श्रेयो हि ज्ञानमभ्यासाज्ज्ञानाद्ध्यानं विशिष्यते | ध्यानात्कर्मफलत्यागस्त्यागाच्छान्तिरनन्तरम् ||१२-१२||
śreyo hi jñānamabhyāsājjñānāddhyānaṃ viśiṣyate . dhyānātkarmaphalatyāgastyāgācchāntiranantaram ||12-12||
12.12. For, knowledge is superior to practice; because of knowledge, meditation becomes pre-eminent; from meditation issues the renunciation of fruits of actions; and to renunciation, peace remains next.
Shri Purohit Swami
12.12 Knowledge is superior to blind action, meditation to mere knowledge, renunciation of the fruit of action to meditation, and where there is renunciation peace will follow.
Sri Abhinav Gupta
12.12 Sreyah etc. Knowledge in the form of entering into [the Lord] is superior to practice; for practice bears that result. Due to the entering into the Lord, the meditation i.e., getting absorbed in the Bhagavat, becomes pre-eminent i.e., attains superiority, because of the achievement of what is desired. When meditation i.e., getting absorbed in the Bhagavat is accomplished, then it is possible to renounce fruits of actions. Otherwise how can there be a renunciation in what is unknown ? When renunciation of fruits of actions is achieved, there arises an uninterrupted peace. Therefore, being the root of all [these], the knowledge a’one, in the form of fixing the mind in the Lord is important.
12.12 More than the practice of remembrance (of the Lord), which is difficult in the absence of love for the Lord, the direct knowledge of the self, arising from the contemplation of the imperishable self (Aksara), is conducive to the well-being of the self. Better than the imperfect knowledge of the self, is perfect meditation on the self, as it is more conducive to the well-being of the self. More conducive than imperfect meditation (i.e., meditation unaccompanied with renunciation), is the activity performed with renunciation of the fruits.
It is only after the annihilation of sins, through the performance of works accompanied by renounciation of fruits, that peace of mind is attained. When the mind is at peace, perfect meditation on the self is possible. From meditation results the direct realisation of the self. From the direct realisation of the self results supreme devotion. It is in this way that Atmanistha or devotion to the individual self becomes useful for a person who is incapable of practising loving devotion to the Supreme Being. And for one practising the discipline for attaining the self (Jnana Yoga) without acisition of perfect tranillity of mind, disinterested activity (Karma Yoga), including in it meditation on the self, is the better path for the knowledge of the self. [Thus the steps are performance of works without desire for fruits, eanimity of mind, meditation on the self, self-realisation, and devotion to the Lord.]
Now Sri Krsna enumerates the attributes reired of one intent on performance of disinterested activity:
12.12 Jnanam, knowledge; [Firm conviction about the Self arrived at through Vedic texts and reasoning.] is hi, surely; sreyah, superior; -to what?-abhyasat, to practice [Practice-repeated effort to ascertain the true meaning of Vedic texts, in order to acire knowledge.] which is not preceded by discrimination. Dhyanam, meditation, undertaken along with knowledge; visisyate, surpasses even jnanat, that knowledge. Karma-phala-tyagah, renunciation of the results of works; excels even dhyanat, meditation associated with knowledge. (‘Excels’ has to be supplied.) Tyagat, from this renunciation of the results of actions, in the way described before; [By dedicating all actions to God with the idea, ‘May God be pleased.’] santih, Peace, the cessation of transmigratory existence together with its cause; follows anantaram, immediately; not that it awaits another accasion. Should the unenlightened person engaged in works be unable to practise the disciplines enjoined earlier, then, for him has been enjoined renunciation of the results of all works as a means to Liberation. But this has not been done at the very beginning. And for this reason renunciation of the results of all works has been praised in, ‘Knowledge is surely superior to practice,’ etc. by teaching about the successive excellence. For it has been taught as being fit to be adopted by one in case he is unable to practise the disciplines already presented [Presented from verse 3 onwards.] Objection: From what similarly does the eulogy follow? Reply: In the verse, ‘When all desires clinging to one’s heart fall off’ (Ka, 2.3.14), it has been stated that Immortality results from the rejection of all desires. That is well known. And ‘all desires’ means the ‘result of all rites and duties enjoined in the Vedas and Smrtis’. From the renunciation of these, Peace surely comes immediately to the enlightened man who is steadfast in Knowledge. There is a similarity between renunciation of all desires and renunciation of the results of actions by an unenlightened person. Hence, on account of that similarity this eulogy of renunciation of the results of all actions is meant for rousing interest. As for instance, by saying that the sea was drunk up by the Brahmana Agastya, the Brahmanas of the present day are also praised owing to the similarity of Brahminhood. In this way it was been said that Karma-yoga becomes a means for Liberation,since it involves renunciaton of the rewards of works. Here, again, the Yoga consisting in the concentration of mind on God as the Cosmic Person, as also the performance of actions etc. for God, have been spoken of by assuming a difference between God and Self. In, ‘If you are unable to do even this’ (11) since it has been hinted that it (Karma-yoga) is an effect of ignorance, therefore the Lord is pointing out that Karma-yoga is not suitable for the meditator on the Immutable, who is aware of idenity (of the Self with God). The Lord is similarly pointing out the impossibility of a karma-yogin’s meditation on the Immutable. In (the verse), ’they৷৷.attain Me alone’ (4), having declared that those who meditate on the Immutable are independent so far as the attainment of Liberation is concerned, the Lord has shown in, ‘৷৷.I become the Deliverer’ (7), that others have no independence; they are dependent on God. For, if they (the former) be considered to have become identified with God, they would be the same as the Immutable on account of (their) having realized non-difference. Conseently, speaking of them as objects of the act of deliverance will become inappropriate! And, since the Lord in surely the greatest well-wisher of Arjuna, He imparts instructions only about Karma-yoga, which involves perception of duality and is not associated with full Illumination. Also, no one who has realized his Self as God through valid means of knowledge would like subordination to another, since it involves a contradiction. Therefore, with the idea, ‘I shall speak of the group of virtues (as stated in), “He hwo is not hateful towards any creature,” etc. which are the direct means to Immortality, to those monks who meditate on the Immutable,who are steadfast in full enlightenment and have given up all desires,’ the Lord proceeds:
12.12 Far better is knowledge of the self then the repeated practice (of remembrance of the Lord). Better is meditation than this knowledge; Better is renunciation of fruits of action than meditation. From such renunciation, peace ensues.
12.12 Knowledge is surely superior to practice; meditation surpasses knowledge. The renunciation of the results of works (excels) meditation. From renunciation, Peace follows immediately.
12.12 Better indeed is knowledge than practice; than knowledge meditation is better; than meditation the renunciation of the fruits of actions: peace immediately follows renunciation.
12.12 श्रेयः better? हि indeed? ज्ञानम् knowledge? अभ्यासात् than practice? ज्ञानात् than knowledge? ध्यानम् meditation? विशिष्यते excels? ध्यानात् than meditation? कर्मफलत्यागः the renunciation of the fruits of actions? त्यागात् from renunciation? शान्तिः peace? अनन्तरम् immediately.Commentary Theoretical or indirect knowledge of Brahman gained from the scriptures is better than the practice (of restraining the modifications of the mind or worship of idols or selfmortification for the purpose of control of the mind and the senses) accompained with ignorance. Meditation is better than theoretical knowledge. Renunciation of the fruits of actions is bettern than meditation. Renunciation of the fruits of all actions as a means to the attainment of supreme peace or Moksha is merely eulogised here by the declaration of the superiority of one over the other to encourage Arjuna (and other spiritual aspirants) to practise Nishkama Karma Yoga? to create a strong desire in them to take up the Yoga of selfless action? in the same manner as by saying that the ocean was drunk by the Brahmana sage Agastya even the Brahmanas of this age are extolled because they are also Brahmanas.Desire is an enemy of peace. Desire causes restlessness of the mind. Desire is the source of all human miseries? sorrows and troubles. Stop the play of desire through discrimination? dispassion and eniry into the nature of the Self then you will enjoy supreme peace.Renunciation of the fruits of actions? is prescribed for the purification of the aspirants heart. It annihlates desire? the enemy of wisdom. The sage? too? renounces the fruits of actions. It has become natural to him to do so.