Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 3, Sloka 5, part 1

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath

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Sloka 5:


No one can ever remain, even for a moment, without performing work. Everyone, without his will, is made to do work by the qualities born of prakriti.


It is not so difficult to understand the first half of the verse. We all know that there are basically two types of actions:

>From the point of view of our own physical body, we conduct a number of involuntary actions. It is as though we do not know them but we carry on doing those actions according to a time clock set in our brain.

Act of breathing, circulation, digestion are some of the examples of involuntary actions we conduct. By nature, for the sole purpose of survival, we conduct these involuntary actions. Failure to breathe, failure of circulatory system end up with catastrophic consequences. Digestion is almost a continuous process within our body. We survive because of these involuntary actions.

The act of blinking is another example of involuntary action. It is to protect our eye, a delicate organ and an essential one for survival in this world. By nature, to protect the eyes, we conduct the act of blinking.

The second half of the verse is a little bit difficult to understand. The Lord says that everyone, without his will is made to work by the qualities born of prakriti. This refers to both voluntary and involuntary actions. We have looked at some examples of involuntary actions at the beginning of this verse. Let us look at some of the voluntary actions.

What we are and what we do voluntarily also to a large extent depends upon what we call as “thought imprints” called as “Vasanas”. These are stored in the mind and are the precursors of all our actions. The hindu philosophy is based on the theory of rebirth after the physical death. We have no control over where we are born next, what form we take and when after death we are born again. The present life is considered to be one of several births and deaths in our life. The life is a sojourn of innumerable births and deaths that ultimately leads one to “Liberation.” We had many births before and will have many more births to come. Depending on the purity of thoughts and actions we either climb upwards towards the path of attaining final Liberation or fall down into the world of lower forms of birth.

***   will be continued   ***

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