Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 18, part 2

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.


***   continuation from last week   ***

“Doer of all actions among men”:

This again refers to actions towards achieving “Self-knowledge” which is “Atma Jnana.”

Such a wise man is the doer of actions that helps him in getting the “Atma Jnana” which is also “Brahma Jnana”. Yogi is he who has no ego or sense of doership in his actions and attributes all to the Atman within. He is said to be in a state of constant bliss and does not succumb to pleasures and pains of day to day life. He is the “Sthitaprajna” and “Jivanmukta.”

Let us not therefore desist from our obligatory duties due to laziness or ignorance as it is going to be harmful in the spiritual journey. Let us all diligently conduct all actions in the spirit of “Nishkama karma and karma phala tyaga.”

In the words of Swamy Vivekananda:
Let not your work produce results for you, and at the same time you may be never without work.

Swami Vivekananda says also:
The perfectly trained alone are at their best both in solitude and society. They are tuned both to action and inaction. They conduct all their obligatory duties and have no sense of ego.

In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna is the embodiment of “inaction in action” as He is the instrument for all the events on the battlefield. On the contrary, Arjuna who has dropped the bow and arrows and sitting dejected is the example of “action in inaction.” Non apprehension of reality made him develop misapprehension of reality.

No action/inaction in action:

This is satvika type of action. Such an individual sees himself as the Atman and attributes all actions to the body which is the servant of the Atman within.

Let us take the example of a cinema screen. In the absence of the background screen, the film cannot be projected. It is essential for seeing the film. The screen is not tainted by any actions that take place on it.

The Atman is the screen and the various scenes on the screen are the actions of the body in relation to the secular world. Realising that I am not the doer of actions and I am the eternal witness for bodily modifications is the way of satvika. There is absolutely no sense of doership.

Action in inaction:

Actions sprout from the thoughts in the mind. Thoughts sprout from the mind. One can be still active without showing any outward actions. As a matter of fact, there is an idiom that says: An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

A wise man is he who can realise and see intense activity in inaction and inaction in action. The Lord says he is fit for liberation.

Arjuna dropped his bow and arrow and sat down on the chariot; he was physically inactive but mentally highly active. His mind was full of thoughts of grief. Such a state of him is the example of action in inaction.

Sri Krishna on the other hand was holding on to the reins of the horses on the chariot. He had no desire for action or desire for the fruits of action. He is the example of inaction in action. He is imparting the spiritual knowledge to Arjuna and through Arjuna to the entire mankind.

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