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The original Sanskrit verses and
(word for word translated) of the
Mahābhārata, Bhīshma 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
Bhagavān 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 sthitapraj˝a  and the excellence of that stage. Then, saying that He Himself had established j˝ānayoga for the sānkhyas and karmayoga for the yogīs, as means of attaining liberation, He spoke of the importance of karma." - Gītā 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 uvāca
jyāyasī cet karmanas te
matā buddhir janārdana
tat kim karmani ghore mām
niyojayasi keśava

     Verse 2.

vyāmiśreneva vākyena
buddhim mohayasīva me
tad ekam vada niścitya
yena śreyo 'ham āpnuyām

 Verse 3.

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
loke 'smin dvi-vidhā nishthhā
purā proktā mayānagha
j˝āna-yogena sānkhyānām
karma-yogena yoginām

 Verse 4.

na karmanām anārambhān
naishkarmyam purusho 'śnute
na ca sannyasanād eva
siddhim samadhigacchati

 Verse 5.

na hi kaścit kshanam api
jātu tishthhaty akarmakrit
kāryate hy avaśah 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)." - Gītā 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 kaścit kshanam api' says Krishna, in the third chapter of the Gītā [B.G. 3:5]. - Gītā Vahini, p. 33.

      Verse 6.

karmendriyāni samyamya
ya āste manasā smaran
indriyārthān vimūdhātmā
mithyācārah sa ucyate

 Verse 7.

yas tv indriyāni manasā
niyamyārabhate 'rjuna
karmendriyaih karma-yogam
asaktah sa viśishyate

     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 yogīs and sannyāsīs. 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 jyāyo hy akarmanah
śarīra-yātrāpi 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. - Gītā Vahini, p. 42.

   Verse 9.

yaj˝ārthāt karmano 'nyatra
loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
mukta-sangah samācara

Verse 10.

saha-yaj˝āh prajāh srishthvā
purovāca prajāpatih
anena prasavishyadhvam
esha vo 'stv ishtha-kāma-dhuk

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

     Verse 11.

devān bhāvayatānena
te devā bhāvayantu vah
parasparam bhāvayantah
śreyah param avāpsyatha

 Verse 12.

ishthān bhogān hi vo devā
dāsyante yaj˝a-bhāvitāh
tair dattān apradāyaibhyo
yo bhunkte stena eva sah

     Yaj˝a 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.

yaj˝a-śishthāśinah santo
mucyante sarva-kilbishaih
bhu˝jate te tv agham pāpā
ye pacanty ātma-kāranāt

 Verse 14.

annād bhavanti bhūtāni
parjanyād anna-sambhavah
yaj˝ād bhavati parjanyo
yaj˝ah karma-samudbhavah

 Verse 15.

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi
tasmāt sarva-gatam brahma
nityam yaj˝e 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 yaj˝a, from yaj˝a, rain; from rain grew food; from food came all living beings."This is the cycle that has to be accepted and honored. - Gītā Vahini, p. 42.

 Verse 16.

evam pravartitam cakram
nānuvartayatīha yah
aghāyur indriyārāmo
mogham pārtha sa jīvati

      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 j˝āna has to observe this rule. Eating and drinking, intake and release of breath, these too are karmas. Who can exist without these acts? -  Gītā Vahini, p. 43.

 Verse 17.

yas tv ātma-ratir eva syād
ātma-triptas ca mānavah
ātmany eva ca santushthas
tasya kāryam na vidyate

 Verse 18.

naiva tasya kritenārtho
nākriteneha kaścana
na cāsya sarva-bhūteshu
kaścid artha-vyapāśrayah

 Verse 19.

tasmād asaktah satatam
kāryam karma samācara
asakto hy ācaran karma
param āpnoti pūrushah

Verse 20.

karmanaiva hi samsiddhim
āsthitā janakādayah
loka-sangraham evāpi
sampaśyan 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 ācarati śreshthhas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramānam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

     You may wonder why j˝ānis 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 j˝ānis 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. - Gītā Vahini, p. 43-4.

Verse 22.

na me pārthasti kartavyam
trishu lokeshu ki˝cana
nanavāptam avāptavyam
varta eva ca karmani

     The īśvara 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 pārthasti kartavyam trishu lokeshu ki˝cana" - "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 (līlā 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
jātu karmany atandritah
mama vartmānuvartante
manusyāh pārtha sarvaśah

     "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 ātmā; 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. - Gītā Vahini, p. 43

Verse 24.

utsīdeyur ime lokā
na kuryām karma ced aham
sankarasya ca kartā syām
upahanyām imāh prajāh

   Verse 25.

saktāh karmany avidvāmso
yathā kurvanti bhārata
kuryād vidvāms tathāsaktaś
cikīrshur 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 ātmā 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
aj˝ānām karma-sanginām
joshayet sarva-karmāni
vidvān yuktah samācaran

     "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 j˝āni 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. - Gītā Vahini, p. 44

Verse 27.

prakriteh kriyamānāni
gunaih karmāni sarvaśah
ahankāra- vimūdhātmā
kartāham iti manyate

Verse 28.

tattva-vit tu mahā-bāho
guna-karma- vibhāgayoh
gunā guneshu vartanta
iti matvā na sajjate

Verse 29.

prakriter guna-sammūdhāh
sajjante guna-karmasu
tān akritsna-vido mandān
kritsna-vin na vicālayet

Verse 30.

mayi sarvāni karmāni
nirāśīr nirmamo bhūtvā
yudhyasva vigata-jvarah

     "Krishna advised Dhana˝jaya, "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 mānavāh
śraddhāvanto 'nasūyanto
mucyante te 'pi karmabhih

Verse 32.

ye tv etad abhyasūyanto
nānutishthhanti me matam
sarva-j˝āna-vimūdhāms tān
viddhi nashthān acetasah

Verse 33.

sadriśam ceshthate svasyāh
prakriter j˝ānavān api
prakritim yānti bhūtāni
nigrahah kim karishyati

Verse 34.

rāga-dveshau vyavasthitau
tayor na vaśam āgacchet
tau hy asya paripanthinau

Verse 35.

śreyān sva-dharmo vigunah
para-dharmāt sv-anushthhitāt
sva-dharme nidhanam śreyah
para-dharmo bhayāvahah

      "You have been told that 'sva-dharme nidhanam śreyah para-dharmo bhayāvahah'. 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 uvāca
atha kena prayukto 'yam
pāpam carati pūrushah
anicchann api vārshneya
balād iva ni yojitah

Verse 37.

śrī bhagavān uvāca
kāma esha krodha esha
mahā-śano mahā-pāpmā
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. Kāma 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 j˝ānaratha (jewel of wisdom) kept therein." - Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, p. 43-4

Verse 38.

dhūmenāvriyate vahnir
yathādarśo malena ca
yatholbenāvrito garbhas
tathā tenedam āvritam

      Krishna said, "Kāma (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-ātmā-buddhi (the false idea that he is just this body and nothing more) can never hope to conquer karma; one must acquire the brahma-ātmā-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." - Gītā Vahini, p. 45

Verse 39.

āvritam j˝ānam etena
j˝ānino nitya-vairinā
kāma-rūpena kaunteya
dushpūrenānalena 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.

indriyāni mano buddhir
asyādhishthhānam ucyate
etair vimohayaty esha
j˝ānam āvritya dehinam

Verse 41.

tasmāt tvam indriyāny ādau
niyamya bharatarshabha
pāpmānam 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.

indriyāni parāny āhur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu parā buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu sah

Verse 43.

evam buddheh param buddhvā
samstabhyātmānam ātmanā
jahi śatrum mahā-bāho
kāma-rūpam durāsadam

     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. - Gītā Vahini, p. 45









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