Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā – chapter 3 (karma-yoga)

Post By: Published on: December 19, 2016 Reading time: 26 minutes


School of Yoga is profoundly grateful to Saṃskṛta scholars and academics Pijus Kanti Pal (pal.pijuskanti@gmail.com) and Dolon Chanpa Mondal for their support in Saṃskṛta transliteration and quality control.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3 – karma-yoga (yoga of action). 


To understand karma-yoga, some principles and concepts which underpin the philosophy as stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa need to be understood.

The key concepts that will be addressed in chapter 3 are karma, relationship between karma and purua/ prakti, karma and debt (ṛṇa) and karma-yoga, which means integration of karma with the Self (ātman). Since these concepts are interrelated, there will be overlap which could lead to some confusion.

  • In chapter 2, we learned that Brahman is a permanent, unchanging, immutable, cognitive state of peace, which is the source and motility of everything.
  • Everything that emerges from Brahman is called māyā (illusion/ materiality).
  • Māyā is driven by attributes or gua, consisting of the states of delusion (tamas), passion (rajas) and harmony (sattva).
  • Dharma is natural state, one that conditions all entities to behave in a particular manner.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga (verse 1-9).

Comparing knowledge and action.

Arjuna asked – If you are saying that the yoga of knowledge (sākhya-yoga) is superior to yoga of action (karma-yoga), why are you asking me to indulge in this terrible action? You are confusing me with your perplexing speech, so please explain to me that ONE way by which I may attain the correct goal.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa replied – In this world for yogīs or those seeking to integrate their awareness with Brahman, there are two paths – the path of knowledge (sākhya-yoga) or the path of action (karma-yoga) (verse 3-9).

  • A person does not reach the state of no action by not acting; neither does he reach the highest levels of wisdom by renunciation. This is because action occurs continuously in voluntary and involuntary form, for this is the nature of creation (prakti) (verse 5).
  • Action is superior to inaction, indeed, for even the body cannot be maintained by inaction (verse 8).
  • Perfection cannot be attained by renunciation of action (karma). In fact, only the perfect can achieve liberation (samādhi) through renunciation (verse 4).
  • He who restrains action without restraining the senses is delusional, but he who restrains the senses and cognition when acting excels (verse 7).
  • Common people experience anxiety when acting (karma), but the wise people act in a state of peace (verse 18).
  • When performing action, the intent of sacrifice is superior to the intent of result. For example, food cooked for oneself but not shared is action intended for the senses, but one shared with others is a sacrifice. Thus, sacrifice is the source of all well-being (verse 11).
  • A person who is anchored in the Self finds connection in all activity. Such a person does not consider himself to cause action, or inaction and is not dependent on others (verse 17-18).
  • The ignorant act with attachment to action, the wise act with an attitude of no attachment. The best way to act is for the welfare of the world and to perform all actions with an attitude of balance (verse 25-26). 
  • So, perform action without attachment, only then do you set a standard and become a role model for people to emulate (verse 20).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga.

The relationship between karma and purua/ prakti.

  • The attributes (gua) that comprise delusion (tamas), passion (rajas) and harmony (sattva) have a passive (purua) and an active (prakti).
  • The passive component purua, is the experiencer or Identity of the entity while the active component prakti is the manifestation of purua, emerging in the form of attributes (gua).
  • For example, people recognise us by our behaviour (prakti), our behaviour is an expression of our Identity (purua). So, without our Identity (purua), we would not be able to express ourselves (prakti).
  • Also, our behaviour (prakti) changes along with our experiences and this is on account of the changes experienced by our Identity (purua).
  • Clearly, purua cannot exist without prakti and vice-versa, they are continuously weaving with each other. This weave is called tantra (weave) and the act of weaving is karma (action).
  • It’s important not to forget that the source and motility of all the above factors is

So, what is the relationship between action karma, gua, purua and prakti? Any stimulus-response transaction results in action (karma) because there is an outcome. This is also the material weave of purua and prakti.  Since prakti drives attributes (gua), the weave of purua and prakti results in action karma that is driven by attributes (gua).

But, the concept of action (karma) does not stop here,

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga.


When we like something, we bring it close to ourselves. This is called rāga (attraction). When we dislike something, we push it away. This is called dveṣa (repulsion) and the action of bringing something close or pushing it away is action (karma). 

Since this covers all transactions, karma can be considered as the governing principle of the existence of all sentient, non-sentient, animate and inanimate entities.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga. 

Relationship between karma and bandhana.

Introduction: karma creates bonds (bandhana) in every transaction because whenever two entities relate to each other, they form a bond even if the transaction is temporary.

Two types of bonds can be created in any transaction; one of equal give-take (sama-bandhanasama = equal + bandhana = bond) or and unequal bond of give-take which creates by debt is called ṛṇa-bandhana (ṛṇa = debt + bandhana = bond).

Any transaction where the give and take are equal is called samabandhana (equal bond). Mostly, this is between married couples where give and take is not measured. This is why, in-laws in India are called sambandhi or samdi (those of equal bond).

Importantly, this give and take need not be material alone; it could be ideas, feelings, opinions etc. or a mix of these, anything where there is an imbalance or debt (ṛṇa) created.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga.

Types of debt (ṛṇa) in karma.

We know that most transactions are rarely equal, one of the parties will give or get more. Hence, this creates a debtor and a creditor, and a debt (ṛṇa) that needs to be repaid in this life or in another.

Also, creation and repayment of debt can take many forms, depending on the type of debt.  

  • All debt accrued to or by one in an ongoing situation is called āgāmi-karma (current debt).
  • The overall aggregation of all debit or credit is called sañcita-karma (overall debt).
  • Next, the debt which comes for repayment is called prārabdha-karma (repayment debt).
  • Finally, any overarching karma which controls environments and communities is called samai-karma. Example of samaṣṭi-karma – Covid-19, all earthquakes, tsunamis, weather etc., where the individual’s karma is subsumed by a macro event.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītāchapter 3, karma-yoga.

Where does the debt (ṛṇa) reside?

Debt (ṛṇa) only exists when it can be assigned to an entity. Hence, all debt (ṛṇa) is accumulated by the Self/ Soul (ātman) and goes with it at each rebirth until all the debt has been discharged.

How can a person avoid rebirth? Karma is attached to the Self (ātman) only when it identifies itself with the action, so the simple way to avoid debt or ṛṇa is to act without attaching the Self (ātman) to the outcome.

Act with all senses and cognition (manas) under control, with a spirit of sacrifice (yajña), without desire for results (karma-phala) and without any attitude of being the doer (ahakāra).

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and requires great dedication, patience, persistence and practice (śraddhā). This effort to transcend the Self (jīva) during action (karma) is called karma-yoga.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3, karma-yoga.

The key principles underpinning karma-yoga.

1- All aspects of life are based on natural principles of creation (dharma). Understanding of these principles is the basis of knowledge (sākhya). For example, the Sun’s rays nourish earth, the earth rotates clockwise, plants grow from the earth when they are nourished by rain, gravity acts on all matter etc., these are natural rules (dharma) of creation that cannot be changed.

2- Dharma (natural state, order or conditioning) comes from karma, which comes from the weave of purua and prakti, which is a continuous unending process.

For example – we need food which must be grown out of the earth. To achieve efficiency, one type of food must be grown on a plot of land. This is aligning natural principle of creation with our own ability to grow food. Then, there is peace/ order or harmony, which is dharma. But, when food is grown by use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, this balance is lost and there is chaos (adharma). This chaos may not manifest immediately, but over time it manifests as climate change.

3- Action is continuous. Even to maintain the body we need to act. In fact, action occurs when we are asleep, just as acquiring wisdom requires effort or action. Importantly, not acting is also action (akarma).

4- There is no one else! Everything that we do or is done to us is a result of our karma and the debt (ṛṇa) we create is karma that has to be reconciled. So, to avoid debt (ṛṇa) one must act as if he does not consider himself to cause action or inaction, nor with dependence on any other beings.

This aspect has three parts,
  • First, we are born alone and anything we do will affect us only. Our effect on others is not controlled by us unless we force the issue.
  • Second is a derivation of the first. While the outcome may not be as per our expectation, it is important that our effort or input be executed with excellence, dedication and sincerity (śraddhā).
  • Finally, it is best that we detach ourselves from the outcome of our actions so that the impact does not disturb our equilibrium.

5- Hence, it is best that we perform all action as a sacrifice without expectations. This way, we do not attach our actions to the results and avoid dualities such as like-dislike as well as expectation.

What is the measure of success? How do we know that we are on the right path? When our transactions result in minimum experience of debt and agitation around us, then we can call our action dhārmika or in line with karma-yoga.

Importantly, to achieve success, we need to have awareness (prajñā) of the situation as it unfolds. Situational awareness (prajñā) drives discrimination (viveka) which determines quality of action (karma). A person of steady awareness is called sthitaprajñā (detailed in chapter 2 of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā)


India suffered a terrible defeat in the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Let us look at the situational awareness (prajñā) of the time.

  • China had managed to push the UN forces back to the 38th parallel. They had inflicted a defeat on the armies of USA and Great Britain, leading world powers of the time.
  • China invaded Tibet in 1951 and annexed it in 1959.

These were clear indicators of China’s capabilities and intentions. The Indian Government ignored all warning signs and did not build capability in the Indian defence or External Affairs establishment.

Meanwhile, Indian Government gave asylum to the Dalai Lama, provoking the Chinese further. Although, in itself this was not wrong, assuming that the Indo-China brotherhood would be sufficient to maintain status-quo was very poor situational awareness. 

This led to poor military preparedness, poor negotiating positions and poor diplomatic decisions. Consequently, the conflict ended in a debacle with India losing large territory, material and over 5000 soldiers.

khya (knowledge) that Chinese had aggressive intentions and capability was available but the administration was deluded into thinking that Chinese would not attack. Thus, Indians made no preparations. Consequently, once the month-long war started, no compensatory action (karma) could stem the outcome. 

Some lessons.

When discrimination (viveka) between reality and need for preparation was lost due to delusion, knowledge (sākhya) that preparation might have reversed the abject outcome was abandoned. 

We can find similar instances in our homes, societies, businesses, countries and across the world (terrorism and climate change being examples), where knowledge is ignored at cataclysmic cost.

More examples.
  • We know that we need to study for our exams, revise what we studied and not assume that we know the subject after familiarising ourselves. After all, there is a difference in awareness (prajñā) between familiarity and competence. So, while familiarity breeds contempt, competence brings confidence and problem-solving capability.
  • Let us assume that the managing committee of a group of buildings ignores general maintenance and small pain-points which arise regularly and instead assumes that everything is well just because the pain-points don’t manifest as problems. Is this committee not heading for a breakdown which may come at an inconvenient time? For example, if they were to ignore checking of drains regularly, then it is possible that all drains get blocked simultaneously and everyone in the society has an uncomfortable time until the drains are cleared. Thus, the action (karma) of planned inspection and maintenance helps avoid stress, emotional and physical discomfort of a breakdown situation.
  • In 1908, the Model T Ford was the world’s first mass produced car, ushering in a new world of mobility. Henry Ford standardised everything including paint, in order to make the car affordable. However, by 1920 customer requirements had changed but Henry Ford adamantly refused to change the product line-up. By the time he relented in 1927 and allowed expansion of Ford’s product line, the company had lost market share to other American car companies. This is another example of how success can delude a person and make him think that he can do nothing wrong, much to the detriment of his own well-being.

Prior experience and wisdom indicate that realities and demands of change must be accepted and requisite action must be taken for an outcome to be successful. However, arrogance, laziness, lack of capability and delusion bring avoidable failure.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – Even though I have reached this level of supreme awareness and have no need to act, I act ceaselessly, so that people may follow suit. I act to ensure the welfare of all, to make sure removal of confusion and to establish a standard for people to follow (verse 30- 35).

  • Even when in the midst of people wedded to action that are fanned by the senses, a yogī must work ceaselessly with restrained senses, forsaking the outcome for the welfare of all and perform all action with devotion. He must not get attached to the thought that he is the doer.
  • So, transferring your sense of identity (I am) into Me (in this case, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but it can be any external entity), being aware of the Self, freeing yourself from hope and glory, removing anxiety and frustration – fight!
  • Those that practice this without giving excuses will succeed in freeing themselves from action. Those that preach but do not practice will remain in misery.
  • It is better to be true to one’s natural state or conditioning (dharma) even though it may yield no merit, than to follow another’s for that will only lead to confusion, fear and ruin.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yogachapter 3 (verse 36 – 43).

Motivation for action

Arjuna said – Then, what makes man perform acts which may go against his own natural state or conditioning (dharma) and innate instincts and hurt others? (verse 36)

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said – It is anger born out of drive generated by desire to devour. Just as fire is enveloped by smoke and mirror by dust, the awareness gets enveloped by ambition and desire. This drive consumes wisdom and seeks continuous appeasement of the senses. The senses, cognition and logic are its seat, so one must constantly be alert; keep this sense under control before it destroys you (verse 37- 43).

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3.

Concept of karma-yoga.

All creation comes from the weave of purua and prakti, which arises from Brahman. and drive all action (karma), including the cognitive apparatus. The senses (indriyas) are superior to the gross body; the centre of cognition (manas) is superior to the senses and the centre of logic (buddhi) but above all this is that (Brahman), so transcend the Self and merge into the source (samādhi). So, being aware of the Self, use this awareness to conquer desire, no doubt a very difficult thing to conquer.

  • Our natural state is an all-pervading feeling of equilibrium or peace (śānti).
  • This natural state of peace (śānti) is our dharma. Dharma is the natural state of all beings. 
  • When our actions are in conformance with our natural state, it is called svabhāva (sva = self + bhāva = expression or sentiment).

This harmony/ order (dharma) can exist only if we are at peace with ourselves and our world. This includes not just other human beings, but animals, plants and our environment also. Also, it is important to remember that Brahman is a state of infinite, unchanging peace.

For instance, when we compete, we begin to compare ourselves with others and become enmeshed in duality of love-hate, good-bad etc. Consequently, we become anxious, stressed, miserable and delusional (tamas).

The desire to compete and win (rajas) infuses passion, and our work becomes driven by expectation, desires, fear, frustration, anger, anxiety and stress. This corrodes our balance and equanimity (sattva) and leads to unhappiness, stress and finally breakdown of body and faculties. However, we do it all the time, at school, college, home, sports, office, society, even as a nation! 

When we become aware of this destructive state and our focus turns to peaceful integration of all stakeholders without compromising on goals, our drive to prosper at any cost diminishes. Instead, we try to develop an inclusive and balanced way to prosperity and reach a state of peace and in equilibrium.

This type of action (karma) is called sacrifice (yajña). because it requires us to give up our own desires for an overarching state of peace. Sacrifice requires restraining of our senses while performing action which, in turn increases awareness and peace within us. 

So, when we work with our senses under control, an attitude of sacrifice (yajña), without expectation of result but overall betterment, all the negativities of tamas and rajas are avoided. Consequently, this leads to a peaceful, healthy and happy existence. 

Also, since karma is attached to people when they identify themselves with the action, this method is a simple way to avoid debt (ṛṇa) by separating the Self from the act. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done and requires great practice.

Why is this so difficult? Don’t we have a free will? This is addressed in chapter 4.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3.

Some contradictions to accepted positions.

  • Action (karma), when used colloquially, it is actually debt (ṛṇa) that has come for repayment.
  • While primordial action (ādi-karma) comes on account of two identities (atman) in a bond (bandana), action (karma) causes and imbalance within the bond resulting in debt (ṛṇa), which becomes the cause of subsequent identities (atman).
  • Can the logic of bonds (bandana) and action (karma) be applied to science? Yes, the concept of yoga is universal (sanātana) and can be applied to Science as well. Read about it in Śrīmad-bhagavadgītā chapter 9.

School of Yoga explains Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, karma-yoga, chapter 3.

Lesson learned in chapter 3.

  • Everything is action (karma). Action, inaction, approved action or prohibited action. All are action (karma).
  • One can’t escape it, one can only try to control one’s impulses, keep one’s senses under control and perform action as a sacrifice, without any expectation of outcome.

The transliteration and translation of Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā, chapter 3 follows.

The Saṃskṛtaṃ words are in red italics.

अर्जुन उवाच –

ज्यायसी चेत्कर्मणस्ते मता बुद्धिर्जनार्दन ।

तत्किं कर्मणि घोरे मां नियोजयसि केशव ॥ ३-१॥

व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन बुद्धिं मोहयसीव मे ।

तदेकं वद निश्चित्य येन श्रेयोऽहमाप्नुयाम् ॥ ३-२॥

Arjuna said (1-2) If according to you, wisdom (matā buddhi) is superior to karma, then why are you asking me to engage in this terrible deed? (jyāyasī cetkarmaṇaste matā buddhirjanārdana tatkiṃ karmaṇi ghore māṃ niyojayasi keśava 3-1). I am perplexed with your speech and my understanding is confused, so tell me for certain, by which path I can succeed (vyāmiśreṇeva vākyena buddhiṃ mohayasīva me tadekaṃ vada niścitya yena śreyo’hamāpnuyām 3-2). 

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

लोकेऽस्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ ।

ज्ञानयोगेन साङ्ख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम् ॥ ३-३॥

न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते ।

न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति ॥ ३-४॥

न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् ।

कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः ॥ ३-५॥

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (3-5) As I said, since long ago, in this world, there are two paths; merger by enquiry into the Self for the philosophers and merger by activity for those who prefer action (loke’smin dvividhā niṣṭhā purā proktā mayānagha jñānayogena sāṅkhyānāṃ karmayogena yoginām 3-3). Man does not attain state of no action by abstaining from action and only the perfect can attain samādhi through renunciation (na karmaṇāmanārambhānnaiṣkarmyaṃ puruṣo’śnute na ca saṃnyasanādeva siddhiṃ samadhigacchati 3-4). Not for a moment even is anyone free from action at all, for everyone is helplessly driven into action by guṇas which are born out of prakṛti (na hi kaścitkṣaṇamapi jātu tiṣṭhatyakarmakṛt kāryate hyavaśaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛtijairguṇaiḥ 3-5). 

कर्मेन्द्रियाणि संयम्य य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन् ।

इन्द्रियार्थान्विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते ॥ ३-६॥

यस्त्विन्द्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभतेऽर्जुन ।

कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगमसक्तः स विशिष्यते ॥ ३-७॥

नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः ।

शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मणः ॥ ३-८॥

(6-8) That deluded soul who restrains organs of action but constantly sits with his cognition remembering sense objects is called a hypocrite (karmendriyāṇi saṃyamya ya āste manasā smaran indriyārthānvimūḍhātmā mithyācāraḥ sa ucyate 3-6). But that person who controls the senses by control of cognition, commences to act in an unattached manner and excels in harmony of action (yastvindriyāṇi manasā niyamyārabhate’rjuna karmendriyaiḥ karmayogamasaktaḥ sa viśiṣyate 3-7). Surely, you must perform action, for it is superior to inaction, for even maintenance of your body would not be possible by inaction (niyataṃ kuru karma tvaṃ karma jyāyo hyakarmaṇaḥ śarīrayātrāpi ca te na prasiddhyedakarmaṇaḥ 3-8). 

यज्ञार्थात्कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबन्धनः ।

तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्गः समाचर ॥ ३-९॥

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः ।

अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेष वोऽस्त्विष्टकामधुक् ॥ ३-१०॥

(9-10) Everyone in this world is bound by actions, for that sake perform action without attachment (yajñārthātkarmaṇo’nyatra loko’yaṃ karmabandhanaḥ tadarthaṃ karma kaunteya muktasaṅgaḥ samācara 3-9). Having created mankind in the beginning by their sacrifice, Prajāpati said, propagate this as your milch cow of desires (sahayajñāḥ prajāḥ sṛṣṭvā purovāca prajāpatiḥ anena prasaviṣyadhvameṣa vo’stviṣṭakāmadhuk 3-10). 

देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः ।

परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ ॥ ३-११॥

इष्टान्भोगान्हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः ।

तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङ्क्ते स्तेन एव सः ॥ ३-१२॥

यज्ञशिष्टाशिनः सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः ।

भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात् ॥ ३-१३॥

(11-13) The deities nourish the sinless, those deities will nourish you, then mutually nourishing each other, you shall attain the highest level of trustworthiness (devānbhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ parasparaṃ bhāvayantaḥ śreyaḥ paramavāpsyatha 3-11). So, deities will give to you desired objects through their fruits of sacrifice, anyone who enjoys without offering to them is truly like a thief. (iṣṭānbhogānhi vo devā dāsyante yajñabhāvitāḥ tairdattānapradāyaibhyo yo bhuṅkte stena eva saḥ 3-12). The saintly who harvest the outcome of a sacrifice are freed from faults (yajñaśiṣṭāśinaḥ santo mucyante sarvakilbiṣaiḥ ), indeed, those evil people who are selfish are those that eat fruits of wretchedness (bhuñjate te tvaghaṃ pāpā ye pacantyātmakāraṇāt 3-13). 

अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः ।

यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः ॥ ३-१४॥

कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम् ।

तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् ॥ ३-१५॥

एवं प्रवर्तितं चक्रं नानुवर्तयतीह यः ।

अघायुरिन्द्रियारामो मोघं पार्थ स जीवति ॥ ३-१६॥

(14-16) From food comes beings, from rain comes production of food, from sacrifice comes rain, sacrifice is source of karma (annādbhavanti bhūtāni parjanyādannasambhavaḥ yajñādbhavati parjanyo yajñaḥ karmasamudbhavaḥ 3-14). Know that action has risen from brahma who has risen from the Imperishable, therefore one can establish that omnipresent Brahman is constantly present in sacrifice (karma brahmodbhavaṃ viddhi brahmākṣarasamudbhavam tasmātsarvagataṃ brahma nityaṃ yajñe pratiṣṭhitam 3-15). Therefore, he who is malicious and in lives enjoying the delusional world of senses sets in motion this wheel that only moves forward. (evaṃ pravartitaṃ cakraṃ nānuvartayatīha yaḥ aghāyurindriyārāmo moghaṃ pārtha sa jīvati 3-16).

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः ।

आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते ॥ ३-१७॥ 

नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो नाकृतेनेह कश्चन ।

न चास्य सर्वभूतेषु कश्चिदर्थव्यपाश्रयः ॥ ३-१८॥

(17-18) Only the person who rejoices in the Self is likely to find satisfaction in the Self and only the human who stays in the Self stays contented in any activity (yastvātmaratireva syādātmatṛptaśca mānavaḥ ātmanyeva ca santuṣṭastasya kāryaṃ na vidyate 3-17). He does not consider himself to cause action or inaction here and nor does he depend on any other beings (naiva tasya kṛtenārtho nākṛteneha kaścana na cāsya sarvabhūteṣu kaścidarthavyapāśrayaḥ 3-18). 

तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर ।

असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः ॥ ३-१९॥

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादयः ।

लोकसङ्ग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि ॥ ३-२०॥  

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जनः ।

स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ॥ ३-२१॥  

(19-21) Therefore, always perform mandatory activities without attachment because man attains the Supreme by performing such action (tasmādasaktaḥ satataṃ kāryaṃ karma samācara asakto hyācarankarma paramāpnoti pūruṣaḥ 3-19). Truly, only by action perfection is reached, Janaka and others performed action only for the welfare of the people, so should you (karmaṇaiva hi saṃsiddhimāsthitā janakādayaḥ lokasaṅgrahamevāpi sampaśyankartumarhasi 3-20). Whenever undertaken activity is performed splendidly, that becomes the measure by which people of the world judge how a person should perform (yadyadācarati śreṣṭhastattadevetaro janaḥ sa yatpramāṇaṃ kurute lokastadanuvartate 3-21). 

न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन ।

नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ॥ ३-२२॥

यदि ह्यहं न वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः ।

मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ॥ ३-२३॥   

उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका न कुर्यां कर्म चेदहम् ।

सङ्करस्य च कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः ॥ ३-२४॥

(22-24) There is no mandatory action in the three worlds, not anything unattained, to be attained by me, yet I am continuously acting (na me pārthāsti kartavyaṃ triṣu lokeṣu kiñcana nānavāptamavāptavyaṃ varta eva ca karmaṇi 3-22). Surely, if I did not engage in action ever unwearied, humanity would follow my example (yadi hyahaṃ na varteyaṃ jātu karmaṇyatandritaḥ mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ 3-23). These worlds would be ruined if I did not perform action. Mixing of people would result in their destruction (utsīdeyurime lokā na kuryāṃ karma cedaham saṅkarasya ca kartā syāmupahanyāmimāḥ prajāḥ 3-24). 

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत ।

कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्चिकीर्षुर्लोकसङ्ग्रहम् ॥ ३-२५॥   

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् ।

जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्तः समाचरन् ॥ ३-२६॥

(25-26) The ignorant act with attachment to action, the wise act with an attitude of no attachment, for the welfare of the world (saktāḥ karmaṇyavidvāṃso yathā kurvanti bhārata kuryādvidvāṃstathāsaktaścikīrṣurlokasaṅgraham 3-25). No disturbance of the intellect should arise from actions of the ignorant who are attached to actions, the wise perform all actions with an attitude of balance (na buddhibhedaṃ janayedajñānāṃ karmasaṅginām joṣayetsarvakarmāṇi vidvānyuktaḥ samācaran 3-26). 

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः ।

अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ॥ ३-२७॥

तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः ।

गुणा गुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा न सज्जते ॥ ३-२८॥      

प्रकृतेर्गुणसम्मूढाः सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु ।

तानकृत्स्नविदो मन्दान्कृत्स्नविन्न विचालयेत् ॥ ३-२९॥ 

(27-29) All actions arise from attributes which arise from prakṛti (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ ), the deluded soul cognises itself as “I am the doer” (ahaṅkāravimūḍhātmā kartāhamiti manyate 3-27). Philosophers know that action comes from the tri-partitioned attributes and controlling these attributes, thus knowing, remain unattached (tattvavittu mahābāho guṇakarmavibhāgayoḥ guṇā guṇeṣu vartanta iti matvā na sajjate 3-28). Thus, deluded by gunas born of prakṛti find virtue in actions driven by guṇa (prakṛterguṇasammūḍhāḥ sajjante guṇakarmasu ). The person with complete knowledge should not agitate dull people who have incomplete knowledge (tānakṛtsnavido mandānkṛtsnavinna vicālayet 3-29).

मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि संन्यस्याध्यात्मचेतसा ।

निराशीर्निर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगतज्वरः ॥ ३-३०॥

ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः ।

श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः ॥ ३-३१॥     

ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम् ।

सर्वज्ञानविमूढांस्तान्विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः ॥ ३-३२॥

(30-32) Renouncing all action into me, with a consciousness that is meditating on the Primordial Self, without hope, without the sense of Self, becoming free from affliction, fight (mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi saṃnyasyādhyātmacetasā nirāśīrnirmamo bhūtvā yudhyasva vigatajvaraḥ 3-30). Also, those people that practice this teaching of mine constantly with dedication and without envy, they are freed from karma (ye me matamidaṃ nityamanutiṣṭhanti mānavāḥ śraddhāvanto’nasūyanto mucyante te’pi karmabhiḥ 3-31). But those who are envious, not performing my teaching, misinterpreting all knowledge of the Self, their lack of knowledge will lead them to ruin (ye tvetadabhyasūyanto nānutiṣṭhanti me matam sarvajñānavimūḍhāṃstānviddhi naṣṭānacetasaḥ 3-32). 

सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि ।

प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति ॥ ३-३३॥

इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ ।

तयोर्न वशमागच्छेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ ॥ ३-३४॥

श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् ।

स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ॥ ३-३५॥

(33-35) Even a wise man acts in conformance with his or her own nature (prakṛti), likewise other beings follow their own nature (prakṛti), what suppression can creatures accomplish? (sadṛśaṃ ceṣṭate svasyāḥ prakṛterjñānavānapi prakṛtiṃ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṃ kariṣyati 3-33). Attraction and repulsion find their foundation in the senses and are nourished by the senses, verily they come in the way of those that cannot them (indriyasyendriyasyārthe rāgadveṣau vyavasthitau tayorna vaśamāgacchettau hyasya paripanthinau 3-34). Excellence in one’s own value system, even if devoid of merit is better than discharging other’s duties, it is better to die following one’s own natural state than performing another’s activity in a state of fear (śreyānsvadharmo viguṇaḥ paradharmātsvanuṣṭhitāt svadharme nidhanaṃ śreyaḥ paradharmo bhayāvahaḥ 3-35). 

अर्जुन उवाच –

अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः ।

अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः ॥ ३-३६॥

Arjuna said (36) Now, by which motivation is a person impelled to performing wretched actions, not wishing to be constrained even by force? (atha kena prayukto’yaṃ pāpaṃ carati pūruṣaḥ anicchannapi vārṣṇeya balādiva niyojitaḥ 3-36). 

श्रीभगवानुवाच –

काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः ।

महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् ॥ ३-३७॥

धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथादर्शो मलेन च ।

यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम् ॥ ३-३८॥    

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा ।

कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च ॥ ३-३९॥

Śrī Kṛṣṇa said (37-39) Desire for this and anger at this are expressions of passion, this is a major, voracious and wretched, penetrative foe (kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajoguṇasamudbhavaḥ mahāśano mahāpāpmā viddhyenamiha vairiṇam 3-37). Just as smoke envelopes fire. dust covers a mirror, the womb envelops the embryo, so is this covered (dhūmenāvriyate vahniryathādarśo malena ca yatholbenāvṛto garbhastathā tenedamāvṛtam 3-38). Wisdom of the wise is enveloped by this constant enemy in the form of desire, unsatiated and all-consuming fire (āvṛtaṃ jñānametena jñānino nityavairiṇā kāmarūpeṇa kaunteya duṣpūreṇānalena ca 3-39). 

इन्द्रियाणि मनो बुद्धिरस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते ।

एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम् ॥ ३-४०॥     

तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ ।

पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम् ॥ ३-४१॥

(40-41) It is said that the senses, cognition, intellect are its abode, it envelopes the wisdom of the embodied and deludes (indriyāṇi mano buddhirasyādhiṣṭhānamucyate etairvimohayatyeṣa jñānamāvṛtya dehinam 3-40). Therefore, control your senses when stimuli comes and effectively overcome this wretched destroyer of knowledge of the Self and surrounding (tasmāttvamindriyāṇyādau niyamya bharatarṣabha pāpmānaṃ prajahi hyenaṃ jñānavijñānanāśanam 3-41). 

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः ।

मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः ॥ ३-४२॥     

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना ।

जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम् ॥ ३-४३॥

(42-43) They say that the functioning of the senses is superior to the senses; the functioning of cognition is superior to cognition; the functioning of the intellect is superior to intellect; but superior to all is that (indriyāṇi parāṇyāhurindriyebhyaḥ paraṃ manaḥ manasastu parā buddhiryo buddheḥ paratastu saḥ 3-42). Thus, use intelligence over the intellectual process, restrain the Self by the Self, overcome this enemy which comes in the form of desire (evaṃ buddheḥ paraṃ buddhvā saṃstabhyātmānamātmanā jahi śatruṃ mahābāho kāmarūpaṃ durāsadam 3-43). 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *