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Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 3 – Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action)

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Chapter 3 : Karma Yoga – The Yoga of Action

Chapter 3 of Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga of Action, establishes the fact by various points of view that the performance of prescribed duties is obligatory for everyone. Here Krishna categorically & comprehensively explains how it is the duty of each and every member of society to carry out their functions and responsibilities in their respective stage of life according to the rules and regulations of the society in which one lives. Further Krishna also explains why such duties must be performed, what benefit is gained by performing them, what harm is caused by not performing them. Plus what actions lead to bondage and what actions lead to salvation. All these points related to duty have been described in much greater details in this chapter. Thus this chapter is entitled: The Yoga of Action of Human Beings or Karma Yoga.

  • Section-1 (Shloka1-8)
    • Performing Duty in detached manner and its rewards
  • Section-2 (Shloka 9-16)
    • Necessity of performing Sacrifices etc.
  • Section-3 (Shloka 17-24)
    • Necessity of performing Action; examples of wise men and that of God.
  • Section-4 (Shloka 25-35)
    • Marks of wise and unwise. Action without attraction and repulsion
  • Section-5 (Shloka 36-43)
    • How to overcome Desire

3.1  Arjuno uvach“jyayasee chetkarmanaste mataa buddhirjanaardana; tatkim karmani ghore maam niyojayasi keshava”

3.1  Arjuna said “Krishna, if you consider knowledge as superior to action, why then do you urge me to this dreadful action, Keshva.

3.2  vyaamishreneva vaakyen buddhim mohayaseeva me; tadekam vad nishchitya yena shreyo- ahamaapnuyaam

3.2 You are, as it were, puzzling my mind by these seemingly involved expressions; therefore, tell me definitely the one discipline by which I may obtain the highest good.

3.3  ShreeBhagwanovach “loke-asmin-dwidhaa nishthaa puraaproktaa mayaanagha; gyan yogen sankhyaanaam karamyogen yoginaam”

3.3  Shree Bhagwan said “Arjuna, in this world two courses of sadhana ( spiritual discipline ) have been enunciated by Me in the past. In the case of Sankhya-yogi, the Sadhana proceeds along the path of Knowledge; whereas in the case of Karam-yogi, it proceeds along the path of Action.

3.4  na cha karmanaam-anaarambhaanaishkarmyam purusho-ashnute; na cha sannyasanaadev sidhim samadhigachchati

3.4  Man does not attain freedom from action (culmination of discipline of action) without entering upon action; nor does he reach perfection ( culmination of discipline of knowledge ) merely by ceasing to act.

3.5  na hi kashchit-khyanam-api jatu tishthityakaramkrit; kaaryate hi avashah karam sarvah prakriti-jairgunaih

3.5  Surely none can ever remain inactive even for a moment; for everyone is helplessly driven to action by nature-born qualities

3.6  karamendriyani sayame-ya ya aaste mansaa smaran; indriyaarthan-vimudhaatmaa mithyaachaaraah sa uchyate

3.6  He who outwardly restraining the organs of sense and action, sits mentally dwelling on the objects of senses, that man of deluded intellect is called a hypocrite.

3.7  yaastavindriyani manasaa niyamya-aarabhate-arjuna; karmendri-aihkaramyogam-aasktah sa vishishyate

3.7  On the other hand, he who controlling the organs of sense and action by the power of his will, and remaining unattached, undertakes the yoga of action through those organs, Arjuna, he excels.

3.8  niyatam kuru karma tvam karma jyaayo hiyakarmanah; shreer-yatraapi cha te na prasidhyed-karmanah

3.8  Therefore, you do perform your allotted duty; for action is superior to inaction. Desisting from action, you can not even maintain your body.

3.9 yagyaarthat-karmano-anyatra loko-ayam karma-bandhanah; tadartham karma kauntey m8ktasangah samaachara

3.9 Man is bound by his own actions except when it is performed for the sake of sacrifice. Therefore, Arjuna, do perform your duty efficiently, free from attachment, for the sake of sacrifice alone.

3.10 sahyagyaah prajaah srishtaa purovaacha prajaaapatih; anen pravishyadhvamesha vo-astvasht-kaamdhuk

3.10 Having created mankind along with ( the spirit of ) sacrifice at the beginning of the creation, creator, the Brahma, said to them , ” You shall prosper by this; may this yield the enjoyment you seek. ”

3.11 devaan-bhavyataanen te devaa bhavyantu vah; prasparam-bhaavyantah shryah param-avaapasytha

3.11 ” Foster the gods through this (sacrifice), and let the gods be gracious to you . Each fostering other disinterestedly, you will attain the highest good.”

3.12 ishtaan-bhogaan-ih vo devaa daasyante yagyabhavitah; tair-dattaan-apradaayaibhyo yo bhukhshte sten aiv sah

3.12 “Fostered by sacrifice, the gods will surely bestow on you unasked all the desired enjoyments.” He who enjoys the gifts bestowed by them, without giving them in return, is undoubtedly a thief.

3.13 yagya shishtaashinah santo muchyante sarvakilbiaih; bhunjante te tvagham paapaa ye pachantyaatmkaarnaat

3.13 The virtuous who partakes of what is left over after sacrifice, are absolved of all sins. Those sinful ones who cook for the sake of nourishing their body alone eat only sin.

3.14 annaad-bhavanti bhootaani parjanyaad-annasambhava; yagyaatbhavati parjanyo yagyah karmasamudbhavah

3.14 All being are evolved from food; production of food is dependent on rain; rain ensues from sacrifice; and

3.15 karma brahmodbhavam vidhi brahmaakhshar-samudbhavam; tasmaat-sarvagatam brahma nityam yagye pratishtam

3.15 sacrifice is rooted in prescribed action. Know that prescribed action has its origin in the Vedas, and the Vedas proceed from the Indestructible (God); hence the all pervading Infinite is always present in sacrifice.

3.16 aivam parivartitam chakram nanuvartyateeh ya; aghaayur-indryaaraamo mogham paarathah sa jeevati

3.16 Arjuna, he who does not follow the wheel of creation thus set going in this world (i.e., does not perform his duties); sinful and sensual, he lives in vain.

3.17 yastvaatmaaratir-aiv syaadaataatma-tripatashcha maanavah; aatmaniyeva ch santushtas-tasya kaaryam na vidyte

3.17 He however who takes delight in the Self alone and is gratified with the Self, and is contented in Self has no duty.

3.18 naiv tasya kritenaartho naakriteneh kashchna; na chaasya sarvabhooteshu kashchidarth-vyapaashryah

3.18 In this world that great soul has no use whatsoever for things done nor for the things not done; nor has he selfish dependence of any kind on any creature.

3.19 tasmaadasaktah satatam karyam karma samaachara; asakto hiyacharankarma parmaapnoti poorushah

3.19 Therefore, go on efficiently doing your duty without attachment. Doing work without attachment man attains the Supreme.

3.20 karmanaiv hi sansidhim-aasthitaa janakaadayah; loksangraham-evapi sampashyan-kurtum-arhasi

3.20 It is through action ( without attachment ) alone that ‘Janak’ and other wise men reached perfection. Having an eye to maintenance of world order too you should take to action.

3.21 yadyadaacharti shreshthas-tat-tadevetaro janah; sa yat-pramaanam kurutelokas-tadanuvartate

3.21 For whatever a great man does, that very thing other men also do; whatever standards he sets up, the generality of men follow the same.

3.22 na me parathaasti kartavyamtrishu lokeshu kinchina; naan-avaaptam-avaaptavyam varta aiv cha karmani

3.22 Arjuna, there is nothing in all the three worlds for Me to do, nor is there anything worth attaining unattained by Me, yet I continue to work.

3.23 yadi hiyaham na varteyam jaatu karmaniyatindrtah; mam vartmaanuvartante manushyaah paaratha sarvashah

3.23 Should I not engage in action, scrupulously at any time, great harm will come to the world; for, Arjuna, men follow My way in all matters.

3.24 utseedeyurime lokaa na kuryaam karma chedaham; sankarasya cha kartaa syaam-uphanyaam-imaah prajah

3.24 If I cease to act, these worlds will perish; nay, I should prove to be the cause of confusion, and of the destruction of these people.

3.25 saktaah karmaniyavidvaanso yathaa kurvati bharataa; kuryaad-vidvanastathaa-asaktashchikeershur-loksangraham

3..25 Arjuna, as the unwise act with attachment, so should the wise man, seeking maintenance of the word order, act without attachment.

3.26 na bhudhibhedam janyedgyaanaam karma-sanginaam; joshayet-sarvakarmaani vidvaanuktah samaacharan

3.26 A wise man established in self should not unsettle the mind of ignorant attached to action, but should get them to perform all their duties, duly performing his own duties.

3.27 prikriteh kriya-maanaani gunai karmaani sarvashah; ahankaar-vimoodaatmaa kaartaahamiti manyte

3.27 All actions are being performed by the modes of Prakriti (Primordial Matter). The fool, whose mind is deluded by egoism, thinks:” I am the doer ”

3.28 tatvittu mahaabaho gun-karma-vibhaagyoh; gunaa guneshu vatanta iti matvaa na sajjate

3.28 He, however, who has true insight into the respective spheres of Gunas and their actions , holding that it is the Gunas ( in the shape of the senses, mind, etc. ) that move among the Gunas ( objects of perception ), does not get attached to them.

3.29 prakiter-guna-samoodah sajjante gunakarmasu; taan-akritsanvido mandaan-kritsan-vinna vichaalyet

3.29 Those who are completely deluded by the Gunas ( modes ) of Prakriti remain attached to these Gunas and actions; the man of perfect knowledge should not unsettle the mind of those insufficiently knowing fools.

3.30 mayi sarvaani karmaani sanyasya-aadhyaatma-chetasaa; niraasheer-nirmamo bhootvaa yudhasva vigatajvarah

3.30 Therefore, dedicating all actions to Me with your mind fixed on Me, the Self of all, freed from hope and the feeling of meum and cured of mental fever , fight.

3.31 ye me matam-idam nityam-anutishthanti maanavaah; shradhaanavanto-anasuyanto muchyante te-api karmabhih

3.31 Even those men who, with an un cavilling and devout mind, always follow this teaching of Mine are released from bondage of all actions.

3.32 ye tvetad-abhyasuyanto nau tishtham me matam; sarvagyan-vimoodans-taanvidhi nashtaan-chetasaah

3.32 They, however, who, finding fault with this teaching of Mine, do not follow it, take those fools to be deluded in the matter of all knowledge, and lost.

3.33 sadrisham cheshtate svasyah prakriter-gyaanvan-api; prakritam yaanti bhootaani nigrahah kim karashyati

3.33 All living creatures follow their tendencies; even the wise man acts according to the tendencies of his own nature. Of what use is any external restraint ?

3.34 indriyasya-indriyasya-aarthe raag-dvaishau vyvasthitau; tayorna vashamaagachchet-tau hiyasya paaripanthinau

3.34 Attraction and repulsion are all rooted in all sense objects. Man should never allow himself to be swayed by them, because they are the two principal enemies standing in the way of his redemption.

3.35 shre-aan-swadharmo vigunah pardharmaat-swanushishthataat; swadharme nidhinam shre-ayh pardharmo bhayawhah”

3.35 One’s own duty, though devoid of merit, is preferable to the duty of another well performed. Even death in performance of one’s own duty brings blessedness; another’s duty is fraught with fear.

3.36 Arjuno uvach “ath ken pryukto-ayam paapam charti purushah; anichchannapi vaarne-ya balaadiv niyojitah”

3.36 Arjuna said “Now impelled by what, Krishna, does this man commit sin even involuntarily, as though driven by force?

3.37 ShreeBhagwanovach “kaam esh krodh esha rajoguna-samudbhava; mahaashno mahaapaapma vidhi-ainam-ih vairinam”

3.37 Shree Bhagwan said “It is desire begotton of the element of Rajas, which appears as wrath; nay, it is the insatiable and grossly wicked. Know this to be the enemy in this case.”

3.38 dhoomenaavriyte vahniyarthaadarsho malen cha; yatholben-aavrito garbhastathaa tenedam-aavritam

3.38 As a flame is covered by smoke, mirror by dirt, and embryo by the amnion, so is Knowledge covered by it ( desire ).

3.39 aavritim gyaanametenagyanino nityavairinaa; kaam-rupen kauntey dushpoorenaanalen cha

3.39 And, Arjuna, Knowledge stands covered by this eternal enemy of the wise, known as desire, which is insatiable like fire.

3.40 indriyaani mano-bidhirasya-adhishtaanam-uchyate; aitee vimohayatyeshah gyaanamaavritya dehanaam

3.40 The senses, the mind and the intellect are declared to be its seat; screening the light of Truth through these; it (desire) deludes the embodied soul.

3.41 tasmaat-tvam-indriyaaniyaadau niyamya bharatarshabha; paapmaanam prajhi hyonam gyaan-vigyaan-naashanam

3.41 Therefore, Arjuna, you must first control your senses, and then kill this evil thing which obstructs ‘janana ‘ (Knowledge of Absolute and Nirguna Brahma) and ‘ vijananan ‘ (Knowledge of Saakara Brahma or manifest Divinity)

3.42 indriyaani praanayaahur-indriyebhyah param manah; manasastu praa bhudhiryo bhudheh paratastu sah

3.42 The senses are said to be greater than body ; but greater than the senses is the mind. Greater than the mind is the intellect; and what is greater than intellect is He ( the Self ).

3.43 evam bhudhe param bhudhvaa sansatabhya-aatmaanam-aatmanaa; jahi shatrum mahaabaho kaamroopam duraasadam

3.43 Thus, Arjuna, knowing that which is higher than the intellect and subduing the mind by reason, kill this enemy in the form of desire that is hard to overcome.

iti

om tat-sat-iti shree-mad-bhagwat-geetasupnishatsu

brahm-vidyaayaam yog-shastre

shree-krishna-arjun-samvade

karma-yogo

naam trityo-adhyayh ||3||

End

Thus in the Upanishad sung by the Lord, the Science of Brahma, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Shree Krishna and Arjuna, ends the Third chapter entitled ” Karma yoga or the Yoga of Action. “

 

5 thoughts on “Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 3 – Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action)

  1. Pingback: Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 4 – Transcendental knowledge (Gyan Yoga) « For Whatever It's Worth…

  2. Pingback: Karma Yoga — The Way of Work (part of the 4 Yogas of Hinduism series!) « TiltedCandle

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