18.66 sarvadharmAn parithyajya

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

Chapter 18

<< Chapter 18 Verse 65

SlOkam – Original

sarvadharmAn parithyajya mAm Ekam SaraNam vraja |
aham thvA sarvapApEbhyO mOkshayishyAmi mA Sucha: ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

sarva dharmAn – all means
parithyajya – renouncing fully
mAm Ekam – only me
SaraNam – as means
vraja – consider;
aham – I
thvA – you
sarvapApEbhya: – all sins
mOkshayishyAmi – will free;
mA Sucha: – do not grieve.

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

Fully renouncing all means, consider me as your only means; I will free you from all sins; do not grieve.

Note: emperumAnAr (SrI rAmAnuja) has explained this SlOkam in two different ways. In both explanations, prapaththi (surrender) is considered as an anga (ancillary aspect) for bhakthi yOga. He explained it in this manner as the audience for gIthA bhAshya is all those who follow vEdhAntha. But in his gadhya thrayam (specifically SaraNAgathi gadhyam) which is aimed specifically at the followers of SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam, he revealed the esoteric meaning of SaraNAgathi as accepting bhagavAn as the sole means for liberation.

First explanation

When krishNa explained bhakthi yOga in the previous SlOkam, arjuna started to grieve thinking about the difficulty of performing bhakthi yOga due to the many sins which are hurdles in reaching him. So, krishNa says “If you perform karma, gyAna, bhakthi yOgas with the three types of sacrifices (giving up the doership, ownership and results), considering me as the instigator for such worship, object of worship and the enjoyer of such worship, and hold on to me as means to eliminate those hurdles which come up in performing such worship, I will remove those hurdles for you; do not grieve”.

Second explanation

When krishNa explained bhakthi yOga in the previous SlOkam, it was clear that there were hurdles in pursuing bhakthi yOga, which caused grief in arjuna’s heart. This is because, one has to perform prAyaSchiththam (atonement) to eliminate the hurdles. Considering the great effort in performing atonement, arjuna starts grieving. krishNa says, you can give up those rituals which are said to be performed as atonement and consider me instead of them and hold on to me. I will eliminate those sins (much quicker than those rituals) and hence you need not grieve.

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

‘Renouncing all Dharmas, hold Me as your Sole Refuge. I will deliver you from all sins. Grieve not.’1

All Dharmas = All the Paths of Righteousness inculcated in BHAGAVAD-GĪTA as Means to Moksha, viz: Karma-yoga, Jñāna-yoga and Bhakti-Yoga.

Renouncing = The practicing of these Means as Modes of My worship, and in love; but entirely renouncing or relinquishing, —as explained above (vide Commentary to stanza 4;— (1) the fruit thereof (phala-tyāga) (2) the personal ownership of act, (karma-tyāga) and (3) personal authorship of act (kartṛitva-tyāga);

Hold Me = Adopt Me i.e., reflect that I am solely The Actor, the Worthy of worship, the End (=the Worthy of acquisition) and the Means.

That this is the kind of Renunciation, the Śāstras warrant, was emphatically asseverated in the opening of this Lecture, in the following manner:—

‘Hear from Me, O Bharata-Best! the truth about this Tyāga (Renunciation). Verily, Renunciation, O Tiger of men! is distinguished as three-fold. (Gi: XVIII-4).

‘That is deemed Sātvika-Renunciation, where attachment, as also fruit, is renounced. (Gi: XVIII-9).

‘Verily for one housed in a body, to desert work wholesale is not possible; but he is called the Renouncer who renounces the fruit of work. (Gi: XVIII-11).

I will from all sins deliver thee: If thou behave yourself in the manner explained, I will deliver you from all the sins of omission and of commission, cumulated in the long immemorial past, —sins which stand as a bar against your reaching Me. Grieve not.’

Another interpretation is this:

Śrī Bhagavān consoles Arjuna in his griefs which may be supposed to be caused by the reflection that Bhakti-Yoga is one which has to be practiced by a person whose sins have (first) entirely ceased and who dearly loves the Lord, but the sins that obstruct at the very outset of the undertaking of Bhakti-Yoga are endless, and it is impossible to exhaust them by expiatory duties occupying but a short duration, and hence Arjuna reflected on his unfitness to launch on Bhakti-Yoga, and cried out in his helplessness. To console Arjuna in this predicament, the Lord may be understood to have counseled him thus:— ‘The endless sins hoarded up in the long past are barriers to Bhakti-Yoga being commenced; and to perform, in the short time you live, all the expiatory ceremonies prescribed as appropriate to the several kinds of sins committed, such as Kṛicchra, Chāndrāyaṇa, Kūśmānda, Vaiśvānara, Vrātapati, Pavitreshti, Trivṛit, Agnisṭhoma, et hoc,2 —ceremonies these, of various kinds, countless, and difficult of performance— is out of the question. Therefore give up these Dharmas (or duties otherwise incumbent), and adopt Me in lieu thereof, so as to enable you to launch on Bhakti-Yoga, —adopt Me, Sole, —Me the Most Merciful, —Me, the Asylum of the Kosmos, demanding no price whatever for admission, —Me, the Ocean of compassion for those who depend on Me.’

If you come to Me thus, I will untrammel you from all the fetters of the sins described, which obstruct your embarking on Bhakti-Yoga.

>> Chapter 18 Verse 67

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  1. Cp: Matt: IX-2. ‘Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee’. This verse is known as the Charama śloka, or the quintessence of Bhagavad-Gīta-teaching. This verse constitutes one of the Three Rahasyas or Mysteries of the Viśishtādvaitis, and voluminous Commentaries have been written thereon. Rāmānuja gives here the ordinary interpretation meaning ‘Bhakti‘ whereas a higher interpretation is ‘Prapatti‘. An attempt will be made to elucidate this subject in my Second Volume; but in the meanwhile, the Reader is referred to the most valuable Table appended at the end of this work, where he can generally gather some account as to how ‘Prapatti‘ differs from ‘Bhakti‘.
  2. Expiatory penances. See Manu XI-217, Hemādri and other Dharma-Śāstras which give detailed rules. Tapas, Rajendralal Mitra L.L.D., C.I.E., translates, as ‘religious austerity or self-denial’, p. 60. Yoga Sūtras.

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