A Song of Fortune
- A Classical Gîtâ -




Renunciation according to the qualities
and the causes of karma

(1) Arjuna said: 'Oh man of grip and master of the senses, I'd like to know what the truth of the renounced order is and what I, apart from that order, should understand of renunciation, oh devil slayer.'

The fortunate one said: 'What the learned know as the renounced order, entails that one gives up to lust for the karma; men of wisdom speak of renunciation when the profit motive in all endeavors is forsaken. (3) One group of thinkers says that karma is an evil thing and that it therefore must be given up, while others stress that, in this matter, the works of sacrifice, charity and penance never should be given up. (4) To be clear about this matter of renunciation, o best of the Kuru dynasty, one in fact speaks of three kinds, oh tiger among men. (5) Indeed acts of sacrifice, charity and penance must never be given up, for even the greatest souls find purification in that sacrifice, charity and penance. (6) But no doubt with all these actions one performs out of duty, the association with their results must be given up; that, oh son of Prithâ, is my final and best statement about it.

To renounce in karmic matters never implies that one forsakes prescribed duties; such a renunciation led by illusion, is declared to be of ignorance. (8) He who gives up out of fear, or because a certain workload might be too troublesome or maybe a discomfort to the body, is most certainly a renouncer in the grip of passion, someone who never gets the point of renunciation. (9) When one for a fixed period of time works for a result and combines that with a forsaking of the profit motive at other times, such a renunciation Arjuna, is to my opinion, of goodness. (10) He who, intelligent enough, cutting with the doubts, is of the forsaking, but never hates it to suffer some stress in working for a result, nor gets attached to the pleasure of exercising his skills in it, is absorbed in goodness. (11) Surely it is for the one embodied impossible to be completely renounced in all his activities, but one is said to be a renouncer when one is a renouncer of the fruit of one's labor. (12) When one turns away from the world there are, for the ones who were not of renunciation, the three kinds of karmic consequences of finding things going to hell, reaching to heaven or having a mixture of these, but this is never the case for those belonging to the renounced order.35

Take it from me that, as the analytic conclusion, there are these five causes, oh man of grip, which are said to serve the perfection of all activities: (14) The locality, the person, the material means, the avenues taken and that what fate arranges.36 (15) Whatever work a person engages in physically, in speech or in mind, doing the right or the wrong thing, is of these five causes. (16) So, anyone who thinks that the individual soul at work would be the only agent, is, foolishly not using his intelligence, not seeing matters as they are. (17) Someone who is not led by the ego nor is looking for someone else never gets entangled and is, even if he out here killed someone, never the one who can be designated as the cause thereof.

What impels to action are the three factors of the knower, the knowledge and the known, while the worker, the working and the senses at work are the three agents to which the karma adds up. (19) One says that concerning the knowledge, the work and the performer there are three different qualities in terms of the different modes as well; also hear what they all are.

That knowledge by which one of the living beings, despite of their being divided in countless numbers, sees their imperishable ground as one and undivided, you should know to be of goodness. (21) But that knowledge by which one perceives the living being, because of its being divided over different conditions, as being different in all these life forms, must be considered as being of passion. (22) And when one is fixed on one thing as if that would be all, that type of knowing, being all too easy, unfounded and unrealistic, is said to be of darkness.

That work which is scheduled, and which, free from attachment, like or dislike, is performed without a desire for some result, is said to be of goodness. (24) But proceeding with ego in great effort to achieve results, one's work is said to be of the mode of passion. (25) One's work is said to be of the mode of ignorance when one, motivated for attachments, self-willed, in disregard of possible consequences, destructive and distressful to others, engages with illusion.

A worker, free from attachment and conceit of ego, who qualified, with resolve, and unwavering in accomplishment and failure, does the best he can, is said to be of the mode of goodness. (27) A worker who, insisting on results, is led by joy and sorrow and who, impure in his motives, is avaricious and of a violent nature, is declared to be of passion. (28) Of the worker in the mode of ignorance one says that he, being materialistic, obstinate and deceitful, is not connected and that he, in his anti-social attitude, is lazy, morose and procrastinating.

Oh winner of the wealth, now hear me describing in detail how, according to the different modes, the individual types of intelligence and conviction differ as well in three respects.

Oh son of Prithâ, that understanding is of goodness which knows of progress as also of arrest, which knows what should and what should not be done, what is to be feared and not to be feared, and what is of bondage and what of liberation. (31) That intelligence, oh son of aunt Prithâ, which does not precisely know what belongs to the original nature and what goes against that nature, nor what would be right or what would be wrong, is an intelligence in the mode of passion which is not seeing things clearly. (32) Oh son of Prithâ, that intelligence in which, covered by illusion, everything goes awry and one takes that what is unrighteous for something righteous, is of ignorance.

Oh son of Prithâ, that conviction which, constant in the practice of yoga, has the activity of the mind, the breath and the senses under control, is a resolve that is of goodness. (34) But that conviction, Arjuna, by which one, holding on to one's religiousness, sensuality and material business37, insists on one's advantage, is a determination, oh son of Prithâ, in the mode of passion. (35) That determination in which one unintelligently never gives up the sleeping, fearing, lamenting, drooping as also the presuming, is of the mode of ignorance, oh son of Prithâ.

But now hear from me about the three kinds of happiness that one enjoys in fortitude, oh best of the Bharata descendants, and from which being steadfast the end of one's sorrow is found. (37) That happiness which in the beginning is like poison but in the end compares to nectar, is, having sprouted in the soul by the grace of intelligence, of the mode of goodness so one says. (38) That happiness which results from the contact one has by the senses with the sense objects, and which in the beginning is just like nectar but in the end is like poison, is a form of happiness known to belong to the mode of passion. (39) That happiness which from the beginning to the end is founded on self-deception, sloth, laziness and misunderstanding, is said to be of ignorance.

Nor on earth, nor among the gods in the higher spheres, there is anyone who is free from the influence of these three qualities inherent to material nature.'

Modern version Ch 18a | Previous edition Ch 18a | Download | Vedabase Ch 18


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