नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं कर्म ज्यायो ह्यकर्मण: |
शरीरयात्रापि च ते न प्रसिद्ध्येदकर्मण: || 8||
niyataṁ kuru karma tvaṁ karma jyāyo hyakarmaṇaḥ
śharīra-yātrāpi cha te na prasiddhyed akarmaṇaḥ
niyatam—constantly; kuru—perform; karma—Vedic duties; tvam—you; karma—action; jyāyaḥ—superior; hi—certainly; akarmaṇaḥ—than inaction; śharīra—bodily; yātrā—maintenance; api—even; cha—and; te—your; na prasiddhyet—would not be possible; akarmaṇaḥ—inaction
Doing the work prescribed by the Sastras is superior to inaction. By inaction, even maintenance of the body for you would not be possible
Do the work prescribed by the Sastras: This is the Lord’s direct answer to Arjuna’s appeal-tell me decisively one path (tadekam vada nishehitya) (3-2).
The work prescribed by the Sastras should be performed. By it, the mind becomes purified and the Self is realised in the end. Nothing comes from inaction. Work certainly is superior to inaction. By inaction, even bodily existence is impossible. The Lord commands Arjuna to be up and active in the performance of his duty.
It is befitting the universality of the Gita to give to this word karma a larger interpretation than the mere performance of ritual. Man is continuously acting in various fields of personal, social, and national life. He is at work in the house, in the office or factory, in the co-operation endeavour of national projects. All this is karma. The Lord’s observation that even physical existence becomes impossible by inaction, should be understood as a call to the nation to work and work hard for its own and universal benefit. The world today needs men capable of and dedicated to work. Each one in his own field has to do work and more work as much as possible for him to do.
Question: What is superior? Work or inaction?
Answer: Work is superior.
Question: What type of work?
Answer: Work prescribed by the Sastras.
Question: What harm would be caused by inaction?
Answer: Without work, the mind cannot be purified, and self-realisation is not possible. Even physical existence becomes impossible by inaction.