Gita Series – 161: Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. Verse 7 – 11

One should not stay away from those acts that are obligatory in nature. Non performance of such acts due to ignorance is tamasic in nature. When one renounces these actions out of bodily discomforts, it is rajasic in nature and the fruits of such acts do not accrue to him. When one performs such acts as his duty , without attachment to the fruits of such actions, is said to be sattvic in nature. The one who does not hate bad actions or likes good actions is truly wise with all his doubts cleared, and is said to be a man of true renunciation. Since all actions cannot be given up in totality as long as one exists with a gross body, the one who renounces the fruits of all his actions is a man of renunciation.”

Prescribed actions are of two kinds, optional and obligatory. Obligatory actions are those actions that are considered as essential. For example, maintaining one’s family is obligatory in nature. If a person finds it difficult to take care of his aged and ailing parents, it is a clear shirking of one’s obligatory duty. Such grave sins are considered as tamasic in nature, the worst among the guṇa-s. One’s obligatory duties should be performed without fail. Such responsibilities should never go unperformed due to laziness or bodily discomforts. These types of responsibilities are not carried out mainly because of laziness and lack of time. When one says that he does not have time, it means that he has not come out from the clutches of illusion and ignorance. If one is not able to manage his time, he cannot pursue right spiritual path. Spirituality is not meant for people who are lazy and docile in nature. It means that they are engulfed by darkness and it is difficult for them to move away from darkness. They become addicted to laziness and lethargy and get sunk to the deeper levels of ignorance. They are said to be tamasic in nature.

Krishna makes a difference between non-performance of obligatory actions due to ignorance and laziness. Non-performance due to ignorance is tamasic in nature and non-performance due to sluggishness or any other bodily discomforts is rajasic in nature. In both these cases, fruits of any of his actions do not accrue to him. But the one who performs such acts as his duty without any intent on the fruits of such actions is said to be sattvic in nature, the best among the three guṇa-s. The one who fails to perform obligatory acts out of ignorance is rajasic, the one who fails to perform obligatory acts due to body discomforts that include lethargy and laziness is tamasic and the one who performs all the obligatory duties without any intent on the fruits of such acts is sattvic. Shirking one’s responsibilities out of ignorance, lethargy and laziness are frowned upon by Kṛṣṇa. The one, who performs all the prescribed duties without concern for the fruits of such actions is said to be a person of true renunciation.

There are two kinds of actions in the world. One is good actions and the other one is bad actions. Good and bad are relative terms from the point of view of others and not from the point of view of the person who performs such actions. Good actions pave way for peaceful coexistence and harmony and bad actions cause mental and physical afflictions on others and cause enmity and hatred. Bad actions invariably leave bitter impressions on the one who indulges in such acts. Kṛṣṇa says that the one who does not hate bad actions nor likes good actions is a truly renounced person. A truly renounced person is beyond likes and dislikes.

A person with a gross body cannot be without performing actions. Actions are the platform on which one’s karmic account is unfolded. If one performs an action with an eye on end result of that action, he is bound by karma. If an action is performed without intent on the end result of an action, irrespective of the end result, karmas that arise while performing such actions do not accrue to him. Therefore, one should continue to perform actions that are prescribed as precepts by Scriptures, unattached to fruits of such actions is a truly renounced person. Actions in the present context refer to one’s duties as a true human being and not the sacrificial rites and rituals.

One should also understand that non-performance of rituals and rites out of laziness does not permit a person to begin his spiritual journey. Spiritual journey should be commenced with a strong foundation. No progress can be made in spirituality if one merely says that God exists everywhere and there is no need to appease Him by performing rituals. Such thoughts are only hallucinatory in nature, as these thoughts are shallow and do not originate from strong affirmations from one’s experience.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 1 - 6

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 12 - 16

Bhagavad Gita Chapter XVIII. 17 - 22