Essence of renunciation

In the last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna wants to know from Sri Krishna, his Guru, the meaning of renunciation and the meaning of giving up the outcome of action?

The Lord answers him by saying abandoning the desire for sense pleasures is the essence of renunciation and giving up the fruits of action and surrendering them to the Lord is the essence of relinquishing the outcome of actions. Those who take up the first path become renunciate, while those who take up the second path become karma yogis.

The Lord explains that some insist upon charity, some upon asceticism and some others upon sacrifice. All three are important and must be practised because they purify the mind of the seeker and take him to a higher contemplative plane.

However, these acts should be performed after giving up the fruits of action through the practice of non-attachment.

While it is not possible to avoid action altogether, he who is able to relinquish the fruit of action can be said to be free of attachment. The Lord explains to Arjuna that there are five causes of action, including the agent of action requires a field of action, the performer of action within the field, good health and appropriate means, concentrated effort and a context that is conducive to the performance of the task. All thought, word and deed result from these five causes including place, agent, means, effort and circumstance.

Those who are ignorant of these underlying causes and as a result of that fact believe they are in fact the doers of action, delude themselves and are unable to connect with their divinity. Those who act without the feeling that they are the doers and have sense of “I” or “mine” are free from bondages caused by action.

The ordinary mortal lives within the triad of seer, seen and sight and knower, known and knowledge and like everything else in the universe is subject to the interplay of the gunas.

As Swami Rama points out, “anyone who is sincerely devoted to his own duty can attain perfection. The aspirant gains success when he regards his duty as worship to the Supreme Brahman from whom all human beings spring and by whose power they are able to do their work. One who surrenders himself with mind, action and speech and makes Brahman the goal of his worship reaches Brahman.

The student should remember that self-surrender – when one learns to surrender all that he thinks is his own – is the highest of yogas.”

Surrender creates the feeling “Not mine My Lord but Yours done through me”. The devotee becomes a full-fledged instrument of Divine Will.

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