Chapter Three: 35
|Better is one's own duty, though devoid of merit, than the duty of another well discharged. Better is death in one's own duty; the duty of another is fraught with fear.|
CommentaryThis is the natural corollary of the basic teaching of the Bhagavad Gita that all life is sacred, that there is nothing high or low in life's activities, and that our actions should not be motivated by private desires. Why and when does one switch from the discharge of one's own duties to take on the duties of another? More often than not (i.e. when it is not as part of the natural evolutionary process) when he is tempted by an earthly reward, or by self-aggrandizement.
Even today the amateur who is not really qualified to do a job and does something out of his way, gets a lot of publicity! This desire for name and fame and perhaps the material benefits accruing from them, attracts people, tempting them away from their own duty into the provinces of others.
The professional does his work with a calm mind. The amateur torments himself day and night. The glare of the limelight makes him lose his head. The natural public criticism depresses and annoys him. These are the emotional states that Krishna expressly asks us to avoid.
The central ideal of the Bhagavad Gita is equanimity above all. Anything that disturbs the inner equilibrium is fraught with fear and danger. We must attain that equanimity and then never let anything in the world disturb it.
Total tranquillity of the mind is indispensable for enabling us to look within, to study the nature of mind and thought, to see our conditioning and the source of fear, to realize what true love is and to recognize its caricature with which we are familiar, as also to realize what our real nature is and how perverted it has become. This awareness is the first step towards the enlightened life that Krishna reveals to us.
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