Chapter Four: 16-17
|What is action? What is inaction? As to this, even the wise are
confused. Therefore, I shall teach thee such action, by knowing which thou shalt be
liberated from evil.
For verily, the true nature of action should be known, as also of forbidden action and of inaction; it is hard to understand the course of action.
People have asked themselves: "What should I do?" The self-arrogating ego has led them along the by-lanes of varied activities, often described as duties and scripturally ordained injunctions, and sometimes restrained them to a state of inaction on the assumption that all action is tainted with evil. Are actions good or evil in themselves, or are they to be judged by their results? If the latter, how is it possible for us to foresee the result? If the former, who is the judge to tell us which action is good and which evil and what are the criteria? These problems have worried even the great ones.
As a renowned saint of India declared: "The scriptures differ among themselves and even the sages differ among themselves. Truly, the secret of righteousness is hidden from mortal gaze. That path which the holy ones have trodden should be followed." The Mahabharata illustrates this riddle. The righteous Yudhisthira is often faced with this fundamental problem: "What is right action?" On top of all this, Lord Krishna himself suggests what appears, on the surface, to be decidedly unrighteous!!
Yet, an action may be unrighteous from the standpoint of human law and righteous according to the divine law. The world has only too often witnessed diabolical rulers impose their will on their subjects with the sanctity and "cover" of the divine law! Modern political and religious institutions have taught us that even man's conscience can be so colored as to regard man-made law with greater veneration than divine law which is deliberately obscured from his vision. What is right?
Web Editor's Notes
The Venkatesa Gita Daily Readings
The Song of God: The Bhagavad Gita
Translation by Swami Sivananda and Commentary by Swami Venkatesananda
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