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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahâbhârata, Bhîshma Parva ch. 23-40.

with comments taken from the writings of





'That indeed is true spiritual education which 
secures universal peace, dispels narrow-
mindedness and fosters unity, harmony and
Bhagavân Baba


1 2a 2b 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18a 18b


Chapter 3
The Yoga of Action
'On mastering the intelligence'
'Karma Yoga'  




     "In seventeen verses, from the 56th to the 72nd, Krishna described in the second chapter the characteristics of the sthitaprajńa  and the excellence of that stage. Then, saying that He Himself had established jńânayoga for the sânkhyas and karmayoga for the yogîs, as means of attaining liberation, He spoke of the importance of karma." - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 42

     " Listen to this chapter sung!  "
[slokas 1 to 9, 20 & 21, 25 & 26, 30, 35 to 43]

" Listen to this spoken chapter in Audio "


Verse 1.

    arjuna uvâca
jyâyasî cet karmanas te
matâ buddhir janârdana
tat kim karmani ghore mâm
niyojayasi kes'ava

     Verse 2.

vyâmis'reneva vâkyena
buddhim mohayasîva me
tad ekam vada nis'citya
yena s'reyo 'ham âpnuyâm

 Verse 3.

s'rî-bhagavân uvâca
loke 'smin dvi-vidhâ nishthhâ
purâ proktâ mayânagha
jńâna-yogena sânkhyânâm
karma-yogena yoginâm

 Verse 4.

na karmanâm anârambhân
naishkarmyam purusho 's'nute
na ca sannyasanâd eva
siddhim samadhigacchati

 Verse 5.

na hi kas'cit kshanam api
jâtu tishthhaty akarmakrit
kâryate hy avas'ah karma
sarvah prakriti-jair gunaih

     "Prakruti (prakriti) or nature is the sum of attributes or characteristics. The gunas (modes of material nature), tamas (ignorance), rajas (passion) and satva (goodness) are the attributes of prakriti. Nature is but the permutation and combination of these gunas. So also are the attributes of doer (karthritva) and  enjoyer (bhoktrhitva)." - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 190.

     You might say that you will desist from karma rather than practice the difficult discipline of renouncing the fruits thereof. But that is impossible. No; it is inevitable; one has to do some karma or other. Not for a single moment can one free oneself from karma 'na hi kas'cit kshanam api' says Krishna, in the third chapter of the Gîtâ [B.G. 3:5]. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 33.

      Verse 6.

karmendriyâni samyamya
ya âste manasâ smaran
indriyârthân viműdhâtmâ
mithyâcârah sa ucyate

 Verse 7.

yas tv indriyâni manasâ
niyamyârabhate 'rjuna
karmendriyaih karma-yogam
asaktah sa vis'ishyate

     Control of the senses is very essential for man. Giving free play to them just because they belong to you is foolishness. Although it be your own horse, if you do not hold the reins tight while riding, you will meet with disaster. Similarly, you may say, "I have given money and purchased this car; it is registered in my name and it is my car," but if you do not apply the brakes when necessary, even though it is your own car, it will lead you to danger. Sense control is thus an imperative for all human beings and not just for yogîs and sannyâsîs. By letting himself be enslaved by his senses, man is degrading himself. The royal road to perfection consists of controlling one's senses, praying to the Almighty, and finally merging in Him - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 44

   Verse 8.

niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyâyo hy akarmanah
s'arîra-yâtrâpi ca te
na prasiddhyed akarmanah

     Every one has to bow to the demands of nature and engage himself in karma; it is inevitable. Therefore, Krishna said, "Do the karthavya-karmas, karma that is your bounden duty. Being engaged in karma is to be preferred to not being so engaged. If you desist from karma, the task of living becomes difficult, nay, impossible. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 42.

   Verse 9.

yajńârthât karmano 'nyatra
loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
mukta-sangah samâcara

Verse 10.

saha-yajńâh prajâh srishthvâ
purovâca prajâpatih
anena prasavishyadhvam
esha vo 'stv ishtha-kâma-dhuk

     Dharma is capable of conferring all that man wishes for, here and hereafter. It is the kâmadhenu, the celestical cow that grants all boons [see also: S.B. 9:15-26] . - Sathya Sai Speaks VI, p. 214-5

     Verse 11.

devân bhâvayatânena
te devâ bhâvayantu vah
parasparam bhâvayantah
s'reyah param avâpsyatha

 Verse 12.

ishthân bhogân hi vo devâ
dâsyante yajńa-bhâvitâh
tair dattân apradâyaibhyo
yo bhunkte stena eva sah

     Yajńa means, "any activity dedicated to the glory of God", not merely this activity prescribed in the ancient scriptures. Activity dedicated to the glory of God is being done and can be done in all climes, in all realms, by all races. The "dedication" ensures success. Without it, there will inevitably arise anxiety, fear and faction. Every activity in the world is God-directed, God-ward moving, whether you know or do not know. Only one has to be aware of it and share in the thrill of that knowledge. - Sathya Sai Speaks VIII, p. 117

 Verse 13.

yajńa-s'ishthâs'inah santo
mucyante sarva-kilbishaih
bhuńjate te tv agham pâpâ
ye pacanty âtma-kâranât

 Verse 14.

annâd bhavanti bhűtâni
parjanyâd anna-sambhavah
yajńâd bhavati parjanyo
yajńah karma-samudbhavah

 Verse 15.

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi
tasmât sarva-gatam brahma
nityam yajńe pratishthhitam

     Krishna taught Arjuna the origins of karma, the roots from where the urge to do karma sprouts and grows; He taught them so clearly that Arjuna's heart was really moved and modified. "The Vedas emanated from God; karmas emanated from the Vedas; from karma originated yajńa, from yajńa, rain; from rain grew food; from food came all living beings."This is the cycle that has to be accepted and honored. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 42.

 Verse 16.

evam pravartitam cakram
nânuvartayatîha yah
aghâyur indriyârâmo
mogham pârtha sa jîvati

      If the wheel of creation is to move smooth, each one has to keep on doing karma. Whoever he is, he cannot get round this obligation. Even he who has achieved the highest jńâna has to observe this rule. Eating and drinking, intake and release of breath, these too are karmas. Who can exist without these acts? -  Gîtâ Vahini, p. 43.

 Verse 17.

yas tv âtma-ratir eva syâd
âtma-triptas ca mânavah
âtmany eva ca santushthas
tasya kâryam na vidyate

 Verse 18.

naiva tasya kritenârtho
nâkriteneha kas'cana
na câsya sarva-bhűteshu
kas'cid artha-vyapâs'rayah

 Verse 19.

tasmâd asaktah satatam
kâryam karma samâcara
asakto hy âcaran karma
param âpnoti pűrushah

Verse 20.

karmanaiva hi samsiddhim
âsthitâ janakâdayah
loka-sangraham evâpi
sampas'yan kartum arhasi

     That is why it is said that King Janaka could attain the highest state by doing his daily work always in a spirit of dedication. We should cultivate the spirit of surrender, saying, "I am Thine." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 39


Verse 21.

yad yad âcarati s'reshthhas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramânam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

     You may wonder why jńânis should still do karma. Not only you but many others may be worried at that statement. Well, people usually follow the ideal set by those in higher levels. Their acts form the basis of dharma for all. If jńânis are inactive, how are ordinary mortals to save themselves? They have no guide, so they lose themselves in the easy paths of sensory pleasure. The duty of the wise is to foster the right and to practice it before others, so that they too may be prompted to follow, drawn by the hope of becoming as contented and as joyful as they are. The wise have to do and get done, see and show, so the rest might be persuaded to follow the example set by them. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 43-4.

Verse 22.

na me pârthasti kartavyam
trishu lokeshu kińcana
nanavâptam avâptavyam
varta eva ca karmani

     The Îs'vara or Lord is the fulfillment of all desires; all objects of enjoyment in the universe emanate from His will; so, He has no desires at all. He has manifested the universe not for the realization of any desire of His or for filling any vacuity from which He suffered, but for the benefit entirely of living beings. "na me pârthasti kartavyam trishu lokeshu kińcana" - "There is no duty binding on me, Partha, in the three worlds", says Krishna. Creation, manifestation, or emanation is His very nature. Hence, the description (lîlâ vinodi) 'reveling in play' is often ascribed to Him. It is His willpower that is filling all living beings with consciousness and helping them to be alert and active. He grants to each the consequence of thought, word, and deed and is therefore described as the 'giver-of-the-fruit-of-activity' (karma-phala-pradatha). Without the intercession of the Lord, activity cannot result in consequence; nor can certainty arise that a particular act will result in an identifiable manner. Besides, the sages declare that karma (activity) is momentary. The thought arises and the act is done. The act is followed by the fruit. It is not possible to predict when the fruit will be available or what its nature will be. Hence, we have to admit that it all depends on the Lord's command. What cannot be interpreted by our limited intellect has to be ascribed to His command. - Sanathana Sarathi, November 1979, p. 242-3

Verse 23.

yadi hy aham na varteyam
jâtu karmany atandritah
mama vartmânuvartante
manusyâh pârtha sarvas'ah

     "Consider this, o Arjuna: I have no need to do any karma; no, not anywhere in the three worlds. I am under no compulsion. Still, I am ever engaged in karma. Think of this. If I desist, the world will be no more. Have steady faith in the âtmâ; then dedicate all acts of yours to Me; with no desire for the fruit thereof, no egoism, and no sense of possession or pride, engage in battle", said Krishna. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 43

Verse 24.

utsîdeyur ime lokâ
na kuryâm karma ced aham
sankarasya ca kartâ syâm
upahanyâm imâh prajâh

   Verse 25.

saktâh karmany avidvâmso
yathâ kurvanti bhârata
kuryâd vidvâms tathâsaktas'
cikîrshur loka-sangraham

      "Arjuna! Undertake work in order to please God and not to gratify the senses. Your actions are responsible for elevation to the highest state or degradation to the lowest planes. Your joys and sorrows proceed from your own actions. Your actions are responsible for your sins and virtues. Fix your mind on the âtmâ and do your work for the pleasure of God; your actions will then be disinterested. Disinterested action destroys the demoniacal qualities of man and promotes the divine tendencies. It strengthens pure and satvic qualities in man. Thus, it is said that man has only the authority to act and that it is God who dispenses the fruits of man's actions. You should not undertake any work in the hope of receiving its fruit. You will become an exemplar for the world when you achieve control of the senses and undertake disinterested actions. As the representative of mankind, o Arjuna, you should take a pledge to perform sacred actions." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 37

Verse 26.

na buddhi-bhedam janayed
ajńânâm karma-sanginâm
joshayet sarva-karmâni
vidvân yuktah samâcaran

     "Almost everyone in the world is bound by the rule of karma. But people are so immersed in ignorance that they are unaware of their own moral or intellectual status and of the secrets of karma. Such can be saved only by being inspired by the example of the great. That is why the jńâni has to be engaged in activity; he has to remove the sloth and delusion of ordinary men. So all have to obey the rule of karma, without any deviation. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 44

Verse 27.

prakriteh kriyamânâni
gunaih karmâni sarvas'ah
ahankâra- viműdhâtmâ
kartâham iti manyate

Verse 28.

tattva-vit tu mahâ-bâho
guna-karma- vibhâgayoh
gunâ guneshu vartanta
iti matvâ na sajjate

Verse 29.

prakriter guna-samműdhâh
sajjante guna-karmasu
tân akritsna-vido mandân
kritsna-vin na vicâlayet

Verse 30.

mayi sarvâni karmâni
nirâs'îr nirmamo bhűtvâ
yudhyasva vigata-jvarah

     "Krishna advised Dhanańjaya, "Arjuna! You are becoming a victim of abhimana and mamakara (mine-ness) and falling into a mood of dejection. You should not let your human nature be affected by feebleness. When you undertake action in a spirit of dedication to the Lord, when you work with your body without any consideration of the fruits of your action, then you traverse the royal path." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 39

Verse 31.

ye me matam idam nityam
anutishthhanti mânavâh
s'raddhâvanto 'nasűyanto
mucyante te 'pi karmabhih

Verse 32.

ye tv etad abhyasűyanto
nânutishthhanti me matam
sarva-jńâna-viműdhâms tân
viddhi nashthân acetasah

Verse 33.

sadris'am ceshthate svasyâh
prakriter jńânavân api
prakritim yânti bhűtâni
nigrahah kim karishyati

Verse 34.

râga-dveshau vyavasthitau
tayor na vas'am âgacchet
tau hy asya paripanthinau

Verse 35.

s'reyân sva-dharmo vigunah
para-dharmât sv-anushthhitât
sva-dharme nidhanam s'reyah
para-dharmo bhayâvahah

      "You have been told that 'sva-dharme nidhanam s'reyah para-dharmo bhayâvahah'. This means that in carrying out one's own dharma, even if one perishes, it is far better than taking to dharma not belonging to oneself. The latter path is beset with fear. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 146

Verse 36.

arjuna uvâca
atha kena prayukto 'yam
pâpam carati pűrushah
anicchann api vârshneya
balâd iva ni yojitah

Verse 37.

s'rî bhagavân uvâca
kâma esha krodha esha
mahâ-s'ano mahâ-pâpmâ
viddhy enam iha vairinam

     Krishna taught Arjuna, "Desire and anger, born of rajas, are the greatest enemies of man. They stifle his innate goodness. Out of the three basic traits in man, the rajasic and the tamasic traits oppose his interests. Kâma or desire, derived from rajas, knows no satiation even as a raging fire does not. It shakes man's inner poise and leads him astray. It creates a breach in man's heart and enters therein. After its entry, anger and the attendant vices join the invasion and steal the jńânaratha (jewel of wisdom) kept therein." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 43-4

Verse 38.

dhűmenâvriyate vahnir
yathâdars'o malena ca
yatholbenâvrito garbhas
tathâ tenedam âvritam

      Krishna said, "Kâma (lust, desire to always want more plus not willing to let go for reason of emotional preference) is the root cause of all evil", and He elaborated on its nature and cure. "He who is bound by the deha-âtmâ-buddhi (the false idea that he is just this body and nothing more) can never hope to conquer karma; one must acquire the brahma-âtmâ-buddhi (the awareness that he is just Brahman, and nothing less) in order to be sure of victory. All acts must be performed in the spirit of dedication to the Lord. The universe must be identified with the form of Vishnu, the universal transcendent." - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 45

Verse 39.

âvritam jńânam etena
jńânino nitya-vairinâ
kâma-rűpena kaunteya
dushpűrenânalena ca

     Desire makes man forget his real nature and reduces him to the status of a beast. It robs him of all his virtues and jeopardizes his honor and reputation. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 44

Verse 40.

indriyâni mano buddhir
asyâdhishthhânam ucyate
etair vimohayaty esha
jńânam âvritya dehinam

Verse 41.

tasmât tvam indriyâny âdau
niyamya bharatarshabha
pâpmânam prajahi hy enam

     Good education consists in training you to control your sense organs and to make them grow in the right direction. The process that enables you to control your sense organs should be regarded as the right type of education. The excitement that comes from your sense organs is something that destroys the human qualities and sometimes brings disgrace. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 5

Verse 42.

indriyâni parâny âhur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu parâ buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu sah

Verse 43.

evam buddheh param buddhvâ
samstabhyâtmânam âtmanâ
jahi s'atrum mahâ-bâho
kâma-rűpam durâsadam

     Your sudden decision not to fight clearly indicates that some powerful force is shaking your confidence and making you alter your prior decision. This force obviously is desire. Turn your desire Godward and perform actions as offerings to God. It is futile to waste time by pondering over the matter any further. Realize the immanence of God and perform your duty. - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 44

     In this chapter, three important subjects have been clarified: (1) Everyone has to do karma, for if this is not done, the world will come to nought. (2) The karma of the great is the ideal that the rest have to keep in view. (3) Almost all in the world are bound by the obligation of karma. - Gîtâ Vahini, p. 45









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