सहजं कर्म कौन्तेय सदोषमपि न त्यजेत् |
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण धूमेनाग्निरिवावृता: || 48||
saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya sa-doṣham api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣheṇa dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛitāḥ
saha-jam—born of one’s nature; karma—duty; kaunteya—Arjun, the son of Kunti; sa-doṣham—with defects; api—even if; na tyajet—one should not abandon; sarva-ārambhāḥ—all endeavors; hi—indeed; doṣheṇa—with evil; dhūmena—with smoke; agniḥ—fire; iva—as; āvṛitāḥ—veiled
O Arjuna! one should not abandon the duty to which he is born, though it is attended with evil; all undertakings are indeed enveloped by evil, like fire by smoke.
As the action is performed by the senses and the physical organs, it is within the region of the objective world, conditioned by the three Gunas. Therefore all action is attended with some form of evil or other. All action is ‘Anatma’; it is objective, and it is corrupted by Gunas, so all action partakes of evil. Fire is enveloped by smoke. There can be no fire without the covering evil of smoke. In spite of it, one should not abandon the duty to which he is born, because if it is performed with detachment and in a spirit of surrender to the Lord, it purifies the mind and leads to liberation.
The inevitable evils attendant in all actions is purified by various rites and rituals. Enquiry into the nature of Brahman, mediation, and other sanctified methods of spiritual practice will wash off the impurities clinging to the mind. Therefore one should continue to act in the condition in which he is placed, without attachment to fruits thereof and in a spirit of self-surrender. That man attains the highest state.
Swami Vivekananda Says —
We find that Krishna’s message has also a place for us. Without that message, we cannot move at all. We cannot conscientiously and with peace, joy, and happiness, take up any duty of our lives without listening to the message of Krishna: “Be not afraid even if there is evil in your work, for there is no work which has no evil.” “Leave it unto the Lord, and do not look for the results.”[Source]
The result of every work is mixed with good and evil. There is no good work that has not a touch of evil in it. Like smoke round the fire, some evil always clings to work. We should engage in such works as bring the largest amount of good and the smallest measure of evil. Arjuna killed Bhishma and Drona; if this had not been done Duryodhana could not have been conquered, the force of evil would have triumphed over the force of good, and thus a great calamity would have fallen on the country. The government of the country would have been usurped by a body of proud unrighteous kings, to the great misfortune of the people. Similarly, Shri Krishna killed Kamsa, Jarasandha, and others who were tyrants, but not a single one of his deeds was done for himself. Every one of them was for the good of others. We are reading the Gita by candle-light, but numbers of insects are being burnt to death. Thus it is seen that some evil clings to work.[Source]
Of course, work is always mixed with good and evil, and to work, one has to incur sin, more or less. But what of that? Let it be so. Is not something better than nothing? Is not insufficient food better than going without any? Is not doing work, though mixed with good and evil, better than doing nothing and passing an idle and inactive life, and being like stones? The cow never tells a lie, and the stone never steals, but, nevertheless, the cow remains a cow and the stone a stone. Man steals and man tells lies, and again it is man that becomes a god.[Source]
The scriptures of different religions point out different means to attain the ideals of universal love, freedom, manliness, and selfless benevolence. Every religious sect is generally at variance as to its idea of what is virtue and what is vice, and fights with others over the means of attaining virtue and eschewing vice, instead of aiming at realizing the end. Every means is helpful more or less, and the Gita says, “Every undertaking is attended with defects as fire with smoke”; so the means will no doubt appear more or less defective. But as we are to attain the highest virtue through the means laid down in our respective scriptures, we should try our best to follow them. Moreover, they should be tempered with reason and discrimination. Thus, as we progress, the riddle of virtue and vice will be solved by itself.[Source]
In every country, nations have their good and bad sides. Ours is to do good works in our lives and hold an example before others. No work succeeds by condemnation. It only repels people. Let anybody say what he likes, don’t contradict him. In this world of Maya, whatever work you will take up will be attended with some defect. “All works are covered with defects as fire is with smoke.” Every fire has a chance of being attended with smoke. But will you, on that account, sit inactive? As far as you can, you must go on doing good work.[Source]
Disciple: But, sir, with the spread of learning among them [the masses], they too will in course of time have fertile brains but become idle and inactive like us and live on the fruits of the labour of the next lower classes.
Swamiji: Why shall it be so? Even with the awakening of knowledge, the potter will remain a potter, the fisherman a fisherman, the peasant a peasant. Why should they leave their hereditary calling? “Don’t give up the work to which you were born, even if it be attended with defects.” If they are taught in this way, why should they give up their respective callings? Rather they will apply their knowledge to the better performance of the work to which they have been born. A number of geniuses are sure to arise from among them in the course of time.[Source]
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18 🔻 (78 Verses)