Chapter 3The Eternal Duties of a Human BeingsVerse 4


Sanskrit Vocal





Commentaries of the Four Authorized Vaisnava Sampradayas

as confirmed in the Garga Samhita Canto 10, Chapter 61, Verses 23, 24, 25, 26
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Sridhara Swami's Commentary

Therefore until the light of knowledge dawns within a completely purified mind prescribed actions in the Vedic scriptures must be performed for purification by the different castes in various stages of life called varna- asrama. This is what Lord Krishna is explaining here. Otherwise due to a lack of purity in the mind spiritual knowledge will not manifest. This is the purport. In the Brihad IV.IV.XXII it states: The renunciates realising the Supreme Lord became liberated. So it can be understood that renunciation leads to moksa or liberation. But there might arise the question that if moksa is the result of renunciation then what is the need for actions? Apprehending such a doubt the verse states na ca sannyasanad eva meaning not only by renunciation. The import is that renunciation alone is not sufficient in itself to attain moksa if there is not sufficient spiritual knowledge accompanying it.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

The actions Lord Krishna is referring to in this verse are the ordained actions prescribed in the Vedic scriptures. By the abstention of ordained actions or by the renunciation of ordained actions one will not ever be able to achieve moksa or liberation. By the cultivation of spiritual knowledge only is liberation possible. This is the purport. Why is this so? Because of the word purusah in the verse meaning person. The jiva or living entity is enclosed in a subtle body along with a corporal body. If by abstention of action moksa was possible then it would be available to inanimate things as well. Neither by the abstention of actions or the absence of reactions from the renunciation of actions will liberation come into effect.

The effects we are experiencing in the present life are reactions both positive and negative caused by our innumerable actions in previous lives. It is not that all the reactions have been terminated at birth, Males up to the end of 14 years and females up to the end of 10 years complete their life span of the effects of prior activities from past births. Living entities are capable of innumerable actions even in a single lifetime and each of these actions may be the cause of a future birth or even result in many future lives. Contrarily by performing even a single action one can receive a human life which is the culmination and conclusion of all one’s remaining lives. Thus accumulation of actions can never end indefinitely.

The Brahma Purana states that: The primordial world is eternal and so are the effects of actions. Therefore how can there be release from actions without realisation of the Supreme Lord? If the primordial world came about by accident without any relation ship with casual actions then how could there be any relationship between human beings and the primordial world? The state of being liberated can only be achieved by one who is completely free from all desires including the desire for liberation. All desires are manifesting as appropriate and inappropriate actions. Factually it is the absence of desires that result in the state of liberation. Actions performed without desire for rewards with spiritual consciousness contribute to the fulfilment of liberation. When fulfilment is achieved one attains the ultimate consciousness and liberation is automatically included. By performing actions in this manner a living being becomes verily a being of non-action. Renunciation is relinquishing the desire for rewards attached to appropriate actions as Lord Krishna explains later in chapter XVIII verse two kamyanam karmanam nyasam meaning the renouncing of fruitive activities. Performing actions in spiritual consciousness without desire leads to liberation. For one who has become effulgent, purified by actions performed in spiritual consciousness, renunciation appears in their heart. Only one with a pure heart, free from desire and attachment is known as one situated in spiritual knowledge. Just as one seeing delightful things in a dream does not let that interfere for a moment the pleasures of daily life. For such a one there is no clarity in the principles nor faith in the Vedic injunctions.

A counterpoint may be raised that if the absence of desire for reward is the means for moksa then why not give up actions altogether giving no opportunity for the fruits to manifest. This opinion is neutralised in the verse by na ca sannyasanad eva meaning not only by renunciation. So it should be understood that not by mere absence of desires or even the absence of actions that liberation can be achieved but the performance of actions without desire for reward is the essential ingredient to understand.

It should be understood that renunciation is primarily for deep meditation and reflection of the resplendent Supreme Lord. This way is not suitable for those in the grihasta ashram or householder life with wife and children and who must be engrossed daily in so many material functions to provide for their family. But in later life when the children are grown the householder who by dint of actions has acquired a meditative mind can also become eligible for renunciation and please the Lord. The Supreme Lord is exceedingly pleased by those who practice renunciation. In the Narayanakshara Kalpa it is said that: Among all initiations the one that is made in the stage of renunciation is the topmost and most pleasing to the Supreme Lord. The demi-gods and many well known great and pious kings of yore in India while performing myriad’s of actions for universal management and world order always kept their minds focused on the Supreme. Therefore even when they were engaged in activities their minds never wavered from Him and the Supreme Lord Krishna was pleased.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Neither by not performing the activities prescribed in the Vedic scriptures nor by abandoning them once they were begun does one attain the qualification to perform jnana yoga the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. This is because that actions when performed as worship for the Supreme Lord for His satisfaction alone with no desire or expectation for any reward leads to perfection and without this consciousness one is not qualified for jnana yoga. For in jnana yoga exclusive attention is devoted to atma-nistha deep faith in knowledge and meditation of the soul. This is only possible for one who has relinquished all desires and expectations fully. It is not possible for one who is still mired in the pursuit of fruitive activities, burdened with sins from previous lives and for one who has never worshipped Lord Krishna with love and devotion with no anticipation of reward.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

It has been established that activities prescribed in the Vedic scriptures performed without anticipation of rewards are conducive for spiritual developement. Without this inner consciousness one is not qualified for jnana yoga or the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. Many may wish for moksa or liberation and attempt to renounce the world prematurely but they do not reach perfection only by such renunciation. This is verified in the verse by the words na eva sanyasanat meaning not merely by renunciation. So it should be understood that without purity of mind and adequate spiritual knowledge a person even though appearing to be a renunciate actually has not properly qualified themselves for jnana yoga in spite of appearances.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 3, verse 4 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 4

Copyright © Bhagavad-Gita Trust 1998-2015