Shrimad Bhagavad-gita

by Narayana Gosvami | 2013 | 327,105 words

The Bhagavad-gita Verse 3.35, English translation, including the Vaishnava commentaries Sarartha-varsini-tika, Prakashika-vritti and Rasika-ranjana (excerpts). This is verse 35 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 3.35:

श्रेयान् स्व-धर्मो विगुणः पर-धर्मात् स्वनुष्ठितात् ।
स्व-धर्मे निधनं श्रेयः पर-धर्मो भयावहः ॥ ३५ ॥

śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt svanuṣṭhitāt |
sva-dharme nidhanaṃ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ || 35 ||

śreyān–better; sva-dharmaḥ–one’s prescribed duties; viguṇaḥ–(slightly) defective; para-dharmāt–than another’s duties; su-anuṣṭhitāt–perfectly performed; sva-dharme–in (discharging) one’s prescribed duties; nidhanam–death; śreyaḥ–is better; para-dharmaḥ–duties prescribed for others; bhaya-āvahaḥ–bring danger.

It is far better to execute one’s prescribed duties, even though imperfectly, than to perform another’s duty perfectly. It is better to die discharging one’s own duty in accordance with the varṇāśrama system than to engage in another’s duty, for it is dangerous to follow another’s path.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Ṭīkā

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

Śrī Bhagavān sees that due to attachment and aversion, Arjuna is becoming unable to engage in his own prescribed duty of fighting. Instead, he considers it easier to engage in ahiṃsā (non-violence), which is the duty of another (para-dharma). Therefore, Śrī Bhagavān is speaking this verse beginning with the word śreyān. The word viguṇa means that, although the performance of one’s own prescribed duties may be defective, and although one may be unable to execute them properly, it is still superior to performing the duties of another, which may contain all good qualities and which one can execute correctly. For this reason, this verse śreyān sva-dharmaḥ is spoken.

It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.15.12):

vidharmaḥ para-dharmaś ca ābhāsa upamā cchalaḥ
adharma-śākhāḥ pañcemā dharma-jño’dharmavat tyajet

The tree of irreligion has five branches–vidharma (performing activities opposed to religion), para-dharma (engaging in another’s religious principles), ābhāsa (making a show of religious principles), upamā or upa-dharma (practising principles that only appear to be religious) and chala-dharma (practising a cheating religion). One who knows religious principles will abandon all of these things, seeing them as forbidden acts.

Commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti

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

Activities such as non-violence are prescribed for brāhmaṇas, who are situated in the material mode of goodness, or sattva-guṇa. For kṣatriyas, who are in the mode of passion, or rajo-guṇa, the prescribed duty is fighting. Therefore, the prescribed duty for kṣatriyas is to engage in battle. Even if a kṣatriya dies in battle, he attains the heavenly planets; therefore, it is better for him to fight.

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, “One who executes his prescribed duties may die before attaining a more elevated qualification. Still his performance of them is auspicious, because to perform the duties of another is always fearful and dangerous in any circumstance. This consideration, however, does not apply to that bhakti which is beyond the modes. When a person attains the stage of performing nirguṇā-bhakti, or bhakti that is beyond the modes of nature, he can give up his occupational duty (sva-dharma) without hesitation, because at that time his eternal constitutional nature manifests as his sva-dharma. Here sva means ‘the real self’ and dharma means ‘the jīva’s eternal function’. In that stage one’s previous sva-dharma, which was related to the body and mind, becomes para-dharma, that is, ‘belonging to another’, and it is secondary to the duties of the awakened self.”

devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṃ pitṝṇāṃ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṃ śaraṇyaṃ gato mukundaṃ parihṛtya kartam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.41)

Those who have taken exclusive shelter of Śrī Mukunda, who is the only shelter, and who have renounced all varieties of karma, no longer remain indebted to the demigods, sages, living entities, saintly persons and forefathers.

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

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.20.9)

A person who has not become fully detached from enjoying the fruits of his activities (karma), and whose faith in the process of bhakti and the hearing of My pastimes is not yet sufficiently developed, must certainly engage in his prescribed duties. The devotees of Bhagavān, the renunciants, on the other hand, have no purpose to achieve by engaging in karma.

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