Theme of second half of this chapter, and the theme of next chapter is predominantly ‘Karma Yoga’. Karma, in simple terms simply refers to the actions we perform. What should be our approach and attitude (or mindset) towards the work we’re doing, that’s the subject here.

The Lord so far explained (see here):
Āthman is the real essence of our existence.
This āthman is indestructible; but body in which it resides keeps changing.
Thus, it is futile to identify with body, which is only temporary. So, rise above the emotions and attachment derived from body, and stand up for dharma.

So what use is of this body?

The lord explains another perspective about why Arjuna shouldn’t abandon the battlefield – based on sva-dharma of Arjuna.
Arjuna is a kshatriya – class of people that are responsible for administration and protection of society. This battlefield was ready for quelling adharma and upholding dharma. There’s no honour higher than sacrificing oneself for such noble purpose, for a kshatriya.

The lord also makes another significant point in this context. Arjuna was a celebrated warrior, and Pāndavās were known for their sincere commitment to dharma. That being the case, Arjuna renouncing the battlefield would be viewed as cowardice by all. With position and stature, comes equal responsibilities. It is important also to stay true to such a role!

Thus, the body is to be used as a means to perform actions (karma) that are aligned to your dharma. In this context, Arjuna’s sva-dharma is to protect – so the body is to be used for serving the purpose alone. Irrespective of whether it will get him pleasure or pain, victory or defeat – none of these should matter. Only thing that matters is, your dedication for the Purpose of action.

This is followed by an introduction to what Lord terms as ‘budhi yoga’ – which details on what should be our mindset while performing actions. This serves as a foundation to the next chapter, Karma Yoga. The ‘budhi’ (intelligence) should be completely committed to the purpose alone. Not having this attitude, will lead to distractions, straying you away from the goal.

In this context comes one of the most celebrated shlokas of Bhagavad Gita –

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 2.47 ||

Your right/entitlement is only on the action, never on its fruits. Never take pride that you are the cause for the result. And never be, without acting.

In one statement, the Lord is showing simple technique to get rid of stress and anxiety! Disassociate yourself from the result; but perform well.
Lord emphasises this point further – stating don’t ever think you are the cause of that fruit/result. Although you are a part of the action, that is not the ONLY factor that yields result.
Think of it – our existence itself is a blessing of the divine. What we are – our behavioural traits, our skills, our education is a result of the ecosystem that we’re brought up in – not a conscious decision we make. For example, look back at your formative years – did you choose your family, or your relatives, or your initial schools, or your teachers that groomed you, or the friends you made.. These are divine blessings, that made you what you are. So, can we ever take pride of doing, all alone??

Not just this perspective, it is also true that result is often a culmination of many factors. It could be situation, our past actions, influence of other people and the likes, which sometimes isn’t obvious either.
Simply put, take away the burden of result off your back – leave it to lord; just perform your duties relentlessly! This is a simple recipe for content living!

Performing your duties thus – taking both possible outcomes, success or failure in an equal sense, that’s budhi yoga.
Developing such an attitude in all actions we perform – that’s the real skill we ever need! Alas, so rare it is, and so difficult to practice! Isn’t it?
Arjuna also feels so, and asks the Lord – what are the traits of people that have such evolved wisdom – sthita-prajña? How does he acknowledge the situations, accept them, how does he get along with them?

Traits of Sthita-prajña

Such people are never driven by desires of sense organs and mind – meaning their desires are not for self gratification. Always content and blissful, with what they have – not dependent on ANY factor external to the mind. They are in complete control of their sense organs and mind, never distracted by sense objects all around.

Are they devoid of desires?? Desires vs Purpose explained..

Note the emphasis is on desires driven by sense organs. They’re not necessarily devoid of all desires, but their focus is on the purpose.
For example, desire of eating – purpose is to live. Desire of eating crispy Masala Dosa – is to satiate our tongue, more than the purpose of living. The focus suddenly shifted from living to tasting.
Now, if you don’t get Masala Dosa, but instead a crispy ghee dosa, most likely you’ll have that disappointment that you did not get that crispy Masala Dosa! And that desire will linger on until you get it next time. There’s no guarantee it will go away, even after having it the next time. So there’s no end to this desire driven by sense organs. Apply the principle to any sense organ, you’ll note how it behaves!

Similarly, with every work we do – there’s always one primary purpose. Then a myriad of desires – often subtle that we don’t even take note of these. They are nothing but distractions, leading us to perform in sub-optimal efficiency.

Let’s look at another example at how subtle it can be and how tricky they can be.
Purpose – Being kind to all. Desire of mind – I want to be seen as a kind person.
When you stick to purpose alone, your thoughts, actions all align towards being kind. Instead, if it’s driven by the desire of the mind, to be seen also as a kind person – then you’re bound to be disturbed when someone doesn’t recognise your kindness. There are plenty who wouldn’t want to acknowledge as well! Affect – you’ll likely stop being kind to them! There, we failed with the purpose we started with!

The lord cautions here, that it is not easy to achieve such control. For example, even if you forcefully give up eating something you like, the experience of having eaten earlier continues to linger. And it has the potential to throw you off control, easily! So the only remedy for this is, finding something even more enjoyable and isn’t temporary. Ah, experiencing that eternal truth. Anything else other than eternal truth, will only leave you craving for more. Thus, a person who is free from desires, having given up his ego, is ever content, ever peaceful. He is a sthita-prajña.


DISCLAIMER: This our sincere attempt to summarise the Gitōpadesha, via a series of short blogs. This is NOT the whole translation, or commentary of the divine book. We seek forgiveness of reader and the lord, for omissions which is inevitable to keep the blog short. The write-ups include both, writer’s personal opinion and summarised version of many shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita. Intent of blog was never to be a commentary of Bhagavad Gita, but simply inspire the reader to read Bhagavad Gita in it’s entirety. The writer is neither a scholar, nor a bummer, somewhere in between, with a firm belief that the lord gets him to do all the things he does. Being human, he still keeps erring. Forgive him for all such mistakes.

Sarvam Krishnarpanamasthu!