Chapter 5

Arjuna asks Krishna, “Both you extol, O Krishna, renunciation and selfless action. Tell me decisively once and for all, which is the better of the two?” (5.1)

Krishna answers, “Both lead to the Bliss supreme, but action is easier, action is superior.”(5.2)

But Krishna makes it clear to Arjuna that renunciation is very difficult to attain. “But renunciation, O Arjuna is difficult to attain without yoga; the sage who is trained in yoga attains soon to the Absolute.”(5.1) True renunciation can be attained only through selfless action. Sri Chinmoy explains:

“God is to occupy one’s mind; and in this state of divine concentration, one should serve humanity. At that very hour, service itself becomes the greatest reward. Although meditation and service constitute totally different approaches in the field of spirituality, work and dedicated service are nothing short of pure meditation.”

Krishna refers to the human body as the city of nine gates, “The body is a city of nine gates. Within this city resides the embodied self, neither working nor causing work to be done.”(5.13)

Krishna now tells how a person can be enlightened. He says, “For those in whom ignorance is destroyed by wisdom – for them wisdom lights up the Supreme Self like the sun. Thinking about the Supreme Self, directing one’s whole conscious being to Him, making Him their whole aim, with Him as the sole object of their devotion, they reach a state from which there is no return, their sins washed away by wisdom.”(5.17) Krishna then goes on to teach Arjuna about the joy within oneself, “He who finds happiness, joy and light within, that person becomes divine and attains God.” (5.24)

Of pain and pleasure Krishna says, “Sense-pleasure ends in pain. Hence sense-pleasure is shunned by the wise. Constant self-control is the real and perpetual happiness.” (5.22-23)

Towards the end of this chapter Sri Krishna stresses the importance of shunning sensuality totally in order for man to realise God. Sri Krishna says, “To those austere souls who are delivered from desire and anger and who have subdued their minds and have knowledge of the Self – are close to God.”(5.2)

Chapter 5: True Renunciation

Samkhya and Yoga lead to the same goal

Peace from within


He who finds his happiness within,
his joy within,
and likewise his light only within,
that yogin becomes divine and attains to the beatitude of God.


Shutting out all external objects,
fixing the vision between the eyebrows,
making even the inward and the outward breaths moving within the nostrils,
the sage who has controlled the senses, mind,
and understanding, who is intent on liberation,
who has cast away desire,
fear and anger-he is ever freed.


And having known Me as the Enjoyer of sacrifices and austerities,
the Great Lord of all the worlds,
the Friend of all beings,
he [the sage] attains peace.


– The Bhagavad Gita

(This translation is taken from ‘A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy’ Edited by S. Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. 1957 Princeton University Press)

Web Source: Aspiring India

Hindu Poets