Bhagavagd Gita - Session 13- Track 1311

Now there is a different line of argument, but within the overall purview of Karmayoga. It goes into the depths of the question: what kind of action one should do? All actions can be done, and all actions are preferable actions: sarva-karmāṇi. And yet for every individual, there is a specific action, and that specific action that he has to do, depends upon svadharma.

In other words, even though your are entitled to do every action, and you should ultimately do every action, as we are moving forward from one step to the other, you have at present in your limitations of your structure, of your composition, of your nature, so Sri Krishna says:

śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣṭhitāt |
sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ
||35|| (III)

You realise that Svadharma is, śreyān, is better for you; viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣṭhitāt, even though the Dharma belonging to the other one, is much easier for you, and what you have to do is difficult for you, even then, sva-dharmo śreyān, what others can do, you may be able to do better. What you have to do may be more difficult, but for you what you have to do is what you have to do.

What a child can do you can do much better, but therefore, don’t continue to do what your child can do. What you have to do you may fail to do now, because you are not yet proficient, yet you should do what you have to do: sva-dharme nidhanaṁ śreyaḥ, it is better to die while performing your Dharma, para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ, if you take to the Dharma of the others, what others are doing much better you can do, even that is dangerous for you.

This is a statement, which is extremely important because everyone has a question: “There are so many activities in the world: which action I have to do?” Therefore, Sri Krishna says that, “You have to see what your Svadharma is”. On this question we shall come to later on, because on this question there is much to be said. Here Sri Krishna only puts down the basic line. It is in the last six chapters that we shall come to understand better what is Svadharma and many other things.

You might say that Sri Krishna has now told him everything that is to be told. He has explained the two paths: the path of Jnanayoga and the path of Karmayoga. In both the ways there is freedom, and Sri Krishna has said why the path of action is superior, why one should still pursue the path of action. He has given the order, yudhyasva, you fight. But the question of Arjuna is seized, and the rest of the Gita very much depends upon this question and the answer to it and many other questions which arise subsequently.

atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ |
anicchann api vārṣṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ
||36|| (III)

After understanding everything, knowing everything that now you have explained to me, even then: kena prayukto ’yaṁ pāpaṁ carati pūruṣaḥ, by what is individual prayukto, is enjoined, so that anicchann api, even without desire, balādiva, by force as it were, one is obliged to do something, something that is pāpaṃ, that which is sinful?

What is it, even after knowing all this, even without desiring to do sinful things, yet how is it that one is by force thrown into sinful action, something which you ought not to do and yet is obliged to do? What is it?