Shrimad Bhagwat Gita : : 3.5.28
न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् |
कार्यते ह्यवश: कर्म सर्व: प्रकृतिजैर्गुणै: || 5||
na hi kaśhchit kṣhaṇam api jātu tiṣhṭhatyakarma-kṛit
kāryate hyavaśhaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛiti-jair guṇaiḥ
na—not; hi—certainly; kaśhchit—anyone; kṣhaṇam—a moment; api—even; jātu—ever; tiṣhṭhati—can remain; akarma-kṛit—without doing something; kāryate—are performed; hi—certainly; avaśhaḥ—helpless; karma—work; sarvaḥ—all; prakṛiti-jaiḥ—born of modes of material nature; guṇaiḥ—by the qualities
3.5: There is no one who can remain without doing something even for a moment. All beings are compelled to act by the qualities born of material nature (the three guṇas).
It is the nature of the soul to be always active and engaged. We mistakenly believe that activity implies physical acts such as reading, eating, drinking, sleeping, walking etc. We also tend to feel that our professional work is the only work we perform. The truth is that nobody can remain inactive for even a moment. Everyone is forced to act by their modes of nature.
When Sri Krishna talks of activity in this verse he refers to something much larger than these visible physical acts. Since the mind is as much part of us as any other limb of our body everything that the mind thinks voluntarily or involuntarily also constitutes activity.
And so complete inactivity is never possible. When we are asleep our body may be immobile but its continuing to work on the inside. The heart beats, food is digested, and blood runs through our veins. The mind seems to be at rest but it makes us dream while the body is in slumber.
Till such time as we are alive we are always at work. Thus Shri Krishna declares that for human beings inactivity is an impossible state to be in, since the triangle of body, mind and intellect is constantly propelled by its own individual inclination towards the three guṇas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) to perform work in the world.
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