सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 38||
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi
sukha—happiness; duḥkhe—in distress; same kṛitvā—treating alike; lābha-alābhau—gain and loss; jaya-ajayau—victory and defeat; tataḥ—thereafter; yuddhāya—for fighting; yujyasva—engage; na—never; evam—thus; pāpam—sin; avāpsyasi—shall incur
Having an equal mind in pain and pleasure, gain and loss, victory and defeat, engage in battle and thereby you will not incur sin.
This is the starting verse of the theory of Karma Yoga, the main theme of the Gita. In this verse, the Lord teaches the secret of Karma Yoga. Though engaged in various types of activity, a man can live without any taint of sin. That secret lies in the balance of mind, equanimity, and detachment. Man should work without losing his equanimity in the vicissitudes of natural change. Success unbalances the mind by a wave of elation, and defeat by a wave of depression.
This is what the common man experiences in the course of his life’s activity. The Gita propounds equanimity, as the only cure for these mental waves carrying man from one extreme to another. And these mental disturbances are caused by attachment to the enjoyments of life. The seeker should know that he has nothing to gain or lose by victory or defeat in his endeavors. Thus he would be free from the disturbing emotions of pride, egotism, and elation in success, self-pity in sorrow, and despair in failure. When the mind is kept in a state of equanimity, Atma is reflected clearly. How can such a man incur sin? Some people think that the yoga of work is a lower path and that work binds man to the wheel of birth and death. The Lord denies it. It is not the work that binds, but the attachment to the fruits of work that binds. If a man attaches himself to the fruits of work, then he is bound and he has to take a number of births to enjoy or suffer the effect of his works. On the other hand, if the aspirant knows that he has nothing to seek for in the universe, that he is Atma, then he is indifferent to the results of his work. He is equal-minded. This is the secret of Karma Yoga.
Then engage in battle: ‘From this, we understand that before plunging into action, one should know and practice the secret of work. The Lord’s command is ‘then fight’ (i-e.) after attaining equanimity of mind. Otherwise, action immediately binds him to the wheel of birth and death. The ups and downs of worldly life and its reactions will throw the man off the gear into a tormented state of pain and suffering. Perfect knowledge should illumine work. Then work becomes worship. Therefore the Lord first teaches Arjuna in the second discourse (Sankhya Yoga) the highest doctrine of Vedanta (i.e), the indivisibility of the personal man with Paramatma, the immortality of the self, and then, comes down to teach the method of work.
Swami Vivekananda Says —
“Making pleasure and misery the same, making success and defeat the same, do thou stand up and fight.” [Source]
When I became a sannyasin, I consciously took the step, knowing that this body would have to die of starvation. What of that, I am a beggar. My friends are poor, I love the poor, I welcome poverty. I am glad that I sometimes have to starve. I ask help of none. What is the use? Truth will preach itself, it will not die for the want of the helping hands of me! “Making happiness and misery the same, making success and failure the same, fight thou on.” It is that eternal love, unruffled equanimity under all circumstances, and perfect freedom from jealousy or animosity that will tell. That will tell, nothing else.[Source]
The wise should wholeheartedly welcome pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, without becoming discouraged (Mahabharata 12.174.39). Two types of people are happy in this world: those who are completely ignorant and those who are truly wise. All others are unhappy (Mahabharata 12.174.33).
Question: How should a man work?
Answer: By being firmly established in equanimity.
Question: What is the way of work without being tarnished with sin?