Om Namo Bagavathe Vasudevaaya
3rd Chapter – karmayogaḥ
न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते।
न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति॥ ४॥
na karmaṇāmanārambhānnaiṣkarmyaṁ puruṣo’śnute |
na ca saṁnyasanādeva siddhiṁ samadhigacchati || 4 ||
Meaning: One does not attain freedom from the bondage of Karma by merely abstaining from work. No one attains perfection by merely giving up work. (3.04)
न – not; कर्मणां – of prescribed duties; अनारम्भात् – by non performance; नैष्कर्म्यं – freedom from bondage;
पुरुषः – a man; अश्नुते – achieves; न – nor; च – also; संन्यासनात् – by renunciation; एव – mere; सिद्धिं – success; समधिगच्छति – attains
Explanation: As discussed earlier, Arjuna hinted that there wouldn’t be any problem if one were to do no action which is inaction and in his mind he concluded that inaction would be better as it doesn’t produce result and thereby doesn’t push one to react to the result etc., and be in this vicious circle.
Let us analyze what the Lord is saying. The Lord says that one can’t become free from bondage if he doesn’t do any action. Further one does not become a Jnani (a realized person) from being inactive. Why is the question that needs answering. It is very simple logic that will answer this why.
Actions produce result. Actions alone produce result. If one wants to be at a stage where he is independent and a free person, then it is a result that he wants to achieve. If that is a result which he wants to achieve, then it should be preceded by action. He should be performing such type of an action which would bring about the result of his independence from his actions. It is because any result is for an action.
If one is inactive, then that inaction will not produce a result. If no results could be achieved through inaction, then how one can achieve his desired result of freedom.
Then, what about renouncing the action? If one were to conclude that renouncing action is better, because action brings about a result and that result would again push one to take action and hence renouncing it would ensure no result is attracted as action was not done.
What is the difference between inaction and renunciation? Inaction is avoiding action whereas renunciation is willful dropping of action. Here the Lord is highlighting that if one wants to attain liberation and understand liberation to be attained as a result, then how can it be achieved without doing any action, for action produces the result.
However, when one grows spiritually, he will understand that realization and becoming a liberated person cannot be achieved without performing action but by following a process, that involves action to start with.
Action by producing a result shapes the emotional balance of the person performing the action and prepares him to respond after moderation. When this cycle of action, result, reaction, result etc., is backed with an intellect which analyzes, will certainly bring about clarity and change the person to be an integrated person. This personality change is the prerequisite and will ensure a person realizing the absolute truth through systematic learning. Hence whenever, the Lord mentions, action helps a person to become liberated, it means through a process.
Therefore, if the process is not followed (that is no action is done) then the chances of attaining liberation is not there. The Lord rightly highlights here that neither inaction nor willful dropping of action would bring the highest goal which the humans would want to pursue.
The Lord will continue to explore the topic of inaction in the next couple of shlokas.