Act following your natural qualities

January 6, 2022 | Global Gita | Blog



In this short clip, Swami Nirvisheshananda Tirtha ji analyses a very significant portion of the 18th chapter of Bhagavad Gita.  How one attains spiritual perfection remaining engaged in his own activities, is the crucial question discussed here.

Bhagavad Gita explains that Nature divides the activities of people according to their inherent qualities shaped by the three Gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. A human being can attain perfection by pursuing work suitable to his potentials (Svabhaava karma) sincerely and devoutly. 

यत: प्रवृत्तिर्भूतानां येन सर्वमिदं ततम्
स्वकर्मणा तमभ्यर्च्य सिद्धिं विन्दति मानव: (18.46)

By offering one’s own activities to the Source (Nature) from which all beings have emerged and by which everything is pervaded, man attains perfection.

“Worship of the Supreme” says Swamiji, “is not like worship with flowers etc. Worship of the Supreme is with the attitude of your own mind and intelligence. When you do any activity without any selfish motive, desire or ego, it becomes an offering to the Lord”.

Swamiji stresses the fact that the purpose here is to get rid of Raaga (clinging to the things you like), Dvesha (hating things you dislike) and ego.

Sometimes we may do work which we do not like to do; sometimes we may feel elated that we have done something wonderfully well; sometimes we may have a feeling of sinfulness about the work. All these bhaavas have to be avoided and the work, done sincerely, just offered to the Supreme Lord.

Swamiji discusses the next verse which says, ‘Better is one’s own pursuit as ordained by his Dharma, even if imperfect, than the dharma or pursuit of another’. 

In this context, Swamiji gives the example of Arjuna who wanted to abandon the Mahabharata war and take to a life of renunciation. Sri Krishna made him understand that even if he had to kill his own kith and kin, it was his Dharma to fight the war and help in establishing a righteous rule.

Discussing the next verse, Swamiji says, “You should not abandon your natural pursuit even if there are some apparent negative elements in it. Just like smoke covers the brilliance of fire, there will be some negative elements in all work”.

असक्तबुद्धि: सर्वत्र जितात्मा विगतस्पृह:

नैष्कर्म्यसिद्धिं परमां सन्न्यासेनाधिगच्छति (18.49)

One who has impersonal vision (unattached intelligence) in all situations, who is self-regulated and free of cravings, attains the supreme perfection of Naishkarmya (non-doership) through Sannyasa (renunciation).

Discussing non-attachment Swamiji says, “By constantly indulging in the thoughts about things like property, prestige, children etc, we grow attachment towards them.”

“What is real Sannyasa (renunciation)” asks Swamiji. It is purely internal. To explain Sannyasa in greater detail, Swamiji refers to two shlokas from earlier chapters.

अनाश्रितः कर्मफलं कार्यं कर्म करोति यः …..(6.1)

He is a Sannyasi and a Yogi who engages in activities without depending on the final personal gain (happiness). He is perfectly aware that nothing in the world would fulfil him and that the real fulfilment lies within. Sannyasi is not one who has renounced religious and secular activities.

ज्ञेयः नित्यसन्नयासि यो द्वेष्टि काङ्क्षति… (5.3)

He is a constant renunciate (sannyasi) who does not hate or desire, who is free of raaga-dvesha.

Swamiji discusses the supreme perfection of Naishkarmya (non-doership) which is attained by Sannyasa. “Such a person will not feel that he is doing anything. He does not get bound by anything; he does not hate anything. Whatever comes to him, he does naturally without any delusional clinging to it. Doership gets sublimated in him”.

In conclusion, Swamiji says, “This perfection can be sought by everyone, irrespective of their occupation.”