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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'That happiness which is in the beginning like poison but in the end compares to nectar,
is in the mode of goodness said to be born in the soul from the grace of intelligence'

1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 18a
The Yoga of Liberation through Renunciation
'About renunciation and its threefold nature'
Moksha Sannyāsa Yoga  




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Verse 1.

 arjuna uvāca
sannyāsasya mahābāho
tattvam icchāmi veditum
tyāgasya ca hrishīkeśa
prithak keśi-nishūdana

Verse 2.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāmyānām karmanām nyāsam
sannyāsam kavayo viduh
prāhus tyāgam vicakshanāh

      Phala-bhoga-viraga or renunciation of the desire for the enjoyment of the fruits of one's action is also essential. When this vairāgya (detachment) is rooted deep, the citta (consciousness) becomes pure and uparathi or withdrawal of the senses from the objective world is made possible. - Prasanthi Vahini, p. 52.

      If you have an eye on the fruits of your actions, you are liable to be affected by worry, anxiety and restlessness - Gītā Vahini, p. 35

Verse 3.

tyājyam dosha-vad ity eke
karma prāhur manīshinah
na tyājyam iti cāpare

      We have come to recognize this ritual yaj˝a as important in the context of our worshipping the Lord. The statements that are in our Vedas have told us to sacrifice everything, and through sacrifice, we should be able to get a vision of the divine in us. The creation and its maintenance depends only on sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice, society will not remain intact. If there is no sacrifice there will be no life, and one cannot recognize the truth, and if there is no sacrifice there is no creation and there is no sustenance. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1974, p. 12

      Dana or gift is a meritorious act if it is rendered to the needy, at the time of need, in a manner that fulfills the need; it must be made without pride or publicity; without the superior air of the giver, without rubbing into the mind of the receiver that he is being helped to stand on his own legs, with no contempt contaminating the mind of the giver. Give, as an act of worship to the divine that you wish to adore in the person to whom you are offering what God has given you for this very purpose! - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, pp. 11-2

      You should be able to unify your work, mind and talk. Tapas gives you the ability by which you can do this. Vidya which we have identified with brahma vidya (spiritual attainment) and tapas will enable one to experience Brahman. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1978, p. 44

Verse 4.

niścayam śrinu me tatra
tyāge bharata-sattama
tyāgo hi purusha-vyāghra
tri-vidhah samprakīrtitah

Verse 5.

na tyājyam kāryam eva tat
yaj˝o dānam tapaś caiva
pāvanāni manīshinām

Verse 6.

etāny api tu karmāni
sangam tyaktvā phalāni ca
kartavyānīti me pārtha
niścitam matam uttamam

      Desire the fruits of karma and you get born again and again, caught up in that desire; give up that desire, you are liberated from the flux. The practice of this type of renunciation ends the state of bondage. The main point is to stick to the goal. The goal is karma, not karma-phala. - Gītā Vahini, p. 33

Verse 7.

niyatasya tu sannyāsah
karmano nopapadyate
mohāt tasya parityāgas
tāmasah parikīrtitah

      Perhaps you will prefer to remain inactive. Well, that is an indication of tamo-guna! It is even worse than rajo-guna. - Gītā Vahini, p. 34

Verse 8.

duhkham ity eva yat karma
kāya-kleśa-bhayāt tyajet
sa kritvā rājasam tyāgam
naiva tyāga-phalam labhet

Verse 9.

kāryam ity eva yat karma
niyatam kriyate 'rjuna
sangam tyaktvā phalam caiva
sa tyāgah sāttviko matah

      Everything you do, you have to do as worship of God, without desire and expectation of reward and just as a duty and privilege. In the Bhagavad Gītā, this spirit and attitude of service - Karma Phalam Tyāgah (sacrifice of the fruits of our deeds) has been glorified as Yoga. - Spirituality in Day to Day Living, p. 4

Verse 10.

na dveshthy akuśalam karma
kuśale nānushajjate
tyāgī sattva-samāvishtho
medhāvī chinna-samśayah

      If we understand the spirit of the Gītā, we will know that it has taught us that the most important feature of a human being should be sacrifice. It has also told us what kind of sacrifice it is. That should be karma phalam tyāgah or sacrifice of the fruits of our deeds. The Gītā never taught that we should give up action. It has taught us to undertake every action for the pleasure of God, and never desire for the fruits thereof. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, p. 176

Verse 11.

na hi deha-bhritā śakyam
tyaktum karmāny aśeshatah
yas tu karma-phala-tyāgī
sa tyāgīty abhidhīyate

      When we stay in the house, stay in the midst of our duties and perform our duties that we have to perform, having our minds free from desires and attachments to those duties, that would be called proper vairāgya. This is what is referred to as performing all the duties that you have to perform as being performed for God's pleasure. These are not being performed for your pleasure. The realization that whatever you do is in the name of God and for God's pleasure, will eliminate all losses, difficulties and troubles to you during your life. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, p. 33

Verse 12.

anishtham ishtham miśram ca
tri-vidham karmanah phalam
bhavaty atyāginām pretya
na tu sannyāsinām kvacit

      "Arjuna! Every karya (effect, product, deed) or karma (activity) has a beginning and an end. But nish-kama karma (desireless karma) has no such. That is the difference between the two. When karma is done with a view to gain therefrom, one has to suffer the loss, the pain, and even punishment. But nish-kama karma frees you from all these." - Gītā Vahini, p. 33

Verse 13.

pa˝caitāni mahā-bāho
kāranāni nibodha me
sānkhye kritānte proktāni
siddhaye sarva-karmanām

Verse 14.

adhishthhānam tathā kartā
karanam ca prithag-vidham
vividhāś ca prithak ceshthā
daivam caivātra pa˝camam

Verse 15.

śarīra-vān-manobhir yat
karma prārabhate narah
nyāyyam vā viparītam vā
pa˝caite tasya hetavah

      Today the man is a self-contradiction, a contradiction in himself. There is no conformity in what is in his mind, what he talks and what he does. His thoughts, words and deeds are incongruous. Without harmony in his own thought, word and deed, how can he contribute to the harmony in the community and in the world? He can only create chaos. That is the misfortune in the world all over today. Man has to therefore first understand himself, his own dignity and his inner spirituality, then only will he have the right perspective, right thinking and act in the right direction. Then only can he rightly discharge his duty to the society and the world. - Spirituality in Day to Day Living, pp. 36-7

 Verse 16.

tatraivam sati kartāram
ātmānam kevalam tu yah
paśyaty akrita-buddhitvān
na sa paśyati durmatih

      Light and air, heat and sound, are unrelated; they are distinct in every way, it would seem. But for all these, the karta (doer, subject of action), the motivator is the same, viz., the electric current. The expressions, the manifestations may be different; but the basis, the inspiration, the latent potency, the base is the same.

Like the current, Godhead too operates through all instruments. He is the dātha (giver, bestower, Earth) of sarva-karma-phala (the fruit of all karma). Like the current, He is the inner motivator of all beings, sarva-bhūta-anthara-ātma (inner reality or self in all beings). Since He is the activator of all karmas, He is called Adhiyaj˝am. - Gītā Vahini, p. 128.

Verse 17.

yasya nāhankrito bhāvo
buddhir yasya na lipyate
hatvāpi sa imāl lokān
na hanti na nibadhyate

      The ātmā-j˝ānī is not bound by the results of karma; it is only those who indulge in karma without awareness of the ātmā, (their real self, unaffected by what they do or feel or think), that do get bound. - Gītā Vahini, p. 30.

Verse 18.

j˝ānam j˝eyam parij˝ātā
tri-vidhā karma-codanā
karanam karma karteti
tri-vidhah karma-sangrahah

Verse 19.

j˝ānam karma ca kartā ca
tridhaiva guna-bhedatah
procyate guna-sankhyāne
yathāvac chrinu tāny api

      There are three types of people; the tamasic who are like iron balls, impervious to any softening influence; the rajasic who are like cotton, absorbent but not changing their own nature; and the sattvic, who melt as butter melts at the joy and grief of others, or at the mention of the līlās of the Lord. They dive deep into the source and spring of sympathy. - Sathya Sai Speaks I, p. 172.



Verse 20.  

sarva-bhūteshu yenaikam
bhāvam avyayam īkshate
avibhaktam vibhakteshu
taj j˝ānam viddhi sāttvikam

Param Brahman (indicates the One beyond and behind everything, grander than anything in the three worlds. It is non-dual, unique, the eternal and infinite. "Two" means difference, dissention, inevitable discord. Since Brahman is all-pervasive, It is One and only One. It is Indivisible and Indestructible. Realizing this is j˝ānam, the highest wisdom. - J˝āna Vahini, p. 14.

Verse 21.

prithaktvena tu yaj j˝ānam
vetti sarveshu bhūteshu
taj j˝ānam viddhi rājasam

      Rajasic j˝āna is the stage where you have the difference between man and woman, bird and beast, joy and sorrow. By giving place to these dualities, we always remain in the rajasic state. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, pp. 278-9

Verse 22.

yat tu kritsna-vad ekasmin
kārye saktam ahaitukam
atattvārtha-vad alpam ca
tat tāmasam udāhritam

      Tamasic j˝āna is the exact opposite of the sattvic state. Tamasic state does not believe in oneness and on the other hand it places undue importance on the diversity and does not bother about that which exists beyond this appearance. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, p. 279

Verse 23.

niyatam sanga-rahitam
arāga-dveshatah kritam
aphala-prepsunā karma
yat tat sāttvikam ucyate

      These are the mumukshus (the ones who desire liberation), alert on the path of liberation, who are intent on attaining it. They perform each act as a step in the realization of the Lord. So, they can never do anything bad; they do not look forward to the result; they leave it to the Lord to give it, or withhold it. They are not prompted by worldly motives or even by the desire to gain heavenly pleasure. Their aim is just this: liberation from the bondage of the objective world. They win the grace of the Lord in proportion to the steadiness of their faith and practice. - Gītā Vahini, pp. 146-7

Verse 24.

yat tu kāmepsunā karma
sāhankārena vā punah
kriyate bahulāyāsam
tad rājasam udāhritam

      The group that believes in sa-kama-karma (karma with expectation to reap fruit for oneself) performs all acts through the desire for the fruit thereof. Since they have an eye on the successful earning of the fruit, they will engage themselves only in acts that are approved by the śāstras; they will not do any sinful or prohibited act. They will equate each act with the merit it will confer, the happiness that it will ensure, the heaven that it will win. Such men, when they depart from this world will enter the lokas (supra-mundane-worlds) they have sought and worked for, and having stayed there as long as their merit entitles them, they have to return to earth. - Gītā Vahini, p. 147.

Verse 25.

anubandham kshayam himsām
anapekshya ca paurusham
mohād ārabhyate karma
yat tat tāmasam ucyate

      The third group is not guided by any rule of conduct. They have no norms, no discrimination between virtue and vice, right and wrong, proper and improper. They have no horror of hell, no conception of heaven, no dread of the devil, no reverence for God, no respect for the śāstras, no vision of dharma! They are best pictured as beasts in human form. The majority of humans are members of this unfortunate group. They strive for momentary pleasure, short-lived happiness, temporary joy and evanescent comfort. - Gītā Vahini, p. 147

Verse 26.

mukta-sango 'naham-vādī
siddhy-asiddhyor nirvikārah.
kartā sāttvika ucyate

      The sattvic path: This means that one considers japam (mantra-meditation, praying the vedic way) dhyānam (meditation) as a duty and suffers any amount of trouble for its sake; one is fully convinced that all of this is just an illusion; so, one does only good under all conditions and at all times; one desires only the good of all, being always loving towards all; one spends time uninterruptedly in the remembrance and meditation of the Lord. He will not crave even for the fruit of the japam and dhyanam; he will leave it all to the Lord. - Dhyana Vahini, p. 7

Verse 27.

rāgī karma-phala-prepsur
lubdho himsātmako 'śucih
harsha-śokānvitah kartā
rājasah parikīrtitah

      The rajasic path: Here, one will be craving at every step for the fruit of one's act. If that fruit is not available, then gradually, laxity and disgust overpower the sādhaka, and japam and dhyānam slowly dry up. - Dhyana Vahini, p. 7

Verse 28.

ayuktah prākritah stabdhah
śathho naishkritiko 'lasah
vishādī dīrgha-sūtrī ca
kartāt tāmasa ucyate

      The tamasic path: This is even worse. The Lord will come into the memory only in times of danger or acute suffering or when one is the victim of loss or pain. At such times, such people pray and vow that they will arrange this puja, offer this particular food, or build this kind of temple to the Lord. They will be calculating the quantity of food they placed before the Lord, the tribute they offered to His feet, the number of prostrations they did and the number of times they circumambulated the shrine; and ask for proportionate rewards! For those who adopt this in dhyānam, the mind and the intellect can never be pure. - Dhyana Vahini, p. 7

Verse 29.

buddher bhedam dhriteś caiva
gunatas tri-vidham śrinu
procyamānam aśeshena
prithaktvena dhana˝jaya

      Nature is composed of three basic gunas or qualities, sattvic, rajasic and tamasic, and their interplay determines the nature and moods of human beings at different intervals of times due to the predominance of one or the other. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1973, p. 198

      Buddhi or the intellect has to be kept sharp and clear. There are three types of buddhi, according to the predominance of one or the other of the three gunas: the tamas, which confuses the sathyam and the a-sathyam; the rajas, which like a pendulum swings from one to the other, hovering between the two, unable to distinguish between them, and the sattva, which knows which is sathyam and which is a-sathyam. - Sathya Sai Speaks I, pp. 65-6

Verse 30.

pravrittim ca nivrittim ca
kāryākārye bhayābhaye
bandham moksham ca yā vetti
buddhih sā pārtha sāttvikī

      I have come to help all to acquire this sattvic nature. You might have heard people talk about the miracles; of My "making" this and giving that, of My fulfilling all your wants, of my curing your illnesses. But they are not so important as the sattva-guna I promote and instill. - Sathya Sai Speaks I, p. 66

Verse 31.

yayā dharmam adharmam ca
kāryam cākāryam eva ca
ayathāvat prajānāti
buddhih sā pārtha rājasī

      The world today is suffering from rajo-buddhi rather than tamas; people have violent likes and dislikes; they have become fanatical and factious, they are carried away by pomp and noise, show and propaganda; that is why discrimination has become necessary. To reach the goal, sattva-buddhi is essential; it will seek the truth calmly and stick to it whatever the consequence. - Sathya Sai Speaks 1, p. 66

Verse 32.

adharmam dharmam iti yā
manyate tamasāvritā
sarvārthān viparītāmś ca
buddhih sā pārtha tāmasī

      Most people live superficial lives. They are like logs of wood tossed up and down by the waves of the sea, insensitive, dull, thamasic. Haste lands them in waste; waste increases worry. They have no time to sit and meditate on the reality of their own existence, their own knowledge and their own joy. If that is done, they can contact the source of all existence, all knowledge and all bliss. They don't take even the first step towards their self-inquiry. How then can they derive self-satisfaction at their vastness, indestructibility, infinite power and wisdom? - Sathya Sai Speaks IX, p. 215.

Verse 33.

dhrityā yayā dhārayate
dhritih sā pārtha sāttvikī

      Yoga is restraining the agitations natural to the mind. Man alone is endowed with the equipment needed to establish mastery over the senses. - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 43

      The godly will take up activity as a means of worshipping God, and they leave the result to God. They know they are instruments in the hands of God. The godly are following the sattvic path, which leads them to God. Man's real nature is sattvic, but, due to sheer ignorance and the unquestioned obedience to the senses, man is suffering pain and grief; this is the sad state of affairs, not only in India but all over the world. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, pp. 115-6.

Verse 34.

yayā tu dharma-kāmārthān
dhrityā dhārayate 'rjuna
prasangena phalākānkshī
dhritih sā pārtha rājasī

      The arena of life is raised on four pillars: dharma, arthā, kāma and moksha. They sustain and support. When the arena loses two and struggles to stand on the remaining two, viz., arthā and kāma, naturally, anxiety, pretence, grief and greed afflict mankind. Each pillar must cooperate and complement the parts that the other three play. Dharma must sublimate arthā, that is to say, through moral means alone should the means of living be obtained. Arthā must be won through dharma and used in dharma. Kāma must be primarily for moksha; that is to say, desire must be directed to liberation from bondage, not to the forging of new chains of the addition of further links in the chain of birth and death. - Sathya Sai Speaks IV, p. 368.

Verse 35.

yayā svapnam bhayam śokam
vishādam madam eva ca
na vimu˝cati durmedhā
dhritih sā pārtha tāmasī

      The tamasic has the peculiar property of twisting reality out of shape and of making the true appear as false, the false as true, the transient and the trivial as everlasting and desirable. - Sanathana Sarathi, May 1980, p. 112

Verse 36.

sukham tv idānīm tri-vidham
śrinu me bharatarshabha
abhyāsād ramate yatra
duhkhāntam ca nigacchati

Man is fundamentally happy-natured, sukha-sva-bhava. Bliss is his very personality. He is not of the nature of the body he occupies. He is the ātmā. Happiness is the nature of the ┬tmā. - Gītā Vahini, p. 121

Verse 37.

yat tad agre visham iva
parināme 'mritopamam
tat sukham sāttvikam proktam

      The mind seeks sukha or happiness; it feels that happiness can be got in this world from fame, riches, land and property, from individuals or relations; further it builds up pictures of heaven where there is more intense happiness for a longer time; at last, it discovers that eternal undiminished happiness can be got only by dwelling on the reality of one's own self, which is Bliss Itself. - Sathya Sai Speaks I, pp. 72-3

Verse 38.

yat tad agre 'mritopamam
parināme visham iva
tat sukham rājasam smritam

      Vedanta is j˝āna, the knowledge that reveals, that loosens "the knots of the heart" and the bondage to external objects, that discloses in a flash, the unity that is the truth of all this multifarious creation. That alone can give peace and happiness. Man can be happy only in vastness, in overflowing into greater and greater power and magnificence. - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 88

Verse 39.

yad agre cānubandhe ca
sukham mohanam ātmanah
tat tāmasam udāhritam

      Gaining things that add to comfort, that intoxicate, that give a false sense of bliss - this is not the goal of life. That road has no end; it goes on and on, forever. Wants multiply indefinitely; contentment is a will o' the wisp. Egotism gets deep-rooted: the capacity to distinguish right from wrong is dulled. Thirst grows with each quaff; hunger starts craving for more, with each morsel.

Ask yourself the question: Is there a state called sukha, happiness? Can it be reached by accumulating things? No. Happiness is only an interval between two miseries; misery is a gap between two moments of happiness. You must equate both happiness and misery and transcend both, teaching the mind to dive deeper into the realms of bliss. - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 117

Verse 40.

na tad asti prithivyām vā
divi deveshu vā punah
sattvam prakriti-jair muktam
yad ebhih syāt tribhir gunaih

      Māyā is the name of that mist of ignorance, that torments the mind, which seeks to plunge in the depths of the Self. This mist is the confusing conglomeration of three qualities that disturb the primal equanimity of the universe - the white, red and black, the sattvic, the rajasic and tamasic, the unaffected, the active and the dull, the detached, the passionate and the slothful. The curtain of māyā made of these three strands has to be either brushed aside, rent asunder, or raised, so that the reality may be revealed. - Sathya Sai Speaks VII, p. 248




Adhi: a prefix to verbs and nouns, expresses above, over and above, besides.
Adhiyaj˝a: the Supersoul, plenary part of the Lord in the heart of every living being.
Param Brahman: the Supreme
- The Personality of Godhead, Śrī Krishna.
Brahman: Krishna's impersonal sat-aspect. Is divided in parā and apara-brahman relating to having respectively the unseen and the visible of the creation.
Śāstra: (order, command precept, rule, instruction advise, counsel) the vedic studies, the revealed instructions, treatises, the manuals, the body of teaching to the sacred scriptures of the Vedas and Upanishads.
Loka: planet, star, world, abode. Divided in fourteen: five higher ones, one of the atmosphere, the earth and seven lower ones.
- Tri-bhuvana: the three worlds of heaven, hell and purgatory.
- In three the worlds of the earth, the atmosphere and heaven: Bhūr, Bhuvah Svah.
- Svah: The five celestial worlds: Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka.
- Bhuvarloka, the areal region, the atmosphere, the life-force.
- Bhūrloka or earthly regions, the middle, madhya or martyalokas including the seven lower, ādo, viz. Pātāla, Rasātala, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talātala, Mahātala en Sutala (see S.B.
2.5:36-40; 2.1: 26-39 and 11.24: 11-14).
- Siddhaloka, the place of no return beyond the first three where the ones of perfection go to.
- In seven they are: bhūh, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah and satya. Their invocations are called vyāhritis (
see 12. 6: 44).
- Caitanya Mahāprabhu by His mercy promotes the most fallen souls of Kali - yuga to beyond these planets and even beyond Vaikunthha, to the supreme planet of Lord Krishna in the spiritual sky, called Goloka Vrindāvana.







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