Chapter 4 Gnana Yoga Verse 10

Sloka

Kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo’pyatra mohitaah;
Tat te karma pravakshyaami yajjnaatwaa mokshyase’shubhaat.

Translation

What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the wise are confused.
Therefore, I shall teach thee such action (the nature of action and inaction), by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from the evil

Interpretation

After talking about the actions in the previous shloka, Lord Krishna in this shloka talks about the action and inaction. This verse talks about what is action and what is inaction. This is very important thing to know because, even the wisest of wise gets confused about this.

So, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that he will teach him what is action, which also includes inaction and action in inaction. Knowing this is important because the knowledge of this will help us in liberating ourselves from the evil effects.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

What is action? What is inaction? Is there an action in inaction also? This is a very fundamental question. Action is work. Anything we do is action. Eating, talking, reading, helping others and even evil thins like stealing, looting, killing and hitting are all actions.

Every action bears its fruits as per what we have seen in previous shloka. So good actions bear good results and evil actions bear bad results. But what is inaction? Inaction is not doing anything. Then the question is can there be anything called inaction?

In life there is nothing called inaction. We continue to do actions even in the state of inaction. These inactions also bear us the fruits. Inaction can also be referred to as not doing something that is supposed to be done. Let us take an example of a person who applies leave from his office and stays at home.

The question is, is he right in taking leave from office? Is not going to office be taken as action in inaction? The answer is Yes. Whenever you feel like staying at home, just ask yourself what is stopping you from office? If you have a work which is higher in dharma then going to office, then you are right in staying at home and doing that task. But if you take a leave because you have many leaves pending or because you are not in a mood to go to office or to bargain for a hike with your boss then it is an evil action.

Inactions in life are more dangerous than bad actions because their effects are indirect and long term. That is why one needs to know everything about inaction so that one can stay away from evil actions. Next time you postpone your work or dont do the work you are supposed to do, then it is just not counted as inaction but it will be counted as action in inaction which will have a bad effect on your life. Knowing this will help us to stay away from all the evil actions which is a mark of a wise man.