Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 3, Sloka 4, part 1

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 4:


Man does not reach the actionless state of Brahman by non-performance of actions.
Man also does not attain “perfection” by renunciation only.


Let us analyse the first half of the verse:

“Man does not reach the actionless state of Parabrahman by non-performance of actions.”

Many have a wrong notion that as sin can only result from the actions performed, it is best to avoid actions altogether.
They also have a wrong notion that “Brahman is actionless.”
If I achieve “Liberation” I do not need to conduct any more actions, they assume.

We are told that all these assumptions are wrong. Why?

Each one of us is on this earth commissioned to live through and exhaust the fruits of our actions conducted in the past and continuing to conduct at present. To exhaust all the stored vasanas (vasana kshaya) and achieve the destruction of the so called mind of ours, (Manonasha) we have no choice but to work. Only on achieving the two conditions successfully, i.e.: “vasana kashaya and mano nasha,” we can realise the state of “Parabrahman”.

Even then, to consider that “Parabrahman is actionless” is also a wrong notion.
Parabrahman is constantly at work for the maintenance of the universe He created.

The second half of the verse:

“Man also does not attain perfection by renunciation.”

A child gets perfection in walking after several attempts to crawl, to stand up and start learning to walk the first few steps.
One attains perfection in cookery after the first few failed attempts.
We have to live in this world, conduct ordained actions and learn from our mistakes.

Later on we will come to know this as “Jnana and Vijnana”. Knowledge by itself cannot make the individual perfect. Actions conducted with the knowledge, learning from the mistakes are necessary to attain perfection. We will be told later on in chapter 7 that one in a million tries to achieve perfection and a rare few among those who try will actually succeed in achieving perfection.

Graduation does not give the tile of “Professor and Head of the Department.” The graduate has to pass through a number of stages of promotion from lecturer to Professor.

Thinking that we know all about “actions and results, both good and bad; happiness, sorrow” and decide to renounce all actions is a foolish assumption.

In continuation of the theme taken up in the previous verse, Sri Krishna is therefore stressing on the need to conduct actions.

***   will be continued   ***

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