What does Lord Krishna say about duty?
The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu scripture that consists of a conversation between Lord Krishna and the warrior Arjuna on the Kurukshetra battlefield. Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita delves into the themes of duty, righteousness, and the nature of the soul. Verse 47 of Chapter 2 is as follows:
karmaṇyevādhikāraste mā phaleṣu kadācana
mā karmaphalaheturbhūrmā te saṅgo’stvakarmaṇi
“Your right is only to perform your prescribed duty, but never to claim its results. Do not be motivated by the fruits of action, and never develop an attachment to inaction.”
In this verse, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna on the correct attitude towards performing actions. He emphasizes that one should focus on doing his duty without being attached to results or outcomes. He teaches the importance of selfless action and encourages people to act with a sense of responsibility, without letting go of personal desires and expectations. This popular verse imparts four essential instructions regarding the science of work:
Do your duty, but don’t worry about the results.
Lord Krishna emphasizes that we have the right to perform our duties, however the results do not depend solely on our efforts. Various factors, including our actions, past karmas, divine will, the efforts of others, collective karmas, and even circumstances (a matter of luck), contribute to the results. Therefore, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to give up attachment to results and instead concentrate on performing his duties diligently. By detaching from the results, we can direct our full attention and energy towards our actions, leading to even better results.
The fruits of your actions are not for your enjoyment.
Lord Krishna reminds us that the results of our actions are not meant for personal enjoyment only. The results are part of a larger cosmic order and are subject to several interconnected factors beyond our control. Rather than seeking personal gratification from results, we must take a selfless perspective and contribute to the greater good.
Even while working, give up the pride of being a doer.
Lord Krishna advises us to let go of the ego-driven pride that arises from identifying ourselves as the sole doer of our actions. He reminds us that we are part of a larger interconnected web of existence, where myriad factors and forces influence outcomes. By surrendering to a sense of individual authorship, we cultivate humility and acknowledge the divine hand that guides our actions.
Don’t get attached to inaction.
In this verse, Lord Krishna warns against the temptation of inaction or avoiding our responsibilities. He emphasizes that giving up duties and being inactive is not the path to growth or spiritual liberation. Instead, he encourages us to fulfill our duties with dedication, recognizing them as a crucial aspect of our spiritual path.
Lord Krishna’s teachings on duty illuminate the profound wisdom of performing actions without attachment to the results. By embodying a selfless approach and focusing on the diligent fulfillment of our responsibilities, we not only contribute to the betterment of society, but also achieve inner growth and spiritual evolution.