jyāyasī cet karmaṇas te matā buddhir janārdana,
tat kim karmaṇi ghore mām niyojayasi keśava (3.1)
3.1 – Arjun said, “0 Janardan, if you think knowledge superior to action, why do you, O Keshav, ask me to engage in fearsome action?”
“Janardan” is one who is merciful to his people. So Arjun is hopeful that Sri Krishn will enlighten him on why he is prompting him to adopt the dreadful way. Arjun finds the way frightening because on this way he has only the right to act, but without entitlement at any time to the rewards of his action. There should also be no loss of dedication and, with constant submission and his eyes fixed on the way, he has to be incessantly engaged in the task.
Has not Sri Krishn promised him that following the Way of Knowledge, he will in the case of victory attain to the Supreme Spirit, whereas even in the event of defeat he will be privileged to lead a godly life? Moreover, he has to proceed on the way only after a due evaluation of his assets and liabilities.
vyāmiśreṇe’va vākyena buddhim mohayasī’va me,
tad ekam vada niścitya yena śreyo’ham āpnuyām (3.2)
3.2 – “Since your complex words are so confusing to my mind, kindly tell me the one way by which I may attain to the state of blessedness.’’
Sri Krishn had, in fact, set out to dispel Arjun’s irresolution, but his words have only added to his doubts. So he requests Sri Krishn to tell him unambiguously the one way by which he may achieve emancipation.
loke’smin dvividhā niṣṭhā purā proktā mayā’nagha,
jñānayogena sānkhyānām karmayogena yoginām (3.3)
3.3 -The Lord said, “I told you before, O the sinless (Arjun), two ways of spiritual discipline, the Way of Discrimination or Knowledge for sages and the Way of Selfless Action for men of action.”
“Before” here does not mean a bygone era (yug) like the Golden or Treta Age. It rather refers to the last chapter in which Sri Krishn had spoken of the two ways, recommending the Way of Knowledge for men of wisdom and the Way of Selfless Action for those who are actively engaged in the task that will finally make them one with God. In both the ways, action has to be performed. So action is an essential.
na karmaṇm anārambhām
na ca sannyasanād eva
siddhim samadhigacchati (3.4)
3.4 -“Man neither attains to the final state of actionlessness by desisting from work, nor does he achieve Godlike perfection by just renunciation of work.”
There is no escape from action. A man cannot achieve the state of actionlessness by not commencing work, nor can he attain to the state of divine perfection by merely giving up an undertaken task. So, whether Arjun prefers, the Way of Knowledge or the Way of Selfless Action, he has to toil alike for each of them.
Usually, at this point, seekers on the way to God begin to look for shortcuts and escapes. We have to be on our guard against the common misconception that we become “selfless doers” just because we do not undertake any work. That is why Sri Krishn emphasizes the point that one does not achieve the state of actionlessness by just not beginning work. The point where both good and evil deeds cease completely, where alone there is true “actionlessness,”can be reached only through action. There are the misguided ones, on the other hand, who believe that they are unconcerned with action because they are men of intellect and discernment, and because there is no action as such on their chosen path. But they who renounce action under such an impression are not really men of wisdom. Just renunciation of an undertaken task cannot lead anyone to the attainment of realizing and becoming one with God.
na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api
jātu tiṣṭhaty akarmakṛt,
kāryate hy avaśaḥ karma
sarvaḥ prakṛtijair guṇaiḥ (5)
3.5 -“Since all men have doubtlessly sprung from nature, no one can at any time live even for a moment without action.”
No man can ever even for a fraction of a second live without action because the three properties of matter born from nature compel him to act. As long as nature and its properties are, no man can be without action.
Sri Krishn says in the thirty-third and thirty-seventh verses of Chapter 4, that all actions cease to be and dissolve into the most exalted knowledge: the knowledge obtained from meditation on the sublime truths which teach man to be aware of his own Self and how he may be reunited with the Supreme Spirit. The fire of this knowledge annihilates all action. What really the Yogeshwar means by this is that action ceases to be when yog has gone beyond the three properties of the material world, and when a clear outcome of the meditative process comes forth in the form of a direct perception of as well as dissolution of the Self in God? But before this completion of the ordained task, action does not end and we are not rid of it.
[As expounded by most revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Paramhans]
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