Arjun said: O Janardana, O Keshava, why do You want to engage me in this ghastly warfare, if You that intellidence is better than fruitive work?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna has very elaborately described the constitution of the soul in the previous chapter, with a view to delivering His intimate friend Arjun from the ocean of material grief. And the path of realization has been recommended:
buddhi-yoga, or Krishna consciousness. Sometimes Krishna consciousness is misunderstood to be inertia, and one with such a misunderstanding often withdraws to a secluded place to become fully Krishna conscious by chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna. But without
being trained in the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, it is not
advisable to chant the holy name of Krishna in a secluded place, where
one may acquire only cheap adoration from the innocent public.
Arjun also thought of Krishna consciousness or buddhi-yoga, or
intelligence in spiritual advancement of knowledge, as something
like retirement from active life and the practice of penance and
austerity at a secluded place. In other words, he wanted to skillfully
avoid the fighting by using Krishna consciousness as an excuse. But as
a sincere student, he placed the matter before his master and questioned Krishna as to his best course of action. In answer Lord Krishna
elaborately explained karma-yoga, or work in Krishna consciousness,
in this Third Chapter.
- vyamisreneva vakyena
- buddhim mohayasiva
- me tad ekam vada
- niscitya yena
- sreyo ham apnuyam.
My intelligence is bewildered by Your equivocal instructions. There-
fore, please tell me decisively which will be most beneficial for me.
In the previous chapter, as a prelude to the Bhagavad-gita, many
different paths were explained, such as sankhya-yoga, buddhi-yoga,
control of the senses by intelligence, work without fruitive desire,
and the position of the neophyte. This was all presented unsystematically. A more organized outline of the path would be necessary for action and understanding. Arjun, therefore, wanted to
clear up these apparently confusing matters so that any common
man could accept them without misinterpretation. Although Krishna
had no intention of confusing Arjun by any jugglery of words,
Arjun could not follow the process of Krishna consciousness-either
by inertia or by active service. In other words, by his questions he is
clearing the path of Krishna consciousness for all students who
seriously want to understand the mystery of the Bhagavad-Gita.
- sri-bhagavan uvaca
- loke smin dvi-vidha
- nistha pura prokta
- mayanagha jnana-yogena
- sankhyanam karma-yogena yoginam.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: 0 sinless Arjun, I have
already explained that there are two classes of men who try to realize
the self. Some are inclined to understand it by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others by devotional service.
In the Second Chapter, verse 39, the Lord explained two kinds of
procedures-namely sankhya-yoga and karma-yoga, or buddhi-
yoga. In this verse, the Lord explains the same more clearly.
Sankhya-yoga, or the analytical study of the nature of spirit and
matter, is the subject matter for persons who are inclined to speculate and understand things by experimental knowledge and philosophy. The other class of men work in Krishna consciousness, as it is
explained in the 61st verse of the Second Chapter. The Lord has
explained, also in the 39th verse, that by working by the principles of
buddhi-yoga, or Krishna consciousness, one can be relieved from the
bonds of action; and, furthermore, there is no flaw in the process.
The same principle is more clearly explained in the 61st verse-that
this buddhi-yoga is to depend entirely on the Supreme (or more
specifically, on Krishna), and in this way all the senses can be brought
under control very easily. Therefore, both the yogas are inter-
dependent, as religion and philosophy. Religion without philosophy
is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.
The ultimate goal is Krishna, because the
philosophers who are also sincerely searching after the Absolute
Truth come in the end to Krishna consciousness. This is also stated in
the Bhagavad-Gita. The whole process is to understand the real
position of the self in relation to the Superself. The indirect process is
philosophical speculation, by which, gradually, one may come to the
point of Krishna consciousness; and the other process is directly
connecting with everything in Krishna consciousness. Of these two,
the path of Krishna consciousness is better because it does not depend
on purifying the senses by a philosophical process. Krishna consciousness is itself the purifying process, and by the direct method of
devotional service it is simultaneously easy and sublime.
- na karmanam anarambhan
- naiskarmyam puruso
- snute na ca sannyasanad
- eva siddhim samadhigacchati.
Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from
reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
The renounced order of life can be accepted when one has been
purified by the discharge of the prescribed form of duties which are
laid down just to purify the hearts of materialistic men. Without
purification, one cannot attain success by abruptly adopting the
fourth order of life (sannyasa). According to the empirical philosophers, simply by adopting sannyasa, or retiring from fruitive activities, one at once becomes as good as Narayana.
But Lord Krishna does
not approve this principle. Without purification of heart, sannyasa is
simply a disturbance to the social order. On the other hand, if some-
one takes to the transcendental service of the Lord, even without
discharging his prescribed duties, whatever he may be able to advance
in the cause is accepted by the Lord (buddhi-yoga). Even a slight performance
of such a principle enables one to overcome great difficulties.
- na hi kascit ksanam
- api jatu tisthaty
- akarma-krt karyate
- hy avasah karma sarvah
- prakrti-jair gunaih.
Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has
acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can
refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
It is not a question of embodied life, but it is the nature of the soul to
be always active. Without the presence of the spirit soul, the material
body cannot move. The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by
the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a
moment. As such, the spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work
of Krishna consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations
dictated by illusory energy. In contact with material energy, the spirit
soul acquires material modes, and to purify the soul from such
affinities it is necessary to engage in the prescribed duties enjoined in
the sastras. But if the soul is engaged in his natural function of Krishna
consciousness, whatever he is able to do is good for him. The-
Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.17) affirms this:
"If someone takes to Krishna consciousness, even though he may not
follow the prescribed duties in the sastras or execute the devotional
service properly, and even though he may fall down from the stan-
dard, there is no loss or evil for him. But if he carries out all the
injunctions for purification in the sastras, what does it avail him if he
is not Krishna conscious?" So the purificatory process is necessary for
reaching this point of Krishna consciousness. Therefore, sannydsa, or
any purificatory process, is to help reach the ultimate goal of becom-
ing Krishna conscious, without which everything is considered a
- karmendriyani samyamya
- ya aste manasa smaran
- indriyarthan vimudhatma
- mithyacarah sa ucyate.
One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on
sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
There are many pretenders who refuse to work in Krishna conscious-
ness but make a show of meditation, while actually dwelling within
the mind upon sense enjoyment. Such pretenders may also speak on
dry philosophy in order to bluff sophisticated followers, but accord-
ing to this verse these are the greatest cheaters. For sense enjoyment
one can act in any capacity of the social order, but if one follows the
rules and regulations of his particular status, he can make gradual
progress in purifying his existence. But he who makes a show of
being a yogi while actually searching for the objects of sense gratification must be called the greatest cheater, even though he sometimes
speaks of philosophy. His knowledge has no value, because the
effects of such a sinful man's knowledge are taken away by the
illusory energy of the Lord. Such a pretender's mind is always
impure, and therefore his show of yogic meditation has no value
- yas tv indriyani manasa
- niyamyarabhate rjuna
- karmendriyaih karma-yogam
- asaktah sa visisyate.
On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active
senses by the mind and begins karma-yoga [in Krishna consciousness]
without attachment, he is by far superior.
Instead of becoming a pseudo transcendentalist for the sake of
wanton living and sense enjoyment, it is far better to remain in one's
own business and execute the purpose of life, which is to get free
from material bondage and enter into the kingdom of God. The
prime svartha-gali, or goal of self-interest, is to reach Lord Vishnu. The
whole institution of varna and dsrama is designed to help us reach
this goal of life.
A householder can also reach this destination by
regulated service in Krishna consciousness. For self-realization, one
can live a controlled life, as prescribed in the sastras, and continue
carrying out his business without attachment, and in that way make
progress. A sincere person who follows this method is far better
situated than the false pretender who adopts show-bottle spiritual-
ism to cheat the innocent public. A sincere sweeper in the street is far
better than the charlatan meditator who meditates only for the sake
of making a living.
- niyatam kuru karma
- tvam karma jyayo hy
- akarmanah sarira-yatrapi
- ca te na prasiddhyed akarmanah.
Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one's physical body without work.
There are many pseudo meditators who misrepresent themselves as
belonging to high parentage, and great professional men who falsely
pose that they have sacrificed everything for the sake of advance-
ment in spiritual life. Lord Krishna did not want Arjun to become a
pretender. Rather, the Lord desired that Arjun perform his pre-
scribed duties as set forth for ksatriyas. Arjun was a householder
and a military general, and therefore it was better for him to remain
as such and perform his religious duties as prescribed for the house-
Such activities gradually cleanse the heart of a
mundane man and free him from material contamination. So-called
renunciation for the purpose of maintenance is never approved by
the Lord, nor by any religious scripture. After all, one has to
maintain one's body and soul together by some work. Work should
not be given up capriciously, without purification of materialistic
propensities. Anyone who is in the material world is certainly pos-
sessed of the impure propensity for lording it over material nature,
or, in other words, for sense gratification. Such polluted propensities
have to be cleared. Without doing so, through prescribed duties, one
should never attempt to become a so-called transcendentalist,
renouncing work and living at the cost of others.
- yajnarthat karmano nyatra
- loko yam karma-bandhanah
- tad-artham karma kaunteya
- mukta-sangah samacara.
Work done as a sacrifice for Lord Vishnu has to be performed; otherwise
work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, 0 son of
Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in
that way you will always remain free from bondage.
Since one has to work even for the simple maintenance of the body,
the prescribed duties for a particular social position and quality are
so made that that purpose can be fulfilled. Yajria means Lord Lord Vishnu,
or sacrificial performances. All sacrificial performances also are
meant for the satisfaction of Lord Lord Vishnu. The Vedas enjoin: yajno
vai vifnuh. In other words, the same purpose is served whether one
performs prescribed yajnas or directly serves Lord Lord Vishnu. Krishna
consciousness is therefore performance of yq/na as it is prescribed
in this verse. The varndsrama institution also aims at satisfying
Lord Lord Vishnu. Varnasramdcaravald purusena parafi puman/ Lord Vishnur
arddhyate (Lord Vishnu Purdna 3.8.8).
Therefore one has to work for the satisfaction of Lord Vishnu. Any other
work done in this material world will be a cause of bondage, for both
good and evil work have their reactions, and any reaction binds the
performer. Therefore, one has to work in Krishna consciousness to
satisfy Krishna (or Lord Vishnu); and while performing such activities one is
in a liberated stage. This is the great art of doing work, and in the
beginning this process requires very expert guidance. One should
therefore act very diligently, under the expert guidance of a devotee
of Lord Krishna, or under the direct instruction of Lord Krishna Him-
self (under whom Arjun had the opportunity to work). Nothing
should be performed for sense gratification, but everything should
be done for the satisfaction of Krishna. This practice will not only save
one from the reaction of work, but also gradually elevate one to
transcendental loving service of the Lord, which alone can raise one
to the kingdom of God.
- saha-yajnah prajah
- srstva purovaca prajapatih
- anena prasavisyadhvam
- esa vo stv ista-kama-dhuk.
In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth
generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Lord Vishnu,
and blessed them by saying, "Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice]
because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable
for living happily and achieving liberation."
The material creation by the Lord of creatures (Lord Vishnu) is a chance
offered to the conditioned souls to come back home-back to
Godhead. All living entities within the material creation are conditioned by material nature because of their forgetfulness of their
relationship to Lord Vishnu, or Krishna, the Supreme Personality of God-
head. The Vedic principles are to help us understand this eternal
relation, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gitd. The Lord says that the purpose of the Vedas is to
understand Him. In the Vedic hymns it is said: patim visvasydtmes-
varam. Therefore, the Lord of the living entities is the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam also
(2.4.20) Srila Sukadeva Gosvami describes the Lord as pati in so
The praja-pati is Lord Lord Vishnu, and He is the Lord of all living
creatures, all worlds, and all beauties, and the protector of everyone.
The Lord created this material world to enable the conditioned souls
to learn how to perform yajnas (sacrifices) for the satisfaction of
Lord Vishnu, so that while in the material world they can live very comfort-
ably without anxiety and after finishing the present material body
they can enter into the kingdom of God.
That is the whole program
for the conditioned soul. By performance of yajna, the conditioned
souls gradually become Krishna conscious and become godly in all
respects. In the Age of Kali, the sankirtana-yajna (the chanting of
the names of God) is recommended by the Vedic scriptures, and this
transcendental system was introduced by Lord Caitanya for the
deliverance of all men in this age. Sankirtana-yajna and Krishna
consciousness go well together. Lord Krishna in His devotional form
(as Lord Caitanya) is mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam
(11.5.32) as follows, with special reference to the sankirtana-yajna:
"In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates,
by performance of sankirtana-yajna." Other yajnas prescribed in the
Vedic literatures are not easy to perform in this Age of Kali. but the
sankirtana-yajna is easy and sublime for all purposes, as recommended in Bhagavad-Gita..