Gita 3.16

evam pravartitam cakram

nanuvartayatiha yah

aghayur indriyaramo

mogham partha sa jivati


My dear Arjuna, a man who does not follow this prescribed Vedic system of sacrifice certainly leads a life of sin, for a person delighting only in the senses lives in vain.


Lord Krishna addresses Arjuna as ‘Partha’ to remind him that he is the son of Pritha (Kunti) who performed her duty even by suffering troubles throughout her life. So he should also perform his duty. As a broken fragment of the wheel of a chariot, gives a series of jerks to the charioteer, as well as to the driver, similarly a man who does not follow the wheel of creation, creates an obstacle in the smooth running of that wheel. When a man performs his duty by renouncing desire, feeling of ‘mine’, attachment and egoism etc., he gratifies the entire creation. The person who hankers after selfishness, pride, pleasures and prosperity, causes suffering to others and thus he is of a sinful nature.

Success of any organization or society is solely depended on its members. If it has members who are intelligent, hardworking, dedicated and working with a sense of sacrifice, such organization will grow and prosper .The man who does not perform his prescribed duties is a thief and a burden to the society.

Gita 3.17

yas tv atma-ratir eva syad

atma-trptas ca manavah

atmany eva ca santustas

tasya karyam na vidyate


But, for a person who takes delight only in the self, is satisfied with the self and content in the self alone, verily there is no further work to be done by him.


Lord Krishna now explains in this verse that actions are not necessary for one who is spiritually developed in atma-tattva or knowledge of the eternal soul. This is because such a person has actually realised their eternality and are enraptured solely by their soul experiencing unlimited bliss in every moment completely free from all external desires for pleasure and enjoyment; such a one on this platform has no more duties to perform. This is the meaning to be understood.

So long as a person assumes his affinity for the world, he rejoices in the sensual pleasures, wife, sons and family, remains satisfied with food and is content in riches. But they cannot provide him with perfect and lasting rejoicing, satisfaction and contentment, because the world is ever-changing, insentient and perishable while the self is uniform, sentient and imperishable. So how can the self be satisfied and be contented with the world, when there is not even the least affinity between the two? The aim of the performance of actions for a man is to attain salvation or God-realization. When this aim is achieved by anyone following the Disciplines of Actions, Knowledge or Devotion, nothing remains to be done, known and acquired by him and that is the supreme achievement of a human life. An action is performed, when there is desire to acquire something, and desire is born of want. The enlightened souls have no want, so they have to do nothing.


naiva tasya krtenartho

nakrteneha kascana

na casya sarva-bhutesu

kascid artha-vyapasrayah


A self-realized man has no purpose to fulfil in the discharge of his prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work. Nor has he any need to depend on any other living being.


Actions are performed in two ways-either in order to satisfy desire or to get rid of desire. Common men work in order to satisfy their desires, while a Karma yogi performs actions, in order to get rid of desires. Therefore, an enlightened soul being free from desire has not the least affinity for the performance of duty. Actions are performed by him, automatically without any selfish motive, for the welfare of the entire creation. Such a God-realized soul realizes that all the worldly objects, body, senses, mind and intellect etc., are not his own, but these belong to the world. So, these should be utilized for the world. This is, because no action can be performed without the help of the world. Apart from this, matter required for action, is also an offshoot of the world. It is in no way related to one’s own self. Therefore, nothing is ours. The cosmos can never be meant for an individual. As limbs of a body are ever engaged in doing good for the body, the body (a fragment of the world) of that enlightened soul, ever remains engaged in doing good to the world.

Gita 3.19

tasmad asaktah satatam

karyam karma samacara

asakto hy acaran karma

param apnoti purusah


Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty; for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.


A person who is interested in attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation must perform activities without desire unattached to the results. The reason being that one without desires has their mind focused on the Supreme Lord and such direction leads to spiritual knowledge. So Lord Krishna is emphasising this point that while performing prescribed Vedic actions in this way without attachment, with the consciousness directed towards the Supreme Lord, naturally purity of mind develops and then spiritual knowledge after which the highest moksha or liberation from the material existence is attained

It is attachment, not action, which leads to one’s downfall. Being attached to the body, senses, mind, intellect and other mundane objects etc., a man performs actions, in order to derive pleasure out of them. This attachment for the materialistic objects etc., leads him to the cycle of birth and death. By performing actions for the welfare of others, we get out of the old debt and we cease to run into new debt, as we perform actions in a disinterested way. Thus, we are liberated from bondage. Duty is that, which must be done for the welfare of others, according to the ordinance of the scriptures and according to one’s capacity, by renouncing one’s selfish motive. The term ‘samacara’ means, that the duty must be performed very carefully, enthusiastically, promptly and duly, so that the aim may be attained. If there is the least dereliction of duty, it creates a great hurdle in the path, of a Karma yogi.

Gita 3.20

karmanaiva hi samsiddhim

asthita janakadayah

loka-sangraham evapi

sampasyan kartum arhasi


Even kings like Janaka and others attained perfection by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.


King Janaka and other great men renowned for their wisdom performed countless prescribed Vedic activities according to their status in society yet reached perfection in atma-tattva and attained moksha in their lives. Even after attaining moksha they performed Vedic activities for the benefit and welfare of the world and to inspire others also to perform prescribed Vedic actions for the balance and maintenance of the world. For one who is not a person of wisdom such activities performed leads to purification and for one who is a person of wisdom such activities lead to the bliss of pleasing the Supreme Lord and the fulfilment of the bliss of moksha.

Here Lord Krishna follows the approved adage of citing previous historical examples such as King Janaka the father of Sita who was Rama’s wife. King Janaka by performing prescribed Vedic activities purified his mind and consciousness and achieved perfection; but even after attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation King Janaka continued to perform prescribed Vedic activities for the purification of the world and felt bliss. Also people seeing such a great king as Janaka performing sacred actions also became inspired to follow his example. To the contrary those wallowing in material nature in the mode of ignorance fail to perform Vedic actions are ruined in this life and the next.







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