4.18 karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed (Original)

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Chapter 4

<< Chapter 4 verse 17


karmaṇy akarma yaḥ paśyed
akarmaṇi ca karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣyeṣu
sa yuktaḥ kṛtsna-karma-kṛt

‘Whoso seeth a-karma in karma, whoso, too, seeth karma in a-karma, —he is the wise among mankind; he is the fit (yuktaḥ); he has done all work.’

A-karma is the negative of karma. Karma is action.

A-karma or the other than action, is wisdom (jñāna), viz; wisdom concerning ātma, which is the subject to be considered.

(The two predications thus are):—

  1. Whoso sees ātmā-wisdom in an action which is actually being performed ; and,

  2. Whoso, while stationed in ātma-wisdom, yet sees (therein) action.

He who, by contemplation of the real nature of ātma sees, thus, the wisdom-aspect of the action which he actually performs, realizes the first predication. And again he who could conceive the work-aspect of all wisdom, —in other words, who could conceive all wisdom,— or mental or intellectual operations, such as meditation on ātma-nature and such other deep and intense thoughts,— as but act (i.e., wisdom or knowledge is a kind of act also), realizes the second predication[1. In this connection, reflect on the expression ‘thought-form’, a scientific term of the Nineteeth Century. Also the metaphysical abstractions ‘thought is act intended’, ‘act is thought extended’. Also the Vedic statement such as ‘He thought and He became’, becoming being the act, or thought executed.].

By actually doing work —the objective— and at the same time reflecting (or meditating) in the mind the true nature of ātma (in connection with work) —the subjective— both the positions are realized[2. Read a second volume to this Lecture for an apt illustration, taken from Toḷappar*s Smṛiti-ratnākara, to elucidate this abstruse point in Karma-yoga.].

Whoso thus sees how in work (karma) is involved wisdom (a-karma) or meditation of ātma-nature, he is the wise man among men i.e., he is said to be conversant with the ultimate import of all the Śāstras.

He is the yukta or fit man to earn moksha.

He has done all work (Kṛitsna-karma-krit). i.e., he has accomplished or carried out in actuality, the essence of all Śāstra-teaching.

How is wisdom-aspect tenable, to an act which is actually visibly performed? Reply:

>> Chapter 4 verse 19

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