This article contains the verses from Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3.
Links to remaining chapters can be found at the end of the article.
Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3
O Krishna, you have stated that knowledge is superior to action; if this is the case, then why are you asking me to engage in this dreadful conflict?
I don’t understand your piece of advice. Please show me the one road that leads to the highest good.
At the beginning of time, I announced that there are two ways for a person with a good heart to walk: jnana yoga and karma yoga. Jnana yoga is a contemplative path that leads to spiritual wisdom, and karma yoga is an active path that leads to selfless service.
One who avoids taking responsibility does not achieve freedom, and no one can achieve perfection by avoiding their responsibilities.
There is not a single person or creature that ever stops moving; the nature of every living thing compels them to do something.
It is impossible to call someone a sincere spiritual aspirant if they abstain from action, but still let their mind wander to thoughts of sensual pleasure during that time.
But those who master their senses by directing them through the mind and employing them in service to others excel.
Carry out all of your responsibilities; doing something is preferable to doing nothing. Even if it’s just to keep your body going, Arjuna, you have to keep moving.
Acts motivated solely by egotism serve to enslave the world. Carry out your actions without any consideration for your own personal gain.
In the beginning, God created both mankind and the obligation to provide service to others at the same time. This is the promise made by the Creator: “If you serve others without expecting anything in return, you will always be fruitful and find the fulfilment of your desires.”
The devas are pleased when people give of themselves without expecting anything in return. This makes them happy. But anyone is a thief, who takes advantage of the things that the devas have provided for them without giving anything back in return.
Those who are spiritually minded and who eat in the spirit of service are released from all of their sins; however, those who are self-centered and who prepare food for their own satisfaction eat sin.
All living things require food in order to survive, and food, in turn, requires rain in order to survive. Rain itself is the water of life, and it is produced by selfless worship and service.
Brahman, also known as the everlasting and limitless Godhead, is the source of every act of altruism, Arjuna. Every act of service is permeated by the presence of Brahman.
This law, O Arjuna, governs the entirety of life. Those who disobey it, giving in to their senses for the sake of their own pleasure while ignoring the requirements of others, have thrown away their lives.
Those who, however, understand their true nature are never unhappy. They no longer look for happiness in the outside world because they have discovered the source of their own joy and fulfilment.
There is nothing for them to gain or lose as a result of any action; neither other people nor external factors can compromise their safety.
Always make an effort to serve the betterment of the world; the supreme goal of one’s life can be attained through devotion to work that benefits others.
In everything you do, keep in mind the interests of those who are dependent on you. Janaka attained perfection through such labour, and others have since followed in his footsteps along this path.
What one exceptional person accomplishes will inspire others. The standards that people of this calibre establish will be adhered to by everyone else across the globe.
There is nothing in the three worlds for me to gain, Arjuna, and there is also nothing that I do not have; but still I continue to act. I am not driven by any need of my own that I have.
Everyone would immediately stop working if I ever stopped doing it continuously as an example for them.
If I did not continue working, I would be the one responsible for the breakdown of cosmic order and, in the end, the annihilation of this world and these people.
Arjuna, those who are ignorant, work for their own benefit, while those who are wise, work for the welfare of the world and do not consider themselves in the process.
You will confound the uninformed, who are arrogant in their behaviour, if you choose to refrain from working. Carefully carry out all the work while being guided by compassion.
The gunas of prakriti are the ones who carry out each and every action. The identification with the ego causes a person to believe the fallacy that “I am the doer.”
However, the enlightened man or woman is not attached to anything because they have comprehension of the gunas’ domain. These individuals are aware that the gunas communicate with one another; therefore, they do not assert that they are the doer.
Those who allow themselves to be fooled by the working of the gunas develop an attachment to the results of the actions they take. Those who are aware of these realities shouldn’t shake the confidence of those who are ignorant.
Performing all actions for the sake of me, being completely absorbed in the Self, and without expectations, fight! — but refrain from allowing the fever of the ego to consume you.
Those who live their lives in accordance with these divine laws without grumbling and who have a strong foundation of faith are exempt from the consequences of their actions.
Those who break these laws while also criticising and complaining about them are completely misguided and are the ones responsible for their own anguish.
Even the wisest people are constrained by the characteristics of their own selves. Every living thing is bound by prakriti; therefore, there is no point in repressing it.
The senses have been conditioned to prefer the pleasant and dislike the unpleasant through a process known as conditioning. They are impediments in your way, so do not allow yourself to be controlled by them.
It is preferable to make progress in one’s own dharma as opposed to making progress in the dharma of another. When one follows their own dharma, they never lose anything, but when they compete with another person’s dharma, they breed fear and insecurity in themselves.
O Krishna, what is the power that ties us down to actions motivated by self-interest? What is it that drives us, sometimes against our will and almost as if we were being forced?
It is egotistical desire and anger that spring from the rajas guna; these are the appetites and vices that pose a risk to a person in this life.
In the same way that a fire is obscured by smoke and a mirror is covered in dust, and in the same way that an embryo is concealed deep within the uterus, knowledge is obscured by one’s own egotism – concealed from you, Arjuna, by this insatiable thirst for self-satisfaction, which is the unrelenting foe of the wise.
Desire for one’s own gratification can be found in the senses, the mind, and the intellect; it misleads these faculties and entombs the understanding in a cloud of illusion.
Arjuna, fight with every ounce of your strength! By exercising self-control over your senses, you can defeat your foe, the destructor of awareness and comprehension.
The senses are a higher order than the body, and the mind is a higher order than the senses; the intellect is a higher order than the mind, and the Atman is a higher order than the intellect.
Therefore, with this knowledge of what is most important, let the atman reign over the ego. Put your powerful weapons to use in order to vanquish the dangerous foe that is your own egotism and desire for pleasure.