Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 18, part 1

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath
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Sloka 18


He who sees actions in inaction, and inaction in action, is the wise man, the yogi, the doer of all actions among men.


What is “seeing action in inaction” and “inaction in action”?
As this is a spiritual discourse, these two sentences refer to the actions of a spiritual seeker.

We have a very good example to understand this from two of the events in our day to day life in this world.

a)  Take the example of two trains at a station and we are the passengers in one of those two trains. When the train we are sitting moves forward, it appears that the other stationary train and the passengers in it are moving in an opposite direction even though that second train is stationary.
Here, motion is attributed wrongly to the motionless. We see action in inaction.

b)  Let us imagine that we are on the shore and there is a sailing ship in the waters. From our own viewpoint, it appears that the ship is stationary even though it is in motion.
Here, we attribute inaction to action.

We can see how ignorance covers our vision in these two instances.

In the spiritual journey, as discussed in the previous sloka, we are attributing action in inaction and say that “I am the doer, I enjoyed the food etc”. These actions were made possible only because of the life energy within which make us feel that we are the doer of actions.

On the contrary, we do not recognise the role of the life energy in all our actions and consider that this energy is static even though it is the real kinetic energy in constant motion to keep the body alive. Herein we mistake “inaction in action.”

He who recognises the role of the Atman within, the role of the divine energy in nature is the wise and a yogi. Mistaking the self (physical body, inert in the absence of life) as the Self (real doer of actions) is ignorance or egoistic.

***   will be continued   ***

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