Gita Series – 170: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. Verse 45 – 48

"When one performs his duty perfectly, he becomes eligible for realising the Self. Now, listen to me for the ways to attain this perfect stage. A person attains perfection when he worships the Lord, the source of all beings and all pervading, through his ordained duties. It is better to perform one’s prescribed duties, though imperfectly, than performing others’ duties perfectly, because one does not accumulate sin if he performs his ordained duties. One should never abandon his prescribed duties, though done with imperfection. Like smoke engulfing fire, all actions are marred by demerits.”

Every human being is classified under the four categories. This classification is not based on one’s lineage, but purely depends upon his inherent quality. Duties are prescribed based upon one’s inherent qualities. For example, a person with great valour should engage himself in protecting the boundaries of his country rather than performing the duties of other classes. A person with complete knowledge of the Lord should not waste his time in bordering his country’s boundaries. In both the cases, the country is the loser.

Krishna says that even one does his ordained duties with blemishes, he does not accrue sins. The imperfectness of the initial stages will get rectified through experience and will finally lead to perfection. If one finds his inherent quality is to serve others, then he should not aspire to plunge into a commercial venture. If one has a great interest in God realisation, he should not waste his capabilities by indulging in administrative activities. The inherent nature of a person is important in choosing his line of action, and by doing so he does not accrue any sin, though there are mistakes while discharging his ordained duties. If one pursues an activity against his inherent nature, though it may appear to be perfect in the beginning, over a period of time, he ends up in catastrophe. Assuming that his actions are perfect while indulging in duties against his inherent nature, he still accrues karmas for having disregarded his inherent qualities and for having abandoned his ordained duties. By doing so, he also accrues sins for having failed to perform his prescribed duties. One’s karma and impressions of past births determine the type of quality one imbibes. 

All types of actions have blemishes. No action is perfect. If one thinks that all his actions are perfect, it means that he is afflicted with egoism. Fire, by nature will have smoke around it.  If there is no smoke, then it means no fire. In the same way, every action will have its own shortcomings. However, these mistakes can be rectified with practice, like fire becoming less smoky with dry logs. Practice alone leads to perfection. When perfection is complete, that man is ready for liberation. Total perfection can be attained only if he pursues the path destined by his inherent nature and not otherwise. It is also important to remember that one should not get attached to the fruits of his actions, even though he performs his ordained duties.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 36 - 39

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 40 - 44

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 49 - 53