Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 3.20, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 20 from the chapter 3 called “Karma-yoga (Yoga through the Path of Action)”

Sanskrit text, Unicode transliteration, Word-for-word and English translation of verse 3.20:

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिम् आस्थिता जनकादयः ।
लोक-सङ्ग्रहम् एवापि सम्पश्यन् कर्तुम् अर्हसि ॥ २० ॥

karmaṇaiva hi saṃsiddhim āsthitā janakādayaḥ |
loka-saṅgraham evāpi sampaśyan kartum arhasi || 20 ||

karmaṇā–by performance of prescribed duties; eva hi–most assuredly; saṃsiddhim–in supreme perfection; āsthitāḥ–became situated; janaka-ādayaḥ–Janaka and other saintly kings; loka-saṅgraham–the instruction for the people; eva–certainly; api–also; sampaśyan–considering; kartum–to do (your prescribed duties); arhasi–you ought.

Saintly kings such as Janaka attained supreme perfection by performing their prescribed duties. Therefore, from the perspective of setting an ideal for people in general, it is appropriate for you, also, to perform your prescribed duty.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

(By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura; the innermost intention of the commentary named ‘the shower of essential meanings’)

This verse beginning with karmaṇaiva evidences the importance of proper conduct (sadācāra). Śrī Bhagavān says, “Even if you consider yourself to be qualified to follow the path of jñāna, for the purpose of instructing the people in general, you should still perform your prescribed duties.” It is for this reason that Śrī Kṛṣṇa says loka-saṅgraham–the people in general.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

(By Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja; the explanation that illuminates the commentary named Sārārtha-varṣiṇī)

To instruct the general popu-lace, the topmost class of persons should perform their prescribed duties.

There are many instances in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that support this statement of the Gītā:

atra pramāṇaṃ hi bhavān parameṣṭhī yathātma-bhūḥ
apare cānutiṣṭhanti pūrveṣāṃ pūrva-jaiḥ kṛtam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.8.25)

O Śukadeva Gosvāmī, you are as good as Lord Brahmā, who took birth directly from the Supreme Self, Lord Nārāyaṇa. You directly follow the precepts established by the previous authorities in the science of devotional service, while others follow custom only, or the precepts of previous philosophical speculators.

na tvaṃ dvijottama-kulaṃ yadi hātma-gopaṃ goptā vṛṣaḥ svarhaṇena sa-sūnṛtena
tarhy eva naṅkṣyati śivas tava deva panthā loko’grahīṣyad ṛṣabhasya hi tat pramāṇam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.16.23)

O Lord, You are the guardian of the most exalted of the twice-born. If not for Your protection–Your offering them worship and gentle words–the general populace would undoubtedly reject the path to their own auspiciousness. Your behaviour is the evidence of proper action.

yad yad ācarati śreyān itaras tat tad īhate
sa yat pramāṇaṃ kurute lokas tad anuvartate

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.2.4)

People in general emulate exalted leaders of society and copy their conduct, seeing the leader’s behaviour as authoritative.

bhagavān ṛṣabha-saṃjña ātma-tantraḥ svayaṃ nitya-nivṛttānartha-paramparaḥ kevalānandānubhava īśvara eva viparītavat karmāṇy ārabhamāṇaḥ kālenānugataṃ dharmam ācaraṇenopaśikṣayann atad-vidāṃ sama upaśānto maitraḥ kāruṇiko dharmārtha-yaśaḥ-prajānandāmṛtāvarodhena gṛheṣu lokaṃ niyamayat.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.4.14)

Being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Ṛṣabhadeva was fully independent because His form was spiritual, eternal and full of transcendental bliss. He eternally had nothing to do with the four principles of material misery [birth, death, old age and disease]. Nor was He materially attached. He was always equipoised, and He saw everyone on the same level. He was unhappy to see others unhappy, and He was the well-wisher of all living entities. Although He was a perfect personality, the Supreme Lord and controller of all, He nonetheless acted as if He were an ordinary conditioned soul. Therefore He strictly followed the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma and acted accordingly. In due course of time, the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma had become neglected; therefore through His personal characteristics and behaviour, He taught the ignorant public how to perform duties within the varṇāśrama-dharma. In this way He regulated the general populace in householder life, enabling them to develop religion and economic well-being and to attain reputations, sons and daughters, material pleasure and finally eternal life. By His instructions, He showed how people could remain householders and at the same time become perfect by following the principles of varṇāśrama-dharma.*

Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī comments that Śrī Bhagavān instructs Arjuna, “To engage people in their respective prescribed duties and to restrain them from their tendency to follow a degraded path, it is necessary for you to execute your prescribed duty (karma).”

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