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Karma Yoga, Better than Renunciation

by Swami Sivananda

Arjuna said to Lord Krishna: "O Krishna, Thou praiseth renunciation of actions and then also Yoga (of action or Nishkamya Karma Yoga). Of the two which is better? That tell me conclusively." The Lord said: "Renunciation and Yoga by action both lead to the highest bliss; of the two, Yoga by action is verily better than renunciation of action. A Nitya Sannyasin or perpetual ascetic is one who neither hates nor desires, one who is free from the pairs of opposites. Children, not sages, speak of the Sankhya (Jnana Yoga) and Yoga (Karma Yoga) as different; he who is duly established in one obtaineth the fruits of both. That abode which is gained by those practising Sankhya is reached by the Yogis also."

"He seeth who seeth that the Sankhya and Yoga are one. But without Yoga, O mighty-armed, renunciation is hard to attain to; the Yoga-harmonised Muni swiftly goeth to the Eternal. He who is harmonised by Yoga, the self-purified, self-ruled, with senses subdued, whose self is the self of all beings, although acting, he is not affected. He who acteth, placing all actions in the Eternal, abandoning all kinds of attachment, is unaffected by sin as a lotus leaf by the drops of water. Yogis, having abandoned all attachment, perform action by the body, by the mind, by the reason and even by the senses, only for the purification of the self."

"The harmonised man, having abandoned the fruits of action, attaineth to the eternal peace; the non harmonised, impelled by desire, attached to fruit, is bound. Mentally removing all actions, the sovereign dweller in the body resteth serenely in the nine-gated city, neither acting nor causing to act. The Lord of the world produceth not the idea of agency, nor actions, nor the union together of action and its fruit; nature however, manifesteth. The Lord accepteth neither the evil-doing nor yet the well-doing of any. Wisdom is enveloped by ignorance; therewith mortals are deluded." Ch. V-1 to 16.

Arjuna said to Lord Krishna: "I desire to know severally the essence of renunciation, O Hrishikesha, and of relinquishment, O Kesinishudana."

The Blessed Lord said: "Sages have known as renunciation as the renouncing of works with desire; the relinquishing of the fruit of all actions is called relinquishment by the wise. 'Action should be relinquished as an evil', declare some thoughtful men. 'Acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be relinquished', say others. Hear My conclusions as to that relinquishment, O best of the Bharatas, since relinquishment, O tiger of men, has been explained as threefold. Acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be relinquished, but should be performed; sacrifice, gift and also austerity are the purifiers of the intelligent. But even these actions should be done leaving aside attachment and fruit, O Partha; that is My certain and best belief. Verily renunciation of actions that are prescribed is not proper, the relinquishment thereof from delusion is said to be of darkness. He who relinquisheth an action from fear of physical suffering, saying that it is painful, thus performing a passionate relinquishment, obtaineth not the fruit of relinquishment. He who performeth a prescribed action, saying: 'It ought to be done,' O Arjuna, relinquishing attachment and also its fruit, that relinquishment is regarded as pure. The relinquisher, pervaded by purity, intelligence and with doubts cut away, hateth not unpleasurable action nor is attached to pleasurable. Nor indeed can embodied beings completely relinquish action; verily he who relinquisheth the fruit of action he is said to be a relinquisher. Good, evil and mixed-threefold is the fruit of action hereafter for the non-relinquisher; but there is none ever for the renouncer." Ch. XVIII-1 to 12.

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