SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ
sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ
‘Though wanting in merit, better is one’s own Dharma[1. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.] than another’s Dharma[2. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.] well performed. In one’s own Dharma, death is noble; others’ Dharma[3. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.] is danger-fraught.'[4. Cp. XVIII-45 to 48; Vish: Pur: III-7-20; Bhāg: XI-21-2.]
For reasons stated, one’s own Dharma[5. Prescribed duty. The ways of virtue.] 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. Cp. II-40 and VI-40.]
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 :—
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