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Shrimad Bhagwat Gita : : 3.4.27

Geeta 1_1

न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते |
न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति || 4||

na karmaām anārambhān naihkarmya puruho ’śhnute
na cha sannyasanād eva siddhi

na—not; karmaām—of actions; anārambhāt—by non-performance; naihkarmyam—freedom from karmic reactions; puruha—a person; aśhnute—attains; na—not; cha—and; sannyasanāt—by renunciation; eva—only; siddhim—perfection; samadhigachchhati—attains

3.4: One cannot achieve freedom from karmic reactions by merely not performing work, nor can one attain perfection of knowledge by mere physical renunciation. 

The first line of this verse refers to the karm yogi (one who subscribes to the discipline of work), and the second line refers to the sānkhya yogi (one who subscribes to the discipline of knowledge). 

Though the two paths to salvation may appear to be well defined and quite distinct from one another but there are certain aspects that may share commonalities. One who believes in focussing on his work or duties is a karm yogi. But physical performance of duties and completion of assigned tasks in not enough even for a karm yogi. His thoughts also have to be pure and even when he is not engaged in any fruitful activity his mind must remain pristine and not entertain any unacceptable thoughts and ideas.

We shall overcome

The sankhya yogi is one who adheres to strict discipline in life and renounces the world and all the material pleasures that it has to offer. He might also don saffron clothes and live away from people. But just renunciation is not enough. He must have control over his thoughts also and not allow any impure ideas or desires to pollute his mind.

Therefore, whether one chooses the path of work or renunciation, purity of the mind and control over one’s thoughts, is very important. In other words, outward manifestations of one’s convictions is good but unless the mind and body are in complete sync it’s a job half done.

Salvation can be achieved only when our thoughts and actions are in perfect harmony and our words, deeds, actions, appearance, thoughts and philosophy of life are part of the same narrative. The propensity or inclination for one or another of these may vary from person to person but ultimately  both action and knowledge  are essential both for karm yog and sānkhya yog. It is only their proportion that is at variance and creates an impression of the two paths being completely different from one another.

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

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