Arjun is in a dilemma. He asks Krishna which path he should choose: the path of renunciation or the path of karma. Krishna replies that both the paths are noble and he could choose either but the path of action or karma is more direct. Both these paths, the path of renunciation and the path of karma lead to God and oneself, if it is practised unflinchingly. Both, the wise sage and the person who follows the path of karma, whether a person devotes his life to attaining wisdom without any attachment or someone who gives his all in the battlefield, lead to the self. Only when we ignore the self, do we commit bad deeds. Krishna then goes on to say that for wise men, all living beings are equal. This implies, the self is the same in all living beings, it is just clothed in different bodies.

Favourite Shlok

न प्रहृष्येत्प्रियं प्राप्य नोद्विजेत्प्राप्य चाप्रियम् |

स्थिरबुद्धिरसम्मूढो ब्रह्मविद् ब्रह्मणि स्थित: || Shlok 20

People who are established in God, who have a strong knowledge base and are unmoved by delusion, they neither are overjoyed when happy nor are sad when something unpleasant happens.

Analysis

This chapter intermingles the concept of renunciation, here referred to as sannyasa, with the earlier mentioned path of knowledge and action. Both these ideas have been used quite interchangeably here. We can say that the path of sannyasa also becomes the path of sankhya yoga, which is the yoga of wisdom and knowledge. Krishna kept insisting that both these paths indeed lead to the truth and the self. If a person dedicates his life to one of these paths, then the person can achieve both. When a person practises meditation and renounces all the worldly pleasures and just devotes oneself to the scriptures, he is led to the wisdom of self-understanding which can liberate him from all the sufferings. The path of karma yoga also does lead a person to this same wisdom. Thus, Krishna explains that both these paths lead to the same place but people are destined to follow one or the other. Some need to follow the path of renunciation and others need to follow the path of action.

About Abhinav Khare: 

Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News and hosts a daily show Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare. He is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. He lives in Bengaluru with his loving family and a lifetime collection of books and gadgets. He is a hands-on Tech Startup professional with an entrepreneurial DNA. He is passionate about policy, technology, economy and the synergy of them all. An avid traveller himself, he has already ticked over 42 countries and hundred cities around the globe.