यस्य नाहङ् कृतो भावो बुद्धिर्यस्य न लिप्यते |
हत्वाऽपि स इमाँल्लोकान्न हन्ति न निबध्यते || 17||
yasya nāhankṛito bhāvo buddhir yasya na lipyate
hatvā ‘pi sa imāñl lokān na hanti na nibadhyate
yasya—whose; na ahankṛitaḥ—free from the ego of being the doer; bhāvaḥ—nature; buddhiḥ—intellect; yasya—whose; na lipyate—unattached; hatvā—slay; api—even; saḥ—they; imān—this; lokān—living beings; na—neither; hanti—kill; na—nor; nibadhyate—get bound
Who is free from the egoistic notion (“I am the doer”), whose intellect is not tainted (by contact with objects and functions), though having slain all the beings, he does not slay, nor is he bound (by the evil of action).
It is declared here that the man who has no sense of doership (“I am doing this or that”), whose intellect is not contaminated by anything material, is not affected by evil though he slays all the beings in the world. This verse has to be understood correctly and interpreted very carefully. Otherwise, man verily falls into the bottomless pit of ignorance.
The cause of Karmic bondage is the sense of doership and personal agency in all actions. The attachment of the deluded intellect to material objects is also the cause of bondage. When the false sense of agency and attachment are left behind, action has no power to bind man. Good and evil arising from action cannot affect man. This truth is declared here. It certainly does not mean that man can kill people and escape punishment. How can the man of Atmasakshatkara, who sees everything as Atma, who knows that he is not the doer, who is unattached, who is established in the self, and who looks upon all beings as his own Self, cause injury to others? He thinks and works for the well-being of all beings. He becomes ‘sarva bhutahiteratah’. If anybody thinks and acts otherwise, he is not a Self-realised sage.
In fact, man is not the body, and not the mind. He is Atma. When there is no feeling of doership and egotism, he has his life and being in the Self. Thus he is not touched by actions performed by the intellect or the body. Therefore though he slays others, he is not the slayer. This Truth is declared emphatically. The Lord wants to emphasise the absolutely pure and perfect nature of Atma, which is independent of every phenomenal change.
Good and evil arise from action done with a feeling of personal doership. Descending from the Atmic state, man identifies himself with the mind and body, and hence he gets bound by his own actions. Freed from this delusion, man knows that he is the Atma, the eternal actionless Self. There is no ‘punya’ or ‘papa’ for him. He has gone beyond good and evil. Any amount of good does not bind him, and so also no amount of evil can come to him. For that man the little ‘I’ is dead and gone, and so there is neither the doer nor the enjoyer.
Arjuna, being a Kshatriya, has the duty prescribed by the Sastras to protect the righteous and destroy the wicked. The Kauravas should be slain for their unrighteousness. The Lord says to the warrior-disciple, “O Arjuna! fight the battle and slay the Kauravas, but do so knowing fully that you are not the personal agent of action, that you are in truth the Eternal Self. Then you shall remain free”. Thus here is the Lord’s reply to Arjuna’s original doubt – “How can I kill my own people ?”
The freedom of Atma from all good and evil is the Truth. Those who have reached that state have gone beyond both. And yet, let it be firmly known that when the Atmajnani acts using the lower instruments, his actions are full of compassion for mankind. His hands do only good work. His mind thinks only good thoughts. His lips speak only good words, benedictions for all. He acts, if he so desires, for the welfare of all beings. Here is the real test of Atmajnana. Evil cannot dare come anywhere near him. He is like the lion of whom the lower beasts are afraid and come not near. Let the aspirants bear this clearly in mind and test their knowledge by the purity of their thoughts and actions. Let them not fall into the error of claiming Atmic freedom and plunging into the evils of sensual enjoyments.
Question: What is the cause of evil and bondage?
Answer: 1. Egotism – “I am the doer” 2. attachment of the intellect with material objects.
Question: What is the way to escape from bondage?
Answer: To be free from the sense of doership and attachment to sense objects, is the way to self-realisation.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18 🔻 (78 Verses)