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Saturday, 20 September 2008

A heinous misinterpretation...

I have had a pretty busy week, and it sure feels good writing something here now. Without further ado, I will come straight to the point.

Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2 Verse 47

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || ४७ ||

Profound lines indeed... And in fact, one of my favourites.
I have come across people who have been victims of misinterpretation of this verse. You may have known this verse to be loosely translated as 'Do your duty without expectations...', et al. But therein comes the catch...
I was enjoying this lovely conversation with my Yoga master the other day... And incidentally we tread on the topic of the Gita. He mentioned how that particular verse has been misinterpreted by so many people. And we went on to delve deeper into the same verse. I will try to clarify, to the best of my ability, what this verse means and how we ought to comprehend it...
If you want to clap, you have to bring your hands together. It is your will to execute the action and complete it. You can halt at the last moment, you can complete it; it is in your hands. It is but obvious. When Shri Krishna was giving his discourse, he would have expected Arjuna to listen to him.
Let us consider another example... You have an examination to give at 12:00 pm. You have all the time in the world, but limited to 11:59:59 am to finish preparing. Now I don't want smart-ass responses to that previous statement. Whether you prepare or not, is up to you. But once you have given the examination, you have to accept the result; whatever it is...
All I have tried to say here is that, we have no say on the result. We have it within us to reach our goal. For which, we have to put in our effort and leave the rest to destiny. You cannot change what has to happen.

To conclude this post, here is what the verse translates to-
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. You should never be motivated by the results of the action, nor should there be any attachment in not doing your prescribed activities.

All of my readers are welcome to take part and add to the discussion. But please watch what you say. I will not tolerate any gob here. I have read/heard enough of it at the different forums I contribute to. So please. Let us discuss something that is meaningful.

Peace, and blessed be.


*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Would like to quote a doha here by Rahim :

"Nij kar kiya rahim kahi,sidhi bhavi ke haat,paasein apne haat me daav na apne haat"

Kartz said...

:) I remember that couplet. I wanted to quote it here myself. But decided not to... Dunno why. But now I think, it is better being here, with the comment column.

Thanks for the contribution, Sameera! Peace.

descrying the shadows said...

@ Kartz .. he he he ... you have picked a nice topic dear ... though i dont fully agree to your translation ... rather interpretation of it ...

lemme elucidate

if buddha preached tht having no desires was the way to enlightenment then wasnt his desire to spread the message so tht ppl achieve moksha a desire ?
wasnt his desire to preach peace and non- violence for the better of the world a desire ..? so was he contradicting himself ???
People dont understand, as u have rightly said, the difference between desire and duty ....he he goin by the duds who consider the two to be the same ... if we are to follow the gta .. the world wud come to a standstill..
he he
the way i interpret it is :
he tells u to go ahead and do your duty .. if it si to kill someone then kill him
do not think about the result then having said tht it does not mean u dnt judge the merits or demerits of your action...
it means
ex: to kill is bad
so dnt do it
but hey if killin leads me to inherit 1000 billion dollars
why not do it
see the result influences your judgement of the action
tht is what the gita basically asks u not to do
fal ki chinta chod
karam kar
does nt mean ye mat dekh ki karam accha hai ya bura
again the merits and demerits are subject to a persons perception
so if u rhonest to your perceptions and use them as the benchmark for judging whether or not u shud perform an action and dnt let the result play a role in tht decision u r following gita's message

Kartz said...

Hmmm... That one seemed longer than the post! ;) Jokes aside now...

I won't say the Buddha had a 'desire' to spread it. The reason Buddhism and Jainism arose were because of the Hindu caste system that prevailed, and how that Brahmanas were oppressing the lower castes.

You have rightly understood what I have tried to say; desire and duty... And dude, i never meant to go anywhere near judgement. I can relate to what you say. Consider a jawan killing the enemy, and a dacoit killing a civilian. Both are acts of killing... But where is the difference? It's in the duty; the nature of the act and the motive behind the act.

You have prepared for the examination and you write it. Whatever happens after that, is not in your hands. Had you written well, your scores would reflect it. Any amount of praying won't change the result. You have it in you to make your future (may be, to some extent?); but once you are through with your actions, you will face the consequences.

Another instance... Krishna tells Arjuna that he has to do his duty. Be it fighting the grand-uncle Bheeshma, or his cousins, anything. See, it was known therein that Krishna was God Himself. And God knows what is going to happen. He has just subtly told Arjuna that he has to fight them- whether he likes it or not.

So many arguments can be raised... What was Krishna's duty there? When Karna aims a poisoned arrow at Arjuna, what does Krishna do? He pushes the Earth below, and saves Arjuna... Why? Is God biased..? Nope... It's fate. Destiny.

And yeah... Coming back to the Buddha again. I read this somewhere. In one of his earlier births, the Buddha was trying to attain enlightenment. Moments before 'the' moment, a king appears before him in all splendor... (It was Mara, the Temptor). For a moment, Buddha (I don't know his name in that birth!) was lost in thought- imagine a life of wealth!

Ironic, it turned out to be. He was reborn, into a royal family. And later went on to become the Enlightened One.

May be this anecdote does not belong here. But let us try relating it to the verse. The act was done- ie, he was lost in thought, albeit for a moment, thinking about a royal life. And the consequence? He had to take birth again.

Fal ki chinta chod... Yes, because you *have* to accept the result. You cannot change the result of an action that has already been completed.
Thanks for the feedback, dude. I knew you'd enjoy this one. :) Peace.

Manikandan said...

A new and much better dimension to the verses. Glad I read this. You've done a pretty good job with the examples. Made understanding easier. Thank you very much!!

Kartz said...

A pleasure... :) As long as VHP et al do not have snipers locked in on me! :P ;)


descrying the shadows said...

exactly right
good examples :D

Kartz said...


Priya Joyce said...

I appreciate your way of explaining. A short plus serious one without any exaggeration.
I personally respect those lines very much in fact my whole family does.
I am happy that I got to know more about it.

Kartz said...

Thanks; glad you liked it.

Gauri Mathur said...


Kartz said...

Thanks for reading... Pur bolti kahe bandh hui? ;) :-p

- using Blogger for Mobile

Gauri Mathur said...

Plz..thanx for wt..?
for reading..cummo'n..don be soo formal!:)

Praveen said...

new to this blog of yours.
anyway happy tht i visited
cos I've also misinterpreted the verses in the popular way until now.
never thought it had such a side to it.thnks 4 the info

Kartz said...



Kartz said...


Greetings, and welcome to Contorted Reality. Thanks for dropping in, and feel free to add to the discussion.

Diva said...

A few days back,I was struggling with these very same thoughts and confusing questions in my mind about 'Desires' and 'Expectations' as already discussed here.... Its strange how we talk about being 'desire-less' and forget that by doing so,we are actually desiring to have 'no desires'...
Either its the language that falters here or the thought itself.. I do not know!!!!

I think what these lines are trying to say is that we should not expect that we will always get something in return for what we do, that will fulfil our selfish/materialistic needs... However, that doesnt mean we should not think about the consequences of our actions... Cos we are not fools to not have an idea if what we are doing is right or wrong!!! I had read certain parts of Bhagavad Gita(long back) and If you have too, you will kno that Arjuna questioned Lord Krsna that what if he killed a man with his hands and blamed it on God, saying that it was God's wish to kill that man and not his, as nothing in this world happens against the wishes of God... Guess wat he says?? Well, I would suggest you go read it yourself...

Half-Knowledge is always bad.. and thats what we all tend to fall upon these days!!! Its high time we learn the real truth instead of making our own judgments about things!!!! Peace.

Kartz said...

Thank you for your feedback, Diva. And welcome to Contorted Reality.
We are but human to have some desire or the other.

"...we should not expect that we will always get something in return for what we do, that will fulfil our selfish/materialistic needs..."
- ok, I get your point. And about being materialistic, I would like you to read this and let me know your thoughts;

"Cos we are not fools to not have an idea if what we are doing is right or wrong!!!"
- again, right/wrong is relative. What may seem right to me, may not be the same with you and vice-versa.

And the Gita... I have read parts of it too. Krishna tells him God will not interfere unless we ask him to. He may give suggestions, but in the end, it is up to us to obey it. We may choose to go by our free will too. And
he goes on to say the Spirit/Soul/Aatmaan is unending...

Truth is one. It is we, who view it from different angles and interpret what we seem to behold.

Thank you for adding to the discussion. Have a nice day.

AV said...

i wudnt dare argue wid u on philosophical or religious issues. :D

Kartz said...

Arrey yaar... Feel free. You may just add something which none of the others were aware of. And we all love a debate. :)

Thanks for the drop-in...

Matangi Mawley said...

sme one has told me- the summary if gita is tht- life's all abt moderation! i find it so perfect!

Krishna, as a philosopher, is gr8! bt wht i m nt able to understand is this-
he says, i m the question, i am the answer, i am mind, i am.. etc. He says- the people who u see here have already been killed.. etc. he says, whtevr is goin to happen, has already happened, as I (He) had wanted it to happen. do only wht u must do- n everything..
so logically, say, i steal smething.. then i can argue tht, i havnt stolen it- He made me steal, for He had wanted the "thing" stolen, be stolen- etc- right? they say- for all the deeds u do- u ll be either punished or rewarded in the court of Yama. Bt i deserve neither punishment nor reward.. for i was only a puppet, n He- the puppeteer! Whtevr i do, right or wrong, is not wht I do, bt wht He makes me do, right?

if all tht's true- then wht's the purpose of we being here??

ps: I m agnostic.. was jst curious, wht u'r reply wd b..

Kartz said...

See... I have answered something similar to that; scroll up.

In the Mahabharatha, you can raise hell-a-lot of questions. Especially on Krishna... See, He is a Divine Incarnate. In other words, it is as if, He is seeing a 'live' play of something that is already known to Him.

When the moment comes, He teaches Arjuna when the latter needs deliverance from self-doubt.

ani said...

that was a really nice explaination .

and yes time and again ppl have misinterpreted the gita..
i feel in our subconscious mind all of us know that we cant control the result.. yes the effort put in is our own.. the result is again left to the circumstance..somethings are just out of our control.. if u have put in the effort to complete the given task with all the dedication.. things will turn out well..

finally it all lies in something called fate.. destiny.. things have to happen and they happen for a reason..

Kartz said...

Yep... Fate.

Which is why I said Krishna was living at a time when He knew what was about to happen. Be it Radha, the Mahabharatha... Anything! :)

Thank you for your feedback. Peace.

ani said...

have u tried reading the book " palace of illusions " the central character is draupadi and it gives the whole mahabharat from her point of view..

even though its friction you'll end up seeing things a bit differently.. n am sure we can have another conversation over that..

mentioning this because.. there are certain instances u see how krisna has influenced or brain washed ppl into doing or saying things.. so that destiny could take effect..

Kartz said...

Exactly... I have heard of that book, though I haven't read it myself.

There are quite a few occasions! :)

ani said...

lol well quite a lot more actually..

but then very few important one's come out in the open.. ( even though its friction ) and u actually sit and wonder.. is this why he took the avatar in the first place..

remember the talk by god to bruce in bruce almighty.. dont mess with free will.. so i guess it was easier for him to be born and give the push when necessary.. the other way.. :)

Kartz said...

Well... May be... Had he not taken the avatar, who knows what might have happened? We can go on and formulate many theories. ;)

Heh heh heh... Talking about Bruce Almighty, "That's the way the cookie... crumbled!" Can't do anything about a cookie that's already crumbled. ;)

ani said...

ha ha ha

so true..

Kartz said...


preeti said...

nice dimension of perception :) visiting first time:) will frequent henceforth.

Kartz said...

Greetings, Preeti; and welcome to Contorted Reality. Feel free to drop-in and leave your thoughts.

Peace, and have a nice day..

RituparnaMAX said...

apt example of exams bro :) after all we new-gen ppl hav grown up considering exams as our foremost duty.. till death parts us (exams and us)... :) and results or no results, preps or no preps, we HAVE to do this duty..who gives a damn about will ! see a new perception !!


Kartz said...


Welcome to Contorted Reality bro'... Thanks for the feedback!


Sushant said...

Hey Kartz! congrats on yet another hit post :)

very aptly put! sorry i couldnt take part in sid and ur's discussion but i'd like to add a thought to those 2 long comments.

I think whats written in-between, those lines in-addition to whatever u have said, is that do ur duty or do not duty is totally upto you but think of the consequence of ur action or inaction (to ur surroundings) and not of the selfish rewards u will get personally.

to take Sid's example: a soldier killing another soldier and a son killing to inherit money. A soldier kills becoz its his duty to kill.. becoz if he doesn't lots of people will suffer or die.. this killing is selfless and in aid of many (and if i remember correctly the Gita says that Krishna had himself said that its a soldier's duty to kill the enemy and protect his country and people.)

While killing ur benefactor to inherit 1000 billion dollars is selfish and a betrayal of ur benefactor's goodwill and trust. And this betrayal, as told by a sage to me, is one of the biggest sins that can be committed.

...And yes u cant change the result of an action after its completed, but u can change the action ur about to take so that the result is always good. [I think this is a part of the explanation though hidden from plain view]

Cheers :)

Kartz said...

Hey Sushant!

Great to see you again... Hope all is well with you. And thanks for adding to the discussion! :)


shri ramesh sadasivam said...

Yeah. Its true many of the Spiritual Masters are misinterpreted. But when we go by intuition guided by prayer we can understand the true meanings and values of these teachings. Peace. :)

Karmasura said...

Hey buddy.. thanks for coming over to my blog and commenting.. but I wish you read this post as well.


Karmasura said...

Hmm.. to me they look similar..

Kartz said...

Thanks for the prompt response bro'...

Ayushi said...

err...gob? *gobbles fast* :p
The results may not always come in the manner which we expect them to. As every action has a consequence: a fruit is certified, how we can use that return-gift is our choice, so doing something in expectation of a result has two disadvantages: 1)focus shifts 2)if our perception does not equal reality(which in most cases does not), many a time, its likely that we may end up getting broke(in other words, in a horrble perceptionwhich ain't true)
...bas itna hi gob bolna tha :) (you frighten others by saying "i will not tolerate... :( )

Kartz said...


And well, a warning is always needed to ward off interlopers you know... :P

jayu said...

Kartz-I was taught this verse in my childhood.It was transalated to me like this-
Karmani ave adhikars te
--you have the power to act only
ma phalesu kadachana
--you do not have the power to influence the result
ma karmaphal hetur bhoo
--therefore you must act without the anticipation of the result
ma sangostu akramani
--without succumbing to inaction.

I have lived my life based on this one verse,because,for me,it sums up reality,God,and all else.

Kartz said...

That one verse runs so deep...

jayaram said...

Interpretation of the holy verse can be realistically true but the the whole concept is more often blown out of it's divinity and essence.
If u don't know leave it alone and never try 2 misinterpret.
It may leave a hole in ur mind.

Kartz said...

Hmmm... At the end of the day though, we can find out what is rational.



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