Chapter 3 Verse 25 – Part 1

सक्ताः कर्मण्यविद्वांसो यथा कुर्वन्ति भारत

saktah karmanyavidvamso yatha kurvanti bharata
kuryavidvamstatha saktacikirsurloka sangraham

bharata – O Arjuna
karmani – to action
saktah – attached
avidvamsah – the unwise
yatha – just as
kurvanti – perform action
tatha – so too
vidvan – the wise
lokasangraham – the protection of the people
cikirsuh – desirous of doing
asaktah – without attachment
kuryat – would perform

Bharata (O Arjuna), Just as the unwise, who are attached to the results, perform action; so too would the wise perform action, but without attachment and they do that desiring for the protection of the people.

Krishna here brings this topic again regarding the wise person and what does he do having gained knowledge and not having to do any karma. Does he or she sit and do nothing or just runs the ashramas? What is the role of such a person? The beautiful thing here is that Krishna knows and anticipates what is going on in Arjuna’s mind and is not ready to give him a chance to interrupt him. This is the case with most exalted teachers or guru as they keep saying that ‘Don’t ask questions in between, just stay with the text. Your question  will be answered as you get clarity’. It does not mean that the teacher is putting you off in asking questions, but he or she knows your knowledge and also reads your mind very clearly. They have divine powers after doing so much study and it is true for any good sannyasi who is a true atma_vit. Likewise, Krishna can clearly read what Arjuna is thinking and is putting this view regarding the wise person.

Krishna addressed Arjuna as Bharata here in this verse. There are 2 meanings for the word Bharata. First, a person who is born in bharata kula. Secondly, the word bha means brahma vidya (knowledge of brahman) and tasyam yah ramate, the one who revels in the knowledge of brahman is bharata. Therefore, Arjuna was bharata in the sense because he was revelling in the knowledge he was getting from Krishna. In this verse, vidvan is a person who has viveka and avidvan is the person who is a aviveki and thinks that he or she is the doer. The people who are aviveki do not even perform the action for the sake of antha karana shuddhi but with the expectation that ‘If I perform this action, I will gain this result’. They are called Artharthis and Krishna describes 4 types of devotees which we shall see in a later chapter.

Chapter 3 Verse 25 – Part 2

What Krishna says here is that people are not attached to action, but to the results. Because people are interested in results and have an opinion on them, they undertake actions with enthusiasm. So, even the wise person does the action with enthusiasm, but he or she is not attached to the results. The wise person is not anxious or concerned as to what is going to happen if I don’t get the result expected, whereas the aviveki gets anxious and excited. That’s the difference in attitude towards doing karma.
A wise person performs action simply because it has to be done. When the result comes, it is taken with equanimity.

One may ask, why does a wise person perform action if he or she is not interested in the result? No one is saying that the person must perform action, yet the wise person does it mainly for lokasangraha or benefit of the wider community. One who wants to do something is called cikirsu and the desire mentioned here is to protect people lokasangraha. Krishna was doing the same thing just like any other gyani would do. He was on the battlefield as the charioteer and was taking a risk sitting in the front seat of the chariot. He was a sitting duck for any of the arrows as it would have gone past him before it hit Arjuna. What Krishna was referring to Arjuna was ‘ Look Arjuna, I am putting my neck in line first and taking a great risk. Why should I do this? I am doing this for the protection of the dharmic people and ensure that people do not lose faith in dharma and also protect the good people’.

Kaivalya Upanishad and also Mahanarayana Upanishad talks about why the wise person is also called a sannyasi even though he is not wearing a saffron robe, but is equivalent. The famous mantra which is chanted when any sannyasi visits home is mentioned below.

na karmana na prajaya dhanena tyagenaike amrutatvamanashuh |
parena nakam nihitam guhayam vibhrajate yadyatayo vishanti

“Not by work, nor by progeny, nor by wealth, but by renunciation, some attained immortality. Higher than heaven, seated in the cave (Buddhi), that shines, (which) the self-controlled attain – the self-controlled, who being of pure minds have well ascertained the Reality.”

na karmana – means not through karma or action
na prajaya – not through progeny or people
na dhan ena – not by wealth
tyagenaike – only by renunciation
amrutatva – immortality
manashuh – some people
parena nakam – higher than heaven
nihitam guhayam – deep in the cave of the intellect
vibhrajate – shines brilliantly
yadyatayo – self controlled sages
vishanti – enter

This is the meaning of the sloka which describes the wise person or gyani who attains moksha only by pure knowledge and nothing else.

Om Namo bhagavate vasudevaya.