Bhagavagd Gita - Session 7- Track 705

There is an other theory, which points out that while ritualistic sacrifice is of course to be astute, we have to do only those actions, which are prescribed by Dharma; this is another theory, not ritualistic sacrifice, but only Dharmic kriyās: this is another theory. When you want to do an action, you do only those actions, which are Dharmic kriyās, which are prescribed in Dharma, not all actions but only those actions, which are prescribed as Dharmic kriyās, this is also called another theory of Karmayoga.

This is more subtle than the first one; the first one is easier to find out because rituals are all prescribed and given but when you are told that you have only to do Dharmic kriyās, then in regard to Dharmic kriyās, there are many controversies: which are Dharmic kriyās and which are not? In the Bhagavad Gita we get several words, which seem to be favouring this view, that also we must take into account, and distinguish in our mind very clearly.

There is first a word, which is used: niyataṁ karma, (III, 8). niyataṁ karma is a word, which means: ‘that which is prescribed’. Action, which is prescribed, is called niyataṁ karma, and very often “niyataṁ karma” is associated with “nityaṁ karma”: that which is a ‘daily’ work to be done. “nityaṁ karma” and “niyataṁ karma”, both are associated with each other, so it is argued that the kind of action that we have to do is ‘prescribed daily work’.

At a later stage, you get another word in the Bhagavad Gita and which says dharmajaṁ karma, you do the karma, which is arising out of Dharma, dharmajaṁ karma kuru. Then there is another word which says: sahajam karma kuru, a further complication: dharmajam karma kuru, and then sahajam karma: sahajam means that which is spontaneous, that which arises from your very nature. There is a further word svabhāva sahajaṁ karma: ‘you do the work which is arising out of your own svabhāva’; svabhāvajam, svadharmajam, sahajaṁ karma, that also is given in the Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita also says that there is a distinction between svadharma and aparā dharma, and even says that even if you do an action, but not so well, but if it is your svadharma, then that is to be preferred to an action that you can do very well, but which is not according to your Dharma: this is very clearly stated. The work which you can do very well but if it is not according to your svadharma, then that is not to be accepted, we should not do that action; we should on the contrary do that action, which is according to your svadharma, even though that action you may not be able to do so well. It may be my Dharma, (svadharma), to teach; I may be very good at cooking. Between the two even if I cannot teach well, I must still teach, and I must avoid cooking because cooking is not my svadharma: this is the kind of meaning that we can apply to these words.