yatsaankhyaih praapyate sthaanam tadyogairapi gamyate |
ekam saankhyam cha yogam cha yah pashyati sah pashyati || 5 ||

One who obtains the state of bliss through knowledge, also reaches that same state through yoga. He who sees knowledge and yoga as one, that person sees (correctly).

yat : one who
saankhyaih : through knowledge
praapyate : obtains
sthaanam : state of bliss
tat : that
yogaih : through yoga
api : also
gamyate : reaches
ekam : as one
saankhyam : knowledge
cha : and
yogam : yoga
cha : also
yah : the person who
pashyati : sees
sah : that person
pashyati : sees

In this shloka, the words yoga and knowledge need further elaboration to get at the underlying meaning. In the context of this chapter, they mean yoga of action (karmayoga) and yoga of knowledge through renunciation (karma sannyaasa yoga) respectively. Having added this context, the shloka now reads as follows: one who obtains the state of bliss through the yoga of knowledge, also reaches that same state through the yoga of action. In the wise person’s view, both of these are one. It is like two passengers boarding a train from different stations. Both reach the same destination.

Let us dig deeper to understand what is common between renunciation and action. Imagine that two people are striving for self-realization. One person performs karma yoga, but does not think carefully about how he performs his actions. Without proper thought and discrimination, his actions become selfish and his vaasanaas increase. Ultimately, he does not attain his goal.

The other person decides that he prefers renunciation. He goes to an ashram to lead the life of a monk. But even thought he has renounced the material world, he keeps thinking about his life in the material world. He too, does not attain his goal, because his desires prevent him from properly absorbing his teacher’s teachings.

In both cases, renunciation and action do not work because they are missing the key ingredient – knowledge. Unless one uses discrimination while performing action, or maintains the knowledge that I am not the doer prior to renunciation, the goal is not attained by either person. Therefore, Shri Krishna urges wise people to keep discrimination in the picture while considering either stage of the path.

Having reassured Arjuna that both stages yield the same outcome, Shri Krishna next addresses why karma yoga is more appropriate for Arjuna.