Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 3 (Part 1) Karma Yogah- Yoga of Action

Concepts and Issues
Arjuna  is confused about the relative importance of knowledge and work. If the man of  knowledge is superior to the man of action, then why is he being asked to  pursue the path of action and undertake such a terrible act like a fratricidal  war?

Sri  Krishna replies that there are two types of people viz. the purely intellectual  and the physically active.  The path of  knowledge is prescribed for the intellectual, whereas the path of action is the  best for the physically dynamic.  But it  should be born in mind that dedicated action by itself cannot be the end. It is  only the means to achieve the final goal of Realization of the Self. On the  other hand, the path of wisdom takes one directly to the final goal.

The  path of knowledge is not the proper one for Arjuna as he, being a Kshatriya,  does not belong to the meditative and intellectual type. His natural aptitude  is for action and he can purify himself only through action.  So he has to discharge his duties in a  selfless spirit of pure devotion without expecting any fruits of such action..  If one understands the art of performance of actions without selfishness, one  is already in the path of knowledge as these two paths are not contradictory  but complementary.

An  action performed without any concern for the fruits thereof is not inaction  because such action never produces any psychological reaction and gains  wonderful results while inaction i.e. running away from action, produces  nothing but idleness.

All  beings always remain active.  Inaction is  against the law of nature.  Inaction by  external withdrawal of sense organs from the sense objects while the mind  remaining preoccupied with the thinking about those objects is hypocrisy or  escapism and self deception. A real seeker of wisdom is the one, who conquers  his organs of perception by his mind but employs his organs of action in the  selfless discharge of his duty.   Performance of one's duty is, in all respects, preferable to utter  inaction. One cannot live even the everyday ordinary life without doing  anything.

Only  those actions which are prompted by desires entail bondages of vasanas but not  those performed in the discharge of one's duty with no expectation of the  result and meant only as an offering at the feet of The Lord.  It is called performing of actions in the  spirit of Yagna i.e. sacrificing our selfish interests for the welfare of the  humanity at large.  Here the word Yagna  which means Vedic ritualism includes all self-less co-operative activities.

In  the beginning the Creator created all living beings with a capacity of yagna in  everybody i.e. to work with a selfless attitude, in a spirit of dedication for  the common welfare. The spirit of co-operation between the high and the low,  the rich and the poor, the wise and the dull, the spirit of give and take and  many more such noble and divine values of harmonious living in society are  meant by the word Yagna. He only commits stealing who is only ready to take but  not to give. People used to propitiate God by sacrifice who in turn bestowed  them with plenty and prosperity through rains, fertility of the soil to yield  nourishing food.

Mother  Nature provides many examples of the spirit of constant sacrifice like the Sun  giving light, the Earth satisfying all human requirements and the Fire giving  heat etc. Thus sacrifice is an unselfish action.  Prosperity and plenty are the direct results  of such dedicated actions.

The  capacity to do well in us has been given by the Creator, the Supreme,  manifested through its own creative urge. What we are bound to do in our  station in life we must do well for our own good and for the good of the entire  community. Wherever such a noble work is undertaken in a spirit of co-operation  (Yagna) there is God, the Highest. Those who have reached the highest state of  eternal contentment need not pursue this path because they have nothing to gain  by actions as the individuality in them created by ego has already ended and  they do not depend upon anyone for anything.

Sri  Krishna advises Arjuna that he still being a seeker of Knowledge should  discharge his duty in a spirit of dedication as an offering to The Lord citing  examples of King Janaka and others of Perfect Wisdom who attained Perfection  through selfless discharge of their duties. The Lord gives His own example of  engaging Himself in activities continuously although it is immaterial for Him  whether He acts or not.

The  reason for this is that the common people with limited intelligence imitate the  great and so if The Lord has to remain inactive, they will also remain idle  leading to indiscipline.

Live as the Gita Teaches You to Live
1. Action one must perform; but it should be  performed in the spirit of Yajna. The aim is Lokasangraha, the benefit at  large.
2. Interdependence of beings in the cosmos should  not be forgotten. He who works for himself alone lives in vain.
3. Leadership qualities are stressed. Set an  example to others in right living.

Points  to Ponder
1. What was Arjuna's doubt in the beginning of the Chapter and what was Sri Krishna's clarification to it?
2. How does a man bound by action?
3. Who is a hypocrite?
4. What is the philosophy of action?
5. How can one be free from action?
6. What is the cosmic wheel of co-operation?
7. What is meant by Lokasangraha?
8. What is the difference between the activities of the wise and the ignorant?
8. Why it is important for the wise man to set an example to others in rightful living?

Next time we will proceed from the Verse  3.25

Harih Om

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