Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of Self-help
Author: BS Murthy

Chapter 4
Theory of Action Chapter 3

This chapter of 42 slokas, known as karma yoga, Theory of Action, covers the wholegamut of action. It is apparent that not all slokas here could be originals. It is pertinent to note that Lord Krishna was unequivocal, in s 42- s45, and s53 of the previous chapter, about the fallacy of the Vedic rituals, and the lack of wisdom in those that clamour for ceremonies, which promise rewards here and in hereafter.  
 
Given that postulation and going by the contextual nature of this chapter that emphasizes action, the s9 -s16 that eulogize the benefits of ritualistic sacrifices should be viewed. In this context, it is pertinent to note that while describing the Omnipresence of Supreme Spirit in chapter 10, it is postulated that among the Vedas, the Supreme Spirit is Sama Veda, symbolizing music (s22), and not Rig Veda or Yajur Veda, both associated with ritualism. And again, in (s25) of the same chapter, it is averred that among the sacrifices, the Lord is tapo yagjna, prayer muted, and not Asvamedha, the horse sacrifice. Thus, these eight slokas seem to be clear interpolations. Besides, s17,s18 and s35  are not only out of context  but also break the continuity of the discourse. S24 is but an analogy of s23 and thus is an interpolation. However, the readers may note that these slokas, if interpreted in the ritualistic sacrificial sense, would broadly convey that -  

9.  Man is not attached to his actions performed in ritualistic sacrifices but all other actions bind him. 

10. The Creator wanted mankind to prosper through sacrifices, which shall be the milch cow of man’s desires.

11. Foster the gods through sacrifices 

12. Fostered by sacrifices, gods would bestow desired enjoyments, but they are thieves who do not return anything to them (gods).

13. Those that partake the remnants of sacrificial food are sinless.

14. Food that sustains mankind comes from rains, which are but the outcome of sacrificial ceremonies.

15. Brahma is seated in sacrifice.

16. Who follow the above regimen would attain moksha.

To appreciate the background for these interpolations, one might refer to ‘All about Interpolations’ of this book. Bypassing these would tend them on the path of sequential thinking outlined by the Lord for the enlightenment of man. 

1  
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Capping wants, if betters action
How come Thou then push for war!

2  
Find I hard to grasp all this 
Thou be forthright, what is right.   

3  
Thus spoke the Lord:
Apply knowledge ’n be freed
Or thou make tango, with forgo
Precepts these yore, I fashioned.


4  
Work-shy being, is no freedom
Dormant being, makes no living. 

5  
None like for man, non-action  
Keeps him nature ever engaged.

6  
Refrains if one, ever craving  
Restraint it’s but misleading.


Reins as carnal, tucked in mind 
Strive who doth in deeds excel. 


Lest thee should stake survival 
Turn thy back not on thy work

19  
Ever thee act at par duty 
Let that be thy goal of life.

20  
Lead mankind in Janaka’s route
To moksha en route deeds selfless. 

21  
As and when thou prove thy worth
Emulates world then acts all thine.  

22  
Left with none to gain or prove
Keep I Myself ever engaged. 

23 
Were I to fail to self-exert  
Man might follow suit as well.

25 
Strive as wise to act freely
Get bound unwise ever restrained.    

26 
Waste not breath, ill-informed with 
Wise show ways through their own deeds.  

27 
Gloat as egotists of their deeds
Sourced are acts in one’s nature.


28  
Those that see the senses lie
Behind the deeds are truly freed.  

29  
Let go wise, who swear by
Joys of life that nature tends.     

30  
Act not with fear or favour
Unto Me leave, right ’n wrong. 


31  
Whoso takes, this advice  
Feels no burden ever engaged. 

32 
Who this lets go mindlessly  
Gropes in darkness, ever in life.

33  
Beings as by nature ruled
In spite of their self-restraint
Wise too tend to lose their way. 

34

Pays it to see grips avarice 
Senses those thine nature tends.  

36  
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Why should one with right intent 
Stray ever on the wayward ways!
 

37  
Thus spoke the Lord:   
Well, it's passion, lust ’n wrath 
Drag that man on path painful.

38  
Flame ’n mirror as shrouded
Without let by smoke ’n dust  
As well embryo in the womb 
Wisdom is by wants clouded.

39  
Wise all tend to cap all wants 
Which like fire all burn to core.

40 
Veiled off wisdom sees not man 
Mind and body steeped in wants.

41

Rein in matter with thy mind 
Thus thou nip thy wants in bud.  
 
42  
Score over senses sensuous feelings  
Betters that mind, bettered by knowing
But above all Spirit that reins supreme.

43  
Let thy Spirit 
Rule the roost, 
Restrain thou 
Thy mind mischievous.

Ends thus: 
Theory of Action,
The Third Chapter  
Of Bhagavad-Gita 
Treatise of self-help.

 

 

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