Essence of SrI bhagavath gIthA – Chapter 3 (karma yOga)

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

Essence of SrI bhagavath gIthA

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In the seventh SlOkam of gIthArtha sangraham, ALavandhAr explains the summary of third chapter saying “It is explained in the third chapter that to protect the people (who don’t have the qualification to engage in gyAna yOgam), one should perform the prescribed duties meditating upon one’s doer-ship which is influenced by the three types of qualities which are sathva (tranquility), rajas (passion) and thamas (ignorance) and surrendering such doer-ship unto the supreme lord and [do those duties] without attachment in any goal other than mOksham”.

Important SlOkams/Verses

SlOkam/Verse 1

arjuna uvAcha
jyAyasI chEth karmaNas thE mathA budhdhir janArdhana |
thath kim karmaNi ghOrE mAm niyojayasi kESava ||

Oh janArdhana! Oh kESava! if it is your strong opinion that being situated in knowledge is best in comparison to the cruel activities such as battle etc, in that case why are you engaging me in such battle?, ( said Arjuna)

Note: In the first two SlOkams, arjuna raises questions about krishNa engaging him in the war which is part of karma yOga for him, while gyAna yOga may be considered better at times.

SlOkam/Verse 3

SrI bhagavAn uvAcha
lOkE’smin dhvividhA nishtA purA prOkthA mayAnagha |
gyAna yOgEna sAnkhyAnAm karma yOgEna yOginAm ||

Oh sinless! In this world which is filled with different personalities, [the presence of] two types of states have been explained elegantly by me (who is most merciful, who explains the principles as it is) in previous chapter; (They are) the state of gyAna yOga for the ones with intelligence (which is focussed on the self and is not attracted by worldly pleasures) and the state of karma yOga for the ones who are eligible for karma yOga (due to their having intelligence that is interested in worldly pleasures).

Note: It is implied that krishNa is saying “Since I have categorized the two states based on the eligibility of the individuals, there is no contradiction in my words”.

SlOkam/Verse 4

na karmaNAm anArambhAn naishkarmyam purushO’SnuthE |
na cha sanyasanAdhEva sidhdhim samadhigachchathi ||

Any man (who lives in this world) will not attain gyAna yOga due to not starting to engage in karma yOga; nor will he attain gyAna yOga which is the result (of karma yOga) by giving up (the karma yOga which was started).

Note: It is implied that for one whose mind is disturbed, only after executing karma yOga which is a type of worship of supreme lord will his mental disturbances  be eliminated and that he will be situated in proper knowledge.

SlOkam/Verse 6

karmEndhriyANi samyamya ya AsthE manasA smaran |
indhriyArthAn vimUdAthmA mithyAchAra: sa uchyathE ||

One who is focussed on gyAna [yOga], controlling his sense organs such as mouth, speech, hands, feet etc well (so that they are not engaged in sensual pleasures), but having the heart/mind which lacks knowledge about self and thinking about sensual pleasures which are the food for sense organs in his mind, is said to be having defective discipline.

Note: Starting this SlOkam, krishNa highlights the greatness of karma yOga over gyAna yOga.

SlOkam/Verse 9

yagyArthAth karmaNO’nyathra lOkO’yam karmabandhana: |
thadhartham karma kaunthEya mukthasanga: samAchara ||

Only when engaging in actions other than those which are meant for yagya, this world  becomes bound by karma. (Thus) Oh arjuna! You perform those karmas (actions) which are part of yagya, devoid of attachment.

From, the 10th SlOkam, krishNa highlights the words of bhagavAn where bhagavAn highlights the importance of performing yagyas (sacrifices) which are part of karma yOga (which is a method to worship bhagavAn).

SlOkam/Verse 13

yagya SishtASina: santhO muchyanthE sarvakilbishai: |
bhunjathE thE thvagham pApA yE pachanthyAthma kAraNAth ||

Those good people who partake the remnants of sacrifice (which is part of worshipping bhagavAn) are liberated from all sins (which are hurdles for self realisation); those sinners who cook and eat only to satisfy their own hunger are verily eating sin.

From the 17th SlOkam, in a few SlOkams, krishNa emphasises that arjuna should only engage in karma yOga, to attain self realisation.

In the 20th SlOkam, krishNa explains how janaka mahArAja attained mOksham through karma yOga.

SlOkam/Verse 21

yadh yadh Acharathi SrEshtas thath thadhEvEtarO jana: |
sa yath pramANam kuruthE lOkas thadhanuvarthathE ||

Whichever actions the wise person (in gyAnam (knowledge) and anushtAnam (application of knowledge)) performs, common people perform the same actions. In whichever manner that wise person performs those actions, common people of the world also follow only that much.

In the next two SlOkams, krishNa explains why he performs karma while there is no binding for him.

SlOkam/Verse 27

prakruthE: kriyamANAni guNai: karmANi sarvaSa: |
ahankAra vimUdAthmA karthAham ithi manyathE ||

One whose AthmA is covered by ahankAram (considering one’s body as the soul) by the three qualities (saththva, rajas, thamas) of matter, becomes bewildered considering ‘I am the doer’ towards karmas (actions) performed in many ways (per those qualities).

SlOkam/Verse 30

mayi sarvANi karmANi sanyasyAdhyAthmachEthasA |
nirASIr nirmamO bhUthvA yudhyasva vigathajvara: ||

With full knowledge about AthmA, offering all karmas (actions) well unto me who is the antharyAmi of all, becoming free from attachment to the results of the actions and the thinking of “this is my action”, being carefree about the sins which have been accrued since time immemorial, you fight.

In the final set of SlOkams, krishNa explains that it is difficult to perform gyAna yOga and there is scope to commit mistake while performing it.

SlOkam/Verse 35

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

(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).

Note: Here, some people misinterpret svadharma as righteous activities based on one’s own varNASrama. But since this SlOkam is explained as part of karma yOga vs gyAna yOga confusion for arjuna, krishNa clarifies that for a person like arjuna, it is better to pursue karma yOga which is natural for him instead of gyAna yOga which is not so natural for him.

SlOkam/Verse 43

Evam budhdhE: param budhdhvA samsthabhyAthmAnam AthmanA |
jahi Sathrum mahAbhAhO kAmarUpaṁ dhurAsadham ||

Oh mighty armed! In this manner knowing about the lust which is more powerful than firm conviction (in blocking knowledge about self), ordering your mind through firm knowledge, destroy the invincible enemy named lust.

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

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