Gita Daily Readings

12th MARCH
Chapter Three: 19
Therefore, without attachment do thou always perform action which should be done (your duty). For, by performing action without attachment man reaches the supreme.

Commentary

Krishna is not in favor of our abandoning our "duty." Various expressions are used; niyatam karma (action in accord with the cosmic order) kaaryam karma (action that should be done) or sva-karma (one's natural action). And these are used as synonyms for sva-dharma (one's own duty). Duty holds society together. My duty is your privilege and vice versa. Action performed with this ideal in view is dharma. It holds people together in love and harmony.

Both selfish action and the performance of another's function (obviously taken over through selfish desire) are to be abandoned, but not one's own duty. Not even a monk should renounce his own duty; Krishna gives a revolutionary definition even to samnyasa.

Our scriptures give us several instances of yogis attaining perfection while leading their normal household lives in the right spirit, i.e. without desire and without attachment. An exaggerated value of worldly objects creates desire in the mind. This desire gives rise to attachment to the actions calculated to secure the desired object and the reward too. This attachment is the source of all sins; it itself is sin. Renunciation of attachment is the surest way to attain perfection. The world is not a hindrance. Work is not a hindrance either. But attachment is a definite hindrance on our path to perfection.

What is popularly known as "detachment" is not the true opposite of or antidote to attachment: that is another form of attachment - attachment to self-interest, self-esteem and the adoration of one's ideology, and aversion to others. Non-attachment is the discovery of the truth concerning attachment itself. Even so with "duty." It is the discovery of what is "natural" to oneself, not some injunctions and prohibitions prescribed or proscribed by others.

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