Gita Daily Readings

23rd November
Chapter XVIII: 3-4
Some philosophers declare that action should be abandoned as an evil; while others (declare) that acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be relinquished.

Hear from me the conclusion or the final truth about this abandonment, Oh best of the Bharatas; abandonment, verily, Oh best of men, has been declared to be of three kinds.

Commentary

Society in those days was divided into two sections. There were those who followed the karma kanda (ritualistic portion) of the vedas and to whom those rituals were too sacred ever to be abandoned. There were the others who followed the jnana kanda (wisdom portion) of the vedas and were convinced that to do anything was to invite rebirth, to enjoy or to suffer the consequences.

The basic philosophy of the latter is sound; but how few can realize that renunciation of the "world" means total abandonment of all attachment, even to one's own body and the modifications of one's own mind? Krishna recognizes that that is the goal, though for its achievement no hypocritical abandonment of the world is necessary, but a revolution in the inner attitude, which he has already clearly stated: "While doing all your actions, feel you are not doing anything." This necessarily implies that the samnyasi, who realizes, "I am not doing," is incapable of withdrawing from life or activity. If, on the other hand, formal renunciation is overemphasized, then the evil pointed out on the previous page cannot be avoided. Such renunciation cancels out the spirit of the scripture.

Who but the Lord can conclusively tell us what the true spirit of renunciation is? Only he knows where and how the devil of human vanity quotes scripture to exploit the gullible.

Arjuna had also prayed to the Lord to be definite and conclusive in his instructions. Hence, Krishna's declaration that what follows is the final truth.

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