Shrimad Bhagwat Gita : : 3.25.30
सक्ता: कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत |
कुर्याद्विद्वांस्तथासक्तश्चिकीर्षुर्लोकसंग्रहम् || 25||
saktāḥ karmaṇyavidvānso yathā kurvanti bhārata
kuryād vidvāns tathāsaktaśh chikīrṣhur loka-saṅgraham
saktāḥ—being attached; karmaṇi—duties; avidvānsaḥ—the ignorant; yathā—as much as; kurvanti—act; bhārata—scion of Bharat (Arjun); kuryāt—should do; vidvān—the wise; tathā—thus; asaktaḥ— without attachment; chikīrṣhuḥ—wishing; loka-saṅgraham—welfare of people in general
3.25: As ignorant people perform their duties with attachment to the results, O scion of Bharat, the wise must similarly act without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.
In this verse Shri Krishna says that one of the duties of those who are wise and learned should be to always act for the benefit of humankind and to set an exemplary example.
People who are ignorant and have not yet started their spiritual journey tend to perform their duties with an eye on the result. Their service is not selfless, even their charity is not to help someone but to gain a reputation as a philanthropist. They do not perform good deeds for the sake of doing something good, but for what the deed will translate into in material terms. For instance, feeding the poor but making sure your picture while distributing food is splashed on social media. Or, lending money to a person in need, not out of compassion but for eventually earning interest on the principle amount.
Shri Krishna explains to Arjun, that to correct this unfortunate tendency amongst the less evolved people, the learned and wise ones must lead by example. They must perform acts of kindness but not for personal gain. They must be visibly empathetic, compassionate and trustworthy so others can emulate these qualities. The learned must remain constantly engaged with working for humanity, and for humanitarian causes, with no thought of any returns and no attachment or desire to gain name or fame from the deed performed.
Helping those who can be of help in return also reeks of ulterior motives and is not acceptable as a pure deed. The wise and the learned extend unconditional support to anyone in need including those who are too poor or under privileged to do anything as quid pro quo.
This is very reminiscent of Mahatma Gandhi’s words when he said when in dilemma while taking decisions one of must think of how this decision is going to benefit the last man in the queue.
The Gita’s philosophy and teachings have helped me understand much of what otherwise lay in the realm of the unexplained. More importantly, it has helped me come to terms with the finite nature of life on this earth, and simultaneously draw solace from accepting the infinite existence of the soul. It is reassuring to understand the significance of following one’s dharma (duty), performing good karma (deeds), while being engaged in the quest for gyan (knowledge) as one walks on in the hope of attaining moksha (salvation).
Shared here is a brief documentation of what this shloka of the Gita says to me.
Vandana R Singh
New Delhi, June 2020