Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18 SUMMARY — Freedom & Renunciation (190)


Lesson 190 summarizes Bhagavad Gita, CHAPTER 18 with prominent points and concludes the course.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18 SUMMARY

CHAPTER 18 SUMMARY: Renunciation for the sake of Moksha (Mokṣa-Sannyāsa-Yogaḥ)

Bhagavad Gita Structure:

  • Bhagavad Gita is summarized in CH 2 & 18.
  • CH 3-17 is elaboration of CH 2 & 18.
  • CHAPTER 18 is divided into 5 portions:
    • Verse 1-12: Sannyasa (Renunciation).
    • Verse 13-17: Atma svarupam (Nature of Self, “I”).
    • Verse 18-40: Analysis of 6 topics.
    • Verse 41-66: Karma-Yoga & Jnana-Yoga Summary.
    • Verse 67-78: Conclusion.

Verse 1-12: Sannyasa (Renunciation)

  • Arjuna wants clarification about sannyasa/tyaga, since both mean “renunciation”  (giving up / letting go / detaching) in dictionary.
    • Technical Meaning:
      • Sannyāsa: Out of 5 possible actions available to any human being, only niyata karmas (and perhaps naimittika) are performed — specifically for sake of spiritual growth.
      • Tyāga: Giving up the unrealistic, narrow-minded insistence or expectation that RESULTS of our past actions ALWAYS turn out according to our liking. Because in reality, they don't since Īśvara (total intelligence) is the giver of results, not the jīva. What we expect is jīva-sṛṣṭi. What is actually delivered to us (as consequence of our sincere past actions) – is īśvara-sṛṣṭi.
  • Krishna says, both words are same.
  • What does renunciation mean?
    1. Primary:
      • Prescribed only for qualified minds for self-knowledge. With sadhana-catushtaya (4 fold qualifications per Tattva Bodha). Leaving family/society. Dropping physical possessions/bank. Only for Advanced. Not for Arjuna (can’t separate from brothers, Bhishma, Drona).
    2. Secondary:
      • Doesn’t have total qualifications. Has need to be in world, grihastha, engage in societal ties/family.
      • Renunciation by correct attitude. If tries to do role of PRIMARY, becomes escapism.
      • Challenges:
        • In grihasta, it’s almost natural to plunge entirely into addressing the ongoing needs of family/friends.
          • SOLUTION:
            • Introduce spirit of duty, as though, an employee in a company.
            • Make it lucid what you value, what your needs are, in reference to spirituality.
            • Make it easy to pursue your values/needs by keeping it prominent and close physically. When it’s away, we are less inclined to pursue.
        • One’s weakness is to succumb to expectations of life/society. EG: Identifying with some role in order to preserve the status quo.
          • SOLUTION:
            • Set boundaries for yourself. Wake up; look at them.
            • Release need to expect a perfect-future-outcome, because the outcome is always ishvara-srishti, while expectation is always jiva-srishti, and they are hardly ever identical.
  • Thus Krishna says, Arjuna, engage in the field of action in spirit of duty, for sake of (a) mind-purification, (b) preserving harmony in your life, both for sake of moksha”.

Verse 13-17: Atma svarupam (Also elaborated in CH2, V12-25)

  • Before & After:
    • During ignorance, meaning of Atma = 3 bodies.
    • AFTER ignorance removal, meaning of Atma changes to it’s true meaning which is scripturally defined as, “Existence whose nature is Self-Conscious; sat-cit (Brahman)”.
    • This change of definition is called moksha. MeaningAtma is liberated”.
      • Objection: How can atma be liberated when it was NEVER bound?
        • Answer: That statement is FALSE during ignorance. Atma (“I”) was NOT liberated, it was bound by mistaking itself for 3-bodies.
  • Learn to identify with the TRUE definition of Atma by a short statement (backed by understanding).
    • EG:
      • aham brahman asmi.
      • brahma satyaṃ jaganmithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ (Brahma-Jnanavali-Mala, Verse 20; Garland of Brahman Knowledge)
      • I am space-like (field of) Existence which is self-conscious (lending consciousness to all bodies in this universe).
      • This body-mind is absolutely not Me; it is incidental, yet for a short while longer, it must be maintained and nurtured.
  • Krishna further gives logic why you (sat-cit) have no punya/papa. Because you (sat-cit) are all pervasive field of existence. And that which is all-pervasive can’t act because it is everywhere. And because it can’t act, you have no sanchita/prarabdha/agami.
    • Metaphor:
      • Even air can cause damage (papa) or provide fire with oxygen (punya). But space has no power to give either. In presence of Space, other 4 elements can express their nature.
      • Similarly, you (sat-cit), being all-pervasive, are akarta, and in presence of you (sat-cit), the 5-koshas (3-bodies) express their nature.

Verse 18-40: Analysis of 6 topics, classified into Sattva/Raja/Tamas

  • 6 topics give overview of B.Gita teachings.
  • Gunas:
    1. Sattvic: Whatever contributes to spiritual growth. Well-being of self/others.
      • EG:
        • Relationship, food, dress, hobbies.
        • Conversations: 4 factors make it sattvic:
          1. Satyam vadam: What I know inside, is what leaves my mouth. Truthful speak.
          2. Priya vadam: It’s delivered pleasantly, with right volume, time and manners.
          3. Rtam vadam: Whatever leaves my mouth, is well-researched.
          4. Hitam vadam: Get to the point ASAP.
    2. Rajasic: Whatever contributes to material growth, but leads to spiritual stagnation. No time for religion, values, spirituality. Society looks upon him/her as SUCCESSFUL.
    3. Tamasic: Whatever contributes to spiritual regression.
  • 6 Topics:
    1. Jñānam: Knowledge:
      • Sattva: Attention on parā-vidyā + aparā-vidyā. Well-being of self and others.
      • Rajas: Takes refuge in selective-knowledge. EG: Life about career.
      • Tamas: Perceives world through one possibility. You say X, they interpret Y.
    2. Karma: Action:
      • Sattva: Done in Karma-Yoga spirit. (Dharma; ethics/morals/harmony > comes from Ishvara).
      • Rajas: Actions motivated by “what will I get”. Although selfish helps others.
      • Tamas: Actions violate others space/rights (violence, racism).
    3. Kartā: Doer:
      • Sattva: Without pride. Considerate. Doer enjoys contributing value.
      • Rajas: Likes/dislikes impulsive.
      • Tamas: Clumsy. Procrastinator. Slothful. EG: Leaves rubbish after festivals.
    4. Buddhi: Intellect:
      • Sattva: Listens to one’s needs. Asks “What is most intelligent way to handle X?”.
      • Rajas: Doesn’t know what is dharma/adharma.
      • Tamas: Misunderstands (Lives in jīva-sṛṣti) + doesn’t ask + assumes. 
        • EG:
          • Person doesn't call or contact us in time we expect. A narrative is born in our mind what it means.
          • In spiritual world, person sees one video. Doesn't agree with something, then judges teacher to be incompetent. And is quick to correct them. Not realizing it takes multiple sessions to explain anything from multiple angles. But since Tama guna intellect doesn't think like this, it refuses to see other videos due to it's unpleasant first impression. It's one reason seeking extends for lifetimes.
    5. Dhṛtiḥ: Commitment/Willpower:
      • Sattva: Commits equally to hard/necessary & easy/fun.
      • Rajas: Commits mostly to “my fancies”. Hard/necessary avoided even if healthy.
      • Tamas: Stubbornly commits to old/outdated/past.
    6. Sukham: Happiness:
      • Sattva: Poison start. Nectar end.
      • Rajas: Nectar start. Poison end.
      • Tamas: Joy from day-dreaming/fantasizing.

Verse 41-66: What is Karma-Yoga & Jnana-Yoga?

  1. Karma-Yoga:
    • Definition: Proper action + Proper attitude.
    • What is “proper action”?
      • Definition: svadharma anuṣṭhānam; performance of one’s duties [to society/community/family/work/own body-mind].
      • How to determine duty?
        • In ancient times, duties were selected per:
          1. varṇa:  (Personality profiling system or “Caste”, which is subject to change throughout the day and stages of life).
            • śūdra:        laborer, mechanical work, little thinking involved, rinse-and-repeat.
            • vaiśya:        resource generator.
            • kṣatriya:     leader, action taker, executor of plan.
            • brāhmaṇa: researcher, learner, inquirer, thinker.
          2. āśrama:  (Life is divided into 4 quadrants).
            • brahmacarya  (age 0-25).
            • gṛhasta             (25-50).
            • vānaprastha    (50-75).
            • sannyāsi           (75-100).
        • Since in modern times few are following varṇa/āśrama, solution is to prioritize life of contribution / well-being for all whenever possible.
    • What is “proper attitude”?
      • Īśvara-arpaṇa (entrusting): Whatever action you do, act-as-if, you’re doing it for the Lord (in the form of partner/client/spouse).
      • Īśvara-prasāda: Whatever consequences comes to you, see it as prasāda (blessing, learning opportunity, offering) from the Lord.
    • Benefit of Karma-Yoga: Purification of Mind. Spiritualize/engage the buddhi into subtler-thinking.
  2. Jnana-Yoga:
    • 3-fold process:
      • Śravaṇa: Consistent and systematic study of Vedantic scriptures, for a length of time, under guidance of competent teacher.
      • Mananam: Whatever received, dwell upon it, and ensure it’s in agreement. By doubt-removal.
      • Nididhyāsanam: Remain in self-knowledge for long time, so it penetrates every cell of personality. How long? Decades.
    • Verse 66: Give up dharma. Meaning:
      • Give up that which does dharma/adharma (body). Give up your body identity by means of 3-fold process above.
      • Give up noble-actions for sake of attaining higher-worlds (svarga, vaikuntha, heaven) — since (ignorant) jiva returns to earth eventually in a human body.

Verse 67-78: Conclusion

  • 4 Qualifications are mentioned for study of Bhagavad Gita.
    • They are:
      1. tapas: life of religious/spiritual strict discipline.
      2. bhakti: devotion; making it personal. Living live per Karma-Yoga spirit (I'm an employee in God's universe).
      3. śraddha: faith in scriptural validity. Not blind faith, but understanding scriptures have already been doubted and attacked by smart minds. Noone is able to contradict their logic.
      4. śuśrūṣa: desire for parā-vidyā (self-knowledge).
    • All 4 must exist. If one is out, the teaching doesn’t work.
  • Krishna glorifies both the teacher and student of the Bhagavad Gita.
  • Sanjaya comes in and tells:
    • To Dhritarashtra that both Sanjaya and Arjuna were fortunate to directly hear the Lord speak.
    • Mentions his best chapter was CH11.
    • Says whoever invokes the Arjuna in him/her (beginners-mind) and Krishna (backed by knowledge of Dharma and ātma-jñānam) — one will be living the highest possible way while being alive.


— COURSE HAS CONCLUDED: Gratitude to all dear participants whose
regular attendance has made this program possible in last 4 years. —



Keywords: svadharma anusthana, shudra, sudra, vaishya, vaisya, ksatriya, kshatriya, brahmana, ashrama, grhasta, vanaprastha, samnyasa, shraddha, sraddha, para-vidya, apara-vidya, susrusa, prasada, arpana, varna

Resources:  L190 Mind-Map

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 1 Nov, 2022



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *