कर्मण्यकर्म य: पश्येदकर्मणि च कर्म य: |
स बुद्धिमान्मनुष्येषु स युक्त: कृत्स्नकर्मकृत् || 18||
karmaṇyakarma yaḥ paśhyed akarmaṇi cha karma yaḥ
sa buddhimān manuṣhyeṣhu sa yuktaḥ kṛitsna-karma-kṛit
karmaṇi—action; akarma—in inaction; yaḥ—who; paśhyet—see; akarmaṇi—inaction; cha—also; karma—action; yaḥ—who; saḥ—they; buddhi-mān—wise; manuṣhyeṣhu—amongst humans; saḥ—they; yuktaḥ—yogis; kṛitsna-karma-kṛit—performers all kinds of actions
Who sees action in inaction and inaction in action, he is the wise man, the yogi, the doer of all actions among men.
No action in action: If a man learns to work without the feeling of doership and without desire to enjoy the fruits thereof, he attains complete freedom. Any kind of work, and any amount of it, cannot bind him. So what he does amounts to no action or inaction, just because he knows that he is not doing anything at all, but that the bodily and mental organs and instruments are functioning according to their nature in their own fields of activity. Let us take the illustration of a mirror. Various objects and various forms of action are reflected in it constantly, and yet the minor is not tainted in any way; it remains clear and pure. Even so, the Jnani knows that he is the all-pervading Self and in that Self all actions of the universe are taking place just like those reflected in the mirror. Thus we find that several sages and great men have done great good to mankind through detached and desireless action. Their action, from this point of view, is no action at all so far as they are concerned, as they have entered the Self – state beyond the physical and mental planes. The ignorant man may attribute action to him because he is confused and does not know the secret which the Jnani understands in all the actions. It is this philosophical position which is stated in this apparently paradoxical sentence.
Action in no action: Exactly opposite to these wise men are the idlers who apparently do not do any work but are constantly in a state of action. The idlers refuse to do any work; they are too lazy or too weak in body to perform any work. They may pose as philosophers and Jnanis because their bodily and sense organs are not engaged in any work. But they are always in a state of action because their minds wander about all over the world, think and perform a thousand forms of work, and they live a restless and tortured life. The inherent samskaras play havoc with their mind-stuff which is the root cause of samsara, birth and death. They have not arrived at that state of peace and restfulness which belongs to the highest realm of the Self. The Lord warns the seeker not to fall into this horrible error. Otherwise, man does the greatest injury to himself by confounding the positive peace of self-realisation with the negative state of inaction of the body which is the same as death. He should understand that detachment is a mental attitude born of knowledge and not merely cessation of work. It is not action that binds but egotism and the past evil tendencies of the mind. The body is after all an external instrument. The operator is the mind. It is here that detachment should be cultivated. To restrain the sense-organs and go on thinking of sense pleasures and enjoyments with the mind, is `midhyachara’ and Lord has already condemned such men in the Discourse of Karma yoga. The same idea is presented here in a different context.
So, the realised man, whether he is working or not working enjoys the supreme peace of the Self. He gets the highest reward of performing all the good works enjoined by the Sastras. He is rooted in the Self in action and in inaction. For such a man action is not action.
The Lord eulogises the sage who has attained this state as `buddhiman‘ , ‘yuktah’ and ‘kristnakarmakrit’. By following the path of nishkama karma, he has purified his mind and attained the Atmic state and by that, he has achieved the highest goal of life. For such a man there is nothing more to do, and therefore he is said to have performed all the works enjoined by the Sastras (kristnakarmakrit).
Swami Vivekananda Says —
Krishna preached in the midst of the battlefield. “He who in the midst of intense activity finds himself in the greatest calmness, and in the greatest peace finds intense activity, that is the greatest [yogi as well as the wisest man].”[Source]
Everything goes to show that this philosophy must be very practical; and later on, when we come to the Bhagavad Gita — most of you, perhaps, have read it, it is the best commentary we have on the Vedanta philosophy — curiously enough the scene is laid on the battlefield, where Krishna teaches this philosophy to Arjuna; and the doctrine which stands out luminously in every page of the Gita is intense activity, but in the midst of it, eternal calmness. This is the secret of work, to attain which is the goal of the Vedanta. Inactivity, as we understand it in the sense of passivity, certainly cannot be the goal. Were it so, then the walls around us would be the most intelligent; they are inactive. Clods of earth, stumps of trees, would be the greatest sages in the world; they are inactive. Nor does inactivity become activity when it is combined with passion. Real activity, which is the goal of Vedanta, is combined with eternal calmness, the calmness which cannot be ruffled, the balance of mind which is never disturbed, whatever happens. And we all know from our experience in life that that is the best attitude for work.[Source]
“He who sees in the midst of intense activity, intense calm, and in the midst of intensest peace is intensely active [is wise indeed]. … This is the question: With every sense and every organ active, have you that tremendous peace [so that] nothing can disturb you? Standing on Market Street, waiting for the car with all the rush … going on around you, are you in meditation — calm and peaceful? In the cave, are you intensely active there with all quiet about you? If you are, you are a yogi, otherwise not.[Source]
The ideal man is he who, in the midst of the greatest silence and solitude, finds the intensest activity, and in the midst of the intensest activity finds the silence and solitude of the desert. He has learnt the secret of restraint, he has controlled himself. He goes through the streets of a big city with all its traffic, and his mind is as calm as if he were in a cave, where not a sound could reach him; and he is intensely working all the time. That is the ideal of karma-yoga, and if you have attained to that you have really learnt the secret of work.[Source]
“He who in the midst of the greatest activity finds the sweetest peace, and in the midst of the greatest calmness is most active, he has known the secret of life.” Krishna shows the way how to do this — by being non-attached: do everything but do not get identified with anything. You are the soul, the pure, the free, all the time; you are the Witness. Our misery comes, not from work, but by our getting attached to something.[Source]
When we come to that non-attachment, then we can understand the marvellous mystery of the universe; how it is intense activity and vibration, and at the same time intensest peace and calm; how it is work every moment and rest every moment. That is the mystery of the universe — the impersonal and personal in one, the infinite and finite in one. Then we shall find the secret. “He who finds in the midst of intense activity the greatest rest, and in the midst of the greatest rest intense activity, he has become a yogi.” He alone is a real worker, none else. We do a little work and break ourselves. Why? We become attached to that work. If we do not become attached, side by side with it we have infinite rest.[Source]
Therefore Krishna teaches us not to shirk our duties, but to take them up manfully, and not think of the result. The servant has no right to question. The soldier has no right to reason. Go forward, and do not pay too much attention to the nature of the work you have to do. Ask your mind if you are unselfish. If you are, never mind anything, nothing can resist you! Plunge in! Do the duty at hand. And when you have done this, by degrees you will realize the Truth: “Whosoever in the midst of intense activity finds intense peace, whosoever in the midst of the greatest peace finds the greatest activity, he is a yogi, he is a great soul, he has arrived at perfection.”[Source]
Most of us cannot keep our activities on a par with our thought-lives. Some blessed ones can. Most of us seem to lose the power of work as we think deeper, and the power of deep thought if we work more. That is why most great thinkers have to leave to time the practical realization of their great ideals. Their thoughts must wait for more active brains to work them out and spread them. Yet, as we write, comes before us a vision of him, the charioteer of Arjuna, standing in his chariot between the contending hosts, his left hand curbing the fiery steeds — a mail-clad warrior, whose eagle-glance sweeps over the vast army, and as if by instinct weighs every detail of the battle array of both parties — at the same time that we hear, as it were, falling from his lips and thrilling the awe-struck Arjuna, that most marvellous secret of work: “He who finds rest in the midst of activity, and activity in rest, he is the wise amidst men, he the yogi, he is the doer of all work.”[Source]
Swamiji: A very funny thing happened today. I went to a friend’s house. He has had a picture painted, the subject of which is “Shri Krishna addressing Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra”. Shri Krishna stands on the chariot, holding the reins in His hand and preaching the Gita to Arjuna. He showed me the picture and asked me how I liked it. “Fairly well”, I said. But as he insisted on having my criticism on it, I had to give my honest opinion by saying, “There is nothing in it to commend itself to me; first, because the chariot of the time of Shri Krishna was not like the modern pagoda-shaped car, and also, there is no expression in the figure of Shri Krishna.”
Q. — How then should Shri Krishna be represented in the picture in question?
Swamiji: Shri Krishna ought to be painted as He really was, the Gita personified; and the central idea of the Gita should radiate from His whole form as He was teaching the path of dharma to Arjuna, who had been overcome by infatuation and cowardice.
So saying Swamiji posed himself in the way in which Shri Krishna should be portrayed, and continued: “Look here, thus does he hold the bridle of the horses — so tight that they are brought to their haunches, with their forelegs fighting the air, and their mouths gaping. This will show a tremendous play of action in the figure of Shri Krishna. His friend, the world-renowned hero, casting aside his bow and arrows, has sunk down like a coward on the chariot, in the midst of the two armies. And Shri Krishna, whip in one hand and tightening the reins with the other, has turned Himself towards Arjuna, with his childlike face beaming with unworldly love and sympathy, and a calm and serene look — and is delivering the message of the Gita to his beloved comrade. Now, tell me what idea this picture of the Preacher of the Gita conveys to you.”
The friend: Activity combined with firmness and serenity.
Swamiji: Ay, that’s it! Intense action in the whole body, and withal a face expressing the profound calmness and serenity of the blue sky. This is the central idea of the Gita — to be calm and steadfast in all circumstances, with one’s body, mind, and soul centred at His hallowed Feet! … He who even while doing action can keep his mind calm, and in whom, even when not doing any outward action, flows the current of activity in the form of the contemplation of Brahman, is the intelligent one among men, he indeed is the yogi, he indeed is the perfect worker.[Source]
Question: Who is the wise man?
Answer: One who sees action in no action and no action in action is the wise man.
Question: What is the fruit of his wisdom?
Answer: He attains Self-realisation, and so he gets the merit of having performed all the works enjoined by the Sastras.