Beach 8: One's Nature vis-à-vis one's Duty





II-47 to 51:  Several ways in which one can understand these shlokas. There are two aspects. Why? And How?.   ‘Why’ is explained by the first 25 below :


1.   Action is done by the BMI.  The consequence of action will come to the BMI.   But you have to be detached from your BMI. This means you should have no attachment to the consequence of action.  Maa phaleshhu.

2.   Any binding to the results of the action means a bondage to its transience. Any bondage to transient things creates a vAsanA which will have to be exhausted later either by an experience in this birth or by having a future birth. (See V – 12).

3.   Any thirst for the fruits of actions will mean more births again and again  to enjoy them.

4.   Dispensation of the fruits of action is under the control of Providence. So to think that we have done the action and so we deserve to enjoy the fruits of action – is illogical.

5.   If you are attached to the fruits of your action, efficiency of the action will suffer. Attached involvement implies excitement which implies confusion; therefore efficiency suffers. Example: Answering an examination paper.  Acting on the stage.

6.   Detachment is only a question of attitude. See III – 25 & XVIII-57 Attachment means presence of ego-centric desires. Let not attachment or aversion determine the action.

7.   See II-48. Even-mindedness to success or failure is a must.  This is  maa phaleshhu”.

8.   maa te sangostvakarmani”. You cannot desist from action because you have to do what is prescribed for you. See III – 8.

9.   Renunciation of an obligatory duty is in no way justified. One cannot reach the goal of Karma Yoga that way. See III – 4; XVIII – 7,8.

10.                   Detachment from the fruits of actions does not mean indifference to them. For you have to do your duties efficiently.  samAcara” is the word. See  III-9 and III – 19. Also XVIII – 26.

11.                   Later Krishna is going to say that you are not the doer of your actions. Then, if you are not the doer, then you cannot be the experiencer of the results of the actions.  So the fruits of the actions are not yours. So “maa phaleshhu”. Another way of looking at this: “na aham kartA”; so where is the right for me for the fruits of actions?

12.                   Every desire is wrong. For desire leads to anger, anger leads to delusion, delusion leads to malfunction of the intellect and that is chaos. (See II-62, 63). So desire for the fruits of action is also wrong.

13.                   No expectations means no thought of success or failure. Therefore no frustration or elation. No consequential pain or pleasure. No jubilation, no dejection. No chance for play of the ego.

14.                   No  preoccupations with the future. This means: ‘Act in the living present’.

15.                   Your right is only for action, not for its renunciation. If you forcibly try to renounce all action, III-5 says you will not succeed. Your nature will compel you to act. (III -33) (XVIII-59,60).

16.                   Refusing to perform an obligatory duty will bring punishment not only in this world, but in the other world also.

17.                   The non-absolute philosophical schools emphasize: All actions are to be done for the satisfaction of God and never for any other fruit.

18.                   See ‘yat karoshi …’ (IX-27) . You have dedicated all your actions to God. So no more claim either on the action or its results.

19.                    XVIII -12 says ‘Fruits of action adhere not to those who do not have any desire or attachment to them. Such people are not therefore instrumental in making their action bear fruit. “mA karma phala-hetur bhUH

20.                   All unhappiness arises from non-recognition of the transience of everything. Therefore don’t be bound by the syndromes of the transient. Fruit of action is a transient.

21.                   Nothing is yours. In particular, the phala (=fruit of action) also cannot be yours.

22.                   Action done for oneself adds a coating to the Ego and thickens it. Thus it insulates one from God. Actions done for others remove the self-centredness.

23.                   artha and ‘kAma’ depend on destiny (prArabdha karma). ‘Dharma’ and ‘moksha’ depend upon self-effort, done desirelessly. So effort should not be wasted on doing karma with an eye on the fruits.

24.                   The Br.U. says those who work for fruits of actions are miserable, like ‘slaves bought for a price’.  kRpaNAH, paNakrIta iva dAsAdiH, says Shankara.

25.                   Neither the good nor the bad should keep us in bondage. all thought of phala, either way, is an obstacle to the spiritual ascent.

26.                   Do everything as a yajna, as a dedication. That way attachment will never be self-centred and no personal interests are at stake. Dedication means voluntary acceptance of suffering by the BMI for the sake of the deity of dedication.

27.                   In order to get rid of all attachments, acquire the (only) attachment to God.  Cf. “paRRuga ..  in TirukkuraL.

28.                   Break the VasanA-thought-action chain by doing every action as a discharge of obligation, not for reward: -- as you say, Thank you.

29.                   Six examples:  (a) Doctor on the Operation Table (b) Actor on the stage vis-à-vis his actions on the stage (c) Gramaphone needle doing its job without any like or dislike (d) Child kicking the chest of the adult who carries it. It has no axe to grind. (e) Nurse attending on a patient. (f) Judge sentencing a criminal.

30.                   All religions say: Do your duty. But Hinduism adds a punchline to it: “Do it without attachment or sense of ownership”.

31.                   III – 30 and XVIII – 26 , both capsule the entire strategy of right action in one shloka.





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