3:1: Arjuna said: O Janardana (Krishna, Worshiped by men), O Keshava (Krishna, the Long Haired), why do You want to engage me in ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive action?
3:2: Due to Your apparently perplexing words, my intelligence is confused; therefore please tell me decisively how I may attain the highest.
3:3: The Glorious One said: In this world, as I have previously explained O sinless one [Arjuna], there are two kinds of determined yogis: the jnana-yogins who seek union through knowledge of the categories of existence and those who employ the linking process of action.
3:4, 5: Neither through action or by abstinence from action does one achieve the state of naiskarmyam [inaction-in-action], nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
Because no one, at any time, even for a moment, remains without performing some action. All who are born of qualities of material nature are helplessly forced to act.
3:6, 7: One who controls the sense organs with the mind, yet ponders sense objects is known as a fool and a hypocrite
But one who, by virtue of the mind, begins to regulate the senses through the sensory organs, O Arjuna, and to practice karma yoga without attachment is superior.
Perform your obligatory actions. Indeed action is better than inaction because even your bodily maintenance would not be possible by inaction.
This world is bound by its actions to this end, but you, O child of Kunti, perform your actions for the sake of sacrifice and be liberated from attachment.
3:10, 11: In olden times the deva of progeny, upon creating the generations, said, "By sacrifice you will propagate. This will be your milk cow of plenty."
By this the devas are supported and by this they will support you. This mutual support is good and by it you will achieve the highest.
3:12: The devas will give you all desired objects when they are nourished by sacrifices, but one who enjoys without making offerings to them is a thief.
3:13: The righteous who eat the remnants of sacrifice are freed from all kinds of sins, but those sinful people who cook for their own sake eat only sin.
3:14, 15: Material bodies are born from foods. Food grains are produced from rains. Rains come from the performance of sacrifice and sacrifice is born of action.
All actions arise from the Vedas. Know that Lord Brahma, who is directly manifested from the all-pervading, Imperishable [God], has eternally established the sacrifice of actions.
3:16: Thus set in action, one who does not adapt to this cycle in this life, who lives in sin, satisfied only by the senses, such a person, O child of Partha, lives in vain.
3:17, 18: One who delights in the Self, is satisfied in the Self and is satiated in the Self, for such a one, there are no obligatory activities.
For such a one it is as if no actions are performed because there is no purpose for actions being performed, nor does such a person seek meaning from the living entities.
3:19: Therefore, without attachment, always perform your obligatory actions for by performing such activities without attachment one attains the Highest.
3:20: Through action Janaka and others attained perfection. Likewise, for the protection of the world you ought to perform [your requisite] actions.
3:21: Whatever preeminent people do that alone sets the standard which others emulate.
3:22 -24: O child of Partha, there are no requisite actions for Me in all the three worlds, nor do I desire to obtain anything, nonetheless, even I engage in activities.
If at any time I ceased from engaging in actions, all people would follow My path, O child of Partha.
If I did not act these worlds would all be ruined. There would be caste confusion and I, the Creator, would destroy all these living entities.
3:25: Just as the ignorant act due to their attachment to fruitive reactions, O descendent of Bharata, so too those who are knowledgeable should act, but without attachment, for the protection of the world.
3:26: Those who are knowledgeable should not cause the intelligence of the ignorant to be disturbed with regards their attachment to actions, but rather should encourage them to yoke their minds [to Me] and thus favorably engage in all activities.
3:27: All types of activities are being performed by the [three] gunas [qualities or aspects] of material nature, yet the living entity, who is deluded by false ego, thinks him/her self the doer.
3:28, 29: O mighty armed one, those who know the truth understand the distribution of the qualities and actions and hence their senses are not attached to sense objects.
Those who are deluded by the qualities of material nature and are attached to material activities, who are dull-witted and whose knowledge is incomplete, should not be disturbed by those whose knowledge is complete.
3:30: Renounce all types of activities unto Me, in complete consciousness of Me, free from desire or possessiveness. Being thus free, fight [do your duty] without mental pain or anxiety.
3:31, 32: Those who practice My eternal doctrine with faith and who are devoid of envy are freed from all karmic reactions.
But those who are envious, who do not practice My doctrine, and whose knowledge is deluded, know them to be ruined and devoid of consciousness.
3:33: All living entities follow their own natures, even those who have knowledge act according to material nature, so what can repression accomplish?
3:34: Attachment and detachment of the senses for their objects must be regulated. One should not come under the domination of either of these as they are obstacles [to self-realization].
3:35: Better is one's own duty though poorly exercised, than that of another, even if performed well. It is better to die performing one's own duty because to observe the duty another is filled with dread.
3:36: Arjuna asked: By what is one impelled, even without desiring it, to sin? O descendant of Vrishni; it is as if one were incited by force.
3:37: The Blessed One replied: It is desire and anger, which are born of all-devouring passion. Know this to be the very sinful enemy here in the material world.
3:38, 39: As fire is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust and the embryo is enveloped by the womb, likewise is this [conditioned jivatman or individualized soul] enveloped by Its [desires].
[Thus conditioned] the wisdom of the wise is enveloped by the constant enemy, the forms of desire, O son of Kunti [Arjuna], as by an insatiable fire.
3:40, 41: The senses, the mind and the intellect are said to be the seat [of all desires]. By these the knowledge of the embodied living entities are covered and deluded.
Therefore, begin by regulating the senses, O best of the Bharatas, and destroy this inauspiciousness which is the slayer of knowledge and understanding.
3:42: It is said that the senses are great, but superior to the senses is the mind, superior to the mind is the intellect and the living entity is superior even to the intellect.
3:43: Thus knowing yourself to be superior to the intellect, restrain yourself and destroy the formidable enemy of the forms of desire, O supremely armed one [Arjuna].
Go to: Chapter Four.
Go to Notes and References.
Go to: the Beginning.