Chapter 3 !

Karma Yoga Slokas with meanings

Sloka Text in Devanagari, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, English

||om tat sat||

||ओम् तत् सत्॥
अर्जुन उवाच:
ज्यायसी चेत् कर्मणस्ते मता बुद्धिर् जनार्दन।
तत्किं कर्मणि घोरेमां नियोजयसि केशव॥

'Oh! Janardana! if it is your opinion that knowledge is superior to action,
why then do you urge me to this horrible action.'

Sri Krishna Parabrahmane namaha
Karma Yoga
Chapter 3

'नहि कश्चित् क्षणमपि' - 'Not for one moment' can one be without performing action.
That is part of the refrain of this chapter.
Thus, this chapter is full of thoughts related to Karma or action.
The thoughts are about 'why' Karma.
'What' type of Karma,
'Why not' dissociate from Karma,
and 'Why' is it that one forces himself to do undesirable Karma, knowing very well that it is undesirable etc.

Because the chapter is full of these thoughts related to Karma, the chapter is known as Karma yoga!

The very first line leads off with a question from Arjuna.

अर्जुन उवाच:
ज्यायसी चेत् कर्मणस्ते मताबुद्धिर्जनार्दन |
तत्किं कर्मणि घोरे मां नियोजयसि केशव || 1 ||

स॥ हे जनार्दन ! बुद्धिः कर्मणः ज्यायसी (इति) ते मताचेत् तत् केशवा ! मां घोरे कर्मणि किं नियोजयसि ?||1||

||Sloka meanings||

बुद्धिः कर्मणः ज्यायसी - knowledge is superior to action
(इति) ते मताचेत् - (if) that is your opinion
मां घोरे कर्मणि - this action of fearful war
किं नियोजयसि - why you make me undertake

||Sloka summary||

Arjuna said:
"O Keasava, if it is your opinion that knowledge is superior to action,
why you make me undertake this action of fearful war?" ||1||

Arjuna asks Krishna in simple terms. 'Oh Krishna! if you think Buddhi Yoga is better than Karma yoga,' then why are you deploying me into this terrible action of battle?

The reason for this question is Krishna's statements in Samkhya yoga about Karma yoga and Jnyana yoga!

In Samkhya yoga, first having explained the concept of Atman and yoga of intellect, Krishna explained the Nishkama karma in glorious terms saying "नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति etc.

Then again, he explained about 'Sthita pragnya', the one who is unaffected by anything and has the control of sensory organs.
Saying, 'अपूर्वमाण अचल प्रतिष्ठं / समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत्', Krishna elaborated that if one is of firm conviction, he is not affected by multitude of thoughts pouring in. That indeed is the state one reaches as a Sthita Pragnya. These elaborations on Sthitapragnya, about the control of sensory organs using intellect and attaining the state of Brahman, would lead one to believe that the yoga of Intellect is superior Karma yoga.

On the other hand, there were direct exhortations to Arjuna to get ready for the battle.
In chapter 2 we heard Krishna say very clearly,

"Being killed you attain heaven. Being victorious you will enjoy the earth. Hence Arjuna, being determined to fight arise. (2-37)
"Treating happiness and sorrow as also gain or loss and, victory and defeat as equal be ready for the battle. Then you will not incur the sin". (2.38)

Both statements are like a clarion call to Arjuna for joining the battle.

Finally saying, 'your concern shall be with action alone', and adding, 'Let your attachment be not with no action,'
Krishna told Arjuna in no uncertain terms where Arjuna's focus should be.

Preaching Samkhya or the path of intellect as the way for liberation to devotees, but telling Arjuna to take the seemingly uncertain path of action, clearly troubles Arjuna's mind. This is enough for Arjuna to complain about mixed signals.

Hence with that troubled mind, Arjuna asks the question that if yoga of intellect is a better way, then why should he fight the war which is action or Karma oriented?

Arjuna adds one more caveat!

||Sloka 2||

व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन बुद्धिं मोहयसीव मे |
तदेकं वद निश्चित्य येन श्रेयोऽहमाप्नुयाम् ||2||

स॥ व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन मे बुद्धिं मोहयशीव | अहं येन श्रेयः आप्नुयाम् तदेकं निश्चित्य वद ||2||

||Sloka meanings||

व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन - by sentences that are confusing
मे बुद्धिं मोहयशीव - (you) bewilder my intelligence
अहं येन श्रेयः आप्नुयाम् - by that which I will attain highest good
तदेकं निश्चित्य वद - decide and tell only that

||Sloka summary||

"You bewilder my intelligence by sentences that are confusing.
Decide and tell only that by which I will attain highest good." ||2||

He says,
'तदेकम् वद.' 'Tell me only one'!
Which one?
'The one which is definitely beneficial to me, tell me only that'.
Arjuna is always asking for a definite answer for his predicament, not multiple choices!

Then Krishna elaborates.
||Sloka 3||

श्री भगवानुवाच:
लोकेश्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ।
ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम् || 3||

स॥ हे अनघ ! पुरा अस्मिन् लोके मया सांख्यानां ज्ञानयोगेन योगिनाम् कर्मयोगेन निष्ठा द्विविधा प्रोक्ता ||3||

||Sloka meanings||
अनघा- o sinless one
पुरा अस्मिन् लोके - olden times in this world
सांख्यानां ज्ञानयोगेन - by discipline of knowledge for Sankhyas
योगिनाम् कर्मयोगेन - by path of action for Yogis
निष्ठा द्विविधा मया प्रोक्ता - Two ways of disciplines have been set forth by me for attaining liberation

||Sloka summary||

'O Sinless one, two ways of discipline have been set forth by me (for attaining liberation), in olden times in this world. Discipline of knowledge for Sankhyas, and path of action for Yogis." ||3||

In this Sloka, for the first time, we hear in Gita the word 'मया,' meaning 'by me'. It is a subtle articulation that he is the Supreme being.

Krishna says, ' Oh Arjuna! Long time ago two processes have been detailed by me.
One is the way of intellect for those who want to travel the path of knowledge.
The second one is the way of action for those who go on the path of action'.

So, there are two paths.
This is also an important point to note.

Because in the philosophical enquiries, there are those who argue that both Karma Yoga and Jnyana Yoga together only provide a path for liberation. Though the destination is same both the paths, the path of action and the path of intellect, are specified as independent paths leading to liberation.

Krishna elaborates on the separate paths.

Some are interested in the philosophical enquiry.
They are knowledge seekers. They follow the path of intellect.

Some are focused on action. They can be called as the followers of the yoga of action.
So, there is no single path of pursuit.

In the path of action too, there could be multiple types of actions
Actions with desire. Actions without desire. The actions with desire are clearly not the desirable actions.
The actions without desire lead to cleansing of mind and could be classified as the good actions!

Thinking that action is at the root of all undesirable actions, thinking that non action results in one having not done any undesirable actions, one may opt for a process of not doing any action. Thus, a thought of renunciation of action itself may arise as a path for being free.

This is clearly negated by Krishna.

||Sloka 4||

नकर्मणा मनारम्भात् नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते |
न च सन्न्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति ||4||

स॥पुरुषः कर्मणानां अनारम्भात् नैष्कर्म्यं न अश्नुते | (कर्म) सन्न्यसनात् एव सिद्धिम् न च समधिगच्चति ||4||

||Sloka meanings||

कर्मणानां अनारम्भात् - without starting on the path of action
पुरुषः नैष्कर्म्यं न अश्नुते - man cannot attain that state of freedom from works
सन्न्यसनात् एव - by mere renunciation of works
सिद्धिम् न च समधिगच्चति - one will not achieve liberation

||Sloka summary||

"Without starting on the path of action, man cannot attain that state of freedom from works.
By mere renunciation of works, one will not achieve liberation." ||4||

Krishna in elaborating on Karma yoga, makes it very clear that by mere renunciation of action, one will not achieve liberation.
One will attain liberation only by following path of action with renunciation of results.
Thus, Krishna rules out unambiguously the thought of renunciation of action as a valid path (3.04).

नैष्कर्म्यं means that state where in there no need for action.
Such a state of being free from action, is attained by only a few.
The one who experienced Self, becomes free of action.
The one who attained the state of liberation too, like the one who experienced Self, becomes free from performing actions.
Krishna is saying without performing action, one cannot reach that state of being free from action

Thus, Krishna says that physically giving up action is impossible. Why?

||Sloka 5||

न हि कश्चित् क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत् अकर्मकृत्।
कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः || 5||

स॥ कश्चित् जातु क्षणमपि अकर्मकृत् न हि तिष्ठति | हि प्रकृतिजैः गुणैः सर्वः अवशः कर्म कार्यते ||5||

||Sloka meanings||

कश्चित् जातु क्षणमपि - none can even for a moment
अकर्मकृत् न हि तिष्ठति - remain without action
प्रकृतिजैः गुणैः - by the qualities born of nature
सर्वः अवशः कर्म कार्यते - everyone is made to performs action being dependent

||Sloka summary||

"None can remain without action even for a moment.
Everyone is made to perform action, being dependent on the qualities born of nature." ||5||

Here, Krishna affirms that even for a moment (न हि कश्चित् क्षणम् अपि), no one can ever remain without performing action, because of the qualities born of one's own Prakriti. These are the three Gunas or qualities are Rajo, Tamo, and Sattvic Gunas.

So, if one is not free from the action even for a moment, then you may as well perform action in a proper way is corollary.

Although it is asserted that nobody is free from action, it is quite possible that one may sit down physically controlling his sense organs.
That is elaborated further.

||Sloka 6||

कर्मेंद्रियाणि संयम्य य अस्ते मनसा स्मरन्।
इंद्रियार्थान् विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचार स उच्यते ||6||

स॥ यः कर्मेंद्रियाणि संयम्य मनसा इंद्रियार्थान् स्मरन् आस्ते सः विमूढात्मा मिथ्याचारः उच्यते ||6||

||Sloka meanings||

यः कर्मेंद्रियाणि संयम्य - whoever controlling the sense organs of action
मनसा इंद्रियार्थान् स्मरन् अस्ते - lets his mind dwell on subjects of interest
सः विमूढात्मा - that foolhardy man
मिथ्याचारः उच्यते - (he) is said to be a hypocrite

||Sloka summary||

"Controlling the sense organs of action,
he who lets his mind dwell on subjects of interest, that foolhardy man is said to be a hypocrite."||6||

Even while sitting in a posture for meditation, and controlling his organs of action, the one who lets his mind dwell everywhere is only cheating himself. His meditation is futile.

What is required is the exact opposite.
Being able to control the runaway mind!
That is also elaborated.

The organs themselves have no independent capability to dwell on or enjoy the objects of desire. Only when the mind joins the process the sense organs get the power. Stated as above, sitting in a posture of meditation, and repeating "Rama" incessantly, while the mind is travelling everywhere, makes the meditation futile. That is the gist of this Sloka

One more thing.
Action is better than renunciation of action.
One cannot get a mind free from extraneous thoughts, with actions focused on results
Without a mind free of extraneous thoughts, knowledge cannot be seeded.
Without knowledge, one man not be on the path of liberation.
So action is a prerequisite for liberation.

||Sloka 7||

यस्त्विंद्रियाणि मनसा नियम्यारभते अर्जुन |
कर्मेंद्रियैः कर्मयोगं असक्तस्स विशिष्यते ||7||

स॥ हे अर्जुना! यस्तु इंद्रियाणि मनसा नियम्य कर्मेंद्रियैः कर्मयोगं असक्तः आरभते सः विशिष्यते ( श्रेष्ठः भवति)||7||

||Sloka meanings||

यस्तु इंद्रियाणि मनसा नियम्य - whoever keeping the sense organs under control
कर्मेंद्रियैः कर्मयोगं आरभते - Whoever starts on the path of action, with organs of action,
असक्तः - without attachments
सः विशिष्यते - that man excels.

||sloka summary||

" Whoever, keeping the sense organs under control,
starts on the path of action, without attachments, that man excels,". ||7||

This is the talisman for the path of action. This explains how one may travel the path of action.

What is stated here is simple. Having the organs of action under his control, being without attachment, whoever acts he is the best man. (3.07)

The key being the mind, which is under his control. As long as mind is not under control, all that action is that of a hypocrite.

So, one who can control the sensory organs, and who can perform action without any desire, is the one who excels! (3.07)

Krishna's assertions are very clear.
- Performing action is better than the renunciation of action.
- Perform actions without attachments.
- One cannot avoid action.

||Sloka 8||

नियतं कुरुकर्मत्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः |
शरीर यात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येत् अकर्मणः ||8||

स॥ त्वं नियतं कर्म कुरु | अकर्मणः कर्म ज्यायो हि | अकर्मणः ते शरीर यात्रा अपि च न प्रसिद्ध्येत् ( भवति) ||8||

||Sloka meanings||

त्वं नियतं कर्म कुरु - you perform the ordained action
अकर्मणः कर्म ज्यायो हि - Doing action is better than not doing action.
अकर्मणः- by not doing any action
ते शरीर यात्रा अपि च न प्रसिद्ध्येत् - even the life in the body is impossible without action

||Sloka summary||

"You perform the ordained action. Doing action is better than not doing action. By not doing any action
even the life in the body is impossible without action". ||8||

So, Karma is to be done.
But what kind of Karma?
Answer, "नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं"- (3.08)

The Karma that is ordained according to scriptures or laws.
What is that ordained action?
That is the action which is for the benefit of the community.
Or the action that pleases the Supreme being.
Or action that pleases your own higher self or the noble instincts.
Prescribed actions are also as per time and place.
It can be simply "actions that needed to be done".
It is a statement valid for all times.

The other thought presented here is, "Action is superior to inaction".
This is also true at all times.
In support Krishna says, "Even normal progress of the body requires actions".

Hence Karma is to be performed.

The slokas 3.4 to 3.8 were summarized by Shankaracharya as follows.
These are for people not having inclination to the path of Self Knowledge.
For such people path of action is the only path.
For those following paths of action, the process is clear,
Action is to be performed.
Renunciation of action is rejected by Krishna.
Perform action without focus on results.
Perform actions prescribed in scriptures (without focus on results)
Thus, the essentials of Karma yoga were laid out here clearly.

According to Shankaracharya, Slokas 3.9-16 advance more reasons for one to follow the path of action.
Reasons are valid for those ignorant of Self and are called upon to follow work.
The errors involved in not following the call for action are also stated.
In that sense Slokas 3.9-16 reiterate what has been stated, with more reasons quoting Prajapati etc.

||श्लोकमु 9||

यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणोऽन्यत्र लोकोऽयं कर्मबंधनः।
तदर्थम् कर्म कौन्तेय मुक्तसङ्गः समाचर ||9||

स॥हे कौन्तेय ! यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणः अन्यत्र अयं लोकः कर्मबन्धनः | तदर्थम् ( यज्ञार्थात्) कर्म मुक्तसंगः समाचर ||9||

||Sloka meanings||

यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणः अन्यत्र- other than those actions done for sacrifice
अयं लोकः कर्मबन्धनः - the people are bound by those actions
तदर्थम् ( यज्ञार्थात्) - Hence
मुक्तसंगः समाचर - free from attachment perform the actions

||Sloka summary||

"O, Kaunteya, the people are bound by actions, other than those done for sacrifice.
So, free from attachment perform the actions." ||9||

Krishna says, Yagnyas (Sacrifices) are the specified actions. Others create Bondage.
Hence Kaunteya without being attached perform actions as Sacrifice (for Him).

Sacrifice too is an action.
It is to be done without focusing on the fruits of that action.
All actions done to please the Supreme being are called as Sacrifice.
The same action performed with expectation of fruits result in bondage.

The sacrifices are meant for the Supreme being.
Vedas say "यज्ञो वै विष्णुः", (Taittariya Samhita). It says sacrifices are God.
They do not create bondage. Actions other than sacrifice, create bondage for the performer.

In the parlance of our ancestors, such Karma offered is a Yagnya.
Such karma is to be done without aspiring for the fruits

The act of worship of the Lord itself is the Yagnya.
This is a new perspective. It is simplification of the concept of Yagnya

The acts of worship performed with focus on the gaining heaven etc, may be erroneously called Yagnyam.
Such Yagnas bind that person to this world, because at the expiry of his merits in heaven, the person is born again.
Yagnyas in the original context referred to here, mean service to God and or community.

||Sloka 10||

सहयज्ञाः प्रजास्सृष्ट्वा पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः |
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वमेषवोऽस्त्विष्ठ कामधुक् || 10||

स॥ प्रजापतिः पुरा यज्ञाः सह प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा अनेन ( यज्ञेन) प्रसविष्वध्वम्, एषः वः इष्टकामधुक् अस्तु (इति)उवाच ||10||

||Sloka meanings||

प्रजापतिः पुरा - Prajapati in the olden days
यज्ञाः सह प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा - created the sacrifice along with people
अनेन ( यज्ञेन) प्रसविष्वध्वम्- with this you grow
एषः वः इष्ट कामधुक् अस्तु- let this be the yielder of your wishes
उवाच - told them

||Sloka summary||

"Prajapati in the olden days created the sacrifice along with people told them, with this you grow
let this be the yielder of your wishes ". ||10||

Bringing forth "beings" together with Sacrifices, Prajapati, the lord of creatures said 'By this you grow. Let this be the yielder of your wishes'.
Sacrifice thus created is a "Niyata" Karma, the ordained action.

Beings being created with Sacrifice means that a feeling of service has been enabled in the beings created.
The beings are also created with capacity of service. Intent at the creation was that this feeling of service would enable the beings to engage in service of God and or community. That service performed acted like a Kamdhenu for all concerned.

In effect, the Sacrifice here virtually meant acts for the good of community or to please God. This sacrifice has nothing to do with the sacrifice as understood in the early part of Vedas which were focused towards fruits.

Krishna continues the elaboration along the same lines further.

||Sloka 11||

देवान्भावयतानेन तेदेवा भावयन्तु वः।
परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ ||11||

स॥ अनेन देवान् भावयत | ते देवाः वः भावयन्तु | ( तथा) परस्परं भावयन्तः परं श्रेयः अवाप्स्यथ ||

||Sloka meanings||

अनेन देवान् भावयत - by these make the Gods nourished
ते देवाः वः भावयन्तु - they the Devas will nourish you
परस्परं भावयन्तः - nourishing each other
परं श्रेयः अवाप्स्यथ - will attain supreme good

||Sloka summary||

"By these make the Gods nourished. They the Devas will in turn nourish you.
Nourishing each other, you will attain supreme good."||11||

Here while saying "Prajapati said " etc, Krishna is presenting past in support of Karma Yoga.
With the spirit of Sacrifice, Yagnya, people are to please the Gods. The Gods in turn please the people with the appropriate riches.

What is to be done with the riches so obtained?
Krishna clarifies in the Sloka 3.12.

||Sloka 12||

इष्टान् भोगान् हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः |
तैर्दत्ता न प्रदायैभ्यो यो भुज्ञ्तेस्तेन एव सः॥12||

स॥यज्ञभाविताः देवाः वःइष्टान् भोगान् दास्यन्ते हि | तैः दत्तान् ( भोगान्) एभ्यः अप्रदाय यः भुज्ञ्ते सः स्तेन एव च ||

||Sloka meanings||

यज्ञभाविताः देवाः - Devas nourished by the sacrifices
वःइष्टान् भोगान् दास्यन्ते हि - give the enjoyments you seek
तैः दत्तान् ( भोगान्) एभ्यः अप्रदाय - those given by them without offering to them
यः भुज्ञ्ते सः स्तेन एव च - whoever enjoys he is thief only

||Sloka summary||

"Devas nourished by the sacrifices, give the enjoyments you seek.
Whoever enjoys those given by them, without offering to them (to the Devas), he is a thief only." ||12||

To share is a common philosophy. Krishna by recounting that is reminding us about sharing.
Verily, the one who enjoys those riches without sharing is surely a thief.

||Sloka 13||

यज्ञशिष्टाशिनस्सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्व किल्बिषैः |
भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात् ||13||

स॥ यज्ञशिष्ठाशिनः सन्तः सर्वकिल्बिषैः मुच्यन्ते | येतु आत्मकारणात् पचन्ति पापाः ते अघं( पापम्) भुञ्जते ||13||

||Sloka meanings||

सन्तः- the good people
यज्ञशिष्ठाशिनः - those who take part of the remains after offering in Sacrifice,
सर्वकिल्बिषैः मुच्यन्ते - are liberated from all sins
येतु आत्मकारणात् पचन्ति - Whoever for their own self cook,
पापाः ते अघं( पापम्) भुञ्जते - sinner they are who consume sins

||Sloka summary||
"The good people, those who take part of the remains after offering in Sacrifice, are liberated from all sins.
Whoever for their own self cook are Sinners, who consume their own sins." ||13||

Krishna says, मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः - 'freed from all sins'.
Who is freed from all sins?
Those who take part of the remains after offering in Sacrifice.
Those who share the riches that were obtained as part of the services rendered to the Devas.

The others who cook for their own sake, virtually live on their sins.
They are those who do not offer Service, and generate riches for their own enjoyment.
They are the ones who live for their sins.

What are the sins the man is saved from? Shankaracharya in his commentary hints at these five sins etc
The inadvertent five sins committed while cutting something, grinding something, fanning something, cooking something and cleaning. These are as stated "inadvertent". The five sacrifices recommended for the man are - Deva Yagnya, pitru Yagnya, nRu(guest) Yagnya, Brahma Yagnya, Bhuta Yagnya. These are not some extraordinary sacrifices. These happen during the day.

Why sacrifice or perform Yagnyam in the first place?
Reasserting why yagna has been proposed as the main Karma in the olden days,
Krishna says the following.

||Sloka 14-15||

अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यात् अन्नसंभवः |
यज्ञात् भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः ||14||
कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षर समुद्भवम् |
तस्मात् सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम्॥15||

स॥ अन्नात् भूतानि भवन्ति | पर्जन्यात् अन्न संभवः | यज्ञात् पर्जन्यः भवति | यज्ञः कर्म समुद्भवः | कर्मः ब्रह्मोद्भवम्। ब्रह्म ( वेद) अक्षर समुद्भवम् | तस्मात् सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितं विद्धि |

||Sloka meanings||
अन्नात् भूतानि भवन्ति - from the food are born living beings
पर्जन्यात् अन्न संभवः - Rains produce the food
यज्ञात् पर्जन्यः भवति - Rains happen from the Sacrifices
यज्ञः कर्म समुद्भवः - Sacrifice is born out of actions
कर्मः ब्रह्मोद्भवम् - Action is born out of Vedas
ब्रह्म ( वेद) अक्षर समुद्भवम् - Vedas are born out of imperishable Brahman
तस्मात् सर्वगतं ब्रह्म - hence the all-pervading Brahman
नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितं विद्धि - is always rooted in the sacrificial action.

||Sloka summary||

"From the food are born living beings.
Rains produce the food.
Rains happen from the Sacrifices.
Sacrifice is born out of actions.
Action is born out of Vedas.
Vedas are born out of imperishable Brahman.
Hence the all-pervading Brahman is always rooted in the sacrificial action."||14-15||

Simply stated, creatures are born out of food. Food has rain as its cause. Sacrifice is the cause of rain. Sacrifice is action not focused on fruits.

Going forward, the actions free of fruits happens because of Vedas. Vedas are born of the all-pervading Brahman. Thus, sacrificial actions have their root in Brahman.

Thus, the Brahman, Veda, and Yagnya (Karma) are all connected in a cycle.

So, the action which drives yagna, that action, emanates from Brahman.
Thus making the Sacrifice itself imbued with Brahman.

The Sacrifice proposed in this cycle is worship of the Brahman, that Sacrifice without focus on any personal results is called Yagnyam.
This is a cycle of the nature.

||Sloka 16||

एवं प्रवर्तितं चक्रं नानुवर्तयतीह यः |
अघायुरिन्द्रियारामो मोघं पार्थ स जीवति॥16||

स॥ हे पार्थ ! यः एवं प्रवर्तितम् चक्रं इह न अनुवर्तति सः अघायु:( पापजीविनः) , इन्द्रियारामः ( इंद्रियाणां आरामं करोति इति इन्द्रियारामः) मोघं ( न अमोघम्) जीवति ||

||Sloka meanings||

एवं प्रवर्तितम् चक्रं - this wheel thus set in motion
यः इह न अनुवर्तति - who does not follow in this world
सः अघायु- he is a sinner
इन्द्रियारामः मोघं जीवति - revels in senses, lives in vain

||Sloka summary||

" He, who does not follow this wheel, thus set in motion in this world, is a sinner, who revels in senses and lives in vain."||16||

The one who performs selfish sacrifice focused on results is the one who breaks this cycle.
The life of one who does not follow this cycle, is wasted, because of being a sinner.

Again, does everybody need to perform action or Karma?
Who is free from the duty of having to perform Karma?
We hear the answers in the next Sloka.

||Sloka 17||

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्म तृप्तश्च मानवः।
आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टः तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते ||17||

स॥ यः मानवः आत्म रतिः एव आत्मतृप्तः च स्यात् तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते ||17||

||Sloka meanings||

यः मानवः आत्म रतिः एव - the man who revels in the Self only
आत्मतृप्तः च स्यात् - satisfied in the Self only
तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते - for such a one, there is no action that needs to be performed.

||Sloka summary||

"The man who revels in the Self only,
and is satisfied in the Self only, for him there is no action that needs to be performed." ||17||

Here three kinds of people are described - all are one and same
आत्मरतिरेव - the one who revels in knowledge of Self
आत्मतृप्तश्च - the one who is satisfied with the knowledge of Self
आत्मन्येव च संतुष्ठः -The one who is happy with the knowledge of Self.

For such people there is no need for action. They have attained Moksha. For one who attained Moksha, it is said 'वेदो अवेदो भवति'. The Veda, to know, is no longer needed to be known (अवेद), since he has already known what is to be known.

Thus, those who have attained the knowledge of Self, as well as those who having understood Self, are on the path of intellect. Hence, they have no need for action.

This is answered again, adding one more reason.
||Sloka 18||

नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो नाकृते नेह कश्चन |
न चास्य सर्वभूतेषु कश्चिदर्थव्यपाश्रयः ||18||

स॥ तस्य इह कृतेन अर्थः अकृतेन कश्चन दोषः न ( अस्ति) | अस्य सर्वभूतेषु अर्थव्यपाश्रयः कश्चित् न ( अस्ति) ||18||

||Sloka meanings||

तस्य इह कृतेन अर्थः न एव - for him there is no gain from action done
अकृतेन कश्चन दोषः न - no fault if not done
अस्य सर्वभूतेषु - For him among all creatures
अर्थव्यपाश्रयः कश्चित् न - no needful connection .

||Sloka summary||

"For him there is no gain from action done. No fault if not done. For him among all creatures
there is no needful connection." ||18||

Those who have realized Self are happy within Self. Such people have no interest in what is done (कृत) or what is not done (अकृत).
Nor do they have any need to approach any one for any object or gain (3.18). Hence there is no need for action.

It also means that for those who have not attained Self or those who do not follow the path of intellect, the path to be followed is that of yoga of action only. That path of action is about action without focus on fruits.
Krishna reiterates this thought in the next Sloka (3.19).

||Sloka 19||

तस्मादसक्तस्सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर।
असक्तो ह्याचरन् कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः ||19||

स॥ तस्मात् ( त्वं) असक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर | असक्तः कर्म आचरन् पूरुषः परम् ( मोक्षं) आप्नोति हि ||19||

||Sloka meanings||

तस्मात् ( त्वं) असक्तः - Hence without attachment
सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर - always perform duty that is to be undertaken
असक्तः कर्म आचरन् - Performing action without attachment
परम् ( मोक्षं) आप्नोति हि- you will attain the Supreme

||Sloka summary||

"Hence without attachment, always perform duty that is to be undertaken.
By performing action without attachment, you will attain the Supreme" ||19||

That path to be followed in Karma yoga is clear.
Action has to be without attachment.
The action is to be always performed without desire for the fruits of the action.
Performing action without attachment, and following that path of Nishkama Karma, one attains Moksha (3.19).
This is Nishkama karma or path of action in Karma Yoga through which one attains Moksha.

Who attained Moksha using this path of Nishkama Karma?
Krishna answers this in the next Sloka.

||Sloka 20||

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादयः।
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि संपश्यन् करुमर्हसि || 20||

स॥ जनकादयः कर्मणैव संसिद्धिं( मोक्षं) आस्थिताहि | लोकसंग्रहं संपश्यन् अपि त्वं ( कर्म) कर्तुमेव अर्हसि ||20||

||Sloka meanings||

जनकादयः कर्मणैव - performing action Janaka and others
संसिद्धिं( मोक्षं) आस्थिताहि - attained success.
त्वं लोकसंग्रहं संपश्यन् अपि- to promote welfare of the world also
त्वं ( कर्म) कर्तुमेव अर्हसि - you ought to perform your duty

||Sloka summary||

"Performing action, Janaka and others attained success. You ought to perform your duty to promote welfare of the world also." ||20||

Krishna confirms the success of Nishkama karma by saying that King Janaka and others attained Moksha by performing action. Others referred to here, are about the stories of Ambarisha, Prahlada, Bhagiratha, Ikshwaku etc

If it is assumed that they (Janaka and others) attained Moksha because of Prarabda Karma, the Karma of previous births, then they needed to do no more action because of Prarabda Karma. They could have renounced karma and attained Moksha too. But the fact of the matter is that they continued to be involved in Karma without seeking results. There is a new goal. They continued to be involved in action to promote, लोकसंग्रह the world welfare.

Here, Krishna urges Arjuna to follow King Janaka and others, and be involved in Karma also to promote the welfare of all.

How does welfare of all concern one, could be a legitimate query.
Krishna answers that too.

||Sloka 21||

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठः तत्तदेवेतरो जनाः।
स यत्प्रमाणम् कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते ||21||

स॥श्रेष्ठः यत् यत् आचरति इतरः जनः तत् तत् एव ( आचरति) | सः यत् प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकः तत अनुवर्तते ||21||

||Sloka meanings||

श्रेष्ठः यत् यत् आचरति- whatever is done by the best of men
इतरः जनः तत् तत् एव ( आचरति) - other people do the same
सः यत् प्रमाणं कुरुते - whatever standard is set by him
लोकः तत अनुवर्तते - the world conforms to the same

||Sloka summary||

"Whatever is done by the best of men other people do the same.
Whatever standard is set by him the world conforms to the same." ||21||

Whatever a great man does, the others follow that. Whatever he sets up as the standard, the rest follow that too. This is the way of the world. So, Krishna is virtually saying that it is the duty of best of men to remember this and act accordingly.

Krishna does not leave it at that. He brings up his own role in action.

||Sloka 22||

न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किंचन |
नानवाप्तं अवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ||22||

स॥ हे पार्थ! मे त्रिषु लोकेषु कर्तव्यं किंचन न अस्ति। अनवाप्तं अवाप्तव्यं न अस्ति | तथापि च (अहं) कर्मणि वर्त एव च ||22||

||Sloka meanings||

हे पार्थ! मे त्रिषु लोकेषु - O Partha, in the three worlds
कर्तव्यं किंचन न अस्ति- no duty that is to be performed
अनवाप्तं अवाप्तव्यं न अस्ति - nothing that cannot be obtained or to be obtained.
(तथापि) वर्त एव च कर्मणि - even so I am ever performing actions

||Sloka summary||

"O Partha, in the three worlds, there is no duty that is to be performed by Me. There is nothing that cannot be obtained or to be obtained. Even then I am always performing actions." ||22||

Krishna is always involved in action.

Krishna said in the very beginning that he is the one who laid down the two disciplines, hinting at his divinity. This sloka is easily understood in that context. In the three worlds there is nothing Krishna needs to do other than, "परित्राणाय साधूनाम् विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्", namely protecting the good people and punishing the bad ones. Also there is nothing he cannot get and nothing that he needs to get. But even then, he is ever involved in action".

So, why he is always involved in action?
That is answered in the next sloka.

||Sloka 23||

यदि ह्यहं न वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः।
मम वर्त्मानुवर्तंते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ||23||

स॥हे पार्थ ! यदि अहं जातु अतन्द्रितः ( सन्) कर्मणि न वर्तेयं ( ततः) मनुष्याः सर्वशः मम वर्त्म( मार्गं) अनुवर्तने || 23||

||Sloka meanings||

यदि अहं जातु - in the event I
अतन्द्रितः ( सन्) कर्मणि न वर्तेयं - do not act vigilantly
मनुष्याः सर्वशः - men in all ways
मम वर्त्म( मार्गं) अनुवर्तने - follow my path

||Sloka summary||

"O Partha, in the event I do not act vigilantly, men in all possible ways
follow my path." ||23||
Saying that knowing that people follow him, he cannot but act appropriately in the matters of action. Krishna is virtually referring to the adage 'यथा राजा तथा प्रजा.'

If those in power do not act as required, but expect others to follow a process that is not correct.
It is for the leader to set the path so that followers follow the same.
Here, Krishna tells a truth which even many of the present-day managers forget.

The reason Krishna is involved in action is to set a path for others to follow, though there is no need for action for him

||Sloka 24||

उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका न कुर्यां कर्मचेदहम् |
संकरस्य च कर्ता स्यामुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः ||24||

स॥अहं कर्म न कुर्यां चेत् इमे लोकाः उत्सीदेयुः ( भ्रष्ठः भवन्ति)| ( अहम्) संकरस्य च कर्ता स्याम् |इमाः प्रजाःउपहन्याम् ||24||

||Sloka meanings||

अहं कर्म न कुर्यां चेत्- if I do not perform action
इमे लोकाः उत्सीदेयुः - these worlds will perish
संकरस्य च कर्ता स्याम् - will be the cause of their confusion
इमाः प्रजाःउपहन्याम्- will be ruining these people

||Sloka summary||

" If I do not perform action, these worlds will perish. I will be the cause of their confusion
and will be ruining these people." ||24||

||Sloka 25||

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत |
कुर्याद्विद्वां स्तथाऽसक्तः चिकीर्षुः लोक संग्रहम् || 25||

स॥ हे भारत् ! अविद्याः कर्मणि (आ)सक्ताः यथा कर्म कुर्वन्ति तथा विद्वान् असक्तः लोक संग्रहंचिकीर्षुः ( कर्माणि) कुर्यात् ||25||

||Sloka meanings||

यथा अविद्याः कर्मणि सक्ताः -just as ignorant work with attachment
कर्म कुर्वन्ति - perform actions ( focused on results)
तथा विद्वान् असक्तः - similarly the wiseman without attachment
लोक संग्रहं चिकीर्षुः ( कर्माणि) कुर्यात् -
should perform action for the welfare of the world

||Sloka summary||

"O Bharata, just as ignorant work with attachment to perform actions focused on results,
similarly the wiseman without attachment should perform action for the welfare of the world." ||25||

Here, Krishna reaffirms the need to act without attachment by saying, 'Just as an ignorant man acts with attachment for results, the wise man shall act with a similar vigor and without attachment'. (3.25)

The theme of leading by example is continued and Krishna makes yet another point.

||Sloka 26||

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् |
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्तः समाचरन् || 26||

स॥ विद्वान् कर्म संगिनां अज्ञानाम् बुद्धिभेदम् न जनयेत् सर्वकर्माणि (स्वयं) युक्तः समाचरन् जोषयेत् ||26||

||Sloka meanings||

कर्म संगिनां अज्ञानाम्- ज्ञानि for the ignorant people attached to actions
विद्वान् बुद्धिभेदम् न जनयेत् - wiseman shall not bewilder their mind
सर्वकर्माणि (स्वयं) युक्तः - performing all actions himself
समाचरन् जोषयेत् - make them do those actions

||Sloka summary||

"The wiseman shall not bewilder their mind of the ignorant people attached to actions.
Performing all actions himself, make them do those actions." ||26||

अज्ञानां न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेत् - For the ignorant do not try to bewilder his mind by trying to teach.
Krishna says that you do not stop those involved in fruit-oriented Karma and enjoying the fruits of that Karma. What should one do?

विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन् || The learned one will set an example by himself performing Nishkama karma and letting them learn by observing him. If they follow the path of Nishkama karma on their own by seeing the example of the leader, that would be the best way.

Why is it that the ignorant one acts the way he does?
Krishna traces it to the preponderance of one nature. The nature consisting of Tamas, Rajo, and Sattva Guna's drives one to act the way he does.

||Sloka 27||

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः |
अहंकार विमूढात्मा कर्ताहं इति मन्यते॥ 27||

स॥ प्रकृतेः गुणैः सर्वशः क्रियमाणानि कर्माणि अहंकारविमूढात्मा अहं कर्ता इतिमन्यते ||27||

||Sloka meanings||

प्रकृतेः गुणैः - by the constituents of Prakruti
सर्वशः क्रियमाणानि कर्माणि - actions being done in all ways
अहंकार विमूढात्मा- egoistic ignorant one
अहं कर्ता इतिमन्यते - thinks he is the doer

||Sloka summary||

"Actions are being done in all ways by the constituents of Prakruti.
Egoistic ignorant one thinks he is the doer." ||27||

All actions happen because of the three Gunas of Prakruti namely, Sattva, rajo, Tamo Gunas.
The one who is not aware of this power of nature thinks he is the doer.

||Sloka 28||

तत्त्ववित्तु महाबाहो गुणकर्मविभागयोः |
गुणागुणेषु वर्तन्त इति मत्वा न सज्जते ||28||

स॥ हे महाबाहो ! गुणकर्मविभागयोः तत्ववित्तु , गुणाः गुणेषु वर्तन्ते इति मत्वा न सज्जते ||28||

||Sloka meanings||

हे महाबाहो - O strong armed one
गुणकर्मविभागयोः तत्ववित्तु - the one who knows the true nature of division of Gunas
गुणाः गुणेषु वर्तन्ते - realizes that Gunas operate among Gunas
इति मत्वा न सज्जते - knowing this does not attach himself

||Sloka summary||

"O strong armed one, the one who knows the true nature of division of Gunas, realizes that Gunas operate among Gunas.
Knowing this does not attach himself." ||28||

All actions are due to the nature modified by the three Gunas 'Sattva' 'Rajo' and 'Tamas'.
These three Gunas, ingrained in all, drive the actions of all.
The ignorant one performs the action, thinking that 'he' is the owner of those actions.
Wise one stays away from attachments.

||Sloka 29||

प्रकृतेर्गुणसम्मूढाः सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु |
तानकृत्स्नविदो मन्दान् कृत्स्नविन्न विचालयेत् ||29||

स॥ (ये) प्रकृतेः गुणसम्मूढाः गुणकर्मसु सज्जन्ते अकृत्स्नविदः ( अल्पज्ञः) मंदान् तान् कृत्स्नवित् ( ज्ञानि) न विचालयेत् ||29||

||Sloka meanings||

प्रकृतेः गुणसम्मूढाः - those bewildered by the constituents of Prakruti
गुणकर्मसु सज्जन्ते - attach themselves to these works of Gunas
अकृत्स्नविदः ( अल्पज्ञः) मंदान् - such dull and low level knowledge ones
तान् कृत्स्नवित् ( ज्ञानि) न विचालयेत् - shall not be disturb such people

||Sloka summary||

"Those dull and low-level knowledge ones, bewildered by the constituents of Prakruti
attach themselves to these works of Gunas. A wiseman shall not be disturb such people." ||29||

Those who are deluded by the Gunas cling to work with fruits.
The knower of the truth ought not disturb the dull and partial knowers"

This is re-emphasizing a point made earlier (3.26)
The way out is to continue to act correctly so that the ignorant may realize and follow.

But the question of how they should perform action is reiterated
By saying 'they', we are talking about the ignorant ones following the path of Karma.
The answer to that is that they perform action by dedicating it to the Lord (3.30).

Thus, having elaborated on the path of action for the ignorant, Krishna drives home the point of action for Arjuna.

||Sloka 30||

मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि सन्न्यस्याध्यात्म चेतसा |
निराशीनिर्ममो भूत्वा युध्यस्व विगत ज्वरः ||30||

स॥ सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि अध्यात्म चेतसा सन्न्यस्य निराशीः निर्ममः भूत्वा विगत ज्वरः युध्यस्व ||

||Sloka meanings||
अध्यात्म चेतसा - with a spiritual frame of mind
निराशीः निर्ममः भूत्वा - being without craving and attachment
सर्वाणि कर्माणि मयि सन्न्यस्य- surrendering all actions in Me
विगत ज्वरः युध्यस्व - without any concern engage in battle.

||Sloka summary||

"Being without craving and attachment, surrendering all actions in Me with a spiritual frame of mind,
engage in battle without any concern." ||30||

"Dedicating all actions to me with a spiritual mind, fight the battle without desire or feeling of ownership and being free from mental fever".

That is precisely the mental make-up necessary for us to do the battle of daily life.
Proceed without desire or feeling of ownership and perform the actions needed.
This is a direction to Arjuna.

To emphasize his point to Arjuna, Krishna declares it as his philosophy in the next sloka.

||Sloka 31||

ये मे मतमिदं नित्यं अनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः |
श्रद्धावन्तोअनसूयान्तो मुच्यन्ते तेsपि कर्मभिः ||31||

स॥ ये मानवाः मे इदं मतं श्रद्धावन्तः अनसूयन्तः ( न असूयन्तः) नित्यं अनुतिष्ठन्ति ते अपि कर्मभिः मुच्यन्ते ||31||

||Sloka meanings||

मे इदं मतं - this doctrine of mine
ये मानवाः श्रद्धावन्तः अनसूयन्तः - people who being dedicated and unenvious
नित्यं अनुतिष्ठन्ति - always follow
ते अपि कर्मभिः मुच्यन्ते - they also freed from the bondage of action

||Sloka summary||

"Dedicated and unenvious people, who always follow this doctrine of mine,
are also freed from the bondage of action." ||31||

Krishna declares that Karma Yoga is his doctrine.

The question asked by Arjuna in the beginning of this chapter is as follows. 'If you think path of knowledge is better than path of action, why are you asking me to take up the action of battle?'.

Krishna has not refuted Arjuna's premise. But clearly wanting him to take up the battle, Krishna declares here the path of action is his doctrine. This is to emphasize his direction to Arjuna that path of action is better for him.

In this Sloka, Krishna says the people who always follow this, diligently and without aversion will be released from the bonds of the karma performed.

Clearly those who follow this philosophy are liberated.
On the contrary what happens to others?
Krishna elaborates.

||Sloka 32||

ये त्वेतदभ्यसूयन्तो नानुतिष्ठन्ति मे मतम् |
सर्वज्ञान विमूढांस्तान् विद्धि नष्टानचेतसः ||32||

स॥ येतु मे एतत् मतम् अभ्यसूयन्तः न अनुतिष्ठन्ति तान् अचेतसः सर्व ज्ञान विमूढान् नष्ठान् विद्धि ||32||

||Sloka meanings||

मे एतत् मतम् - this my doctrine
येतु अभ्यसूयन्तः न अनुतिष्ठन्ति - who do not follow decrying the same
तान् अचेतसः सर्व ज्ञान विमूढान् - those who are of impure mind deluded of all knowledge,
नष्ठान् विद्धि - know them as ruined

||Sloka summary||

"Those who do not follow this doctrine of mine decrying the same.
those who are of impure mind deluded of all knowledge, know them as ruined." ||32||

Those who are of impure mind, deluded of all knowledge, do not like this doctrine
Why they do not like this philosophy. We hear that in the next Sloka:

||Sloka 33||

अदृशं चेष्ठते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेः ज्ञानवानपि |
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति ||33||

स॥ ज्ञानवानपि स्वस्याः प्रकृतेः सदृशम् चेष्ठते भूतानि प्रकृतिम् यान्ति निग्रहः किं करिष्यति ||33||

||Sloka meanings||

ज्ञानवानपि - even a man of knowledge
स्वस्याः प्रकृतेः सदृशम् चेष्ठते - acts according to his nature
भूतानि प्रकृतिम् यान्ति - All beings conform to their nature
निग्रहः किं करिष्यति - what can restraint do?.

||Sloka summary||

"Even a man of knowledge acts according to his nature. All beings conform to their nature.
What can restraint do?" ||33||

The implication is that nature has a stronghold on all people, even one of knowledge.
So what is to be done? One has to be strong enough to bring the nature under his control.
We hear that from Krishna.

||Sloka 34||

इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ |
तयोर्न वशमागच्चेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ ||34||

स॥ इन्द्रियस्य इन्द्रियस्य अर्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ तयोः वशम् न अगच्चेत् | तौ अस्य परिपन्थिनौ ||34||

||Sloka meanings||

इन्द्रियस्य इन्द्रियस्य अर्थे - Senses (have attachment to) sense objects
रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ - attachment and aversion.
तयोः वशम् न अगच्चेत् - should not be swayed by them
तौ अस्य परिपन्थिनौ - Attachment and aversion are his enemies

||Sloka summary||

"Senses have attachment and aversion to sense objects. One should not be swayed by them
Attachment and aversion are indeed his enemies." ||34||

Senses have attachment and aversion to their objects. There are things we like and things we do not like, while performing action. But how to overcome the likes and dislikes? Follow your own duty (स्वधर्म).

||Sloka 35||

श्रेयान् स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् |
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ||35||

स॥ स्व अनुष्ठितात् ( कर्मः) परधर्मात् विगुणः स्वधर्मः श्रेयान् ( अस्ति) | स्वधर्मे निधनम् ( मरणम्) श्रेयः | परधर्मः भयावहः ||35||

||Sloka meanings||

विगुणः स्वधर्मः श्रेयान् - though difficult one's own duty is better
स्व अनुष्ठितात् परधर्मात् - the well performed duty of other
स्वधर्मे निधनम् ( मरणम्) श्रेयः - Death performing one's own duty id better.
परधर्मः भयावहः - duty of others is fraught with fear

||Sloka summary||

"Though difficult one's own duty is better than the well performed duty of other. Death performing one's own duty is superior.
Duty of others is fraught with fear ". ||35||

Addressing Arjuna, Krishna is driving point that his own duty, even if it is difficult, is better than any other option. Hence, he must take up the battle. Even death is preferable. Seen as a message beyond Arjuna, it is a fact of life everywhere that doing one's own assigned duty is better than doing someone else duty, while neglecting one's own. This is a simple management principle too.

The Sloka is interpreted in many ways. The word 'स्वधर्म,' could refer to the action regarding own Self, 'परधर्म' is actions with reference to world around us, which we know as actions creating bondage. It is always better to focus on actions related to 'Self' than the actions related to objects around us.

||Sloka 36||

अर्जुन उवाच:

अथ केन प्रयुक्तो अयं पापं चरति पूरुषः।
अनिच्चन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः ||36||

स॥ हे वार्ष्णेय ! अथ अयम् पूरुषः केन प्रयुक्तः अनिच्छन् अपि बलात् नियोजित एव पापम् चरति ?||36||

||Sloka meanings||

अथ अयम् पूरुषः - This man
केन प्रयुक्तः - impelled by what
अनिच्छन् अपि बलात् नियोजित एव - though not wanting to , as though driven by force
पापम् चरति - commits sin

||Sloka summary||

Arjuna said:
"O Krishna, impelled by what, this man commits sin, as though driven by force though not wanting to" ||36||

Path of action is relatively easy to understand and follow. But everybody is not able to follow this. Not only that. People also perform actions that should clearly be avoided. Looking at the world at large many such questions arise. Arjuna is asking why does one commit sin?

That too, 'अनिच्चन्नपि,' even though he is not interested in committing sin.
Not only it is as though somebody is forcefully making him do that, that 'बलादिव नियोजितः'.

Krishna explains.
||Sloka 37||

श्री भगवानुवाच:

काम एष क्रोधएष रजोगुण समुद्भवः |
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् ||37||

स॥ एषः रजोगुण समुद्भवः कामः | एषः (कामः) क्रोधः (भवति) | (एषः) महाशनः महापाप्मा (च) | एनं (कामं) इह वैरिणः विद्धि॥37||

||Sloka meanings||

एषः- This (is)
रजोगुण समुद्भवः कामः - the craving born of Rajo Guna
एषः (कामः) क्रोधः (भवति) - this is anger too
(एषः) महाशनः महापाप्मा (च) -(इदिये) voracious, cause of great sins
एनं (कामं) इह वैरिणः विद्धि - know this as the enemy here.

||Sloka summary||

भगवंतुडु चॆप्पुचुन्नाडु:
"This is craving born of Rajo Guna, this is anger too. Voracious and the cause of great sins.
Know this as the enemy here." ||

Krishna then elaborates why people get pushed to commit sin.
The reason for that is the desire born out of greed of people. This desire, if not satiated, becomes anger.
This desire is the enemy of the liberation.

Being unable to suppress the desire, people commit sin. Thus, desire is the root cause of all evil.
What is the form of this desire?

||Sloka 38||

धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निः यथाऽऽदर्शो मलेन च |
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम् ||38||

स॥ यथा धूमेन अग्नि अव्रियते , (यथा) आदर्शः च मलेन ( अव्रियते) यथा उल्बेन गर्भः आवृतः , तथा तेन ( तत् कामेन) इदं ( आत्मज्ञानम्) आवृतम् || 38||

||Sloka meanings||

यथा धूमेन अग्नि अव्रियते - just as fire is obscured by smoke
(यथा) आदर्शः च मलेन (अव्रियते) - (just as) the mirror is (obscured) by dirt
यथा उल्बेन गर्भः आवृतः -(just as) embryo ( covered) by the womb
तथा तेन ( तत् कामेन) - similarly by this desire
इदं ( आत्मज्ञानम्) आवृतम् - this knowledge is covered.

||Sloka summary||

"Just as fire is obscured by smoke, just as the mirror is (obscured) by dirt, just as the embryo is covered by the womb,
similarly the knowledge is covered by the desire." ||38||

Smoke covers the fire.
Dirt covers the mirror.
Embryo is covered by the womb.
Knowledge is obscured by the desire.

Knowing action, which is not to be done, is knowledge. That knowledge is obscured by desire. So the man commits sin, while the overpowering desire obscures the knowledge. Krishna elaborates some more on the same.

||Sloka 39||

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा |
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च ||39||

स॥हे कौन्तेय ! दुष्पूरेण अनलेन च कामरूपेण ज्ञानिनः नित्य वैरिणा एतेन ज्ञानम् आवृतम् ||39||

||Sloka meanings||

हे कौन्तेय ! दुष्पूरेण अनलेन- O Kaunteya, the insatiable fire
च कामरूपेण - in the form of desire
ज्ञानिनः नित्य वैरिणा - constant enemy of the wise
एतेन ज्ञानम् आवृतम् - the mind is covered by this

||Sloka summary||

"O Kaunteya, the mind is covered by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire,
which is like the insatiable fire." ||39||

Knowledge is obscured by the persistent foe of Knowledge, namely the craving which is like a fire that cannot be quenched.
The desires cannot be quenched. They only grow.
What provides refuge for this craving?

||Sloka 40||

इन्द्रियाणि मनोबुद्धिः अस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते |
एतैर्विमोहयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम् ||40||

स॥ इन्द्रियाणि मनः बुद्धिः अस्य अधिष्ठानं (इति) उच्यते | एषः( कामः) एतैः ( इन्द्रियैः) ज्ञानम् आवृत्य देहिनाम् विमोहयति ||40||

||Sloka meanings||

इन्द्रियाणि मनः बुद्धिः - the sense organs, mind and intellect
अस्य अधिष्ठानं (इति) उच्यते - are said to its abode
एतैः ( इन्द्रियैः) ज्ञानम् आवृत्य - with the help of these veiling the knowledge
एषः( कामः) देहिनाम् विमोहयति - this deludes the embodied being

||Sloka summary||

"The sense organs, mind and intellect are said to its abode. With the help of these this desire veiling the knowledge
deludes the embodied being." ||40||

Sense organs, mind, and intellect are the places that house the craving.
These obscure and delude the embodied man.
So the solution lies in controlling these, which acts as the abode of desire.

||Sloka 41||

तस्मात्त्वमिन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ |
पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञाननाशनम् ||41||

स॥ हे भरतर्षभ ! तस्मात् त्वं आदौ इन्द्रियाणि नियम्य ज्ञान विज्ञान नाशनम् पाप्मानम् एनम्( कामं) हि प्रजहि ||41||

||Sloka meanings||

हे भरतर्षभ ! तस्मात् - O Arjuna, hence
आदौ इन्द्रियाणि नियम्य - First controlling the sense organs
त्वं प्रजहिहि एनम्( कामं) - you renounce this (desire)
पाप्मानम् - which is sinful
ज्ञान विज्ञान नाशनम् - which is the destroyer of knowledge and wisdom

||Sloka summary||

"O Arjuna, hence first controlling the sense organs, you renounce this (desire)
which is sinful, which is the destroyer of knowledge and wisdom." ||41||

The senses are the abode of this desire. Hence control the senses etc.
Throw away the sinful desire as it is destroyer of knowledge and realization.

Krishna now tells how one may control the desire which is at the root of the evil.

||Sloka 42||

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुः इन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः |
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः ||42||

स॥ इन्द्रियाणि पराणि | इन्द्रियेभ्यः मनः परम् | मनसः तु बुद्धिः परा। बुद्धे परतः यः तु सः ( अत्मा) आहुः ||42||

||Sloka meanings||

इन्द्रियाणि पराणि - sense organs are superior to the gross body
इन्द्रियेभ्यः मनः परम् - Mind is superior to the sense organs
मनसः तु बुद्धिः परा- intellect is superior to the mind.
बुद्धे परतः - the one superior to the intellect is
यः तु सः ( अत्मा) आहुः - is said to be he, the Self.

||Sloka summary||

"Sense organs are superior to the gross body.
Mind is superior to the sense organs.
Intellect is superior to the mind.
The one superior to the intellect is said to be he, the Self."||42||

The sensory organs are of higher level of awareness than the body. Mind is at a higher level than the sensory organs. Intellect is at higher plane than the mind. At a higher plane than intellect is the Self or Atman.

Realizing that Self is the greatest of all, and with the help of the Self by controlling the mind and sensory organs,
one can defeat the enemy namely the desire!

||Sloka 43||

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मान मात्मना |
जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूप दुरासदम् || 43||

स॥ हे महाबाहो ! एवं बुद्धेः परं आत्मानं बुद्ध्वा आत्मना ( विवेकबुद्ध्या) आत्मानं संस्तभ्य दुरासदम् कामरूपम् शत्रुं जहि || 43||

||Sloka meanings||

एवं बुद्धेः परं आत्मानं बुद्ध्वा - Thus knowing the Self as superior to intellect
आत्मना ( विवेकबुद्ध्या) आत्मानं संस्तभ्य - restraining the mind with the Self
दुरासदम् कामरूपम् शत्रुं - difficult to control enemy in the form of desire,
जहि- kill him
||Sloka summary||

"O mighty armed one, thus knowing the Self as superior to intellect, restraining the mind with the Self
kill the difficult to control enemy in the form of desire." ||43||

Exhorting Arjuna to overcome Gunas, and exhorting him to defeat the enemy in the form of desire, Krishna ends the teaching of Karma yoga.

What does Karma yoga tell us?

The sum and substance of karma yoga is that both the path of intellect and the path of karma are both established paths of liberation.
For a man of the world lost in the vagaries of the world or even the ignorant, it is not as though there is no path for Moksha. The path of self-less action is the way.

That path of karma yoga requires us to bring an element of equanimity and detachment into our lives.

The daily activities we perform are also to be performed with detachment about the results. Then we are not caught in the web of karma. Otherwise we will be on the age-old path of acquiring merits and demerits with the resultant continued cycle of life and death. Thus, drifting away from the path of liberation.

If we redirect the sensory organs to look inward from the tendency of ever looking outward, then the desire is controlled, and the sensory organs too are under control. The mind should be diverted from the ever-changing visible diversions to the thoughts on self and a stable platform of equanimity and detachment about results. The ego centric thoughts, that we are the doer, should be discarded. All actions must be thought of the result of the power of God with us and offer the results of all actions to God.

The question Arjuna had as to why a man commits sin, is a question that will be on everybody's mind?

Thief knows that he should not commit theft but goes on committing thefts.

That is because of the desires which he is unable to overcome and to fulfil those desires the theft is committed. This tendency is because of the three Gunas namely Rajo, Tamo and Sattva that form basic part of human condition. The dominance of Rajo guna leads to an overpowering dominance of desire.
Does it mean that if these are part of human condition one cannot overcome the same?
The Karma yoga tells us that is not so.

With the discriminating intellect one should recognize the preponderance of undesirable thoughts and actions and choose to come out of that condition with his own will power. Even if discriminating intellect is not there to pinpoint the erroneous tendencies one ought to take council of elders and work on correcting one's path.

Those who try will always have allies.
It is as though God is on their side!

इति भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु
ब्रह्म विद्यायाम् योग शास्त्रे
श्रीकृष्णार्जुन संवादे कर्मयोगोनाम
तृतीयोऽध्यायः |

||ओम् तत् सत् ||