Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 2

श्रीभगवानुवाच |
काम्यानां कर्मणां न्यासं सन्न्यासं कवयो विदु: |
सर्वकर्मफलत्यागं प्राहुस्त्यागं विचक्षणा: || 2||

śhrī-bhagavān uvācha
kāmyānāṁ karmaṇāṁ nyāsaṁ sannyāsaṁ kavayo viduḥ
sarva-karma-phala-tyāgaṁ prāhus tyāgaṁ vichakṣhaṇāḥ

śhrī-bhagavān uvāchathe Supreme Divine Personality said; kāmyānāmdesireful; karmaṇāmof actions; nyāsamgiving up; sanyāsamrenunciation of actions; kavayaḥthe learned; viduḥto understand; sarvaall; karma-phalafruits of actions; tyāgamrenunciation of desires for enjoying the fruits of actions; prāhuḥdeclare; tyāgamrenunciation of desires for enjoying the fruits of actions; vichakṣhaṇāḥthe wise

shri-bhagavan uvacha
kamyanam karmanam nyasam sannyasam kavayo viduh
sarva-karma-phala-tyagam prahus tyagam vichakshanah


BG 18.2: The Supreme Divine Personality said: Giving up of actions motivated by desire is what the learned understand as sanyās. Relinquishing the fruits of all actions is what the wise declare to be tyāg.


Kavayaḥ are the learned. Shree Krishna states that learned people consider sanyās as the renunciation of works. Those who renounce works for material enjoyment and enter the renounced order are called karm sanyāsīs. They continue to do some of the nitya karm (daily works for the maintenance of the body), but they renounce kāmya karm (works related to acquisition of wealth, progeny, prestige, status, power, etc). Such works bind the soul further in the wheel of karma and lead to repeated rebirths in the samsara of birth and death.

Vichakṣhaṇāḥ are the wise. Shree Krishna states that wise people lay emphasis on tyāg, meaning “internal renunciation.” This implies not relinquishing the prescribed Vedic duties, rather renouncing the desires for enjoying their fruits. Therefore, the attitude of giving up attachment to the rewards of actions is tyāg, while the attitude of giving up works is sanyas. Both sanyās and tyāg seem plausible and reasonable options to pursue for enlightenment. Of these two courses of action, which one does Shree Krishna recommend? He provides more clarity on this topic in the subsequent verses.