Renounce Attachment to the Fruits of Action- The Bhagvad Gita, Chapter 18

Arjun wants to know how asceticism and renunciation differ. Krishna explains that while asceticism is giving up selfish activities, renunciation is giving up the fruits of action.

He goes on to say that the wise claim activity is flawed so we should give it up, while others differ, saying yagna, charity and austerity shouldn’t be given up.

Krishna has the final say on this. There are 3 types of renunciation- yagna, charity and austerity, which shouldn’t be given up, because they purify the wise. He adds a rider- they should be performed without attachment to the fruits of action.

It is wrong to give up activities that are part of our duty. Deluded tamasics give up activities, while rajasics do so because they are difficult or painful. Sattvics do what needs to be done in a disciplined way, without attachment to gain.

Naturally, all of us who are in bodies can’t entirely give up action.

5 Causes of Action

According to Samkhya philosophy there are 5 causes of actions succeeding.

  • The body, as the site of action
  • The doer or the agent
  • Organs as instruments
  • Activities
  • Divine grace

Everything we do, good or bad, with body, speech or mind; is because of these five causes.

3 Kinds of Happiness

Krishna also talks about the 3 different kinds of happiness.

  • One seems like poison at first but ultimately is nectar. This sattvic happiness comes from self insight and clarity.
  • In contrast, rajasic happiness initially seems like nectar, when our senses meet objects of desire, but later this is like poison.
  • Tamasic happiness deludes us at first and is from sleep, laziness and negligence.

MayaOnce you’re detached from the outcome of your actions, you are fit to unite with brahman.

God lives in the heart of all beings and makes them move like puppets, using maya.

Those who study the Gita are offering this knowledge yagna to Krishna and so gain his love. Even those who just hear it and believe in it will be released from the cycle of karma. Krishna then asks Arjun if this has cleared his confusion.

Arjun says now doesn’t have any doubts and is ready to do as Krishna says.

Sanjay tells Dhritarashtra wherever Krishna and Arjun are, there will be beauty, prosperity, victory and steady righteousness.


I’ve listened up, K

I’ll do my duty

But not care about

What happens after that.


I’m a Kshatriya so must war

This poison I will drink

To get to you.

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