निराशीर्यतचित्तात्मा त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः |
शारीरं केवलं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ||४-२१||


nirāśīryatacittātmā tyaktasarvaparigrahaḥ .
śārīraṃ kevalaṃ karma kurvannāpnoti kilbiṣam ||4-21||



4.21. Being rid of cravings, having mind and self (body) all controlled, abandoning all sense of possession, and performing exclusively bodily action, he does not incur any sin.

Shri Purohit Swami

4.21 Expecting nothing, his mind and personality controlled, without greed, doing bodily actions only; though he acts, yet he remains untainted.

Sri Abhinav Gupta

4.21 Tyaktva etc. Nirasih etc. Even though he sets upon : Even though he is directly exerting in. Bodily action : the action which is in the form of activity of the organs for simply maintaining the body, and which is not coloured (desired) so much by the mind and intellect.

Sri Ramanuja

4.21 ‘Free from desire’ means having no attachment to the fruits of actions. ‘His intellect and mind controlled’ means one whose intellect and mind are under control. ‘Giving up all possessions’ means one who, on account of his having the self as his primary objective, is devoid of the sense of ownership in relation to Prakrti and its derivatives. One who is thus engaged in bodily work alone as long as he lives, does not incur any sin, i.e., does not get engrossed in Samsara. He gets the vision of the self by Karma Yoga of this kind itself, and need not resort to any exlusive practice of Jnana Yoga in between liberation and the practice of Karma Yoga of the alone description.

Sri Shankaracharya

4.21 Nirasih, one who is without solicitation-one from whom asisah [Asih is a kind of desire that can be classed under prayer. (Some translate it as desire, hope.-Tr.)], solicitations, have departed; yata-citta-atma, who has the mind and organs under control-one by whom have been controlled (yatau) both the internal organ (citta) and the external aggregate of body and organs (atma); (and) is tyakta-sarva-parigrahah, [ Parigraha: receiving, accepting, possessions, belongings.-V.S.A] totally without possessions- one by whom have been renounced (tyaktah) all (sarvah) possessions (parigrahah); na apnoti, he does not incur; kilbisam, sin, in the form of evil as also rigtheousness-to one aspiring for Liberation, even righteousness is surely an evil because it brings bondage-; [Here Ast. adds tasmat tabhyam mukto bhavati samsarat mukto bhavati ityarthah, therefore, he becomes free from both of them, i.e. he becomes liberated from transmigration.-Tr.] kurvan, by performing; karma, actions; kevalam, merely; sariram, for the purpose of maintaining the body-without the idea of agenship even with regard to these (actions). Further, in the expression, ‘kevalam sariram karma’, do the words sariram karma mean ‘actions done by the body’ or ‘actions merely for the purpose of maintaining the body? Again, what does it matter if by (the words) sariram karma is meant ‘actions done by the body’ or ‘actions merely for the purpose of maintaning the body? The answer is: If by sariram karma is meant actions done by the body, then it will amount to a contradiction [Contradiction of the scriptures.] when the Lord says, ‘one does not incur sin by doing with his body any action meant for seen or unseen purposes, even though it be prohibited.’ Even if the Lord were to say that ‘one does not incur sin by doing with his body some scripturally sanctioned action intended to secure a seen or an unseen end’, then there arises the contingency of His denying something (some evil) that has not come into being! (Further,) from the specification, sariram karma kurvan (by doing actions with the body), and from the use of the word kevala (only), it will amount to saying that one incurs sin by performing actions, called righteous and unrighteous, which can be accomplished with the mind and speech and which come within the purview of injunction and prohibition. Even there, the statement that one incurs sin by performing enjoined actions through the mind and speech will involve a contradiction; even in the case of doing what is prohibited, it will amount to a mere purposeless restatement of a known fact. On the other hand, when the sense conveyed by sariram karma is taken as acctions merely for the purpose of maintaining the body, then the implication will be that he does not do any other work as can be accomplished physically, orally, or mentally, which are known from injunctions and prohibitions (of the scriptures) and which have in view seen or unseen results; while he appears to people to be working with those very body (speech) etc. merely for the purpose of maintaining the body, yet he does not incur sin by merely making movements of the body etc., because from the use of the word kevala, (merely) it follows that he is devoid of the sense of agentship implicit in the idea, ‘I do.’ Since there is no possibility of a person who has reached such a state incurring evil as suggest by the word sin, therefore he does not become subject to the evil of transmigration. That is to say, he certainly becomes free without any obstacle since he has all his actions burnt away by the fire of wisdom. This verse is only a reiteration of the result of full illumination stated earlier. It becomes faultless by accepting the interpretation of sariram karma thus. In the case of the monk who has renounced all possessions, since owning food etc. meant for the bare sustenance of the body is absent, therefore it becomes imperative to beg for alms etc. for the upkeep of the body. Under this circumstance, by way of pointing out the means of obtaining food etc. for the maintenance of the body of a monk as permitted by the text, ‘What comes unasked for, without forethought and spontaneously৷৷.’ [Unasked for: what comes before the monk gets ready for going out for alms; without forethought: alms that are not given with abuses, and have not fallen on the ground, but collected from five or seven houses without any plan; spontaneously: alms brought to one spontaneously by devoted people.] (Bo. Sm. 21. 8. 12) etc., the Lord says:

Swami Adidevananda

4.21 Free from desire, his intellect and mind controlled, giving up all possessions, and doing bodily work only, he is not subject to evil:

Swami Gambirananda

4.21 One who is without solicitation, who has the mind and organs under control, (and) is totally without possessions, he incurs no sin by performing actions merely for the (maintenance of the) body.

Swami Sivananda

4.21 Without hope and with the mind and the self controlled, having abandoned all covetousness, doing mere bodily action, he incurs no sin.


Swami Sivananda

4.21 निराशीः without hope? यतचित्तात्मा one with the mind and self controlled? त्यक्तसर्वपरिग्रहः having abandoned all covetousness? शारीरम् bodily? केवलम् merely? कर्म action? कुर्वन् doing? न not? आप्नोति obtains? किल्बिषम् sin.Commentary The liberated sage renounces all actions except what is necessary for the bare maintenance of the body. He has abandoned all possessions. He incurs no sin which will cause evil effects. For a man who thirsts for liberation (Mumukshu) even righteous activity (Dharma) is a sin as it causes bondage to Samsara. Dharma is a golden fetter for him. A golden fetter is also a fetter. A sage is liberated from both Dharma and Adharma? good and evil or virtue and vice. (Cf.III.7)