by Jayaram V
The Bhagavadgita does not preach renunciation of action, but
renunciation of attachment to action and desire for its fruit. It
advocates both performance of action through knowledge and "sanyas"
as means for attainment of freedom from the consequences of ones
"Sanyas" means renunciation of action prompted by desire, while
"tyaga" means abandonment of the fruit of action. Both these are
characteristic of a true karma yogi. The true sanyasi is one who
does his work without seeking the fruit of his actions, not the
one who gives up activity or the sacred fire.(6.1)
If actions are performed with desires and attachment, and with
egoistic assumption of doership, then one has to assume responsibility
for all his actions and also face the consequences of all his actions
here and hereafter.
He must enjoy or suffer from the fruits of his good actions as well
as bad actions, accepting either sorrow and suffering or pleasure
and happiness emanating from his actions. In both cases he has no
real freedom from the laws and jaws of mortal life. He has to subjugate
himself to the conditions of mortal life and remain confined to
the world of illusion and ignorance.
It is impossible for one to remain inactive even for a moment
or escape from action altogether. The gunas born of nature drive
every one coercively to ceaseless activity. Freedom from action
cannot be achieved by avoiding action or by mere renunciation of
action. He who engages himself in mere meditative practices, restraining
his organs of actions is but deluded soul and a hypocrite. By desisting
from action, it is not possible to maintain even ones body.
Even the Imperishable Supreme Brahman does His work dutifully
although He has no desire either to perform the actions or for the
fruit of His actions. There is nothing in the three world for Him
to do, not is there anything that He is yet to attain. Still He
engages Himself in action, for if He does not do so men would take
Him as an example and would avoid actions.
So the true aspirant who wants to attain union with Him should
also follow the same path while performing his actions . He must
do his enjoined duty without attachment, without any interest whatsoever
either in what is done or what is not done, knowing that his right
is to work only, but not to the fruit thereof, even minded in success
and failure, surrendering to God and offering the fruit of his actions
to God and partaking of only that which has been offered to Him.
Actions that are performed with egoism, thinking that one is
the doer, with a desire to enjoy the fruit of his actions, bind
man to bondage and illusion. He who thinks that he is the doer of
his actions, is but a deluded soul who does not know the truth about
the spheres of gunas and how they are responsible for all binding
Performing actions out of desire and attachment, with an intention
to enjoy the fruit of his actions, such a deluded soul has but to
face the consequences of his own actions, both good and the bad.
Depending upon the nature of his activities he may gain either sorrow
or happiness in this world or heavenly worlds or hellish realms
The enlightened Karmayogi on the other hand knows what is action
in inaction and inaction in action (4.17). He knows who is the real
doer and how the gunas drive men to perform actions and how such
actions bind men to sorrow and suffering. When he perform his actions
he is aware that it is only the senses which are occupied with the
object of his senses and thereby remains unconcerned. Thus he actually
becomes inactive even while performing actions and remains untouched
by the fruits of his actions like the lotus leaf by water.
Suggested Further Reading