Ch 2 VERSE 50

बुद्धियुक्तो जहातीह उभे सुकृतदुष्कृते

तस्माद्योगाय युज्यस्व योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् ॥५०॥

buddhi-yukto jahātīha

ubhe sukṛta-duṣkṛte

tasmād yogāya yujyasva

yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam


buddhi-yuktaḥ—one who is engaged in devotional service; jahāti—can get rid of; iha—in this life; ubhe—in both; sukṛta-duṣkṛte—in good and bad results; tasmāt—therefore; yogāya—for the sake of devotional service; yujyasva—be so engaged; yogaḥ—Kṛṣṇa consciousness; karmasu—in all activities; kauśalam—art.


A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.


buddhi-yukto jahātīha

ubhe sukṛta-duṣkṛte

tasmād yogāya yujyasva

yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam


“A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.”

This may seem to be a sudden change in direction from the verses that we’ve previously dealt with. One of the challenges in trying to present such a summary study of the Bhagavad-gita, as this Bhagavad-gita Chalisa, where we take just 40 verses from the Bhagavad-gita and try to present the essential message of the Gita, is that we may feel that we are sort of like jumping from one point to another. And so what I will try to do is create a context around each verse so that can be understood in relation to the bigger picture as it were.

So in this verse, I just wanted to draw your attention first to the word in Sanskrit, the buddhi-yuktah, or one who is engaged in devotional service. And I’d like to discuss this point because it’s a critically important point that’s very pivotal in being able to understand and to begin to practice the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. This word buddhi, buddhi means intelligence, but what it’s being referenced is a higher faculty that actually is higher than the mind. It is a very subtle faculty that we have as human beings that makes it so that we can discern and discriminate and become guided by what is truth. The word yuktah, it actually comes from the same root as the word yoga, the root being yuj. Yuj literally means to join or joining, uniting or slash yoga, also the English word yoke. And so, we get this strong sense that it is an activity that connects with something. In the—just to try and expand on, or making it so that we can understand and appreciate this verse—in the verse preceding it, it states:

“O Dhananjaya, keep all abominable activities far distant by devotional service, and in that consciousness surrender unto the Lord. Those who want to enjoy the fruits of their work are misers.”

So, just drawing your attention here to the—what in the verse that we’re studying, was called buddhi yukta, and here it’s now referenced as buddhi yoga. Arjuna had, of course, come to the conclusion that he should not perform the duty that was required of him, that he should abandon his duty and become a renunciate and live in a renounced condition in the mountains. And so, speaking about work and its connection to either material entanglement or spiritual liberation is a very important point.

Ten verses prior to this we have the first mention of buddhi yoga in the Bhagavad-gita. So, this is in verse 39 of the second chapter, where it states:

“Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Prtha, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of work.”

So in this verse, the term buddhi yoga is translated as devotional service to the Lord. This type of consciousness that develops as a result of dovetailing one’s life and all of one’s actions as a form of service and great devotion is going to increasingly become apparent as being a path of transcendence, a path by which a person can come to both live in this world, to engage in action, or activity, and for that action, or activity, to become liberating rather than binding. So, in relation to this buddhi-yoga, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has commented, in his commentary on this verse he states,

“This buddhi-yoga is clearly explained in Chapter Ten, verse ten, as being direct communion with God, who is sitting as Paramatma in everyone’s heart. But such communion does not take place without devotional service. One who is therefore situated in devotional or transcendental loving service to the Lord attains to this stage of buddhi-yoga by the special grace of the Lord. The Lord says, therefore, that only to those who are always engaged in Bhakti-yoga (or devotional service) out of transcendental love does He award the pure knowledge of devotion in love. In that way, the devotee can reach Him easily in the ever-blissful kingdom of God.”

So, we’ll deal with that particular verse later in the series, but I thought it was important to reference this point to explain the context. Sometimes you’ll see academics who want to apply literal translation to these words without—or not within the context of the larger picture. And so, my jumping forward like that to reference statements of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is for the purpose of helping us see the context of everything and understand how words are being used, and how and why certain meanings are being applied to them.

So, this concept, now we are going to start hearing a lot about, this idea of working in a spirit of great devotion; but not just work as it were, but actual service, to have the mentality and the consciousness of a loving servant, and to seek to always be pleasing to God in one’s every thought, word and action, and how this was a most critical part of understanding the message of the Bhagavad-gita.

So, we see this buddhi yoga been mentioned in many places, and I’ll speak a little bit more about that and how—its connection with other forms of yoga, shortly.

So, just within the context here, Arjuna was not wanting to perform what was clearly laid out for him as being his duty as a warrior, to engage in this ghastly act of warfare. But he has now been spoken to about the consciousness that one should have in this situation, but in all situations in life.

So, I would just like to read a statement of Sri Madhvacharya from the Brahma Sampradaya. This ancient luminary, in this particular verse in his commentary, states:

“Lord Krishna speaks of directing one’s consciousness by spiritual intelligence. The merits one gains in the course of human existence, such as fame, relations, power, and wealth, though pleasant, should not be deemed important or be attached to. But those superior merits one has acquired by surrender and meditation to the Supreme Lord such as righteousness, compassion for all living entities, devotion, and love of God should be most attached to.”

So, something that we are going to become very much aware of is how we will see this term buddhi yoga, and bhakti yoga, and even sometimes karma yoga, we will see that these are used interchangeably, which is kind of, for some people, might be very confusing. The confusion that people will experience generally arises from not understanding the bigger picture, nor the intent of the speaker. We want to try to compartmentalize things and be able to see the distinctions between them, whereas what we’re going to be seeing here, that there is an incredible amount of overlap in the understanding of these different things, and that they are all directing or pointing to the same goal and in the same direction. So, we shouldn’t be distracted by what may seem to be apparent external differences in these terms. We need to really be able to appreciate, to comprehend, and appreciate what is the essential teaching, what is the essence of what has been stated.

 So, in the verse that we are studying, just going back now to it:

“A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.”

So, in his summary of his commentary Sri Madhvacharya states:

“Knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna, and by that knowledge renouncing the fruits of one’s actions, neutralizes the effects of one’s actions and is known as excellent actions. Knowledge of the Supreme Lord Krishna is known as spiritual intelligence.”

So, that summarizes what it is that we have just heard and hopefully makes it so that we do have a context by which we can really appreciate what has been stated.

I’ll just speak about some of the terms or some of the parts of this verse that we’ve read. The term devotional service: just quickly here, the Sanskrit term is bhakti, bhakti-yoga. Bhakti is known as the—at least, and I’ll refer to this as “externally”, as the path of devotion. We have the Sanskrit word sadhana. Sadhana means, or it should be understood as, the means to an end. The extraordinary thing about the path of devotion, of bhakti, is that what in the beginning is a process and a path to a destination, when one arrives at that destination in full spiritual consciousness (meaning when my spiritual nature is fully revealed to me, is completely manifest), the natural function and eternal function of the soul itself, of all spiritual beings, is to engage in ecstatic loving connection, or relationship, with the Supreme Soul, the highest object of love; and the way in which that love becomes manifest is in the attitude and activities of service, of favorable and ecstatic service to the highest or most lovable personality. This is the actual meaning of bhakti.

I can remember 50 years ago when I started this process I—we were doing a chanting meditation in a park, and there were—in Sydney—and there were a few people gathered around, some participating, some watching. And I can remember two guys sitting quite near me, and one of them asked his friend, “What are these guys doing?” and the friend responded in great confidence, “Oh, they’re into bhakti-yoga. I tried that once. It’s not for me.” And that really struck me, because what it did in hearing that, was it helped to cement for me the actual understanding and appreciation of what is bhakti; because I had heard this from my spiritual master, and reading his words, what it actually was. And when somebody says, “I tried it, and it’s not for me,” then it means they might have tried some of the external activity associated with that yogic path or process, but they had not actually experienced the reality of this spiritual expression of the soul, because when one does one understands completely, this is my eternal nature. This is what I am meant to be doing.

So, here in this verse, the reference is to a person who is undertaking this process, this path of devotion, of devotional service, as a process, and someone who is not going to be completely transcendentally situated.

It says, “A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life.” So, it’s sort of like, okay, what’s the deal with the good and bad actions? The word karma means action, and we understand that every time a person engages in action there will be a karmic fruit, a reaction, good or bad. And so, from that perspective and point of view, it is not like one good activity and good results are considered necessarily desirable over bad activities and bad results.

The example can be given of a person—two people chained up in a dungeon, and one person has got these old rusty iron shackles binding them to the wall, and his friend next to him has got gold shackles binding him to the wall. And he’ll be looking at his friend and go, “What? Have you seen my chains? Have you seen the bling?” and feeling sorry for the other guy who’s just bound by rusty old iron chains. And maybe the guy with the rusty old iron chains is looking at envy, “Oh my God, this guy’s got such beautiful chains!” When we think of karma and the result of karma within that context, then we see and understand that both are considered undesirable.

And the question then becomes how to live in this world without engaging in karmic activity. And Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada often uses the term “fruitive activities,” meaning you engage in actions desiring a fruit, a fruit which you will enjoy. So, people do this, whether they’re engaged in bad activity or good activity. They’re both often fruitive activities, and they are seeking some outcome that they want to enjoy.

In—just rounding out or concluding our discussion on this particular verse, I will read the following verse from chapter 2 verse 51. This sloka I think helps to sort of underline and cement the understanding that we should have of the verse that we’ve been studying, and it reads:

“By thus engaging in devotional service to the Lord great sages or devotees free themselves from the results of work in the material world. And in this way, they become free from the cycle of birth and death and attain the state beyond all miseries (that is going back to Godhead.)”

So, that verse makes everything very, very clear why it is that one should, as Krishna states in the verse we’re reading, why one should strive for what he describes as yoga: “Strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.”

So, we see in this modern time people like to speculate and intellectually try to understand what is yoga. I’ve seen some discussions when I was working on the commentary of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, where a certain definition of yoga has been given, and people want to try and embrace that and reject all other definitions. Well, I’m sorry, but these words are very profound and very big and deep, and they lend themselves to more than one particular type of understanding.

So, here Krishna has defined yoga as “the art of all work,” and that art of all work, of course, being that when one comes to completely dovetail their heart, their mind, their very being with the Lord of their heart, this Paramatma, the Supreme Soul, and their life is lived in a way where it is fully dedicated to the service; that this love is expressed in a mood of servitude, of submission, as an expression of that love—that this becomes the art of all work. One is not only not bound to material existence by such work, one becomes actually spiritually liberated.

 Thank you very much.