Gita Series – 163: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. Verse 17 – 22

The one, who does not have the thought of doership, whose mind is not attached to materialistic objects and actions, though destroys beings, is not affected by sins accruing out of such actions. The triad - knower, the knowledge and the object of knowledge induces an action and another triad - the agent, the organs and the activity forms the components of an action. As per Sāṃkhya philosophy, the knowledge, the action and the doer are classified as three kinds in accordance with the three types of guṇa-s. Listen to me carefully. That by which man perceives the undivided and imperishable Supreme in all the beings is sattvic in nature. That by which man perceives different beings of the universe as different entities is rajasic in nature. That by which man perceives only the body as if it were the whole, is irrational, trivial and without reasoning is tamasic in nature.”

If one becomes devoid of ego and remains unattached to materialistic objects, is absolved of all the sins resulting as a result of performing his actions, including killing his enemies. This statement is particularly addressed to Arjuna by the Lord, as Arjuna is hesitating to slay his enemies comprising of his cousins and teachers. Kṛṣṇa had already said that Arjuna merely remains as a tool in killing them as the period of their existence is already over, as determined by their own karmas. At this stage, if we say that Lord is responsible for their death, it would not be appropriate, as the Lord has clearly said that Self is not responsible for any of the actions. Every person creates his own karmas and according the accrued karma, he undergoes either pleasure or pain or both.

Karmas are of three types. One is the sum total of all the karmas acquired during different births. Out of this grand total, a portion is carved out to be spent in the present birth. The third one is the carried forward karma which is calculated as grand total +/- accrued karmas in the present birth. To attain liberation, the sum total of the karmas is to be zeroed. A person, who is not concerned with the fruits of his actions, but still performs his prescribed duties, does not accumulate karmas. Becoming unattached to the fruits of actions can happen only through a purified mind. As long as one suffers from attachment and desire, he continues to accumulate his karmas. His future karmas become more than the sum total of his karmas that he brought in at the time of the present birth.

Sāṃkhya philosophy begins by saying, “The absolute cessation of the threefold pain is the absolute aim of the Soul”. There are a number of instances where Sāṃkhya philosophy deals with triads. It is only the Sāṃkhya philosophy that enumerates tattva-s or principles. An action can be performed only if there are three factors present - knower, the knowledge and the object of knowledge. Knower is the one who is the doer, knowledge is the one with which the doer performs as an action and the object of knowledge is the one for which an action is performed. Let us take the example of realisation of the Self. Knower is the person who makes attempts to know the Self. Knowledge is the tool that he uses to realise the Self; meditation comes under this category. The object is the Self, for whose realisation the doer performs different actions, such as meditation. This triad is also called ‘the knowledge, the known and the knower’. Without all the three, no action can happen, hence it is said that these three induces an action.

There is another triad which is called the components of an action. They are the doer, the organs and the action itself. A doer has to perform an action with his organs. Let us take the example of walking. The doer walks (action) with his legs (organs). Sāṃkhya philosophy classifies the doer, the action and the knowledge into three categories as per the inherent guṇa-s, sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The one who sees the entire creation as the Brahman is sattvic in nature. The one sees the creation as different entities is rajasic in nature. The one who gives importance only to the gross bodies is tamasic in nature and he is considered as a man of total ignorance. The reality is that the entire creation is nothing but the reflection of the Brahman. If one looks at his image in a mirror, he sees his image. The image is illusory and the person who sees his image is the reality. There exists no two persons, the one is the reality and the other is illusory. The one who believes that the image is another person, he is considered as ignorant. In the same way, the Brahman is seen everywhere and in every object. This explains the theory of omnipresence of the Lord.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 7 - 11

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 12 - 16

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 23 -25