Gita 2.51

karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi

phalam tyaktva manisinah


padam gacchanty anamayam


The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord, and free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries.


Those with spiritual intelligence, who relinquish all desires for the results of all actions, perform in righteousness activities as an offering unto the Supreme Lord are blessed with self-realisation. And being released from the bondage of birth and death they being liberated attain the eternal and everlasting spiritual worlds of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Those who perform activities as a matter of duty, free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.

An action even without the desire for its fruit will bring about fruit. No one can dispense with its fruit. Suppose a farmer sows seed without a selfish motive, will he not get results?  In the same way if a person works in a detached spirit, he will get its fruit. Therefore, renunciation of fruit means, renunciation of manifest and latent desires for fruit and attachment for fruit. All people are free and capable of renouncing such desires. Wise people endowed with equanimity attain the state, which is free from any kind of blemish. This state has been called eternal state.

Gita 2.52

yada te moha-kalilam

buddhir vyatitarisyati

tada gantasi nirvedam

srotavyasya srutasya ca


When your intellect crosses over the mire of delusion then you will get detachment from both what is heard and what is to be heard.


With genuine concern one may ask: When will I be able to attain that eternal and everlasting spiritual world? An important question but first one must successfully circumnavigate the maze of delusion in the material existence. When one has factually rejected the conception of identifying oneself as the physical body then one will by navigating oneself out of the maze of delusion successfully escape the net of illusion which is likened to a bottomless abyss. From this understanding one will attain indifference towards the activities that are heard about or that will be heard about. The desire to inquire about temporal things will cease as it will be perceived that only existing temporarily they are not worth pursuing.

Acute discrimination between the real and the unreal makes one indifferent to the unreal world, and a keen desire for selfless service for the welfare of others, enables one to renounce the desire for one’s own pleasures. In the same way as when a disciple for his preceptor, a son for parents, a servant for his master develop a wish for providing all sorts of comforts to them, then their desire for comfort goes away automatically.

It is the ignorance of one’s real nature that creates the identification with the body mind and intellect and he is deluded into believing the sense experiences as real and gets affected by the joy and sorrow through them. When the intellect is cleared of this delusion through knowledge one gets detachment from the sense experience which is indicated by ‘Srotavya’ and ‘Sruta’. This means what is heard and what is to be heard which includes the seen and unseen and likewise all sense experiences, that were already experienced and that to be experienced.

Gita 2.53

sruti-vipratipanna te

yada sthasyati niscala

samadhav acala buddhis

tada yogam avapsyasi


When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness.


Arjuna was in a fix, whether he should perform his duty as a Kshatriya or he should avoid the slaughter of his kith and kin. If he protected his family, he would shirk his duty. If he performed his duty of fighting, then the family would not be protected. So he was bewildered. Therefore Lord Krishna persuades Arjuna to keep the intellect firm in case of scriptural opinions and steady in regarding God-realization; First of all, an aspirant is unable to make up his mind whether to have honest and sincere dealings with the worldly people, or to attain God. Then he decides that he has to render selfless service to the world. Having taken this decision, he starts showing indifference and dispassion to the worldly pleasures. Then in the spiritual path he comes across different opinions of the scriptures. So it becomes difficult for him to decide, which opinion he should follow. In that case by good company or faith etc., he is either able to take the decision or he surrenders himself to God. Then by God’s grace his intellect becomes firm. Secondly, in all the scriptures and religions, God, soul and the world, have been described in different forms and ways.

If a person has the only aim of salvation and has no selfish motive by having affinity for wealth-property and family-relatives etc., then he crosses the worldly delusion. If he does not want to gain bookish knowledge (rot-learning) by studying the scriptures but has the only aim to realize the self, he crosses the scriptural delusion, it means that a seeker should neither be enamoured by the worldly delusion nor by the scriptural (philosophical) differences of opinions viz., he should not insist on any sect or religion. Thus he becomes eligible for ‘Yoga’, salvation or devotion. Besides this there is no need of any special eligibility (qualification).

When the mind gets free from delusion which is the cause of joy and sorrow by wrong identification of oneself with the body there is no more confusion of conflicting thoughts and the intellect comes to rest, steady, and with no distractions, in the absolute reality and one attains Samadhi, realization.

Gita 2.54

arjuna uvaca

sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa

samadhi-sthasya kesava

sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta

kim asita vrajeta kim


Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?


What is it that which defines the ‘sthita-prajnah’ or the adept fixed with spiritual intelligence who is immersed in transcendent consciousness? What are the characteristics to be recognised by such a one so situated in this state of mind? How does he speak and how does he act? Due to possessing what characteristics is one called a person of steady wisdom and how does such a person of steady wisdom conduct themselves? This is the meaning which is meant to be conveyed here.

It is like asking how the best sales person talks, walks and behave? In every organization there are some outstanding performers, be it in research, manufacturing, sales or support. If you are aspiring to emulate that performance it is best to study that person’s behaviour and way of working so that copying the same you may be able to replicate his success. Arjuna is showing his keenness to be a “sthita prajnah’ and hence asking such a question.

Gita 2.55

sri-bhagavan uvaca

prajahati yada kaman

sarvan partha mano-gatan

atmany evatmana tustah

sthita-prajnas tadocyate


O Partha (Arjuna), when a man discards all his desires visiting the mind, and is self-satisfied in own self, he is said to be stable, in wisdom.


Actually a man is always steady in wisdom, but when he accepts his desires, because of unsteady mind, he does not realize his stableness in wisdom. When he abandons his desires viz., accepts the non-existence of desires, he realizes his stability in wisdom. A seeker has to make effort to concentrate his mind, but by renouncing desires he does not have to do so, instead he attains this stage, in a spontaneous manner.

Swami Chinmayananda used to give an equation for happiness as follows:

Number of desires fulfilled

____________________ = the quotient of happiness.

Number of desires entertained

When the denominator becomes zero the value of the quotient is infinity. So it follows that only the absence of desire will result in infinite happiness. This can be verified through experience. Generally one’s childhood is always remembered as the happiest part of our lives except for some unfortunate beings. If we analyse as to why it was so, we could see that in our childhood we had very few simple desires which were mostly fulfilled. As we grow older we multiply our desires so fast that it becomes impossible to satisfy all of them even during the whole span of life.

Gita 2.46

yavan artha udapane

sarvatah samplutodake

tavan sarvesu vedesu

brahmanasya vijanatah


As on obtaining a reservoir of water flooded on all sides there is no use for a small reservoir of water. So a Brahmin, who obtains enlightenment, has the same use for all the Vedas, or says no use at all.


A small reservoir of water is useful, in a place where there is no other source of water. But nobody ever, pays any attention to such a reservoir of water where there is a big reservoir of pure water. Moreover that such a small reservoir of water becomes dirty and impure and cannot be used for drinking purpose, after washing and bathing in it. But water from a large stream remains clean and pure, even after washing and bathing in it. Likewise oblations, charities, penances and pilgrimages etc., mentioned in the Vedas, are of use to those who are ignorant. But these become meaningless to the illumined souls who have realized God. The great soul after realizing God transcends the three attributes (modes), rises above the pairs of opposite viz., becomes free from attachment and aversion, gets established in the self and remains unconcerned about provision and preservation. He always remains devoted to God.

There is no end of worldly pleasures. There are endless universes and there are endless pleasures in them. But if they are renounced and one becomes detached from them, they come to an end. Similarly there are endless desires. But if they are renounced, they come to an end and the man becomes desire less. To one who has the ‘brahmajnana’, there is nothing to be gained by any action either spiritual or secular as he has no desires to be fulfilled. Hence the Vedas are not of any use for him as there is no happiness to be gained by the fruits of actions prescribed by the Vedas either in this world or the next. He is filled with the bliss absolute and all the other joys are like bubbles when compared with that. Hence Krishna compares the Vedas, meaning the fruits accruing from them to the water in a small reservoir like a well or pond when the whole area was flooded with water.

Gita 2.47

karmany evadhikaras te

ma phalesu kadacana

ma karma-phala-hetur bhur

ma te sango ‘stv akarmani


You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.


There are three considerations here: prescribed duties, capricious work, and inaction. Prescribed duties refer to activities performed while one is in the modes of material nature. Capricious work means actions without the sanction of authority, and inaction means not performing one’s prescribed duties. The Lord advised that Arjuna not be inactive, but that he performs his prescribed duty without being attached to the result. One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. Thus he is the enjoyer or sufferer of the result of such actions. As far as prescribed duties are concerned, they can be fitted into three subdivisions, namely routine work, emergency work and desired activities. Routine work, in terms of the scriptural injunctions, is done without desire for results. As one has to do it, obligatory work is action in the mode of goodness. Work with results becomes the cause of bondage; therefore such work is not auspicious. Everyone has his proprietary right in regard to prescribed duties, but should act without attachment to the result; such disinterested obligatory duties doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation.

Arjuna was therefore advised by the Lord to fight as a matter of duty without attachment to the result. His nonparticipation in the battle is another side of attachment. Such attachment never leads one to the path of salvation. Any attachment, positive or negative, is cause for bondage. Inaction is sinful. Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.

God has bestowed this human birth, the very last of all births so that by performing actions in the form of selfless service to others, a person may achieve salvation and be freed from the bondage of the cycle of birth and death. If he remains engaged in selfish actions, these will result in bondage. In case he is given to indolence and heedlessness, he will follow a cycle of birth and death. Therefore, the Lord advises human beings, to render selfless services for common good. Favourable or unfavourable circumstances cannot make a man happy or sad. It is merely his ignorance, which makes him happy or sad as he identifies himself with those circumstances and becomes the ‘experiencer’ of happiness or sadness. If he gives a serious thought, he will come to know that the external circumstances cannot make his internal self, either happy or sad. He should make proper use of the favourable circumstances by serving others and of the undesirable ones, by renouncing the desire to enjoy pleasure. You cannot claim the fruit of action, because you are not free in getting it, which is dispensed by the Lord. If you perform actions with a desire for fruits, you will get into bondage. Secondly, all actions are performed with the help of worldly objects and persons. So it is dishonest, to desire the fruit of those actions, for only one’s own self.

The means to be free, from the desire for fruits of actions are as follows-(i) Desire cause a feeling of lacking something. Its fulfilment makes one a slave. Its non-fulfilment causes suffering. The pleasure derived out of fulfilment of desire, gives birth to new desires and a man goes on getting interested in performing new actions, in order to reap their fruit. By understanding this fact in the right perspective, a man becomes free from the desire for the fruit of action. (ii) Actions have a beginning and an end, these are not eternal. So, how can their fruits be eternal? But the self is eternal. How can the eternal get any benefit from the perishable? By understanding this fact, one becomes detached from the world and attains God-realization. In order to be free from the desire for fruits of actions, an aspirant should have discrimination as well as feelings to serve others. Discrimination will be helpful to an aspirant in renouncing his comforts, while the feelings of service to others, will enable him to do ‘good’ to others. By doing so, a devotee can follow the discipline of ‘Detached Action’ in the right sense. Let your attachment not be to inaction, because by leaning towards inaction, you will become lazy and idle, and like the desire for fruit it will also mislead you to bondage.

In this verse there are four points which need attention-(i) your right is to perform your duty (action) only. (ii) Never lay claim to its fruit. (iii) Do not be the cause of the fruit of action. (iv) Let your attachment be not to inaction. Out of these four points, the first and the fourth, have the same theme as both of these lay emphasis on the performance of duty or action. Similarly, the second and the third points have the same theme, as in both of these it is mentioned, that you should not desire or be the cause of the fruit of action. Actions done with an expectation of results cause bondage because they are done with desire. But the same act done as an offering to God releases one from bondage.

The important fact about Karmayoga is-protection of the rights of others by performing one’s duty and renouncing the fruit of action viz., renouncing one’s right. By protecting the right of others, old attachment is wiped out and by renouncing one’s own right, new attachment is not born. Thus when old attachment is wiped out and new attachment is not born, a man becomes ‘vitaraga’ (free from attachment).By becoming ‘vitaraga’ one realizes the self. The reason is in attaining Self-realization, attachment to the unreal things is the only obstacle.

Swami Vivekananda said “work for work’s sake; duty for duty’s sake” meaning that one should do work for its own sake and not out of desire to get the result. But the question is will anyone do anything unless he wants the result? Certainly not! There is nothing wrong in starting a work with a specific result in mind but Karma yoga consists in not getting attached to the result. This is not as pessimistic as it seems to be but sheer common sense. When we begin a work we cannot help fixing a goal to achieve as otherwise we would not have started at all. But once started we should concentrate on the action only without worrying about the result constantly as the anxiety will reduce our efficiency. On the other hand, if we put our heart and soul into the work we are doing, the result will automatically follow, and even if it does not, due to some factor on which we have no control, we will not feel frustrated as we have already had the satisfaction from the work itself.

This is the most misinterpreted and misused verse in the whole of Bhagavad Gita. People give unbelievable meaning and quote this verse to suit their actions or inactions.

  1. This clearly exploits the working class as they have no right to their fruits of actions and they must keep on working without rest irrespective of! – Union leaders.
  2. Why work when we cannot look for results? – Common man
  3. If I do not get credit for the order why I should I work for the case? – Salesman.
  4. In spite of all my hard work, I never get the results. This is my destiny! – Pessimist.

If you send an important mail for instance, you have the power only to send it and not over its being replied. It may never reach the recipient or he may never answer it but that is not in your control. If you worry about the possibility of not getting a reply the chances are that you will never send it.

Gita 2.48

yoga-sthah kuru karmani

sangam tyaktva dhananjaya

siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva

samatvam yoga ucyate


O Dhananjaya (the conqueror of wealth), perform actions (duties) being steadfast in the path of Yoga, renouncing attachment, having become even-minded in success and failure; and that equanimity (equilibrium) is called Yoga.


The fundamental question which might be raised is what then is factually to be done? This is now being answered in this verse. Established in the science of yoga perform all activities. Yoga is the science of the individual consciousness attaining communion with the Ultimate Consciousness. Being established by this yoga, perform actions relinquishing attachment, motivation for rewards and depend solely upon the mercy of the Supreme Lord in all one’s activities. Totally unconcerned about success or failure, attainment or non-attainment resultant surrender in righteousness all actions as an offering unto the Supreme Lord. This is the eternal path called yoga by the wise as it consists of fixed concentration of the mind.

Renunciation of attachment will result in evenness of mind. A man should be even-minded, in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, in honour and dishonour, and in praise and reproach. A follower of the Discipline of Detached Action, should be so even-minded while performing actions, that he should not bother about their accomplishment or non-accomplishment, for getting the fruit or not, for getting salvation or not. He should remain devoted to his duty. If an aspirant has not realized detachment and equanimity, he should aim at evenness of mind. By having this approach, he will attain equanimity finally, which will lead to God-realization or Self-realization.

To give up attachment one should be free from desire and aversion. Then success and failure do not affect him. Whatever comes is accepted with equanimity. Then he concentrates only on the work at hand. We all live with memories of the past and hopes, expectations and fears of the future. And forget to live the present! Only present is available to us to think and work for better future, so why waste these precious moments in worries?

Gita 2.49

durena hy avaram karma

buddhi-yogad dhananjaya

buddhau saranam anviccha

krpanah phala-hetavah


O Dhananjaya, action with a selfish motive is far inferior to that performed with equanimity of mind. Seek refuge in this evenness of mind, for low are those, who crave for fruit of action.


Action without equanimity, mislead to pain, as well as to the cycle of birth and death, because they have no power to lead one to salvation. Equanimity is the ability to neutralize actions. If there is no equanimity, one will develop one’s egoism and attachment, to the body. This egoism and attachment are beastly. An action performed with equanimity leads to God-realization, while motivated actions mislead to the wheel of birth and death.

Gita 2.50

buddhi-yukto jahatiha

ubhe sukrta-duskrte

tasmad yogaya yujyasva

yogah karmasu kausalam


A man engaged in devotional service rids himself of both good and bad actions even in this life. Therefore strive for yoga, O Arjuna, which is the art of all work.


Lord Krishna speaks of directing one’s consciousness by spiritual intelligence. The merits one gains in the course of human existence such as fame, relations, power and wealth though pleasant should not be deemed important or be attached to. But those superior merits one has acquired by surrender and meditation to the Supreme Lord such as righteousness, compassion for all living entities, devotion and love of God should be most attached to. But one who is engaged in actions performed in spiritual intelligence is superior. By the grace of the Supreme Lord one acting in this way is relieved of both good actions which lead to heaven and evil actions which lead to hell even in this very life.

In the state of equanimity, a man while living in the world detaches himself from the world, and remains untouched by virtues and sins, as a lotus leaf by water. When one does all actions as karma yoga, without attachment to the result, it means that his mind is free from desires and his actions are not desire motivated. Thus he attains the evenness of mind. Then he does not accumulate fresh karma by his actions. His past karma which has not yet started giving result is demolished by his shedding off his ego as a result of evenness of mind.

Gita 2.41

vyavasayatmika buddhir

ekeha kuru-nandana

bahu-sakha hy anantas ca

buddhayo ‘vyavasayinam


Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.


There is a huge difference between the mentality of those who are involved in actions with their intelligence seeking fruits of reward and the mentality of those spiritually evolved engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and totally devoted to the Lord Krishna. In the case of those enacting actions with desires of rewards, their thoughts are endless due to their desires being endless. To a seeker of God-realization, the intellect is determinate and single-pointed viz., he has only one decision and that is to attain equanimity in the form of God-realization. Attachment to the world is the main obstacle to this attainment of equanimity, and that can be removed, through determinate intellect. The infirm in mind being desire-ridden, clings to pleasure and prosperity.

The real aim is only one. Unless a man has a singular aim, he has endless aims and desires and the means for the fulfilment of each desire are also many.

Gita 2 (42-43)

yam imam puspitam vacam

pravadanty avipascitah

veda-vada-ratah partha

nanyad astiti vadinah


kamatmanah svarga-para



bhogaisvarya-gatim prati


Arjuna, those who are obsessed by desires, who look upon heaven as the supreme goal and argue that there is nothing beyond heaven and pleasures and who are devoted to the letter of the Vedas are unwise. They make this type of flowery speeches recommending many acts of various kinds, for the attainment of pleasure and prosperity, and with rebirth as their fruit.


Desire-ridden are those, whose sole aim in life is to hunt after enjoyment. They think that it is nothing but desire, which inspires a man to action and without it, a man is stone-dead. Moreover, they identify themselves with desires. But the fact is that a man himself is a fragment of God and thus, is eternal while desires are fleeting and these increase and decrease. They look upon heaven and its pleasure, as their supreme goal and all their efforts are directed towards that base end. They are interested in the Vedas, only for the sake of the ritualistic contents, which deal with earthly and heavenly pleasure. The aim of their life is to enjoy celestial pleasure here, and hereafter, rather than to attain God-realization, or emancipation. They cannot discriminate between, the real and the unreal, the perishable and the imperishable. Such unwise persons utter flowery words of the Vedas, which describe and recommend various acts, for the attainment of pleasure and prosperity. That flowery way instead of giving any permanent and eternal fruit, gives fruit which prolongs the wheel of birth.

Why is it that the scholars who have studied the Vedas so fastidiously fail to possess the resolute intelligence? It is because they could not comprehend the essence of the Vedic scriptures and subsequently they missed understanding the true purport of the Vedas. This Lord Krishna emphasises with the word ‘avipascitah’ meaning the ignorant who are not knowledgeable are attracted to flowery descriptions in the Vedas even as a beautiful flowery creeper may be attractive although it is poisonous. But these living entities are ignorant and not actual scholars of Vedanta because they are only devoted to those parts of the Vedas which help them secure material opulence in this life and the next. Such statements like by performing some ritual one can obtain imperishable merit or by drinking Soma nectar one can become immortal, etc. Their conception of devotion is being devoted to pursuing heavenly delights and they even foolishly argue that there is nothing more beyond the rewards of heavenly pleasures to attain. Why is this so for them? It is because their minds are obsessed by desires due to addiction to material pleasures experienced by contact with the senses of taste, touch, seeing, hearing and smelling. So they look upon heaven although heaven is still in the material existence as being the supreme goal. This is because in heaven there is neither old age nor sickness, everything is beautiful and a wonder to behold and the facility to enjoy fully is increased a thousand fold. So all their activities in this life are enacted solely for the sake of accruing benefits in order to reside in the heavenly spheres where they can enjoy and enjoy for a seemingly unlimited time span. But when their merit has expired after enjoying the delights of heaven in various wonderful ways to their hearts content they will again take birth on earth in a rich and learned family who also are following the flowery phrases of the Vedas and they will again follow this path and at life’s end transmigrate to the heavenly planets once again to enact the process.

Gita 2.44



vyavasayatmika buddhih

samadhau na vidhiyate


Those, whose minds are carried away by such flowery words (who are attracted towards pleasures and who are deeply attached to pleasure and prosperity), cannot attain the determinate intellect, concentrated in God.


Pleasures of five senses – sound, touch, colour, taste, smell, comfort to the body, and desire for respect and praise are ‘bhoga’, (the worldly enjoyments). Accumulation of money and material to enjoy those worldly pleasures is called ‘aisvarya’ (prosperity). Those who cling to pleasure and prosperity are called ‘Bhogaisvaryaprasaktanam.’ Such people are called demoniacal (asura). Such people, who instinctively cling to pleasure and prosperity, cannot attain the determinate intellect to realize God, because their intellect has become impure. Similarly, the people who have pride for their being learned, by acquiring the worldly arts or science or knowledge etc., cannot attain the determinate intellect, (decision), to realize God.

We forget that enjoyment of pleasure is not the goal of human life, but its supreme object is the attainment of perfection and God realization, and all the circumstances, whether favourable or unfavourable, they are placed in, are means to attain perfection. The fact is that worldly pleasures and objects are not real obstacles to God-realization, but attachment to these, is the main hindrance. So long as, this attachment continues, not to talk of God-realization the people cannot even make up their minds to attain God, because their minds are drawn away, by worldly pleasure and prosperity etc.

Gita 2.45

trai-gunya-visaya veda

nistraigunyo bhavarjuna

nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho

niryoga-ksema atmavan


The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.


If the rewards like heaven are of such an impermanent nature then why do the Vedas which are eternally perfect and beneficial for all beings enjoin practices aimed at achieving heavenly spheres? To answer this Lord Krishna states that the Vedic scriptures deals with the three modes of material nature which are goodness, passion and ignorance and all beings are born into these three modes of material nature. Some beings have preponderance for goodness, others for passion and others for ignorance while some are mixed. These modes are conditioned within the mind and they typify the three types of created beings. With exception of the Upanishads the Vedic scriptures dealing with the three modes gives prescribed activities and their results. Whatsoever one desires to obtain in heaven the prescription is enjoined for them to achieve it and the description of the various rewards are eulogised as well as the rituals for their fulfilment.

One should always be tempered by patience for one without patience is easily overpowered by passion and ignorance and becomes uncontrolled and fearful in situations involving the three modes of material nature. So we should overcome the hindrances of passion and ignorance and maintain a balanced state of equilibrium.

The Vedas do not only deal with means to satisfy desires of the worldly minded people, but they also contain sublime and elevating ideas on God and the means to realize Him.

Gita 2.36

avacya-vadams ca bahun

vadisyanti tavahitah

nindantas tava samarthyam

tato duhkhataram nu kim


Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?


Your sworn enemies, such as Duryodhana, and Kama etc., in spite of knowing your deeds of valour, will belittle your strength and will laugh at you and call you a coward and impotent. How will you bear those insolent jokes and irreparable ignominy?

Gita 2.37

hato va prapsyasi svargam

jitva va bhoksyase mahim

tasmad uttistha kaunteya

yuddhaya krta-niscayah


Slain in battle you will gain heaven, victorious you will enjoy the sovereignty of earth; therefore, arise, O son of Kunti, determined to fight.


If slain in battle while fighting bravely a Kshatriya will certainly attain the heavenly spheres. It is also stated in the Vedic scriptures that if a Kshatriya is victorious in battle what will be gained is dominion of the Earth and at the end of the life the heavenly spheres are guaranteed as well. Thus those who fight bravely in battle and are undefeated acquire more merit than those who are defeated.

“If you are killed by Karna etc., you will attain heaven and if you gain victory, you will gain the kingdom. Thus righteous warfare would result in good, both here and hereafter. So you should be prepared to wage war, otherwise you risk to lose both.” Krishna by addressing Arjuna as Kaunteya wants to remind him of the message to wage the war, sent by his mother when He went to the Kauravas, with a proposal for a treaty. Therefore, he should rise to the occasion with full determination.

Krishna’s call to war can be understood to be a general call to each and every one of us to shed our inhibitions, negative attitude and lethargy and go forward to work hard for any righteous cause including our duty as a good son/daughter, parent, citizen or employee. By discharging one’s duty, one makes advancement in this world and other world. It means that by discharging one’s duty and by abstaining from what ought not to be done; one attains perfection here as well as hereafter.

Gita 2.38

sukha-duhkhe same krtva

labhalabhau jayajayau

tato yuddhaya yujyasva

naivam papam avapsyasi


Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain and engage yourself in battle. Fighting thus you will incur no sin.


Now Lord Krishna refutes Arjuna previous worry about accruing sin by killing his heinous enemies with the words sukha and dukha meaning happiness and unhappiness. Although the pleasure of happiness and the pain of unhappiness in fighting this righteous war are inevitable; still this must be considered as pertaining to the body only and not to the soul which is distinctly different from the physical body. Profit and gain, victory and defeat even without considering the goal of heaven Arjuna should prepare to fight for the sole purpose of exclusively fulfilling his duty. Thus fixed in this determination with proper understanding if he slays anyone he will not incur sin. To the contrary Arjuna will be free from the sin incurred by refraining from the battle and not executing his duty.

Everyone should discharge his duty earnestly and efficiently, whether he has a desire or not for its fruit. By refusing to be affected by favourable and unfavourable circumstances, the mind becomes steady. So treating the two equally, one should discharge one’s duty. Moreover, one should not perform an action for the sake of pleasure, and refrain from another, for fear of its pain. But your aim is not to think of victory and defeat, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain, but your goal is to discharge your duty by treating the agreeable and the disagreeable, alike.

Major decisions in life should be taken only after evaluating the situation spiritually, mentally, intellectually and physically. Reasoning should be done intellectually, evaluate ethics and morality emotionally and customs and traditions physically. There are some who will do a thing only when they are guaranteed a profit, victory or pleasure even if it is their duty and moral responsibility to do it. Such persons are unfit to hold any responsible position in society including that of a manager in any organization.

Gita 2.39

esa te ‘bhihita sankhye

buddhir yoge tv imam srnu

buddhya yukto yaya partha

karma-bandham prahasyasi


O Partha (Arjuna), this attitude of mind has been presented to you from the point of view of ‘Jnanayoga’ (Discipline of Knowledge); now hear of the same, from the point of view of ‘Karmayoga’ (the Discipline of Selfless-Action). Equipped with this state of mind, you will be able to completely shake off the shackles of Karma (Action).


Having instructed the true knowledge of the soul as being distinctly different from the physical body and seeing that this knowledge has still not been firmly embedded in Arjuna’s heart, Lord Krishna reiterates this truth again in order to illustrate that this knowledge never becomes firmly embedded without practice of the means which is yoga. To do this He introduces the yoga path of selfless actions as the means to this end. Thus the reality is to perform all actions under the direction of one’s mind well cultivated by the aid of spiritual knowledge from the Vedic scriptures exclusively. Although this spiritual knowledge is scientific Arjuna is still unsteady in its application due to lack of practice in assimilation. So Lord Krishna explains that by practice in the performance of actions by the renunciation of their rewards Arjuna will be completely freed from transmigration in the material existence.

Not to do what ought to be done is ‘non-discharge of duty’ and to do what ought not to be done is also ‘non-discharge of duty’. Duty is that in which a person having renounced his desire for pleasure, pleases others and which involves his own welfare as well as the welfare of others. By discharging one’s duty, ‘Yoga’ (equanimity) is naturally attained. Without discharging one’s duty a man can’t attain equanimity. Having attained equanimity, knowledge of Truth is naturally attained-which is the result of both-‘Karmayoga’ (the Discipline of Action) and ‘Jnanayoga’ (the Discipline of Knowledge).

Gita 2.40

nehabhikrama-naso ‘sti

pratyavayo na vidyate

svalpam apy asya dharmasya

trayate mahato bhayat


In this path (of selfless action), there is neither loss of effort, nor any adverse result. Even a little practice of this discipline (dharma) protects one from great danger (of birth and death),


In the normal course of events actions and merits have a finish at the end of one’s lifetime. The actions have a conclusion in this world and the merits have a conclusion in the next world. It is likened as to a farmer tilling his crops; by industrious action the merits of an abundant harvest are assured. But if he is to omit any of the steps such as watering or pruning within the process the harvest is put into jeopardy. Similarly the demerit of non-comittance by Arjuna is also possible if any action of his duty is not performed. But here Lord Krishna explains in bhakti-yoga which is His exclusive loving devotional service there is an exemption to the aforementioned rule and that there is never any loss or diminution to those who are fortunate enough to perform bhakti-yoga in this lifetime or any lifetime. Unlike the cultivation of farming which is always beset by problems of weather, drought, blight and numerous unexpected difficulties. In bhakti-yoga there is no chance of contrary results or fear of demerits when carrying out devotional service for the ultimate satisfaction of the Supreme Lord.

Actions which are performed with a desire for fruits, can give adverse result, if there is any error in the pronunciation of incantations, or in performing sacrifice, etc. Suppose, a man performs sacrifice, for the birth of a son, but if it is not performed according to scriptures, it might result in the death, of a member of the family, instead of blessing him with a son. Sometime, if the result is not quite contrary, it may be less harmful, as the son may be born crippled. But, one who performs actions, without having any desire for fruits, becomes equanimous and so there is no adverse result from his effort.

Gita 2.31

sva-dharmam api caveksya

na vikampitum arhasi

dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ‘nyat

ksatriyasya na vidyate


Considering your specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on principles; hence no need for hesitation.


There are two kinds of ‘swa-dharmas’, specific duties. As long as one is not liberated, one has to perform the duties of that particular body in accordance with religious principles in order to achieve liberation. When one is liberated, one’s swa-dharma-specific duty-becomes spiritual and is not in the material bodily concept. In the bodily concept of life there are specific duties for the Brahmans and Kshatriyas respectively, and such duties are unavoidable.

Kshatriya is the one who protects us from harm. That is, it is the dharma of a Kshatriya to fight for the right cause. There is nothing more welcome to a man of the warrior class than a righteous war viz., which is his main duty. Similar is the case with the people of other classes-the priest, the business and the labour classes.

We all must perform our duties and responsibilities to the best of our abilities. Doing someone else job, however nicely, and not doing yours will result in the failure of the individual as well as the team.

Gita 2.32

yadrcchaya copapannam

svarga-dvaram apavrtam

sukhinah ksatriyah partha

labhante yuddham idrsam


O Partha, happy are the Kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come


Duryodhana imposed a condition on the Pandavas, “If you lose while gambling, you will be exiled for twelve years and will reside in an unknown place for one year. Then after thirteen years you will regain your empire. But, if you are identified during that one year period, you will again be exiled for twelve years.” The Pandavas accepted the condition and suffered twelve years in exile, and one year’s incognito existence. After expiration of the period, when the Pandavas demanded their empire, Duryodhana refused to give them, even as much land as could be covered by the point of a needle, without waging war. The Pandavas made several efforts for a compromise, but Duryodhana bluntly refused. Therefore, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, “You have got this unsought and unsolicited opportunity, for waging a war. Such a righteous war is an open gateway to heaven.” Only those who are greatly fortunate get the opportunity to fight such a battle which has manifested unsought of its own accord which is verily a direct gateway to the heavenly spheres.

Here ‘Kshatriya’ only indicates your duty in a given profession and should never hesitate to perform your duty to your best of abilities. If you are a police officer, you must fire at a robber to protect the innocent. A soldier must kill the enemy to protect his country and so on.

Gita 2.33

atha cet tvam imam dharmyam

sangramam na karisyasi

tatah sva-dharmam kirtim ca

hitva papam avapsyasi


If, however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.


Arjuna was a famous fighter, and he attained fame by fighting many great demigods, including even Lord Siva. After fighting and defeating Lord Siva in the dress of a hunter, Arjuna pleased the lord and received as a reward a weapon called ‘pasupata-astra’. Everyone knew that he was a great warrior. Even Dronacharya gave him benedictions and awarded him the special weapon by which he could kill even his teacher. So he was credited with so many military certificates from many authorities, including his adopted father Indra, the heavenly king. But if he abandoned the battle, he would not only neglect his specific duty as a Kshatriya, but he would lose all his fame and good name and thus prepare his royal road to hell. In other words, he would go to hell, not by fighting, but by withdrawing from battle.

Essentially not doing ones duty is as bad as doing someone else’s.

Gita 2.34

akirtim capi bhutani

kathayisyanti te ‘vyayam

sambhavitasya cakirtir

maranad atiricyate


People will always speak of your infamy, and for one who has been honoured, dishonour is worse than death.


For a respectable man like you, ill fame is worse than death. So, you should not flee for fear of your life; better to die in the battle. Nothing is lost, if wealth is lost; something is lost if health is lost, everything is lost if character is lost. Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow.

Not only will happiness and fame elude Arjuna if he disregards his duty as a Kshatriya but the whole world will chastise him and speak of his act of disgrace in public as well as in private. They will say Arjuna was a coward for when the battle was about to begin he gave only excuses and retreated hastily from the battlefield. Lord Krishna is telling him that forever history will brand him for cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that what the public think is of no consequence to him, Sri Krishna neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, strength, courage etc. which are all contrary to cowardice to have to accept infamy is worse than death.

Gita 2.35

bhayad ranad uparatam

mamsyante tvam maha-rathah

yesam ca tvam bahu-mato

bhutva yasyasi laghavam


The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you a coward.


Do not think that the great generals like Duryodhana, Karna, and other contemporaries will think that you have left the battlefield out of compassion for your brothers and grandfather. They will think that you have left out of fear for your life. Arjuna is generally known as a mighty warrior and a renowned hero, a worthy opponent for any of the valiant warriors of the Kauravas such as Karna, Duryodhana etc. If Arjuna were to retire from the fight on the eve of battle they would all consider him a coward and they immediately would assume that Arjuna had abstained from battle due to feeling dread at their prowess. Therefore, if you desist from the war, all the living beings will think that you have done so out of fear, not out of a sense of duty and righteousness, as it is the first and foremost duty of a Kshatriya to fight.