शरीरवाङ्मनोभिर्यत्कर्म प्रारभते नरः |
न्याय्यं वा विपरीतं वा पञ्चैते तस्य हेतवः ||१८-१५||


śarīravāṅmanobhiryatkarma prārabhate naraḥ .
nyāyyaṃ vā viparītaṃ vā pañcaite tasya hetavaḥ ||18-15||



18.15. O Arjuna ! Whatever action is undertaken with the body, speech or the mind, whether it is lawful or otherwise, its factors are these five.

Shri Purohit Swami

18.15 Whatever action a man performs, whether by muscular effort or by speech or by thought, and whether it be right or wrong, these five are the essential causes.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

18.15 See Comment under 18.17

Sri Ramanuja

18.14 - 18.15 For all actions, performed through body, words or mind, whether they be authorized by the Sastras or not, the causes are these five. (1) The body, which is a conglomeration of the ‘great elements,’ is known as the seat, since it is governed by the individual self. (2) The agent is the individual self. That this individual self is the knower and the agent is established in the Vedanta-Sutras: ‘For this reason, (the individual self) is the knower’ (2.3.18) and ‘The agent, on account of the scripture having a purport’ (2.3.33.). (3) The organs of various kinds are the five motor organs like that of speech, hands, feet etc., along with the mind. They are of various kinds, viz., they have different functions in completing an action. (4) The different and distinctive functions of vital air - here the expression ‘functions’ (Cesta) means several functions. Distinctive are the functions of this fivefold vital air which sustains the body and senses through its divisions of Prana, Apana etc. (5) Divinity is the fifth among these causes. The purport is this: Among these, which constitute the conglomeration of causes of work the Divinity is the fifth. It is the Supreme Self, the Inner Ruler, who is the main cause in completing the action.

It has been already affirmed: ‘I am seated in the hearts of all. From Me are memory, knowledge and their removal also’ (15.15), and He will say further: ‘The Lord, O Arjuna, lives in the heart of every being casuing them to spin round and round by His power as if set on a wheel’ (18.61). The agency of the individual self is dependent on the Supreme Self as established in the aphorism: ‘But from the Supreme, because the scripture says so’ (B. S., 2.3.41).

Now an objection may be raised in this way: If the agency of the individual self is dependent on the Supreme Self and the individual self cannot be charged with moral responsibility, then the scriptures containing injunctions and prohibitions become useless, as the individual self cannot be enjoined to act in regard to any action. The objection is disposed off by the author of the Vedanta-Sutras in the aphorism: ‘But with a view to the effects made on account of the purposelessness of injunctions and prohibitions’ (2.3.42).

The purport is this: By means of his senses, body etc., granted by the Supreme Self - having Him for their support, empowered by Him, and thus deriving power from Him - the individual self begins, of his own free will, the effort for directing the senses etc., for the purpose of performing actions conditioned by his body and organs. The individual self Itself, of Its own free will, is responsible for activity, since the Supreme Self, abiding within, causes It to act only by granting His permission, just as works such as moving heavy stones and timber are collectively the labour of many persons and they are together responsible for the effect. But each one of them (severally) also is responsible for it. In the same way each individual is answerable to Nature’s law in the form of positive and negative ?ndments.

Sri Shankaracharya

18.15 Yat, whatever; karma, action; narah, a man; prarabhate, performs; with these three-sarira-van-manobhih, with the body, speech and mind; be it nyayyam, just, rigtheous, conforming to the scriptures; va, or; viparitam, its reverse, not conforming to the scriptures, unrighteous; and even such activities like closing the eyes etc. whch are conseent on the fact of living (i.e. instinctive acts)-they also are certainly the result of righteous and unrighteous acts done in earlier lives, and hence they are understood by the very, use of the words ‘just and its reverse’-; tasya, of it, of all activities without exception; ete, these; panca, five, as mentioned; are the hetavah, causes. Objection: Well, are not the locus etc. the cause of all actions? Why is it said, ‘৷৷.performs with the body, speech and mind’? Reply: This fault does not arise. All actions described as ’enjoined’ or ‘prohibited’ are mainly based on the three, body etc. Seeing, hearing, etc., which are characteristics of life and are subsidiaries to these (body etc.) [Seeing etc. are accomplished by the eye etc., which are part and parcel of the body etc.] , are divided into three groups and spoken of in, ‘performs with the body,’ etc. Even at the time of reaping the fruits (of actions), they are experienced mainly through these (three). Hence, there is no contradiction with the assertion that the five are the causes.

Swami Adidevananda

18.15 For whatever action a man undertakes by his body, speech and mind, whether right or wrong, i.e., enjoined or forbidden by the Sastras, the following five are its causes:

Swami Gambirananda

18.15 Whatever action a man performs with the body, speech and mind, be it just or its reverse, of it these five are the cuases.

Swami Sivananda

18.15 Whatever action a man performs with his body, speech and mind whether right or the reverse these five are its causes.


Swami Sivananda

18.15 शरीरवाङ्मनोभिः by (his) body? speech and mind? यत् whatever? कर्म action? प्रारभते performs? नरः man? न्याय्यम् right? वा or? विपरीतम् the reverse? वा or? पञ्च five? एते these? तस्य its? हेतवः causes.Commentary Nyayyam Right Not opposed to Dharma conformable to the scriptures justifiable.Viparitam The opposite What is opposite to Dharma and opposed to the scriptures unjustifiable.Even those actions? – acts like winking and the like which are necessary conditions of life? are indicated by the term the right and the reverse? as they are effects of past Dharma and Adharma.Tasya Hetavah Its Causes The causes of every action.An objector argues In the previous verse it is said that the body? actor? various organs? etc.? are the necessary factors of every action. Why do you then make a distinction in actions by saying whatever action a man does by the body? speech and mindOur answer is In the performance of every action? one of the three – body? speech or mind – has a more prominent share than the others while seeing? hearing and other activities which accompany or go along with life are subordinate to that one.Therefore all actions are classified under three groups and are spoken of as done by the body or speech or mind. The fruit of an actions also is enjoyed through the body? speech and mind and one of the three takes a more prominent share than the rest. Therefore? it is proper to say Whatever action a man performs with his body? speech and mind৷৷.