Despondency of Arjuna
Karma Yoga -
Path of Action
- Path of Wisdom
Renunciation of Action
Mystery of Mysteries
- The Path of Love
The Lord -
|THREE: KARMA-YOGA – THE PATH OF ACTION
“Arjuna questioned: My Lord! If Wisdom is above action, why dost Thou
advise me to
engage in this terrible fight?
Thy language perplexes me and confuses my reason. Therefore please tell
me the only
way by which I may, without doubt, secure my spiritual welfare.
Lord Shri Krishna replied: In this world, as I have said, there is a
twofold path, O Sinless
One! There is the Path of Wisdom for those who meditate, and the Path of
Action for those
No man can attain freedom from activity by refraining from action; nor
can he reach
perfection by merely refusing to act.
He cannot even for a moment remain really inactive, for the Qualities of
compel him to act whether he will or no.
He who remains motionless, refusing to act, but all the while brooding
object, that deluded soul is simply a hypocrite.
But, O Arjuna! All honour to him whose mind controls his senses, for he
beginning to practise Karma-Yoga, the Path of Right Action, keeping
Do thy duty as prescribed, for action for duty’s sake is superior to
inaction. Even the
maintenance of the body would be impossible if man remained inactive.
In this world people are fettered by action, unless it is performed as a
O Arjuna, let thy acts be done without attachment, as sacrifice only.
In the beginning, when God created all beings by the sacrifice of
Himself, He said unto
them: `Through sacrifice you can procreate, and it shall satisfy all
Worship the Powers of Nature thereby, and let them nourish you in
supporting each other, you shall attain your highest welfare.
For, fed, on sacrifice, nature will give you all the enjoyment you can
desire. But he who
enjoys what she gives without returning is, indeed, a robber.’
The sages who enjoy the food that remains after the sacrifice is made
are freed from all sin;
but the selfish who spread their feast only for themselves feed on sin
All creatures are the product of food, food is the product of rain, rain
comes by sacrifice,
and sacrifice is the noblest form of action.
All action originates in the Supreme Spirit, which is Imperishable, and
in sacrificial action
the all-pervading Spirit is consciously present.
Thus he who does not help the revolving wheel of sacrifice, but instead
leads a sinful life,
rejoicing in the gratification of his senses, O Arjuna, he breathes in
On the other hand, the soul who meditates on the Self is content
to serve the Self and rests
satisfied within the Self; there remains nothing more for him to
He has nothing to gain by the performance or non-performance of action.
depends not on any contribution that an earthly creature can make.
Therefore do thy duty perfectly, without care for the results, for he
who does his duty
disinterestedly attains the Supreme.
King Janaka and others attained perfection through action alone. Even
for the sake of
enlightening the world, it is thy duty to act;
For whatever a great man does, others imitate. People conform to the
standard which he
There is nothing in this universe, O Arjuna, that I am compelled to do,
nor anything for
Me to attain; yet I am persistently active.
For were I not to act without ceasing, O prince, people would be glad to
And if I were to refrain from action, the human race would be ruined; I
should lead the
world to chaos, and destruction would follow.
As the ignorant act, because of their fondness for action, so should the
wise act without
such attachment, fixing their eyes, O Arjuna, only on the welfare of the
But a wise man should not perturb the minds of the ignorant, who are
attached to action;
let him perform his own actions in the right spirit, with concentration
on Me, thus
inspiring all to do the same.
Action is the product of the Qualities inherent in Nature. It is only
the ignorant man who,
misled by personal egotism, says: `I am the doer.’
But he, O Mighty One, who understands correctly the relation of the
Qualities to action, is
not attached to the act for he perceives that it is merely the action
and reaction of the
Qualities among themselves.
Those who do not understand the Qualities are interested in the act.
Still, the wise man
who knows the truth should not disturb the mind of him who does not.
Therefore, surrendering thy actions unto Me, thy thoughts concentrated
on the Absolute,
free from selfishness and without anticipation of reward, with mind
devoid of excitement,
begin thou to fight.
Those who always act in accordance with My precepts, firm in faith and
they too are freed from the bondage of action.
But they who ridicule My word and do not keep it, are ignorant, devoid
of wisdom and
blind. They seek but their own destruction.
Even the wise man acts in character with his nature; indeed, all
creatures act according to
their natures. What is the use of compulsion then?
The love and hate which are aroused by the objects of sense arise
from Nature; do not
yield to them. They only obstruct the path.
It is better to do thine own duty, however lacking in merit, than to do
that of another, even
though efficiently. It is better to die doing one’s own duty, for to do
the duty of another is
fraught with danger.
Arjuna asked: My Lord! Tell me, what is it that drives a man to sin,
even against his will
and as if by compulsion?
Lord Shri Krishna: It is desire, it is aversion, born of passion. Desire
consumes and corrupts
everything. It is man’s greatest enemy.
As fire is shrouded in smoke, a mirror by dust and a child by the womb,
so is the universe
enveloped in desire.
It is the wise man’s constant enemy; it tarnishes the face of wisdom. It
is as insatiable as a
flame of fire.
It works through the senses, the mind and the reason; and with their
wisdom and confounds the soul.
Therefore, O Arjuna, first control thy senses and then slay desire, for
it is full of sin, and is
the destroyer of knowledge and of wisdom.
It is said that the senses are powerful. But beyond the senses is the
mind, beyond the mind
is the intellect, and beyond and greater than intellect is He.
Thus, O Mighty-in-Arms, knowing Him to be beyond the intellect and, by
subduing thy personal egotism, kill thine enemy, Desire, extremely
difficult though it be.”
Thus, in the Holy Book the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Upanishads, in the
Science of the Supreme
Spirit, in the Art of Self-Knowledge, in the colloquy between the Divine
Lord Shri Krishna and the
Prince Arjuna, stands the third chapter entitled: Karma-Yoga or the Path