Gita 3 – 17


Gita 3-17

Link: — The Lord has condemned the person who does not perform his duty, in order to renounce his affinity with the world, in the preceding verse. Now, in the next two verses, He talks about the enlightened soul, who having performed his duty, has renounced affinity for the world.

yastvaatma-ratir eva syaadaatma-trptas cha maanavah |
aatmanyeva cha santushtastasya kaaryam na vidyate || (Gita 3/17)

But, for a person who takes delight only in the self, is satisfied with the self and content in the self alone, verily there is no further work to be done by him. 17


“yastvaatma-ratir eva syaadaatma-trptas cha maanavah aatmanyeva cha santushtastasya” — Here the term ‘tu’ (but) has been used to differentiate, a person, who has become enlightened having performed his duty, from the person who does not perform his duty, as described in the preceding verse.

So long as a person assumes his affinity for the world, he rejoices in the sensual pleasures, wife, sons and family, remains satisfied with food and is content in riches. But these sense objects cannot provide him with perfect and lasting enjoyment, satisfaction and contentment, because the world is ever-changing, insentient and perishable while the self is uniform, sentient and imperishable. So how can the self be satisfied and be contented with the world, when there is not even the least affinity between the two?

Worldly enjoyments are not lasting for a man. A newly married couple take delight in each other but that joy or attraction does not remain as much after the birth of one or two children. In old age, some old women go to the extent of even saying about their husbands, “It is good, if the old man dies.” The satisfaction provided by food and riches etc., is momentary and temporary, also. The longing for more and more wealth is ever increasing, therefore one constantly feels a shortage. The point is that, enjoyment, satisfaction and contentment can never remain at all times.

It is a fact that the worldly objects cannot provide lasting delight, satisfaction and contentment to man. If these had provided real delight, satisfaction and contentment, man would have never felt their absence. In the Self (swaroop), delight, satisfaction and contentment naturally exist (swatah siddh) because the Self is real and the real never ceases to be (Gita 2/16). As the real always exists, there is no deficiency in it and without a feeling of deficiency no desire is born. So there is no desire in the Self. But when the Self by an error assumes its affinity with the world, it seeks delight, satisfaction and contentment in the world, and has a desire for the worldly objects. When one desire is satisfied and the second is not born, at that time, he remains “free from any desire” (nishkaam) and in that state of being free of desires he experiences joy (bliss). But, man erroneously thinks that he is feeling joyful, satisfied and contented due to fulfillment of desire. Had he got that joyful (blissful) feeling from attaining the desired object, that joy should have continued unabated on having acquired that object and there would have been no more desire for that object again. In fact, it does not happen so. When worldly enjoyments never give perfect enjoyment, satisfaction and contentment forever, and along with it worldly attachments continue to remain, then man dreams up new desires. When a desire is born, a deficiency is experienced and a dependency for the desired object is created. When he receives the desired object, he experiences a dependency on external objects. Thus a man with a desire ever remains unhappy.

Here, a point needs attention. An aspirant rightly believes that being free of desire is the root of happiness, while desire is the root of sorrows. But men who are attached to the world think that by acquiring the desired objects they have gained happiness and lack of attaining them is reason for unhappiness. If worldly men realize the truth like the sadhaks, they too can become free of desires.

Men who perform actions with desire for fruit, are entitled to follow the Discipline of Action – Karmayog “Karmayogastu kaaminaam” (Srlmadbhagavata 11/20/7). Such men derive joy, satisfaction and contentment out of the world. Those men who perform actions without the desire for their fruit, the Lord declares that such aspirants, unlike the worldly people, are delighted, contented and satisfied in the Self (Gita 2/55).

In fact happiness, satisfaction and contentment are not different from each other, yet they seem to be different, because of a person’s affinity for the world. As soon as this affinity is renounced, an enlightened soul is joyful, satisfied and contented in the Self (swaroop), their difference which seemed to exist, disappears.

‘Tasya karyam na vidyate’—The aim of the performance of actions for a man, is to attain salvation or God-realization. When this aim is achieved by anyone following the Disciplines of Actions, Knowledge or Devotion, nothing remains to be done, known and acquired by him and that is the supreme achievement of a human life.

In the self, there is no shortage. But so long as a man because of his affinity for the world, feels shortage in him (self) he performs actions for himself by regarding the body as T and ‘Mine’. In that case there remains some work which needs to be done by him. But when he, instead of performing the actions for himself, performs them for others, such as body, senses, mind, intellect, life-breath, parents, wife, sons, family, society, country and the world, his affinity for the world is renounced. When his affinity for the world is completely renounced, nothing remains to be done by him, because there is no activity then in the Self. Whatever action is performed, that is performed because of the affinity for the world. Therefore, work is to be done by those, who have affinity for the world.

An action is performed, when there is desire to acquire something, and desire is born of want. The enlightened souls have no want, so they have to do nothing.

When through the Discipline of Action, an enlightened soul is delighted, satisfied and contented in the self, and nothing remains to be done, known and acquired by him, he transcends prescription and prohibition. Though such a God-realized soul, rises above the ordinance of the scriptures, yet his actions are in accordance with the scriptural injunctions, and these are examples for others.

The expression “Tasya karyam na vidyate”, does not mean that no action is performed by that God-realized soul. But it means that though no work remains to be done by him, actions are performed by him, for the welfare of others. Just as the activities such blinking the eyelids, breathing and digestion etc., go on automatically, similarly, all exemplary activities prescribed by the scriptures are automatically performed, by the enlightened soul, (as he has no sense of doership).

From “The Bhagavadgita – Sadhaka Sanjivani” in Hindi by Swami Ramsukhdasji.


About dhavalrajgeera

Physician who is providing free service to the needy since 1971. Rajendra M. Trivedi, M.D. who is Yoga East Medical Advisor Graduated in 1968 from B. J. Medical College, Amadavad, India. Post Graduate training in Neurological Surgery from Charles University in Czechoslovakia. 1969 - 71. and received Czechoslovakian Government Scholarship. Completed training at the Cambridge Hospital and Harvard University in Psychiatry. Rajendra M. trivedi is an Attending Psychiatrist at Baldpate Hospital. He is the Medical Director of CCA and Pain Center in Stoneham, MA where he has been serving the community since 1971 as a Physician. OTHER AFFILIATIONS: Lifer of APA - American Psychiatrist Association Senior Physician and Volunteer with Massachusetts Medical Society and a Deligate of the Middlesex District. Patron member of AAPI - American Association of PHYSICIANS OF INDIA. LIFE MEMBER OF IMANE - Indian Medical Association of New England. Member of the Board of Advisors "SAHELI, Boston,MA. Dr. Trivedi is working closely with the Perkin's School for the Blind. Dr. Trivedi is a Life member and Honorary Volunteer for the Fund Raising Contact for North America of BPA - Blind People Association of Amadavad, India. Dr.Trivedi is the Medical Advisor for Yoga East since 1993. He is a Physician who started Health Screening and Consultation At Shri Dwarkami Clinic in Billerica, MA.

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