कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मण: |
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गति: || 17||
karmaṇo hyapi boddhavyaṁ boddhavyaṁ cha vikarmaṇaḥ
akarmaṇaśh cha boddhavyaṁ gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ
karmaṇaḥ—recommended action; hi—certainly; api—also; boddhavyam—should be known; boddhavyam—must understand; cha—and; vikarmaṇaḥ—forbidden action; akarmaṇaḥ—inaction; cha—and; boddhavyam—must understand; gahanā—profound; karmaṇaḥ—of action; gatiḥ—the true path
The nature of action (enjoined by the Sastras) and of wrong action (prohibited by the Sastras) and also of inaction should be known, because deep and difficult to understand is the path of action.
- karma: that which should be done according to the sastras (vihita karma),
- vikarma: that which is prohibited by the sastras (nishiddha karma),
- akarma: inaction, idleness, non-performance of any work.
Another interpretation could also be given to these terms:
- karma: ordinary action in the daily duties of life,
- vikarma: doing the same work without personal attachment and in a spirit of dedication to the Lord,
- akarma: the resulting state of purity and complete absorption in the Self when there is no action at all.
So the nature of karma has an unfathomable mystery behind it. To understand it clearly and practise it is the way to liberation.
Swami Vivekananda Says —
Disciple: But, sir, if one has to renounce the fruits of work, why should one be induced to undertake work which is always troublesome?
Swamiji: In this human life, one cannot help doing some kind of work always. When man has perforce to do some work, karma-yoga enjoins on him to do it in such a way as will bring freedom through the realization of the Atman. As to your objection that none will be induced to work — the answer is, that whatever work you do has some motive behind it; but when by the long performance of work, one notices that one work merely leads to another, through a round of births and rebirths, then the awakened discrimination of man naturally begins to question itself, “Where is the end to this interminable chain of work?” It is then that he appreciates the full import of the words of the Lord in the Gita: “Inscrutable is the course of work.” Therefore when the aspirant finds that work with motive brings no happiness, then he renounces action. But man is so constituted that to him the performance of work is a necessity, so what work should he take up? He takes up some unselfish work, but gives up all desire for its fruits. For he has known then that in those fruits of work lie countless seeds of future births and deaths. Therefore the knower of Brahman renounces all actions. Although to outward appearances he engages himself in some work, he has no attachment to it. Such men have been described in the scriptures as karma-yogins.[Source]