Bhagavad-gita As It Is
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada




saha-jam karma kaunteya

sa-dosam api na tyajet

sarvarambha hi dosena

dhumenagnir ivavrtah

saha-jam—born simultaneously; karma—work; kaunteya—O son of Kunti; sa-dosam—with fault; api—although; na—never; tyajet—to be given up; sarva-arambhah—any venture; hi—is certainly; dosena—with fault; dhumena—with smoke; agnih—fire; iva—as; avrtah—covered.


Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work which is born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.


In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. Even if one is a brahmana, he has to perform sacrifices in which animal killing is necessary. Similarly, a ksatriya, however pious he may be, has to fight enemies. He cannot avoid it. Similarly, a merchant, however pious he may be, must sometimes hide his profit to stay in business, or he may sometimes have to do business on the black market. These things are necessary; one cannot avoid them. Similarly, even though a man is a sudra serving a bad master, he has to carry out the order of the master, even though it should not be done. Despite these flaws, one should continue to carry out his prescribed duties, for they are born out of his own nature.

A very nice example is given herein. Although fire is pure, still there is smoke. Yet smoke does not make the fire impure. Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements. If one prefers to give up the work of a ksatriya and take up the occupation of a brahmana, he is not assured that in the occupation of a brahmana there are no unpleasant duties. One may then conclude that in the material world no one can be completely free from the contamination of material nature. This example of fire and smoke is very appropriate in this connection. When in wintertime one takes a stone from the fire, sometimes smoke disturbs the eyes and other parts of the body, but still one must make use of the fire despite disturbing conditions. Similarly, one should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements. Rather, one should be determined to serve the Supreme Lord by his occupational duty in Krsna consciousness. That is the perfectional point. When a particular type of occupation is performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, all the defects in that particular occupation are purified. When the results of work are purified, when connected with devotional service, one becomes perfect in seeing the self within, and that is self-realization.



asakta-buddhih sarvatra

jitatma vigata-sprhah

naiskarmya-siddhim paramam


asakta-buddhih—unattached intelligence; sarvatra—everywhere; jita-atma—control of the mind, vigata-sprhah—without material desires; naiskarmya-siddhim—perfection of non-reaction; paramam—supreme; sannyasena—by the renounced order of life; adhigacchati—attains.


One can obtain the results of renunciation simply by self-control and by becoming unattached to material things and disregarding material enjoyments. That is the highest perfectional stage of renunciation.


Real renunciation means that one should always think himself part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Therefore he has no right to enjoy the results of his work. Since he is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, the results of his work must be enjoyed by the Supreme Lord. This is actually Krsna consciousness. The person acting in Krsna consciousness is really a sannyasi, one in the renounced order of life. By such mentality, one is satisfied because he is actually acting for the Supreme. Thus he is not attached to anything material; he becomes accustomed to not taking pleasure in anything beyond the transcendental happiness derived from the service of the Lord. A sannyasi is supposed to be free from the reactions of his past activities, but a person who is in Krsna consciousness automatically attains this perfection without even accepting the so-called order of renunciation. This state of mind is called yogarudha, or the perfectional stage of yoga, as confirmed in the Third Chapter: yas tv atma-ratir eva syat. One who is satisfied in himself has no fear of any kind of reaction from his activity.



siddhim prapto yatha brahma

tathapnoti nibodha me

samasenaiva kaunteya

nistha jnanasya ya para

siddhim—perfection; praptah—achieving; yatha—as; brahma—the Supreme; tatha—so; apnoti—achieves; nibodha—try to understand; me—from Me; samasena—summarily; eva—certainly; kaunteya—O son of Kunti; nistha—stage; jnanasya—of knowledge; ya—which; para—transcendental.


O son of Kunti, learn from Me in brief how one can attain to the supreme perfectional stage, Brahman, by acting in the way which I shall now summarize.


The Lord describes for Arjuna how one can achieve the highest perfectional stage simply by being engaged in his occupational duty, performing that duty for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One attains the supreme stage of Brahman simply by renouncing the result of his work for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. That is the process of self-realization. Actual perfection of knowledge is in attaining pure Krsna consciousness; that is described in the following verses.


TEXTS 51–53

buddhya visuddhaya yukto

dhrtyatmanam niyamya ca

sabdadin visayams tyaktva

raga-dvesau vyudasya ca

vivikta-sevi laghv-asi


dhyana-yoga-paro nityam

vairagyam samupasritah

ahankaram balam darpam

kamam krodham parigraham

vimucya nirmamah santo

brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

buddhya—by the intelligence; visuddhaya—fully purified; yuktah—such engagement; dhrtya—determination; atmanam—self; niyamya—regulated; ca—also; sabdadin—the sense objects, such as sound, etc.; visayan—sense objects; tyaktva—giving up; raga—attachments; dvesau—hatred; vyudasya—having laid aside; ca—also; vivikta-sevi—living in a secluded place; laghu-asi—eating a small quantity; yata-vak—control of speech; kaya—body; manasah—control of the mind; dhyana-yoga-parah—always absorbed in trance; nityam—twenty-four hours a day; vairagyam—detachment; samupasritah—taken shelter of; ahankaram—false ego; balam—false strength; darpam—false pride; kamam—lust; krodham—anger; parigraham—acceptance of material things; vimucya—being delivered; nirmamah—without proprietorship; santah—peaceful; brahma-bhuyaya—to become self-realized; kalpate—is understood.


Being purified by his intelligence and controlling the mind with determination, giving up the objects of sense gratification, being freed from attachment and hatred, one who lives in a secluded place, who eats little and who controls the body and the tongue, and is always in trance and is detached, who is without false ego, false strength, false pride, lust, anger, and who does not accept material things, such a person is certainly elevated to the position of self-realization.


When one is purified by knowledge, he keeps himself in the mode of goodness. Thus one becomes the controller of the mind and is always in trance. Because he is not attached to the objects of sense gratification, he does not eat more than what he requires, and he controls the activities of his body and mind. He has no false ego because he does not accept the body as himself. Nor has he a desire to make the body fat and strong by accepting so many material things. Because he has no bodily concept of life, he is not falsely proud. He is satisfied with everything that is offered to him by the grace of the Lord, and he is never angry in the absence of sense gratification. Nor does he endeavor to acquire sense objects. Thus when he is completely free from false ego, he becomes nonattached to all material things, and that is the stage of self-realization of Brahman. That stage is called the brahma-bhuta stage. When one is free from the material conception of life, he becomes peaceful and cannot be agitated.



brahma-bhutah prasannatma

na socati na kanksati

samah sarvesu bhutesu

mad-bhaktim labhate param

brahma-bhutah—being one with the Absolute; prasanna-atma—fully joyful; na—never; socati—laments; na—never; kanksati—desires; samah—equally disposed; sarvesu—all; bhutesu—living entity; mat-bhaktim—My devotional service; labhate—gains; param—transcendental.


One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.


To the impersonalist, achieving the brahma-bhuta stage, becoming one with the Absolute, is the last word. But for the personalist, or pure devotee, one has to go still further to become engaged in pure devotional service. This means that one who is engaged in pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord is already in a state of liberation, called brahma-bhuta, oneness with the Absolute. Without being one with the Supreme, the Absolute, one cannot render service unto Him. In the absolute conception, there is no difference between the served and the servitor; yet the distinction is there, in a higher spiritual sense.

In the material concept of life, when one works for sense gratification, there is misery, but in the absolute world, when one is engaged in pure devotional service, there is no misery. The devotee in Krsna consciousness has nothing to lament or desire. Since God is full, a living entity who is engaged in God’s service, in Krsna consciousness, becomes also full in himself. He is just like a river cleansed of all dirty water. Because a pure devotee has no thought other than Krsna, he is naturally always joyful. He does not lament for any material loss or gain because he is full in service of the Lord. He has no desire for material enjoyment because he knows that every living entity is the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and therefore eternally a servant. He does not see, in the material world, someone as higher and someone as lower; higher and lower positions are ephemeral, and a devotee has nothing to do with ephemeral appearances or disappearances. For him stone and gold are of equal value. This is the brahma-bhuta stage, and this stage is attained very easily by the pure devotee. In that stage of existence, the idea of becoming one with the Supreme Brahman and annihilating one’s individuality becomes hellish, and the idea of attaining the heavenly kingdom becomes phantasmagoria, and the senses are like broken serpents’ teeth. As there is no fear of a serpent with broken teeth, so there is no fear from the senses when they are automatically controlled. The world is miserable for the materially infected person, but for a devotee the entire world is as good as Vaikuntha, or the spiritual sky. The highest personality in this material universe is no more significant than an ant for a devotee. Such a stage can be achieved by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, who preached pure devotional service in this age.



bhaktya mam abhijanati

yavan yas casmi tattvatah

tato mam tattvato jnatva

visate tad-anantaram

bhaktya—by pure devotional service; mam—Me; abhijanati—one can know; yavan—as much as; yah ca asmi—as I am; tattvatah—in truth; tatah—thereafter; mam—Me; tattvatah—by truth; jnatva—knowing; visate—enters; tat—thereafter; anantaram—after


One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.


The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, and His plenary portions cannot be understood by mental speculation nor by the nondevotees. If anyone wants to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has to take to pure devotional service under the guidance of a pure devotee. Otherwise, the truth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead will always be hidden. It is already stated (naham prakasah) that He is not revealed to everyone. Everyone cannot understand God simply by erudite scholarship or mental speculation. Only one who is actually engaged in Krsna consciousness and devotional service can understand what Krsna is. University degrees are not helpful.

One who is fully conversant with the Krsna science becomes eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom, the abode of Krsna. Becoming Brahman does not mean that one loses his identity. Devotional service is there, and as long as devotional service exists, there must be God, the devotee, and the process of devotional service. Such knowledge is never vanquished, even after liberation. Liberation involves getting free from the concept of material life; in spiritual life the same distinction is there, the same individuality is there, but in pure Krsna consciousness. One should not misunderstand that the word visate, “enters into Me,” supports the monist theory that one becomes homogeneous with the impersonal Brahman. No. Visate means that one can enter into the abode of the Supreme Lord in his individuality to engage in His association and render service unto Him. For instance, a green bird enters a green tree not to become one with the tree but to enjoy the fruits of the tree. Impersonalists generally give the example of a river flowing into the ocean and merging. This may be a source of happiness for the impersonalist, but the personalist keeps his personal individuality like an aquatic in the ocean. We find so many living entities within the ocean, if we go deep. Surface acquaintance with the ocean is not sufficient; one must have complete knowledge of the aquatics living in the ocean depths.

Because of his pure devotional service, a devotee can understand the transcendental qualities and the opulences of the Supreme Lord in truth. As it is stated in the Eleventh Chapter, only by devotional service can one understand. The same is confirmed here; one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead by devotional service and enter into His kingdom.

After attainment of the brahma-bhuta stage of freedom from material conceptions, devotional service begins by one’s hearing about the Lord. When one hears about the Supreme Lord, automatically the brahma-bhuta stage develops, and material contamination—greediness and lust for sense enjoyment—disappears. As lust and desires disappear from the heart of a devotee, he becomes more attached to the service of the Lord, and by such attachment he becomes free from material contamination. In that state of life he can understand the Supreme Lord. This is the statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam also. Also after liberation the process of bhakti or transcendental service continues. The Vedanta-sutra confirms this: aprayanat tatrapi hi drstam. This means that after liberation the process of devotional service continues. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, real devotional liberation is defined as the reinstatement of the living entity in his own identity, his own constitutional position. The constitutional position is already explained: every living entity is the part and parcel fragmental portion of the Supreme Lord. Therefore his constitutional position is to serve. After liberation, this service is never stopped. Actual liberation is getting free from misconceptions of life.



sarva-karmany api sada

kurvano mad-vyapasrayah

mat-prasadad avapnoti

sasvatam padam avyayam

sarva—all; karmani—activities; api—although; sada—always; kurvanah—performing; mat—under My; vyapasrayah—protection; mat—My; prasadat—mercy; avapnoti—achieves; sasvatam—eternal; padam—abode; avyayam—-imperishable.


Though engaged in all kinds of activities, My devotee, under My protection, reaches the eternal and imperishable abode by My grace.


The word mad-vyapasrayah means under the protection of the Supreme Lord. To be free from material contamination, a pure devotee acts under the direction of the Supreme Lord or His representative, the spiritual master. There is no time limitation for a pure devotee. He is always, twenty-four hours, one hundred percent engaged in activities under the direction of the Supreme Lord. To a devotee who is thus engaged in Krsna consciousness the Lord is very, very kind. In spite of all difficulties, he is eventually placed in the transcendental abode, or Krsnaloka. He is guaranteed entrance there; there is no doubt about it. In that supreme abode, there is no change; everything is eternal, imperishable and full of knowledge.



cetasa sarva-karmani

mayi sannyasya mat-parah

buddhi-yogam upasritya

mac-cittah satatam bhava

cetasa—by intelligence; sarva-karmani—all kinds of activities; mayi—unto Me; sannyasya—giving up; mat-parah—My protection; buddhi-yogam—devotional activities; upasritya—taking shelter of; mat-cittah—consciousness; satatam—twenty-four hours a day; bhava—just become.


In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me.


When one acts in Krsna consciousness, he does not act as the master of the world. Just like a servant, one should act fully under the direction of the Supreme Lord. A servant has no individual independence. He acts only on the order of the master. A servant acting on behalf of the supreme master has no affection for profit and loss. He simply discharges his duty faithfully in terms of the order of the Lord. Now, one may argue that Arjuna was acting under the personal direction of Krsna, but, when Krsna is not present, how should one act? If one acts according to the direction of Krsna in this book, as well as under the guidance of the representative of Krsna, then the result will be the same. The Sanskrit word mat-parah is very important in this verse. It indicates that one has no goal in life save and except acting in Krsna consciousness just to satisfy Krsna. And, while working in that way, one should think of Krsna only: “I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Krsna.” While acting in such a way, one naturally has to think of Krsna. This is perfect Krsna consciousness. One should, however, note that, after doing something whimsically, he should not offer the result to the Supreme Lord. That sort of duty is not in the devotional service of Krsna consciousness. One should act according to the order of Krsna. This is a very important point. That order of Krsna comes through disciplic succession from the bona fide spiritual master. Therefore the spiritual master’s order should be taken as the prime duty of life. If one gets a bona fide spiritual master and acts according to his direction, then his perfection of life in Krsna consciousness is guaranteed.



mac-cittah sarva-durgani

mat-prasadat tarisyasi

atha cet tvam ahankaran

na srosyasi vinanksyasi

mat—My; cittah—consciousness; sarva—all; durgani—impediments; mat—My; prasadat—My mercy; tarisyasi—you will overcome; atha—therefore; cet—if; tvam—you; ahankarat—by false ego; na—not; srosyasi—do not hear; vinanksyasi—then lose yourself.


If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditional life by My grace. If, however, you do not work in such consciousness but act through false ego, not hearing Me, you will be lost.


A person in full Krsna consciousness is not unduly anxious to execute the duties of his existence. The foolish cannot understand this great freedom from all anxiety. For one who acts in Krsna consciousness, Lord Krsna becomes the most intimate friend. He always looks after His friend’s comfort, and He gives Himself to His friend, who is so devotedly engaged working twenty-four hours a day to please the Lord. Therefore, no one should be carried away by the false ego of the bodily concept of life. One should not falsely think himself independant of the laws of material nature or free to act. He is already under strict material laws. But, as soon as he acts in Krsna consciousness, he is liberated, free from the material perplexities. One should note very carefully that one who is not active in Krsna consciousness is losing himself in the material whirlpool, in the ocean of birth and death. No conditioned soul actually knows what is to be done and what is not to be done, but a person who acts in Krsna consciousness is free to act because everything is prompted by Krsna from within and confirmed by the spiritual master.



yad ahankaram asritya

na yotsya iti manyase

mithyaisa vyavasayas te

prakrtis tvam niyoksyati

yat—therefore; ahankaram—false ego; asritya—taking shelter; na—not; yotsya—shall fight; iti—thus; manyase—think; mithya esah—this is all false; vyavasayah te—your determination; prakrtih—material nature; tvam—you; niyoksyati—will engage you.


If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then you will be falsely directed. By your nature, you will have to be engaged in warfare.


Arjuna was a military man, and born of the nature of the ksatriya. Therefore his natural duty was to fight. But, due to false ego, he was fearing that by killing his teacher, grandfather and friends, there would be sinful reactions. Actually he was considering himself master of his actions, as if he were directing the good and bad results of such work. He forgot that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present there, instructing him to fight. That is the forgetfulness of the conditioned soul. The Supreme Personality gives directions as to what is good and what is bad, and one simply has to act in Krsna consciousness to attain the perfection of life. No one can ascertain his destiny as the Supreme Lord can; therefore the best course is to take direction from the Supreme Lord and act. No one should neglect the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or the order of the spiritual master who is the representative of God. One should act unhesitatingly to execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—that will keep him safe under all circumstances.



svabhava-jena kaunteya

nibaddhah svena karmana

kartum necchasi yan mohat

karisyasy avaso ’pi tat

sva-bhava-jena—by one’s own nature; kaunteya—O son of Kunti; nibaddhah—conditioned; svena—by one’s own; karmana—activities; kartum—to do; na—not; icchasi—like; yat—that; mohat—by illusion; karisyasi—you will act; avasah—imperceptibly; api—even; tat—that.


Under illusion you are now declining to act according to My direction. But, compelled by your own nature, you will act all the same, O son of Kunti.


If one refuses to act under the direction of the Supreme Lord, then he is compelled to act by the modes in which he is situated. Everyone is under the spell of a particular combination of the modes of nature and is acting in that way. But anyone who voluntarily engages himself under the direction of the Supreme Lord becomes glorious.



isvarah sarva-bhutanam

hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati

bhramayan sarva-bhutani

yantrarudhani mayaya

isvarah—the Supreme Lord; sarva-bhutanam—of all living entities; hrd-dese—in the location of the heart; arjuna—O Arjuna; tisthati—resides; bhramayan—causing to travel; sarva-bhutani—all living entities; yantra—machine; arudhani—being so placed; mayaya—under the spell of material energy.


The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.


Arjuna was not the supreme knower, and his decision to fight or not to fight was confined to his limited discretion. Lord Krsna instructed that the individual is not all in all. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, or He Himself, Krsna, the localized Supersoul, sits in the heart directing the living being. After changing bodies, the living entity forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present and future, remains the witness of all his activities. Therefore all the activities of living entities are directed by this Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves and is carried by the material body which is created in the material energy under the direction of the Supersoul. As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular type of body, he has to work under the spell of that bodily situation. A person seated in a high-speed motor car goes faster than one seated in a slower car, though the living entities, the drivers, may be the same. Similarly, by the order of the Supreme Soul, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity to work according to his past desires. The living entity is not independant. One should not think himself independant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The individual is always under His control. Therefore his duty is to surrender, and that is the injunction of the next verse.



tam eva saranam gaccha

sarva-bhavena bharata

tat-prasadat param santim

sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam

tam—unto Him; eva—certainly; saranam—surrender; gaccha—go; sarva-bhavena—in all respects; bharata—O son of Bharata; tat-prasadat—by His grace; param—transcendental; santim—peace; sthanam—abode; prapsyasi—you will get; sasvatam—eternal.


O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode.


A living entity should therefore surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is situated in everyone’s heart, and that will relieve him from all kinds of miseries of this material existence. By such surrender, one will not only be released from all miseries in this life, but at the end he will reach the Supreme God. The transcendental world is described in the Vedic literature as tad visnoh paramam padam. Since all of creation is the kingdom of God, everything material is actually spiritual, but paramam padam specifically refers to the eternal abode, which is called the spiritual sky or Vaikuntha.

In the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita it is stated: “Sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah.” The Lord is seated in everyone’s heart, so this recommendation that one should surrender unto the Supersoul sitting within means that one should surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Krsna has already been accepted by Arjuna as the Supreme. He was accepted in the Tenth Chapter as param brahma param dhama. Arjuna has accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the supreme abode of all living entities, not only because of his personal experience but also because of the evidences of great authorities like Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa.



iti te jnanam akhyatam

guhyad guhyataram maya

vimrsyaitad asesena

yathecchasi tatha kuru

iti—thus; te—unto you; jnanam—knowledge; akhyatam—described; guhyat—confidential; guhyataram—still more confidential; maya—by Me; vimrsya—by deliberation; etat—that; asesena—fully; yatha—as you; icchasi—you like; tatha—that; kuru—perform.


Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.


The Lord has already explained to Arjuna the knowledge of brahmabhuta. One who is in the brahma-bhuta condition is joyful; he never laments, nor does he desire anything. That is due to confidential knowledge. Krsna also discloses knowledge of the Supersoul. This is also Brahman knowledge, knowledge of Brahman, but it is superior.

Here Lord Krsna telIs Arjuna that he can do as he chooses. God does not interfere with the little independence of the living entity. In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord has explained in all respects how one can elevate his living condition. The best advice imparted to Arjuna is to surrender unto the Supersoul seated within his heart. By right discrimination, one should agree to act according to the order of the Supersoul. That will help one become situated constantly in Krsna consciousness, the highest perfectional stage of human life. Arjuna is being directly ordered by the Personality of Godhead to fight. Surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in the best interest of the living entities. It is not for the interest of the Supreme. Before surrendering, one is free to deliberate on this subject as far as the intelligence goes; that is the best way to accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such instruction comes also through the spiritual master, the bona fide representative of Krsna.

Next verse (Bg18.64)