Chapter 3

  1. Arjuna said:
    If you think that awareness is better than actions born of desire, Krishna, why are you trying to cause me to commit such horrid acts?
  2. Your words are clear yet they confuse me. So please tell me now directly, what must I do that will benefit me?
  3. The Blessed One said:
    As I have already told you, my faultless friend, there are two paths to follow in this world. There is the Yoga of awareness followed by the spiritual philosophers, and the Yoga of devotional acts followed by the mystics.
  4. You cannot become free of Karma by avoiding actions. Nor can you gain success by mere renunciation.
  5. For there is not even a single moment in this life when you are free from some kind of action. You are forced to be in constant activity of some kind, merely by virtue of being alive. This is the reality of the gunas.
  6. Even if you control all the five senses through mental willpower, you are still constantly engaged in thoughts and desires. Anyone who believes he can truly do nothing is a foolish soul, a false religionist.
  7. One who starts to control the senses with the mind, Arjuna, by focusing the senses upon uniting, will reduce attachment and be by far the better.
  8. Take whatever action is required. To take action is better than to avoid it. You cannot even maintain your body without taking action.
  9. Actions done for spiritual purposes are better than any other form of actions. Son of Kunti, action to this end will serve excellently to free you from attachments.
  10. In the ancient times, having performed the spiritual rituals, the god Brahma said "by these rituals you shall be increasingly prosperous, let the spirit bring to you all good things".
  11. The divine spirits are pleased by ritual sacrifices. These spirits will reward you in return. By this mutual service, you will obtain the greatest of blessings.
  12. The spirits will provide you with all of the necessities of life, being in turn given what they need by your rituals performed in gratitude. But one who receives what is given in life by the spirits, without in turn giving thankful ritual, is certainly a thief.
  13. Devotees who eat food that has been purified by the ritual of devotional gratitude are relieved of any guilt associated with that food. But those who eat gluttonously and without gratitude or awareness are committing terrible deeds.
  14. Our bodies grow from food. Our food grows from the rain. The rain is thanks to the spirits. We must act to honour them.
  15. You should know that all actions come from Brahma, they are a direct manifestation of the divine. So Brahma is everywhere, and will always be present in our rituals.
  16. Therefore one who does not follow the way of ritual in this life, one who lives shamefully only for the pursuit of desires, is wasting his life, son of Partha.
  17. However, anyone who finds bliss in his soul will enlighten his soul. A man who is satisfied with his own being will not have to perform any outer spiritual actions.
  18. Certainly the performance of his duties would have no purpose, but also there is no purpose for him to avoid the performance of his duties. For in all of this world he need not seek any purpose whatsoever.
  19. Thus, always without attachment, do whatever duties you will. By doing all work without attachment, a man achieves the highest.
  20. By doing such work it is known that King Janaka and other lords achieved their great spiritual powers. And you must also consider that the lesser people will be observing how you act, you must consider them.
  21. Whatever a man in a position of respect does, certainly the common people will see it as an example. Whatever he does, all the world will follow.
  22. Son of Partha, there is no duty in all the three worlds that I must perform. There is nothing that I want, nothing I could gain. But clearly I too take action.
  23. If ever I did not take action, or perform actions carelessly, all men would follow my example in every respect, son of Partha.
  24. All of these worlds would be put into ruin if I did not set an example. I would be the cause of undesirable births, and all life would have to be destroyed.
  25. The ignorant are greatly attached to taking karmic action. Scion of Bharata, the wise must do the same. In this way, they can slowly lead the common people to detachment.
  26. They must strive not to lead the foolish away from awareness; they should not give the foolish cause to avoid working. Instead, the wise must give them some work that will lead them in the right direction.
  27. In the material world, the gunas cause all kinds of activities to occur. Deluded by the ego, the soul believes that he is the one who is acting.
  28. But the one who knows truth, great warrior, he understands the gunas and karma, and the difference between the senses and that which is sensed. With this perspective he will avoid attachment.
  29. These elements of reality (gunas) will delude people, and they become attached to actions and desires in the material world. These people are either lacking in wisdom, or they are lazy. One who is wise should not try to disturb them.
  30. Surrender all actions unto me by being conscious, aware of the self. Be without lusting for any result, be without possessiveness, and free from reluctance, fight.
  31. Those who follow my instructions regularly are human beings performing divine acts. With devotion and without desire, they all become free from the bondage of karma.
  32. However, those who out of jealous desire do not follow my instructions regularly, they are foolish in every way. Know this well, they are all ruined without consciousness.
  33. Even an intelligent man, though he may try otherwise, is still controlled by the elements of the material world. All living beings are subject to this, so what good will self-restriction do?
  34. Of the senses and the sensed, of what you desire and also what you wish to avoid, you should put all of these under some control. You should never be controlled by them, or else these things will distract you from being conscious.
  35. It is better to follow your own discipline, even badly, than it would be to follow someone else's discipline even if you did it perfectly. Even if your own path leads you to death, it is better. For following the path of others is more dangerous than death.
  36. Arjuna said:
    Then what is it that motivates a man toward false action? Even if they do not wish to, it seems that men are drawn to it by force, scion of Virshni.
  37. The Blessed One said:
    This is desire and anger, born out of the Raja guna (the element of all-consuming passion) that leads men to great error. Know that in this world, it is the great enemy.
  38. Just as fire is concealed within smoke, or a mirror concealed by dust, or as an embryo is concealed in the womb, so does reality become concealed in desires.
  39. By this is consciousness hidden from the self. It is the eternal enemy. Also, son of Kunti, one is never fulfilled in the fire of lust.
  40. The senses, perceptions, and the mind are called the thrones of desire. Lust deludes all of these, hiding the true awareness of the embodied being.
  41. Thus you must begin by disciplining the senses, lord of the Bharatas. You must curb this great symbol of falsehood, which destroys both awareness and knowledge of the self.
  42. The senses are said to be superb, but the mind is said to be greater still, and awareness is even greater than the mind. But the center is even greater than awareness.
  43. Thus awareness leads to centered consciousness, by focusing and steadying the mind. Great warrior, you will conquer the greatest enemy if you conquer desire.