Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 3.26, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 26 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 3.26:

न बुद्धि-भेदं जनयेद् अज्ञानां कर्म-सङ्गिनाम् ।
योजयेत् सर्व-कर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन् ॥ २६ ॥

na buddhi-bhedaṃ janayed ajñānāṃ karma-saṅginām |
yojayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran || 26 ||

na–not; buddhi-bhedam–confusion in the intelligence (with the instruction to practise jñāna and abandon karma); janayet–should create; ajñānām–of the ignorant; karma-saṅginām–for those attached to fruitive work; yojayet–he should engage; sarva–all; karmāṇi–actions; vidvān–the learned person and instructor in jñāna-yoga; yuktaḥ–with a composed mind; samācaran–while acting nicely.

A person who is learned in the path of spiritual advancement through knowledge should not bewilder the intelligence of ignorant people by instructing them to give up their prescribed duties and engage in the cultivation of jñāna. Rather, by properly performing his own actions in a composed and detached state of mind, he should engage such people in their prescribed duties.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

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

“O Arjuna, a man of knowledge should not bewilder the ignorant, who are attached to their actions, by telling them, ‘There is no purpose in performing mundane activities. Become perfect like me by renouncing your prescribed duty and cultivating transcendental knowledge (jñāna).’ Such ignorant people are particularly attached to the performance of their prescribed duty, because their hearts are impure. Although you may be perfect, by performing selfless action you can encourage others to engage in their prescribed duties. You yourself become an ideal example by performing your prescribed duty properly.

You could well say to Me, ‘In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.9.50) You have said:

svayaṃ niḥśreyasaṃ vidvān na vakty ajñāya karma hi
na rāti rogiṇo’pathyaṃ vāñchato’pi bhiṣaktamaḥ

A good physician does not prescribe a diet that is indigestible, even though the patient may desire it. Similarly, a person knowing the highest welfare does not instruct an ignorant person to engage in his prescribed duty.

Thus You have therefore contradicted Your own statements.’

“This is correct,” answers Śrī Bhagavān, “but I gave that instruction in relation to bhakti, when the subject of instruction was bhakti itself. Now I am giving the instruction in relation to jñāna, so there is no contradiction. Jñāna depends on purity of heart, and purity of heart depends on the selfless performance of one’s prescribed duty. Bhakti, however, is independently powerful; she does not depend upon purity of heart. If one is able to arouse faith in bhakti, one can disturb the intelligence of a person who is attached to karma, and it is not inappropriate. Those who have developed faith in bhakti have surpassed the need to perform their prescribed duty.

It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.9):

tāvat karmāṇi kurvīta na nirvidyeta yāvatā
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā śraddhā yāvan na jāyate

A person should perform his occupational duty as long as he has not developed renunciation or awakened a taste in hearing and reciting topics about Me.


dharmān santyajya yaḥ sarvān māṃ bhajeta sa tu sattamaḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.11.32)

Those who give up all varieties of varṇāśrama and worship Me are indeed the most elevated class of saintly persons.

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja
ahaṃ tvāṃ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

Bhagavad-gītā (18.66)

Completely abandoning all bodily and mental dharma, such as varṇa and āśrama, fully surrender to Me alone.

tyaktvā sva-dharmaṃ caraṇāmbujaṃ harer
bhajann apakvo’tha patet tato yadi

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.17)

A person who gives up his prescribed duties to engage in the service of Śrī Hari’s lotus feet can never be unsuccessful, even if he falls down while in the immature stage.

One should deliberate upon all these statements.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

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

The purpose of performing karma, one’s prescribed duty, is to attain that knowledge (jñāna) which leads to bhakti. Those who do not know this fact are ignorant, and those who are attached to their prescribed duty because of this ignorance are called karma-saṅgī. A jñānī should only engage such ignorant persons in the duties prescribed for them in scripture, because if their intelligence is bewildered, they will lose faith in the necessity of performing that duty. Under such circumstances even jñāna will not be able to manifest in their hearts and thus they will deviate from the paths of performing their duty (karma) and seeking knowledge (jñāna).

The same does not apply to giving instructions on bhakti, however, because according to scripture, instructions on bhakti are auspicious for everyone, under all circumstances. Therefore, by giving instructions on bhakti, a preacher of bhakti will make everyone perfect:

putrāṃś ca śiṣyāṃś ca nṛpo gurur vā mal-loka-kāmo mad-anugrahārthaḥ
itthaṃ vimanyur anuśiṣyād ataj-jñān na yojayet karmasu karma-mūḍhān
kaṃ yojayan manujo’rthaṃ labheta nipātayan naṣṭa-dṛśaṃ hi garte

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.15)

Ṛṣabhadeva said, “Only My abode and My mercy are worth praying for. Instructions on devotion to Me should be given by fathers to their sons, teachers to their disciples and kings to their subjects. One should not become angry with a person who receives instructions but does not follow them. Even those who are ignorant of knowledge of fundamental spiritual truths (tattva-jñāna) and bewildered about their proper duty should not be engaged in karma. What goal will be achieved by engaging a person blinded by delusion in fruitive activities, thus throwing him further into the dark well of this material world? Nothing will be achieved.”

While commenting on this verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says, “If someone instructs others about engaging in karma instead of giving instruction on bhakti, he incurs sin.”

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, the present verse, yojayet sarva-karmāṇi (Gītā 3.26), is not for those who are preaching the message of bhakti, but it is to be considered by those who give instructions on jñāna.

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