We had seen in the previous verses that by citing His own example The Lord described the consequences of not doing any action and proved that for the sake of the world order it is necessary for all of us to perform our allotted duties. Bhagavan continues his sermon and advises that it is incumbent upon even the man of knowledge to perform action for the sake of world amity.
saktaah karmanyavidwaamso yathaa kurvanti bhaarata
kuryad vidwaam stathaa saktash chikeershur lokasangraham // 3.25 //
As the ignorant men act from attachment to work, O Bharata (Arjuna), so should the wise act without attachment, wishing the welfare of the world.
It is well known that every member of the society by and large always keeps himself busy through out his life time performing actions in his chosen field. A man of Self-realization also works in the world with the same enthusiasm and sincerity as an average man of the society with the difference that the actions of the ignorant are motivated by attachments and anxieties for the fruits of actions while the man of perfection will work without attachment and for the purpose of the welfare of the world at large.
Attachment becomes an obstruction only when it is ego-centric. But to the extent the attachment envelopes the welfare of a larger section of the community it gathers ethical value. Hence the advice to Arjuna is that he must fight as a warrior who is called upon to protect the higher values of living unattached to his ego-centric conception of himself and his people.
The idea is that an ignorant person acts zealously for his personal happiness; but a wise man should act, with the same zeal, for the welfare of others.
na buddhibedam janayed ajnaanaam karmasanginaam
joshayet sarva karmaani vidwaan yuktah samaacharan // 3.26 //
Let no enlightened man unsettle the understanding of the ignorant people who are attached to action; he should engage them in action, himself performing it with devotion.
This verse is a sort of precaution to the over-zealous explaining the art of giving guidance to others. A society functioning in a particular way should not be suddenly asked to stop and change its direction by a leader. On the contrary the leader should fall in line with the generation and slowly and steadily guide and help them to act in the right direction setting his own example. When a man of equipoise works in the society at large, the chances are that he will start advising on abstract ideologies and ethics which may make the ordinary people to conclude that renunciation of all activities is the direct path to Self-development and thus give up prematurely all work. The men of wisdom are warned not to go against the spirit of the times.
No wise man should unsettle his generation's firm faith in their actions. He should perform even the ordinary actions in a diviner and better way and set an example to the world in performing actions without any selfish motive or attachment so that the lesser folk may follow his example.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MAN OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE MAN ATTACHED TO ACTION
prakriteh kriyamaanaani gunaih karmaani sarvashah
ahamkaara vimoodhaatmaa kartaa'hamiti manyate // 3.27 //
All actions are being performed by the Gunas of Prakriti. But he, whose mind is deluded by egoism, thinks ‘I am the doer’.
Earlier it was explained how ignorance leads to desires, desires to thoughts and how thoughts in conjunction with mental tendencies i.e.Gunas viz. Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas- manifest themselves in the outer world as actions of different qualities. Nobler the thought, nobler the action and meaner the thought, meaner the action and so on.
Thus the Gunas modify themselves into the outside world, the body and the senses which are called the modes of Prakriti. They are classified into twenty three categories viz. intellect, ego, mind, the five subtle elements of ether etc., the ten organs of perception and action, and the five objects of senses viz. sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. These are the performers of all action. The word ‘action’ includes all the functions of the organs of perception and action (jnana indriyas and karma indriyas). The self looks on without participating in any way in the action done by the body and the senses. Whatever actions take place in this world are nothing but the operations of the aforesaid modes of Prakriti and the absolute and formless Atma or the Self has really nothing to do with them.
An ignorant man, however, identifies the Self with the aggregate of the body and the senses and calls it as ‘I ‘and thinks that the Self is the doer.
Even though the Self or the soul has no relation with actions, the unwise man identifying himself with the body and the senses associates himself with the different actions of the body and thus assumes himself to be the doer of those actions. In other words he thinks it is he who resolves, he who reflects, he who hears, he who sees, he who eats, he who drinks, sleeps, walks and so on and thus traces every action to himself. Thus he ascribes to the Self all the characteristics that really belong to the Gunas. That is why action becomes the cause of bondage to him. It is the reason for him to go through the process of repeated births and deaths to reap the fruits of those actions