Karma Yoga


The Yoga of Action – Third Chapter of Bhagavat Gita


The sole cause of Arjuna’s misapprehension was   Moha or attachment. Lord KRISHNA taught him the imperishable nature of the Atman through Arjuna would get the freedom. A doubt therefore arose in Arjuna’s mind when then there would be a need for an action after the attaining this state. Lord KRISHNA clarified his doubt very emphatically Even when we   realise oneness with the Eternal, we   would have to perform action through the force of Prakriti or Nature as a divine offering,

We should realize that performance of an action for the good of the world and for the education of the masses is no doubt important and superior. Therefore, action is necessary not only for one who has attained perfection but also for one who is striving for perfection. Lord KRISHNA quoted the example of Janaka, the great sage-king of India, who continued to rule his kingdom even after attaining God-realisation.

The key message that we all get in this chapter is that we should do our duty according to our nature, and that doing duty that is suits us, in the right spirit of detachment, will lead us to perfection. Arjuna raised another key and critical   question as to why one commits such actions that cloud his mind and drag him downwards.


Hare Krishna Verses 1 & 2

Arjuna said

Jyaayasee chet karmanaste mataa buddhir janaardana;

Tat kim karmani ghore maam niyojayasi keshava.

Vyaamishreneva vaakyena buddhim mohayaseeva me;

Tadekam vada nishchitya yena shreyo’ham aapnuyaam.

O KRISHNA , if you believe wisdom to be greater than action then why are you urging me toward this terrible action?

With statements that seem mixed up, you are apparently confusing my intellect; therefore, tell me one definitive thing whereby I may attain beatitude.

Lord KRISHNA helped Arjuna sharpen his faculty of discrimination, judgment, and decisiveness and made him aware of the pure Self within in the Sankhya Yoga HE also made Arjuna aware of the transitory nature of the world of objects. HE then explained the importance of performing duties, and finally HE described that yoga in which the development of Intellect (buddhi) appears to take precedence over action.

It is at this stage Arjuna’s mind was confused. He could not understand that his duty, fighting the war, could be helpful for him as well as for the whole society. He had come out of his serious state of mental depression, anxiety, and anguish and then he wanted to be completely free from doubt regarding the duties he had to perform. Arjuna had gained knowledge from Lord KRISHNA, but he still did not know how to apply that knowledge in his daily life.

There are major difficulties that could be encountered by all of us the as at this stage

  • How to apply the theoretical knowledge gained and assimilate in mind and heart.
  • Without a definite method of discipline of the senses, & mind, we cannot t direct our energies inward and cannot have a one-pointed mind.
  • Desire for gaining the pleasures of the world creates attachment, which is the source of pain and misery
  • Pure reason does not function as we overly attach a ourselves to the objects

However, with practice and discipline are practice we will gain inner strength and self-reliance. Sankhya yoga and karma yoga are thus, two expressions of one and the same existence.

Arjuna did not want to blindly follow the instructions of his Master KRISHNA but wanted to understand Lord KRISHNA’s instructions before he practiced .Even after we  resolve  to follow our GURU  , our  mind  still cannot comprehend the wisdom imparted to us as we may lack  direct knowledge and practice.

Arjuna’s queries were genuine and reflected the problems shared by all of us. We should all have the curiosity like Arjuna, who persisted in putting questions before Lord KRISHNA rather than following without understanding. Lord KRISHNA encouraged  Arjuna to express his doubts and confusion, so that  they could be dispelled.

Hare Krishna: Lord  KRISHNA said: Verses 3 & 4

Loke’smin dwividhaa nishthaa puraa proktaa mayaanagha;

Jnaanayogena saankhyaanaam karmayogena yoginaam.

Na karmanaam anaarambhaan naishkarmyam purusho’shnute;

Na cha sannyasanaad eva siddhim samadhigacchati.

O Sinless One, in this world I have taught two kinds of discipline: the yoga of knowledge for those whose path is of discriminating wisdom and the yoga of action for the yogis.

A person does not attain the state of action lessness simply by not taking initiative in the matter of actions, nor does one attain perfection by mere renunciation.


Lord KRISHNA further explained the fine distinction between the path of jnana yoga (the yoga of knowledge) and karma yoga (the yoga of action). Both are equally valid; neither one is superior.

Nishtha:  firm conviction or a well thought out and firm decision free from doubt.

Jnana Nishtha: adherence to the path of knowledge

karma Nishtha: firm commitment to the path of action

We can clearly see that function of the five senses in the human body is to gain knowledge, and the function of the five organs (mouth, hands, feet, the organs of excretion and of procreation) is to help us to do our duties through action.

These two sets of organs complement one another in the maintenance of our existence.  Introverted nature people look inward and try to understand the internal states are more inclined to follow the path of jnana yoga. Extroverted and committed to do their actions are inclined to karma yoga

Although the paths of action and knowledge are different, the aim of both is one and the same. In the path of action we offer the fruits of our  actions at the lotus feet of Lord  KRISHNA  and in the path of knowledge we spread glory of the Lord and submit before  KRISHNA

Hare Krishna Verse 5

Na hi kashchit kshanamapi jaatu tishthatyakarmakrit;

Kaaryate hyavashah karma sarvah prakritijair gunaih.

No one can remain without performing actions even for a moment. Every creature is made to perform action by the gunas born of nature.

All living beings must perform actions. As long as we breathe, we perform actions, even if we do not want to. Even sitting still and sleeping are actions. Since we have to perform actions, we should learn to do them in the best possible way. We are responsible for all of our actions and the fruits obtained by those actions. Should we resist our duties, we create conflict and strife both for ourselves and others.  When we act graciously we create harmony and joy within and without.

Hare Krishna Verse 6

Karmendriyaani samyamya ya aaste manasaa smaran;

Indriyaarthaan vimoodhaatmaa mithyaachaarah sa uchyate.

One of deluded psyche who, controlling the senses of action, continues to remember with the mind the objects of the senses is said to be a hypocrite.

Lord KRISHNA explains very clearly about outer show and inner experience. The distinction between them is very important. The outer show has no positive value and detrimental to our growth when it is not a reflection of our inner state of being. One can pretend though his thoughts and feelings are completely contrary. External Thyaga/ renunciation is a step on the path to Self-realization, but if we do not attain inner renunciation/vairagya  we can  create many serious problems for ourselves .

Hare Krishna Verses 7, 8 & 9

Yastwindriyaani manasaa niyamyaarabhate’rjuna;

Karmendriyaih karmayogam asaktah sa vishishyate.

Niyatam kuru karma twam karma jyaayo hyakarmanah;

Shareerayaatraapi cha te na prasiddhyed akarmanah.

Yajnaarthaat karmano’nyatra loko’yam karmabandhanah;

Tadartham karma kaunteya muktasangah samaachara.

He, who, controls the senses with the mind, O Arjuna, initiates the yoga of action with the senses of action, he, unattached, is distinguished.

Do perform the assigned action; action is greater than inaction. Even the journey of your body cannot be successful if you are inactive.

This world is the cause of the bondage of karma, except for actions performed for sacrifice. Therefore, O Son of Kunti, perform actions for the sake of sacrifice and conduct yourself as free of attachment.

Lord KRISHNA showed Arjuna that his thought of renunciation duplicitous, for it comes from confusion and despondency born of attachment. It is important to perform actions with a completely non-attached mind. That is far superior to not doing action or being afraid to act. One who has practiced with sincerity and honesty by applying full human efforts can attain the wisdom of non-attachment. Thus, he is able to control his senses and perform his duties.

A human being cannot exist on this earth without doing actions. There are three kinds of action that we perform in daily life.

  1. Essential daily routines performed for maintaining our health.
  2. Important other actions in the context of our relationships
  3. Higher kind of actions in the devotional service to help others, offered to the Lord

Lord KRISHNA Yogeshwar HIMSELF knew   Arjuna’s potentials and thus recommended the path of action, and not the path of renunciation. Lord KRISHNA   taught   Arjuna that the highest of all deeds are those performed with non-attachment, those in which the rewards of the actions are offered as sacrifice.

Hare Krishna: Verses 10,11& 12

Sahayajnaah prajaah srishtwaa purovaacha prajaapatih;

Anena prasavishyadhwam esha vo’stvishtakaamadhuk.

Devaan bhaavayataanena te devaa bhaavayantu vah;

Parasparam bhaavayantah shreyah param avaapsyatha.

Ishtaan bhogaan hi vo devaa daasyante yajnabhaavitaah;

Tair dattaan apradaayaibhyo yo bhungkte stena eva sah.

In the beginning the Progenitor, having created the beings, together with sacrifice, exhorted them: Multiply by this sacrifice. May this be the bearer of the fulfilment of desires for you.

Cultivate the gods by this, and may those gods nurture you. Nurturing each other, you both will attain the highest beatitude.

The gods, cultivated by sacrifice, will provide for you the desired pleasures. He who enjoys these pleasures given by them without offering them in return is merely a thief.

Lord KRISHNA described the various ways of performing our duties. Lord KRISHNA clarified that duties performed for sacrifice do not create bondage, but duties performed selfishly bind the human being to the results of his actions.


Many kinds of yajna described in the scriptures are performed for various purposes.

  1. Offering oblations
  2. Performing austerities
  3. studying scriptures in a ritualistic way
  4. Control of the senses
  5. Practicing the yoga through the control of senses and mind
  6. sacrificing all the fruits of

When we perform yajna, the fruits we reaps should be offered to others in the devotion service in the name Lord. When we learn to give selflessly of the fruits of our actions for the benefit of others, we are  free from the bondage created by the fruits of our  actions. This is not only respected but also gives happiness. Lord KRISHNA taught Arjuna the importance of yajna, that it is a duty and that it should be performed selflessly, not for selfish ends.

Hare Krishna Verse 13

Yajnashishtaashinah santo muchyante sarva kilbishaih;

Bhunjate te twagham paapaa ye pachantyaatma kaaranaat.

Those who eat only the remainder of the sacrifice are freed from all iniquities. Those people one who cook only for the sake of themselves eat only depravity.

Sacrifice and self-preservation are innate qualities. Sacrifice   is giving freely without any expectation. Self-preservation is not only of human beings alone, but of all creatures.

Some people sacrifice their best for their beloved ones, but the selfish person uses all his so-called loved ones for the sake of his selfish pleasures. Those who are not aware of the law of expansion do not experience the joy of sacrificing and giving.

Those who have the quality of giving cannot stop giving. Giving fills us with the highest of joys. Expecting and taking only leads us to momentary pleasure. Those who do not learn to give or sacrifice the fruits of their actions do not know the art of living and being.

Hare Krishna Verses 14 & 15

Annaad bhavanti bhootaani parjanyaad anna sambhavah;

Yajnaad bhavati parjanyo yajnah karma samudbhavah.

Karma brahmodbhavam viddhi brahmaakshara samudbhavam;

Tasmaat sarvagatam brahma nityam yajne pratishthitam

Beings are born from food; food is produced through the rain god; rain is produced through sacrifice, and sacrifice arises from action.

Action to arise from the Vedas and the Vedas to be produced from the indestructible syllable. Therefore, all-pervading knowledge of the Vedas is ever established in sacrifice.

  • Food helps to sustain the body, an essential instrument for performing action. The gross body is made from food that gives vital energy, so without food life is impossible.
  • Rain is essential to the growth of food, and it is born from rain. The wise know that the showers of rain are the showers of blessings received by the earth
  • Rain is produced through sacrifice” means the love of the Eternal flows freely and helps the herbs, trees, plants, and food to grow. That love is called sacrifice.

Lord KRISHNA teaches us that the human being is born out of selfless love, sacrifice.  When we want to live in harmony with the law of the universe, we should learn to lead our life by loving all selflessly.

Hare Krishna Verse 16

Evam pravartitam chakram naanuvartayateeha yah;

Aghaayur indriyaaraamo mogham paartha sa jeevati.

If we do not revolve according to the wheel which is set into motion, we will live in vain. Our entire life span becomes   through senses.

Lord KRISHNA advise to all of us that – It is sacrifice through which wheel of life rotates. Life   cannot go forward without   sacrifice. We are all gifted by Providence to be selfless. Those who are slaves of the sense organs and just live to enjoy sensory pleasure create obstacles for themselves. They will not be able to fulfil the purpose of life, they will suffer because of their own irrationalities.

Hare Krishna Verses 17, 18 & 19

Yastwaatmaratir eva syaad aatmatriptashcha maanavah;

Aatmanyeva cha santushtas tasya kaaryam na vidyate.

Naiva tasya kritenaartho naakriteneha kashchana;

Na chaasya sarvabhooteshu kashchidartha vyapaashrayah.

Tasmaad asaktah satatam kaaryam karma samaachara;

Asakto hyaacharan karma param aapnoti poorushah.

One who is delighted in the Self alone and has satiety in the Self, satisfied in the Self alone, for him there is no action left yet to be performed.

He has no purpose with the actions already performed nor with those not yet performed. He has no dependence for any purpose on any beings at all.

Therefore, perform your dutiful action incessantly without attachment. The person who performs actions without attachment attains the Supreme.

Lord KRISHNA clarifies that all the realized souls experience  delight in the Self and content  They have  no selfish interest in performing any action, and will have  no selfish motivation in not performing any action. Those who have trained themselves in the art of performing their duties without attachment or selfishness are neither interested in involving themselves with further action nor with non-action.

We cannot live without doing actions, and when we perform actions we reap the fruits of those actions. The reaping of the fruits involves us and lead us to go on doing further actions and reaping the fruits again and again. We find ourselves caught in the bondage of karma. Is there a way of attaining freedom from this cycle? The way of freedom is not attained by not doing actions or by continuing to do actions but by surrendering the fruits of actions in the service of others submitted at the lotus feet of the Lord.  Action never binds. It is the fruits of the karma and the desire to reap the fruits that create bondage. The motivation to do selfless actions helps us to attain a state of tranquility.

Hare Krishna Verse 20

Karmanaiva hi samsiddhim aasthitaa janakaadayah;

Lokasangraham evaapi sampashyan kartum arhasi.

Janaka and  some others  reached total accomplishment through action alone. Even looking at the needs of gathering worldly success, you ought to act.

In ancient times many scholars   tried to prove that the path of renunciation is higher than the path of action. Some would say the other way around. It all depends on us. What is our capacity and inclination is what matters. What is important and critical in either path is doing our duty. Lord KRISHNA emphasizes the importance of doing duty here. HE clarified to Arjuna that one needed to his/her duty to attain the yoga.

We should be able to analyse our inner abilities as to understand our duty. It is the duty of those Majority of people in the world follow the path of action in preference to path of renunciation. By following the path of action, we can also attain yoga. Lord KRISHNA clarified to  Arjuna that he had to perform his dharma. By abandoning our dharma, we can never become successful or fulfil our goals.

Lord KRISHNA advised Arjuna to do his duty rather than escaping into apathy and inactivity. Doing our duty is our dharma.  As leaders we abandon our duties and follow the path of inaction , we  will create serious disturbances and disintegration of the society. Janaka was a sage and king who was always cited as an example of one who had the wisdom to discharge his duties skilfully while remaining in a state of equilibrium and non-attachment.

Hare Krishna   Verses 21,22, 23 & 24

Yadyad aacharati shreshthas tattadevetaro janah;

Sa yat pramaanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate.

Na me paarthaasti kartavyam trishu lokeshu kinchana;

Naanavaaptam avaaptavyam varta eva cha karmani.

Yadi hyaham na varteyam jaatu karmanyatandritah;

Mama vartmaanuvartante manushyaah paartha sarvashah.

Utseedeyur ime lokaa na kuryaam karma ched aham;

Sankarasya cha kartaa syaam upahanyaam imaah prajaah.

In whatever way the senior-most one conducts himself, that very way the other people follow. Whatever authority he establishes, the world conducts itself accordingly.

O Son of Pritha, in all the three worlds I have nothing that is yet to be done, nothing not attained or yet to be attained; yet I, indeed, continue in action.

If I were perchance not to continue in action without lassitude, O Son of Pritha, and since all human beings follow my path in every way,

All these worlds would perish if I were not to perform action; I would be the cause of disorder and would kill all these beings.

We can see that in all civilized cultures of the world, the tradition of following in the footsteps of the great people. They are accepted as great because of their selflessness and the sacrifices they make for the people with whom they come in touch. They set examples and ideals for ordinary people. Great people who tend to be focusing on themselves or selfish. The minds of ordinary people are uncontrolled and disturbed, whereas the minds of great men are controlled and tranquil and they demonstrate vision.

There are two kinds of great people that we hold up as ideals.

  • Some people completely devote their lives to devotion, prayer or meditation.
  • Some people live lively, do their duties selflessly and offer the fruits of their actions to other in the name of devotional service

Both kinds are worthy of our reverence. The action, speech, and behaviour of the great ones are observed by ordinary people who then follow such great people without any doubts. If by chance the conduct of a great man is no longer exemplary, there is the chance for such conduct to be magnified by the masses in a horrible and exaggerated way.

Lord KRISHNA instructed Arjuna to live up to the estimation of a great man, for he is a leader and warrior. If leaders fail the entire organization of the society will become disintegrated, degenerated, and disturbed. The way great people behave is the very way ordinary people try to behave. The standards laid down by the great men become ideals for laymen to follow. The great ones have nothing to do—no action or duty whatsoever. They perform actions only in the service of humanity; they have no selfish motivation.

There are three categories of great people.

  • There are those who are great by birth, they come to this world with the desire to serve, love, and give.
  • The second group of great people make serious efforts to attain greatness. In their human efforts they may slip, yet they are far better than who even do not make efforts
  • The third category of great people who are made great by publicity and propaganda. This form of greatness misleads the masses and destroys their human endeavour. We all have be careful of about this category.

Arjuna belonged to the second category. Lord KRISHNA instructed Arjuna to do his duty, for he is a leader, and his behaviour will be observed and followed by the masses.

Hare Krishna Verses 25 &26

Saktaah karmanyavidwaamso yathaa kurvanti bhaarata;

Kuryaad vidwaam stathaa saktash chikeershur lokasangraham.

Na buddhibhedam janayed ajnaanaam karmasanginaam;

Joshayet sarva karmaani vidwaan yuktah samaacharan.

O Descendant of Bharata, whatever the unwise do attached to action, that very thing a wise one, desirous of gathering worldly success, should do without attachment.

One should not divert the minds of the ignorant who are attached to action; a wise man who conducts himself joined in yoga should let them learn how to perform actions lovingly.

People generally become attached to their duties and the fruits received there off.  Wise people selflessly perform their duties for the welfare of humanity. People with no vision of the horizon of the infinite and suffers because of that limitation. They are afraid of giving up what they have, and without giving, one cannot receive. Giving and sacrificing are one and the same act. Great men know only giving, which inspires them to perform their duties for the benefit of mankind.

As common people follow the great men, they should not divert the minds of those who are performing their duties.  Wise people should help them learn how to do actions skilfully. Great people should lead the common ones to the level of consciousness in which duties done without attachment lead to freedom.

Some people generally complain, “My duties make me feel trapped. How can I become free? Shall I remain in the situation that I am in, or shall I change the situation?” It is very important to learn and create love for the duties that we have assumed. For those of us who learn to love duties and make all possible efforts, the same duties that once created bondage then begin creating happiness. Love is always strengthened by giving and saddened by expectation. While doing duties, we need just give and we will receive joy.

We should not abruptly introduce ideas that are beyond the grasp of common people, but lovingly help others understand without hurting them and bring them home gently. All profound teachings are imparted by great people with love and gentleness. Forced teachings and instructions abruptly imparted are either ineffective or create aversion. We see that happening all the time between parents and children. Whenever the parents are abrupt, though they have good intentions, they make rebels out of their loving children. Higher teachings can be intellectually imparted by anyone with the help of the scriptures, but such teachings are not assimilated in the minds and hearts of the common people, as they lack the warmth of love and gentleness. Those who have patience, tolerance, selfless love, gentleness, and inner strength are careful not to abruptly introduce or impose their ideas on others. It is an art that is not taught through books but learned through experience and interaction. One might meet many intellectuals and scholars who can recite the scriptures by heart, but how often does one meet someone who imparts knowledge through love?  Lord KRISHNA by HIS own example and instruction taught Arjuna to perform his duties with selfless love and to be an example for others.

Hare Krishna Verses 27 & 28

With regard to the actions being performed by the gunas of Prakrit, jointly and severally, one whose nature is confused by ego believes, ‘I am the agent of action.’

He, however, who knows the reality of the divisions of gunas and actions, O Mighty-armed One, knows, ‘The gunas are interacting with gunas.’ Knowing this he does not become attached.

Lord KRISHNA inspired Arjuna to examine whether he was alone is responsible for his actions and their consequences. All of us are in fact in a position to function more independently and profoundly than the animal and plant kingdoms and the kingdom of inanimate objects. We are uniquely privileged to act independently, whereas the animal kingdom is completely controlled by nature.

We have inherent capacity to regulate and modify our actions, yet we are not the doers of our actions. All actions are performed by the governing nature of the universe, – Prakriti. Here there is a subtle point to be understood. When we become doers we also become the receivers of the fruits of his actions. Our  false sense of doing and reaping creates misery for ourselves , and we suffer because our own  self-created misery. The ego thus needs to be purified and trained not to identify itself as the doer but to remain a witness by being conscious of the true Self, which exists eternally with its immortal and splendid nature.

Egoism creates great suffering for the human beings. We should not allow our ego to create obstacles for our growth. When we   feel and experience  actions are performed by the three gunas (Prakriti), we can be  free from  deluded conceptions as: I have a desire to do, I want to do, I am going to do, or I have done.

By studying and understanding these verses, we can realize that we are mistaken to feed our egos, deluding ourselves that we are doing great deeds or serving humanity. The ego, being the predominant part of the internal organization, is deluded by its false identification with the qualities of the Self – it believes that it (the ego) is all-powerful and all-knowing, and that creates the bondage. But when we shake  lose all the fetters by becoming aware of the Eternal, freedom is attained.

Hare Krishna verse 29

Prakriter gunasammoodhaah sajjante gunakarmasu;

Taan akritsnavido mandaan kritsnavin na vichaalayet.

Those who are confused by the gunas of Prakriti become attached to the actions of the gunas. One who knows the complete reality should not cause conflict in the minds of dull-witted, little-knowing ones.

Lord KRISHNA cautions us here.  People will be misled by identifying with the qualities of Prakriti and think they are the performers and doers of the actions.   Lord KRISHNA here clearly warns that knowledgeable  people should not create  conflict in the minds of common people. Lord KRISHNA advised Arjuna not to be a bad example, deluded by the sense of ego, and not to mislead the masses. A leader who has not disciplined himself cannot lead the masses in the right direction. A leader should have perfect discipline, otherwise instead of serving the masses he may mislead them.

Hare Krishna Verse 30

Mayi sarvaani karmaani sannyasyaadhyaatma chetasaa;

Niraasheer nirmamo bhootwaa yudhyaswa vigatajwarah

With your mind centred on the Self, dedicating all actions to Me, free of expectation and free of the thought “mine, “fight without the fever of fear and anxiety.

Lord KRISHNA strongly advised Arjuna to dedicate all of his actions with a one-pointed mind focused on Lord KRISHNA with no expectation / no attachment fear and anxiety and fight the battle of life.”

Lord KRISHNA in this verse teaches us to do dedicated action, which is a prayer in action. When we pray but cannot dedicate our actions, that prayer is of little use. Dedicating all our actions at the lotus feet of the Lord , and the fruits we receive therein is higher than the prayer that is uttered by our lips. The poems and hymns we utter are not as profound or as important as dedication of the fruits of our actions.

There are two kinds of people: one praises God all the time and doing nothing even what Lord HIMSELF directs us to do,  the other remains silent and performs their  actions, dedicating all the fruits of his actions to the Lord. We know which one is better.

Hare Krishna  verses 31 & 32

Ye me matam idam nityam anutishthanti maanavaah;

Shraddhaavanto’nasooyanto muchyante te’pi karmabhih.

Ye twetad abhyasooyanto naanutishthanti me matam;

Sarvajnaanavimoodhaam staan viddhi nashtaan achetasah.

Whoever steadfastly follow this teaching of mine, filled with faith and without malice, they are even freed through those very actions.

Those, however, who are critical and do not observe this teaching of mine, know them, confused concerning all knowledge, to be mindless, who perish.

Lord KRISHNA clearly saying that says those of us who follow HIS teachings with full faith have joy in our lives. Shraddha (faith) is not the product of the mind but something living that is experienced by opening the path of the heart that can open   spiritual love and intuition.

Many great sages attain a state of ecstasy by using the power of emotion (true devotion or bhakti)), which is always higher than the power of thought. When the power of Bhava (emotion/bhakti) is full of heart, we can experience the bliss that could never be possible with the mind. The mind is like a small ruler, and we tend to measure the universe with the help of this small measuring stick. The power of bhava & bhakti opens the higher channel of knowledge- insightful intuition.

Lord KRISHNA in these verses kindly opens the channel of knowledge, stressing that we must have faith in the wisdom imparted by the great teachers. Lord KRISHNA declared that we should have faith and follow the teachings expounded by HIM.  Lord KRISHNA here exercised HIS authority with profound certainty as to lead HIS beloved student Arjuna deeper and deeper.

The word shraddha refers to

  • Reverence plus devotion leads to conviction.
  • It is not a faith dependent on belief, but firm faith attained through one-pointed devotion.
  • Those who follow the instructions of the teacher with full conviction are not lost in the conflicts created by the allurements of the world.

Hare Krishna Verse 33

Sadrisham cheshtate swasyaah prakriter jnaanavaan api;

Prakritim yaanti bhootaani nigrahah kim karishyati

Even a person with knowledge acts according to his nature. When we as beings are resorted  to their nature  can self-control do something?

Lord KRISHNA beautifully explains the functioning of the three gunas that motivates all of us   to perform actions. HE confirms that it is not easy to plumb in to the barriers created by the gunas (Sathwik, Rajasik, Thamasik). The relative proportions of the three qualities differ from one individual to another. In one person one guna may be more predominant than the other another.

The word svabhava prakriti means “that which is brought forward by births, the inherent nature of a creature.” It compels us to act according to our samskaras (svabhava). Thus, self-transformation becomes difficult, forced methods of restraint may also not help. We should therefore not impose such restraints on ourselves unless we are fully prepared. First the determination to discipline and transformation should be strongly felt with in. The gunas would function naturally despite our restraint and practice. This restraint practiced without strong will and determination may lead to suppression and repression, which is not true sadhana. Mere restraint will not help us to cross the barriers of Prakriti GUNAS. This does not mean we should cease to practice self-control and disciplining. Through self-discipline we develop positive qualities, and gradually the sattva guna predominates over Rajas and Thamas. Sattva is the inherent quality that alone gives us power to have a tranquil mind, enables us   to cross the swamp of delusion created by rajas and tamas.

For treading the path of faith, we should learn to be detached from the confusion and conflicts created by the constant reasoning of the mind. Scriptural knowledge and mere reasoning are not at all helpful in the upliftment and unfoldment of aspiration. It is therefore important for us to understand own nature and with firm faith to attain a sattvic state of mind.

Hare Krishna Verses 34 & 35

Indriyasyendriyasyaarthe raagadweshau vyavasthitau;

Tayor na vasham aagacchet tau hyasya paripanthinau.

Shreyaan swadharmo vigunah paradharmaat swanushthitaat;

Swadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayaavahah.

There are attractions and aversions already facing each and every sense. One should not come under their control, for they are enemies waiting for him on the path.

Better one’s own dharma here is duty assigned, even devoid of quality, than the dharma of another, even though well performed. Better to die in one’s own dharma; the dharma of another invites danger- doing a duty meant for others is not right.

Lord KRISHNA simply yet very subtly explains the Senses here. The senses respond spontaneously to the objects of the world. Each of the five senses Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Tasting & Smelling

  • The tongue can taste but cannot hear
  • the eyes can see but cannot taste

Each sense has its own duty to perform, and in performing its duty it flows to its respective objects. When the senses contact their objects, we experience like & dislike, attraction & repulsion. When our minds are not trained enough they react according to these two feelings. Their positive or negative responses to sensory objects keep them from experiencing objectively. This is the reason why what one praises   is a matter of repulsion to another. When our minds are fully trained we recognize something as bitter and something else as sweet, and still do not react. person. When we have learnt  to maintain the gap between stimulus and response we are more trained and composed In this state of trained or realized mind, we would not waste  our precious moments of life in hating or being attracted to others or the objects of the world. Both lust and hatred obstruct our growth again and again. Once they are known and understood we can reduce their value to nothingness, they lose the power to influence us .

Arjuna’s wish to remove those obstacles was evident. Thus, Lord KRISHNA introduced disciplines to help Arjuna perform his duty without being disturbed by those feelings.

Existence and duty are inseparable not only in human life but in nature as well. The sun shines; that is its duty. Likewise, all the modes of nature such as fire, water, and air perform their duties. In the human body all the senses and limbs perform their respective duties. If we  foolishly ask the hearing sense to see, we will be disappointed. Therefore  we  should learn to perform our  duty according to our  svabhava, the gifts received from HIS inherent nature.

Hare Krishna Verse 36, 37,38,39 &40

Arjuna said —   Now, propelled by whom does this person commit sin even not wanting to, O Krishna, as though impelled by force?

The Blessed Lord said

This is desire, this is anger, born of the guna called rajas, consumer of much, very evil; know it to be your enemy here in the world.

As fire is veiled by smoke or a mirror is by dust, as a foetus is covered with placenta, so is this world of activities covered by desire. It is by this eternal enemy of the wise that knowledge is covered, the insatiable fire in the form of desire, O Son of Kunti. The senses, mind, and intellect are its resort; it is by these that it covers knowledge and confuses the body-bearing one.

Do we like to create obstacles for ourselves?  Do we not create them? Why?  What instigates us to create obstacles in our growth? Why can’t we live life free of harmful acts? What is that which compels us to do and make us that we should not be doing?

When Arjuna asked these questions, Lord KRISHNA reminded him of the knowledge he had   imparted to Arjuna on three Gunas. It is Rajas, one of the qualities of human nature, that prompts us to commit harmful or evil actions. Rajas when predominates in us may   lead us to do actions motivated by certain desires. Rajas has the quality of projecting and creating a mirage, delusion, confusion, and conflicts. These projections can become charms, attractions, and temptations.

When our desires are fulfilled we tend to become proud, and when they are not fulfilled we may get angry. Pride and anger are two enemies. The way clouds hide the sun, smoke hides the fire, desire obscures the faculty of discrimination and thereby obscures knowledge and controls the mind, intelligence, and senses. Whether the desire is fulfilled or unfulfilled, the mind remains in a state of imbalance and abnormality.

When our desires become self-centred they will isolate us    from the reality of the phenomenal world. This leads us to create own reality. No matter how many sensory pleasures we experience, the desires are never fulfilled. The more desires we have, the more discontent we become. Desires are endless; desire is a canine hunger that is never satisfied or pacified no matter how much we try to fulfil it.

When we become wise we understand that desire creates misery, which is produced by Rajas. We practice sattvic virtues, can achieve a state of tranquility, which is the nature of sattva. When we are determined to attain freedom, we will learn to light the fire of knowledge. We can bath in that fire, and all our worldly desires are burnt to ashes. The desire for tranquility alone remains.

Hare Krishna Verse 41

Tasmaat twam indriyaanyaadau niyamya bharatarshabha;

Paapmaanam prajahi hyenam jnaana vijnaana naashanam

Therefore, first control the senses, O Arjuna. Abandon this evil that destroys knowledge and the experience of spiritual realities.

Lord KRISHNA clarified and advised all of us through Arjuna very simply yet very powerfully. Desires haze our intelligence and control the mind and senses. Therefore, we must learn to have full control of our desires, which are the prime enemy when motivated for selfish ends. The whole of Karma Yoga explains us that desires distract and dissipate the energy of aspirant. Lord KRISHNA told Arjuna to overcome that evil with the  sharpness  of discrimination.

Hare Krishna verses 42 & 43

The senses are said to be powerful; beyond the senses is the mind; beyond the mind is intellect. The one beyond the intellect, however, is the Self.

Thus, awakening to the One who is beyond intellect, holding and supporting self by the Self, destroy this elusive enemy in the form of desire, O Mighty-armed One.

When we aspire to attain the highest state of tranquility and profound knowledge of the Absolute, all our worldly desires get dismissed and dissolved. With this practice the outgoing tendency of the senses is regulated, and the mind becomes one-pointed. – This is the beginning inward journey.

The flow of perpetual knowledge has its source beyond the body, senses, mind, and intellect. The PARA, which means beyond. Through mere scriptural knowledge the meaning of PARA cannot be easily grasped. We can easily grasp its meaning through direct experience by inward journey. This inward journey helps us move from the gross level of consciousness to the subtle most level. The PARA means the beyond within, not outside.

  • The senses command and control the body
  • All the physical movements remain under the control of the senses.
  • The senses, however, are employed by the mind and are directed by the intellect.
  • Over and above all, the Self (Atman) governs the intellect, mind, senses, and body.

When we understand and have the knowledge of the truth-   self is ruled by the Self, we learn to follow the path of discipline, which helps us  to approach and ultimately reach  the centre of pure consciousness.

Lord KRISHNA described, depicted , and demonstrated to Arjuna the importance of performance of the duty through this chapter   that disciplining the body, breath, senses, and mind was an important requisite that helped Arjuna to redirect the flow of energy, consciousness, to its fountainhead instead of allowing it to flow to the objects of the external world and to create more distractions.

The End

We come to the end of the third Chapter KARMA YOGA

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