18.46.5 SrEyAn svadharmO viguNa:

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

Chapter 18

<< Chapter 18 Verse 46

SlOkam – Original

SrEyAn svadharmO viguNa: paradharmAth svanuṣtithAth |

word-by-word meaning

svadharma: – karma yOga which is naturally pursuable (for a man who is with a body)
viguNa: (api) – even with shortcomings
svanushtithAth – (sometimes) well practiced
paradharmAn – gyAna yOga which is to be pursued by someone else
SrEyAn – best

Simple Translation

It is best to practice karma yOga which is naturally pursuable (for a man who is with a body) even with shortcomings, rather than (sometimes) well practiced  gyAna yOga which is to be pursued by someone else.

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

‘Better one’s own Dharma, (though) void of merit, than doing another’s Dharma even though it be done excellently well.’

One’s own Dharma is, as pointed out already, the sum of acts constituting My worship, fit for the person to observe, sacrificing all claims to agentship etc. Dharma or duty expressed in visible act (karma-yoga) conforming with the nature of the incorporeated person, comes to him easily. Karma-yoga is thus by nature one’s own Dharma[1. Per M.R.Sampatkumaran Gitabhashya 1969: Tatparya Chandrika: ‘Svadharma‘ here cannot refer to the duties of caste and stages of life; praise of these is redundant. Nor is it relevant to take it to mean the duties prescribed in the Vedas, as contrasted with those of other religions. Nor can it refer to Arjuna’s duty of war, as contrasted with his desire to adopt the life of a mendicant ascetic. This has been dealt with already. Thus it can refer only to karma-yoga as contrasted with jñāna-yoga.] albeit it be destitute of merit[i.e., defective in performance[2. Per M.R.Sampatkumaran Gitabhashya 1969]]. By another’s Dharma is meant Jnāna-Yoga demanding the ability on his part to conquer the senses, and it is a Yoga which presupposes the conquest of all the senses. This Yoga being, besides, subject to dangers, Karma-Yoga is better, even though the former be performed excellently well on occasions.

Moreover it is shown :

>> Chapter 18 Verse 47

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