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Conversation 3. Karma Yoga
 

Bhagavad Gita/Conversation 3. Karma Yoga


Conversation 3.
Karma Yoga

Arjuna said:

3:1. If You say, O Janardana, that the path of knowledge is superior to the path of action, then why do You encourage me to do such a terrible action?

3:2 Your ambiguous words confuse me! Tell me certainly: how can I attain bliss?

Lord Krishna said:

3:3 There are two possibilities of development, as I have said already, O sinless one: the Yoga of consideration and the Yoga of right action.

3:4. Man does not attain liberation from the chains of destiny by refusing action; by renunciation alone, one does not ascend to Perfection.

3:5. No one can stay truly actionless even for a moment, for the properties of prakriti compel all to act!

3:6. The one who has mastered control over the indriyas, but still dreams about earthly objects, — such one deludes oneself. Such a person can be likened to a hypocrite!

3:7. But the one who has conquered the indriyas and freely performs Karma Yoga deserves respect!

3:8. Therefore, perform righteous actions, for action is better than inaction; being idle, one cannot support even one’s own body!

3:9. Worldly people are enslaved by action if it is not performed as sacrifice*. Perform your action as an offering to God, staying free from the attachment to everything worldly, O Kaunteya!

3:10. God created humankind together with the law of sacrifice. He said at that, “Prosper through sacrificial deeds! Let it be desired by you!

3:11. “Satisfy the Divine with your sacrificial deeds — and It will satisfy you! By acting for Its sake, you will achieve the highest good.

3:12. “For the Divine satisfied with your sacrificial deeds will grant you whatever you need in life.” The one, who receives gifts and gives no gifts in return, is verily a thief!

3:13. The righteous who live on the remains of their sacrificial gifts to God are liberated from sins. But those who are anxious only about their own food — they feed on sin!

3:14. Thanks to the food, the bodies of creatures grow. The food arises from rain. The rain arises from sacrifice*. Sacrifice is performance of right action.

3:15. Know that the realization of people’s destinies is performed by Brahman. And Brahman represents the Supreme. Omnipresent Brahman always supports sacrificial behavior in people!

3:16. The one who does not follow this law of sacrifice-requital, whose life therefore is full of sin, who lives following only sensual pleasures — such one lives in vain, O Partha!

3:17. Only they, who have found joy and peace in the Atman and are happy in the Atman, are free from the earthly duties.

3:18. They have no duties of doing or non-doing something in this world anymore, and in no creature they seek patronage for realization of their purposes.

3:19. Therefore, ceaselessly perform your duties without any expectation of reward. Verily, performing action thus does man attain the Supreme!

3:20. Verily, it is through such action that Janaka and others attained Perfection! So, you too act so, remembering about the wholeness of the universe!

3:21. What the best one is doing, the others are doing as well: people follow such an example.

3:22. There is nothing, O Partha, in the three worlds that I am required to do or that I have not achieved! Yet, I am constantly engaged in action.

3:23. For, if I had not been always acting, O Partha, then people everywhere would follow My example!

3:24. The world would be destroyed if I had ceased to act! I would be the cause of mixture of the varnas and destruction of the nations.

3:25. The unwise one acts out of selfishness, O Bharata! The wise one acts without selfishness, for the good of others!

3:26. The wise one should not confuse unwise people attached to worldly activity! The wise one should rather try to bring such activity into harmony with Me.

3:27. All actions arise from the three gunas. But the one deluded by conceit thinks: “I am the doer!”.

3:28. The one who knows the essence of discrimination of actions according to the gunas and remembers that “gunas move around in gunas” — such one gets liberated from worldly activity.

3:29. People deluded by the gunas are attached to the matters of these gunas. The wise one does not disturb such people whose understanding is not complete yet and who are lazy.

3:30. Let Me control all actions, and you, immersed into the Atman, calm, free from selfishness and conceit, — fight, O Arjuna!

3:31 They who steadily follow My Teachings, who are full of devotion and free from envy — they can never be bound by their deeds!

3:32. And those insane who revile My Teachings and do not follow them, who are devoid of understanding — know that they are doomed!

3:33. Wise people seek to live in harmony with the world of prakriti. All incarnate creatures are included in it! What can opposition to prakriti give?

3:34. Attraction and distraction to (earthly) objects depend on the distribution of indriyas. Yield neither to the former nor to the latter: verily, these states are obstacles on the Path!

3:35. To perform one’s own duties, even very modest ones, is better than to perform other’s duties, even the grandest ones. It is better to end the incarnation performing one’s own dharma: the dharma of others is full of danger!

Arjuna said:

3:36 What drives people to commit sin against their own will, O Varshneya? Truly, it looks as if they are impelled by some unknown force!

Lord Krishna said:

3:37. It is sexual passion, it is anger — scions of the insatiable, sinful guna rajas. Study them — one’s greatest enemies on the Earth!

3:38 As a flame can be veiled by smoke, as a mirror can be covered by dust, as an embryo is enveloped in the amnion, even so everything in the world is enshrouded in passions!

3:39. The wisdom too is enshrouded by this eternal enemy of wisdom — by one’s worldly desires, which are insatiable as flame!

3:40. The indriyas, including the mind and buddhi, are the field of its action. Through them, having enshrouded the wisdom, it deludes the indweller of the body.

3:41. Therefore, controlling your indriyas, O best of the Bharatas, restrain this source of sin — the foe of knowledge and the destroyer of wisdom!

3:42. They say that control over the indriyas is good. The highest of the indriyas are the indriyas of the mind. But the developed consciousness is superior to the mind. And superior to a developed (individual human) consciousness is He!

3:43. Knowing that He is superior to the developed (human) consciousness and being established in the Atman, destroy, O mighty-armed, this enemy in the form of the hard-to-conquer desire of earthly boons.


Thus in the Upanishads of the blessed Bhagavad Gita, the Science of Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga, says the third conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna, entitled:

Karma Yoga.

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