Gita - Chapter 5
CHAPTER 5 - Karma-yoga - Action in Krishna Consciousness
Outwardly performing all actions but inwardly renouncing their fruits, the
wise man, purified by the fire of transcendental knowledge, attains peace,
detachment, forbearance, spiritual vision and bliss.
After Lord Krishna stressed the importance of both work in devotion (which
requires activity) and seeking knowledge (which tends to be inactive), Arjuna
was perplexed, as work and renunciation appeared incompatible to him. Actually,
he didn't understand that work in full knowledge is non reactive and is
therefore the same as inaction. He inquired, therefore, whether he should
cease work altogether or work with full knowledge. The Lord said that work
in devotional service is better than renunciation of work. Devotional service
is easier than the latter because, being transcendental in nature, it frees
one from reaction. The jnana (knowledge that one is not this material body
but spirit soul) is not sufficient for liberation. One has to act in the
status of spirit soul, otherwise there is no escape from material bondage. One
is said to be truly renounced, when he knows that everything is Krishna's
property. Since everything belongs to Krishna, everything should be employed
in the service of Krishna. This perfect form of action in Krishna
consciousness is far better than any amount of artificial renunciation.
Therefore, one who is detached from the results of his work is the one who is
The results of renunciation and devotional service are ultimately the same,
because the aim of both is Vishnu. In the first process, one has to detach
himself from matter, and in the second, one has to attach himself to the work
of Krishna consciousness. Actually, attachment to Krishna leads to detachment
from matter. Hence, merely renouncing all activities without engaging in the
devotional service of the Lord cannot make one happy.
One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, doesn't become entangled
because, although working, he fixes his consciousness upon Krishna. He knows
that while the body acts, he does nothing. Such a person is always free, even
though he appears to be engaged in affairs of the senses. Actually, he does
not engage his senses in matters other than the service of the Lord. He does
not like to hear anything except topics relating to Krishna; he does not like
to eat anything that is not offered to Krishna; and he does not wish to go
anywhere if Krishna is not involved. Thus he cannot perform any act except in
the service of the Lord, because he knows that he is the eternal servitor of
the Lord. Therefore, a Krishna conscious person is never affected by the
actions of the senses.
One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto
the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action. When one acts for the
satisfaction of the senses of Krishna, any action, whether of the body, mind,
intelligence or even the senses, is purified of material contamination. Such
a person has no false ego, for he does not believe that he is this material
body, or that he possesses the body. Actually, one suffers the results of the
activities of the body by identifying himself with the body. Therefore, as
soon as the living entity becomes aloof from the activities of the body, he
becomes free from the reactions as well. Thus, the steadily devoted soul
attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to
Krishna; whereas a person, who is greedy for the fruits of his labour, becomes
Although the soul is completely dependent on the Supersoul, the soul still is
responsible for his own free will. The Lord, fulfills all desires, but He
does not interfere with the desires of the minute independent living entities.
However, when one desires Krishna, the Lord takes special care and encourages
one to desire in such a way that one can attain to Him and be eternally happy.
Even though a person may be in full knowledge that he is not this body, he
still may not be able to discriminate between the soul and the Supersoul.
However, he can know everything well if he cares to take shelter of the bona
fide spiritual master. Thus, when enlightened with knowledge, he fixes
himself in the Supreme and proceeds straight on the path of liberation.
Krishna says in verse 18, that the humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge,
see with equal vision a learned brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a
dog-eater. Hence, a Krishna conscious person does not make any distinction
between species or castes, for he sees only the Supreme Lord, who is present
as Paramatma in everyone's heart and not the external appearance. Such an
equanimity of mind, is the sign of self-realization. He neither rejoices upon
achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant.
He does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with
material senses. He is so absorbed in the loving service of the Lord that he
loses his taste for material sense pleasure altogether, as he knows that they
are only temporary.
One can be happy, if he is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses
and check the force of desire and anger. Such a person, works for the welfare
of all, is free from sin, is absorbed in endeavouring for perfection, and is
soon liberated in the Supreme. The sufferings of humanity are due to
forgetfulness of Krishna as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and
the supreme friend. Therefore, to act to revive this consciousness within the
entire human society is the highest welfare work. The tortoise brings up its
offspring simply by meditation. The eggs of the tortoise are laid on land,
and the tortoise meditates on the eggs while in the water. Similarly, the
devotee in Krishna consciousness, although far away from the Lord's abode, can
elevate himself to that abode simply by thinking of Him constantly--by
engagement in Krishna consciousness.
After explaining the above principles of liberation in the Supreme, the Lord
gave instruction to Arjuna as to how one can come to that position by the
practice of the yoga known as astanga-yoga. In fact, Krishna consciousness is
the easiest process of executing yoga principles and therefore, this is the
better way of controlling the senses. This will be thoroughly explained in
the next chapter.
A person in full consciousness of Krishna, who knows Krishna as the Supreme
controller, and benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains
peace from the pongs of material desires. Thus, this Chapter is a practical
explanation of Krishna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. The
question of mental speculation as to how karma-yoga can give liberation is
answered herewith. To work in Krishna consciousness is to work with the
complete knowledge of the Lord as the predominator. Such work is not
different from transcendental knowledge.
This summary is taken from the book, "Bhagavad Gita As It Is", By His Divine
Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. If you need clarifications or
detailed explanation of any point please post them in this group.
Yours in service of Lord Sri Krishna,