Bagawat Geeta, Class 70: Chapter 5, Verses 3 to 7


Shloka # 3:

ज्ञेयः नित्यसंन्यासी यो द्वेष्टि काङ्क्षति
निर्द्वन्द्वो हि महाबाहो सुखं बन्धात्प्रमुच्यते।।5.3।।

Know him to be a perpetual renouncer who neither shuns nor seeks, O mighty-armed! One who is above such contraries is really liberated from bondage.

Continuing his teachings of Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said that the teaching of previous three chapters was that there is no choice between Karma Yoga and Gyana Yoga. The Spiritual Sadhanas are:

  • Gyana Yoga for liberation and
  • Karma Yoga for preparation of mind.

All forms of sadhanas including Patanjali’s yoga of meditation come under these sadhanas.  Even Bhakti Yoga, depending on the type of practice, comes under one of these two sadhanas. When Bhakthi yoga is understood as pooja, or any type of saguna dhyanam it will come under karma yoga.  When bhakti yoga is performed as a Shastric study, it becomes Gyana Yoga, a higher level of Bhakti Yoga.  Thus, Bhakthi yoga is common to both karma yoga and gyana yoga. Lower level of bhakthi yoga is called karma yoga. Higher level of bhakthi yoga is called Gyana yoga; there is no exclusive bhakthi yoga, separate from Karma yoga and Gyana yoga. Therefore, all the sadhanas will fall within these two alone.

Regarding life style, Sri Krishna says, there is a choice. We can be in society and follow both sadhanas or be out of society and follow both sadhanas. There is even a third choice in lifestyle. One can follow karma Yoga as a Grihasta then become a Sanyasi and follow Gyana Yoga. This third option is the one preferred by the Vedas.

The question is asked, how can one follow spirituality in Grihasthashrama where there are so many distractions? Sri Krishna says, in itself there is nothing wrong with Grihasthashrama. The primary problem for a Grihasta is Raga and Dvesha. We have expectations about everything, our children, wife, house, friend etc. One has an ideal in mind and when others do not meet that ideal, one is disturbed. We need to manage our Raga Dvesha. Such a person is a Nithya Sanyasi.

The advantage of Sanyasahrama is that the Sanyasi has no attachments. Therefore, he usually has a light mind. Even a Grihasta can enjoy a light mind if he does not have Raga and Dvesha.

Citing king Janaka as a model of Grihasthashrama, once the king was with his Guru amidst other Sanyasis. The Sanyasis looked down upon the King, as he was a Grihasta. The Guru wanted to teach the Sanyasis a lesson. He created an illusory fire in the ashram and immediately all Sanyasi’s ran to protect their possessions. When they came back they found the king still sitting alone listening to the Guru’s teaching. Swamiji says, wearing a saffron robe does not guarantee Sanyasa. Therefore, even a Grihasta can be a Sanyasi internally.

Swamiji clarified that Sri Krishna is not saying that one should not have Raga Dvesha. Human beings will have likes and dislikes. Even Gods have their likes and dislikes. See how Sri Krishna loves his flute and Saraswathi Devi loves her Veena and Sri Ganesha loves his carrier, the Mouse. Preferences in life will be there. Our personality is actually defined by our preferences or likes and dislikes. Sri Krishna, however says, do not become a slave to Raga and Dvesha. If you can fulfill them fine, if not convert it into a non-binding desire. What is a non-binding desire? Citing through an example, it is not unusual for a parent to dream of a child becoming an IAS officer. They try everything to help the child in this process. However, in the end, the child could become a Sanyasi. Sri Krishna says, have dreams; but be ready to face whatever happens; this is called management of ragah-dvesha. If you have this capability you are a Sanyasi.

O Arjuna, one who has managed the Dvandas (pairs of opposites or Raga Dvesha), he will definitely attain Moksha even in Grihasthashrama. Even such a person will have to follow Karma yoga and then come to Gyana Yoga.

Shloka # 4:

सांख्ययोगौ पृथग्बालाः प्रवदन्ति पण्डिताः
एकमप्यास्थितः सम्यगुभयोर्विन्दते फलम्।।5.4।।

The thoughtless, not men of discrimination, affirm that Samkhya and Yoga are different. Properly resorting to either of them, one wins the fruit of both.

Sri Krishna concludes by saying that both ashramas are equally efficacious. He calls Grihasthashrama as Pravrithi marga and Sanyasashrama as Nivrithi marga. Sri Krishna has combined the four ashramas into two. Thus, Grihasthashrama includes Bramhacharya and Sanyasashrama includes Vanaprastha. Both ashramas are good and neither is superior. Only an ignorant person will say that one of them is superior or that they are not equal. A wise person will certainly not say such a thing.

There is in Grihasthashrama a guru shishya paramapara as there is one in Sanyashrama as well. And in fact, among all the Upanishads, the most important portion is called tatvamasi prakaranam, where the teaching of tatvamasi comes. This teaching usually took place between a father and son. Thus, the scriptures talk about the Grihasthashrama Gyani parampara, as well as Sanyasashrama Gyani parampara. That these two paramparas existed indicate that you can get Gyanam in any of the ashramas.

In both ashramas Gyanam is possible. Sri Krishna advises that one should take the ashrama most suitable to one’s inclinations and Prarabhda Karmas.

Many factors influence the type of ashrama one chooses. But once a choice is made one should follow the requirements of that ashrama implicitly.  It is very important that finally the inner transformation occurs. Gyanam is also the goal of a Grihastha Sanyasi.

Shloka # 5:

यत्सांख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते
एकं सांख्यं योगं यः पश्यति पश्यति।।5.5।।

The status won by the Samkhyas is attained by the Yogins also. Only he perceives who perceives that Samkhya and Yoga are one.

Here again Sri Krishna reinforces the same ideas.

Samkhya Sanyasi’s do attain moksha following Karma Yoga and then Gyana yoga. Purificatory sadhanas are many including the Sanyasi’s Danda. A sanyasi does not have sacred thread he uses a danda instead. A danda puja is also performed daily. Both Sanyasi and Grihasta attain moksha through purification.

While both ashramas are equally efficient each has its plus and minus points exactly like having your own house versus a rented house. The one who sees this fact, that person alone, sees that other people have wrong perceptions.

Sri Krishna says all this so that Arjuna does not run away from the battlefield. Arjuna, on the other hand, somehow or the other wants to run away. There is a tension between the two. If Sri Krishna says sanyasa ashrama is superior then Arjuna will run away; therefore he says that the one who sees both as equal, he alone has got the right vision.

Shloka # 6:

संन्यासस्तु महाबाहो दुःखमाप्तुमयोगतः
योगयुक्तो मुनिर्ब्रह्म नचिरेणाधिगच्छति।।5.6।।

 Indeed, renunciation, mighty armed! Is hard to win without Karma Yoga. With Yoga, the silent sge attains Brahman without much delay.

Sri Krishna now adds some new information. He has already said that both ashramas are equal and efficient. This is like asking which subject is better, physics or chemistry? All sciences are equally important. Now, if I have to choose one of them it is because of my mental make up and inclination. One of them may be more conducive. Some places are humid and others very dry. Some may prefer one or the other. In this context, a prepared mind is better for Sanyasa. An unprepared mind may feel very lonely in Sanyasa.  There will be nobody to ask him how he feels.

Citing an example, an Indian couple was residing in a small town USA. The lady was a housewife and was often left alone. Due to loneliness she gradually became clinically depressed. Her house was a not a silent ashrama rather it was the silence of an Shmashana (cremation ground).  After some time they came back to India. Here, now, she feels much better although it is very noisy.

So, to enjoy Sanyasahrama one needs a level of mind that is different. So, only a contemplative person and one who likes Maunam, a Muni, will find it compatible. Such a person, by practicing Yoga, will attain moksha before long. So, Sri Krishna says, for majority of people, Grihasthashrama is the best choice. Sanyasahrama should be taken up only with advice of a Guru and consent of the shishya.

It is when this is not followed that one reads of the many problems with Sanyasi’s today.

Shloka # 7:

योगयुक्तो विशुद्धात्मा विजितात्मा जितेन्द्रियः
सर्वभूतात्मभूतात्मा कुर्वन्नपि लिप्यते।।5.7।।

Established in Yoga, his mind purified, his self and senses controlled, his Self becomes the Self of all living beings, he is not tainted though he works.

Upto shloka # 7, it was a comparative study of the two ashramas. While both are considered good, a life of activity is considered better. Now, Sri Krishna talks of Sadhanas that both Grihastha and Sanaysi have to practice. What are those sadhanas? This shloka is all about sadhanas and the actions one has to take in his ashrama. Sri Krishna talks of Grihasthashrama first, as he prefers it.


  1. Karma Yoga Yukta: Become a karma Yogi as described in chapter # 3. Such a person is one who balances materialistic pursuit with spiritual pursuit. He does not spend all his time going after material aspects of life.

Every individual is a mixture of matter (anatma) and spirit (atma). One should find time to pursue Pancha Maha Yagna for inner growth. There is nothing wrong in acquiring money. However, one should also pursue Dharma and Moksha and not only Artha and Kama. One may have to climb the corporate ladder initially, but at some point he must change to spirituality. In his last stages attention should be given totally to spirituality. Pray to God that just as a mango ripens and once ripe, falls, while initially I am stuck with worldly things, later I should be able to detach and become spiritual. This is called Yoga Yuktatvam. What I am is more important than what I have. If one can understand this itself one has become a Karma Yogi.

Vishudhatma in the shloka is one who depends less on external factors. Dependence is Samsara. Independence is moksha. Thus, less dependence psychologically is Vairagyam. Thus, detachment is purity. Raga Rahit Atma is same as Vishudhatma, which is same as Vairagyam.

Take Away:

We have expectations about everything, our children, wife, house, friend etc. One has an ideal in mind and when others do not meet that ideal, one is disturbed. This is Raga Dvasha. We have to overcome this.

With Best Wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy