यस्य नाहंकृतो भावो बुद्धिर्यस्य न लिप्यते |
हत्वाऽपि स इमाँल्लोकान्न हन्ति न निबध्यते ||१८-१७||


yasya nāhaṃkṛto bhāvo buddhiryasya na lipyate .
hatvā.api sa imā.Nllokānna hanti na nibadhyate ||18-17||



18.17. He, whose mental disposition is not dominated by the sense ‘I’, and whose intellect is not stained - he, even if he slays these worlds, does not [really] slay any and he is not fettered.

Shri Purohit Swami

18.17 He who has no pride, and whose intellect is unalloyed by attachment, even though he kill these people, yet he does not kill them, and his act does not bind him.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

18.13-17 Panca etc. upto na nibadhyate Conclusion : the established end, because here a decision is arrived at. Basis : the material object Destiny : the good and bad result [of actions] previously accumulated. These five viz., the basis etc., constitute the entire assembly of factors and hence they are the causes for each action.

But other [commentators give an etymology of] adhisthana ‘basis’ to mean ‘That by which all actions are governed’; and on that ground they believe that it denotes that action which exists in the intellect; which comes ot be due to the Rajas, and is being prone to transform itself into the pentad of (the mental dispositions viz.) the content, the faith, the happiness, the desire to know and the aversion to know; which is referable by the term karma-yoga (that which yokes man into activity); and which is described at times by the term prayatna ’effort’.

Agent : the ascertainer characterised by the intellect. Instrument : [the personal instruments viz.] the mind, the eye etc., and also the external ones like sword etc. Activity : the activity of upper life-breath, nether life-breath etc. The effects of the righteous and unrighteous acts are indicated by the term Destiny. All the dispositions located in the intellect are indicated by these two. Still other commentators, however, take Basis to be the Absolute Lord.

Due to his imperfect intellect : because of his having indecisive knowledge. But he, who performs actions with the stability due to disappearance of th I-sense (limited) and [a stability] refined by hundreds of reasoning, as detailed earlier - he does not get the fetter, because he is a man of perfect intellect. This is what is intended [in the passage under study].

Sri Ramanuja

18.17 He who, through the contemplation of the agency of the Supreme Being, is free from the self-conceit, ‘I alone do everything’; he whose understanding is not therefore tainted, and has come to be informed by the understanding; ‘As I am not the agent of this work, its fruit is not connected with me; so this work does not belong to me’ - such a person, though he slays all these men, not merely Bhisma, etc., does not slay them. Therefore, he is not bound by the actions known as battle. The meaning is that the fruits of such actions do not accrue to him.

Sri Krsna now teaches how action is induced. For this he differentiates actions generated by Sattva and the other Gunas. The object is to inculcate the desirability of the Sattvika type. For, only meditation on the self not being the agent, brings about the growth of Sattva.

Sri Shankaracharya

18.17 Yasya, he who, the person whose intellect is refined by the instructions of the scriptures and the teachers, and reason; who has na, not; ahankrtah bhavah, the feeling of egoism, in whom does not occur the notion in the form, ‘I am the agent’; i.e., he who sees thus: ‘These five, viz locus etc. (14), imagined in the Self through ignorance, are verily the agents of all actions; not I. But I am the absolute, unchanging witness of their functions, ‘Without vita force, without mind, pure, superior to the (other) superior immutable (Maya)" (Mu. 2.1.1)’; yasya, whose; buddhih, intellect, the internal organ, which is the limiting adunct of the Self; is na, not; lipyate, tainted, does not become regretful thinking, ‘I have done this; as a result, I shall enter into hell’; whose intellect does not become thus tainted, he has a good intellect and he perceives (rightly). Api, even; hatva, by killing; iman, these; lokan, creatures, i.e. all living beings; sah he; does not hanti, kill-he does not perform the act of killing; nor does he nibadhyate, become bound, nor even does he become connected with its result, the fruit of an unrighteous action. Objection: Even if this be a eulogy, is it not contradictory to say, ’even by killing he does not kill’? Reply: This defect does not arise; for this becomes logical from the ordinary and the enlightened points of view. By adopting the empirical point of view (which consists in thinking), ‘I am the slayer’, by identifying the body with the Self, the Lord says, ’even by killing’; and, by taking His stand on the supreme Truth as explained above (the Lord says), ‘he does not kill, nor does he become bound’. Thus both these surely become reasonable. Objection; Is it not that the Self certainly does act in combination with the locus etc., which conclusion follows from the use of the word kevala (absolute) in the text, ’the absolute Self as the agent’ (16)? Reply: There is not such fault, because, the Self being changeless by nature, there is no possiblity of Its becoming united with the locus etc. For it is only a changeful entity that can possibly be united with another, or come to have agentship through combination. But, for the changeless Self there can be no combination with anything whatsoever. Hence, agentship through combination is not logical. Therefore, the absoluteness of the Self being natural, the word kevalam is merely a reiteration of an established fact. And the changelessness of the Self is well known from the Upanisads, the Smrtis and logic. As to that, in the Gita itself this has been established more than once in such texts as, ‘It is said that৷৷.This is unchangeable’ (2.25), ‘Actions are being done by the gunas themselves’ (see 3.27), ’this ৷৷.supreme Self does not act৷৷.although existing in the body’ (13.31), and in the Upanisads also in such texts as, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (Br. 4.3.7). And from the standpoint of reason also, the royal path is to hold that the true nature of the Self is that It is partless, independent of others and changeless. Even if mutability (of the Self) be accepted, It should have a change that is Its own. The functions of the locus etc. cannot be attributed to the agency of the Self. Indeed, an action done by someone else cannot be imputed to another by whom it has not been done! As for what is imputed (on somody) through ignorance, that is not his. As the ality of silver is not of nacre, or as surface or dirt attributed through ignorance to the sky by foolish people is not of the sky, similarly, the changes in the locus etc. also are verily their own, and not of the Self. Hence it has been well said that the enlightened person ‘does not kill, nor is he bound’, becuase of the absence of his being tainted by the idea that actions are done by himself. [Some translate this portion thus: ‘৷৷.because of the absence of the thought ‘I am doing’, and also due to the taintlessness of the mind’; or, ‘৷৷.in the absence of egotism and of all taint in the mind’.-Tr.] After having declared, ‘This One does not kill, nor is It killed’ (2.19); having stated the immutability of the Self through such texts as, ‘Never is this One born’ (2.20) , etc., which adduce the reason for this; having briefly stated at the commencement of the Scripture-in, ‘he who knows this One as indestructible’ (2.21)-that the enlightened man has no eligibility for rites and duties; and having deliberated in various places on that (cessation) which has been mooted in the middle (of the Scripture), the Lord, by way of summarizing the purport of the Scripture, concludes here by saying that the enlightened person ‘does not kill, nor does he become bound.’ If this be so, then it becomes established that the three kinds of results of actions, viz the undesirable etc., do not accrue to the monks, since it is reasonable that, because of the illogicality of their entertaining the idea of being embodied, all actions resulting from ignorance become abandoned (by them). And hence, as a conseence of a reversal of this, it becomes inevitable that the results do accrue to others. Thus, this is how the purport of the scripture Gita has been summed up. In order that this which is the essence of the teachings of all the Vedas should be. understood after deliberation by the learned ones possessing a sharp intellect, it has been explained by us in accordance with the scriptures and reasoning, in various places by dealing with it topically. Thereafter, now is being stated what promts actions:

Swami Adidevananda

18.17 He who is free from the notion ‘I am the doer,’ and whose understanding is not tainted - slays not, though he slays all these men, nor is he bound.

Swami Gambirananda

18.17 He who has not the feeling of egoism, whose intellect is not tainted, he does not kill, nor does he become bound-even by killing these creatures!

Swami Sivananda

18.17 He who is free from the egoistic notion, whose intelligence is not tainted (by good or evil), though he slays these people, he slayeth not, nor is he bound (by the action).


Swami Sivananda

18.17 यस्य whose? न not? अहंकृतः egoistic? भावः the notion? बुद्धिः intelligence? यस्य of whom? न not? लिप्यते is tainted? हत्वा having slain? अपि even? सः he? इमान् these? लोकान् people? न not? हन्ति slays? न not? निबध्यते is bound.Commentary I will explain to thee? O Arjuna? the characterisitics of the man who has transcended activity? and who has gone beyond the bonds of Karma.When selfishnes and egoism are destroyed? when desire and personal gain are renounced? actions cannot bind a man. He knows that the Self is not destroyed when the body perishes. He has no idea of agency. The act of killing itself? in his case? becomes one necessary for the peace and harmony of the world. His killing without desire is like the killing of a murderer by the executioner and the judge on behalf of the community for the preservation of peace and harmony in the world.He who has a trained intellect? pure understanding and developed reason? who has a knowledge of the scriptures? who has devoted himself to the study of the scriptures? who is eipped with the knowledge of logic? who is well trained by the instructions of his preceptor? is absolutely free from the egoistic notion that I am the agent or the doer. He knows perfectly well that Nature or Guna or ones own nature does everything. He thus thinks I am the silent witness of all activities. I am not the doer. These five (the body? the actor? etc.) which are superimposed on the pure? actionless Self through ignorance are the causes of all actions. I do not do anything. The senses move amongst the senseobjects. The alities (Gunas) move in their counterparts in the senses which are also the products of the Gunas. I know the essence of the divisions of the alities and their functions. I am in essence without limbs. How can action or work be ascribed to me I am without hands? without legs? without feet? without breath and without mind. I am ever pure? spotless and immovable and immutable. He will never repent thus I have done a wrong action. I ought to have done like this. I have done an evil action. I will go to hell. He is always wise. He can,never do a wrong action. His will has become one with the cosmic will. His will has become blended with the will of the Lord. Whatever he does is done by the Lord only. He has no will of his own. He sees rightly. Though he kills? he does not commit the act of killing. He is not bound by the fruit of a vicious action as an effect of that act. He is beyond good and evil? beyond the pairs of opposites? as he has knowledge of the Self.An objector says The statement that though he kills these people? he does not kill? is selfcontradictory.We say This objection is really not tenable. From the worldly point of view the Lord says though he kills? because man identifies the Self with the body? etc.? and thinks I am the killer. From the transcendental point of view explained above? the Lord says? He kills not? he is not bound.Another objector says The Self acts in conjunction with the body? etc.? – He who looks upon his Self Which is isolated? as the agent৷৷. (XVIII.16)We say This objection also cannot stand. As the omnipresent ether is not affected by reason of its subtlety? even so the Self? seated everywhere in the body? is not affected. This immortal? immutable? changeless? formless? attributeless Self? though seated in the body? does not act and is not affected? just as the crystal is not affected by the red colour of the flower that comes into contact with it? just as the sun is not affected by the diseases of the eye. A thing that changes only can join with others and become the agent. The Self is always isolated? independent and free. This Self is immutable (II.25). The alities move amidst the alities (III.28). Though seated in the body? He does not act (XIII.31). Actions are wrought by the alities (III.27). You will find in the Brihadaranyaka were. By reasoning also we may establish the same conclusion thusThe Self is indivisible? allpervading? infinite? limbless? without parts? independent? ever free and immutable. Therefore the actions of the body can never be ascribed to the agency of the Self.Verily the actions of one cannot go to another who has not done them. Just as blue colour cannot belong to the sky? silver to the motherofpearl? water to mirage? so also what is ascribed to the Self by ignorance cannot really belong to It. The changes that occur in the body pertain to the body but not to the pure actionless Self which is always the spectator or the silent witness. Therefore? it is right to say that the wise man who is free from egoism and all impurities of the mind? neither kills nor is he bound though he kills.In chapter II.19? the Lord stated the proposition – He slayeth not? nor is he slain. In chapter II.20? He said The Self is unborn? eternal? ancient the Self is not slain when the body is killed. The Lord has touched here and there that the Self is not affected by works? that there is no necessity for the wise man of doing actions. He concludes that the sage kills not? nor is he bound? and sums up the teaching of the Gita. The teaching of the Gita has been concluded in this verse. The Sannyasins who are free from egoism are not affected by Karma. The threefold fruits of action? viz.? evil? good and mixed (see verse 12 above) do not accrue to them. Those worldlyminded persons who work with egoism and expectation of fruits are tainted by the works. They are forced to experience the fruits of their actions and to take birth again and again. (Cf.II.19V.7)