Spiritual Library
  Biography of Sankara
  Advaita Vedanta Philosophy
  Advaita Vedanta - Q & A
  Works of Adi Sankara
  Gita Bhashya
  Br.Sutra Bhashya - I
  Br.Sutra Bhashya - II
  Upadesa Sahasri
  Atma Bodha
  Vakya Sudha
  Tattva Bodha
  Vakya Vritti
  Shivananda Lahari
  Soundarya Lahari Online Casinos
  Nirguna Manasa Puja
  Kanakadhara Stotram
  Bhaja Govindam
  Bhavani Ashtakam
  Nirvana Shatkam
  Sadhana Panchakam
  Shiva Manasa Pooja
  Sidhanta Tatva Vindu
  Aitareya Upanishad
  Kena Upanishad
  Isa Upanishad
  Katha Upanishad
  Mundaka Upanishad
  Prasna Upanishad
  Svetasvatara Upanishad
  Taittiriya Upanishad
  Mandukya Upanishad
  Chandogya Upanishad
  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
  Rig Veda
  Yajur Veda
  Sama Veda
  Atharva Veda
  Vedanta Texts
  Brahma Sutras
  Avadhuta Gita
  Astavakra Gita
  Srimad Bhagavatam
  Others Texts
  Pathanjali Yoga Sutras
  Narada Bhakti Sutras
  Uttara Gita (Anu Gita)
  I am That (Nisargadatta)
  Nisargadatta Portal
  Ramana Bhagavan
  Who Am I?
  Spiritual Instruction
  Resource Links
  Advaita Vedanta Blog
  Nisargadatta Blog
  Ramana Maharshi Blog
  Upanishads & Vedas Blog
  Hindu Beliefs Blog
Chapter 3 - Karma Yoga
Commentary by Sri Adi Sankaracharya, Translated by Swami Gambhirananda

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.

Noticing this, 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.

Some, however, 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?

Objection: 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.

Reply: Even this involves a contradiction between the earlier and the later statements.

Objection: How?

Reply: 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?

Objection: 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.]

Reply: Even this is contradictory !

Objection: How ?

Reply: 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 monasticism.

Combination 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.]

Obejction: In that case, the conclusion is that Knowledge and action should be combined by people in all stages of life ?

Reply: No, because it is enjoined in the Upanisadic texts that a man aspiring for Liberation should give up all actions:

'(Knowing this 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);

'Therefore they speak of monasticism as something surpassing all these austerities' (Ma. Na. 24.1);

'Monasticism 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.

Besides, (in 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).

And Brhaspati 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.]

(Vyasa's) instruction 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 for Liberation.

Objection: 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.

Nitya-karmas 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.]

Reply: 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.

Moreover, Arjuna's 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 alone.

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.

Arjuna said:

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 ?

O Janardana, cet, if it be; te, Your; mata, opinion, intention; that buddhih, Wisdom; jyayasi, is superior; karmanah, to action-.

If 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.

On 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', be rational?


3.2 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:

The 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.

Anagha, 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.

Now 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.

Again, 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.

So, 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 approval.

Noticing 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.

Or:-When 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:

3.4 A person does not attain freedom from action by abstaining from action; nor does he attain fulfilment merely through renunciation.

Purusah, 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:

Jnanam utpadyate pumsamksayatpapasya karmanah;

Yathadarsatalaprakhye pasyatyatmanamatmani.

'Knowledge 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.

From 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.

Objection: 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?'

Reply: 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.

What, 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:

3.5 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.

Hi, because; 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' (2.21).

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.

Tu, 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.

This being so, therefore,

3.8 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.

Ayam, 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.

Therefore, 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.

An eligible person should engage in work for the following reason also:

3.10 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 of desire.'

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.'

'Bhavayata, 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 or enjoyment.]


3.12 '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.'

'Yajna-bhavitah, 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.] to them.'

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.

Those again, 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 its origin.

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).

Astekar's reading 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.

O 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 senses.

Therefore, 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.

Such 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 Gita, says:

3.17 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.

Tu, 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.]

All 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.

Moreover, tasya, for him, who rejoices in the supreme Self; na, there is no; artham, concern; eva, at all; krtena, with performing action.

Objection: In that case, let there be some evil called sin owing to non-performance!

Reply: 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.

'You (Arjuna) are not established in this fullest realization which is comparable to a flood all around.'

3.19 Therefore, 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 itself.

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 iti ucyate.-Tr.]

3.21 Whatever a superior person does, another person does that very thing! Whatever he upholds as authority, an ordinary person follows that.

Yat 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.

'If 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.

O 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.

'Neither for 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.

How 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.'

Karmani 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 the doer.'

Ahankara 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.'

3.28 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.'

Tu, 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.

Those again, 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.

Vigata-jvarah, 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.

Tu, 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.

'For 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?

Api, 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?

If 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:

3.34 Attraction 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.

Raga-dvesau, 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.

As 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 nature.

Therefore, 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.

In 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 fear.

Svadharmah, 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.

Although 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', said:

Arjuna said:

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?

Atha, 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 been given?

The Lord (Bhaga-van) said: 'You hear about that enemy, the source of all evil, of which you ask-.'

'Bhaga 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. 78).

The 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.

Jnanam, 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 alone.

In 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.

Again, 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.

Indriyani, the 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.]

3.41 Therefore, 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.

Since 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.

Renounce, i.e. discard, from yourself the destroyer of those two-learning and wisdom, which are the means to the achievement Liberation.

It 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.

The 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''

counting 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.

Buddhva, understanding; 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 characteristics.