Mahabharata Bhishma Parva Chapter 29

Mahabharata Bhishma Parva (Bhagavat-Gita Parva) Chapter 29
Bhagavad Gita Chapter V

Arjuna said,—'Thou applaudest, O Krishna, the abandonment of actions, and again the application (to them). Tell me definitely which one of these two is superior.

The Holy One said—'Both abandonment of actions and application to actions lead to emancipation. But of these, application to action is superior to abandonment. He should always be known to be an ascetic who hath no aversion nor desire. For, being free from pairs of opposites, O thou of mighty arms, he is easily released from the bonds (of action). Fools say, but not those that are wise, that Sankhya and Yoga are distinct. One who stayeth in even one (of the two) reapeth the fruit of both.[1] Whatever seat is attained by those who profess the Sankhya system, that too is reached by those who profess the Yoga. He seeth truly who seeth Sankhya and Yoga as one.[2] But renunciation, O mighty-armed one, without devotion (to action), is difficult to attain. The ascetic who is engaged in devotion (by action) reacheth the Supreme Being without delay.

He who is engaged in devotion (by action) and is of pure soul, who hath conquered his body and subdued his senses, and who indentifieth himself with all creatures, is not fettered though performing (action).[3] The man of devotion, who knoweth truth, thinking—I am doing nothing—When seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, talking, excreting, taking, opening the eyelids or closing them; he regardeth that it is the senses that are engaged in the objects of senses.[4] He who renouncing attachment engageth in actions, resigning them to Brahma, is not touched by sin as the lotus-leaf (is not touched) by water.[5] Those who are devotees, casting off attachment, perform actions (attaining) purity of self, with the body, the mind, the understanding, and even the senses (free from desire). He who is possessed of devotion, renouncing the fruit of action, attaineth to the highest tranquillity. He, who is not possessed of devotion and is attached to the fruit of action, is fettered by action performed from desire. The self-restrained embodied (self), renouncing all actions by the mind, remains at ease within the house of nine gates, neither acting himself nor causing (anything) to act.[6] The Lord is not the cause of the capacity for action, or of the actions of men, or of the connection of actions and (their) fruit. It is nature that engages (in action). The Lord receiveth no one's sin, nor also merit. By ignorance, knowledge is shrouded. It is for this that creatures are deluded. But of whomsoever that ignorance hath been destroyed by knowledge of self, that knowledge (which is) like the Sun discloseth the Supreme Being. Those whose mind is on Him, whose very soul is He, who abide in Him, and who have Him for their goal, depart never more to return, their sins being all destroyed by knowledge.[7]



  1. Sankhya is renunciation of action, while Yoga is devotion through action.
  2. The grammatical form of the word Yoga as here employed is exceptional.
  3. The first atman is explained as the soul, the second as the body, by all the commentators.
  4. Taking means taking anything with the hands.
  5. Water when thrown over a lotus-leaf escapes without soaking or drenching the leaf at all.
  6. Telang renders Pura as city, of course, the body having two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, and two openings for excretions, is meant.
  7. Such men are exempted from the obligation of re-birth. Leaving this body they merge into the Supreme Soul.