Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) - Chapter III: 25

March 15, 2019

™saktᾱḥ karmaṇy avidvᾱṁso yathᾱ kurvanti bhᾱrata
kuryᾱd vidvᾱṁs tathᾱ ’saktaś cikīrṣur lokasaṁgrahaṁ (III-25)

III/25. As the ignorant men act out of attachment to action,
O Arjuna, so should the wise act without attachment, wishing
the welfare of the world.

Swamiji's Commentary

     The verb is the most important word in this verse, and it is often overlooked. The tone is not optional but obligatory. The wise man is left with no choice; in fact the very validity of his wisdom would be questioned if he did not abide by the commandment contained in this verse.

     What is ignorance? Identification of the self, which is but the witness consciousness, with the body and the world, which constantly change. What is wisdom? Realization that the self is but the witness of this world-process and world-activity. The wise man will, therefore, not interfere with the course of nature, either by positively providing fuel for it by his own desires or cravings, or by negatively holding it back by refusing to let his body function as part of the world, which it is!

     The world is maintained by God’s energy and the world includes the wise man’s physical being, too. He is part of the whole, and his egoistic withdrawal from life will confuse the minds of others on the field.

     In order, therefore, to ensure the welfare of the society in which he lives and to set an example for others to follow, the wise man must do his duty in this world, and what is more important, do it as if he were as interested in the affairs of the world as the ignorant (so that the ignorant man has no excuse to avoid following the wise). The difference is not in external appearance or behavior, but it is the wise man’s inward spirit of non-attachment.

     Is it possible for one to deceive oneself and others that he lives in this spirit? Surely it is. Deceiving others is waste of time. Self-deception is a misnomer — surely, the wise man is free from pretension. His wisdom is luminous enough to keep away the darkness of attachment born of ignorance.

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