3 - Karma Yoga
Commentary by Sri Adi Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami
Two kinds of
Convictions, viz the Conviction concerning Reality, and the Conviction concerning
Yoga, associated with detachment from and engagement in action (respectively),
which are dealt with in this Scripure (Gita), have been indicated by the Lord.
As to that, beginning with 'When one fully renounces all the desires' (2.55)
and ending with the close of the Chapter, the Lord, having stated thta sannyasa,
monasticism, has to be resorted to by those who are devoted to the Conviction
about the Reality (Sankhya-buddhi), has also added in the verse, 'this is
the state of being established in Brahman' (2.72), that their fulfilment comes
from devotion to that alone. Besides, in the verse, 'Your right is for action
alone....May you not have any inclination for inaction' (2.47), the Lord said
to Arjuna that duty had to be undertaken with the aid of the Conviction about
Yoga (Yoga-buddhi). [See Commentary on 2.10.-Tr.] But he did not say that
Liberation is attained through that alone.
such as it was, Arjuna got his mind puzzled and said (to himself): 'Having
first made me, who am His devotee seeking Liberation, hear about steadfastness
in the Conviction about Reality, which is the direct cause of Liberation,
why should He urge me to action which is seen to bristle with many evils,
and from which, even through an indirect process, the result, viz Liberation,
is unpredicatble?' Thus, Arjuna's becoming perplexed is reasonable. And the
question, 'If it be Your opinion that Wisdom is superior to action....'etc.,
is consistent with that. The statement answering the question has been uttered
by the Lord in this Scripture, where the division of the subject-matter referred
to above has been dealt with.
imagine the meaning of Arjuna's question to be otherwise, and explain the
Lord's answer contrarily to that. [To understand this controversy, refer to
the Commentary on 2.10.-Tr.] Here again, [In the beginning of the third chapter.]
they ascertain the meaning of the question and the answer inconsistently with
what they themselves have determined in their Introduction to be the purport
of the Gita.
As to that, in
that Introduction it has been said by them that in the scripture Gita, the
conclusion presented for people in all the stages of life is the combination
of Knoweldge and action. It has been again specifically stated by them that
(in the Gita) it is absolutely denied that Liberation is attained through
Knowledge alone, by renouncing action ejoined by the Vedic text, '(One should
perform the Agnihotra sacrifice) throughout life.' But here (in the third
chapter), when they show that the stages of life are distinct, the renunciation
of those very actions which have been enjoined by the Vedic text, '(One should
perform the Agnihotra sacrifice) throughout one's life', becomes admitted
by them, ipso facto. Therefore, how can the Lord say such a contradictory
thing to Arjuna? Or how can the hearer comprehend a contradictory statement?
In that case, let it be thus: With regard to the householders alone it is
denied that, by renouncing all Vedic rites and duties, Liberation can be attained
through (superficial) Knowledge alone; but not so with regard to those belonging
to the other stages of life.
Even this involves a contradiction between the earlier and the later statements.
After having proposed in their Introduction that the ascertained teaching
of the scripture Gita is the combination of Knowledge and action for people
in all the stages of life, how can they assert here contradictorily that,
in the case of persons in stages of life other than that of the householders,
Liberation comes from Knowledge alone?
Suppose it is held that this assertion is made with regard to Vedic rites
and duties, i.e. it is denied that householders can have Liberation through
Knowledge alone which is unassociated with Vedic rituals. By ignoring those
duties of the householders which are prescribed by the Smrtis, as if they
(the duties) were nonexistent- even though they are present in fact-, it is
said in that context that there can be no Liberation only from Knowledge.
[The duties sanctioned by the Smrtis have to be performed by all, irrespective
of the stages of life they are in; they are a common factor in the lives of
all spiritual aspirants, and hence, their existence need not be considered
separately with regard to the householders. So, when it is said that those
other than the householders cannot have Liberation from Knowledge alone, it
is to be understood that they attain Liberation through Knowledge combined
with duties prescribed by the Smrtis.-Tr.]
Even this is contradictory !
How can it be understood by discrimination people that, Liberation through
Knowledge combined with action (rites and duties) prescribed by the Smrtis
is denied in the case of householders alone, but not with regard to others?
Moreover, if, in the case of the sannyasins, actions (rites and duties) prescribed
by the Smrtis have to be combined with Knowledge as a means to Liberation,
then even for the householders you should accept the combination of Knowledge
with actions sanctioned by the Smrtis only not with those sanctioned by the
Vedas. On the other hand, if it be held that for Liberation, Knowledge has
to be combined with actions sanctioned by the Vedas and the Smrtis in the
case the householders only, but for the sannyasins the combination has to
be with actions sanctioned by the Smrtis alone, then, in that case, on the
householder's head will be placed the burden of much exertion in the form
of greatly painful actions prescribed by the Vedas and the Smrtis!
Again, if it
be argued that Liberation will be attained by householders alone on account
of their undertaking tasks requiring much diligence, but people in other stages
of life will not have It because of their non-performance of the Vedic and
the daily obligatory duties (nitya-karma, prescribed by the Smrtis), then
that too is wrong since, with regard to the seekers of Liberation, renunciation
of all actions has been prescribed as an accessory of Knowledge by all the
Upanisads, History, Puranas and Yoga-scripures. And this follows alos from
the sanction in the Vedas and the Smrtis for following the stages of life
either optionally or successively. [The Jabala Upanisad says: 'After completing
(the stageof) Celibacy, one should become a householder; from householder-ship
he should become an anchorite (lit. a forest-dweller), and then become a mendicant.
Or, if it happens otherwise, one should espouse monasticism even from the
stage of Celibacy, or from his house (i.e. from the stage of the Householder),
or from the forest' (see Ja. 4.1). The first sentence speaks of successive
progress towards monasticism, and the second speaks of optional adoption of
Knowledge with aciton may be of two kinds, krama-samuccaya and saha-samuccaya,
Krama-samuccaya is where an aspirant embraces monasticism by gradually passing
through the different stages of life. This is an indirect combination of Knowledge
with action (rites and duties). Sankaracarya is ready to concede this in the
case of some poeple. There is also the other alternative of saha-samuccaya,
where Knowledge is sought to be directly combined with action. Sankaracarya
rejects this standpoint totally. The Jabala first speaks of kramasamuccaya,
and then, by holding that one can become a monk from any stage of life, it
rejects saha-samuccaya. Besides, there is the Upanisadic text, 'yadahareva
virajet tadahareva pravrajet, one should renounce the very momet he acquires
detachment' (Ja. 4). A.G. quotes a Smrtis which, too, says, 'One should have
recourse to that stage of life to which he is inclined.'-Tr.]
In that case, the conclusion is that Knowledge and action should be combined
by people in all stages of life ?
No, because it is enjoined in the Upanisadic texts that a man aspiring for
Liberation should give up all actions:
very Self the Bramanas) renounce (the desire for sons, for wealth and for
the worlds), and lead a mendicant life' (Br. 3.5.1; also see 4.4.22);
speak of monasticism as something surpassing all these austerities' (Ma. Na.
verily became supreme' (ibid. 21.2);
'The few who
obtained Immortality did so not through action, nor progeny,nor wealth, but
through renunciation alone' (ibid. 10.5; Kai. 2); [The references to these
quotations from the Ma. Na. are numbered according to C.P.U. According to
the Ma. Na. published from the Remakrishna Math, Madras, the reference numbers
are 79.16, 78.12 and 12.14 respectively.-Tr.] and ,
'One should take
to monasticism from the stage of Celibacy itself' (Ja. 4), etc.
the Smrti) it is said:
'Giving up religion
and irreligion, give up both the real and the unreal, give up that [The idea
of agenship.] through which they are renounced' (Mbh. Sa. 329.40;331.44).
said to Kaca: 'Noticing that the phenomenal world is verily hollow, and desiring
to realize the Essence (Brahman), they, even while remaining unmarried, take
to monasticism by embracing supreme renunciation.' [Ast. omits 'kacam prati,
to Kaca', and notes that this verse occurs in Na. Par. (3.15) without any
referece to Brahaspati.-Tr.]
to Suka is this:
'A being gets
bound down by actions, and he is liberated by Illumination. Therefore, the
sannyasins who have realized the Transcendental (Self) do not undertake any
action (rites and duties)' (Mbh. Sa. 24.17).
Here also occurs
the text, 'having given up all actions mentally,' etc. (5.13). Further, as
Liberation is not a result (of action), actions become useless for one aspiring
May it not be argued that the daily obligatory duties (nitya-karmas) have
to be performed as to avoid sin? [Cf: 'By not performing the enjoined rites,
and doing those which are prohibited, and indulging in sense-objects, a man
suffers downfall.' (quoted by A.G.)
Rites are divided
under three categories-nitya, naimittika and kamya. Nityas are daily obligatory
duties such as Agnihotra. repeating Gayatri, etc. every morning and evening;
naimittikas are occasional duties such as sraddha (obsequies, prayascitta
(expiation), etc.; kamyas are rites performed for some particular purpose
and with a view to future fruition, e.g. kariri-sacrifice performed to get
rains; putresti done for getting a son; a svamedha for going to heaven.
are supposed to yield no result, but their nonperformance brings evil. Sankaracarya
refutes this theory. According to him, nitya-karmas have a positive result
in as much as they purify the mind, or they lead to heaven.-Tr.]
Non, because the incurring of sin concerns those who are not monks. As by
not performing rituals etc. connected with fire, sin accrues even to the Brahmacarins
who are performers of rites and duties and are not monks, it certainly cannot
be imagined similarly with regard to a sannyasin. [Sin is incurred by one
who fails to perform the rites and duties enjoined on him according to his
stage of life. A Brahmacarin, whose duty is to study the Vedas and keep the
sacred fire burning with fuel, incurs sin by not doing so. But the sannyasin
cannot incur sin by the non-performance of what is not his duty.] For that
matter, neither can it be imagined that sin which is a positive entity can
be generated from the mere absence of daily obligatory duties (nitya-karmas),
because of the Upanisadic text, 'How can existence come out of nonexistence?'
(Ch. 6.2.2), which speaks of the impossibility of the birth of existence from
nonexistence. Should the Vedas speak even of the impossible, that sin accrues
from the non-performance of enjoined rites, then it will amount to saying
that the Vedas are a source of evil and hence invalid! For the result of either
doing or not doing what is enjoined would be pain. [Performance of rites involves
pain such as irritation of the eyes due to smoke, monetary expenses, etc.,
and non-performance too would produce sin!] And thereby an illogical conjecture
would have been made that the scriptures are creative and not informative.
[The scriptures proceed by accepting the powers of objects as they are known,
and not by imparting to them powers they (the objects) do not have In this
sense the Vedas are informative, and not creative.] And this is not desirable.
Therefore, rites and duties are not for monks. Hence, the combination of Knowledge
and action does not stand to reason.
question, 'If it be Your opinion that Wisdom is superior to action,' etc.
becomes unjustifiable. For, if it be that the Lord had said in the second
chapter, 'Knowledge and action, in combination, have to be pursued by you',
then Arjuna's question, 'O Janardana, if it be Your opinion that Wisdom is
superior to action,' etc. becomes unreasonable. Had it been said to Arjuna,
'Wisdom and action are to be practised by you', then that Wisdom which is
superior to action also stands stated as a matter of course. In that case,
Arjuna's [Here, Ast. adds 'upalambho va, accusation, or'.-Tr.] question, 'why
then do you urge me to horrible action?', cannot in any way be logical. Nor
can it be reasonably imagined that the Lord had said earlier that Wisdom which
is superior should not be practised by Arjuna alone, from which could arise
the question, 'If it be your opinion that Wisdom is superior to action...?'
[Ast. adds 'vivekatah, by making a distinciton (between the pursuit of Knowledge
and of action)'.-Tr.]
Again, had it
been stated earlier by the Lord that Knowledge and actions are to be pursued
by different persons since they, owing to mutual contradiction, cannot be
simultaneously pursued by one and the same person, they only would this question,
'If it be Your opinion,' etc. become logical. Even if it be supposed that
the question has been put owing to non-discrimination, still, the Lord's reply
that they (Knowledge and action) are to be pursued by different persons does
not become rational. Besides, it should not be imagined that the Lord's answer
is given out of His misunderstanding. And from these considerations, since
the Lord's anwer is seen to be that the steadfastness in Knowledge and in
action are meant for different persons, therefore it follows that combination
of Knowledge and action is illogical. Hence, the well-ascertained conclusion
in the Gita and all the Upanisads is that Liberation follows from Knowledge
Further, if it
were possible to combine both of them, then the prayer, 'Tell me for certain
one of these,' with regard to either Knowledge or action, becomes inconsistent.
And by His emphatic statement, 'Therefore you undertake action itself' (4.15),
the Lord will show the impossibility for Arjuna to be steadfast in Knowledge.
3.1 O Janardana
(krsna), if it be Your opinion that wisdom is superior to action, why then do
you urge me to horrible aciton, O Kesava ?
Janardana, cet, if it be; te, Your; mata, opinion, intention; that buddhih,
Wisdom; jyayasi, is superior; karmanah, to action-.
the combination of Wisdom and action be intended (by the Lord), then the means
to Liberation is only one. [The path combining Wisdom and action.] In that
case, Arjuna would have done something illogical in separating Wisdom from
action by saying that Wisdom is superior to action. For, that (Wisdom or action,
which is a constituent of the combination) cannot be greater than that (Combination,
even) from the point of view of the result. [Since what is intended is a combination,
therefore, the separation of Knowledge from action, from the point of view
of the result, is not justifiable. When Knowledge and action are considered
to form together a single means to Liberation, in that case each of them cannot
be considered separately as producing its own distinct result. Arjuna's question
can be justified only if this separation were possible.] Similarly, what Arjuna
said by way of censuring the Lord, as it were, in, 'It has been stated by
the Lord that Wisdom is superior to action, and He exhorts me saying, "Undertake
action," which is a source of evil! What may be the reason for this?',
and also in, 'Tatkim, why then, O Kesava; niyojayasi, do You urge; mam, me;
to ghore, horrible, cruel; karmani, action; involving injury?'-that (censure)
also does not become reasonable.
the other hand, [If the opponent's view be that Knowledge is to be combined
with rites and duties sanctioned by the Vedas and the Smrtis in the case of
the householders only, whereas for others those sanctioned by the Smrtis alone
are to be combined with Knowledge...., then....] if it be supposed that the
combination (of Knowledge) with action sanctioned only by the Smrtis has been
enjoined for all by the Lord, and Arjuna also comprehended (accordingly),
then, how can the statement, 'Why then do you urge me to horrible action',
You bewilder my understanding, as it were, by a seemingly conflicting statement!
Tell me for certain one of these by which I may attain the highest Good.
'Though the Lord
speaks lucidly, still, to me who am of a dull understanding, the Lord's utterance
appears to be conflicting.' 'Mohayasi, You bewilder; me, any; buddhim, understanding;
iva, as it were; vyamisrena iva, by that seemingly conflicting; vakyena, statement!
You have surely undertaken to dispel the confusion of my understanding; but
why do You bewildered (it)? Hence I say, "You bewildered my understanding,
as it were."'
However, if You
[In some readings, 'tvam tu, however, you', is substituted by 'tatra, as to
that'.-Tr.] think that it is impossible for a single person to pursue both
Knowledge and action, which can be undertaken (only) by different persons
then, that being the case, vada, tell me; niscitya, for certain; tadekam,
one of these, either Knowledge or action: "This indeed is fit for Arjuna,
according to his understanding, strength and situation"; yena, by which,
by one of either Knowledge or action; aham, I; apnuyam, may attain; sreyah,
the highest Good.'
Even if Knowledge
had been spoken of at all by the Lord as being subsidiary to steadfastness
in action, how then could there be the desire in Arjuna to know of only one
of them, as expressed in 'Tell me one of these two?' Certainly the Lord did
not say, 'I shall speak of only one among Knowledge and action, but surely
not of both', owing to which, Arjuna, considering it impossible for himself
to acquire both, should have prayed for one only!
The answer was
in accordance witht the question:
Blessed Lord said:
3.3 O unblemished
one, two kinds of steadfastness in this world were spoken of by Me in the days
of yore-through the Yoga of Knowledge for the men of realization; through the
Yoga of Action for the yogis.
O unblemished one, O sinless one; [This word of address suggests that Arjuna
is qualified to receive the Lord's instruction.] dvividha, two kinds of ;
nistha, steadfastness, persistence in what is undertaken; asmin loke, in this
world, for the people of the three castes who are qualified for following
the scriptures; prokta, were spoken of; maya, by Me, the omniscient God, who
had revealed for them the traditional teachings of the Vedas, which are the
means of securing prosperity and the highest Goal; pura, in the days of yore,
in the beginning the creation, after having brought into being the creatures.
then, which is that steadfastness of two kinds? In answer the Lord says: The
steadfastness jnanayogena, through the Yoga of Knowledge-Knowledge itself
being the Yoga [Here jnana, Knowledge, refers to the knowledge of the supreme
Reality, and Yoga is used in the derivative sense of 'that (Knowledge) through
which one gets united with Brahman'.]-; had been stated sankhyanam, for the
men of realization-those possessed of the Knowledge arising from the discrimination
with regard to the Self and the not-Self, those who have espoused monasticism
from the stage of Celibacy; itself, those to whom the entity presented by
the Vedantic knowledge has become fully ascertained (see Mu. 3.2.6)-,the monks
who are known as the parama-hamsas, those who are established in Brahman alone.
And the steadfastness karma-yogena, through the Yoga of Action-action itself
being the Yoga [Yoga here means 'that through which one gets united with,
comes to have, prosperity', i.e. such actions as go by the name of righteousness
and are prescribed by the scriptures.] had been stated yoginam, for the yogis,
the men of action (rites and duties). This is the idea.
had it been intended or stated or if it will be stated in the Gita by the
Lord-and if it has also been so stated in the Vedas-that Knowledge and action
are to be practised in combination by one and the same person for attaining
the same human Goal, why then should He here tell His dear supplicant Arjuna,
that steadfastness in either Knowledge or action is to be practised only by
different persons who are respectively qualified? If, on the other hand, it
be supposed that the Lord's idea is, 'After hearing about both Knowledge and
action, Arjuna will himself practise them (in combination); but, to others,
I shall speak of them as being meant to be pursued by different persons',
then the Lord would be imagined to be unreliable, being possessed of likes
and dislikes! And that is untenable.
from no point of view whatsoever can there be a combination of Knowledge and
action. And what has been said by Arjuna regarding superiority of Wisdom over
action, that stands confirmed for not having been refuted; and (it also stands
confirmed) that steadfastness in Knowledge is suitable for being practised
by monks alone. And from the statement that they (Knowledge and action) are
to be followed by different persons, it is understood that this has the Lord's
that Arjuna had become dejected under the impression, 'You are urging me to
that very action which is a source of bondage', and was thinking thus, 'I
shall not undertake action', the Lord said, 'Na karmanam anarambhat, not by
abstaining from action,' etc.
steadfastness in Knowledge and steadfastness in action become incapable of
being pursued simultaneously by one and the same person owing to mutual contradiction,
then, since it may be concluded that they become the cause of attaining the
human Goal independently of each other, therefore, in order to show-that the
steadfastness in action is a means to the human Goal, not independently, but
by virtue of being instrumental in securing steadfastness in Knowledge; and
that, on the other hand, steadfastness in Knowledge, having come into being
through the means of steadfastness in action, leads to the human Goal independently
without anticipating anything else-,the Lord said:
A person does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from action; nor
does he attain fulfilment merely through renunciation.
a person; na does not; asnute, attain; naiskarmyam, freedom from action, the
state of being free from action, steadfastness in the Yoga of Knowledge, i.e.
the state of abiding in one's own Self which is free from action; anarambhat,
by abstaining; karmanam, from actions-by the non-performance of actions such
as sacrifices etc. which are or were performed in the present or past lives,
which are the causes of the purification of the mind by way of attenuating
the sins incurred, and which, by being the cause of that (purification), become
the source of steadfastness in Knowledge through the generation of Knowledge,
as stated in the Smrti (text), 'Knowledge arises in a person from the attenuation
of sinful acts' [the whole verse is:
utpadyate pumsamksayatpapasya karmanah;
arises....acts. One sees the Self in oneself as does one (see oneself) in
a cleaned surface of a mirror'.-Tr.] (Mbh. Sa. 204.8). This is the import.
the statement that one does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from
actions, it may be concluded that one attains freedom from action by following
the opposite course of performing actions. What, again, is the reason that
one does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from actions? The answer
is: Because performing actions is itself a means to freedom from action. Indeed,
there can be no attainment of an end without (its) means. And Karma-yoga is
the means to the Yoga of Knowledge characterized by freedom from action, because
it has been so established in the Upanisads and here as well. As for the Upanisads,
it has been shown in the texts, 'The Brahmanas seek to know It through the
study of the Vedas, sacrifices, (charity, and austerity consisting in a dispassionate
enjoyment of sense-objects)' (Br. 4.4.22), etc. whch deal with the means of
realizing the goal of Knowledge under discussion, viz the Realm of the Self,
that the Yoga of Karma is a means to the Yoga of Knowledge . And even here
(in the Gita), the Lord will established that, 'But, O mighty-armed one, renunciation
is hard to attain without (Karma-)yoga' (5.6); 'By giving up attachment, the
yogis undertake work....for the purification of themselves' (5.11); 'Sacrifice,
charity and austerity are verily the purifiers of the wise' (18.5), etc.
Is it not that in such texts as-'Extending to all creatures immunity from
fear' (Na. Par. 5.43), (one should take recourse to freedom from action)-,
it is shown that attainment of freedom from action follows even from the renunciation
of obligatory duties? And in the world, too, it is a better known fact that
freedom from action follows abstention from actions. Hence also arises the
question, 'Why should one who desires freedom from action undertake action?'
Therefore the Lord said: Na ca, nor; samadhi-gacchati, does he attain; siddhim,
fulfilment steadfastness in the Yoga of Knowledge, characterized by freedom
from action; sannyasanat eva, merely through renunciation-even from the mere
renunciation of actions which is devoid of Knowledge.
again, is the reason that by the mere giving up of actions which is not accompanied
with Knowledge, a person does not attain fulfulment in the form of freedom
from actions? To this query seeking to know the cause, the Lord says:
Because, no one ever remains even for a moment without doing work. For all are
made to work under compulsion by the gunas born of Nature.
na kascit, no one; jatu, ever; tisthati, remains; api, even; for so much time
as a ksanam, moment; akarma-krt, without doing work. Why? Hi, for; sarvah,
all creatures; karyate karma, are made to work; verily avasah, under compulsion;
gunaih, by the gunas-sattva (goodness); rajas (activity), and tamas (mental
darkness); prakrti-jaih, born of Nature. The word 'unenlightened' has to be
added to the sentence, since the men of realzation have been spoken of separately
in, 'who is not distracted by the three gunas (qualities)' (14.23). For Karma-yoga
is meant only for the unenlightened, nor for the men of Knowledge. Karma-yoga,
on the other hand, is not pertinent for the men of Knowledge who, because
of their not moving away from their own Self, are not shaken by the gunas.
This has been explained similarly in, 'he who has known this One as indestructible'
But, if one who
is not a knower of the self does not perform prescribed action, then this
is certainly bad. Hence the Lord says:
3.6 One, who after
withdrawing the organs of action, sits mentally recollecting the objects of
the senses, that one, of deluded mind, is called a hypocrite.
Yah, one who;
samyamya, after withdrawing; karma-indriyani, the organs of action-hands etc.;
aste, sits; manasa, mentally; smaran, recollecting, thinking; indriya-arthan,
the objects of the senses; sah, that one; vimudha-atma, of deluded mind; ucyate,
is called; mithya-acarah, a hypocrite, a sinful person.
3.7 But, O Arjuna,
one who engages in Karma-yoga with the organs of action, controlling the organs
with the mind and becoming unattached-that one excels.
but, on the other hand, O Arjuna; yah, one who is unenlightened and who is
eligible for action; arabhate, engages in;-what does he engage in? the Lord
says in answer-karma yogam, Karma-yoga; karma-indriyaih, with the organs of
action, with speech, hands, etc.; niyamya, controlling; indriyani, the sense-organs;
manasa, with the mind; and becoming asaktah unattached; [Here Ast; adds 'phalabhisandhi-varjitah,
free from hankering for results'.-Tr.] sah, that one; visisyate, excels the
other one, the hypocrite.
being so, therefore,
You perform the obligatory duties, for action is superior to inaction. And,
through inaction, even the maintenance of your body will not be possible.
Tvam, you, O
Arjuna; kuru, perform; niyatam, the obligatory; karma, duties, those daily
obligatory duties (nitya-karmas) or which one is competent (according to the
scriptures), and which are not heard of [although no result of daily obligatory
duties is mentioned in the scriptures, still Sankaracarya holds that it is
either heaven or purification of the heart, because something done must have
its consequence.-Tr.] as productive of any result; hi, for, from the point
of view of result; karma, action; is jyayah, superior; akarmanah, to inaction,
to non-performance (of duties). Why? Ca, and; akarmanah, through inaction;
api, even; te sarira-yatra, the maintenance of your body; na prasiddhyet,
will not be possible. Therefore, the distinction between action and in action
is abvious in this world.
'And as regards
your ideea that action should not be udnertaken because it leads to bondage-that
too is wrong.' How?
3.9 This man becomes
bound by actions other than that action meant for God. Without being attached,
O son of Kunti, you perform actions for Him.
this; lokah, man, the one who is eligible for action; karma-bandhanah, becomes
bound by actions- the person who has karma as his bondage (bandhana) is karma-bandhanah-;
anyatra, other than; that karmanah, action; yajnarthat, meant for Got not
by that meant for God. According to the Vedic text, 'Sacrifice is verily Visnu'
(Tai. Sam. 1.7.4), yajnah means God; whatever is done for Him is yajnartham.
mukta-sangah, without being attached, being free from attachment to the results
of actions; O son of Kunti, samacara, you perform; karma, actions; tadartham,
for Him, for God.
eligible person should engage in work for the following reason also:
In the days of yore, having created the beings together with the sacrifices,
Prajapati said: 'By this you multiply. Let this be your yielder of coveted objects
Pura, in the
days of yore, in the beginning of creation; srstva, having created; prajah,
the beings, the people of the three castes; saha-yajnah, together with the
sacrifices; Prajapati, the creator of beings, uvaca, said; 'Anena, by this
sacrifice; prasavisyadhvam, you multiply.' Prasava means origination, growth.
'You accomplish that. Esah astu, let this sacrifice be; vah, your; ista-kama-dhuk,
yielder of coveted objects of desire.' That which yields (dhuk) coveted (ista)
objects of desire (kama), particular results, is istakama-dhuk.
3.11 'You nourish
the gods with this. Let those gods nourish you. Nourishing one another, you
shall attain the supreme Good.'
you nourish; devan, the gods, Indra and others; anena, with this sarifice.
Let te devah, those gods; bhavayantu, nourish; vah, you-make you contented
with rainfall etc. Thus bhavayantah, nourishing; parasparam, one another;
avapsyatha, you shall attain; the param, supreme; sreyah, Good, called Liberation,
through the attainment of Knowledge;' or, 'you shall attain heaven-which is
meant by param 'sreyah.' [The param sreyah (supreme Good) will either mean
liberation or heaven in accordance with aspirant's hankering for Liberation
'Being nourished by sacrifices, the gods will indeed give you the coveted enjoyments.
He is certainly a theif who enjoys what have been given by them without offering
(these) to them.'
being nourished, i.e. being satisfied, by sacrifices; devah, the gods; dasyante
hi, will indeed give, will distribute; among vah, you; the istan, coveted;
bhogan, enjoyments, such as wife, childeren and cattle. Sah, he; is eva, certainly;
a stenah, thief, a stealer of the wealth of gods and others; yah, who; bhunkte,
enjoys, gratifies only his own body and organs; with dattan, what enjoyable
things have been given; taih, by them, by the gods; apradaya, without offering
(these); ebhyah, to them, i.e. without repaying the debt [The three kinds
of debt-to the gods, to the rsis (sage), and to the manes-are repaid by satisfying
them through sacrifices, celibacy (including study of the Vedas, etc.), and
procreation, respectively. Unless one repays these debts, he incurs sin.]
3.13 By becoming
partakers of the remembers of sacrifices, they become freed from all sins. But
the unholy persons who cook for themselves, they incur sin.
who are yajna-sista-asinah, partakers of the remnants of sacrifices, who,
after making offering to the gods and others, [The panca-maha-yajnas, five
great offerings, which have to be made by every householder are offerings
to gods, manes, humans, creatures and rsis (sages).] are habituated to eat
the remnants (of those offerings), called nectar; they, santah, by being (so);
mucyante, become freed; sarva-kilbisaih, from all sins-from those sins incurred
through the five things [the five things are; oven, water-pot, cutting instruments,
grinding machines and broom. A householder incurs sin by killing insects etc.
with these things, knowingly or unknowingly. It is atoned by making the aforesaid
five offerings.], viz oven etc., and also from those others incurred owing
to injury etc. caused inadvertently. Tu, but; the papah, unholy persons, who
are selfish; ye, who; pacanti, cook; atma-karanat, for themselves; te, they,
being themselves sinful; bhunjate, incur; agham, sin.
For the following
reasons also actions should be undertaken by an eligible person. Action is
definitely the cause of the movement of the wheel of the world. How? This
is being answered:
3.14 From food
are born the creatures; the origin of food is from rainfall; rainfall originates
from sacrifice; sacrifice has action as its origin.
It is a matter
of direct perception that annat, from food, which is eaten and is transformed
into blood and semen; bhavanti, are born; bhutani, the creatures. Anna-sambhavah,
the origin of food; is parjanyat, from rainfall. Parjanyah, rainfall; bhavati,
originates; from yajnat, from sacrifice. This accords with the Smrti, 'The
oblations properly poured into fire reaches the sun. From the sun comes rain,
from rain comes food, and from the sun comes rain, from rain comes food, and
from that the creatures' (Ma.Sm.3.76). (Here) sacrifice means its unique [Also
termed as the unseen result (adrsta).-Tr.] result. And that sacrifice, i.e.
the unique result, which arises (samudbhavah) from action (karma) undertaken
by the priest and the sacrificer, is karma-samudbhavah; it has action for
3.15 Know that
actin has the veda as its origin; the Vedas has the Immutable as its source.
Hence, the all-pervading Veda is for ever based on sacrifice.
Again, [a different
reading in place of this is: 'Tat ca vividham karma kuto jatamityaha, From
where did those various kinds of action originate? In reply the Lord says...'
Still another reading is: 'Tat ca karma brahmodbhavam iti aha, And the Lord
says: That action has the Vedas as its origin.'-vide A.A., 1936, p. 116).
is: Tat ca evam vidham karma kuto jatamityaha, And from where has this kind
of aciton originated? The answers this.'-Tr.] viddhi, know; that karma, action;
is brahmodbhavam, it has Brahma, the Veda, as its udbhavam, origin. [Here
Ast. adds 'revealer'-Tr.] Further, Brahma, called the Veda, is aksara-samudbhavam,
it has aksara, the Immutable, Brahman, the supreme Self, as its source. This
is the meaning. Since the Veda came out, like the breath of a man, from the
supreme Self Itself, called the Immutable, therefore the Veda, being the revealer
of everything, is sarva-gatam, all pervading. Even though all-pervading, the
Veda is nityam, for ever; pratisthitam, based; yajne, on sacrifice, because
the injunctions about sacrifices predominate in it.
3.16 O Partha,
he lives in vain who does not follow here the wheel thus set in motion, whose
life is sinful, and who indulges in the senses.
Partha, sah, he; jivati, lives; mogham, in vain; yah, who, though competent
for action; na anuvartayati, does not follow; iha, here, in the world; cakram,
the wheel of the world; evam, thus; pravartitam, set in motion, by God, on
the basis of the Vedas and the sacrifices; aghayuh, whose life (ayuh) is sinful
(agham), i.e. whose life is vile; and indriya-aramah, who indulges in the
senses-who has his arama, sport, enjoyment, with objects, indriyaih, through
the gist of the topic under discussion is that action must be undertaken by
one who is qualified (for action) but is unenlightened. In the verses beginning
from, '(A person does not attain freedom from action by adstaining from action'
(4) and ending with, 'You perform the obligatory duties....And, through inaction,
even the maintenance of your body will not be possible' (8), it has been proved
that before one attains fitness for steadfastness in the knowledge of the
Self, it is the bounden duty of a person who is qualified for action, but
is not enlightened, to undertake Karma-yoga for that purpose. And then, also
in the verses commencing from '(This man becomes bound) by actions other than
that action meant for God' (9) and ending with 'O Partha, he lives in vain,'
many reasons [Such as, that it pleases God, secures the affection of the gods,
and so on.] have been incidentally stated as to why a competent person has
to undertake actions; and the evils arising from their non-performance have
also been emphatically declared.
being the conclusion, the question arises whether the wheel thus set in motion
should be followed by all, or only by one who is ignorant of the Self and
has not attained to the steadfastness which is fit to be practised by the
Sankhyas, the knowers of the Self, through the Yoga of Knowledge only, and
which is acquired by one ignorant of the Self through the means of the practice
of Karma-yoga mentioned above? Either anticipating Arjuna's question to this
effect, or in order to make the meaning of the scripture (Gita) clearly understood,
the Lord, revealing out of His own accord that the following substance of
the Upanisads-Becoming freed from false knowledge by knowing this very Self,
the Brahmanas renounce what is a compulsory duty for those having false knoweldge,
viz, desire for sons, etc., and then lead a mendicant life just for the purpose
of maintaining the body; they have no duty to perform other than steadfastness
in the knowledge of the Self (cf. Br. 3.5.1)-has been presented here in the
But that man who rejoices only in theSelf and is satisfied with the Self, and
is contented only in the Self-for him there is no duty to perform.
but; that manavah, man, the sannyasin, the man of Knowledge, steadfast in
the knowledge of the Self; yah, who; atmaratih eva syat, rejoices only in
the Self-not in the sense objects; and atma-trptah, who is satisfied only
with the Self-not with food and drink; and is santustah, contented; eva, only;
atmani, in the Self; tasya, for him; na vidyate, there is no; karyam, duty
[Duty with a view to securing Liberation.] to perform. [Rati, trpti and santosa,
though synonymous, are used to indicate various types of pleasures. Or, rati
means attachment to objects; trpti means happiness arising from contact with
some particular object; and santosa means happiness in general, arising from
the acquisition of some coveted object only.]
people surely feel contened by acquiring an external thing. But this one,
without depending on it, remains contented only with the Self; thta is to
say, he remains detached from everything. The idea it that, for a man who
is such a knower of the Self, there is no duty to undertake.
3.18 For him there
is no concern here at all with performing action; nor any (concern) with nonperformance.
Moreover, for him there is no dependence on any object to serve any purpose.
for him, who rejoices in the supreme Self; na, there is no; artham, concern;
eva, at all; krtena, with performing action.
In that case, let there be some evil called sin owing to non-performance!
Iha, here, in this world; na, nor is there; for him kascana, any (concern);
akrtena, with nonperfromance. Certainly there is no evil in the form of incurring
sin or in the form of self-destruction. Ca, moreover; asya, for him; na asti,
there is no; kascit artha-vyapasrayah sarva-bhutesu, dependence on any object,
from Brahma to an unmoving thing, to serve any purpose. Vyapasrayah is the
same as vyapasrayanam, dependence, which is possible of being created by action
promted by necessity. (For him) there is no end to gain by depending on any
praticular object, due to which there can be some action for that purpose.
are not established in this fullest realization which is comparable to a flood
remaining unattached, always perform the obligatory duty, for, by performing
(one's) duty without attachment, a person attains the Highest.
Since this is
so, therefore, asaktah, remaining unattached; samacara, perform; satatam,
always; karyam, the obligatory; daily karma, duty; hi, for; acaran, by performing;
(one's) karma, duty; asaktah, without attachment, by doing work as a dedication
to God; purusah, a person; apnoti, attains; param, the Highest, Liberation,
through the purification of the mind. This is meaning.
And (you should
perform your duty) for the following reason also:
3.20 For Janaka
and others strove to attain Liberation through action itself. You ought to perform
(your duties) keeping also in view the prevention of mankind from going astray.
Hi, for; in the
olden days, the leaned Ksatriyas, janakadayah, Janaka and others such as Asvapati;
asthitah, strove to attain; samsiddim, Liberation; karmana eva, through action
If it be that
they were possessed of the fullest realization, then the meaning is that they
remained established in Liberation whlile continuing, because of past momentum,
to be associated with action itself-without renouncing it-with a veiw to preventing
mankind from going astray. Again, if (it be that) Janaka and others had not
attained fullest realization, then, they gradually became established in Liberation
through action which is a means for the purification of the mind. The verse
is to be explained thus.
On the other
hand, if you think, 'Obligatory duty was performed even by Janaka and others
of olden days who were surely unenlightened. [Ajanadbhih: This is also translated
as, 'surely because they were unenlightened'.-Tr.] There by it does not follow
that action has to be undertaken by somebody else who has the fullest enlightenment
and has reached his Goal', nevertheless, tvam, you, who are under the influence
of past actions; arhasi, ought; kartum, to perform (your duties); sampasyan
api, keeping also in view; loka-sangraham, [V.S.A gives the meanings of the
phrase as 'the welfare of the world', and 'propitiation of mankind'.-Tr. ]
the prevention of mankind from going astray; even that purpose.
By whom, and
how, is mankind to be prevented from going astray? That is being stated: [In
Ast. this introductory sentence is as follows:loka-samgrahah kimartham kartavyam
3.21 Whatever a
superior person does, another person does that very thing! Whatever he upholds
as authority, an ordinary person follows that.
yat, [This is according to the Ast. The G1. Pr. reads, yat yat yesu yesu.-Tr.]
whatever action; a sresthah, superior person, a leader; acarati, does; itarah,
another; janah, person, who follows him; does tat tat eva, that very action.
Further, yat, whatever; sah, he, the superior person; kurute, upholds; as
pramanam, authority, be it Vedic or secular; lokah, an ordinary person; anuvartate,
follows; tat, that, i.e. he accepts that very thing as authoritative.
you have a doubt here with regard to the duty of preventing people from straying,
then why do you not observe Me?'
3.22 In all the
three worlds, O Partha, there is no duty whatsoever for Me (to fulfil); nothing
remains unachieved or to be achieved. [According to S. the translation of this
portion is: There is nothing unattained that should be attained.-Tr.] (Still)
do I continue in action.
O Partha, na
asti, there is no; kartavyam, duty; kincana, whatsoever; me, for Me (to fulfill);
even trisu lokesu, in all the three worlds. Why? There is na anavaptam, nothing
(that remains) unachieved; or avaptavyam, to be achieved. Still varte eva,
do I continue; karmani, in action.
3.23 For, O Partha,
if at any time I do not continue [Ast. and A.A. read varteya instead of varteyam.-Tr.]
vigilantly in action, men will follow My path in ever way.
Again, O Partha,
yadi, if; jatu, at any time; aham, I; an, do not; varteyam, continue; atandritah,
vigilantly, untiringly; karmani, in action; manusyah, men: anuvartante, willl
follow; mama, My; vartma, path; sarvasah, in every way, I being the Highest.
And if that be
so, what is the harm? In reply the Lord says: [Ast. omits this sentence completely.-Tr.]
3.24 These worlds
will be ruined if I do not perform action. And I shall become the agent of intermingling
(of castes), and shall be destroying these beings.
Cet, if; aham,
I; na kuryam, do not perform; karma, action; all ime, these; lokah, worlds;
utsideyuh, will be ruined, owing to the obsence of work responsible for the
maintenance of the worlds. Ca, and, futher; syam, I shall become; karta, the
agent; sankarasya, of intermingling (of castes). Consequently, upahanyam,
I shall be destroying; imah, these; prajah, beings. That is to say, I who
am engaged in helping the creatures, shall be destroying them. This would
be unbefitting of Me, who am God.
'On the other,
if, like Me, you or some one else possesses the conviction of having attained
Perfection and is a knower of the Self, it is a duty of such a one, too, to
help others even if there be no obligation on his own part.'
3.25 O scion of
the Bharata dynasty, as the unelightened people act with attachment to work,
so should the enlightened person act, without attachment, being desirous of
the prevention of people from going astray.
scion of the Bharata dynasty, yatha, as; some avidvamsah, unenlightened people;
kurvanti, act. saktah, with attachment; karmani, to work, (thinking) 'The
reward of this work will accrue to me'; tatha, so; should vidvan, the enlightened
person, the knower of the Self; kuryat, act; asaktah, without attachment,
remaining unattached. [Giving up the idea of agentship and the hankering for
the rewards of actions to oneself.] Whay does he (the enlightened person)
act like him (the former)? Listen to that: Cikirsuh, being desirous of achieving;
lokasamgraham, prevention of people from going astray.
Me who am a knower of the Self, nor for any other (knower of the Self) who
wants thus prevent people from going astray, is there any duty apart from
working for the welfare of the world. Hence, the following advice is being
given to such a knower of the Self:'
3.26 The enlightened
man should not create disturbance in the beliefs of the ignorant, who are
attached to work. Working, while himself remaining deligen [Some translate
yuktah as, 'in the right manner'. S. takes it in the sense of Yoga-yuktah,
merged in yoga.-Tr.], he should make them do [Another reading is yojayet,
meaning the same as josayet.-Tr.] all the duties.
Vidvan the enlightened
man; na janayet, should not create; buddhi-bhedam, disturbance in the beliefs-disturbance
in the firm belief, 'This has to be done; and the result of this action is
to be reaped by me'; ajnanam, of the ignorant, of the non-discriminating one;
karma-sanginam, who are attached to work. But what should he do? Himself samacaran,
working, performing those very activities of the ignorant; yuktah, while remaining
diligent; josayet, he should make them do; sarva-karmani, all the duties.
does an unillumined, ignorant person be come attached to actions? In reply
the Lord says:
3.27 While actions
are being done in every way by the gunas (qualities) of Nature, one who is deluded
by egoism thinks thus: 'I am the doer.'
kriyamanani, while actions, secular and scriptural, are being done; sarvasah,
in ever way; gunaih, by the gunas, (i.e.) by the modifications in the form
of body and organs; (born) prakrteh, of Nature-Nature, (otherwise known as)
Pradhana [Pradhana, Maya, the Power of God.], being the state of equilibrium
of the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas; ahankara-vimudha-atma,
one who is deluded by egoism; manyate, thinks; iti, thus; 'Aham karta, I am
is self-identification with the aggregate of body and organs. He whose atma,
mind, is vimudham, diluded in diverse ways, by that (ahankara) is ahankara-vimudha-atma.
He who imagines the characteristics of the body and organs to be his own,
who has self-identification with the body and the organs, and who, through
ignorance, believes the activities to be his own-, he thinks, 'I am the doer
of those diverse activities.'
But, O mighty-armed one, the one who is a knower of the facts about the varieties
of the gunas (qualities) and actions does not become attached, thinking thus:
'The organs rest (act) on the objects of the organs.'
but, on the other hand; he who is a knower, tattva-vit, a knower of the facts;-knower
of what kinds of facts?-guna-karma-vibhagayoh, about the varieties of the
gunas and actions, i.e. a knower of the diversity of the gunas and the diversity
of acitons; [Guna-vibhaga means the products of Prakrti which consists of
the three gunas. They are the five subtle elements, mind, intellect, ego,
five sensory organs, five motor organs and five objects (sound etc.) of the
senses. Karma-vibhaga means the varieties of inter-actions among these.-Tr.]
na sajjate, does not become attached; iti matva, thinking thus; 'Gunah, the
gunas in the form of organs;-not the Self-vartante, rest (act); gunesu, on
the gunus in the form of objects of the organs.'
3.29 Those who
are wholly deluded by the gunas of Nature become attached to the activities
of the gunas. The knower of the All should not disturb those of dull intellect,
who do not know the All.
guna-sammudhah, who are wholly deluded by the gunas; prakrteh, of Nature;
sajjante, become attached; guna karmasu, to the activities of the gunas, thining,
'We do actions for results.' Krtsna-vit, the knower of the All, one who is
himself a knower of the Self; na vicalayet, should not disturb; tan, those
who are attached to actions; (who are) mandan, of dull intellect; akrtsnavidah,
who do not know the All, who are all attention on the results of actions.
Unsetting of beliefs is itself the disturbance. That he should not do. This
is the idea.
Again, in what
manner should duties be under-taken by a seeker after Liberation who is not
enlightened, who is qualified for actions (rites and duties)? As to this,
the answer is being stated:
3.30 Devoid of
the fever of the soul, engage in battle by dedicating all actions to Me, with
(your) mind intent on the Self, and becoming free from expectations and egoism.
devoid of the fever of the soul, i.e. being free from repentance, without
remorse; yuddhyasva, engage in battle; sannyasya, by dedicating; sarvani,
all; karmani, actions; mayi, to Me, who am Vasudeva, the omniscient supreme
Lord, the Self of all; adhyatma-cetasa, with (your) mind intent on the Self-with
discriminating wisdom, with this idea, 'I am an agent, and I work for God
as a servant'; and further, bhutva, becoming; nirasih, free from expectations
['Free from expectations of results for yourself']; and nirmamah, free from
egoism. You from whom has vanished the idea, '(this is) mine', are nirmamah.
3.31 Those men
who ever follow this teaching of Mine with faith and without cavil, they also
become freed from actions.
Ye, those; manavah,
men; who (nityam, ever;) anutisthanti, follow accordingly; me matam, My teaching-
this teaching of Mine, viz that 'duty must be performed', which has been stated
with valid reasoning; sraddhavantah, with faith; and anasuyantah, without
cavil, without detracing Me, Vasudeva, the Teacher [Here Ast. adds 'parama,
supreme'-Tr.]; te api, they also, who are such; mucyante, become freed; karmabhih,
from actions called the righteous and the unrighteous.
3.32 But those
who, decaying [Finding fault where there is none.] this, do not follow My teaching,
know them-who are deluded about all knoweldge [Knowledge concerning the qualified
and the un-qualified Brahman.] and who are devoid of discrimination-to have
gone to ruin.
but; ye, those who are the opposite of them (the former); who abhyasuyantah,
decrying; etat, this instruction of Mine; na, do not; anutisthanti, follow;
me, My; matam, teaching, they are deluded in various ways with respect to
all knowledge. Viddhi, know; tan, them; sarva-jnana-vimudhan, who are deluded
about off knowledge; acetasah, who are devoid of discrimination; nastan, to
have gone to ruin.
what reason, again, do they not follow your teachings, perform duties that
are not theirs and not follow their own duties? How is it that by remaining
opposed to You, they do not fear the evil which will arise from transgressing
Your commandments? As to that, the Lord says:
3.33 Even a man
of wisdom behaves according to his own nature. Being follow (their) nature.
What can restraint do?
even; jnanavan, a man of wisdom-what to speak of a fool!; cestate, behaves;
Sadrsam, according to;-what? svasyah, his own; prakrteh, nature. Nature means
the impressions of virtue, vice, etc. [Also, knowledge, desires, and so on.]
acquired in the past (lives) and which become manifest at the commencement
of the present life. All creatures (behave) according to that only. Therefore,
bhutani, beings; yanti, follow; (their) prakrtim, nature. Nigrahah kim karisyati,
what can restraint do, be it from Me or anybody else?
all beings behave only according to their own nature-and there is none without
his nature-, then, since there arises the contingency of the scriptures becoming
purposeless owing to the absence of any scope for personal effort, therefore
the following is being stated:
and repulsion are ordained with regard to the objects of all the organs. One
should not come under the sway of these two, because they are his adversaries.
attraction and repulsion, in the following manner-attraction towards desirable
things, and repulsion against undesirable things; (vyavasthitau, are ordained,)
are sure to occur, arthe, with regard to objects such as sound etc.; indriyasya
indriyasya, of all the organs, with regard to each of the organs.
to that, the scope of personal effort and scriptural purpose are being stated
as follows: One who is engaged in the subject-matter of the scriptures should,
in the very beginning, not come under the influence of love and hatred. For,
that which is the nature of a person impels him to his actions, verily under
the influence eof love and hatred. And then follow the rejection of one's
own duty and the undertaking of somebody else's duty. On the other hand, when
a person controls love and hatred with the help of their opposites [Ignorance,
the cause of love and hatred, has discrimination as its opposite.], then he
becomes mindful only of the scriptural teachings; he ceases to be led by his
na agacchet, one should not come; vasam, under the sway; tayoh, of these two,
of love and hatred; hi because; tau, they; are asya, his, this person's pari-panthinau,
adversaries, who, like robbers, put obstacles on his way to Liberation. This
is the meaning.
this world, one impelled by love and hatred misinterprets even the teaching
of the scriptures, and thinks that somebody else's duty, too, has to be undertaken
just because it is a duty! That is wrong:
3.35 One's own
duty [Customary or scripturally ordained observances of different castes and
sects.-Tr.], though defective, is superior to another's duty well-performed.
Death is better while engaged in one's own duty; another's duty is fraught with
one's own duty; being practised even though vigunah, defective, deficient;
is sreyan, superior to, more commendable than; para-dharmat, another's duty;
though svanusthitat, well-performed, meritoriously performed. Even nidhanam,
death; is sreyah, better; while engaged svadharme, in one's own duty, as compared
with remaining alive while engaged in somebody else's duty. Why? Paradharmah,
another's duty; is bhayavahah, fraught with fear, since it invites dangers
such as hell etc.
the root cause of evil was stated in, 'In the case of a person who dwells
on objects' (2.62) and '.....because they (attraction and repulsion) are his
adversaries' (34), that was presented desultorily and vaguely. Wishing to
know it briefly and definitely as, 'This is thus, to be sure', Arjuna, with
the idea, 'When this indeed becomes known, I shall make effort for its eradication',
3.36 Now then,
O scion of the Vrsni dynasty (Krsna), impelled by what does this man commit
sin even against his wish, being constrained by force, as it were?
now then; varsneya, O scion of the Vrsni dynasty; being prayuktah, impelled;
kena, by what acting as the cause; as a servant is by a king, does ayam, this;
purusah, man; carati, commit; papam, sin, a sinful act; api, even; anicchan,
against his wish, though not himself willing; niyojitah, being constrained;
balat, by force; iva, as it were-as if by a king, which illustration has already
Lord (Bhaga-van) said: 'You hear about that enemy, the source of all evil,
of which you ask-.'
is said to consist of all kinds of majesty, virtue, fame, beauty, detachment
as well as Liberation [Liberation stands for its cause, Illumination.], (V.P.6.5.74).
That Vasudeva, in whom reside for ever, unimpeded and in their fullness, the
six qualities of majesty etc. and who has the knowledge of such subjects as
creation etc., is called Bhaga-van. 'He is spoken of as Bhaga-van who is aware
of creation and dissolution, gain and loss, [Gain and loss stand for future
prosperity and adversity.] ignorance and Illumination of all beings' (ibid.
Blessed Lord said:
3.37 This desire,
this anger, born of the quality of rajas, is a great devourer, a great sinner.
Know this to be the enemy here.
Esah, this; kamah,
desire, is the enemy of the whole world, because of which the creatures incur
all evil. This desire when obstructed in any way turns into anger. Therefore,
krodhah, anger, is also identical with this (desire). It is rajoguna-samudbhavah,
born of the quality of rajas; or, it is the origin of the quality of rajas.
For, when desire comes into being, it instigates a person by arousing rajas.
People who are engaged in service etc., which are effects of rajas, and who
are stricken with sorrow are heard to lament, 'I have been led to act by desire
indeed!' It is mahaasanah, a great devourer, whose food is enormous. And hence,
indeed, it is maha-papma, a great sinner. For a being commits sin when goaded
by desire. Therefore, viddhi, know; enam, this desire; to be vairinam, the
enemy; iha, here in this world.
With the help
of examples the Lord explains how it is an enemy:
3.38 As fire is
enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dirt, and as a foetus remains enclosed in
the womb, so in this shrouded by that.
Yatha, as; vahnih,
fire, which is naturally bright; avriyate, is enveloped; dhumena, by smoke,
which is born concomitantly (with fire) and is naturally dark; or as adarsah,
a mirror; is covered malena, by dirt; ca, and; garbhah, a foetus; is avrtah,
enclosed; ulbena, in the womb by the amnion; tatha, so; is idam, this; avrtam,
shrouded; tena, by that.
Again, what is
that which is indicated by the word idam (this), and which is covered by desire?
The answer is:
3.39 O son of Kunti,
Knowledge is covered by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire,
which is an insatiable fire.
Knowledge; is avrtam, covered; etena, by this; nityavairina, constant enemy;
jnaninah, of the wise. For the wise person knows even earlier, 'I am being
induced by this into evil.' And he always [Both at the time when desire arises
in him, and also when he is forced to act by it.] feels distressed. Therefore,
it is the constant enemy of the wise but not of a fool. For the fool looks
upon desire as a friend so long as hankering lasts. When sorrow comes as a
consequence, he realizes, 'I have been driven into sorrow because of longings',
but certainly not earlier. Therefore it is the constant enemy of the wise
what form? Kama-rupena, in the form of desire-tha which has wish itself as
its expression is kama-rupa; in that form-; (and) duspurena, which is an insatiable;
analena, fire. That which is difficult to satisfy is duspurah; and (derivatively)
that which never has enough (alam) is analam.
having what as its abode does desire, in the form of a viel over Knowledge,
become the enemy of all? Since when the abode of an enemy is known, it is
possible to easily slay the enemy, therefore the Lord says:
3.40 The organs,
mind, and the intellect are said to be its abode. This one diversely deludes
the embodied being by veiling Knowledge with the help of these.
organs; manah, mind; and buddhih, the intellect; ucyate, are said to be; asya,
its, desire's; adhisthanam, abode. Esah, this one, desire; vimohayati, diversely
deludes; dehinam, the embodied being; avrtya, by veiling; jnanam, Knowledg;
etaih, with the help of these, with the organs etc. which are its abodes.
[The activities of the organs etc. are the media for the expression of desire.
Desire covers the Knoweldge of the Self by stimulating these.]
O scion of the Bharata dynasty, after first controlling the organs, renounce
this one [A variant reading is, 'prajahi hi-enam, completely renounce this one'.-Tr.]
which is sinful and a destroyer of learning and wisdom.
this is so, therefore, O scion of the Bharata dynasty, adau niyamya, after
first controlling; indriyani, the organs; prajahihi, renounce; enam, this
one, the enemy under consideration; which is papmanam, sinful-which is desire
that is accustomed to sinning; and jnana-vijnana-nasanam, a destroyer of learning
and wisdom, jnana, learning, means knowledge about the Self etc. from the
scripures and a teacher. Vijnana, wisdom, means the full experience of that.
i.e. discard, from yourself the destroyer of those two-learning and wisdom,
which are the means to the achievement Liberation.
has been said, 'After first controlling the organs, renounce desire the enemy'.
As to that, by taking the support of what should one give up desire? This
is being answered:
3.42 They say that
the organs are superior (to the gross body); the mind is superior to the organs;
but the intellect is superior to the mind. However, the one who is superior
to the intellect is He.
learned ones ahuh, say; that indriyani, the five [Five sense-organs: of vision,
hearning, taste, smell and touch; five motor-organs: hands, feet, speech,
and for excretion and generation-these latter five are also understood in
the present context.] organs-ear etc., are parani, superior, to the external,
gross and limited body, from the point of view of subtlety, inner position,
pervasiveness, etc. So also, manah, the mind, having the nature of thinking
and doubting; [Sankalpa: will, volition, intention, thought, reflection, imangination,
etc. vikalpa:doubt, uncertainly, indecision, suspicion, error, etc.-V.S.A.]
is param, superior; indriyebhyah, to the organs. Similarly, buddhih, the intellect,
having the nature of determination; is para, superior; manasah, to the mind.
And yah, the one who is innermost as compared with all the objects of perception
ending with the intellect, and with regard to which Dweller in the body it
has been said that desire, in association with its 'abodes' counting from
the organs, deludes It by shrouding Knowledge; sah, that one; is tu, however;
paratah, superior; buddheh, to the intellect- He, the supreme Self, is the
witness of the intellect. [The portion, 'with regard to which Dweller...the
supreme Self,' is translated from Ast. Which has the same reading here as
the A.A. The G1. Pr. Makes the "abode''
from the organs' an adjective of 'the Dweller in the body', and omits the
portion, 'is tu, however...buddheh, to the intellect'.-Tr.]
3.43 [The Ast,
introdcues this verse with, 'Tatah kim, what follows from that?'-Tr.] Understanding
the Self thus [Understanding....thus:that desires can be conquered through the
knowledge of the Self.] as superior to the intellect, and completely establishing
(the Self) is spiritual absorption with the (help of) the mind, O mighty-armed
one, vanquish the enemy in the form of desire, which is difficult to subdue.
atmanam, the Self; evam, thus; as param, superior; buddheh, to the intellect;
and samstabhya, completely establishing; atmana, with the mind, i.e. establishing
(the Self) fully in spiritual absorption with the help of your own purified
mind; O mighty-armed one, jahi, vanquish; this satrum, enemy; kama-rupam,
in the form of desire; which is durasadam, difficult to subdue-which can be
got hold of with great difficulty, it being possessed of many inscrutable