कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादय: |
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि || 20||
karmaṇaiva hi sansiddhim āsthitā janakādayaḥ
loka-saṅgraham evāpi sampaśhyan kartum arhasi
karmaṇā—by the performance of prescribed duties; eva—only; hi—certainly; sansiddhim—perfection; āsthitāḥ—attained; janaka-ādayaḥ—King Janak and other kings; loka-saṅgraham—for the welfare of the masses; eva api—only; sampaśhyan—considering; kartum—to perform; arhasi—you should;
King Janaka and others attained perfection by action. Even having in view the need to show the right path to the masses, you should work.
The principle that man attains liberation by Nishkama karma is illustrated by the example of King Janaka and others like Asvapati, Ikshvaku, Ambarisha, Bhagiradha. They were all emperors who followed the doctrine of Nishkama karma and attained the highest spiritual goal. It is an ancient way of life, and men of the greatest responsibilities in the world understood the secret of the work and practised it in their daily life. Arjuna, a prince of the Royal family of Bharata, could do it. It is an answer to the doubt whether man could attain Moksha while engaged in the practical duties of the world, and whether work could lead to liberation. Nishkama karma purifies the mind and knowledge dawns at once. It is said in the Yoga Vasista that Janaka performed many acts of righteousness without attachment, purified his mind thereby, and by enquiry into the Self, realised the Supreme Being.
The Lord further emphasises the need for good work even from a worldly point of view. Man should work at least to serve mankind, to show them the right path, and to set an example to them. Service to humanity has indeed a very high place in religion and philosophy. Even to help a single individual is indeed a great work. To liberate oneself, and then to lead others to spiritual illumination is undoubtedly the highest act of service to mankind. Wealth and lands, power and position could be won and lost. But emancipation and God-realisation is a blessing to humanity. So the Lord advises Arjuna to work, not only for self-purification but to show the path of work to mankind and help the masses by his personal example.