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Karma Yoga Chapter 3 - DiscussionThe Lord said: A twofold devotion was taught by Me to the world: devotion to knowledge for the contemplative and devotion to work for the active. Not by merely abstaining from action does a man reach the state of actionlessness, nor by mere renunciation does he arrive at perfection. Without doubt no one can remain even for an instant without doing work. For, driven by the gunas born of Prakriti, everyone is made to act, in spite of himself. He who, restrains his organs of action, but continues to dwell in his mind on the objects of the senses, deludes himself and is called a hypocrite. But he who restrains his senses with his mind and directs his organs of action to work, with no feeling of attachment — he, is indeed superior.
Do your allotted action; for action is superior to inaction. And even the bare maintenance of your body will not be possible if you remain inactive. The world becomes bound to action unless it be done for the sake of sacrifice. The Brahma Devar, in the beginning, created men together with sacrifice, and said: “By this shall you multiply. Let this be the Cow of Plenty and yield unto you the milk of your desires." With this sacrifice shall you nourish the gods and may the gods nourish you. Thus nourishing one another you will obtain the Highest Good.
Living beings are created from food all creatures are born; from rain food is produced; from sacrifice comes rain; sacrifice is born of action. Action arises from the Vedas, and the Vedas from the Imperishable. Therefore the all pervading Vedas ever rest in sacrifice. Thus was the wheel set in motion; and he who does not follow it, but takes delight in the senses and lives in sin, lives in vain. But verily, the man who rejoices in the Self and is satisfied with the Self and is content in the Self alone — he has nothing for which he should work. A person endowed with Self-knowledge has no worldly duties to perform. Further he has no object to gain by what he does in this world, nor any to lose by what he leaves undone. Therefore always do work without attachment, the work you have to do ; for a man who does his work without attachment attains the Supreme.
A seeker who does his duty for the gratification of God attains purity of mind and ultimately realizes the Highest Goal. Wise men in the past acted in that manner. Verily, by action alone men like Janaka attained perfection. Further, you should perform work with a view to guiding people along the right path. Whatever a great man does, others follow that. Whatever he sets up as a standard, that the world follows. Bhagvan said "I have, no duty; there is nothing in the three worlds that I have not gained and nothing that I have to gain. Yet I continue to work. For should I not ever engage, unwearied, in action, men would in every way follow Me. If I should cease to work, these worlds would perish and destroy all these creatures. As the ignorant act, attached to their work, so should an enlightened man act, but without attachment, in order that he may set people on the right path."
An ignorant person firmly believes that one should act to enjoy the result of work. The wise man should not unsettle this belief; otherwise the ignorant man would prematurely give up all work. All work is performed by the gunas of Prakriti. But he whose mind is deluded by egotism thinks, “I am the doer.” But, he who knows the truth about the gunas and action, and what is distinct from them, holds himself unattached, perceiving that it is the gunas that are propelling the actions. What is distinct from them — That is to say, the Self. Bhagwan instructs: "Surrendering all actions to Me, with mind intent on the Self, freeing yourself from longings and selfishness, do your karma. But those who carp at My teaching and practise it not — know that such senseless men, blind to all wisdom, are doomed to destruction." The senses have natural likes or dislikes for their objects. But one should not get into the clutches of these two, because they are the obstructing enemies in the path of moving up.
Better is one’s own dharma, even if it is of a lesser guna and even if it is imperfectly performed, than the dharma of another. Better is death in the doing of one’s own dharma, the dharma of another is fraught with fear. It is desire, it is wrath, which springs from rajas. Desire is the enemy, all devouring and the cause of all sins. As fire is concealed by smoke, as a mirror by dust, as an unborn baby by the womb, so is Knowledge concealed by ignorance. The senses, the mind, and the understanding are said to be the seat of desire; through these, desire veils Knowledge and deludes the embodied soul. Therefore, control your senses at the outset and slay this desire which is the foul destroyer of Knowledge and Realization. The senses are superior, they say; superior to the senses is the mind; superior to the mind is the under standing; superior to the understanding is Atma. Therefore, know Him who is superior to the understanding, control the mind by the Self, and destroy the enemy who comes in the guise of desire.
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