Chapter 3 - Karma Yoga
Chapter 3, Verse 1
To summarize in chapter one, there were these two armies of Pandavas and Kauravas and Arjuna says he cannot fight the war because he has to kill his own relatives and teachers and destroy entire Kuru clan. In chapter two Krishna motivates Arjuna to fight the war and introduces the concept of soul, body, senses, sense organs and how wise men are peaceful. Krishna basically teaches Sankhya yoga.
Chapter 3 starts with Arjuna asking Krishna if knowledge is the one which makes a person peaceful why is that Krishna making him participate in the war and do all these horrendous activities?
Arjuna mentions Krishna by two names, Janardhana and Keshava in this verse. He asks a very pertinent question which also might have arisen in all of us. Arjuna asks Krishna for a person to be at peace all he needs to do is recognize soul, body difference and withdraw senses and do activities with full concentration then what is the need for participating in the war?
Chapter 3, Verse 2
In Chapter 2, Sloka 32 Krishna instructs Arjuna to fight the war as Ksatriya without any other consideration and in the later stanzas, he says the best endeavor any person can do is immerse himself with higher consciousness and withdraw himself.
In this verse, Arjuna agrees that such type of mixed instructions is causing confusion in his mind.We have to note here that Arjuna accepts that the instructions of Lord Krishna are clear but because of his lack knowledge of Gnana yoga and karma yoga they are causing confusion in him.
We have to understand that if Arjuna can get confused then lesser mortals like us might also be confused what exactly lord Krishna is trying to teach us. It is quite natural. we should not doubt Bhagwatgeetha because it was confusion, we should take it as natural and keep moving forward. We should pray to Lord Krishna to make this confusion go away and lead us to the right instruction with clarity, just like Arjuna did.
Chapter 3, Verse 3
Lord Krishna calls Arjuna as Anagha meaning sinless one. In this verse, Lord Krishna says that earlier he has given knowledge about two types of knowledge, Gnana yoga and karma yoga at two different instances in chapter 2. He says he has given the path of Gnana yoga for those individuals who are elevated in terms of Knowledge and whose mind is pure and who has withdrawn their mind from sense organs. He also says he spoke about karma Yoga for people whose mind is still not elevated and who are in the process of evolution and spiritual growth. For this category of people karma, Yoga is best where they are dedicated to the task without any attachment for the rewards of work.
99% of the people in the present-day world fall in this category of Karma Yoga.
Chapter 3, Verse 4
In this verse, Lord Krishna clarifies whether it is easy to renounce the world to achieve liberation or do activities to achieve liberation. He says that liberation can be achieved by renunciation knowledge and action without attachment. Liberation is possible only by the cultivation of spiritual knowledge in both the cases. only renunciation will not lead to Moksha unless it is accompanied by spiritual knowledge and also only action will not lead to Moksha unless it is accompanied by spiritual knowledge.
Chapter 3, Verse 5
This is a very impressive sloka by Lord Krishna. He says clearly no one is free from the the action. All creatures living do some form of action. They are not free from the action at any point of time. Starting from Amoeba, bacteria, virus to the Human being, they are all performing actions every point of time till they are living. Even while sleeping there are performing the action.
What is action? In physics any activity that consumes energy is action. Even for mere existence, we consume energy and it’s an activity.
After making it clear that there is no moment in life where one is free from action, Lord Krishna says what type of action a human being does. He says usually Human Beings perform actions as per their Prakriti, which is formed by the three Gunas. (Tamas, Rajas, and Sattvik). Because of these three Gunas we usually do activities that we like and we get attached to those activities. Activities born out of the Guna’s of the individual usually lead to attachments and once there is attachment then there is no liberation.
This is what Lord Krishna emphasizes since you cannot be free from activities, he says better do activities without attachment to them so that you get liberated from the actions.
Chapter 3, Verse 6
In this sloka, Lord Krishna says clearly where the action regarding restraining the senses has to be taken. It is not to be taken at the level of sense organs and it is to be taken at the level of mind. The action regarding taking sense organs under control is to be taken at the level of mind. Even if the person fasts and shuts down himself from sensory pleasures, it doesn’t help him. It may help him temporarily. When a person falls sick his sense organs lose energy and for some time he is controlled but this is not permanent. He has to take action at the level of mind to make changes in the behavior and thus lead him to liberation.
Chapter 3, Verse 7
As an extension to the earlier verse, Lord Krishna uses the concepts of Manas+Niyam+indria(sense organs) in the first line of this verse. Each word has its own significance in the field of yoga. Manas is the first level of the mind. As per ancient Indian wisdom “Antahkarana”, the creator inside has four parts. 1. Manas 2. Chitta 3. Buddhi 4. Ahamkara. Manas is the one which is responsible for cognition with the help of sense organs. It takes inputs from the sense organs and perceives the existence of objects or things. The eye sees an object, the light from the object falls on the retina and from the retina, the image goes to the brain and the neurons of the brain convert the electrical signal from retina again into an image of its outside. All this is done by the manas and the entire flow is explained in this verse. The sense organs have to be controlled with the control of the manas, the first level of the mind.
How they have to be controlled is explained in the second line. The mind is controlled by the karma yoga, the yoga of the work. Without any attachment for the work and when work is done dispassionately then the state of yoga is achieved and the sense organs get controlled automatically.
This usually happens when we get engrossed in work and forget even to eat and don’t remember what happens even by our side. All the sense organs are diverted to the work.
Chapter 3, Verse 8
In this verse, it is explained what is better, action or renunciation and not doing anything? Lord Krishna says it is better to do action rather than renunciation. He clearly says a person has to do ones prescribed duties. What are prescribed duties? Prescribed duties may be assigned as per the stage of life a person is, he may a grihastha, or a student. the duties are prescribed and they have to be done with non-attachment and full dedication. Also, some duties are prescribed like the work of a father/mother towards young children and duties of children to old parents taking care of them.
Thus a person has to do his works prescribed to him with full dedication and it is better than becoming a sanyasi.
Chapter 3, Verse 9
This is a very interesting sloka. Here Lord Krishna clearly says that the whole world is bound to actions, attached to actions except actions that are offered to Lord Krishna.
There are a lot of advantages in offering the action and fruits of action to Lord Krishna/any God for that matter. The most important are that we will not be greedy about the results of work we are doing and take the right decisions regarding the work.
If we do the work as an offering to the God then that work is for the betterment of entire humanity. If a person is free from the results of work then he will concentrate on the work alone rather than think about the fruits of his work. The person will be able to really enjoy the work he is doing if he is not bogged down by the results of work. The results of work can be positive or negative if a person thinks too much about the results which can be either way then there may be a danger of quitting the work because of the bad anticipated result.Thinking about results too much basically, hampers the decision-making process involved in the work.
Chapter 3, Verse 10
In this verse, Lord Krishna says that the whole world is borne because of the yagna ( Devotion, effort) of Brahma to Lord Krishna. Lord Brahma created the world as an offering to the God of the universe without any consideration for the result, like human beings should respect him for his creation etc. In fact, no one worships Brahma, but he still created it by offering the work to the Lord.
After creating the world and human beings, Brahma said they will prosper if they also offer selfless service and offer their work to the lord as devotion to him.
Chapter 3, Verse 11
Whenever a person does the work like a sacrifice to the Lord then the Gods get satisfied and they will give prosperity to the person who is doing the sacrifice. In this verse, we can see that Lord Krishna keeps himself above the Gods/Demigods. He says that whenever a person does work with the objective of devotion to the supreme with selflessness and not working for the results then prosperity will be ensured.
Lord Kirhsna is giving a guarantee kind of thing that if people work with selflessness then prosperity is ensured. These days we see that we work for results and if results don’t come as per our satisfaction then we are worried, but if we work for the sake of work without attachments and offering the work to the supreme then results in form of prosperity will come on its own.
Chapter 3, Verse 12
In this sloka lord, Krishna again reaffirms what he said in the earlier stanza . he says that prosperity is guaranteed to the person who does work without attachment, selflessness and without expectation of result. Also, he says the person who enjoys those results without offering to the supreme power then such a person is a thief.
Here Lord Krishna basically emphasizes that everyone should remember that whatever fruits they got out of the work are due to the grace of the supreme God and everyone should remember and offer it back to him before consuming it, thus the person will not be attached to things that are present in the world. It will also help in nonattachment to the produce of a person, ass ego will come and say this is my work and I cannot partake off my work.
Lord Krishna basically is saying everything is the grace of Gods and we should act in such a manner.
Chapter 3, Verse 13
Though Lord Krishna talks about eating the offerings of a sacrifice as is described in other texts I feel there is some deep meaning to it.
I feel that Lord Krishna is talking that people should eat (enjoy) the fruits of the labor after offering it to him and they should eat offerings only of the work done like a yagna.
For example, a person works hard and gets a job and gets a salary, and now he feels satisfied and doesn’t work hard much. This is what Krishna is saying, a person has to do work like a yagna every time. Even if a person has a stable job, to excel in it he has to work hard, and that hard work should not be for himself but offered to the supreme lord.
In this sloka, I think Lord Krishna is talking about complacency. People should not be complacent, they should be working hard selflessly.
Chapter 3, Verse 14
In this sloka Lord Krishna speaks about the cause and effect of actions. First, he says life is born out of food. Yes, this is true, the primary life-giving egg and spermatozoa are formed because of food. The food is produced because of rainfall and rainfall occurs because of sacrifices offered to the Lord.
Here we should understand how sacrifices, yagna did in the name of God gives rainfall. We can see that both activities( work by human being actions, and rainfall) are uncorrelated. What Lord Krishna is saying in this verse is that he assures human beings that if they perform actions righteously then rainfall is guaranteed from his side.
We can see that the root cause for life is actions done selflessly to God. Those actions create rainfall, which in turn will create food, which will create life. So fur sustenance of life action should be done like a Yagna.
Chapter 3, Verse 15
Lord Krishna says that Vedas which contain the injunctions, rules of living have originated from the Brahman, the highest form of God and the Brahman has originated from the supreme lord, Lord Krishna himself. And Brahma sustains himself by offering selfless service, doing actions without thinking about himself but for humanity and the supreme entity. Brahman always does an action without rewards offering his work as a devotion to the supreme lord.
Chapter 3, Verse 16
In this sloka lord, Krishna clearly says that when works are not performed as per the Vedic scriptures then the person will be engulfed by the sense organs and will be deviating out of the real work and will thus commit sin. So Lord Krishna says that we should do actions as per the rules, injunctions given in the Vedas.
Chapter 3, Verse 17
Lord Krishna says who lives for the self( aatman), who nurtures self through thought as was described in the earlier chapter by withdrawing the senses , self illuminated and fully satisfied with the self , and is not dependent on anyone for his survival and is totally dependent on him and is in full control of himself then such a person need not do any activity, or activity ceases to exist for him. The best example in modern times is Ramana Maharshi who did not speak to people for may days and used to communicate with individuals in his maun.
Chapter 3, Verse 18
Such a type of person who renunciates action for the sake of aatman, or realization of the supreme will not commit any sin by non-discharge of any action and he is not dependent on any entity for his survival. Lord Krishna clearly says the path of Sankhya yoga is as good as Karma yoga and both are equal.
Chapter 3, Verse 19
I think this sloka is the essence of Karmayoga . lord Krishna emphatically says “therefore do your prescribed duties ( as per the stage of life where the person is) without attachment , perform perfectly, eternally ( continuously) because only by performing the required actions a person can reach the supreme”.
The following words are important, performing action continuously,persistently,and perfectly. Whenever any task is given we should give 100% of our ability. Its not that we should imitate others but perform a given task to the best of our ability. There is nothing less than 100% that matters. If you give 60% to a task based on cause and affect we get 60% of the results only. So whatever task we do, whatever our endeavor is we should get totally immersed in it and give 100%.
Performing the task persistently: Lord Krishna says persistence is very important. We may give up work after some negative results, we should not give up, we should strive continuously till we get the necessary results.
The other condition for the work is non-attachment. We should not be attached to the rewards of the work. This will help us in having a balance in life and taking the right decision, which will amplify the results of our work.
The non-attachment is towards the results of the work. Non-attachment is towards the rewards of the work. I remember the example of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, when he was forced by his friend to go to advertising companies to promote Facebook he replied that if the product is made perfectly the results(advertisement) will follow the product. This means do not get attached to the results of work but get attached to the work you do and give 100 % to the work. Lord Krishna says if we work like this then we are bound to get results.
Chapter 3, Verse 20
Continuing from the earlier sloka, Lord Krishna gives the example to drive the point. He takes the example of Janaka to emphasize that through actions he attained perfection. He says that King Janaka and others attained perfection through righteous action. He asks Arjuna to perform actions like these people and strive for the welfare of the society. We may recall that Arjuna was saying in chapter 1 that the whole society will degenerate if he participates in war. Lord Krishna is giving reply to this that if he does actions without attachment and what duties are assigned to him he will definitely reach supreme self.
Lord Krishna gives affirmation that an individual need not have any doubt, perform actions and reach him. Action can be anything for the welfare of society according to the stage of life a person is. We may ask is business an action? Yes, it is an action if it is done in a righteous manner. It helps society to grow. Economic activity helps society to grow.
Chapter 3, Verse 21
After talking about example of Janaka , thus showing that whatever he is talking is a doable thing, now Lord Krishna says that people will look up to such leaders and will follow him. He says whatever such leaders do the people will also perform such actions, whatever the leader sets up as standard, the world will follow.
This is one of the biggest leadership lesson Krishna has taught us. He says clearly that Leaders should set standards and be an example for others to follow. This is because people may read about great living and high standard living but if they see it before their eyes then it will be easy for others to follow.
Who is a leader, he is not outside. A father is a leader of the family, the mother is a leader for the family . A person working in an office in whatever position he is starting from Janitor to CEO is a leader. A person who does his job with the attributes of non – attachment, for the welfare of others is a leader. People will look up to him to solve their problems and will also emulate him.
People will see what the leader is doing and will try to emulate him. Hense each and every action a person does has to be weighed in heavily and do actions accordingly. Whatever a person does the small or big task he should strive to set standards in that task by giving 100%, persistently, constantly without attachment.
Chapter 3, Verse 22
Here in this Sloka Lord Krishna clearly says that though it is not necessary for him to perform any action as he is the creator,sustainer, and destroyer of the world yet he also performs actions as he has described for the welfare of human beings as a perfect leader for others to follow.
Lord Krishna is setting up an example so that standards will be maintained in the society for other people to follow. Prophets great leaders are born on this earth as human beings so that they show the path of high standards for other people to follow. We have seen that if leaders set bad example what will happen to such families, societies. It is upon each and every individual to set up standards for high quality living.
Chapter 3, Verse 25
Here Lord Krishna says that just as ignorant people work attached to the results of the work, even the wise people should work unattached for the benefit of others.
Krishna realized that wise people after seeing the real nature of the world, may stop working by renunciation of all activities of the world. Wise people may think that what is the use of action, now that I know the truth, I should relax and do nothing. Lord Krishna says that even those people should not stop working and should keep working for the benefit of others.
Usually what people do is they aspire for great things and once they achieve they stop working. Lord Krishna says we should keep working for the welfare of others till we breathe and there is no room for complacency and also no room for laziness.
Working for others is a lifelong venture and we should not stop working anywhere. Wise people should work with more force and more knowledge, more resources to the work, to whatever they are doing.
Chapter 3, Verse 26
Here Lord Krishna gives a very good advice that wise people should not preach that people who are doing work with attachment should change their mind and work without attachment and unsettle their mind. Lord Krishna says instead of preaching the wise people should set their lives as an example, should lead their life so that other people automatically learn. It is better to practice rather than preach.
This is a very wise advice as people on the path of getting wise start giving free advice to people that this is right and this is wrong. Lord Krishna says wise people should practice and set examples.
Chapter 3, Verse 27
All actions done in nature are the interplay of Gunas of the individuals.Ignorant people not knowing this think that they are doing action. This is a beautiful verse by Lord Krishna. All the actions done by people in this world are because of their “Gunas”. What are Gunas? They are three kinds. I feel that the explanation about Guna’s given in Samkhya philosophy is better.
It states that every person is made up of the interplay of three Gunas. Sattvik, rajasic and tamasic. Everybody/personality is made up of these three qualities in different proportions. Some bodies may have some Guna’s more, for example in a person who is constantly doing some action or other the concentration of Rajasic guna is more. If a person who is a bit non-moving then the Guna of Tamasic is more.
It can be imagined in the picture as Rajsic Guna may be imagined as having more positive charge and Tamsik guna may be imagined as having (-) Charge and Satvik may be imagined as having a neutral charge.
An individual performs actions as per his innate nature but the ego of a person identifies that he is doing action. Ego is part of the internal mind ( Antahkarana). Antahkarana is made up of 4 parts Chitta, Manas, Buddhi, and Ahamkara. Manas is what we perceive, Chitta is what we interpret, and buddhi is what decision we will take after interpretation and ahamkara are what makes the person feel that he is the doer.
Lord Krishna says that the ignorant people feel that they re doing things whereas the learned ones know that they are working ass per their nature and not themselves.
Chapter 3, Verse 28
Extending the earlier stanza Lord Krishna says that the wise people recognize that the actions are done ass per the Gunas(qualities) of people and the interactions of the senses with the sense organs and not the person’s themselves thus they become unattached to the work they are doing.
This type of logic will help in decision making in conflicts and negotiations. Usually, in negotiations or conflict we usually do not look into the issues but look at the person we are dealing with and we get carried away by the personality of the person and do not deal with the problem effectively.
This also helps in the non attachment. The wise people know that they are not the creators of their work and it is the supreme consciousness that gets the work done. The role of ahamkara is limited in wise people.
Chapter 3, Verse 29
In this Sloka Lord Krishna again reiterates that wise people should not try to change the minds of ignorant people and unsettle their minds. In this, he clearly makes a distinction that people who are driven by their Gunas and are performing their actions should be allowed to perform the actions and not change them to Gnana yoga. Lord Krishna clearly says that Karma Yoga for ignorant people is always better and they should be allowed to do their work accordingly. Their minds should not be unsettled through Gnana yoga because there is a chance that people may stop working because of acquisition of knowledge. He says that even the people with knowledge should keep on working for the welfare of others. Knowledge is good, but work with knowledge yields better results for the society. As we know that half knowledge is always dangerous in the same way we can say that better to work rather than have a half knowledge and not work.
Chapter 3, Verse 30
This sloke is for all the educated householders who form the majority of the population. They will be having a bit of knowledge about Gnana yoga and they feel that though karma yoga they should attain moksha. Lord Krishna answers beautifully how work should be done. He says it should have the following qualities :
- The work should be totally surrendered to God.( No self and non attached work)
- There should not be any proprietorship for the work. The original and real owner of the work is Lord Krishna or any God.
- Has no desires from the work.
- Without grief for negative results at work.
If the work is done in this way then a person can attain moksha through work.
Chapter 3, Verse 31
In this sloka, Sri Krishna introduces a powerful concept of karma. He says in clear terms that through Karma Yoga people can achieve moksha, Freedom from their karma.
What is karma? There is a lot of research on the internet as to what means Karma. For better knowledge we should read this book (https://books.google.com/books?id=4WZTj3M71y0C…). Karma is basically the action of the past which is affecting us and how the action of the present will affect us in future. Karma is basically action. Sri Krishna says that whoever follows his injunctions regularly with the full faith and without envy then he will become free from karma/bondage.
In the last stanza he says the following qualities are necessary for work :
- The work should be totally surrendered to God.( No self and non attached work).
- There should not be any proprietorship for the work. The original and real owner of the work is Lord Krishna or any God.
- Has no desires from the work.
- Without grief for negative results at work.
To this he adds in this stanza few more qualities:
- Having full faith on him.
- Follow his injunctions.
- Do not envy.
- All of them.
For those people who want liberation from the habits created by his past in this life or from past life which are imprisoning him then, they can be assured that there is liberation. They have to follow the injunctions of Lord Krishna with full faith. This word faith is very important. The word used is Shraddha. Sri Aurobindo describes Śraddhā as “the soul’s belief in the Divine’s existence, wisdom, power, love and grace.”
Śrāddha (श्राद्ध) is a Sanskrit word which literally means ‘anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith (śraddhā)’
Shraddhā (śraddhā), Skt., lit., “belief, faith”; (Pali saddhā); the inner attitude of faith and devotion toward the Buddha and his teaching
For a better understanding of this important word we can read more from https://www.wisdomlib.org/definition/%C5%9Braddh%C4%81.
Sraddha is basically having a positive attitude. Positivity develops from faith. having no negativity towards teaching. If we start doubting whatever is said is true or not then we will start developing negativity. Anyways anything bad is not being taught all that is being taught is simple thing that work with non-attachment meant for the welfare of others with 100% dedication to attain liberation. Why should we doubt this teaching? Also, we need not doubt the teaching that works should be done as an offering for lord Krishna without ownership for the work and not worrying about the results of work. There is also no doubt in this teaching. If we work without the doubt then we can attain liberation certainly.
Chapter 3, Verse 32
Sri Krishna says those who doubt his teachings and do not follow completely will not attain the liberation. Here Lord Krishna is not saying they people should follow him blindly, he says once a person has realized that this is the path then he has to follow it 100% by giving his 100%. If there are doubts in mind them people will not give their 100%. The difficulty of the technique leads to doubts and having doubts people will not give 100%. If people will not give 100% they will not get results and they start questioning the technique. This is what Sri Krishna says people should avoid. If people don’t follow his instructions fully then it will be difficult for the liberation of the person.
Chapter 3, Verse 33
Sri Krishna clearly says that even the knowledgeable persons are controlled by their nature (Prakriti) and they cannot repress their nature. This is an important sloka by Sri Krishna.
What is Prakriti/ nature:
- Step 1: In the starting there are three basic gunas. All in equilibrium.
- Step 2: Consciousness because of its memories from past life touch the Gunas and modify it. If the consciousness having more rajasic nature will turn the equilibrium of Gunas to Rajsic nature (More positive charge). If the consciousness having tamasic nature then it will turn the Gunas in equilibrium to negative nature and so.
Thus, consciousness disturbs the equilibrium in Gunas and creates Prakriti.
- Step 3: from Prakriti from the buddhi /intellect.
- Step 4: from buddhi form the ahamkara(ego)
- Step 6: from Ego from the sense organs.
- Step 7: from sense organs we perceive the world.
Thus, we can see that a person’s psychology is determined at the level of his Prakriti as what type of consciousness had interacted with his Gunas in equilibrium.
Sri Krishna says that even wise men are bound to act as per their Prakriti and their gunas and he says suppressing a person’s Gunas is not the right way. The Guna’s have to be cultivated and made friends with and should not be suppressed. it is a continuous struggle in the life of an individual to fight against his nature and keep working to improve himself for the welfare of others. Instead of suppressing his nature, a person should concentrate on working selflessly so that he makes actions for the future in the right way. Basically, it is the past that affects the present and the present affects the future. If we can take care of the present then the future will take care of itself.
Chapter 3, Verse 34
Extending the earlier sloka further, Sri Krishna explains that instead of suppressing a person Gunas which he cannot do, what a person should do is avoid (attraction or aversion) towards sense objects. He says senses ( 5 sense organs) have attraction/aversion, Love/hatred, pleasure/pain relationship with sense objects. These feelings have to be controlled and the person should be neutral in his reaction whenever he sees/hears/feels anything.
Being neutral, being equanimous is the key and this equanimity should arise at the level of attraction/aversion and not control the gunas. This choosing is done at the level of intellect and an individual has to do this constantly to attain freedom. As per his Prakriti, the person may have attraction or repulsion towards certain things, so instead of controlling the basic qualities of a person, a person should exert his energies on the choice.
Its always choice and not control. What a person chooses in the present will make the future and what a person chose in the past determines persons present now. Its all choice and not control.
Chapter 3, Verse 35
This is quite a complicated and powerful sloka to be understood. May be we need some external consultation on this. What exactly Sri Krishna meant by Dharma in this? What exactly is sva dharma and para dharma? Did he mean karma yoga and gnana yoga? Or did he mean nature of the people?
Sri Krishna says it is better to face death rather than doing para dharma and says it is better to do in a faulty manner sva dharma rather than try to specialize in para dharma as following other dharma is fraught with danger.
Chapter 3, Verse 36
In this sloka, Arjuna like a normal human being asks the question what makes a person compelled to commit a sin even against his will?
This usually happens 99.99% of the times to 99.99% of the people. We may think that we should do activity ”x” like not eating sweet in case of a person who is planning to lose weight, but in the presence of sweets, it happens as if someone else moves him to eat sweets despite his will. Another example, a person wants to get up early in the morning to go to the gym, despite having the will to get up, early in the morning it happens that the person can’t open his eyes and sleep. He wakes up only to take a resolve that he will wake up early again.
This usually happens for all new year wishes and resolve.
Whenever a person commits any sin, it usually happens against his will. So Arjuna asks this question to Sri Krishna on behalf of Mankind as to what causes a person commits sin despite having knowledge that he is committing sin.
Chapter 3, Verse 37
Lord Krishna puts forth the reason why people commit sin. Why people act against their wishes. It is because of “kama” and “krodha”. The Kama is the desire, the basic urge to get some pleasure /satisfaction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama
The Kama which is broad : desire, wish, passion, longing, the pleasure of the senses, the aesthetic enjoyment of life, affection basically arises because of our Gunas. Because of our basic qualities we make up our desires. With the desires as a foundation we use sense organs to perceive them ( to perceive our pleasures) and we expend our energies to get those sense objects. In this process, we get attached to those objects and the more our brain craves for them, the more we get attached. More attachment will lead to bondage and we end up doing the same thing again and again.
As we fall into this trap, we slowly and slowly become slaves of our desires. Freedom from these sense objects is basically getting off the addiction of sense objects. Freedom is letting off desires go. Then the person comes out of comfort zone and grows.
Unfulfilled desires give rise to krodha. Anger is the energy that drives the attainment of kama. For me, desire is a form of energy and if it does not get what it wants, it transmutes to anger. Both these destroy a human being, as they are extremely sinful.
Chapter 3, Verse 38
Lord Krishna gives examples from the world for a better understanding of how The Kama covers knowledge . Like smoke which covers the fire, like the dust which covers mirror and the womb which covers embryo, kama also covers knowledge or consciousness. Smoke will not allow us to see the real fire. Dust will not emit proper light and mirror is not visible properly. The more the amount of kama the more the dust on the mirror is. If more kama is there in a person then it is quite difficult to see the real inner self /knowledge.
Chapter 3, Verse 39
In this sloka, Lord Krishna explains the attributes of Kama. He says kama is insatiable and inexhaustible. A person can never satisfy his kama/desires. If a person thinks this is last time he will act and from next time he will stop his desire, then he is mistaken. The Kama never gets satisfied. If a person likes cars and if he thinks he can be satisfied with one car then he is mistaken. Once a car is bought, desire satisfied , and in few days the person feels like having another car.
Desires are never ending and we keep on feeding them with our activities. The other attribute of desire is fire. It engulfs the person who is having them and cause pain.
The other attribute of desire is , it is always in constant enmity/fight with the person having knowledge. A person having knowledge of what is right and what is not right in life will struggle with desires all through his life. Life is about choices a person makes. The choice is whether the person yields to desire or he doesn’t yield to desire. The wise man has pain at this point, and once doesn’t yield then kama cannot cause pain in him. In ordinary people, they make choice to yield to desire because they do not know the truth and those desires cause pain him later, though initially, desires cause pleasure in him.
Kama/desires initially cause pleasure and later pain. It is insatiable and fires like. Knowing this a wise man will better not chose desires and act selflessly without any desires. All his actions are selfless, without attachment.
Chapter 3, Verse 40
Where does desire reside? It resides in the sense organs, it resides in the manas and buddhi. We have written earlier that nature comes into existence because of guna, and guna will create buddhi which in turn creates sense organs. So where is Maya, it is in all these stages . the sense organs crave for the sense objects because of desire and the mind craves for pleasure because desire is covering it and at last the main decision-making body, buddhi is also covered by it. That’s why a wise person who knows what is reality is always in a constant fight with the desire.
Chapter 3, Verse 41
Sri Krishna says that to kama/desire is the root of all sins and it also destroys all knowledge and realization. The Kama can thrive only when there is no knowledge. The Kama is always in a fight with Gnana and the tussle is lifelong. If we reduce our guard then kama takes over. The fight is eternal as long as the body lives. So Krishna says to take control of the desire we should first take control of the senses How do we get indriya under control? This is explained by Krishna in one of the earlier verses that ,by withdrawing the senses like a tortoise withdraws into a shell we should withdraw sense from sense objects in the beginning stage itself because once we start indulging in senses then it becomes quite difficult to come back as it becomes a habit and we get attached to sense object.
Chapter 3, Verse 42
In this sloka lord, Krishna says who controls what and how control can happen. What are the layers that are available as remedies for human beings? He says buddhi/Intellect( the decision-making body) is superior to manas/mind. Mans /mind is superior to senses and senses are superior to the material body.
Material body/sensory objects <sense organs< mind<buddhi/intellect.
This shows if we take a misstep at one level then we can correct it at other levels. If we could not control the senses, for example, we saw a picture or we hear a bad thing, then the mind can correct it by saying it is bad and we can change our attention and withdraw senses. If mind also could not control then we have buddhi which should say it is wrong and should not be done.
Hence it is important that we control all the three and move them in the right direction for the ultimate goal. All three have to work in proper synchronization to achieve the goal and should not work at cross purposes.
Chapter 3, Verse 43
After establishing the supremacy of consciousness above all, Lord Krishna says the only way we can win over desires/ Kama is we need to concentrate on the realization of self rather than on senses/mind/buddhi. Restrain the senses right from the beginning and divert the senses from enjoying the sense objects towards the self-realization. Reading holy scriptures, doing meditation listening to holy music will help in this endeavor, keeping the senses always engaged in the work will also help. Parallelly change the mind into thinking good thoughts about the realization of self. Working selflessly without any desires will help and do not give any spare time for the mind to think negative thoughts.
Always think positively and work with gratitude. The kama/desire residing in mind will always try to trick the person telling that what is the use of all these spiritual practices, a person may never realize self, there is no on attachment etc. etc. It will cast doubts on all the activities and may try to dissuade the person from trying to reach consciousness. This is where faith comes into play. Faith in the higher words, faith in the words of Krishna, faith in the higher purpose of life will help us in overcoming kama at the level of mind.After this, we need to conquer desires at the level of buddhi. Whenever desires cause a doubt in mind immediately we need to think positively.
Take the right decisions always. Remember the Swamy Vivekananda words, reject anything like poison if it makes you weak physically and mentally. This has to be followed at the level of buddhi. Just reject negative thoughts and bad things and concentrate on higher self.