Gita 18.66 explained

Link to purport by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada

Transcript of Bhakti-Shastri class on this verse by Chaitanya Charan

Bg 18.66

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ


sarvadharmān — all varieties of religion; parityajya — abandoning; mām — unto Me; ekam — only; śaraṇam — for surrender; vraja — go; aham — I; tvām — you; sarva — all; pāpebhyaḥ — from sinful reactions; mokṣayiṣyāmi — will deliver;  — do not; śucaḥ — worry.


Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

sarva-dharmān parityajya, give up all varieties of religion 

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, surrender unto Me alone

And ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo, I will free you from all sinful reactions 

mokṣayiṣyāmi, I will free you

mā śucaḥ, do not fear, do not doubt, do not hesitate, whole heartedly do this. 

sarva-dharmān parityajya, parityajya means to give up, this is actually quite a radical declaration. Because Krishna has come to protect Dharma to reestablish Dharma, Yada Yada He Dhrmasya, so when Dharma goes down I come to establish Dharma then why Krishna is telling here to give up Dharma? So here Krishna is telling to give up all varieties of Dharma, apart from Dharma of mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, apart from Dharma of Surrender to Me, of Pure Devotion to Me, un-distracted un-diluted pure devotion, mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, surrender to Me alone. Why to Me alone because love is a matter of heart. When devotional love is directed towards too many things then it cannot be whole hearted, so there is one God and we have to put over faith to one Supreme God. Yes He can have many representative and we can respect them also. 

[BG is coming in 6th Parva in Mahabharat that is Bhisma Parva, 

Previous paravas are 

  1. Adi Parva – childhood life of Bhisma, Pnadavas and Kauravas 
  2. Shabha Parva – Dishonor of Draupadi 
  3. Vana Parva – exile of Pandavas
  4. Virat Parva – Pandavas live in incognito
  5. Udyog Parva – attempt to avoid war

In Udyoga Parva it is identified that actually there is conflict between Kshetriya Dharma and Kula Dharma. 

Of course we come alone and go alone form this world, our eternal relationship is only with Krishna, our family relationship is meaningful when they help us develop our relationship with Krishna.

That is desirable but in vedic culture there is Para Dharma (spiritual dharma) and Apara Dharma (material dharma). 

In BG this conflict between Kshetriya Dharma and Kula Dharma is resolved philosophically by telling that both of these dharmas are apara dharma, para dharma is Man Mana Bhav Mad Bhakto…it is of pure devotion to Krishna and one should follow Para Dharma, 

So when Krishna is telling sarva-dharmān parityajya, here sarva-dharmān means give up all apara dharmas. 

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, means accept the para dharma of pure devotional service.

How to take shelter of Krishna is elaborate subject, but shelter has to be taken in this world we have to do certain activities in this world. 

sarva-dharmān parityajya, doesn’t mean one has to become adharmic but accept that dharma which helps one to do mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja.

If some has gone to adharma from apara dharma then that is wastage but if someone has gone to para dharma from apara dharma that is glorious. Everything is provided by Krishna directly or indirectly so servicing Krishna is alright in all circumstances. 

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja

means one gives up those dharam which is pratikul to mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja and we accept that dharma which is favorable to surrender to Krishna. 

End of BG Arjuna adopted Kshetriya dharma but that is external that Arjuna is doing so that he can practice para dharma of bhakti. So Arjuna is not a Kshetriya who is practicing bhakti yoga, he is a bhakta who is doing Kshetriya dharma. The priority has to be clear.

First I am a devotee then I may be an engineer, doctor, house wife, a temple president, a counselor. First I am a devotee then I can take various roles which may be in material world or in institution also. 

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
means we accept that which enables us to surrender to Krishna.

Parikshit Maharaj has big responsibility of king but when time came he surrender to Krishna and took dharma of exclusive hearing and chanting. 

The process of surrender to Kṛṣṇa is described in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (11.676):

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ
prātikūlyasya varjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso
goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ

So Surrender can be in above six elements. 

Among these six first two are important because they are actions and remaining four are emotions. For example the faith rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso will gradually grow over the period of time, rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso is emotion. 

goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā, that Krishna is my maintainer 

rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso, means when there is danger Krishna will protect me.

goptṛtve means in general Krishna is my maintainer. 


ātma-nikṣepa means my whole existence is depending on Krishna 

kārpaṇye means without Krishna I am useless, I am worthless, I can’t do anything, utter humility. All these are emotions and they are very desirable emotions which we should cultivate.

But this cultivation is progressive it is not switching on of a light, in one moment it happens.

To get above analog or progressive emotions what is required is 

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ
prātikūlyasya varjanam

So a devotees chooses proper action.

So for Arjuna is ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ is accepting Kshetriya duty and putting aside kula dharma is like following prātikūlyasya varjanam.

And Arjuna still might be having question that by killing my elders and teachers will not I get a sinful reactions? So for that Krishna said don’t worry even if there is sinful reactions 

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

So for sake of Krishna we have to give up lower moral principle and adopt higher moral principle, then Krishna assures that I will protect you from sinful reactions. 

mā śucaḥ, do not fear. 

So here Krishna’s affection is overflowing completely.

Earlier in 7.28 Krishan has said that to fix in devotion one has to become free from all sinful reactions. 

yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām

One has to end sinful reactions by acting piously consistently throughout many life times

te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā, they become free from duality of illusion 

bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ, they become fixed in devotion 

But here Krishna is telling even if you are not anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ, even if there is papa you just come to Me, 

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

I will free you from sinful reactions

So this is Krishna’s whole hearted love coming out.

E.g. while training a child a mother tell him to attend natures call you should go to wash room but the child soils the cloth then mother says no first you clean yourself then come to me, but the child cries Mama I don’t know what to do and how to do then mother says ok you come to me I will take care of you.

Similarly Krishna says first yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ but when the devotees says I am helpless then Krishan says 

ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo

Don’t worry I will protect you just come to Me. 

So in this way Krishna expresses His intense love for His devotees. 

So this verse Krishna offers His love and invites us to love Him.

So BG is essentially a revelation for love and call for love.

Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur has mentioned that mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ can refer to two thinks ekam can be attached to mam or to śaraṇaṁ.

It refers to Krishna as the only object of worship and we accept surrender to Krishna as the means of spiritual elevation.

In spiritual life there is Sadhan, means, and there is Sadhya, the goals.

So one meaning will be give up all other sadhan and accept the sadhan of only Bhakti. śaraṇaṁ prapadiye

When we take up mām ekaṁ, that means give up all other sadhya give up moksha, give up devata upasana, and accept Me as the only sadhya.

So this verse expresses that Krishna is the only Sadhya and Bhakti is the only Sadhana. 

So this way this verse brings the whole previous discussion of BG to a conclusion.

BG discusses on various sadhya and various sadhan and this is a part of the vedic cultures where multilevel form of worship is there. 

That means in Vedic culture there are different levels of sadhya and sadhana but that is meant so that finally people come to the pure devotion of The Supreme Lord. 

So is this exclusivist which means only my path is correct and all other paths are wrong. No it is not exclusivist as for other paths also Krishna is using dharmān so He is not rejecting those. So they are lower paths but not wrong paths. Bhakti to Krishna leads to the fastest and highest elevation. Like in 9.25 He has mentioned Yanti Dev Vratan Devan, so going to Devatas are also not small things. 

Rather this verse is universalist as dharman here can be referred as externals and mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ can be referred as internals. 

E.g. Yajna Brahman Patnis in SB, Yajna Brahman dharmas, were not leading to mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja.

Bali Maharaj rejects his teacher.

Gopis visiting Krishna at night time which is para dharma. Gopis even gave up their duties towards their children. 

So for sake of Krishna we should not only give up bad of this world but also good of this world pious work also if it is required. Because good and bad are material level where as Krishna is at transcendental level. 

So externals are important but there importance is so that we can surrender to Krishna. 

Same way it is also mentioned in Vishnu Purana:

smartavya satata viṣṇur

vismartavyo na jātucit

sarve vidhi-niedhā syur

etayor eva kikarā


smartavya—to be remembered; satatam—always; viṣṇu—Lord Viṣṇuvismartavya—to be forgotten; na—not; jātucit—at any time; sarve—all; vidhiniedhā—rules and prohibitions mentioned in the revealed scripture or given by the spiritual master; syu—should be; etayo—of these two principles (always to remember Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu and never to forget Him); eva—certainly; kikarā—the servants.


” ‘Kṛṣṇa is the origin of Lord Viṣṇu. He should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the śāstras should be the servants of these two principles.’

So the purpose of all rule and regulation sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur is to remember Krishna. To always remember Krishna and to never forget Krishna. 

Here sarva-dharmān parityajya means material religiosity.  

mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja, when Gopis see Lord Vishnu in rasa dance…

Such surrender may require extreme degree of sacrifice so mā śucaḥ, do not fear. Do not hesitate. Whatever we may have in this world gives us some sense of security and shelter, it may be our material status, our job, our relationships, so here Krishan is saying give up scudo security and take real security which comes up by surrender to Krishna. Because Krishna is a Supreme protector, He can offer a protection which no one else can offer in the world. Krishna is supremely strong and caring therefore mā śucaḥ

We may fear because surrender involves giving up something but what we are giving up is our sources of scudo security.

SB 2.1.4

 ātma-sainyeṣv asatsv api
teṣāṁ pramatto nidhanaṁ
 paśyann api na paśyati

one gets security from deha — body; apatya — childrenkalatra — wifeādiṣu — relatives or in relation to these things.

Through them we will get some security 

ātma-sainyeṣv, one thinks these are my protectors these are my Sena. So I am warrior and this is my sena and with this sena I will protect myself. 

asatsv api, but all of them are temporary, none of them can give us permanent protection 

 teṣāṁ pramatto nidhanaṁ]
 paśyann api na paśyati

When one sees futility of all these but still holds to these then this is seeing but not seeing. 

So Krishna doesn’t want us to stay in illusion like this. He doesn’t want us to suffer in this kind of scudo security, scudo security causes uncertainty because we feel this will provide me safety but we are not sure if this will provide me safety or not. So Krishna is telling us do not fear. Do not think that when you will take shelter of Me I will not protect you, I will definitely protect you. mā śucaḥ. When we are giving up material things for Krishna’s sake we have to understand that what we are giving up is far far tiny then what we are going to get. There is scudo security like drop of water in desert but what Krishna is going to give us is like ocean. 

Srila Prabhupada is an example that he used his intelligence in serving Krishna he was always thinking what is the best way to serve Krishna should I write book, should I start an institution, should I go to America. 

When we sincerely serving Krishna He gives us intelligence.

End of transcription.

Author: Vallabhi

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1 Comment

  1. Harekrishna Prabhu Ji. PAMHO. Very wonderfully explained Prabhu Ji. So enlightening. Thanks

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