Category Archives: Indian Wisdom

Work without attachment- The Gita


karmaṇy evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadācana mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te sańgo ‘stv akarmaṇi

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

There are three considerations here: prescribed duties, capricious work, and inaction. Prescribed duties are activities enjoined in terms of one’s acquired modes of material nature. Capricious work means actions without the sanction of authority, and inaction means not performing one’s prescribed duties. The Lord advised that Arjuna not be inactive, but that he perform his prescribed duty without being attached to the result. One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. Thus he is the enjoyer or sufferer of the result of such actions.

As far as prescribed duties are concerned, they can be fitted into three subdivisions, namely routine work, emergency work and desired activities. Routine work performed as an obligation in terms of the scriptural injunctions, without desire for results, is action in the mode of goodness. Work with results becomes the cause of bondage; therefore such work is not auspicious. Everyone has his proprietary right in regard to prescribed duties, but should act without attachment to the result; such disinterested obligatory duties doubtlessly lead one to the path of liberation.

Arjuna was therefore advised by the Lord to fight as a matter of duty without attachment to the result. His nonparticipation in the battle is another side of attachment. Such attachment never leads one to the path of salvation. Any attachment, positive or negative, is cause for bondage. Inaction is sinful. Therefore, fighting as a matter of duty was the only auspicious path of salvation for Arjuna.


This shloka/couplet from The Gita has always intrigued me as it is very difficult to imagine working without being attached to results. So as and when I find a new explanation, I feel interested.

Yesterday while watching a TV channel, a lady explained this concept very nicely. She gave the example of her kid who had planted a sapling in their house garden. After some days, that kid came to her and asked- Why is the sapling not growing? She asked- Are you watering it daily, giving fertilizer and ensuring it gets sunlight. Kid said yes. She asked- how do you know it is getting right amount of air, water, light etc. The boy replied- Daily, I shake it vigorously to check if the roots are strong and solid. The lady explained this as an over-attachment/curiosity/concern about the results. The boy was so concerned with the results that he was unknowingly doing exact opposite of what he wanted. By disturbing the roots daily, he was hampering the growth of the sapling, which was not what he wanted. Lady explained how similar attachment impacts the results, and we get what we did not want. Another example she gave was the desire of a man to buy scooter for his family. He was always troubled and worried about arranging finances for buying the scooter. One day finally he bought a scooter, and was happy for a few days. But he realized that he needed a car for him and his family. Same worries and troubles came back. I was thinking how she will tell, desires never end and one desire comes after the other. She however had a different take. She said the happiness that came to him after buying the scooter was not resulting from possession of a scooter or fulfillment of his desire. Instead it was the absence of desire for those few days. Since he had bought scooter, he had no desire for some days, no attachment, so he was happy. Till another desire of buying a car occupied his mind.  


Ego & Narada-an ancient Indian saint


Today was off and while surfing channels, I stopped at a religious channel and the speaker was explaining the concept of ego through ancient Indian story from Ramayana (the story of Lord Rama)

Narada is ill-famed to be a joker saint, with his wisecracks and smart tricks etc. But the speaker explained how he worshipped for several decades (after his master told him to follow the path of Prahlad, that story some other day). God was pleased and asked him to do some more meditation. Narada started again and was very devoted. Other gods tried to disturb him, by sending Kama (lord of lust, cupid). Kama tried a lot but did not succeed. Then he started saying- Narada is great, who has not only won his feeling of lust/sex, but also anger. Actually as per Indian scriptures, Kama had disturbed Lord Shiva (the destroyer) and Shiva had annihilated Kama in anger. So Kama referring to that incident said, Narada is even better than Shiva, as Shiva only resisted Kama, but Narada resisted Kama as well as anger, so Narada is better than Shiva. Narada opened his eyes after hearing all this praise. Basically his ego was boosted by this artificial praise by Kama. Narada went to Shiva and shared the story, Shiva listened patiently but advised Narada not to tell Vishnu. Well how could Narada stop himself. He went to Lord Vishnu and repeated the same thing. Vishnu also kept quiet. Narada went away, and Vishnu set up a kingdom by his powers where a princess Vishwamohini was about to choose her groom Narada passed by and thought if Shiva and Vishnu can have wives, why can’t I. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and he appeared. Narada requested him to help him in marriage. Vishnu asked again and Narada replied-do whatever is best for me. Vishnu made his face like a monkey. Later on when Narada was rejected he got angry and cursed Vishnu that you will have to suffer for a wife like me, and only monkeys will help you. Vishnu smiled and blessed him. Narada repented later on but God had his own plans. Thus was the ego of Narada and how he was brought down to reality by Lord Vishnu.

By the way speaker was one Atul Kishan Bhardwaj.

In an aside, speaker explained how Vishnu is Shantakaram Bhujangshayanam (sanskrit phrase meaning Vishnu is sleeping on bed of snake and is peaceful) and compared it satirically to our lives which he said are ashantakaram mattressshayanam (parody sanskrit meaning we sleep on top-class mattresses still we are not at peace). Speaker explained that Vishnu is in a sea of milk meaning living with truth, that is why he is at peace, whereas we live life of lies that is why we are never peaceful.

Anger by Manu


Sanskrit Shloka by Manu-

Paishunyam Saahasam Droha Irshyasuryarthdushne. Vagdandanam ch Paarushyam Krodhjoapi ganoashtakah.

 English translation-

Eight vices born of anger are





Prying into other’s faults

Unjust seizure of property

Using abusive words and

Harsh Speech.