Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Bhagvad Gita – Chapter 3 – Selfless Service

Here’s the third chapter of this great epic. Arjuna is embattled with questions, by now. He asks the Lord if Knowledge is better than Action, why is he asking him to engage in this war? And the Lord replies thus: You are a sinless one, dear Arjuna. As explained earlier, there are 2 paths you can trod: the path of jnana (for a knowledge seeker) or the path of karma (for the action oriented) There is a state beyond action also which requires real grit to achieve. However,note that there is no one in this world who can be free of action. The deluded think that they are the doer, but in truth, the gunas (sattva, rajasic or tamasic) are acting, at any point of time. Great is the man who can use his mind to control his senses and do his karma without attachment. Action is very important because we cannot sustain even our body without it.

All action binds us. The only action that does not bind us is sacrifice. The action performed in the name of God, without any attachment. The Gods satisfied with your action shall reward you aptly. Those who eat their food without thanking the Gods is a thief. Hence offer your food to the Gods. This food which has been blessed by the Gods is the leftover that we should eat. As you know food is  responsible for our thoughts. Food is nourished by the  rains, which again downs on us with a sacrifice. (the duties well done without expectation).


One who is free from duties and who is content in himself, derives happiness from the Self. He/She is truly happy who is content internally. There is no purpose that motivated a wise man. He/She does his/her duty as demanded, without any expectation of the fruits. Remember, we covered this in Chapter 2. There were great kings like Janaka who did their duty in this sporting manner and achieved results beyond their wildest imagination. Whatever such great men do, others follow. They set an example for others. Then the Lord says that there is nothing in all these 3 worlds that he doesn’t have, but he keeps working away like the Sun, spreading his light silently without any expectation. Imagine if God were to take a break, the whole world would be in Pandemonium. Hence he keeps working always and sets this example in front of others.

O great Arjuna, just like the ignorant are attached to their actions, the wise do it without expectations. The wise should not try to influence the souls which are ignorant, lest they may forget their duty in between. All people act according to their nature (gunas acting actually) and those who understand this concept, have a good understanding about themselves. Just like smoke covers fire, lust hides a human beings potential. Above the senses is the intellect. Hence as a parting gift the Lord asks Arjuna to control his senses through action with unalloyed devotion.

The secret behind this chapter is understanding the meaning of duty, the path of jnana and karma and doing things without attachment. Desires are fine, but selfish desires are not.

Hope that gave you a brief overview of this lesson.

More to come in a week’s time.

Stay tuned.


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