As Sri Aurobindo says, “Karmayoga of the Gita rests upon two principles: equality and oneness”. These are the two basic principles of Karmayoga. Become equal minded and see oneness everywhere.” Oneness means: you are possessing everything, all possessions, there is only one possessor of everything. Perception of oneness: “ekatvamanupaśyataḥ”. It is an Isha Upanishad saying:
tatra ko mohaḥ kaḥ śoka ekatvamanupaśyataḥ || (Isha Upn. 7)
“When this is seen as one everywhere, then where is the bewilderment?” where is the mohaḥ, kaḥ śoka, “where is the grief?”
You will see that in this process, a great emphasis lays upon knowledge. “Realise that fruits of action are not in your hands”: it is knowledge. “Realise that all works are works of Prakriti”: it is knowledge. “Realise that all the works ultimately proceed from the supreme Lord”: this is also knowledge. Therefore, Karmayoga as given by Sri Krishna cannot be practised without Knowledge. It is Karmayoga because you deal with action but this kind of Yoga cannot be done without arriving at Knowledge. This is called the synthesis of Knowledge and Action. How we say that Sri Krishna gives you this samanvaya of Karmayoga and Jnanayoga? It is this: that this Karmayoga cannot be practised without attainment of Knowledge. You cannot handle desire without attainment to the right knowledge.
Therefore, in the Bhagavad Gita, there is one very important statement: Knowledge is far superior to Action and yet you should not therefore go into inaction, because action is better than inaction; action is higher than inaction; and higher than action is Knowledge. In fact, this is a sentence which bewilders Arjuna very much, that if Knowledge is superior to Action, then why do you throw me into action? Why should you throw me into this ghoraṁ karma (III, 1)? But Sri Krishna says: Knowledge is superior to action, but action is superior to inaction. And actually speaking, the Karmayoga that ‘you want to do action, and yet you can be free’, that can be done only by Knowledge. Therefore, Knowledge is superior. The superiority of Knowledge to action, we might say, is the basic principle of Karmayoga: by perception of equality and oneness, you are able to put your action in the right order.
I have told you the whole line of the argument of Karmayoga, not confining myself only to the 2nd chapter or 3rd chapter or 4th chapter or the 12th chapter or the 18th chapter: this is only to show that if you know the whole line of argument, then all the statements of the Bhagavad Gita, which will come one after the other, there we found to be falling in the right place.
Let us go, step by step, proceeding from the 2nd chapter to the 3rd chapter and then to the 4th chapter. In the 2nd chapter which we have already read, Sri Krishna after explaining that as far as action is concerned you have a right, but not to the fruits of action, although later on He will say that even to action you have no right, because action belongs to Prakriti and Prakriti to the Supreme Lord. But at present, in the first of your Karmayoga, this is enough, first step: “To the fruits of action you have no right, only to action you have a right”, and on that basis, Sri Krishna develops the concept of sthitaprajña. In fact that is one of the most important elements of the 2nd chapter: when in your consciousness there is equality, because you are no more trying to grasp at the fruits of action, then your will becomes concentrated. Ordinarily, our desires make our will move hither thither, multi-branched, bahuśākhā: this the word used by the Gita. When your will is not concentrated, is not sthita, then we are tossed about in hundred directions, and there is no resting place. But when you know that fruits of action are not in your hands, then you become free from this and you are settled in action, and settled in Knowledge. Settled in this knowledge at least, that there is an inactive Purusha and there is a dynamic Prakriti, and in this movement of Prakriti over the fruits of action you have no right, you can concentrate upon action, and do your action with efficiency, have equality with regard to the fruits of action, and have efficiency in regard to your action.
When you attain to all this, then it is said that your intelligence becomes fixed: intelligence is prajña, and fixed is sthita. So, when your prajña becomes sthita, sthira, by means of three things: perception of Purusha which is inactive and silent; perception that fruits of action are not in your hands and therefore you are free to concentrate upon action; and when you do your action efficiently with one-pointedness, and when you have therefore a sense of equality, because now the fruits of action do not trouble you, it is in ‘this’ state that you arrive at that condition, which Sri Krishna says is the condition of sthitaprajña.
And then, He adds one word, “It is also called the state of samādhistha”. The sthitaprajña is also one who is samādhistha, one who is settled in samādhi.