त्रयो धर्मस्कन्धा यज्ञोऽध्ययनं दानमिति प्रथमस्तप एव द्वितीयो ब्रह्मचार्याचार्यकुलवासी तृतीयोऽत्यन्तमात्मानमाचार्यकुलेऽवसादयन्सर्व एते पुण्यलोका भवन्ति ब्रह्मसंस्थोऽमृतत्वमेति ॥ २.२३.१ ॥
trayo dharmaskandhā yajño’dhyayanaṃ dānamiti prathamastapa eva dvitīyo brahmacāryācāryakulavāsī tṛtīyo’tyantamātmānamācāryakule’vasādayansarva ete puṇyalokā bhavanti brahmasaṃstho’mṛtatvameti || 2.23.1 ||
1. There are three divisions of religion: The first comprises sacrifices, study, and charity; the second consists of austerities, such as fasting; and the third is the life of celibacy and living with the teacher in his house till death. People devoted to these three divisions of religion go to heaven after death. But one who is devoted to Brahman attains immortality.
Trayaḥ dharmaskandhaḥ, three divisions of religion; yajñaḥ adhyayanam dānam iti prathamaḥ, the first [division comprises] sacrifices, study, and charity; tapaḥ eva dvitīyaḥ, the second is austerities; tṛtīyaḥ, the third; brahmacārī ācāryakulavāsī atyantam ātmānam ācāryakule avasādayan, the life of celibacy and living with the teacher in his house till death; sarve ete, all these; puṇyalokāḥ bhavanti, attain heavenly worlds; brahmasaṃsthaḥ, [but] one devoted to Brahman; amṛtatvam eti, attains immortality.
You may practise religion in three ways: First, by performing sacrifices, studying the scriptures, and giving in charity; second, by performing austerities; and third, by observing celibacy and living with the teacher till death. All these are good, but they only lead to heaven. If you want immortality (that is, liberation), you have to devote yourself to realizing Brahman.
There are certain words in our language that clearly distinguish one thing from another. For instance, barley is a particular type of grain. If you see the word ‘grain,’ it could mean wheat or rice or barley. But if you see the word ‘barley,’ you know exactly what is referred to. Similarly, the words brahmaniṣṭhā, or brahmasaṃstha, refer to a certain type of person whose only concern in life is to realize Brahman. This type of person may be of any age, any class, any caste, or any station of life. What distinguishes this type of person from any other is his or her total commitment to Brahman.