Verse 17



17. Action should be known – niyatam karma obligatory action, positive action that results in self-purification. Niyatam karma falls in two categories – nitya karma or constant, regular, routine duties and naimittika karma or occasional, special duties that arise out of an extraordinary situation. Vikarma needs to be known – prohibited, negative actions that the conscience does not permit. Most importantly, you must know akarma, the inactive Principle that enables all activity.

It is imperative that you know these three as only the human being has been blessed with a choice of action. Since you have the choice you must know how to choose wisely. The choice is between actions that take you to the highest state of Perfection and those that take you down to decline and moral decadence.

Action is gahana – deep, incomprehensible. Trace action to its root. Why do you act in a particular way? Desire prompts it. How did the desire come? From thought. Why did you get the thought? Vasana caused it. Vasana is deep-rooted inclination, inherent nature, inborn urge, intrinsic aptitude. How did the vasana arise? From past action. This loop of vasana leading to thought, desire, action and back again to vasana can be broken by setting aside desire and performing obligatory action. Thus your personality gets purified of vasanas and you evolve. Knowledge of Atman, the inactive Power that enables all actions, removes all vasanas and you get to the state of Self Realisation.


Verse 18



18. Krsna follows the basic principle of teaching. He takes Arjuna and all of us from the known to the unknown. Action is known. So He explains Perfection in terms of action.

One is wise among humans who sees inaction in action. When you see action you understand Atman is enabling it. In Atman you see the possibility of so many actions. A goldsmith sees gold in all ornaments and the potential for so many ornaments in gold. An electrician sees electricity in all electrical appliances and the possibility of empowering so many gadgets through electricity. You see the waker’s mind in every aspect of the dream and the potential for innumerable dreams in the mind.

Then you are objective, you cultivate sakshi bhava. On Realisation you become totally objective. Until then there are grades of objectivity. An actor on stage is a witness of all the happenings on stage, himself remaining untouched and unaffected. He plays his role brilliantly. He never forgets that he is the actor playing the role.

Similarly remember you are Atman and play your role with grace, dignity and cheer. When you lose sight of Atman you get involved in the situations around you and suffer. Objectivity enables you to be successful. The secret of enjoyment is objectivity. And you evolve spiritually.

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