Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4, sloka 22

Newsletter on Bhagavadgita by Dr. P.V. Nath
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Sloka 22


Content with what he gets without efforts, free from the pairs of opposites, free from malice, balanced in success and failure, though acting, he is not bound.


Continuing the theme of the knowledge required to conduct perfect actions, we have enumeration of few more aspects of karma.

One has to conduct actions/karma; there is no doubt about it. Every individual has to act. Normally our actions are related to Annamaya kosha, Pranamaya kosha, Manomaya kosha. (The gross physical body; the internal organs lungs, heart, digestive organs, excretory organs, genital organs and to the mind.).

Whenever we act, we feel that we have put our efforts in it. The feeling of effort comes in because we feel that we have carried out the work. This feeling is the “ego” and the mind feels that “I have carried out the work.” If we can strive to go beyond the level of the mind and intellectually analyse the real doer of actions, we will find out that the actions were conducted because of the power of the Atman within.

Another way of explaining the same is as follows:

Every individual has a duty to work for his body, his family, the society and for the nature and all these have to be fulfilled in the spirit of “I am the servant of the Atman/divinity within.”

The Jnani realises that he has to work and it is his duty to do so. Karma and Jnana, (action and knowledge), Jnana and work, (knowledge and action) are interdependent.

With this understanding one has to know what the meaning of the sentence is:
“content with what he gets without efforts.”

“Effort” according to the dictionary is “putting forth an exertion of strength or power either bodily or mentally”. When we feel that we have put forth an exertion we consider we have done so with an effort. This is the “Ego” in us that makes us feel “I have done it.”

Such an individual, who has acquired the true Jnana, does not feel the effort by him in any actions conducted. He therefore feels content with what he gets out of the work done. Like a true karma yogi he puts 100% efforts in what he has to do, which is not desire oriented and offers the results to the Lord in the spirit of “Sri Krishnarpanamastu.” This is what we have to understand by the first quarter of the Sloka “Content with what he gets without efforts.”

Because of this attitude even though he works, it is all above the intellectual plane of thinking. He is not affected by success or failure, gain or loss, victory or defeat.

He is free from malice: (ill will, spite)

The true karma yogi with the knowledge of Jnana does not bear any ill will to anybody. Despite the failures he encounters in his work, he does not harbour any personal grudges. He attributes the failures to his past karmas and the fate decreed by the Lord for his past actions. On the other hand, if somebody else gets the benefit of his efforts, he does not get jealous. He does not feel that it was his right to enjoy the results and the other person should not have got the benefit.

Such an individual, who has perfected the art of working from the planes above the intellect, does not get bound by the results of his present actions. He will have successfully worked at clearing away the existing vasanas and will not have any more new vasanas entering his mind. He would soon move to mano nasha and attain “Liberation.”

The main feature of such an individual who has no sense of ego in his actions is “Trupti.” “Trupti” is contentment. He is content knowing that he has put all his efforts in the work and is not interested any more in what he would get out of the work. His actions are always without any Sankalpa.

Quote from Bhajagovindam of Sri Shankaracharya:

Mudha jahihi dhanagamat trishnam
Kuru sadbudhim manasi vitrisnam
Yallabhate nijakarmopattam
Vittam tena vinodaya cittam

O you ignorant, drop your thirst for wealth. Attain that state of the mind which is free from thirst for wealth. Develop the habit of letting your mind be satisfied with what you get from your personal effort.

Copyright for the texts on Bhagavad Gita by Dr. P.V. Nath, UK.
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