Bhagavadgita -Radhakrishnan 113

The Bhagavadgita -S. Radhakrishnan

Karma Yoga or the Method of Work

17. yas tv atmaratir eva sad
atmatrptas ca manavah
atmany eva ca santtustas
tasya karyam na vidyate
(17) But the man whose delight is in the Self alone, who is content with the Self, who is satisfied with the Self, for him there exists no work that needs to be done.
He is freed from a sense of duty. He works not out of a sense of duty or for the progressive transformation of his being but because his perfected nature issues spontaneously in action.
18. nai 'va tasya krten a 'rtho na 'krtene 'ha
kascana na rag 'soya savabhutesu arthavyapa
(18) Similarly, in this world he has no interest whatever to gain by the actions that he has done and none to be gained by the actions that he has not done. He does not depend on all these beings for any interest of his.
The next verse indicates that, though the liberated man has nothing to gain by action or non-action and is perfectly happy In the possession and enjoyment of Self, there is such a thing as iesireless action which he undertakes for the welfare of the world.

19. tasmad asaktala satatarn karyam karma samacara
asakto hy acaran karma param apnoti purusah
(19) Therefore, without attachment, perform always the work that has to be done, for man attains to the highest by doing work without attachment Here work done without attachment is marked as superior to work done in a spirt of sacrifice which is itself higher than work done with selfish aims. Even the emancipated souls do work as the occasion arises.[1]
While this verse says that the man reaches the Supreme, param, performing actions, without attachment, , holds that karma helps us to attain purity of mind which leads to salvation. It takes us to perfection indirectly through the attainment of purity of mind[2]


References and Context

  1. Cp. Yogavasistha. `The knower has nothing to gain either by performing or by abstaining from action. Therefore he performs action as it arises " Again, "To me it is just the same whether something is done or not. Why should I insist on not performing action ? I perform whatever comes to me." jnasya narthah karmatyagaih narthah karmasanamasrayaih tena sthitam yatha yad yat tat tathaiva karoty asau. VI, 199. mama nasti krtenartho nakrteneha kakana yatha praptena tisthami hy akarmam ka agrahah Ibid., 216.
  2. sattvahuddhzdvarenaSee also S.B.G., III, 4.