The Song Divine (The Bhagavadgītā) Chapter III Karmayogā, or the Yoga of Action

The Song Divine (The Bhagavadgītā) Chapter III Karmayogā, or the Yoga of Action


Arjuna said: Kṛṣṇa, if You consider Knowledge as superior to Action, why then do You urge me to this dreadful action, Keśava! (1)

You are, as it were, puzzling my mind by these seemingly conflicting expressions; therefore, tell me the one definite discipline by which I may obtain the highest good. (2)

Śrī Bhagavān said: Arjuna, in this world two courses of Sādhanā have been enunciated by Me in the past. In the case of the Sāṅkhyayogī, the Sādhanā proceeds along the path of Knowledge; whereas in the case of the Karmayogī, it proceeds along the path of Action. (3)

Man does not attain freedom from action without entering upon action; nor does he reach perfection merely by ceasing to act. (4)

Surely, none can ever remain inactive even for a moment; for, everyone is helplessly driven to action by modes of Prakṛti. (5)

He who outwardly restraining the organs of sense and action, sits mentally dwelling on the objects of senses, that man of deluded intellect is called a hypocrite. (6)

On the other hand, he who controlling the organs of sense and action by the power of his will, and remaining unattached, undertakes the Yoga of selfless Action through those organs, Arjuna, he excels. (7)

Therefore, do you perform your allotted duty; for action is superior to inaction. Desisting from action, you cannot even maintain your body. (8)

Man is bound by his own actions except when it is performed for the sake of sacrifice. Therefore, Arjuna, do you efficiently perform your duty, free from attachment, for the sake of sacrifice alone. (9)

Having created mankind along with Yajña, at the beginning of creation, the creator, Brahmā, said to them, “You shall prosper by this; may this yield the enjoyments you seek. (10)

Foster the gods through this sacrifice, and let the gods foster you. Thus, each fostering the other selflessly, you will attain the highest good. (11)

Fostered by sacrifice, the gods will surely bestow on you unasked all the desired enjoyments. He who enjoys the gifts bestowed by them without offering their share to them, is undoubtedly a thief. (12)

The virtuous who partake of what is left over after sacrifice, are absolved of all sins. Those sinful ones who cook for the sake of nourishing their bodies alone, partake of sin only. (13)

All beings are evolved from food; production of food is dependent on rain; rain ensues from sacrifice, and sacrifice is rooted in prescribed action. Know that prescribed action has its origin in the Vedas, and the Vedas proceed from the Indestructible; hence the all-pervading Infinite is always present in sacrifice. (14 - 15)

Arjuna, he who does not follow the wheel of creation thus set going in this world i.e., does not perform his duties, lead a sinful and sensual life, he lives in vain. (16)

He, however, who takes delight in the Self alone and is gratified with the Self, and is contented in the Self, has no duty. (17)

In this world that great soul has nothing to gain by action nor by abstaining from action; nor has he selfish dependence of any kind on any creature. (18)

Therefore, go on effeciently doing your duty at all times without attachment. Doing work without attachment man attains the Supreme. (19)

It is through action without attachment alone that Janaka and other wise men reached perfection. Having in view the maintenance of the world order too, you should take to action. (20)

For, whatever a great man does, that very thing other men also do; whatever standard he sets up, the generality of men follow the same. (21)

Arjuna, there is no duty in all the three worlds for Me to perform, not is there anything worth attaining, unattained by Me; yet I continue to work. (22)

Should I not engage in action scrupulously at the time, great harm will come to the world; for, Arjuna, men follow My ways in all matters. (23)

If I ever cease to act, these worlds would perish; nay, I should prove to be the cause of confusion, and of the destruction of these people. (24)

Arjuna, as the unwise act with attachment, so should the wise man, with a view to maintain the world order, act without attachment. (25)

A wise man established in the Self should not unsettle the mind of the ignorant attached to action, but should get them to perform all their duties, duly performing his own duties. (26)

In fact all actions are being performed by the modes of Prakṛti. The fool, whose mind is deluded by egoism, thinks: "I am the doer." (27)

However, he who has true insight into the respective spheres of Gunas and their actions, holding that it is the Gunas that move among the Gunas, does not get attached to them, Arjuna. (28)

Those who are completely deluded by the Guṇas of Prakṛti remains attached to those Guṇas and actions; the man of perfect Knowledge should not unsettle the mind of those ignorants of imperfect knowledge. (29)

Therefore, dedicating all actions to Me with your mind fixed on Me, the Self of all, freed from desire and the feeling of meum and cured of mental agitation, fight. (30)

Even those men who, with an uncavilling and devout mind, always follow this teaching of Mine, are released from the bondage of all actions. (31)

But they, however, who, finding fault with this teaching of Mine, do not follow it, take those fools to be deluded in the manner of all knowledge as lost. (32)

All living creatures follow their tendencies; even the wise man acts according to the tendencies of his own nature. Of what use is restraint by force. (33)

Attraction and repulsion are rooted in all sense-objects. Man should never allow himself to be swayed by them, because they are the two principal enemies standing in the way of his redemption. (34)

One's own duty, though devoid of merit, is preferable to the duty of another well performed. Even death in the performance of one's own duty brings blessedness; another's duty is fraught with fear. (35)

Arjuna said: Now impelled by what, Kṛṣṇa, does this man commit sin even involuntarily, as though driven by force? (36)

Śrī Bhagavān said: It is desire begotten by the elements of Rajas, which appears as wrath; nay, it is insatiable and grossly wicked. Know this to be the enemy in the case. (37)

As fire is covered by smoke, mirror by dust, and embryo by the amnion, so is knowledge covered by desire. (38)

And, Arjuna, Knowledge stands covered by this eternal enemy of the wise, known as desire, which is insatiable like fire. (39)

The senses, the mind and the intellect are declared to be its seat; covering the knowledge through these, it deludes the embodied soul. (40)

Therefore, Arjuna, you must first control your senses, and then kill this evil thing which obstructs Jñāna and Vijñāna. (41)

The senses are said to be greater than the body; but greater than the senses is the mind. Greater than the mind is the intellect, and what is greater than the intellect is He, the Self. (42)

Thus, Arjuna, knowing the Self which is higher than the intellect and subduing the mind by reason, kill this enemy in the form of desire that is hard to overcome. (43)

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