  Thus, Rajas happiness is calamitous in this life and detrimental for the after-life.  Thus Rajas happiness is worldly happiness that is sweet in the beginning but is ultimately harmful leading to a bitter end and should therefore be avoided.

Tamas happiness

The pleasure obtained from drinking the undrinkable, eating the uneatable, or in the company of a woman of loose morals or by ruining others, snatching other people’s wealth or by listening to one’s praise by others or the pleasure that proliferates by lethargy and sleep may be considered as Tamas happiness.  Persons engaged in Tamas happiness cannot progress because of the delusion that these are the only right kind of pleasures.

Thus, Shri Krishna clarified about how the three attributes divide the actions and the resulting happiness into three types.

No escape from attributes

The three attributes are woven in the triad of the doer, the deed and the fruit thereof.  This is  the triad that makes this world, therefore there is no living or nonliving object on this earth or in heaven that is not affected by these attributes.  Even the unique God has been turned into three (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) by these three attributes.  It is because of them that the three worlds (heaven, earth and nether) were created and the four castes and their duties have been constituted differently.


The four castes

The caste system divides people into four types viz.  Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.  Of these the Brahmins are the most superior.  The next two, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas are of the same level as the Brahmins because they are entitled to perform Vedic rites.  The Shudras do not have the right to the Vedas, hence they depend on the first three castes for sustenance and come in contact with them.  Because of this contact with the twice-born (i.e. the first three castes), Shrutis have included Shudras also in the caste system.

[NOTE: Members of the upper three castes have to undergo mounjibandhan or thread ceremony in their boyhood before the age of seven, after which they are formally entitled to study Vedas and perform Vedic rites.  This is considered as being reborn as a person of that caste.  Thus he is once born (without caste) as a person in the world and second time he is born in the caste.  Note that whatever system of caste-based duties might have been prevalent in the recent and remote past, it is no longer quite valid in today’s world.  Today, Vedas are available to anyone who can buy them from a bookstore an in various languages.  They are available freely even on the Internet].
Shri Krishna now tells about the duties of the four castes.  These duties have attributes and are therefore also of three types.  By virtue of the duties performed as per the entitlement for one’s caste, a person can escape from the clutches of the birth and death cycle and attain God.  These duties are assigned to the four castes according to the three attributes of nature.

Attributes and castes

The mankind, which is basically one, has been divided into four types by the three attributes.  In this framework,

The duties for each caste are therefore separate according to this qualification by the attributes.  These have been explained in the Shastras.

The nine qualities of a Brahmin

Nine qualities qualify a Brahmin and his actions Viz.  Shama, Tapas, Shouchya, Kshamaa, Aarjava, Jnana, Vijnan  (Wisdom) and Astikya.  These are explained below.


Intellect becomes serene and stable when it controls the mind in order to restrain the bodily tendencies and desires.  It then meets the Self.  This serene, stable state of the intellect is called Shama which is the first quality.  (By association, Shama is also used to mean control of the mind).  Actions fit for a Brahmin are rooted in such serene intellect.


The second quality Dama is the restraining of the external organs from unrighteousness.  It helps Shama the first quality.


Ever thinking about God is called Tapas or austerity and is the third quality of the action of a Brahmin.


Tapas requires both the internal purity of the mind with pure feelings and the external purity of the body with good deeds.  This purity, called Shouchya, is the fourth quality of this type of action.


Kshamaa or forbearance is the fifth quality. It enables one, as  the earth does, to tolerate all pains.


To behave in a straightforward manner, even with an individual who is against you, is the sixth quality called Aarjava or uprightness.


Understanding that behaving as prescribed in the scriptures leads to God-realisation is jnana or Knowledge and is the seventh quality of action.


Steadfast unification of the intellect with the Supreme person by means of the power of knowledge of the Shastras or by meditation after the mind is purified, is called Vidnyan (Vijnan) or Wisdom and is the eighth quality.


Astikya means accepting that what is prescribed by the Shastras is the same as belief in God.  It is the ninth quality of action.  Action, which has this quality, is the true action.

Action in which these nine qualities i.e. serenity etc., are present is the natural duty of a Brahmin.  This string of nine jewels of the nine qualities is an ornament of a Brahmin who is never without it.

Seven qualities of a Kshatriya

Actions of a Kshatriya are guided by seven qualities viz.  Bravery (Shourya), Martial lustre (Teja), Courage (Dhriti), Alertness (Dakshatva), Extreme fighting spirit (Apalayana), Generosity (Datritva) and Awareness of being a Divine element (Ishwarbhava).


The inborn bravery displayed by a Kshatriya without external support is his first and best of the qualities.

Martial lustre

Martial lustre is the second notable quality exhibited by a Kshatriya.  By this quality he astonishes the world by his strength and does not get disturbed under any circumstances.


Courage or fortitude is his third quality by means of which his mind and intellect do not experience fear even under worst circumstances


By this quality a Kshatriya overcomes the emotional effects (joy, sorrow, fear etc.) resulting from many calamities and with alert intellect survives them and finally wins.  This is the fourth quality of a Kshatriya.

Extreme fighting spirit

Extreme fighting spirit is his fifth quality.  He faces the enemy and avoids retreat from him.  This fifth quality is superior among all the qualities.


Generosity is the sixth quality of a Kshatriya by which he gives limitlessly in charity to fulfil people’s wishes and needs.

Awareness of being Divine element

A king must be a Kshatriya if he has to rule and protect his subjects.  He must carry the awareness that he harbours a Divine element (Ishwarbhava) in him and with this awareness he must do his Godly duty of protecting and fostering his subjects with love and to receive their services in return.  His power lies in this sense of being God’s representative, which should be reflected in the behaviour of a Kshatriya.  This is the seventh quality that is the best among the qualities.

A Kshatriya is adorned by these seven qualities.  The action that becomes sacrosanct by these seven qualities is the natural action of a Kshatriya.

Duties of a Vaishya

Actions natural and proper for a Vaishya are to make a lot of profit from farm, seeds and ploughs, in short, to live by farming, maintaining cattle or buying goods cheaply and selling them at profit.

Duty of a Shudra

The three castes Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya are termed as dwija or twice born.  To serve them is the only true prescribed duty of a Shudra.  There is no other duty for shudras than serving the twice born.

Fostering detachment

It is proper for a person to do whatever actions fall to his lot as per the rules of the four-caste system.  One should understand from the Shastras his duties and entitlement as per his caste and resolve firmly to do them naturally.

A person who does actions in this manner, but laying stress on doing them gladly with dedication of body and mind, without lethargy and without desire for fruits of the actions, does them exactly as prescribed by the Shastras and becomes detached.  This detachment brings him to the border of liberation, because he does not allow himself to be tainted by avoiding the prescribed deeds or by doing the prohibited ones.  He is therefore not affected by the ills of the worldly affairs.  He considers actions with desire to be like shackles and does not bother about them.

And because he gives up the fruits of the other actions (i.e. the routine actions) and thus nullifies them, he reaches the boundary of liberation.  In this way he avoids the traps of sin and merit and stands at the gates of liberation in the form of detachment.


The most fortunate of the seekers obtain the Divine grace (prasad) of detachment, which is the endpoint of the labours of the path of action.  Attainment of detachment means that Self-realisation is not very far.  In that state of detachment the attention is concentrated on God and there is a complete aversion to the worldly pleasures.  By this total attention to Him the seeker achieves oneness with Him and becomes worthy of Self-realisation.

Highest service to God is performing prescribed actions

Shri Krishna (as Bhagwan) avers that performing prescribed actions is the highest kind of service to Him who is the Supreme Soul.  When the prescribed duties are performed it puts an obligation on God.  Therefore by doing them one doubtlessly attains God.  Doing anything other than this is merely dancing to the tune of the three attributes due to ego and ignorance.  Performance of a prescribed duty does not amount to action.  It amounts to obeying the commands of God from whom the five principles came into existence.


(NOTE: In present day conditions Swadharma should be interpreted as the rules of righteous conduct in one’s own social set-up.  These rules change with time due to several factors e.g. need to co-exist with other societies, changes in the social set-up due to interaction with other societies, changes in the means and mode of living with technological progress, environmental changes etc.).

Swadharma may be difficult to observe but that is what everyone should observe by doing only what is prescribed for him, keeping in mind the fruits one would gain from it.  It will liberate him from the worldly troubles.  To adopt other people’s behaviour because it appears good is perverted thinking.  (To give a simile, fish cannot live in ghee even though it has better qualities than water.  What is poison to others is like nectar to the organisms living in it).

As discussed earlier, actions cannot be avoided as long as Self-realisation is not attained.  Actions always appear to be difficult in the beginning therefore it is not correct to blame Swadharma for it.  One should remember that even actions that we like involve labours.  Not doing actions as prescribed by Swadharma only leads to accumulation of sins.  It is not only a waste of labour but waste of the time of one’s life as well.  On the other hand,  practice of one’s own natural Dharma is not different from worshipping God.  It destroys the Tama and Raja attributes from the mind and fills it with Sattva attribute.  Worldly matters no longer carry any interest due to detachment and ultimately it leads to liberation, the highest among the four obligations of man (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha).

Shri Krishna now tells about how the doer becomes a seeker once this state of detachment is mastered and what he gains by it.


A person who has developed such detachment is not interested in worldly matters.  He does not consider his sons, family and wealth as his even if they behave as per his wishes.  His intellect, which was so far influenced by sense pleasures, becomes introspective.  The seeker’s mind goes towards oneness with God and turns its interest towards the Soul.  Now, because the mind is controlled, his desire for the worldly and after-world subjects vanishes.  He realises that the world is an illusion and he attains true Knowledge (of the Self).  His past karmas get nullified by going through the process of enjoying or suffering for them and no new karma is created because the ego of being the doer of the actions has already vanished.  This state is called “Karma-samya-dasha” or the state of null karmas.  When this state of null karmas is attained he automatically meets his Guru and then his actions and his responsibility as doer stops.  The ignorance of the seeker then is destroyed by the blessings of the true Guru.

[NOTE:  This procedure applies only to followers of the path of action and not to other paths.  Jnana and yoga paths need a Guru pretty well in the beginning.  Bhakti path does not necessarily need a Guru because Bhakti or devotion is an internal state of mind.  But at some stage, as history shows, a devotee surrenders to another more spiritually advanced saint].

State of actionlessness

Once ignorance is destroyed then there are no more actions nor the doer nor the act of doing and therefore no karma also.  It is the ignorance that is the root cause of all actions and when that vanishes the seeker realises that the knowable that he was endeavouring to know until then is he himself.  When ignorance goes, it also takes with it the worldly knowledge and what remains is the actionless consciousness.  Therefore that state of pure knowledge is called non-doing (or actionlessness).  The state of complete actionlessness is a Siddhi that is the most superior among the Siddhis.  There is nothing more to be gained beyond the state of actionlessness attained by the blessings of a true Guru.

But not everybody can reach that state.  What a person, who has not yet been able to reach the state of Self-realisation should do is the following.

He should first prepare himself, (by attaining detachment through the practice of swadharma and offering the fruits of the actions to God, thus nullifying the past and present karmas) to become worthy of meeting his Guru.  When one achieves detachment and also meets the True Guru (sadguru), discrimination takes root in the mind.  Using that discrimination, the mind decides that Brahman alone is real and all the other worldly things are an illusion.  But the state of oneness with the all-pervading and the supreme Brahman where the path to liberation ends, is achieved only step by step in due time.  The essential steps a seeker takes are described below.

Purification and control of mind and body

The seeker develops discrimination by the path shown by the Guru.  This purifies his intellect.  He becomes equable towards happiness and sorrow and gets engrossed in contemplation of the Self.  He does not long any more to enjoy or suffer the fruits of the karmas of past lives.  He does not get entangled any more with the five pleasure subjects.  This purifies his organs and gives him courage to adopt the path of yoga.

Control of mind and body

Completely indifferent to personal likes and dislikes he lives alone in a cave or forested hills where there is no disturbance from people; the only company he has there being his own organs.  In silence, he makes all efforts to control the mind and the organs.  He is oblivious to the passage of time as he contemplates the mantra given by his Guru.  He eats just enough to sustain life, not caring for taste and in quantities that will not make him sleepy or lethargic.  He does not lie on ground except when he prostrates before the deity for worship.  He moves his limbs only for getting food for the survival of the body.  In this way he keeps his mind and organs under control by not permitting his tendencies to reach even the threshold of  mind.


Now that the body, speech, mind and external organs are conquered he masters meditation.  With the power of the mantra given by his true Guru he maintains a steady interest in Self-realisation.  He meditates in such a way that the meditation and the subject on which he meditates become one with the meditator i.e. himself.  To achieve this the seeker resorts to the practice of yoga.

Practice of yoga

He first selects a proper location and a seat and by adopting prescribed postures (as described in Ch 6) and breath control, he practices yoga to awaken his Kundalini.  With continued practice the Kundalini power breaks through, travels through the Sushumna nadi along the centre of the spine through all chakras viz.  Muladhar, Swadhishtan, Manipur, Anahat, Vishuddha and Adnya, purifying and rejuvenating the body as it travels, and finally reaches the Brahmarandhra or Sahasrar (the thousand petal lotus at the crown of the head).  This is when he becomes one with the Brahman.  The nectar (amrit) from Sahasrar now flows down up to the Muladhar Chakra.

Then he makes an offering of his mind and the pranas to the consciousness active in the Adnya chakra (in between the eyebrows).  While this power of Kundalini is being maintained active he continues his practice of meditation in the background.

The detachment he has attained assists him to continue the practice of yoga (Rajayoga) uninterrupted without impediments.  He continues meditation practice until he attains the final unification with the Self and wins the liberation.  These continued efforts are like a battle against certain enemies that try to impede his progress.  The enemies he has to conquer are as follows:

First enemy- Body ego

This is the ego of I-am-the-body feeling, which does not leave a person from birth to death, and even after death.  This ego binds the individual to the body.  A seeker has to conquer this enemy for progress.

Second enemy- Strength

Strength is the second enemy.  Lure of sense-pleasures makes a person acquire more strength.  Strength is what puts the whole world in the throes of death.  However, the seeker can conquer this enemy by meditation.

Third enemy- arrogant pride

The third enemy is the arrogant pride.  This arrogant pride makes a person rejoice when he gets the things he likes but it also makes the seeker go astray from the good ways and take to non-righteous ways.  Anger, the biggest of the failings that even the greatest of the tapaswis (observers of tapas) dread, arises from it.

Fourth enemy-lust

And the next failing is lust which grows more demanding the more one satisfies it.  If lust is destroyed then anger also gets destroyed with it.

Fifth enemy- Parigraha

Parigraha or tendency to possess is the enemy that grows with possessions.  It introduces bad qualities in the seeker and makes him dependent on family attachment.  By means of activities like acquiring disciples, collecting books, building religious centres, exhibiting yogic prowess like Khechari Mudra etc, it has enticed even hermits into company of people.  Even if he leaves home and goes to the forest, Parigraha manifests itself in the form of creatures and articles from the forest and pursues him even if he moves around naked.  By destroying Parigraha the seeker enjoys the pleasure of having conquered the world.

Once these enemies are conquered, he gains the qualities like humility etc.  (mentioned in Ch 13).  He continues to follow the path of actions in the three states of wakefulness, dream and sleep.  The discrimination drives away the visible world and the state of union with Brahman welcomes him.  He gains Riddhi and Siddhi, the occult powers.  And as unity with Brahman approaches near he becomes full of bliss.  No duality that might have made him say that this is my friend and that is my enemy is left in him.  In fact, there is nothing left in the world which he can say belongs to him because he has become one with the Brahman.  Since he has embraced the entire universe there are no more narrow feelings like attachments.   He has reached now the stage of a Siddha.

His Rajayoga practice becomes automatically steady and he can now loosen the strong detachment for some time.  There is nothing left to be destroyed by meditation therefore he relaxes his strict controls that helped it.  As soon as it is apparent that Self-realisation would soon be experienced he does away with the means of spiritual practice.  When the detachment has reached perfection, Knowledge matured and the fruits of yoga practice seen in the form of peace pervading throughout his person, the seeker is then worthy of becoming the Brahman himself.

Worthiness for attaining Brahman

A river appears to be unsteady only where it enters the sea but the water that has become part of the sea remains calm.  The relation is similar between the Siddha who becomes Brahman and the Brahman itself.  By virtue of the pervading peace he soon becomes Brahman itself.  But if, instead of becoming Brahman the seeker experiences It then it is called worthiness to become Brahman.  That person who has reached the state of worthiness of becoming Brahman gains cheerfulness of mind.  The labours made for attaining Self-realisation are thus mitigated.  This is the state, which is gained by Self-realisation, which is well known by the term Atma-bodha-prashasti or serene cheerfulness.

Having developed equanimity, he does not grieve any loss nor does he desire anything in particular.  After he experiences Self-realisation he cannot see duality in anything wherever he may cast his glance.  Because of this, whatever improper knowledge is gained during the states of  wakefulness and dream dissolves in the basic ignorance of Maya.  When Self-realisation advances that ignorance progressively decreases and dissolves into Knowledge.

Now in the light of the merger of the seeker (knower) with Brahman, Shri Krishna elaborates on the topic of devotion to Him as the Brahman.  He says,


As the knowable becomes less and less and the knower merges with Me along with Knowledge, then all ignorance vanishes.  He gains the fourth kind of devotion to Me (i.e. that of a jnani) wherein he cannot see anything other than Me.  This devotion is called of the fourth type of devotion because as explained in Ch 7 there are three other categories of devotion (Ch.  7) like Arta (distressed), Jijnasu (curious), Artharthi (desirous of wealth) of lesser quality.

Actually, there is really nothing like devotion of the first type or of the fourth.  Devotion is the name given to My natural state, though ignorant people are misled into worshipping some other form, calling that worship as devotion.  But a devotee sees Me in the form he worships Me.  It is the same devotion, which manifests itself as deep desire in an Arta (distressed) devotee where the subject of the desire also is Me.  In Jijnasu (curious) devotee the same devotion becomes the desire for knowledge.  The same devotion becomes the desire for wealth that also becomes Me.  Thus in this devotion to Me, because of ignorance, the devotee considers Me, who is the seer, as an object to be seen.  Out of ignorance, he imagined a visible form for Me.  After the ignorance is removed I am again understood as the seer.

But it is different when I am seen through the path of Knowledge.  When I am thus seen, it is only I who gains Me and the seer also vanishes as a seer.  This fourth type of devotion to Me is beyond the commonly practiced paths.

You have already heard that the devotee who becomes one with Me with this knowledge based devotion, becomes nothing other than Me.  I have already sworn to you (in Ch 7) that a person of Knowledge is my soul.  This type of devotion is the best among all types of devotions.  Persons of knowledge call it “Swasanviti” (Knowledge); the Shaivaites call it Shakti.  We call it  “Extreme devotion”.  A Karmayogi attains it at the time of becoming one with Me.  Then he realises that it is I who has pervaded the whole universe.  In this condition, detachment with discrimination, binding with liberation and activism with renunciation totally disappear.

He remains aloof and attains unity with my pure and immaculate form, which is beyond the means and the goal, and enjoys the bliss of the Brahman.


One might ask how there can be enjoyment of the Self after oneness with It which is really Me.

A person knows Me only after he has attained unity with Me and therefore until then it cannot be said that I  am real for him and therefore that he is devoted to Me.  A Karmayogi becomes one with Me and enjoys My form even without doing actions.  Actions nullify when non-duality is achieved but devotion definitely continues.  That devotion cannot be expressed in words but is to be experienced.  When such a devotee calls Me or utters My name then I do respond to his call but it is as if it was I that made those utterances.  Speaking to Me is as good as speaking to himself, therefore under these conditions silence constitutes My best praise.  That silence is My praise.

Similarly, whenever he sees any object through his eyes or intellect the object disappears and what he sees instead is the form of the seer himself.  In that oneness he is not even conscious that he is the seer.  What happens due to the oneness with Me is that both the object and the seer vanish along with the action of seeing.  This state in which the object is seen as well as not seen is My real vision.  In this state he gains the sight that is beyond the visible object and the seer.
Because he has completely attained My form he becomes stable and quiet.  He had gone away from Me because of his I-am-the-body feeling and he has now returned to Me.  Therefore this going and coming is his pilgrimage to the non-duality that is Me.

No action done after becoming one with Me can be called an action.  Shedding of the I-am-the-doer ego that turns actions into non-actions is the sign of My worship and the action a superior worship.

In this way, whatever he speaks becomes My praise, whatever he sees becomes My vision and his walk becomes pilgrimage to non-duality that is Me.  Whatever he does becomes My worship.  Whatever he thinks becomes My Japa, and the state he is in becomes My samadhi.  He becomes one with Me through the yoga of devotion.

He is full of joy with the knowledge that the visible universe he sees in the states of wakefulness, dream and sleep is all Me who is the seer.  And that joy is not different from himself.

I am attributeless

He knows that I am the birthless, ageless, inexhaustible, indestructible, without past and limitless bliss.  He also knows that I am also immovable, not liable to fall down, infinite, incomparable, root of everything, formless as well as with form, bender of the ruling powers as well as the ruler, without beginning, indestructible, fearless, support of objects as well as the supported objects.  He also knows that I am the master of everything, and am ever, natural, unceasing everything, in everything and beyond all.  That which is most recent and also the oldest, with form of nil and complete, biggest and tiniest, is all Me.  That which is actionless, companionless and without sorrow is also Me.  All things are in Me and I am in all things.  Thus I am the Superior Person.  I am without words, without ears, form or lineage.  I am the uniform, independent and the ultimate Brahman.  Thus, by becoming one with Me he knows Me through his incomparable devotion and also realises that this knowledge is also Me.

He also realises that the power of knowledge that knows this non-duality is also Me.  When he knows that the one and the only Soul beyond the duality and non-duality is undoubtedly only Me and actually experiences it, then with the awareness of “I am he” having dissolved in the bliss of the Self he enters My form.  Therefore the reference to “he” becomes irrelevant and consequently reference to “I” also becomes baseless and he merges into My form.  Just as when one is subtracted from one, the remainder is zero, similarly when being and non-being are subtracted from each other what remains is Me.  In that state, it is meaningless to talk about the terms Brahman, Soul and God; and it is also meaningless to say that nothing exists.  Just as not speaking is as good as speaking a mouthful, realisation comes without the awareness of knowledge and ignorance.  In that state, realisation realises realisation, bliss enjoys bliss, happiness becomes happy, gain begets gain, brightness becomes bright and surprise dissolves in surprise; control of mind becomes silent, repose relaxes, and experience gets obsessed with experience.  In short, he gains the pure fruits of becoming Me through the practice of Karmayoga i.e. the yoga of action.   Karmayoga is the proper road that leads one to unity with Me.  I am not attainable by means of choosing a place, time or substance because I am naturally present in all, therefore no difficulties are faced in attaining Me.  I can be attained easily by following the Karmayoga.
The Guru-disciple system has been established for learning how to attain Me.  Though I am always available, just as wealth present in the earth requires efforts to extract it, I can be attained only by certain means.


Dnyaneshwar Maharaj now praises Gita as being superior to all Shastras.  According to him, the excellence of the Gita lies in the fact that liberation is achieved by all the means suggested in it whereas the methods told in other Shastras are not all proved ones.  Shastras are merely educative but not qualified to give knowledge of the Self.  They have in fact to look up to Gita for guidance.  In this last chapter Dnyaneshwar Maharaj gives a summary of the teachings of earlier chapters wherein various methods for Self-realisation were discussed in detail.  The principles presented in the middle chapters are not the main principles of Gita but have been presented to explain the main theme.


The main topic of this Gita is destroying ignorance; attaining liberation is its fruit, and these are to be achieved through Knowledge as the means.  This Knowledge has been discussed in detail in various ways in this book.

The advice of the Gita in the words of Shri Krishna to Arjuna is as follows:

“A Karmayogi, by becoming one with Me with such dedication, remains eternally so.  By worshipping Me with flowers of prescribed duties he receives My grace in the form of the faith in the knowledge of the Self.  Once that faith is achieved, then the devotion to Me grows and he becomes happy by becoming one with Me.  He observes Me, the Soul and the illuminator of the whole world, as pervading everything.  While he follows Me with intellect, words and body, and thus comes under My shelter, he may sometimes do improper deeds.  But just as the stream of dirty street water and the big river are same once they meet the Ganges, both good and evil become the same once My knowledge is attained.  The differences like good and evil appear only until one gets My all-pervading illumination.  Therefore, as soon as he meets Me his karmas are nullified and he becomes one with the Brahman.  He achieves My eternal position, which is not affected by location, time or nature.  All in all, one who has gained My pleasure does not need any other gains.  Therefore, surrender all actions in Me.

“Concentrate on discrimination without abandoning the routine duties.  That discrimination will enable you see My form that is without blemish and which is different from action.  You will observe that Maya, the root of all actions has gone far away from you.  You will also find that Maya, being a projection of the Soul, is not separate from it.  Once Maya is negated then total renunciation of all the actions (karmas) occurs effortlessly and once all karmas vanish what remains is only the Soul.  If you now dedicate your intellect to it then it (i.e. intellect) will remain singularly united in Me.  At that time, your mind will abandon all other issues and become devoted to Me.  Thus, by abandoning all subjects of contemplation, the mind will be concentrated in Me.

“When your mind becomes one with Me by this exceptional devotion, you will definitely receive My complete grace.  All creatures have to suffer the sorrows of birth and death, but however hard be the sorrows they will become pleasurable because, after the I-am-the-body attitude is completely destroyed by My grace, there cannot be any fear of any worldly matters.  In this way, you will be saved from the downfall caused by the worldly matters.  But if, under the influence of your ego, you ignore My advice then you will have to suffer the injuries due to the body awareness even after being liberated and becoming indestructible.  In this realm of the awareness of the body there is not a moment’s respite in suffering death at every step without even dying.
“Due to lack of discrimination and fostered ego, you may call your own body as Arjuna, bodies of others as relatives and think that a battle is a sinful action and decide not to fight.  But your inborn nature is that of a Kshatriya with the inborn qualities like bravery, martial lustre, alertness etc.  Therefore, because you are bound by these qualities, your nature will not let you keep quiet without fighting.  You have been destined to be born as a Kshatriya and the power of God will not let you behave in any other way except as a Kshatriya.  That God resides in your heart as well as in the hearts of all beings and manifests Himself through various facets of the mind.  Through the veil of His Maya, He singly moves the strings of 8.4 million shadows and makes them dance.  It is He who gives shape to everybody from Brahmadeo to a worm according to its worth.   And when He sets up an appropriate body for a creature that creature occupies it with the feeling “I am this body”.  And the body, though separate from itself, sees itself in it.  In this way, by seating the creatures on the contraption of the body, God moves the strings according to their karmas.  The particular creature for whom an independent string is allocated according to its pre-birth karmas goes about according to that string.  Thus, the affairs of all creatures are carried by the power of God through their basic natures.  God is the Master of all and controls Prakriti and one should therefore use one’s organs to do actions pleasurably appropriate to Prakriti.  Therefore, leave to Prakriti, the decision about whether you should fight or not.  Keep in mind that Prakriti is under the control of the God in your heart.

“Merge into God by making an offering to Him of the body, speech, mind and ego.  Then you will attain complete peace by His grace and you will be engrossed in the Self with the bliss of the Self.  You will be the master of that indestructible state of the Self where creation is born, where repose takes rest and which the experience experiences.
“Gita is the essence of the Vedic literature.  One achieves Self-realisation through it.  This Knowledge of the Self, which is customarily known only as Knowledge, through which even I the unmanifestable seer of all can be seen, is my secret treasure.  Arjuna, I have given you this treasure because I feel the greatest compassion for you.  Thus, I, the knower of all, having considered all aspects, have told you the true Knowledge.  Now you ponder on it properly and do what you consider proper.

“Gita is the Knowledge by which ignorance about the real nature of the world is destroyed and only I am seen in everything.  I have advised on Knowledge of the Self in various ways.  You should shed, by means of that Knowledge, the ignorance that creates confusion about proper and improper codes of behaviour (Dharma and Adharma), which lead one to heaven or hell respectively.  This world is a dream and just as the dream goes away on awakening and only the dreamer remains, similarly nothing other than Me remains.  Then with the idea that he is Me he becomes one with Me.  Shedding the separateness from Me and realising the oneness with Me is what is called surrender.  Once you surrender to Me you will become one with Me, therefore surrender to Me and be one with Me.

“But remember that you cannot surrender to Me and at the same time live as an individual too.  If anyone tells you that you will remain bound to the worldly life even after meeting Me the God of the universe,  do not believe it.  To serve Me by being one with Me is My natural devotion.  Gain knowledge through it.  After you surrender to Me by the realisation of non-duality the issues of prescribed and prohibited actions will not touch you.  There is no reason at all to look for anything other than My all-encompassing form after becoming one with Me.  Therefore do not worry about these things or about sin and merit.  Understand that I shall become your sin and merit.

“Being separate from Me is the sign of binding to the karmas.  Knowledge about Me dissolves that sin.  Wise Arjuna, when you surrender to Me with undivided mind you will be one with Me and will thus automatically be free of all bindings.  Accept Me and I shall free you by My light.  Therefore there is no need for you to worry any more.   Wise Arjuna, surrender to Me alone.”

So saying Shri Krishna embraced Arjuna by extending his right arm.  But that was only a pretext to impart to Arjuna the Knowledge which intellect does not understand and words cannot describe.
Once the two hearts touched, the secrets from Shri Krishna’s heart entered Arjuna’s heart and by demolishing the non-duality he made Arjuna attain Self-realisation.


Thus ends the dialogue between Shri Krishna and Arjuna that is the Gita.  The dialogue discusses the structure of this universe in which we live and are part of it, nature of the Supreme being that created the universe through Prakriti or Maya, and ways and means to get liberated from the binding to the birth and death cycles in the universe by becoming one with that Supreme being that speaks here through Shri Krishna, His incarnation.

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj now states that-- while reading of the Vedas has been restricted only to the upper caste men, Gita, which contains the essence of the Vedas can be read by anyone, male or female of any caste.  He now indicates in the following where the three parts of the Vedas namely action, worship and Knowledge have been imprinted in the Gita.


Chapter 1

In the first chapter is mentioned how the science of the Gita originated.

Chapter 2

The second chapter elucidates the Sankhya philosophy, which stresses on Knowledge and which is independently capable of leading to liberation without any other help.

Chapter 3

In the third chapter the beginning of the discourse on the means for attaining liberation of persons who are in the grip of ignorance has been made.  Those who are shackled by the I-am-the-body feeling should abandon actions done with desire for fruits and also the prohibited actions and should do the prescribed actions with care.  Actions should thus be done with good intentions.  These are what Shri Krishna has recommended in the third chapter.  This should be considered as the Path of Action.

Chapters 4-11

If one thinks how the same routine and incidental action frees one from ignorance then the explanation given by Shri Krishna is that when bound persons reach the stage of a seeker, they should do all actions with the attitude of their being an offering to the Brahman.  Whatever prescribed action occurs through the body, speech or mind should be done with the intention of attainment of God.  This expression of devotion to God through the path of action has been discussed from the fourth chapter until the end of the eleventh chapter on the vision of the Cosmic form.  Thus in these eight chapters I have unveiled the section on worship.

Chapters 12-15

The true knowledge, the knowledge of love (devotion) which is created through the benevolence of God and through the Guru-disciple system is described in the twelfth chapter from the Shloka “Adweshta” (Shloka No 13) or in the thirteenth chapter from the Shloka “Amanitva” (Shloka No 7).  Therefore the twelfth chapter has been included in the section on Knowledge.  In the four chapters from the beginning of the twelfth to the end of the fifteenth, the topic of discussion is the matured fruit of Knowledge.  Therefore the section on Knowledge has been covered by the four chapters up to the end of the fifteenth.  Thus the Gita which elucidates the three sections is like a loveable Shruti.  This Shruti, which contains the three sections, tells you loudly to gain the fruit of liberation.

Chapter 16

The class of ignorance, which is always inimical to the means of knowledge, has been described in the sixteenth chapter.

Chapter 17

One should conquer this enemy with the help of Shastras is what has been told in the seventeenth chapter.  In this way from the first chapter to the end of the seventeenth, Shri Krishna has discussed the Vedas created from his breath.

Chapter 18

The essence of all these chapters is contained in this pinnacle that is the eighteenth chapter.

This dissertation named Bhagavdgita which has been perfected in 700 shlokas is the very form of the Vedas but is more generous than them because women, shudras etc., who suffer tortures from this world, are not allowed under their shelter.  I feel that in order to remove these earlier mentioned faults and with the intention of giving benefit to all, the Vedas have reappeared in the form of the Gita.  Not only that, the Vedas are available to anybody through the Gita when its meaning enters in the mind, by listening to it or by reciting it.


He who always reads this Gita or remains in the company of one who reads it or distributes it to people by making copies of it, gives food of the bliss of liberation to all.  If people come to listen to the Gita, then without bothering about whether they are good or bad he gives away the bliss of liberation and peace to the world.

However it is also warned that since the Gita is a Shastra, proper rules should be followed regarding it, because knowledge obtained through Guru’s pleasure becomes fruitful only if the customs of the (Guru’s) sect are observed.  The rules are:

Shri Krishna warns Arjuna never to tell Gita to persons of the following types:

The austerity, devotion and intellect of such a person are deceitful therefore even if such a person is devoted, intelligent and austere he should not be allowed to come in touch with this Shastra of Gita.  Gita should be told to a superior devotee who is austere, sincerely devoted to his Guru, interested in listening to it and who praises Shri Krishna.
Shri Krishna avers, “I love with my heart the devotee who explains the meaning of the Gita, even if he is separated from Me by his body.  I like him more than a person of learning, an observer of ritualistic actions and an austere person.  There is none dearer to Me on this earth than he who tells the Gita to a group of devotees.  He who reads the Gita, making his mind steady with love for Me, becomes an ornament among saints.  And the sins of one who listens to the Gita with pure mind and faith, by abandoning slander in whichever possible way, run away instantly as soon as words of the Gita fall in his ears.”

Having come to the end of the discourse on the Gita, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj pays his tributes to his Guru Shri Nivruttinath to whom he gives all the credit for the discourse.


“I have composed this book in the form of ovis  that are beautiful to sing, or interesting even if they are not sung.  These letters, strung in the ovi metre, give a taste of the Brahman for the young and old.  One goes in trance just by listening to it,  then will it not cause an obsession if one listens to its discussion?  Even a simple reading of this book makes learning bloom and its sweetness makes the listener forget about nectar.  Listening to the perfected verses gives more satisfaction than contemplation and meditation.  This listening will impart bliss of the Self to the listener and satiate all organs.  Persons of spiritual authority understand the secret of the science of spirituality  but others become happy even by skilful presentation of it.  This is all due to the greatness of Shri Nivruttinath therefore this is really  not my book but the result of his blessing.

“On some occasion, Lord Shiva told the spiritual knowledge in His consort Parvati’s ears.  That knowledge was obtained by Matsyendranath who was hiding in the stomach of a fish in that sea of milk.  When Matsyendranath met the limbless Chouranginath at Saptashringi, the latter regained his limbs.  Then, in order that he himself should enjoy the bliss of the samadhi without interruption, Matsyendranath gave his state of the yoga to Gorakshanath and installed him in his own position, Gorakshanath being the only one in whom yoga could bloom and who could fight sense pleasures.  Then,  by tradition, the bliss of non-duality which has descended from Lord Shiva, was obtained from Gorakshanath by Gahininath.  Seeing that the people of the world are troubled, Gahininath instructed Shri Nivruttinath to take up the tradition which has descended to him from the Primeval Lord Shiva and save these people immediately from the influence of Kali (Note: Kali is the agent of strife and inspirer of strife in the present aeon known by its name Kaliyuga.  Not to be confused with Kaali the form of Goddess Durga).  Shri Nivruttinath was already compassionate by nature and inspired by the instructions from his Guru he immediately set upon to bring peace to the world.  Feeling  pity for the distressed he showered peace on them on the pretext of explaining the Gita.  At that time I was anxiously waiting before him for his favour therefore he elevated Me to the position of fame.  Thus, he handed over the wealth of meditation to me through this book.  Otherwise, how could I have achieved the worthiness for composing this book since I have neither studied nor read and I do not know how to serve my master.  But in reality, Guru Maharaj has given shelter to the world by composing this book making me the incidental pretext.
“This book, which all you saints have caused to be completed through my hands so that it is useful to the three worlds, is incomparable.  Only thing that now remains for me to do is the service to you.”
Finally, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj offers prayers to the almighty Lord for his benevolent grace towards the universe


Now, may the Supreme God who is the soul of the entire universe
     be satisfied by this discourse and grant me His grace.

May the wicked shed their sinister outlook and

May they develop liking for good deeds and

May all individuals develop friendship with each other.

May the universe lose its darkness of sin and

May the dawn of righteous duties come and

May the desires of all creatures be fulfilled.

May the assemblies of devotees of God who shower all that is       auspicious on this earth meet all creatures.

These devotees are walking seeds of the wish-trees, a living community of wish-stones or talking oceans of nectar.

May these saints who are like moon without spots or sun without the scorching heat, be the friends and relatives to all creatures.

Why ask for more?

May all creatures in the three worlds be perfect and happy and

May every creature carry desire for ceaseless devotion to the Primeval Supreme Being.  And,

May those who live by the support of this book gain happiness in this world and the next.

On hearing this, Lord of the universe said,

“I have given you this grace.”

And by that boon Shri Dnyanadeo was very happy.







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Dr V. V. shirvaikar,                                     email: vshirvaikar@yahoo.com
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