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BG 5 (1968)

From Vanisource

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



1:     ARJUNA SAID: O Krishna, first of all You ask me to renounce work, and then again You recommend work with devotion. Now will You kindly tell me definitely which of the two is more beneficial?

2:     The Blessed Lord said: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of works.


FRUITIVE ACTIVITIES (seeking sense gratification) are causes for material bondage. As long as one is engaged in activities aimed at improving the standard of bodily comfort, one is sure to transmigrate to different types of bodies, thereby prolonging the material bondage perpetually. The Srimad Bhagwatam confirms this as follows: "People are mad after sense gratification, and they do not know that this present body, which is full of miseries, is a result of one's fruitive activities in the past. Although this body is temporary, it is always giving one trouble in many ways. Therefore, to act for sense gratification is not good. One is considered to be a failure in life as long as he makes no inquiry about the nature of work for fruitive results, for as long as one is engrossed in the consciousness of sense gratification, one has to transmigrate from one body to another. Although the mind may be engrossed in fruitive activities and influenced by ignorance, one must develop a love for devotional service to Vasudeva. Only then can one have the opportunity to get out of the bondage of material existence."

Therefore, jnana (or 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. Action in Krishna consciousness is not, however, action on the fruitive platform. Activities performed in knowledge strengthen one's advancement in knowledge. Without Krishna consciousness, mere renunciation of fruitive activities does not actually purify the heart of a conditioned soul. As long as the heart is not purified, one has to work on the fruitive platform. But action in Krishna consciousness automatically helps one escape the result of fruitive action, so that one need not descend to the material platform. Therefore, action in Krishna consciousness is always superior to renunciation, which entails a risk of falling. Renunciation without Krishna consciousness is incomplete, as is confirmed by Srila Rupa Goswami in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu: "To achieve liberation, renunciation of things which are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, though they are material, is called incomplete renunciation." Renunciation is complete when it is in the knowledge that everything in existence belongs to the Lord and that no one should claim proprietorship over anything. One should understand that, factually, nothing belongs to anyone. Then where is the question of renunciation? One who knows that everything is Krishna's property is always situated in renunciation. 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.

3:     One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, liberated from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O Mighty-armed Arjuna.


ONE WHO IS fully in Krishna consciousness is always a renouncer because he feels neither hatred nor desire for the results of his actions. Such a renouncer, dedicated to the transcendental loving service of the Lord, is fully qualified in knowledge because he knows his constitutional position in his relationship with Krishna. He knows fully well that Krishna is the Whole, and that he is part and parcel of Krishna. Such knowledge is perfect because it is qualitatively and quantitatively correct. The concept of oneness with God is incorrect because the part cannot be equal to the Whole. Knowledge that one is identical in quality yet different in quantity is correct transcendental knowledge leading one to become full in himself, having nothing to aspire to or lament over. There is no duality in his mind because whatever he does, he does for Krishna. Being thus freed from the platform of dualities, he is liberated—even in this material world.

4:     Only the ignorant speak of Karmayoga and devotional service as being different from the analytical study of the material world [Samkhya]. Those who are actually learned say that he who applied himself well to one of these paths achieves the results of both.


THE AIM OF THE ANALYTICAL study of the material world is to find the soul of existence. The soul of the material world is Vishnu, or the Supersoul. Devotional service to the Lord, in Krishna consciousness, involves engagement in the service of the soul of the material universe. One process is to find the root of the tree, and the other to water the root. The real student of Samkhya philosophy finds the root of the material world, Vishnu, and then, in perfect knowledge, engages himself in the service of the Lord. Therefore, in essence, there is no difference between the two because the aim of both is Vishnu. Those who do not know the ultimate end say that the purposes of Samkhya and Karmayoga are not the same; but one who is learned knows the unifying aim in these different processes.

5:     One who knows that the position reached by means of renunciation can also be attained by devotional service, and who therefore sees that Samkhya and Yoga are on the same level, sees things as they are.


THE REAL PURPOSE of philosophical research is to find the ultimate goal of life. Since the ultimate goal of life is self-realization, there is no difference between the conclusions reached by the two processes. By Samkhya philosophical research one comes to the conclusion that a living entity is not a part and parcel of the material world, but that he is part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit Whole. Consequently, the spirit soul has nothing to do with the material world; his actions must be in some relationship with the Supreme. When he acts in Krishna consciousness, he is actually in his constitutional position. In the first process of Samkhya, one has to become detached from matter, and in the devotional Yoga process one has to attach himself to the work of Krishna. Factually, both processes are the same, although superficially one process appears to be detachment and the other process appears to be attachment. Detachment from matter and attachment to Krishna are one and the same. One who can see this sees things as they are.

6:     Unless one is engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, mere renunciation of activities cannot make one happy. The sage, purified by the works of devotion, achieves the Supreme without delay.


THERE ARE TWO classes of Sannyasins, or persons in the renounced order of life. The Mayavadi Sannyasins are engaged in the study of Samkhya philosophy; whereas the Vaishnava Sannyasins are engaged in the study of Bhagwatam philosophy, which affords the proper commentary on the Vedanta Sutras. The Mayavadi Sannyasins also study the Vedanta Sutras, but use their own commentary, called The Sarirak Bhasya, written by Sankaracharya. The students of the Bhagwatam school are engaged in devotional service of the Lord, according to Pamcharatriki regulations, and therefore the Vaishnava Sannyasins have multiple engagements in the transcendental service of the Lord. The Vaishnava Sannyasins have nothing to do with material activities and yet they perform various activities in their devotional service to the Lord. But the Mayavadi Sannyasins, engaged in the studies of Samkhya and Vedanta and speculation, cannot relish transcendental service of the Lord. Because their studies become very tedious they sometimes grow tired of Brahman speculation, and thus they take shelter of The Bhagwatam without proper understanding. Consequently, their study of The Srimad Bhagwatam becomes troublesome. Dry speculations and impersonal interpretations by artificial means are all useless for the Mayavadi Sannyasins. The Vaishnava Sannyasins, who are engaged in devotional service, are happy in the discharge of their transcendental duties, and they have the guarantee of ultimate entrance into the Kingdom of God. The Mayavadi Sannyasins sometimes fall down from the path of self-realization and again enter into material activities of a philanthropic and altruistic nature—which are nothing but material engagements. Therefore, the conclusion is that those who are engaged in Krishna consciousness are better situated than the Sannyasins engaged in simple Brahman speculation, although they too come to Krishna consciousness, after many births.

7:     One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, who controls his mind and senses, who realizes his Self as the Self in all, is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.


ONE WHO IS ON THE PATH of liberation by Krishna consciousness is very dear to every living being, and every living being is dear to him. This is due to his Krishna consciousness. Such a person cannot think of any living being as separate from Krishna, just as the leaves and branches of a tree are not separate from the tree. He knows very well that by pouring water on the root of the tree, the water will be distributed to all the leaves and branches; or by supplying food to the stomach, the energy is automatically distributed throughout the body. Because one who works in Krishna consciousness is servant to all, he is very dear to everyone. And, because everyone is satisfied by his work, he is pure in consciousness. Because he is pure in consciousness, his mind is completely controlled. And, because his mind is controlled, his senses are also controlled. Because his mind is always fixed on Krishna, there is no chance of his being deviated from Krishna. Nor is there a chance that he will 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 which is not offered to Krishna; and he does not wish to go anywhere if Krishna is not involved. Therefore, his senses are controlled. A man of controlled senses cannot be offensive to anyone. One may ask, "Why then was Arjuna offensive (in battle) to others? Wasn't he in Krishna consciousness?" Arjuna was only superficially offensive, because (as has already been explained in the Second Chapter) all the assembled persons on the battlefield would continue to live individually, as the soul cannot be slain. So, spiritually, nobody was killed on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. Only their dresses were changed by the order of Krishna, Who was Personally present. Therefore, Arjuna, while fighting on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, was not really fighting at all; he was simply carrying out the orders of Krishna in full Krishna consciousness. Such a person is never entangled in the reactions of work.

8-9:     A person in the Divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects, and that he is aloof from them.

10:     One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme God, is not affected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.

11:     The yogis, abandoning attachment, act with body, mind, intelligence, and even with the senses—only for the purpose of purification.


BY ACTING IN Krishna consciousness for the satisfaction of the senses of Krishna, any action, whether of the body, mind, intelligence, or even of the senses, is purified of material contamination. There are no material reactions resulting from the activities of a Krishna conscious person. Therefore, purified activities, which are generally called Sadacara, can be easily performed by acting in Krishna consciousness. Sri Rupa Goswami in his Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu describes this as follows: A person acting in Krishna consciousness (or, in other words, in the service of Krishna) with his body, mind, intelligence, and words, is a liberated person even within the material world, although he may be engaged in many so-called material activities. He has no false ego, nor does he believe that he is this material body, or that he possesses the body. He knows that he is not this body and that this body does not belong to him. He himself belongs to Krishna, and the body too belongs to Krishna. When he applies everything produced of the body, mind, intelligence, words, life, wealth, etc.—whatever he may have within his possession—to Krishna's service, he at once becomes dovetailed with Krishna. He is one with Krishna, and is devoid of the false ego that would lead him to believe that he is the body. This is the perfect stage of Krishna consciousness.

12:     The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the results of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in harmony with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.


THE DIFFERENCE between a person in Krishna consciousness and a person in bodily consciousness is that the former is attached to Krishna, whereas the latter is attached to the results of his activities. The person who is attached to Krishna and works for Him only is certainly a liberated person; and such a person is not anxious for fruitive rewards. In The Bhagwatam, the cause of anxiety over the result of an activity is explained as being due to one's functioning within the conception of duality, that is, without knowledge of the Absolute Truth. Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. In Krishna consciousness, there is no duality. All that exists is a product of Krishna's energy, and Krishna is all good. Therefore, activities in Krishna consciousness are on the Absolute plane; they are transcendental and have no material effect. One is filled with peace in Krishna consciousness. One who is, however, entangled in profit calculation for sense gratification cannot have that peace. This is the secret of Krishna consciousness—realization that there is no other existence besides Krishna is the platform of peace and fearlessness.

13:     When the embodied living being neither does nor causes to be done, mentally renouncing all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body].


THE EMBODIED SOUL lives in the city of nine gates. The activities of the body, or the figurative city of body, are conducted automatically by the particular modes of Nature. The soul, although subjecting himself to the conditions of the body, can be beyond those conditions, if he so desires. Owing only to forgetfulness of his superior nature, he identifies with the material body and therefore suffers. By Krishna consciousness, he can revive his real position, and thus he can come out of his embodiment. Therefore, when one takes to Krishna consciousness, one at once becomes completely aloof from bodily activities. In such a controlled life, in which his deliberations are changed, he lives happily within the city of nine gates. The nine gates are described as follows: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is living within the body of a living entity, is the Controller of all living entities all over the universe. The body consists of nine gates: two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, the mouth, the anus, and the genital. The living entity in his conditioned stage identifies himself with the body, but when he identifies himself with the Lord within himself, he becomes just as free as the Lord, even while in the body."

Therefore, a Krishna conscious person is free from both the outer and inner activities of the material body.

14:     The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material Nature.

15:     Nor does the Supreme Spirit assume anyone's sinful or pious activities. Embodied beings, however, are bewildered because of the ignorance which covers their real knowledge.


THE SANSKRIT WORD Bibhuh means the Supreme Lord who is full of unlimited knowledge, riches, strength, fame, beauty, and renunciation. As such, He is always satisfied in Himself, undisturbed by sinful or pious activities. He does not create a particular situation for any living entity, but the living entity, bewildered by ignorance, desires to be put into certain conditions of life, and thereby his chain of action and reaction begins. A living entity is, by superior nature, full of knowledge. Nevertheless, he is prone to be influenced by ignorance due to his limited power. The Lord is omnipotent, but the living entity is not. The Lord is Bibhu, or omniscient, but the living entity is Anu, or atomic. Because he is a living soul, he has the capacity to desire by his free will. Such desire is fulfilled only by the Omnipotent Lord. And so, when the living entity is bewildered in his desires, the Lord allows him to fulfill those desires; but the Lord is never responsible for the actions and reactions of the particular situation which may be desired. Being in a bewildered condition, therefore, the embodied soul identifies himself with the circumstantial material body and becomes subjected to the temporary miseries and happinesses of life. The Lord is the constant companion of the living entity as Paramatma, or the Supersoul, and therefore He can understand the desires of the individual soul, as one can smell the flavor of a flower by being near it. Desire is a subtle form of conditioning of the living entity. The Lord fulfills his desire as he deserves: Man proposes and God disposes. The individual is not, therefore, omnipotent in fulfilling his desires. The Lord, however, can fulfill all desires; and the Lord, being neutral to everyone, does not interfere with the desires of the minutely independent living entities. However, when one desires in terms of Krishna consciousness, the Lord takes special care for him, and encourages him to desire in a particular way, by which one can gradually attain to Him and be eternally happy. The Vedic hymn therefore declares: "The Lord engages the living entity in pious activities so he may be elevated. The Lord engages him in impious activities so he may go to hell. The living entity is completely dependent in his distress and happiness. By the will of the Supreme he can go to Heaven, as a cloud is driven by the air," etc.

Therefore, the embodied soul, by his immemorial desire to avoid Krishna consciousness, causes his own bewilderment. Consequently, although he is constitutionally eternal, blissful, and cognizant, due to the littleness of his existence he forgets his constitutional position of service to the Lord, and is thus entrapped by nescience. And, under the spell of ignorance, the living entity claims that the Lord is responsible for his conditional existence. The Vedanta Sutras confirm this: "The Lord neither hates nor likes anyone, though He appears to."

16:     When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up the daytime.


THOSE WHO HAVE forgotten Krishna must certainly be bewildered, but those who are in Krishna consciousness are not bewildered at all. Knowledge is always highly esteemed. And what is knowledge? Perfect knowledge is achieved when one surrenders unto Krishna, as is said in The Bhagavad Gita. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: After passing through many, many births, when one perfect in knowledge surrenders unto Krishna, or when one attains Krishna consciousness, then everything is revealed to him, as the sun reveals everything in the daytime. The living entity is bewildered in so many ways. For instance, when a living entity thinks himself God, unceremoniously, he actually falls into the last snare of nescience. If a living entity is God, then how can he become bewildered by nescience? Does God become bewildered by nescience? If so, then nescience, or Satan, is greater than God.

Real knowledge can be obtained from a person who is in perfect Krishna consciousness. Therefore, one has to seek out a bona fide spiritual master and, under him, learn what Krishna consciousness is. Krishna consciousness will certainly drive away all nescience, as the sun drives away darkness. Even though a person may be in full knowledge that he is not this body but is transcendental to the 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 perfect, bona fide Krishna conscious spiritual master. One can know God and one's relationship with God only when one actually meets a representative of God. A representative of God never claims that he is God, although he is paid all the respect ordinarily paid to God because he has knowledge of God. One has to learn the distinction between God and the living entity. The Lord, Sri Krishna, therefore stated in the Second Chapter, verse twelve, that every living being is individual and that the Lord also is individual. They were all individuals in the past, they are individuals at present, and they will continue to be individuals in the future, even after liberation. At night we see everything as one in the darkness, but in day when the sun is up, we see everything in its real identity. Identity with individuality, in spiritual life, is real knowledge.

17:     When one's intelligence, mind, faith, and refuge are all fixed in the Supreme, then one becomes fully cleansed of misgivings through complete knowledge, and thus proceeds straight on the path of liberation.

18:     The humble sage sees with equal vision a learned and gentle Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater (outcaste).

19:     Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and as such they are already situated in Brahman.

20:     A person who neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant, who is self-intelligent, unbewildered, and who knows the Science of God, is to be understood as already situated in Transcendence.


THE SYMPTOMS of the self-realized person are given herein. The first symptom is that he is not illusioned by the false identification of the body with his true self. He knows perfectly well that he is not this body, but is the fragmental portion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is therefore not joyful in achieving something, nor does he lament in losing anything which is related to this body. This steadiness of mind is called Sthirabuddhi, or self-intelligence. He is therefore never bewildered by mistaking the gross body for the soul; nor does he accept the body as permanent and disregard the existence of the soul. This knowledge elevates him to the station of knowing the complete science of the Absolute Truth, namely Brahman, Paramatman, and Bhagavan. He thus knows his constitutional position perfectly well, without falsely trying to become one with the Supreme in all respects. This is called Brahman realization, or self-realization. Such steady consciousness is called Krishna consciousness.

21:     Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure, but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way, the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.

22:     An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.

23:     Before giving up this present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is a yogi and is happy in this world.

24:     One whose happiness is within, who is active within, and who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.

25:     One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme.


ONLY A PERSON who is fully in Krishna consciousness can be said to be engaged in welfare work for all living entities. When a person is actually in the knowledge that Krishna is the Fountainhead of everything, then to act in that spirit is to act for everyone. 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. One cannot be engaged in first-class welfare work without being liberated in the Supreme. A Krishna conscious person has no doubt about the supremacy of Krishna. He has no doubt because he is completely freed from all sins. This is the state of Divine Love.

A person engaged only in administering to the physical welfare of human society cannot factually help anyone. Temporary relief of the external body and the mind of the living entity is not satisfactory. The real cause of his difficulties in the hard struggle for life may be found in his forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord. When a man is fully conscious of his relationship with Krishna, he is actually a liberated soul, although he may be in the material tabernacle.

26:     Those who are free from anger and all material desires, who are self-realized, self-disciplined, and constantly endeavoring for perfection, are assured of liberation in the Supreme in the very near future.

27-28:     Shutting out all external sense objects; keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows; suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils—thus controlling the mind, senses, and intelligence, the transcendentalist becomes free from desire, fear, and anger. One who is always in this state is certainly liberated.

29:     The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the Benefactor and Well-Wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries.


THE CONDITIONED souls within the clutches of illusory energy are all anxious to attain peace in the material world. But they do not know the formula for peace, which is explained in this part of The Bhagavad Gita. The peace formula is this: Lord Krishna is the Beneficiary in all human activities. Man should offer everything to the transcendental service of the Lord because He is the Proprietor of all planets and the demigods thereon. Nobody is greater than He. He is greater than the greatest of the demigods, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Under the spell of illusion, living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the Master of material Nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of that Nature. Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world either individually or collectively. This is the sense of Krishna consciousness—that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Predominator, and that all living entities, including the great demigods, are His subordinates. One can attain perfect peace only in complete Krishna consciousness.

This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krishna consciousness, generally known as Karmayoga. The question of mental speculation as to how Karmayoga can give liberation is answered herewith: working in Krishna consciousness is to work with the complete knowledge of the Lord as the Predominator. Such work is not different from transcendental knowledge. Direct Krishna consciousness is Bhaktiyoga, and Jnanayoga is a path leading to Bhaktiyoga. Krishna consciousness means to work in full knowledge of one's relationship with the Supreme Absolute, and the perfection of this consciousness is full knowledge of Krishna, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with Maya (Illusion) due to the desire to lord it over Maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. The more one is advanced, the more he is freed from the clutches of matter. There is no partiality of the Lord toward anyone. Everything depends on one's own practical performance of duties in Krishna consciousness. This performance in every respect should be to control the senses and conquer the influence of desire and anger. And, remaining in Krishna consciousness by controlling the above-mentioned passions, one remains factually in the transcendental stage, or Brahman nirvana. The eightfold Yoga mysticism is automatically practiced in Krishna consciousness because the ultimate purpose is served. There is a gradual elevation in the practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pratyahara, Dhyana, Dharana, Pranayama, and Samadhi: these preface perfection by devotional service, which alone can award peace to the human being and is the highest goal of life.

Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the Fifth Chapter of The Srimad Bhagavad Gita on the subject of Karmayoga, or acting in Krishna consciousness.