Acharya Vinoba Bhave

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18. Conclusion: Renunciation Of The Fruit Of Actions Leads To The Grace Of The Lord

101. Arjuna’s Last Question

  1. Dear brothers, by the grace of the Lord, we have now reached the last Chapter. In this world of chance and change, fulfillment of any resolve depends on the will of the Lord. Jail life, in particular, is marked by uncertainty at every step. It is difficult to expect that any work started here would be completed here itself. It was also not expected that these discourses on the Gita would be completed here; but the Lord willed so, and hence we have been able to reach the end of the Gita.

  2. In the Fourteenth Chapter, life or karma was divided into three categories: sattvik, rajasik and tamasik. We learnt that what is rajasik or tamasik should be given up and what is sattvik should be cultivated. The Seventeenth Chapter taught the same thing in a different way. The essence of life is yajna-dana-tapas; or to use a single word, yajna. Actions like eating which are necessary for the performance of yajna should also be made sattvik and turned into a kind of yajna. Only such actions should be done; all others should be given up. This was hinted at in the Seventeenth Chapter. We also saw why we should constantly remember the mantra ऊँ तत् सत् (om tat sat). ऊँ denotes constancy, tat denotes detachment and sat denotes purity. Our sadhana should have these three things: constancy, detachment and purity. Only then can it be dedicated to the Lord. All this indicates that only some and not all of the actions are to be renounced.


If we look at the whole message of the Gita, we find it advocating at several places that actions are not to be renounced. What it asks us to renounce is the fruit of actions. Everywhere in the Gita it is taught that we should act ceaselessly and renounce the fruit of our actions. But this is one side of it. The other side appears to be that certain actions should be renounced while certain other actions should be done. That is why Arjuna asks, at the beginning of the Eighteenth Chapter, “On the one hand, it is said that whatever action we do, it should be followed by renunciation of its fruit (falatyaga) and on the other hand, it also appears that some actions must be strictly abjured while some actions should be done. How to reconcile these two positions?”  This question has been asked to understand clearly the direction in which life should proceed and to have an insight into the true meaning of the renunciation of the fruit of actions. Actions in themselves are to be renounced in what the scriptures call sannyasa, while in the falatyaga there is renunciation of the fruit of actions. Does renunciation of the fruit of actions as enjoined by the Gita needs renunciation of the actions themselves?  This is the crux of the matter. With reference to the criterion of the renunciation of the fruit, is there any role for sannyasa?  What are the limits of sannyasa and falatyaga?  This is what Arjuna asks.

102. Renunciation Of The Fruit: The Universal Test

  1. The Lord has made one thing absolutely clear while answering this question: Renunciation of the fruit is the universal test. It can be universally applied. There is no contradiction between renunciation of the fruit of all the actions and the renunciation of rajasik and tamasik actions. The nature of some actions is such that they automatically fall off when the test of renunciation of the fruit is applied. When it is said that renunciation of the fruit should be associated with the performance of actions, it invariably implies that some actions will have to be given up. When we act in conjunction with renunciation of the fruit of actions, it naturally involves abjuration of certain actions.

  2. Let us think over it in depth. When we say that whatever actions we do, we should renounce their fruit, actions prompted by desire for the fruit, actions prompted by selfish motives cease immediately. Such actions, as well as actions which are forbidden, being immoral and unrighteous, are ruled out when it is said that the fruit of actions is to be renounced. To act with renunciation of its fruit is not something mechanical, something done without application of mind. In fact, when we apply this test, it becomes clear which actions are worthy of doing and which are not so. Some say that the Gita enjoins us to act with renunciation of the fruit; it does not suggest which actions should be done. It does appear so, but it is not true. When it is said that one should act and renounce the fruit of actions, it becomes clear which actions should be done and which should not be done. Actions intended to harm others, actions full of falsehood, actions like stealing can never be done if their fruit is to be renounced. The sun illuminates all things, but does it illuminate darkness too?  No, it disappears altogether. That is what happens to selfish or forbidden actions. All the actions should be subjected to this test. When we intend to do something, we should see whether it is possible for us to do it without any attachment and expectation of returns. Renunciation of the fruit is the only unfailing test for actions. When this test is applied, actions with desire or selfish motives show themselves up as fit to be rejected. They must be renounced. Then pure and sattvik actions remain. They should be done with detachment, selflessness and humility. Renunciation of selfish actions is also an action and it should also be subjected to this universal test. Renunciation of selfish actions should not require any effort.

Thus, we have seen three things: (i) Whatever actions we do, we should renounce their fruit. (ii) When the test of renunciation of the fruit is applied, rajasik and tamasik actions, selfish and forbidden actions stand rejected. (iii) The same test is to be applied to such renunciation too. There should not be any vanity about renunciation, any feeling that I have made so much sacrifice.’

  1. Why should rajasik and tamasik actions be abjured?  Because they are not pure; and because of their being impure, they smear the mind of the doer with impurities. But on deeper observation, one finds that sattvik actions too are flawed. In fact, every action has some or the other defect in it. The swadharma of farming comes to mind as a pure and sattvik occupation. But even in such work, which is of the nature of yajna, some violence is involved. Ploughing and other operations destroy a number of living beings. When we open the door in the morning, the sun’s rays enter the house and kill a number of living beings. What we call purification turns out to be a killing operation. Even sattvik work is thus flawed. What is then to be done?

  2. I have already said that we have yet to develop to the full all the virtues. We have been able to have just a fleeting glimpse of qualities like wisdom, devotion, service and non-violence. It is not that they had fully blossomed sometime in the past. Mankind is learning from experience and making progress. In the Middle Ages, it was thought that agriculture involves violence; so it should be avoided by the people believing in non-violence and they should prefer trade and commerce instead. It is strange that to grow grains was considered sinful, but to sell them was not considered so!  To avoid actions in this way does no good. Restricting the sphere of actions in this way will ultimately prove suicidal. The more a man thinks of escaping from actions, the more will he get entangled in them. If you have to trade in grains, is it not necessary for someone else to grow them?  If so, are you not an accomplice in the violence involved in farming?  If growing cotton is a sin, it should be equally sinful to sell it. Not to produce cotton on the ground of it being an impure work is a sign of warped thinking. An attitude that goes on rejecting actions of all the types on different pretexts is not a sign of compassion; on the contrary, it shows lack of true compassion. We should understand that when the leaves are plucked, a tree does not wither away; it rather gets fresh foliage. In the contraction of the sphere of activities, there is contraction of the Self.

103. The Right Way To Extricate Oneself From Activity

  1. The question then arises, if all the activities are flawed, then why should not all of them be renounced?’  This question has already been answered. Renunciation of all the actions is indeed a very attractive and fascinating idea; but how to renounce innumerable actions?  Is the way of giving up rajasik and tamasik actions applicable to sattvik actions too?  How to avoid sattvik actions that are flawed or impure?  The curious result of saying इंद्राय तक्षकाय स्वाहा1 (Let Indra along with Takshak be offered as sacrifice in the yajna) is that Indra, being immortal, does not die, and Takshak too escapes death and becomes stronger. Sattvik actions have a good deal of merit and a little flaw in them. When you try to sacrifice them because of that flaw, the merit in them does not die because of its inherent strength, but the flaws survive and grow behind the shield of the merit. The flaws which otherwise could have been removed, get strengthened because of such indiscreet sacrifice. If we drive away the cat because it commits the violence of killing the rats, we shall have to suffer the violence committed by the rats. If snakes are done away with because they commit violence, a lot of pests will multiply and destroy the crops, resulting in the death of thousands of people. Renunciation must, therefore, be accompanied with wise discrimination.

  2. There is a story that Machchhindranath asked Gorakhnath, his disciple, to give a boy a good wash. Gorakhnath literally washed the boy like a piece of cloth by thrashing him on a washing stone, squeezed him and put him on the clothes-line for drying!  Is it the way to give a boy a wash?  Clothes and boys are not washed in the same way. Similarly, there is a lot of difference between renouncing sattvik actions and renouncing rajasik and tamasik actions. Sattvik actions are to be renounced in an altogether different way.

Actions bereft of wise discrimination can result in something adverse and unexpected. Has not Tukaram said, त्यागें भोग माझ्या येतील अंतरा  ।  मग मी दातारा काय करूं  ।।(If I outwardly renounce the desires and passions, they will enter my heart. O Lord!  What am I to do then?) Even if one tries to make a little sacrifice outwardly, the subtle urge for indulgence remains in the mind and grows there in strength, rendering that sacrifice meaningless. If a little bit of renunciation is going to lead us to build palatial houses, it makes no sense; it would have been better to live in a hut. It is better to continue to be dressed in the coat and the turban than to wear a loin-cloth and amass wealth and wallow in worldly pleasures. That is why the Lord has prescribed an altogether different way for renunciation of sattvik actions: they are to be done, but their fruits should be severed from them. While some actions themselves are to be renounced, fruits of some other are to be severed from them. A stain on the body can be washed off; but if the natural colour of the skin is dark, what is the point in white-washing it?  It is better if no attention is paid to it.

  1. There is a story about a man, who thought that his house was filthy and inauspicious and therefore left and went to another village. He found filth in that village too and therefore went to a forest. There, as he sat under a mango tree, a birds droppings fell on his head. Disgusted, he cursed the forest and went and stood in a river. There he found big fish eating up the small ones, and that heightened his disgust. Convinced that the whole of creation was abominable, and there was no way out except through death, he came out of the water and kindled a fire to end his life. A gentleman who was passing by enquired, Brother, why do you want to end your life?  The man replied, Because the world is an abominable place; it stinks. The gentleman said, But imagine how it would stink when your flesh begins to burn!  How awful the stench is when even a single hair burns!  What would happen when your whole body gets burnt?  We live nearby. How would we bear it?  Where could we go?  The man was bewildered and exclaimed, One cannot live in this world, nor can one die!  What is one to do then?

  2. The moral is that if you go on condemning everything as abominable and try to escape from it, you simply cannot carry on. If you try to avoid a small flawed act, an act with a bigger flaw will become inescapable. The nature of karma is such that it cannot be got rid of by outward renunciation only. If a man tries to fight the karma that has come to his lot in the natural course, if he tries to swim against the current, he is bound to get exhausted in the end and be swept off by the current. His interest lies in acting in tune with the current of swadharma. Then the coatings on the mind will peel off gradually and the mind will go on getting increasingly purified. Activities will wither away of themselves even though actions will continue to be done. Karma will remain, but activity will disappear.

  3. There is a difference between karma (action) and kriya (activity). Let us take an example to explain this. Suppose there is a great commotion at a place and it is to be stopped. A policeman goes there and shouts at the top of his voice. To make the people silent, he has to do the intense action of shouting. Someone else may go, stand up and raise his finger; and that will be sufficient to quieten the people. Another person may just go there and his very presence will stop the commotion and the noise. In the first case, activity is intense; in the second case, it is gentle; and in the third case, it is subtle. But action is the same, that of quietening the people.

As the mind gets purified, intensity of activity will go on diminishing. Activity will go on becoming gentler and subtler, and will altogether cease in the end. Action and activity are different things. Even grammatically, these two terms are different from each other.

This must be clearly understood. A man may express his anger either by shouting or by keeping silent. He may thus resort to different activities for the sake of one and the same action. A jnani does no activity, but his karma is infinite. His very existence induces innumerable people to take to the right path. Even if he is just sitting still, he does infinite karma. As activity goes on becoming subtler and subtler, the karma goes on growing. Thus, one can infer that when the mind is completely purified, activity will cease altogether and karma will become infinite. Activity will progressively become gentler and subtler till its complete cessation in the end, and then infinite karma will take place by itself.

  1. Karma cannot be got rid of by rejecting it superficially. It is possible only gradually through selfless, desireless work. There is a poem by the poet Browning wherein a man asks the Pope, Why do you bedeck yourself with robes etc.?  Why do you have all this paraphernalia?  Why do you keep a serene face?  Why this pretence?  The Pope answers, I do all this because it is possible that as I go on play-acting in this way, faith may touch me one day, without my even realising it.  One should, therefore, go on doing desireless activity; it will finally culminate in the state of no activity.

104. An Insight Into Swadharma

  1. In short, rajasik and tamasik actions are to be renounced without exception and sattvik actions that come to us in the natural course should be done, even if they have some flaws in them. Let them be defective. If you try to avoid their defects, other defects will overtake you. If your nose is crooked, let it be so. If you attempt to cut it to make it beautiful, it will look more frightful. You should be what you are; trying to do something unnatural would invite trouble. Sattvik actions may be defective, but as they come to us in the natural course, they should be done; only their fruit should be renounced.

  2. There is one more thing to say. You must not take up the karma that has not come to you in the natural course, even if you feel that you could do it quite excellently. Do only what has come to you in the natural course. Do not go out of the way to take on new tasks which are not naturally yours. Avoid the work which needs a lot of deliberate efforts to build it up, even though it appears attractive. Do not be tempted by it; for, renunciation of fruit is possible only in the case of the karma that comes to you in the natural course. If a man begins to run after each and every karma, imagining that this is good and that also is good, renunciation of fruit is inconceivable. This will result in nothing but making a mess of one’s life. It is with the desire of having its fruit that one will do the karma that one is not duty-bound to do, and still the fruit will elude him. Life will then always be unsteady and unsettled. The mind will get attached to that karma. Even if sattvik karma is found tempting, one should keep away from that temptation. If you try to pursue a variety of sattvik karma, rajas and tamas will creep into them. You must therefore restrict yourself to the sattvik karma which comes to you as your natural swadharma.

  3. Swadharma is comprised of swadeshi2 dharma, swajateeya dharma (duties arising out of one’s being a part of a particular community) and swakaleen dharma (duties appropriate for the time). These three together constitute swadharma. While deciding about one’s swadharma, one is required to take into account what is appropriate to one’s nature and tendencies and what are the duties that have fallen to him. You have something in you which makes you what you are. That is why you are different from others. Everybody has something that is distinctively his own. A goat can develop itself as a goat; if it aspires to be a cow, it is impossible. It can never give up its goatness’. To give up the goatness’ it will have to give up its body; it will have to die to take a new body and acquire a new dharma. In the present birth, that goatness’ alone is sacred for it. You must be knowing the story of the bull and the frog. There is a limit beyond which a frog cannot inflate its body. It will die if it tries to become as big as a bull. It is not right to imitate others. That is why it is said that taking up another’s dharma is disastrous.

  4. Swadharma consists of two parts; one changes while the other does not. I am not today what I was yesterday, nor shall I be tomorrow what I am today. I am changing continually. A childs swadharma is to seek all-round development. A young mans swadharma is to use his abundant energy for the service of society. Swadharma of a mature adult man is to give others the benefit of his wisdom. A part of swadharma thus changes, but the other part remains unchanged. To use the language of the scriptures, we may say that a man has varnadharma (duties that follow from being in a particular varna) as well as ashram- dharma3 (duties that follow from being in a particular ashram); and that varnadharma does not change while ashramdharma changes.

Ashramdharma changes. What does this mean? When we successfully pass the stage of brahmacharyashram, we enter the next stage—become a grihasth (the householder)—, then enter vanaprasthashram and finally become a sannyasi.  But varnadharma does not change. I can never go beyond my natural limits. Any attempt to do so will be foolish. You cannot overlook your distinctive attributes and personality. The scheme of varnadharma is based on this idea. The concept of varnadharma is quite appealing. Is varnadharma absolutely unchangeable? Is belonging to a varna akin to belonging to a species?  Is it that just as a goat will always be a goat, a Brahmin will always be a Brahmin?  I concede that it is not so; one should take a balanced view. When varnadharma is used as an ingenuous arrangement for social order, exceptions are inevitable. The Gita has acknowledged this.

The key point is that one should understand these two types of dharma and keep away from any other dharma, even if it appears beautiful and alluring.

105. The full Meaning Of The Renunciation Of Fruit

 17.    From the elaboration of the idea of the renunciation of fruit of actions the following points emerge:

  1. Rajasik and tamasik karma should be completely given up.

  2. The fruit of the action of that renunciation should also be renounced. There must not be any pride or vanity about it.

  3. Sattvik karma should not itself be renounced, but its fruit should be renounced.

  4. Sattvik karma, whose fruit is to be renounced, should be done even if it has some impurities in it.

  5. When such karma is done continually, the mind will get purified. Activity will go on becoming gentler and subtler, and will cease completely in the end.

  6. Activity will disappear; but actions for the sake of loksamgraha—to bring the people together and show them the path of righteousness—will continue.

  7. Only that sattvik karma should be done which comes to us in the natural course. One should keep away from other karma, howsoever good it may appear. One should not be tempted by it.

  8. Swadharma that comes to us naturally consists of two parts. One is subject to change and the other is not. Varnadharma does not change, while the ashramdharma keeps changing. The part of swadharma that is subject to change must change. That will ensure purity and avoid stagnation.

   18.  If a stream stops flowing and water stagnates, it begins to stink. Similar is the case with   ashramdharma. A man first accepts family life. He submits to the restraints of family for the sake of his growth. There he gets different experiences. But if he remains bound there permanently, it will spell his doom. The family-life, which was his dharma at one stage, becomes adharma (irreligion) at a later stage, as it then becomes binding. If the changing part of the dharma is not given up in time because of attachment, the result is disastrous. There should not be attachment even to a good thing. Attachment inevitably leads to terrible consequences. Germs of tuberculosis may enter the lungs unawares, but they will nevertheless eat away the whole of our life. If, through our carelessness, the germs of attachment enter into sattvik karma, that will then result in the rotting of swadharma. The sattvik swadharma will then degenerate into rajas and tamas. The part of swadharma that ought to change must be left behind at the appropriate time. This is true for the dharma about family as well as the dharma about nation. If attachment creeps into patriotism, it will degenerate into dangerous chauvinism. That will halt development. Attachment will corrupt the mind and cause degeneration.

106. Fulfillment Is Nothing But The culmination Of Sadhana

  1. In short, if you aspire for the fulfillment of your life, you should seek and catch hold of the principle of the renunciation of fruit of actions which will free you from all worries. It would show you the right path. This principle also tells us the bounds within which to act. When we have this guiding light with us, we shall know what to do, what to discard, what to change and when, and so on.

  2. But now let us consider something different. Should the spiritual seeker have his attention riveted on the ultimate state marked by the complete cessation of activities?  A jnani continues to act without doing any activity. Should a seeker have this aim in mind?

No. Here too, the principle of renunciation of the fruit should be applied. Our life is so wonderfully fashioned that we would get what we want even without paying any attention to it. Moksha (the state of oneness with the Supreme) is the highest fulfillment of life. But one must not be greedy even for moksha, or the state of akarma. That state would be reached without one being aware of it. Sannyasa is not something that can happen at some particular moment. It is not something mechanical. You will not even notice how it grows in your life. Let us not therefore worry about moksha.

  1. A bhakta always says to the Lord, Bhakti is enough for me. I do not have desire for moksha, the ultimate fruit of sadhana.  After all, moksha too is a kind of fruit—something that is to be enjoyed—and it too must be renounced. But when we renounce moksha, it will not move away from us; rather, attainment of moksha will become more certain. When you give up the hope of attaining moksha, you will advance towards it without your being aware of it. Let sadhana be done with such single-minded dedication that there is no thought of moksha in the mind; then moksha itself will seek you on its own accord. Let the seeker be totally immersed in his sadhana. The Lord had already said, मा ते संगोSस्त्वकर्मणि(You should not covet the state of akarma, or moksha’). Now He is again saying in the end, अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः  । (I shall release you from all sins; be not grieved.)4I, the bestower of moksha is here; forget about moksha and be concerned about your sadhana.’  Sadhana will attain perfection when you forget moksha, and then moksha will itself be attracted to you.  Moksha-Lakshmi garlands him who is not concerned about her and is fully absorbed in his sadhana without any thought of moksha in his mind.5

  2. When sadhana reaches its zenith, the moment of fulfillment comes. If a man in a forest wants to reach home, but just keeps sitting under a tree in the forest, chanting home, home’ all the while, the home will remain away. If he succumbs to the temptation of rest, he will miss the ultimate rest. He should keep on walking; eventually he will find his home right in front of him. If I lose myself in dreaming about moksha and relax, slacken my sadhana, moksha will remain distant. The surest way to attain moksha is to fling away any aspiration for it and concentrate on sadhana. One must not hanker after the ultimate rest, after the state of akarma.  Be fully absorbed in your sadhana, stick to it with love and then moksha will be yours without fail. You cannot solve a problem by shouting for the answer; you should rather stick to the correct method and that will step by step lead you to the answer. How can you reach the end before the completion of the process?  How can you have an answer without following the method fully?  How can you attain the state of liberation when you are still a seeker?  When one is struggling for life in a flooded river, will it do if he thinks of the pleasures awaiting him on the other bank?  At that time, all the attention should be riveted on swimming, all the strength should be applied to inch towards the other bank.  Sadhana should be carried to the end; the ocean should be crossed, and you will find moksha there waiting for you.

107. The Triple State Of The Realised One

  1. All the activities drop off in the final stage of a jnani. But this does not mean that in the final state there would necessarily be complete absence of activity; activities may take place or they may not. This final state is extremely fascinating and sublime. The jnani is not concerned about what is taking place in this state. That would invariably be pure, good and beneficial. The jnani stands at the zenith of sadhana. There he would be untouched by all the actions even while doing them. He may even destroy, and yet he is not the destroyer; and even if he does good, he is not the doer of the good.

  2. The final state of moksha is the zenith of sadhana. In this state, sadhana becomes natural and effortless. Then there is not even the thought that I am doing something. This final state of realisation (Siddhavastha) is not a state of morality. A child speaks truth, but it is not a moral act, as he has no idea of untruth. To speak truth while being aware of untruth is a moral act. In the final state, untruth does not exist; truth alone exists. So there is no question of morality. What is forbidden, what is worth abjuring comes nowhere in the picture. Ears do not hear what should not be heard; eyes do not see what should not be seen. Only that gets done which ought to be done; one does not have to do it consciously. One need not have to avoid consciously what is worth avoiding, but it does get avoided. It is in this culmination of sadhana, when it has become natural, amoral—or you may call it supra-moral—that morality reaches its supreme height. We may call this a state of sattvik sadhana wherein sattva has been transcended.

  3. How is one to describe such a state?  Just as one gets indications of the coming eclipse, there are indications in this state that moksha is to follow the death of the body.  Experiences of the state of moksha begin even while the physical body is still in existence. Words fail, language falters while describing this state. Howsoever violence a man in this state commits, he does nothing. How to judge his actions?  Whatever is done at his hands will be nothing but sattvik karma. Even when he no more does any activity, he shows the right path to all in the world. This grand vision makes one speechless.

  4. This final state is three-dimensional. One of them is the state in which we find sage Vamadeva. His declaration is famous: All that is there in this universe, that am I.  A jnani becomes completely egoless. He loses any sense of identification with the body. His activities cease. Then he attains a special state of consciousness. In this state he is no more confined to a single body. This state is not a state of activity. It is a state marked with intense and pervasive emotions and feelings. All of us can have experience of this state on a small scale. A mother takes upon herself the virtues as well as vices of her child. The childs sorrow makes her sad and his happiness makes her happy. But this state, this experience of identity in the case of a mother is limited to her child. She takes upon herself the childs faults. A jnani takes upon himself the faults of the whole world. He becomes a sinner by the sins of the world and the virtues of the world make him virtuous. And yet he is absolutely untouched by the merits and the sins of the world.

  5. In the Rudra Sukta in the Veda, the sage says, यवाशच मे तिलाशच मे गोधूमाशच मे (Give me barley, give me sesame, give me wheat.’)  He is continually demanding something or the other. How big is his stomach?  But then he, who was demanding all this, was not one contained in a single physical body measuring three cubits and a half; his Self had become one with the whole universe. I call this Vedic vishwatmabhava’ (The Vedic attitude of identification with the whole universe) as we find this sense of identity at its height in the Vedas.

  6. Narsi Mehta, the Gujarati saint, says, while singing the Lords praise, बापजी पाप में कवण कीधां हशे, नाम लेतां तारऊं निद्रा आवे (O Lord! What sin have I committed, that I should feel sleepy while chanting your Name?’). Was Narsi Mehta feeling sleepy?  No, it was those who had assembled to listen to him who were sleepy. But Narsi Mehta had identified himself with them; he was in a particular state of consciousness. This is the state of the jnani. The jnani, in this state, may be seen doing all conceivable virtuous and sinful acts, and he would himself concede it. Does not the Vedic sage say, I have done a lot of things that should not have been done, I am doing such things, and will continue doing them. When such a state of consciousness is attained, the Self begins to soar high in the sky like a bird. It transcends the limitations of earthly existence.

  7. Just like this state of consciousness, the jnani has also a state of activity. What sort of activities will the jnani do naturally?  Whatever he will do will be nothing but sattvik. Although he is still bound by the limitations of the human body, his whole body, all of his organs have become sattvik; so all his activities are bound to be sattvik. If you look at it from the point of view of practical affairs, his behaviour will reflect the ultimate perfection of the sattvik nature; if you look at it from the point of view of vishwatmabhava, he appears to be doing all the sinful and the virtuous deeds in the universe, and still he is untouched by them. It is so because he has peeled off and flung away the body stuck to the Self. It is only when one flings away this worthless body that one attains the state of identification with the whole universe.

  8. Besides the state of consciousness and the state of activity, the jnani has a third state too. That is the state of jnana, the state of knowledge. In this state, he can neither bear with sin nor virtue and flings aside everything quickly. He is ready to set fire to the whole universe. He is not prepared to undertake any action. Its very touch repels him. In the final stage of sadhana or in the state of moksha, these three states are conceivable for the jnani.

  9. How is one to imbibe this state of no activity, this last state?  The way is to train ourselves not to take upon our shoulders the burden of being the doer of the actions we do. We should keep reflecting, I just happen to be instrumental. I am not really the doer of actions. We should first assume this stand with humility. This, of course, will not immediately result in the complete eradication of the sense of being the doer. It can happen only gradually. Let us first feel that I am nothing, I am just a puppet in His hands. He is moving me. The next step is to feel that the activities do not touch the Self; they are of this body. But I am not this transient and mortal body; I am full of divine consciousness. And, meditating over this feeling, you should remain completely untouched by the fetters of the body. When this happens, the state of jnani will be attained wherein connection with the body is as if completely severed. This state will be three-dimensional as we have already referred. In the state of activity, wholly pure and perfect activities will be done at the hands of the jnani. In the state of consciousness, he will have the feeling that he is the doer of all the sins and the virtuous deeds in the universe; yet he will remain untouched by them. In the third state of jnana, he will not let any karma touch him and will burn it down. A jnani can be described in terms of all these three dimensions of the final state.

108. ‘Thou Alone......Thou Alone’

  1. Having said all this, the Lord then asks Arjuna, Have you listened to all this carefully?  Now ponder over it fully and then do what you think right. The Lord thus magnanimously gave complete freedom to Arjuna. This is a unique feature of the Gita. But then compassion welled up in Him and He took back that freedom. He told Arjuna, Give up your will, your sadhana; give up everything and come to Me; take refuge in Me.  What this means is that you should not have any independent self-will; you should do what He wills you to do. Let His will prevail. With full freedom, you should feel that you need have no freedom. Reduce yourself to zero. Let there be the Lord, and the Lord alone, in the universe. The goat, while alive, bleats मी.....मी  that is, I....I....’ But when it is dead and its guts are made into strings for carding cotton, the strings, as saint Dadu says, give the sound तुही......तुही (Thou alone....Thou alone....’).  Now there is nothing but Thou alone.....Thou alone.....’



  1. King Janamejay performed a yajna named sarpasatra, involving sacrifice, and thus killing, of all snakes as a snake had killed his father, King Parikshit.  The snake chief Takshak then took refuge with Indra, the King of the gods, who was immortal.  Along with Takshak, Indra too was then offered in sacrifice.

  2. Swadeshi has been defined by Mahatma Gandhi as 'that spirit in us which restricts us to the use and service of our immediate surroundings to the exclusion of the more remote.'

  3. Ashram here means a stage or period of life.  Four such stages had been prescribed: Brahmacharya (roughly, first 25 years of life when one is supposed to remain celibate and concentrate on his studies), Garhasthya (next 25 years of life when one is supposed to carry out the duties of a householder and discharge family responsibilities), Vanaprastha (next 25 years of life when one is supposed to retire from the family responsibilities, keeping the role of an advisor and devote oneself to the service of society) and Sannyasa (when one should completely renounce worldly life).

  4. Gita, 18.66

  5. Please refer Chapter 3.1


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विनोबाजीके छोटे भाई शिवाजी, जिन्हे आश्रमवासी आबा कहते थे, संत साहित्य के बडे विद्वान थे I विनोबाजीका बृहद् चरित्र उन्होंने लिखा है I मराठी में ज्ञानेश्वरी का प्रथम शब्दार्थ कोश निर्माण का कार्य उनकी संत साहित्य को बडी देन है I गीताई प्रचार कार्य उनकी जीवन साधना थी I ब्रह्मविद्या मंदिर आश्रम, पवनार की जेष्ठ सदस्या ज्योती पाटणकर उनके सान्निध्य में रही I 'श्री शिवाजी भावे - जीवन कार्य एवं सर्वोदय विचारों का मौलिक सूक्ष्म विवेचन (खंड -१)' इस उत्कृष्ट ग्रंथ का संकलन - संपादन ज्योती पाटणकरजींने किया है I सर्व सेवा संघ का यह प्रकाशन सर्वोदय साहित्य के अभ्यासक तथा पाठको के लिये बडी देन है I इस ग्रंथ प्राप्ती के लिये संपर्क - सर्व सेवा संघ प्रकाशन, राजघाट, वाराणसी मो. ९५५५१५३८७८
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