3.35 SrEyAn svadharmO viguNa:

SrI:  SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:  SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:  SrImath varavaramunayE nama:

Chapter 3

<< Chapter 3 verse 34

SlOkam – Original

SrEyAn svadharmO viguNa: paradharmAth svanushtithAth |
svadharmE nidhanam SrEya: paradharmO bhayAvaha: ||

word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

svadharma: – (for the person who is together with matter/body) karma yOga which is the natural means
viguNa: (api) – even when practiced with defects
svanushtithAth – practiced in a faultless manner
paradharmAth – gyAna yOga which is applicable for others (due to not having been used to it)
SrEyAn – is best.svadharmE (varthamAnasya) – practicing karma yOga which is one’s own means
nidhanam – dying (without achieving the results within the same life time)
SrEya: – is best.
paradharma: (thu) – But gyAna yOga which is applicable for others
bhayAvaha: – instills fear (since it can be destroyed by practicing it incorrectly).

Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)

(For the person who is together with matter/body) karma yOga which is the natural means even when practiced with defects is better than gyAna yOga which is practiced in a faultless manner and is applicable for others (due to not having been used to it). It is best to die (even without achieving the results within the same life time) while practicing karma yOga which is one’s own means, but gyAna yOga which is applicable for others instills fear (since it can be destroyed by practicing it incorrectly).

Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam

‘Though wanting in merit, better is one’s own Dharma1 than another’s Dharma2 well performed. In one’s own Dharma, death is noble; others’ Dharma3 is danger-fraught.’4

For reasons stated, one’s own Dharma5 or prescribed duty (by Śāstra) viz., karma-yoga, is the best, albeit it be destitute of great virtues in it. Such duty (dharma) is easy to discharge, and unattended with risk. Whereas, to the man who is wedded to matter, jñāna-yoga, —though assuredly it is most excellent— is most difficult of achievement. Jñāna-yoga is besides surrounded by danger, though the Path indeed is shorter than karma-yoga.

Karma-yoga comes to a man easily and most naturally befitting him. Death, he may encounter, before, by this method, he is able, in one life, to achieve his purpose; but his progress does not get barred by any obstacles. In his next birth, the thread of previously accomplished progress is easily picked up and continued.6

Whereas to one who is allied (or tied) to matter, the attempt to tread the Path of jñāna is surrounded by dangers, which beset its Path, and which deter one from adopting that scheme readily. Jñāna-yoga is thus difficult.

Arjuna (now) asks :—

>> Chapter 3 verse 36

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  1. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.
  2. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.
  3. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.
  4. Cp. XVIII-45 to 48; Vish: Pur: III-7-20; Bhāg: XI-21-2.
  5. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.
  6. Cp. II-40 and VI-40.

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