Bhagavad Gita: 3. Path Of Karmayoga


Path Of Karmayoga

Arjuna said: If You consider acquiring transcendental knowledge is better than working, then why do You want me to engage in this horrible war, O Krishna? You seem to confuse my mind by apparently conflicting words. Tell me, decisively, one thing by which I may attain the Supreme. (3.01-02)

The Supreme Lord said
In this world, O Arjuna, a twofold path of spiritual discipline has been stated by Me in the past --- the path of Self-knowledge (JnānaYoga) for the contemplative, and the path of unselfish work (Sevā, KarmaYoga) for the active. (3.03)

One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma by merely abstaining from work. No one attains perfection by merely giving up work. (3.04) Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment, everyone is driven to action --- helplessly indeed --- by the forces of nature. (3.05) The deluded ones, who restrain their organs of action but mentally dwell upon the sense enjoyment, are called hypocrites. (3.06)

Why one should serve others?
One who controls the senses by a trained and purified mind and intellect, and engages the organs of action to selfless service, is superior, O Arjuna. (3.07)

Perform your obligatory duty because working is indeed better than sitting idle. Even the maintenance of your body would be impossible without work. (3.08) Human beings are bound by work that is not performed as a selfless service. Therefore, O Arjuna, becoming free from attachment to the fruits of work, do your duty efficiently as a service to Me. (3.09)

To help each other is the first commandment of the creator
Brahmā, the creator, in the beginning created human beings together with selfless service (Sevā, Yajna, sacrifice) and said: By Yajna you shall prosper, and Yajna shall fulfill all your desires. (3.10) Nourish the celestial controllers (Devas) with selfless service, and they will nourish you. Thus nourishing one another, you shall attain the Supreme goal. (3.11) The celestial controllers, nourished by selfless service, will give you the desired objects. One who enjoys the gift of Devas without offering them anything in return is, indeed, a thief. (3.12) The righteous who eat the remnants of selfless service are freed from all sins, but the impious who cook food only for themselves (without first offering to Me, or sharing with others), in truth, eat sin. (3.13) The living beings are born from food grains; grains are produced by rain; rain comes (as a favor from Devas) if duty is performed as a selfless service. (See also 4.32). Duty is prescribed in the Vedas. The Vedas come from Brahma (Eternal Being). Thus the all-pervading Brahma is ever present in Sevā. (3.14-15)

One who does not help to keep the wheel of creation in motion by sacrificial duty (Sevā), and who rejoices sense pleasures, that sinful person lives in vain, O Arjuna. (3.16)

For a Self-realized person, who rejoices only with the Eternal Being, who is delighted with the Eternal Being and who is content with the Eternal Being, there is no duty. (3.17) Such a person has no interest, whatsoever, in what is done or what is not done. A Self-realized person does not depend on anybody (except God) for anything. (3.18)

Leaders should set an example
Therefore, always perform your duty efficiently and without any attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme Being. (3.19) King Janaka and others attained perfection (or Self-realization) by selfless service (KarmaYoga) alone. You should also perform your duty with a view to guide people, and for the universal welfare of society. (3.20)

Whatever noble persons do, others follow. Whatever standard they set up, the world follows. (3.21) O Arjuna, there is nothing in the three worlds (heaven, earth, and the lower regions) that should be done by Me, nor there is anything un obtained that I should obtain, yet I engage in action. (3.22) If I do not engage in action relentlessly, O Arjuna, people would follow the same path in every way. These worlds would perish if I do not work, and I would be the cause of confusion and destruction of all these people. (3.23- 24) As the ignorant work, O Arjuna, with attachment to the fruits of work, so the wise should work without attachment, for the welfare of the society. (3.25)

The wise should not unsettle the minds of the ignorant, who are attached to the fruits of work, but should inspire others by performing all works efficiently without attachment. (See also 3.29) (3.26)

All works are the works of Nature
All work is done by the energy and power of nature, but due to delusion of ignorance, people assume themselves to be the doer. (See also 5.09, 13.29, and 14.19) (3.27)

One who knows the truth, O Arjuna, about the role of the forces of nature and work, does not become attached to work, knowing very well that it is the forces of nature that work with their instruments --- our organs. (3.28) Those who are deluded by the illusive power (Māyā) of Nature become attached to the work done by the forces of nature. The wise should not disturb the mind of the ignorant whose knowledge is imperfect. (See also 3.26) (3.29)

Do your duty --- dedicating all work to Me --- in a spiritual frame of mind, free from desire, attachment, and mental grief. (3.30)

Those who always practice this teaching of Mine --- with faith (or full attention and sincerity) and free from cavil --- are freed from the bondage of Karma. But those who carp at My teaching and do not practice should be considered ignorant of all knowledge, senseless, and lost. (3.31-32) All beings follow their nature. Even the wise act according to their own nature. What, then, is the value of sense restraint? (3.33) The answer comes:

Two major stumbling blocks on the path of perfection Likes and dislikes for sense objects remain in the senses. One should not come under the control of these two because they are, indeed, two major stumbling blocks on one’s path of Self-realization. (3.34)
One’s inferior natural work is better than superior unnatural work. Death in carrying out one’s natural work is useful. Unnatural work produces too much stress. (See also 18.47) (3.35)

Lust is the origin of sin

Arjuna said: O Krishna, what impels one to commit sin as if unwillingly and forced against one’s will? (3.36)
The Supreme Lord said: It is lust (or intense desire for material and sensual pleasures), born out of passion, that becomes anger when unfulfilled. Lust is insatiable and is a great devil. Know this as the enemy. (3.37) As the fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror by dust, and as an embryo by the amnion, similarly Self-knowledge becomes obscured by lust. (3.38)

O Arjuna, Self-knowledge becomes covered by this insatiable fire of lust, the eternal enemy of the wise. (3.39)

The senses, the mind, and the intellect are said to be the seat of lust. Lust --- by controlling the senses, the mind, and the intellect --- deludes a person by veiling Self-knowledge. (3.40) Therefore, O Arjuna, by controlling the senses first, kill this devil of material desire that destroys Self-knowledge and Self-realization. (3.41)

How to control lust
The senses are said to be superior to the body; the mind is superior to the senses; the intellect is superior to the mind; and Spirit is superior to the intellect. (See also 6.07-08) (3.42)

Thus, knowing the Spirit to be superior to the intellect, and controlling the mind by the intellect (that is purified by spiritual practices), one must kill this mighty enemy, lust, O Arjuna. (3.43)