Exploring the Bhagavad Gita: Result-Orientated Action
Bhagavad Gita 2.47 & 9.27
Should we focus on our actions (karma) without worrying about its fruits (fala)? Is there a point in performing action, if we are not going to be guaranteed the type of fruit, we want from it? Is it easier to not act? These are some of the questions that Pujya Bhaishri has answered, in relation to the Bhagavad Gītā verse (Śloka) below, which he deconstructed and explained in its four parts:
karmaṇyevādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana mā karmaphalahetur bhūr māte saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi (BG 2.47)
Before delving into the verse, Pujya Bhaishri pointed out how this verse’s meaning is often misinterpreted, urging every spiritual aspirant (sādhaka) to first listen to spiritual discourses upon such divine scriptures, from a suitable individual, before endeavoring to read it like a book.
Deconstructing the verse:
- Karmaṇyevādhikāras te—here, Pujya Bhaishri highlighted that the meaning of adhīkāra, here, is freedom, rather than right. Thus, this means, we are free to act. We have the liberty to choose the type of action you want to perform – whether it’s good or bad, righteous or immoral. But you are only (“eva”) free in performing the action.
- mā phaleṣu kadācana – although we are free to choose the type of action to perform, you are not free in choosing the fruits of your action, Pujya Bhaishri emphasised. The type of action we perform, determines the type of fruit we deserve, and we are obliged to accept the fruit.
a. Pujya Bhaishri elaborated the two types of obligations:
i. If we have performed a bad deed (pāpa), we must reap its fruit. Sin is a matter of the criminal court, where out-of-court settlements are not possible.
ii. If we have performed a good deed (puṇya) but we don’t want its fruit, we can offer it to God (provided we have used our ability to discern (viveka) in deciding what we can and cannot offer to Him). Merit is a matter of the civil court, where out-of-court settlements are possible.
- Mā karmaphalahetur bhūr – our actions should not be performed with attachment to its fruit. Does that mean that we should not desire for an outcome/fruit? No, Pujya Bhaishri explains. Whilst we must decide what fruit we want or know why we are performing a certain action, we must not get attached to its fruit, because this attachment will steer us away from our action, which is what will ultimately lead us to our fruit. Thus, we should focus on bettering the quality of our action, because the better our action is, the better our fruit will be.
- mā te saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi – just as we should not be attached to the fruit of our outcome, so too, should we not be attached to non-action (“I don’t want to do anything”). For as long as we have this human body, we will not be able to stay even a single moment, without performing action; because we are governed by the three modes of nature (sattvaguṇa, rajoguṇa, tamoguṇa), which will always engage us in action, even if it is us sitting and lying around (an action performed in the state of inertia – tamoguṇa
Thus, Pujya Bhaishri summarised, neither should we be insistent on not performing an action, nor should we be attached to the fruit of our actions. The only thing which we have in our hold is our present action; therefore, we should work towards choosing what we perform, wisely, as well as elevating it to the state of an offering/sacrifice (yajñá), which is what will enable us to attain the fruit we want, in a righteous manner.
You can watch the question & answer session with Pujya Bhaishri and the Sandipani Pacific Parivar on YouTube below.
Report by Shivani Suchak