Chapter 3 !

Karma Yoga Summary

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 नियोजसि केशव || 1 ||'

'Oh Krishna! if you think Buddhi Yoga is better than Karma yoga' -'बुद्धिः कर्मणा ज्यायसी चेत्'-,
then why are you deploying me into this terrible action (battle)?

The reason for this question is what Krishna said 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 the control of sensory organs.
Saying अपूर्वमाण अचल प्रतिष्ठं /
समुद्रमापः प्रविशन्ति यद्वत्
Krishna elaborates that the one of firm conviction is not affected by multitude of thoughts pouring in.
Saying "एषा ब्राह्मी स्ठितिः,Ó such a one reaches the state of Brahman

These elaborations on Sthitapragnya,
control of sensory organs using intellect and attaining the state of Brahman may 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 hear Krishna say very clearly,
(हतोवा प्राप्यसे स्वर्गं जित्वावा भोक्ष्यसे महीम्।)
तस्मादुत्तुष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृत निश्चयः |(2-37)

(सुखदुःखे समेकृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ)
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्यसि ( 2-38)

Finally saying' कर्मण्येवाधिकारः ते' -
'Your concern shall be with action alone'
and adding' Let your attachment be not with no action,'
he told Arjuna in no uncertain terms where Arjuna's action 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 troubles Arjuna's mind.

This is truly 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!

व्यामिश्रेणेव वाक्येन बुद्धिं मोहयसीव मे।
तदेकं वद निश्चित्य येन श्रेयोऽहमाप्नुयाम्॥3-02||

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:
लोकेस्मिन् द्विविधा निष्ठा
पुरा प्रोक्ता मयानघ |
ज्ञानयोगेन सांख्यानां
कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम् || 3.03||

' 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 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 his having not done any undesirable actions,
one may think of not doing any action.

Thus, a thought of renunciation of action itself may arise to be free.
This is clearly negated by Krishna.

न कर्मणां अनारम्भा
नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते।
न च सन्न्यसना देव
सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति॥ 3.04||

न कर्मणां अनारम्भा -without starting on the path of Karma
नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते - one cannot attain that state of freedom from works ( Moksha)
न च सन्न्यसना देव - by mere renunciation of works
सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति - one will not achieve liberation.

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).

Krishna also says that physically giving up action is impossible. why?

न हि कश्चि क्षणमपि
जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत्।
कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म
सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः॥2.05||

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 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 senses.
That is elaborated further,

कर्मेन्द्रियणि संयम्य
य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन्।
इन्द्रियार्थान् विमूढात्मा
मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते॥ 2.06||

कर्मेन्द्रियणि संयम्य - controlling the senses ( of action)
य आस्ते मनसा स्मरन्। - the one who lets his mind dwell on subjects of its interest
विमूढात्मा - that ... person!
मिथ्याचारः स उच्यते॥ - he is called a hypocrite !

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

यस्त्विंद्रियाणि मनसा
कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगम्
असक्तः स विशिष्यते || 3.07)||

यस्त्विंद्रियाणि मनसा नियम्या -- controlling the senses with his mind
कर्मेन्द्रियैः कर्मयोगम् असक्तः - and perform actions without attachment
विशिष्यते - that one excels !

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

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

So, Karma is to be done.
So, what kind of Karma?
- "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
or the action that pleases the Paramatman
or pleases your own higher self or the noble instincts.

This is elaborated in the next Sloka

नियतं कुरु कर्मत्वं
कर्मज्यायो ह्यकर्मणः।
शरीर यात्रापि च ते
न प्रसिध्येत् अकर्मणः || 3.08||
Always perform prescribed actions.
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".
Which is also true at all times.
Krishna says - "Even normal progress of the body requires actions".

Hence Karma is to be performed.

The slokas 3.4-8 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 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 clearly.

Slokas 3.9-16 advance more reasons for one to follow the path of action.
Reasons are valid for those ignorant of self and 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

यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणोऽन्यत्र
लोकोऽयं कर्म बन्धनः।
तदर्थं कर्म कौन्तेय
मुक्तः सङ्गः समाचर॥3-09||

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

यज्ञार्थात् कर्मणः
The sacrifices are meant for the Supreme being.
Vedas say "यज्ञो वै विष्णुःÓ (Taittariya Samhita). Sacrifices are God.
They do not create bondage.
अन्यत्र , the other actions ( other than यज्ञा ) bind the people.

In the parlance of our ancestors such Karma offered is a Yagnyam.
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 - simplification of concept of Yagnya

The acts of worship performed with focus on the gaining heaven etc
as results to be acquired by such worship may be erroneously called Yagnyam.
Such Yagnas bind that person to this world. (3.09)

सहयज्ञाः प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा
पुरोवाच प्रजापतिः।
अनेन प्रसविष्यध्वं
एषवोऽस्त्विष्ठ कामधुक् || 3.10||

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 the "feeling of service" has been enabled in the beings created.
The beings are also created with capacity of service"
Intent at the creation was this feeling of service
enable the beings for service,
and that service performed acts like a Kamadhenu for all concerned.

Krishna continues the elaboration along the same lines further

ते देवा भावयस्तु वः।
परस्परं भावयन्तः
श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ॥ 3.11||

"By means of this sacrifice nourish the Devas.
They in turn nourish you.
Mutually nourishing may you win the Supreme good"

Here while saying "Prajapati said " etc,
Krishna is presenting past (puraa) in support of Karma Yoga.
With the spirit of Sacrifice (Yajnya) 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.

इष्टान् भोगान् हि वो देवा
दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः।
तैः दत्तान् अप्रदायैभ्यो
यो भुङ्ते स्तेन एव सः॥3.12||

"The Devas nourished by sacrifices will give you the riches you seek.
The one who enjoys those riches without sharing with Devas is surely a thief".

This is a common philosophy.
Krishna by recounting is reminding!

यज्ञशिष्ठाशिनः सन्तो
मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः।
भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा
ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात्॥3.13||

मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषैः - freed from all sins.
who is freed from all sins?
यज्ञशिष्ठाशिनः - Those who take "part of the remains after offering in Sacrifice", or
those share the riches that were obtained as part of the "services rendered"

The others who cook for their own sake live on their sins.
It is 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:

" अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि
पर्जन्यात् अन्नसंभवः |
यज्ञात् भवति पर्जन्यो
यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः"॥(3.14)

" Beings are born from food;
Food is produced from rain;
Rain is produced from Yagnyam;
Yagnyam happens through action ".

He further adds that action emanates from Brahman.

कर्मब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि
ब्रह्माक्षर समुद्भवम्।
तस्मात् सर्वगतं ब्रह्म
नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम्॥ 3-15||

कर्मब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि -
Karma is born of Brahman.
Vedas as Shrutis are the word of Brahman,
It is as though Karma is born out of Vedas.
ब्रह्म अक्षर समुद्भवम् - Brahma is born out of Imperishable.
तस्मात् सर्वगतं ब्रह्म - So the all-pervading Brahman
नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् - is established in Sacrifice ( यज्ञ ).

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

So, know that this Karma is born of Vedas
and that Vedas are born of Brahman the imperishable reality.
Therefore, the all-pervading Veda is eternally rooted in Sacrificial work.

So, the action which drives yagna (in the sense of Service), that action emanates from Brahman.
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 Yagnyam.
This is a cycle of the nature.

एवं प्रवर्तितं चक्रं
नानुवर्तयतीह यः।
मोघं पार्थ स जीवति॥3-16)||

The one who performs sacrifice focused on results is the one who breaks this cycle.
The life of one who does not follow this cycle
meaning the one who continues to perform sacrifices with focus on results,
such a one is a sinner. He lives wasted life.

अघायुरिन्द्रियारामो - a sinner who revels in pleasures of the life.
मोघं पार्थ स जीवति - Partha, he lives a wasted life.

Does everybody need to perform action or Karma?
Who is freed from the duty of having to perform Karma for liberation?

यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यात्
आत्मतृप्तश्च मानवः।
आत्मन्येव च संतुष्ठः
तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते॥3-17||

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.
तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते!

Those who have attained the knowledge of 'Self' as well as
those who having understood 'Self' and
those who are travelling the path of intellect,
such people have no need for action.
They need not follow this path of action.

Why? It is answered again.

नैव तस्य कृतेनार्थो
नाकृते नेह कश्चन।
न चास्य सर्व भूतेषु
कश्छिदर्थ व्यपाश्रयः॥3-18||

For 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).

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 Karma only.

Krishna reiterates that in the next Sloka.

तस्मादसक्तः सततं
कार्यं कर्म समाचर।
असक्तो ह्याचरन् कर्म
परमाप्नोति पूरुषः॥ 3-19||

That path to be followed in karma yoga is also clear.

तस्मात्- hence
असक्तः - without attachment
असक्तः सततंकार्यं कर्म समाचर।
The Karma is to be always performed without desire for the fruits of the action.
असक्तो ह्याचरन् कर्म - performing action without attachment
Following that path of Nishkama Karma, one attains Moksha (3.19).

When one proposes a plan of action to achieve a goal,
one would wonder if there is a prior case of success?!
So natural corollary would be
"Are there people who attained moksha following this path of Nishkama Karma?"

कर्मणैवहि संसिद्धिं
आस्थिता जनकादयः।
संपश्यन् कर्तुमर्हसि॥3.20||

Krishna clarifies this too by saying that King Janaka and others attained Moksha by performing Nishkama karma!
others here refer to Ambarisha, Prahlada, Bhagiratha, Ikshwaku etc

If it is assumed that they attained Moksha because of Prarabda Karma -
then they needed to do no more (because of Prarabda Karma).
They could have renounced karma.
But the fact of the matter is that they continued to be involved in Karma without seeking results.
They continued to be involved in action to promote - लोकसंग्रह - world welfare.

Hare Krishna urges Arjuna to follow King Janaka and others,
and be involved in karma to promote the welfare of all.

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

यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठः तत्तदेवेतरो जनः।
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकः तदनुवर्तते॥ 3-21||

"यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठः"
Whatever a great man does, the others follow that.
Whatever he sets up as the standard (प्रमाणं) that the rest follow'(3.21)

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

नमे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किंचन।
नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि॥3-22||

"O Partha! there is no action that needs to be performed by me in the three worlds".
There is nothing I could not get, nor is there anything I need to get".

But then he is always involved in action why?
That is answered in the next sloka

यदि ह्यहं न वर्तेयं जातु कर्मण्यतन्द्रितः।
ममवर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः॥3-23||

"If I do not act appropriately in the matters of Karma,
then people follow my path"
"ममवर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते" - "people follow the path I follow"

Here, Krishna is referring to the adage 'यथा राजा तथा प्रजा.'

If those in power do not act as required and
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

उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका
न कुर्यां कर्मचेदहम्।
संकरस्य च कर्ता स्या
मुपहन्यामिमाः प्रजाः॥3-24||

न कुर्यां कर्मचेदहम् - if I do not work
उत्सीदेयुरिमे लोका - the worlds will perish.

"If I do not work the worlds will perish
I may cause confusion and ruin these living beings".

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो
यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत।
कुर्याद्विद्वां स्तथाऽसक्तः

यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत।
Bharata - just as the ignorant work with attachment to results,

विद्वां स्तथाऽसक्तः
So should wise work unattached,
seeking the worlds integration.

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.

न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेद्
अज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् |
जोषयेत् सर्वकर्माणि
विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन् ||3.26||

अज्ञानां न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेद् - for the ignorant do not try to bewilder his mind ( by trying to teach).
It says that you do not stop those involved in fruit-oriented Karma and enjoying the fruits of that Karma
and preach them the importance of Nishkama karma.

विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन् ||
The learned one will set an example by himself performing Nishkama karma and letting them learn by observing him (3.26).
If they follow the path of Nishkama karma on their own by seeing the example of the leaders there is nothing like it.

why is it that the ignorant one acts the way he does?
Krishna traces it the preponderance of one nature because of "tamas rajo sattva Guna's.

प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि
गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः।
अहंकार विमूडात्मा
कर्ताहम् इति मन्यते||3.27

"All actions are due to the nature modified by the three Gunas 'Sattva' 'Rajo' and 'Tamas'.
These three Gunas ingrained in all drive's actions of all.
The ignorant one performs the action thinking that 'he' is the owner of those actions (3.27).

तत्त्व वित्तु महाबाहो
गुणकर्म विभागयोः।
गुणागुणेषु वर्तन्त
इति मत्त्वा न सज्जते॥3.28||

Knowing the truth of the interaction of the Gunas,
The wise one keeps himself away from attachments thinking "the Gunas acts among themselves" (3.28).

What does he do when he sees the ignorant one?

सज्जन्ते गुणकर्मसु।
तान् अकृत्स्न विदो मन्दान्

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 (2.26)
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 be 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.

Krishna tells Arjuna:
मयि सर्वाणि कर्माणि
सन्न्यस्याध्यात्म चेतसा॥
"निराशीः निर्ममो भूत्वा
युद्ध्यस्व विगतज्वरः॥ (3.30)

"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.

To give the top place for Nishkama karma,
Krishna declares it as his philosophy in the next sloka.

"ये मे मतम् इदं
नित्यं अनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः।
श्रद्धावन्तो अनसूयन्तो
मुच्यंते ते अपि कर्मभिः "||3.31||

" The people who always follow this, my philosophy, diligently and without aversion
such people 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 says
"येतु एतदभ्यसूयन्तो न अनुतिष्टन्ति मे मतं।
सर्वज्ञान विमूढांस्तान् विद्धि नष्टान् अचेतसः॥ 3.32||

येतु एतदभ्यसूयन्तो those who dislike this
न अनुतिष्टन्ति मे मतं not follow my philosophy
तान् विद्धि - know them as
अचेतसः - without intellect
सर्वज्ञान विमूढान् - foolish people devoid of all knowledge
नष्टान् - useless people.

Why they do not like this philosophy.
Because they are not able to overcome Gunas.
We hear that in the next Sloka:

सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेः ज्ञानवानपि।
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति॥

ज्ञानवानपि स्वस्याः प्रकृतेः सदृशं चेष्टते !
Even a man of wisdom acts according his own nature.
प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि
Beings follow their nature.
निग्रहः किं करिष्यति
What can restraint do (if it is not applied)?

So what is to be done?
Answer- use restraint.
Krishna says,

इन्द्रियस्य इन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ।
तयोः न वशमागच्छेत् तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ॥ 3.34||

Senses have attachment and aversion to their objects
तयोः न वशम् आगच्छेत् - donor fall for them.
तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ- they are ones enemies !

how to overcome them?
Follow your own duty (स्वधर्म)

In performing action following one's own duty is better than following somebody else's duty.

श्रेयान् स्वधर्मो विगुणः परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः परधर्मो भयावहः ||3.35||

' Better to follow one's own duty though devoid of merit,
than the duty of another well discharged.
Better is death in one's own duty. The duty of another is fraught with fear'.

The Karma yoga is easy to understand and even to follow.
But everybody is not able to follow the path even after knowing everything.
More importantly people knowingly follow the path of sin.
Why do they do that? That is a question that would boggle the minds of most.

Arjuns asks the same:
अथकेन प्रयुक्तो अयं पापं चरति पूरुषः |
अनिच्चन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः॥ 3.36||

'अथकेन प्रयुक्तो अयं पापं चरति पूरुषः'
'Why people are pushed to committing sin?'(3.36)
That too 'अनिच्चन्नपि,' even though he is not interested in committing sin.
Not only that 'बलादिव नियोजितः,' it is as though somebody is forcefully making him do that.

Krishna has the answer;
काम् एष क्रोध एष रजोगुण समुद्भवः।
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्धि एनं इह वैरिणं॥3.37||

Krishna then elaborates why people get pushed to commit sin
एषः रजोगुण समुद्भवः काम:
- The reason for that is the "desire" born out of greed of people
एषः क्रोधः
- This desire becomes anger.
एनं इह वैरिणम् विद्धि-
Know this (the desire) as the enemy of the liberation (3.37)

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

धूमेना व्रियते वह्निः यथाऽऽदर्शो मलेन च।
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भः तथा तेनेदं आवृतम्॥3.38||
धूमेना व्रियते वह्निः smoke covers the fire
अदर्शः मलेन च - dirt covers mirror
यथा उल्बेनावृतो गर्भः embryo is covered by the womb
knowledge is obscured by the desire

आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्य वैरिणा।
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च ॥3.39||

Knowledge is obscured, by the persistent foe of Knowledge namely the craving, which is like a fire that cannot be quenched

What houses this craving?

इन्द्रियाणि मनोबुद्धिः अस्याधिष्ठानमुच्यते।
एतैः विमोचयत्येष ज्ञानमावृत्य देहिनम्॥3.40||

Senses mind and intellect (इन्द्रियाणि मनः, बुद्धिः) are the places that house the craving.
With these they obscure and delude the embodied man.

तस्मात् त्वं इन्द्रियाण्यादौ नियम्य भरतर्षभ।
पाप्मानं प्रजहि ह्येनं ज्ञानविज्ञान नाशनम्॥3.41||

तस्मात् Hence.
you control the senses etc.
पाप्मानं ( एनं) प्रजहि - throw away the sinful desire.
ज्ञानविज्ञान नाशनम् - it is destroyer of knowledge and realization.

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

इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुः इन्दियेभ्यः परं मनः।
मनसस्तु पराबुद्धिः यो बुद्धेः परतस्तु सः॥3.42||

इन्द्रियाणि पराणि
- The sensory organs are of higher level of awareness than the body
इन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनः
- Mind is at a higher level than the sensory organs.
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिः
- Intellect is at higher plane than the mind
बुद्धेः परतः सः
- At a higher plane than intellect is the Self or Atman.

Realizing that self is the greatest of all, and through the self-controlling the mind and sensory organs,
one can defeat the enemy namely the desire!

एवं बुद्धेः परं बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना।
जहि शतृम् महबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम् ||

Oh Mahabahoi! defeat the enemy in the form of desire! (3.43)

Thus, Krishna ends the teaching of Karma yoga to Arjuna exhorting him to overcome Gunas.

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.
Even the daily activities we perform are also 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
and the resultant continuing cycle of life and death drifting away from the path of liberation.

If we redirect the sensory organs to look inward from the ever outward looking tendency,
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 as to the results.

The ego centric thoughts that we are the doer,
should be discarded and all actions must be 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? T
he 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!

|| om tat sat ||

एवं बुद्धेः पर बुद्ध्वा संस्तभ्यात्मानमात्मना।
जहि शत्रुं महाबाहो कामरूपं दुरासदम्॥
'Thus, understanding the self to be superior to intellect,
and completely establishing the self in spiritual absorption,
oh Arjuna! vanquish the enemy in the form of desire
which is difficult to subdue with the help of mind'.
|| om tat sat ||