Bhagavad Gita On Why Work and Healthy Body Maintenance Is Necessary? – Idleness and Escapism Leads to Misery

There is a wrong notion among many people that Hindu scriptures support inaction, idleness and lack of body maintenance. The concept of Maya or illusion is used by many as a pretext to escape from one’s duties and family and social responsibilities. These verses in the Bhagavad Gita clearly state that idleness and escapism leads to misery not to Moksha or Liberation. The commentary to these verses are by Swami Chinmayananda.

You perform (your) bounden duty; for, action is superior to inaction. Even the maintenance of the body would not be possible for you by inaction. (Chapter III, Verse 8)

In our work-a-day world, we must understand this term 'bounden duty' (Niyatam Karma) in the text, to include all "obligatory actions" of an individual in his home, in his office, and in the society as a national being.

Thus, not to perform diligently all our duties in the home and in the world outside would be inaction.

We are warned that even a healthy bodily existence is not possible if we were to live in complete inertia and inactivity. Inactivity brings about the destruction of the nation, of the society, and of the home, and often the very individual himself becomes victimized by his own idleness and suffers physical debilities and intellectual deterioration.

It is also wrong to suppose that actions lead to bondage and that they should not, therefore, be performed. --- why?

The World is bound by action other than those performed 'for the sake of sacrifice' ; do thou, therefore, O son of Kunti, perform action of that sake (for Yajna) alone, free from all attachments. (Chapter III, Verse 9)

Every action does not bring about bondages upon the doer. It is only unintelligent activities that thicken the impressions in the mind, and thus successfully build a thick and impenetrable wall between the ego-centre and the unlimited Divine-Spark-of-Life in us. Every action motivated by ego-centric desires thickens the veil and permits not even a single ray of the essential Divinity to peep through it, to illumine the life in us.

According to the traditional translation, all activities other than the Yajna-activities will bring about vasana-bondages, and the individual's ultimate development and growth will be arrested.

Yajna here means only "any self-sacrificing work, undertaken in a spirit of self-dedication, for the blessing of all." Such an action cannot be self-degrading and, therefore, it is self-liberating. Yajna should be understood as "any social, communal, national, or personal activity into which the individual is ready to pour himself forth entirely in a spirit of service and dedication."

Only when people come forward to act in a spirit of co-operation and self-dedication, can the community get itself freed from its shackles of poverty and sorrow. This is a fact endorsed by history. And such activities can be undertaken in a spirit of Divine loyalty, only when the worker has no attachment.

Arjuna's defect was that he got too attached to the individuals in the opposing forces, and he developed, consequently, wrong relationships with them. Therefore, he came to feel that he must run away from the field of work that had presented itself before him.