Chapter 3 Verse 8 – Karma Yoga

Sloka

Niyatam kuru karma twam karma jyaayo hyakarmanah;
Shareerayaatraapi cha te na prasiddhyed akarmanah.

Translation

Do perform your bounden duty, for action is superior to inaction
and even the maintenance of the body would not be possible for you by inaction.

Interpretation

After talking about controlling the senses and doing the work in an unattached manner, Lord Krishna in this shloka talks about the superiority of action over inaction. He says that everyone has to perform the duty to which is committed. He also says that such duty needs to be performed because it is superior to not doing anything. A person when he stops doing actions that he is supposed to do, he will find himself unable to maintain even his own body.

Extending the interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The focus of this shloka is more on the word inaction. What do you understand by inaction? Inaction is not sitting quietly without doing anything. We have already seen that it is impossible for a person to remain quiet without doing anything. So, inaction here means not doing the action that he is supposed to do. For example, if you feel hungry what do you do? You eat food. But how does that food come? You have to cook it. Cooking is an action that a person has to do and only when he cooks the food, he can eat that. But these days you also have an option of ordering the food.

Can ordering the food be taken as inaction here? Yes, it is inaction. Though ordering the food also involves some action, it is called as inaction because you need to prepare your own food not depend on getting it served. You do this because you become lazy. Look at the result. If you eat out side food for a long time, you would fall ill. Your stomach gets upset, your digestive system gets affected and it will start showing impact on your overall health. This is the price you pay for not doing your actions. So, in short, not doing the appropriate action required for a thing is called inaction and Lord Krishna says that a person who does inaction can never achieve anything!