Chapter 4Approaching the Ultimate TruthVerse 18


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

Showing the mysterious intricacies of action and inaction is being delineated by Lord Krishna. One who sees inactions in actions such as yagna or the worship of the Supreme Lord and who sees that such worship is actually non-action as it leads to knowledge and having no reactions does not bind one to material existence. This person understands. Similarly one who sees action in inaction such as the non-performance of prescribed activities such as Ekadasi vrata or completely abstaining from all grains on the 11th day of the waxing moon and waning moon when not performed results in sinful reactions and binds one to material existence and who sees that such abstention is actually action within inaction is properly situated. Lord Krishna actually praises such a person as being of superior intelligence by dint of their comprehension and subsequent application of this esoteric subject matter. The word yuktah means yogi or one dedicated to the science of the individual consciousness in communion with the ultimate consciousness. This verse verifies previous verse II.XXXXVI with actions offered to the Lord, verse III.IV by not performing actions and verse III.XVII the redundance of action once moksa or liberation is achieved.

In action even when the body and senses are active one who realises the atma or soul is distinct from the physical body sees these actions as inaction. Contrarily one who is void of knowledge sees action as inaction due to avoiding actions because they are troublesome and difficult, for this person the non-performance of action is hypocritical as revealed in verse III.VI and is an obstruction to knowledge.

The performer of actions situated in knowledge of the atma observes the performance of Vedic activities naturally in action and inaction as they come of their own accord. So thus being guided by the atma within there is no scope or possibility for such a person to perform a prohibited act or to not perform prescribed acts as they come of their own accord. Thus it should be noted that the nature of prohibited actions is included as well.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Madhvacarya's Commentary

In this verse Lord Krishna delineates the intricate and subtle forms of actions. When a person performing karma or prescribed Vedic activities resolves with certitude that the action performed is solely for the Supreme Lord and not for the one performing the action whose consciousness is merely a minute reflection of the ultimate consciousness then does realisation begin to dawn within and all actions performed by such a one are factually inaction. Then one realises that all actions performed are actually performed by the Supreme Being Himself in the same consciousness as when the Supreme Reality even creates the universes. This person is spiritually intelligent and situated in true wisdom, for such a person is verily in communion with the Supreme Consciousness and even when this person is not performing any actions, such a person should be understood to be performing all actions and the knower of all actions.

Now begins the summation.

Karma or actions are the nature of all living beings. This is because they are not the actual performer of any action and are dependent. Akarma or inaction is the nature of the Supreme Lord because of His being independent and the factual performer of all actions. The living beings accept karma and reactions to actions when egoism is present in the belief that one is the doer or thinks that the actions were performed by them. In the Narada Purana it states that since the Supreme Lord Krishna is never bound by cause and effect all His actions are to be understood as inaction. In the Pancharatra it is noted that the word krtsna has the attribute of not being perceptible in regards to activities. This denotes that all actions are under the control of the Supreme Lord. Since all material actions are visible to the living beings, what is not visible is the karma or reactions that come with the actions that the living beings are forced to accept due to having desires for the rewards of their actions and this perpetual desire to enjoy causes tem to perform actions which keeps them attached.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Ramanuja's Commentary

Action is karma and inaction is akarma. Actions concerning the atma or soul which is the essential subject to be known in human existence is also considered akarma. How this is to be understood Lord Krishna is explaining here. There are two categories to be considered. 1) The person who performs actions while continuously contemplating the atma 2) The person who immersed within the atma perceives the atma performs all actions One who by contemplating the true nature of the atma while performing all activities is in the first category. One who conceives the nature of all activities as actually the doings of the atma is in the second category. By actually performing prescribed Vedic activities with one's body and at the same time meditating upon it within one's mind, the objective as well the subjective realisations are achieved and the true nature of the atma is perceived. Whoever sees that karma is within akarma in regards to atma tattva or knowledge o the soul. Such a person is considered to be situated in wisdom and conversant with the ultimate purport of the Vedic scriptures. Such a spiritually intelligent person has realised the essence of all Vedic teachings and has qualified themselves for moksa or liberation from material existence.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:


Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

Out of compassion Lord Krishna states the truth of action, inaction and prohibited actions. One who sees inaction in action meaning actions bringing no reaction and are not binding to samsara or the cycle of birth and death such as yagna or the worship of the Supreme Lord which leads to knowledge, purity of mind and liberation know it is not binding to samsara. Previously in verse II.XXXX Lord Krishna stated that in prescribed Vedic actions there is no loss or fear of negative results. Contrarily sinful reactions and bondage will be incurred by inaction to the injunction one is qualified to perform such as non-performance of Ekadasi vrata or the complete abstention from all grains on the 11th day of the waxing and waning moons. Lord Krishna spoke of this mentality of hypocrisy in verse III.VI of one who contemplates sense objects while appearing inactive. The use of the particle ca meaning and, denotes that those who are followers of karma yoga or the performance of prescribed Vedic activities wilfully partakes of prohibited food such as grains on Ekadasi then they will be subject to sinful reactions. But if suc a one planning to observe Ekadasi vrata and accidentally partakes of food grains on Ekadasi due to miscalculating the time of commencing or breaking the fast then there is no sinful reactions because the sankalpa or internal invocation was to perform the Ekadasi vrata. Then Lord Krishna praises the one who knows the truth about the intricacies of action and inaction as those of superior intelligence and is firmly on the spiritual path obtaining all fruits because the performer of Vedic actions receives the fruits of the actions included by inaction as well.

Thus ends commentaries of chapter 4, verse 18 of the Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 18

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