Gita  Chapter -3

(Karma Yoga)

Essence of Chapter-3

          Arjuna felt Krishna was giving him contradicting statements in this chapter.  Arjuna asked Krishna  whether he should fight or not fight the war, he was more confused with  Krishna's answer of seeking the knowledge of Unconditional Consciousness or Brahman. 

        Arjuna's question is a very valid question indeed. “If  you think that knowledge  of knowing our true nature,  that is Unconditional Consciousness or Brahman is superior to action, why then O Krishna, do you engage me in this terrible action (war)?

         We would also ask the same question like Arjuna. If the purpose of life is know the Self, then why live a family social life, why not retire to the Himalayas?

         Krishna replies, “Man cannot remain even for a moment without performing some kind of action. Everyone is helplessly driven to action by the qualities born of nature. One may be able to physically stop doing actions for few minutes or hours, but the thinking action goes on incessantly.

Action in inaction and inaction in action.

       Since action is inevitable then what matters is, how the action is conceived at the mental level. The difference between an ordinary person and a self realized person lies in this great truth.

      Krishna tells Arjuna to see action in-action, which means the body is at rest, but witness the thinking action going on. We are always doing non-stop thinking and so we are not able to notice the Un-Conditional Consciousness, which is our true nature. We are not the thinker but the one who witnesses thinking.


       Whereas the Self realized person witness (in-action)  the thinking event (action) and so Krishna says  in-action in action. In-action is witnessing the action. While watching movies we become so identified with the shadow characters on the screen that we forget our true nature that we are witnessing a movie. Like the movie and the viewer and different the thinking-thinker and the witnessor are different.

      “The egoistic man thinks ‘I am the doer’. In reality Prakriti (Nature) does everything. This means that it is the Ego that thinks that it is the doer and enjoyer of the pleasures. However the irony is that the Ego does not accept the fact that it is also bound to suffer pain.

     Arjuna's immediate question was how to free oneself from mode of action and instead be the witnessor of actions? How to do an action without attachment or not expecting the fruits of an action?

      Krishna  replied that by performing action (duty) without attachment will alone help us know that we are really the witnessor.  This identity correction to be the witnessor is "Freedom" or Moksha. 

     This immediately gives rise to two questions: 1. Freedom from what? and 2. What is detachment?