Chapter 4Approaching the Ultimate TruthVerse 16


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

Here it is inferred that action should be performed under the guidance of those situated in jnana yoga or the cultivation of Vedic knowledge, who are knowers of the ultimate truth and such action should not be based on what is popular at the moment in society. Even men of discrimination can be beguiled by the subtle nature of what is action and what is inaction. So now in the next verse Lord Krishna will expound the intricacies of action and inaction that by performing one will be free of the disease of transmigratory existence and will attain moksa or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

In the three previous verses Lord Krishna talks about performance of actions, now He promises to gives a detailed explanation that will dispel delusion about the nature of actions.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Exactly what is the nature of karma or action as performed by the aspirants treading the path to moksa or liberation from material existence and what also is akarma or inaction? By the term akarma is inferred true knowledge relating to the doer which is the atma or soul. What is the action which needs to be performed and what is the wisdom of inaction that is involved in such an action? Even persons of discrimination and knowledge are bewildered in this matter and confused do not understand this differences properly. Lord Krishna now promises to dispel all delusion in the intricacies of this subject. What is the purpose of performing actions as a matter of duty? The satisfaction consists in the knowledge of knowing why the duty is to be discharged. The knower is the person who performs works aspiring for moksa. The ignorant is one who performs work for sense gratification. The former performs work without egoism while the latter performs works full of egoissm. The former is eligible for liberation the latter is eligible for bondage. Why this is so difficult to understand is explained in the next verse.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Arjuna might be thinking that if everyone has to perform actions anyway then he will do it because the Lord advised it so; but he may have doubts about his ability to perform actions in the manner that was performed by the great beings of yore. To clarify this Lord Krishna confirms that even those of discrimination and intelligence are bewildered by the subtleties of action and inaction. The actions performed by an aspirant for moksa or liberation are completely different from those seeking rewards for their actions. Because the intricacies of action and inaction are difficult to comprehend Lord Krishna now promises to explain it definitively, therefore by knowing and performing actions properly one will be freed from the disease of materialism which binds one tightly to samsara the cycle of birth and death.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 4, verse 16 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 16

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